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Gatchaman Crowds insight (anime review)

814131016393_anime-gatchaman-crowds-insight-primaryTitle: Gatchaman Crowds Insight on blu-ray

Director: Kenji Nakamura

Studio: Tatsunoko Production

Writer: Toshiya Ono

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 22nd, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Action, Adventure, Super Hero

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Gatchaman Crowds insight contains episodes 1-13 of season two of Gatchaman Crowds.

You can’t keep a good Gatchaman down, especially when a new organization called VAPE (short for Violent Ape) starts hijacking CROWDS technology.

The ensuing wave of “Red CROWDS” incidents targeting high profile targets like the Prime Minister make it clear that the good team needs to start recruiting; fast. Fortunately, help arrives quickly, and with a rather… loud entrance. The alien Gelsadra’s ship crashes in a rice paddy in Nijima!

Besides being generally peaceful, Gelsadra has a unique power involving comic-book-like speech bubbles that display a person’s inner feelings, rather like an emoji.

There’s also the fireworks enthusiast, Tsubasa, whose life becomes the focus of millions of viewers when she’s chosen as the newest Gatchaman – on nationwide live television!

As if that wasn’t enough pressure for a teenage girl to handle, she’s also assigned Hajime as her mentor!

Will she survive? Will the world survive? Things are about to get really wild and crazy in GATCHAMAN CROWDS INSIGHT!

Commentary:

Are you looking for a series that is colorful, cheerful and rather bizarre then you need to look no further than Gatcham Crowds insight. From the very opening sequence it is easy to tell that this one will keep your attention.

The story is rather simple with plenty of oddities thrown in. It at times leaves you wondering why you are watching it and at other time thinking that this is simply great. I’m not real sure that the switch between great and weak does the series any help in fact this change is a true reflection of the writing and if the writing is not consistent then the series suffers.

Overall Grade: B

Even though the series has some obvious flaw in the writing I still found it to be a enjoyable series that provides enough odd insight to be more than just average. Gatchaman Crowds insight takes the new animation style of bright and bold to a new level and makes sure you eyes are glued to the screen. This outrageous animation added to a strange story of hers and aliens that goes from sugar sweet to somewhat weird makes for entertainment.

I’m not sure Gatchaman Crowds insight is for everyone, but if you are looking for something different then this one is for you. You do not need to see the first season of Gatcham Crowds because for once there is a brief explanation of the prior season to open this part of the series. Also, if you just want wierd here you go.

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-2Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Having cleared the Abyssal Shaft, the members of the raiding party have returned to Akihabara to consider their next options.

First, though, there’s an unexpected lesson in history as the founder of the Debauchery Tea Party, the legendary Kanami, resurfaces with an extremely peculiar entourage and some even more stunning revelations about connections to the outside.

But the ramifications of this will have to wait. With new political situations brewing between the Guilds, Shiroe sets Isaac to the task of training Maihama’s knights while the younger members of Log Horizon are sent out on what should be a simple quest.

Collecting the materials required to make a magic bag, however, becomes much more difficult when ogres and nightshades get involved!

Fortunately, the junior team is about to get a jolt of fresh blood… in the form of a Vampire! The action escalates and the world gets even wilder in the second thundering collection of Log Horizon – 2!

Commentry:

Season 2 of Log Horizon is just as much fun as season 1 and in many ways becomes more complicated and intriguing. I was absorbed in the struggle to decide what they should do to protect themselves and maybe find a way home. With everything happening is was easy to get lost in the action, but the writing kept the series focused and on track. I was discussing Log Horizon with another anime fan and they commented that they did not like the series because it was slow and lacked the excitement of other series like Sword Art Online. I can see their point, but for me I think that is exactly what makes Log Horizon great.

The one thing that helped keep the series rolling was to include characters that had been eluded to earlier in the series. Meeting some of Shiroe’s former guild member is fun and opens the door to serious questions about the rest of the game and the servers that control and connect the players of the game.

Overall Grade: A

It is easy for me to grade Log Horizon season 2 part 2 an A because it took the series in another direction and continued to add factors that make it more than just good. Simply put, if you like trapped in the game series and haven’t seen Log Horizon then you are missing one of the best. Log Horizon will show you how how a great series should develop and continue to give the viewer something to think about and enjoy. Season 2 part 2 keeps the hits keep on coming and I have a feeling that season 3 will be even better!

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-1Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!

Commentary:

Over the last few months I have heard more and more people talking about Log Horizon. That is a great thing because the things I am hearing is what I have already said in the past and that is the fact that Log Horizon is one of the best anime to examine what would need to happen if you and others were trapped in a game. Although Sword Art Online is entertaining and very pretty it doesn’t come close to Log Horizon in story and plot driven writing.

The second season of Log Horizon brings with it new challenges and rewards and these first 13 episodes manage to setup a complicated plot line that is both mysterious and deeply intriguing. I thought that wrapping up one large quest and opening the door to a even bigger threat in this first collection is a great way to keep us coming back for more.

Overall Grade: A

Wow, in reality I wasn’t sure if this series could get any better and with the coming of the second season I was proven wrong. The action and complex strategy that is taking place is farm more than I could imagine. The flash backs to their real lives when dead was brilliant and it gave a solid grounding into who these people really are. There was no holding back when the reality was approached and also added meaning to who they had become in the game. It is a solid reminder of our own failures as a society to truly accept and include all people rather than ridicule and shun people for their introverted personalities and awkward social skills. Owning an anime store I meet people like this on a daily basis and make it point to let them know that they are welcome in my store and many of them have become friends over the years and my little store has become a safe haven for them to actually have a social life that is off line.

Getting off my soap box and back to Log Horizon. There is some thing else that made this collection step up to a solid A rating and that was the way it rolled out the plot. There was a steady pacing and flow of the story line that made it easy to watch and to walk away from each episode feeling as though you were provided something important. It also ended with a great cliff hanger that setup the the second half of the season.

If , for any reason you reading this and not familiar with Log Horizon then you really need to start from the beginning and get caught up. You will be very pleased that you dove in.

 

April 13, 2016

utawarerumono-ovareview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Utawarerumono OVA Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Kenichiro Katsura

Studio: Chaos Project

Author: Makoto Uezu

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 29, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 3 Episodes / 85 Minutes

Genre: Adventure, Action, Comedy, Fantasy

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Utawarerumono

Synopsis:

You may have thought the Hakuoro’s saga was over, but the fight for justice and honor never ends. Even in a world filled with sorcery and epic battles, there is always time for a few adventures on the side!

Journey back to the world of Utawarerumono and discover three amazing new stories: Can the priestess Urutori find a way to solve the problem of an abandoned infant, or will she end up raising the child herself? Can healer Eluluu resolve a situation that involves youth potions, some unusually well-intentioned kidnappers, and a very unorthodox romance? And finally, learn just how much trouble a couple of girls can get into on a simple afternoon fishing trip. The tales may be a little shorter, but the fantasy is every bit as fantastic as all the characters you love return in Utawarerumono OVA Collection.

Commentary:

Utawarerumono was a serious series about a nation living amid revolution, constant war, and death. It seldom had a light feel and very little comedy, outside of a few moments where they might have needed to lighten things up just a little. The Utawarerumono OVA Collection was the comedy that never fit in with the story arc of the TV series. All three episodes show the lighter side of things, also adding another dimension on the already well built characters from the original TV series. Three short stories that took place either during the ending time of the original series, or possibly shortly after (in all truth I am not sure which because the ending of Utawarerumono had clear differences that were not necessarily reflected in these OVAs, but not necessarily contradicted either). These extra character arcs, if that is a good way to describe them, do not relate at all to the story arc of the original series, but shine a new light on what it may have been like if the world was not so difficult around them.

The Character designs and artistry was different then from the original series. Everyone looks a little younger or a more childish appearance than what they had before. I do understand that this was made many years later than the original, but having re-watched the original before watching this, it did take some adjustments for me. Now either the original artists were not available, or they had changed the style on purpose, I’m not real sure, but in the end it was still finely illustrated, with the backgrounds having even more detail in them then even the original series.

Extras:

The Utawarerumono OVA Collection includes clean opening and closing animations, Picture Dramas, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. The Utawarerumono OVA Collection was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A

I would recommend watching the original series before watching the Utawarerumono OVA Collection as the original series explains the characters and introduces them to you.

Black Lagoon Complete Series + OVA Premium Edition Blu-ray (anime review)

Black-Lagoon-Premium-EditionTitle: Black Lagoon Complete Series + OVA Premium Edition Blu-ray

Director: Sunao Katabuchi

Studio: Madhouse

Music: Edison

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: November 17, 2015

Format: Blu-ray/ 29 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure, Crime Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Take a twisted trip to the city of your nightmares in this hard-boiled shootout inspired by masters of action like John Woo and Quentin Tarantino!

Rokuro was an ordinary Japanese business man. A suit hired to entertain corporate high rollers and serve as a whipping boy for the big bosses with the real juice. A mission to deliver a mysterious disk to the deadly waters East of China seemed like his big break, but some things just weren’t meant to be. A ruthless gang of mercenaries fronted by a gunslinging femme fatale in scandalously short shorts kidnapped Rokuro and held him for ransom. When his company refused to pay, he became their property. To survive, he was forced to reinvent himself as Rock, the brains behind the beauty and brawn of Black Lagoon: the most cutthroat crew of mercs ever to hustle the mean streets of Roanpur. A nightmare of a metropolis where the bad guys are really bad – and your friends might be even worse.

Contains episodes 1-12 of Black Lagoon, episodes 1-12 of Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, and episodes 1-5 of the OVA, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail.

Commentary:

Black Lagoon is an action packed seinen title often with dark and depressing undertones. Taking place in the fictional modern-day city of Roanapur, Thailand, the anime centers around the life of Rokuro “Rock” Okajima as he is attacked out at sea by some pirates and is taken hostage. After being with them when one thing after another goes wrong possibly due to Stockholm syndrome. If so, Rock never regrets it, although he continues to use words over fighting. The Lagoon Company, the pirate-mercenaries Rock works with, all are much more jaded and his unwillingness to fully embrace the ideals, or lack thereof, of the darkest of the underworld and pick up a gun causes tension, especially for Rebecca “Revy”, the company’s main fighter and one of the deadliest around.
Black Lagoon  is a great example of existentialism with a myriad of examples. None of the major characters are at all flat and most of the secondary characters like Mr. Chang all have twisted and distorted pasts. All of the ones revealed make Rock’s past look kind of mild in comparison. The best two examples of this are third (episodes 8-10) and fifth (episodes 13-15) mini-arcs.
The third arc has the Lagoon Company transporting Garcia Lovelace for the Columbian mafia. En route to their destination, they discover there is more to the situation they weren’t told. Garcia is convinced that he will be saved by his maid, Rosarita “Roberta” Cisneros, a unbeknownst former FARC guerilla trained in assassination known formerly known as “Hellhound”. After Garcia saw Roberta in battle, he did not know what to think. However, as the arc went on her devotion to saving him and seeing her like that and comparing it to the happy memories of his past reminded him that he really cared for her, not a maid, but as family member. The arc ends on a happy note with Belilika, a former Soviet military officer who now works for the Russian mafia out of Hotel Moscow, helping out Garcia, Roberta and the Lagoon Company for Roberta’s unexpected aid in helping the Russian mafia and a sense of owing the  Lagoon Company help for their past dealings.

 Roberta’s Blood Trail is a continuation of this arc with the Lagoon Company thrown back into the mix trying to save Roberta from her own madness and Rock begins to become much more of the chess master which is a little out of character for him.

In contrast, the fifth arc does not have such a happy ending. It is about two twins, Hänsel and Gretel, who have dissociative identity disorder in which they can both reverse the role of  Hänsel and Gretel, but in such a way that those personalities are distinct from each other in both voice and mannerism. The twins were taped by the Russian mafia for guro pedophilic films and later were forced to kill other children in order to escape this kind of treatment. There is evidence to suggest they were based on the twins from Stephen King’s The Shining. It’s not known what gender either are, although it is implied that they are both females. In the anime they are hired by Verrocchio because of their ability to be overlooked. However after killing one of Belilika’s men, they decide to dispose of them. Before that happens, the twins realize this and slaughter Verrocchino. However, Belilika, pissed at the death of her comrade, hunts the twins down. After splitting up, Gretel contracts the Lagoon Company to save her and befriends Rock, the only person other than her “brother” she felt comfortable with since she could remember, she is shot in the back from the contact they went to who was paid by Hotel Moscow.
These two arcs, along with the final arc (episodes 19-24), show that outside Rock, Belilika is possibly the most complex character. Unlike Rock, she does not put her feelings above business and getting the job done, but also seems to have a side who would still like to see things have a happy ending when it doesn’t cause her problems. In the case of the twins, the death of her comrade by some of the most torturous means imaginable was too much as she considered all of her military comrades as family. This is also why she probably goes out of her way to find a reason to help Garcia and Roberta and praises Garcia for the way he acts in the end.
Overall Grade: A
Black Lagoon works on many levels. On the surface it is just another action anime with some comedic elements to break up the often bloody and intense atmosphere and could easily be mistaken for that just seeing one episode. However, the series really deals with the human condition and what would make someone turn their back on a normal life and seek a life in the underworld of crime. For Revy, that answer is simple; she never had a good life to begin with; Revy’s past was seen to be the worst for much of the series having never had a good life living in a crime filled neighborhood where she had to kill just to live. However, the fifth arc showed that there is always someone worse off.  For Rock, his life was going just fine, but when confronted with the choice he wanted the life of freedom. In spite of his weak-willed personality, he really enjoys the intense moments to the point that their boss, Dutch, fears the consequences should he really be pushed that far; instead he prefers him to work as the accountant and negotiator.
The series constantly has Revy and Rock arguing about idealism in this world. For Rock he wants to hold on to it because of his past and for Revy she never had it because of her past. She is constantly berating him for putting his morales first and causing him, and by extension her and the Lagoon Company, trouble. In the final arc he is confronted by another who also berates him for living within the twilight ― not wanting to live a normal life in Japan, but not wanting to fully embrace the life of the underworld and crime.

More than that though the series plays upon the general themes seen in such epics Paradise Lost by John Milton. In this all of the characters start out with great dreams and ideals hoping to make the world better or even just their family happy. However, each one is tempted after some incident and falls from grace to the underworld of crime or the like. Unlike the poem though, it wasn’t some incarnation of evil itself that caused these people to fall; instead, it was the betrayal of other humans they knew personally or the general abandonment by the rest of humanity as trash. Even then, they still long for their ideals; however, their eyes are opened and they knew ideals will never come to pass. Sometimes, like with Roberta, they could find a new ideal to live for, but for others, like the twins, it was too late.
In the end the only thing I am disapointed about the series is that it did not explore Rock’s persoanlity enough. Outside the first arc, he wasn’t really pushed to the edge and his ability as a skilled negotiator capable of resolving disputes without the need for bloodshed was only hinted at. As mentioned before, Rock still is one of the more idealistic members in the series and it seems clear he has not reached the level where he comfortable with what he’s become (and not criticizing those around him) while still maintaining his ideals.

If you enjoy hard hitting series and have not been introduced to one of the more thoughtful existentialist series then you need to check it out. It is a great reminder that if violence is needed then the story needs to say something other than kill, kill, kill and hey don’t forget we are humans. Black Lagoon shows us how easy it would be to turn someone into a heartless killer and how we are not as wonderful a species as we might think.

Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1 on Blu-ray (anime review)

Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Collection 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Nippon Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise

U. S. Re-Release Date: Nov. 3rd, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 21 Episodes / 525 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

Universal Century 0079. The rebel space colonies of the Principality of Zeon launch a war of independence against the Earth Federation, using humanoid fighting vehicles called mobile suits to overwhelm the Federation Forces and conquer half of Earth’s surface. Months later, the Federation has finally developed its own prototype mobile suits at a remote space colony. But when the colony suffers a Zeon surprise attack, these new weapons fall into the hands of a motley crew of civilians and cadets, and fate places a youth named Amuro Ray at the controls of the white mobile suit Gundam.

Commentary: 

I am not sure how many times I have said this statement this year alone, but sometimes things are better off left in the imagination of the ones who love it. Mobile Suite Gundam Collection 1 is one of those things. The series, to put it quite simply, did not age very well. The one saving grace is that the Japanese language track is provided. I recall how I felt about Mobile Suite Gundam in my youth when it was something different in our anther simplistic world and now I can say that Mobile Suit Gundam has taken on the simplistic moniker. I find everything about it rather difficult to watch. I understand that it is being released to satisfy the hard core fans of the franchise because many of them see this particular series in the franchise as one of the best. I wish I could join that camp, but the story just doesn’t do it for me.

Overall Grade: C+

On a nostalgic level I found it fun to watch and Mobile Suite Gundam provided many laughs, most not intended. The animation reminded me of bad 70’s look that I didn’t even like back then and the choppy writing that tells the story but in a way that is sometimes hard to follow and other times too simplistic. Deep down inside I would have loved to see this re-made with a new writing staff and contemporary animation techniques. I know that won’t happen because it is too easy to just re-release it in its full original glory.

Of course I didn’t think it was all bad. I still believe that Mobile Suite Gundam and a few other series set the stage for the onslaught of great Mecha series that followed and there is also a marketing machine behind the Gundam franchise that needs to be recognized for its unequaled ability to own the ability to keep the fandom alive and growing. I can’t say that about other long live series. So, if you are looking for a trip down memory lane or just need to see where the craze all began then this is worth picking up or at least finding someone who dished out the cold cash and hang out at their place for a few days.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ Movie (anime review)

Dragonball-Z-Resurrection-FTitle: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ Movie

Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro

Studio: Toei Animation

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: October 20th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / DVD/ 95 minutes / Feature Film

Genre: Fantasy, Shonen, Action, Adventure, Supernatural

Age Rating: TV PG

Overal Personal Rating: C-

 

Synopsis:

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the second Dragon Ball film personally supervised by the series creator Akira Toriyama, following Battle of Gods. The new movie showcases the return of Frieza – one of the anime world’s greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.

Commentary:

Sparkling Blue and Golden are sometimes not what you think they are, but in this case it is not surprise. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ gives up a strange colorful greatest hits for this never-ending series. I think it is interesting that Akria Toriyama supervised this film because it has serious reminders of the endless battles that took place and that fact that there was a mindless movement from fight to fight.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ brings back Frieza with the intent to make us all remember how great the series was back in the early seasons, but there is a problem with that. Frieza is most notably the weakest of all the enemy and also nowhere near as interesting as the others. I get the nostalgia, but why not extend the story rather than back track.

Overall Grade: C-

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is one of those films that was great for proving that anime is not dead and that people can get sucked into almost any thing with the title Dragon Ball Z. I have to say that the most disappointing aspect of the movie was the heavy handed Computer Graphics. I would have thought that the production company (Toei Animation) would have been able to a better job of giving us a film with a clean slick style of anime rather than a hard edged inexpensive CG rendering of the iconic characters.

Anyway I doubt if there is anything I can say that is going to make a difference in the minds of those rabid DBZ fans out there, but I have a feeling that there are some fans that will see that they missed the mark with this one. It is also very disapointing to have it become one of the highest grossing anime theatrical release in the U S. I guess it says a lot about what makes it into theaters and how much money is spent on marketing. Well, if you are looking for almost 2 hours of Dragon Ball Z nostalgia then this one if for you.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: The Movie (anime review)

Title: Gatchaman: The Moviegatchaman-movie

Director: Hisayuki Toriumi

Produced by: Toshio Suzuki

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Re-Release Date: Nov. 17th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 110 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: B

SOMETIMES THEY ARE FIVE AND SOMETIMES JUST ONE! THEY ARE THE SCIENCE NINJA TEAM.

Synopsis: 

The Earth is in peril and Mankind seems doomed! Led by the sinister mutant Berg Katse, the international terrorist organization known as GALACTOR has launched its armies of henchmen and giant weapons of mass destruction against the entire planet. But the forces of evil are about to meet their match! Utilizing incredible fighting techniques, and with the mighty ship God Phoenix at their command, the Science Ninja Team stands ready to take the battle back to the bad guys and their evil alien overlords! Join Ken the Eagle, Joe the Condor, Jun the Swan, Jinpei the Swallow, and Ryu the Owl, as these five costumed commandos join with their commander, Dr. Nambu, to save our world the old fashioned way: one flying kick at a time!

Commentary:

Okay, here we have another old anime that is being brought back to life. 1978 is the year and a crazy movie reviving the Science Ninja Team to the Japanese anime fans and the wild stories and quick action was a major hit. It was so good that the west had to bring it over and do what they do best, change it and dub it for the american audience. Of course we all know what happened when the wrong people got to create a english version of the show. It comes funny and almost too goofy to watch. The thing about Gatchaman is that it was so much better than the Speed Racer series which was only 6 years older. The other thing is that it also had the common reality that animation and story telling of that time moved too fast for its own good.

Overall Grade: B

I wish I could tell you that this is great stuff, but honestly all I could do is laugh at the sill dub. I did watch it with the Japanese voice acting with the English sub titles. The story was the same and much of the translation still missed the point, but it was better and I was able to get into the drama that was playing out.

As for the drama, you can never say that seventies didn’t understand what going over the top was all about. Gatchaman is over the top from the opening all the way to the end. You never get a straight line without some heavy dogma layer on it. I get the point behind, as with all heroic tails there is always major loss layer on top of major deeds with the idea to serve as a hopeful mentorship for the youth watching. On the youth watching are 20 to 50 somethings that understand the myth is not what real life is like.

The thing that makes Gatchaman unique is that it is almost 40 years old and still plenty of fun. I’m not too sure a 10 year old would sit and watch the series or even this movie now but it is a great look at the past and a honest peek into the stuff that was on TV when I was a teen.

If you are one of the group I belong to you will want to see this, If you fall into another group them it will only give you something to laugh at. Just remember the Science Ninja Team is cool and the world should know it.

Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu (anime review)

FMP-FumoffuTitle: Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu the complete series (anime classic)

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Studio: Kyoto Animation

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: September 15th, 2015

Format : DVD / Blu-ray / 300 minutes / 12 Episodes

Genre: Mecha, Comedy, Romance, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis: 

Sousuke’s locked, loaded, and ready to attack – which would be awesome if he was going into battle. But he’s just going to high school, and all the qualities that make him a good soldier make him an amazingly awkward classmate.

Poor Kaname knows that better than anyone, since Sousuke’s her undercover bodyguard. The guy’s supposed to protect Tessa too. But how “top secret” can he really be when he’s sneaking around in a teddy bear suit, blowing up lockers, striking out with every girl in sight, and taking a mech to the hot springs? Sure, Sousuke’s methods are a little intense, but high school’s tough. Collateral damage is to be expected, right?

Commentary: 

There are classic series and then there are ethos special series that are a little more than just classic series. Full Metal Panic is one of those very special series that is more than just a classic. Of course I am huge fan and since I first saw the original series. Now  I can’t say that Fomuffu stands as high on the ranking as Full Metal Panic or Full Metal Panic Second Raid. The reason is because the series is much more silly and looses itself in side stories that are there just to be funny.

In FMP and FMP Second Raid the humor was blended in with the overarching story which made them special and help raise the popularity of the franchise. Now Fomuffu being what it exists because there was a move form the original studio (Gonzo) to Kyoto Animation (their first production) and a clear imperative to make this grouping of episodes more episodic and only related to the series by characters. This concept worked only by providing 12 very entertaining episodes that are strong enough to stand on their own, not because of its relationship to the original anime.

Overall Grade: B

Fomuffu is a pure comedy and provides plenty of laughs. There is also the familiar characters who bring a smile to my face any time I see them. Much of my grade is based on a sentimental fondness for the series, but I have a feeling that new eyes to the series will also see the humor that exists in these episodes.

The thing that I both like and dislike about Fomuffu is the stand alone aspect to the episodes. Now there are some that are 2 episode arcs but on a hole the series is much more about the story in easy episode rather than an overarching plot line. Normally I dislike this approach because it mimics a pattern developed in the west to make each episode stand on its own. That makes for little development and little substance when you are dealing with a 25 minute episode.

I do have to hand it Kyoto Animation for their first production and their ability to follow one of the superstars in the anime world at that time. They did a great job and I didn’t see Fomuffu and looking dated that way I see many other shows form that 2003 time period. The look is clean and easy to watch.

If you are looking for a comedy that does not require any long term development in the story then you need to check this out. Better yet, if you are looking for 12 episodes that will make you laugh then you really need to spend some time with Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu.

 

Black Bullet (anime review)

black-bulletTitle: Black Bullet Complete Collection

Director: Masayuki Kojima

Studio: Kinema Citrus, Orange

Creator: Shiden Kanzaki

Screenwriter: Tatsuhiko Urahata

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 27th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray or DVD / 325 Minutes / 13 Episodes

Genre: Sci Fi, Supernatural, Dystopian, Moe, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

The Gastrea virus spreads like wildfire, causing each infected host to rapidly mutate, gaining new powers and abilities with every stage of development, even while they continue to attack, kill, and infect multiple new hosts. Unable to fight a pandemic enemy that turns defenders into adversaries, the shocked remnants of the human race are forced to retreat into cities surrounded by giant monoliths made of Varanium, one of the few materials that can stop the Gastrea.

Now mankind’s last hope lies in the Cursed Children: young girls infected with the virus who have managed to retain a hold on their humanity. Paired with a partner, they alone have the strength to take on a Gastrea in one-on-one combat. But the very thing that gives them power is a ticking time bomb, so even as they protect humanity, they are also feared and shunned. Are they girls? Monsters? Or mankind’s ultimate salvation?

Commentary:

Black Bullet is another of the many series that have gotten picked for the american market that have plenty of action and a edge of little girl perversion blended into a dark story of the potential end of humanity. Honesty I would love to see an anime that killed us all off. After watching Black Bullet I’m not sure if there is a reason to save us from our own self-destruction. Of course anime know only a few standard story lines and the end of humanity is at the top of the list. I guess if you want to get published then you need to give us cute young girls and a crazy dystopian future that only a few moral / righteous individuals manage to keep on the path.

I wish I could give this series more props, but it looses itself in its own vision and panders to a fan base that wants contemporary ninjas and magical young girls to save the world. If fan service is the point of the series they manage to provide plenty of nice looking women to drool over and enough young girls to make any Lolli perv happy. I just think all of that gets in the way of the story. Of course the story isn’t all that new or imaginative.

Overall Grade: C+

For all that I find lacking I do have to admit that the series is compelling enough to make it worth watching. The action and plot gives any viewer enough to latch onto in order to keep them watching. The animation is fair but considering that the series was originally produced in 2011 shows that it ended up the shelves of the original network and was an easy pick up for other to produce for their markets.

I understand why Sentai spent the money on giving this series a english dub but I wish they would have saved their money and used it on something that can been seen as an artistic achievement compared to a potentially strong fan favorite.

I guess that the marketing machine wants to give the masses what they think they want and not so much the stuff that they really should see. I personally love anime for the potential for artistic expression and when I see series like Black Bullet go straight for the consumer and lack the artistic or imagination that sets great series apart from the rest I just have to tell myself that it is all part of the market and needed to keep even the weakest fans engaged.

In all fairness Black Bullet does manage to pull off a strong ending that opens up the possibilities for more to come. I should also mention that their is a moral imperative that is launched and will make anyone sit up a little straighter as they watch it.

So, if you are looking for a series with plenty of action and a lot of tough little girls then Balck Bullet is right up your ally!