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Kokoro Connect Complete Series (anime review)

Title: Kokoro Connect The Complete TV Series & OVA on Blu-ray

Director: Shinya Kawamo

Studio: Silver Link

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 14, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 4 OVA / 425 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Coming of Age, Romance, Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Grade: A

Synopsis:

The five members of the Cultural Study group that meets in class 401 have spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes. But they’re about to learn that there’s a huge difference between thinking about it and literally BEING in someone else’s shoes! That’s exactly what happens when, suddenly and inexplicably, they each find themselves inside the body of the girl – or boy – next door!

What happens next? Well, besides bringing a whole new meaning to the term “exchange student” and the to-be-expected freaked-out runs to the bathroom, it’s not hard to do the math: take one wrestling geek, the resident cool girl, the class clown, the popular chick and one sultry maid of mystery, scramble thoroughly and divide, and you can bet that pretty soon they’ll be answering ALL of the questions they never wanted to know about the opposite sex in ways they never anticipated!

Commentary:

I always cringe a little when I hear that a show is about people swapping bodies. Kokoro Connect only made me cringe because it is so good and how it manages to hit some genuine nerves with respect to the human condition. I have not felt this strong about a series since AnoHana made to our market. Kokoro Connect goes straight for that dynamic of exploring our relationships and our own frailties.

The animation style reminds me of the simplistic intimacy the K-ON! delivers or many of the other straight forward slice of life series. The one major difference is the solid development of the characters and the superb writing that brings the series to life. Each one of these students have a plenty of experiences that have helped form who they are, but they are just discovering the people they have become and how to move forward. Each are full and rich with plenty to say and it is very easy to become sympathetic toward them and their world.

The one thing that hit me the hardest was the honesty that came from the writing and exposed itself through these characters. This is where it made me cringe because of the way that they allow these characters to expose themselves and the things that they confess. There are things said that I can honestly say I would never expect to hear from anyone, but seeing it in this format makes those comments seem even more honest and revealing.

Overall Grade: A

Kokoro Connect is not for everyone and because of some of the conversations that happen I would say that it should really be rated 16 +. That doesn’t take away from the quality of the series and in fact adds to its overall attractiveness. Don’t expect this to be a sexy romp through adolescence, but rather a honest view of humans at this age and the things that make us who we are. There is one area that the Japanese are great at and they are coming of age stories that tug at our heart strings and Kokoro Connect hits a home run and made it on to my to ten releases. Be sure to check this one out.

Kokoro Connect  found it’s way into a top pick of mine for the series releases and with the addition of the 4 episodes / OVAs it is clear that it is now more than deserving of that list. I loved the way the series explores relationships without turning it into a silly redundant body swapping series. With the added emotion swapping that goes on in these OVAs it gives us another level of complexity and asked the question “how do we hide our feelings from our friends”? Funny thing is that we have all gone through this but not at this level of stress. The way that it is approached is both interesting and painful, but at all times it still keeps us grounded in both the characters humanity and the humanity of the viewers. There are plenty of other series that explore relationships such as Anohana or even Clannad, but Kokoro Connect does something that even they don’t do and that is touch a nerve that is so universal and at the same time so personal that they almost never come up and are almost never discussed among friends. To place young coming of age kids in the position of having to experience what others feel and all the while be bonded together through both friendship and the fact that they are all placed in this position without their consent. These simple factors make the series powerful for what it is and with the added awkwardness of those highly personal secrets rolling out from time to time makes Kokoro Connect something very special.

If you are looking for a series that makes you look at yourself and your friends in a new light then Kokoro Connect should be high on the list.

Similar Anime:

AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day, K-ON! , Tari Tari and Hanasaku Iroha are all in line with Kokoro Connect. AnoHana does explore the aspects of relationships and the dark secrets that we all hold back from each other. K-On!, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari follow a much simpler format of exploration of coming of age but they still deal directly with how we discover how to maintain relationships with those close to us as we age and life becomes more complicated. There are plenty of other series that take on relationships and if you want to feel something other than just a punch of adrenaline then you should be sure to pick one of these series up.

Young Black Jack (anime review)

Title: Young Black Jack: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Tezuka Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2007

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The year is 1968, the war in Vietnam is approaching its zenith, and the counterculture movement that’s been sweeping the world is engulfing Japan. While others are in the streets protesting, one young medical student becomes embroiled in a different kind of battle.

As new medical technologies to save and extend lives come into play, the temptation for a surgeon to play God has never been so powerful. Even as he strives to prove his own skills to his colleagues, Hazama Kuroo begins to suspect that the potentials for abuse inherent in the medical system are already being exploited.

To attempt to change the system means risking his own promising career as a surgeon, and to move against the perpetrators will put his own life in danger. However, as a doctor, how can he not act when lives are on the line?

The diagnosis is murder as the origin of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary rogue surgeon Black Jack is finally revealed in YOUNG BLACK JACK!

Commentary:

In the world of manga / anime few names take on the cult status that Tezuka does. Even the great Myazaki concedes that Osuma Tezuka was a undeniable force in the 1960s. The one thing that Osuma Tezuka did not do was to give us the rich and dramatic early days of Black Jack. This series produced after the legend has passed is far above anything I expected and stands out as one of favorite characters and stories derived from the Tezuka legacy. Young Black Jack provides plenty of drama and a wonderful dose of excitement.

Overall Grade: A-

If I was on the design staff for this series I would have brought up the one glaring issues with the character development. It has to be the unevenness of the character design. I know that there will always be a group that want to stay true to the strange and somewhat silly character design that is trademark Tezuka, but for this series it would have made more sense to make them all look more contemporary than the silly bulbous headed people that show up in the series. There is an uneven mix of normal looking characters and the silly Tezuka people. All I can do is ask why, it looks silly and detracts from the solid aspects of the anime.

To be perfectly honest I see Young Black Jack as something more than a Tezuka product, but rather a drama that continues to prove that humanity may need to be saved and at the same time not saved. I felt this way with other series like Black Lagoon and Darker Than Black. It just seems that Young Black Jack highlights the futility in our world and that giving all of yourself still may not be enough.

All you Tezuka fans get ready to be overjoyed and everyone else please try to get over the poor character design and look at the series as a whole. You will be very surprised and discover the deeper thoughts that run many anime that relate to a very easter way of thinking. So, be sure to check out Young Black Jack you will be happy you did.

 

Comet Lucifer (anime review)

Title: Comet Lucifer: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Yasuhito Kikuchi, Atsushi Nakayama

Writer: Yūichi Nomura

Studio: 8-Bit

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 14th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Mecha

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Sogo Amagi has spent a good portion of his young life looking for rare crystals in abandoned Giftdium mines, but it’s not until he’s lost in the ruins beneath his own home town that he and his friend Kaon make the most incredible discovery of all: a giant crystal with a girl trapped inside! Things only get wilder when the girl is unexpectedly freed.

Suddenly, the mines are invaded by giant robots controlled by a secret military organization, which is in turn fought off by a mysterious being made of crystal!

That leaves Sogo, Kaon, and their friends scrambling to figure out what to do with Felia, a red-eyed girl with strange powers who doesn’t even speak their language!

They need to figure everything out quickly, because unless they can unravel Felia’s secrets and learn why the military is after her, their whole planet may be in danger of complete annihilation in COMET LUCIFER!

Special Features: Garden Indig’s Train Shorts, Music Videos, Clean Opening and Closing Animation.

Commentary:

Within a few minutes I had a wave of other anime flood my memory. Comet Lucifer is a clear derivative of several there anime and in some ways it fails to live up to the standard that has been set before it. In other ways it manages to give us a story that entertains and intrigue. I understand why Sentai didn’t spend the money to dub Comet Lucifer and also understand why it didn’t take long to go from Crunchyroll to Blu-ray.

There is plenty of decent mystery and tension in Comet Lucifer. Although the area where it falls apart for me is in the character development and attempt to provide some comic relief. I did like the way Felia attached herself to Sogo and Kaon, but also felt like there was a weak attempt to create a real family between the three. It is not until late in the series that there seems to be a sense of connection. Even with that connection there are plenty of question that are left open.

Overall Grade: B-

As much as I wanted to really like Comet Lucifer and did enjoy some aspects of the series, but all in all I bound it to be forced and overly contrived. The series doesn’t have the feel of Fractle or even the odd the special connection that is found in Last Exile.

I tend to really enjoy these fanciful stories and love the way they tend to unfold. Comet Lucifer has much of the key aspects needed to be a fine series. In the end it does some things really well, but the total development of the characters leaves some things out which ends up hurting the overall strength of the series.

If you are a fan of fantasy anime that is a hidden love story the you should like Comet Lucifer just let it flow over you and do try to make it fit the trope it comes from.

Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yasuhito Kikuchi

Studio: eight bit

Author: Masahiro Yokotani

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks/Section 23

U.S. Release Date: February 14th, 2017

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Angelic Layer, Rozen Maiden, and Chobits

Juggling four girls at once is never easy, even when they are small enough to actually juggle!

Synopsis:

Some guys wait their entire life, and then some, to meet the girl of their dreams, but high school freshman Rihito is already living with four of them. Plus, they are almost always ready and willing to help him with whatever difficult task their “Master” needs to be handled. So, how did Rihito get to be so darn lucky? Well, while Hina, Ann, Ines and Rene may not be exactly high maintenance, Rihito does have to make sure they are lubricated regularly and recharge their batteries as needed. He does this because they are Shinki—tiny, six-inch tall, customizable androids (Now would be a good time to get your mind out of the gutter.) But do not let their tiny size fool you because these little ladies have more than full-size intelligence and emotions, there is also friction because each one would prefer to be Rihito’s favorite. Make way for the sparks that are going to fly as these battery powered princesses take charge of Rihito’s world.

Commentary:

Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection is an anime series that was produced as an advertisement for the Shinki action figures and as such it is an original storyline written for said figures. With that being said, I thought Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection was an average Slice-of-Life anime. The story follows the four Shinki as they perform their daily chores and the trouble that they always find themselves in. You can watch any episode after the first one and it will make almost perfect sense. Being as this was an advertisement there was not much character development but you do get to see an example of each Shinki by the end of the series. Rihito basically treats his Shinki as if they were human and the Shinki take really good care of him. Basically the Shinki are depicted as cute, tiny androids living in an apartment in the middle of Tokyo.

As for character development, there is none. Rihito is basically seen as a generic avatar that the target audience can relate to. Ann is the caring character who is pure of heart, Rene is the clumsy big sister, Ines is the tsundere character who is mean but cares deep down inside and Hina is the cool loner girl who cannot relate to the rest of the cast. I basically saw every overly done character type in one anime. I did enjoy the Christmas episode though because it showed how much the Shinki care about Rihito and at the same time it showed how much Rihito loves his Shinki.

Extras:
Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection includes Japanese promos, clean opening and closing animations, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series is available in Japanese language with English subtitles.

Overall Grade: B-

Busou Shinki-Armored War Goddess: The Complete Collection was produced as an marketing tool for the Shinki figures and I have been noticing this has been the case for a few series created around this time. When I began watching the first episode I was expecting this series to be pretty good as it reminded me of Angelic Layer and I really enjoyed that series. Within a few episodes I realized that while this series has potential it was never expanded on and really leaves something to be desired.

Triage X (anime review)

Title: Triage X: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Akio Takami, Takao Kato

Music: Makoto Miyazaki

Studio: Xebec

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 24th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes + OVA / 275 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Action, Extreme Fan Service, Harem

Age Rating: MA for nudity and violence

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

Our society is infected with a disease, a gangrenous cancer in the form of those who commit the most monstrous of evils, yet whose power and influence place them beyond the reach of the law. When corrupt politicians fail to act and the police seem helpless, there is a third, secret option that stands ready to excise the malignancy in a tactical surgical strike: Black Label, a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and students who moonlight as an elite team of assassins.

With the world’s deadliest nurse, a master swordswoman MD, an idol with an affinity for explosives, and a pair of seemingly indestructible high school students, their mission is as simple as it is deadly: identify the drug runners, terrorists, and criminal masterminds who can’t be destroyed any other way, and then eliminate them by whatever means necessary in TRIAGE X!

Special Features: Interview with Kenji Akabane and Yuri Kondo, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening Animation.

Commentary:

Oh my goodness, Triage X takes you straight to the fan service and nudity. There is no attempt to hide the intent there is just a blatant explosion of nude women on the scene. The fact that there is a serious drama included kind of gets in the way of large breast bouncing across the screen.

My first thought was that someone took the heavy drama as seen in series like Darker Than Black or even Black Lagoon and mixed it up with Sekirei or even Tenjou Tenge.  After few episodes I realized that the plot was only secondary to the fan service and it became almost meaningless that they were unabashed vigilant. This is where the plot broke down for me. I really wanted some meat with these bones, but that just wasn’t meant to be.

Overall Rating: C+

You might think that I would have given this a lower grade and maybe I should. Honestly, I can see where it was true to its nature and audience. The target audience is the male 18 to 29 year old group and everything you expect from one of these series in piled in. There is a serious drama that provides plenty of girls with guns and a very sympathetic male lead character with a overabundance of nudity.

I typically am not a fan of these type of series but do love a solid girls with guns show. Triage X provides the excitement that goes with a serious girls with guns even if their breast to tend to overshadow the plot and action. The other shinning point of the series has to be the animation. It is high quality and it was easy to tell that the animators enjoyed what they were doing.

In the event that you are looking for a action packed series with an overdeveloped fan service quality then you will find Triage X the series for you.

Turn A Gundam part 1 on Blu-ray (anime review)

Title: Turn A Gundam part 1 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Writer/Creator: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Nozomi, Sunrise

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Romance, Steampunk

Age Rating: TV 13

Overall personal rating: B

Synopsis:

For 2000 years, a separate race of humanity has lived on the moon. Known as “the Moonrace,” their technology is leaps and bounds beyond those that stayed behind on the Earth’s surface. Now seeking to return to their original home, the Moonrace send three teenagers – Loran, Keith, and Fran – down to Earth on a reconnaissance mission to test the viability of its environment.

After spending a year on Earth, Loran has become good friends with Sochie and Kihel, daughters of the prestigious Heim family, and he looks forward to fully integrating into Earth society. But before Loran gets the chance to make his report, the Moonrace launch a surprise attack. Earth’s primitive airplanes are no match for the superior power of the Moonrace’s mobile suits. However, in the midst of the initial attack, Loran and Sochie uncover a long-forgotten relic: a white mobile suit. As a Moonrace, Loran is quickly able to grasp the basics of piloting it, but by doing so, he inadvertently places himself in the middle of a war.

Commentary:

Gundam Fans get in line for here come the resurrection of the mysterious Turn A Gundam. Reaching back to the year 1999 Sunrise with the help of Nozomi have brought back a slick version of the a series that many people can’t waited to get the next installment of and everyone else figures it may be time to give it a rest. Personally, I am a believer that the Gundam franchise may have seen better years, but honestly I found Turn A Gundam every enjoyable. Of course it felt dated and the writing fell flat more than a few times. Even with those detractors the story held my interest and gave me a reason to think there is more to this than meets the eye.

Compared to most of the older Gundam renditions I feel as though Turn A Gundam builds on a simple story and support both our future and past. There is obviously the leaning to the earth bound humans and a slightly sinister approach to the Moonrace humans. I’m not sure that there is a real need to make one more sympathetic than the other and I think that ben though the Moonrace has better technology that doesn’t mean their lives are that much darker. If I was human and bound to a dead rock where we have to manufacture everything even the air you breath I would be a little bitter about the selfish earth bound humans who are too ignorant the understand what they really have.

I’m not saying that all of the Earth humans are portrayed as naive or even good natured and not all Moonrace humans are evil. That would be against all anime doctrine and would also fail the entire Gundam universe. What I am saying is that I could see myself siding with the Moonrace and wanting to drive out the stupid Earthlings so that someone who would appreciate the earth for what it is could be in control.

Overall Grade: B

Turn a Gundam is a new twist on an old Gundam plot, but it does a good job of telling the story. I just wish the animation was better. By 1999 – 2000 anime productions values had really found a new look and Turn A Gundam held on to some rather tired old artistic values in this series. I get that it is a Gundam series, but for gods sake they should have made it look a lot better than they did.

One other thing that I reality like about Turn A Gundam was the fact that human technology was all about the steam power and Steampunk ruled the day. This added romantic ideal did help give some beauty to the visual aspects to the series and it helped give me a reason to keep watching in some of the slower moments.

Even with the poor production value I still find it to be a solid series with plenty of Gundam goodness packed into it. There is one other thing that I must mention and it is the disc art work. The five disc have possibly the best disc art covers i have ever seen. If the series would have looked that good it would have overtaken the Gundam and Mecha anime world and blown everyone away.

I am looking forward to seeing the second half of the series. So all you Gundam fans get ready for the one true Steampunk Gundam coming at you. Now on Blu-ray makes it even better.

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection (anime review)

review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection

Director: Makoto Katou

Studio: TROYCA

Author: Takayo Ikami

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 10, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Perfect Insider, Heaven’s Memo Pad

Synopsis:

Shotaro Tatewaki knows that Sakurako Kujo is not a normal person. After all, most young women have multiple interests revolving around things like work, fashion, and sports, but Sakurako is fixated on just one thing: bones.
While she already has a huge collection of them, mostly animal, she is always trying to gather more, especially those of the human variety. This can be quite a problem for Shotaro; especially since he and Sakurako have a positively unnatural aptitude for discovering dead bodies together.
Fortunately, Sakurako is a naturally brilliant detective who unearths the mystery of what happened to the owners of those bones, but it is up to Shotaro to make apologies for Sakurako’s odd quirks and tendency to make off with the evidence.

It’s a grave business that can leave him literally bone-tired, but for the wheels of justice to turn, there are always more skeletons to be bared and new secrets to be exhumed in Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection is an interesting series as it was basically the anime version of a female Sherlock Holmes and her sidekick Dr. Watson. Sakurako seems to know everything and always has an answer for everything she sees. She also have a magical girl style transformation whenever the latex gloves come out, complete with the skeletons of many different creatures. It could be described as CSI meets Mahou Shoujo. It is very episodic in nature, and it actually seems like a slice-of-life series, and every one or two episodes presents a different and new mystery. Some of the mysteries were better than others but overall, they were complex and suspenseful. I really wish they would have finished the storyline that involved Hanabusa but there is always hope for a second season.

There was very little character development throughout the series until the last episode. In the last episode, we learn how Sakurako and Shotaro met each other and worked their first case together. It seemed completely out of place to have this episode at the end of the series because they did not wrap up the series and instead decided to focus on the background story that would have been better suited in a different episode.

The animation for Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection was pretty and colorful and the background was true to life in the way the plants moved. The voice actors did an amazing job bringing the characters to life and it seems like they had fun making this series. The opening and closing animations were catchy and well animated.
Extras:

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B

All in all, if you like the mystery crime genre then I believe you will enjoy Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection.

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.

Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine (anime review)

knights-of-sidonia-season-2Title: Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine

Director: Kobun Shizuno

Creator: Tsutomu Nihei

Studio: Polygon Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: November 29th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes & Feature Film/ 442 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Drama, Action, Seinen

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Knights of Sidonia Battle for Planet Nine (Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki) contains episodes 1-12 of the second season of Knights of Sidonia plus a movie, a chipboard box, art cards, and a poster.

Discovering the nature of one’s individual identity is a question every sentient being confronts. Do you only count if you’re entirely human? What does it mean to be a person?

In a war with the alien Gauna, capable of absorbing and re-purposing human DNA, these are no longer abstract questions In these uncertain conditions, pilot Nagate Tanikaze finds himself developing an obsession with the Gauna clone of his deceased beloved, Hoshijiro.

Meanwhile, his close friend, Izana, a manufactured non-binary human, goes through an alarming change as their feelings for Nagate grow. Existential and romantic problems will have to wait though, as the Guana step up their attacks and a virtual coup d’état threatens to throw Sidonia’s leadership into chaos, while even darker forces stir within.

The very definition of what it means to be human is about to be questioned as the battle to survive continues in KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA SEASON 2: BATTLE FOR PLANET NINE!

Commentary:

Being a major fan of Knights of Sidonia I was thrilled to see the second season finally release. I have heard plenty of disappointment regarding the heavy Computer Graphics use, but I’m not too sure it doesn’t end up adding to the overall feel of the animation. Add Nihei’s gritty imagery to the hard edge of CG and you end up with a true dystopian future that has a look of tired worn-out existence.

The plot continues with mush intrigue and mystery as to what is going on. We are introduced to plenty of new strange aspects to the story and of course there is  Tanikaze who manages to provide plenty of wonder as to what he really is.

Overall Grade: A-

If my only grade for Knights of Sidonia was based on the story it would be an A, but because there is simple failure to wrap the series up I ended up feeling left with a great start and no finish.

The animation may put some people off and in some ways it does get a little tiresome. I still think the hard CG helps create that aged future where humanity is at it’s final battle. Now if we can just see that battle and discover what the outcome will be.

I know that Netflix has had plenty of opportunity to show this series and that a lot of people may not like the English dub, I feel as though it should be a top pick of those mecha lovers who are looking for something more original than Gundam or EVA. Of course, there are plenty of Mecha series out there and it should be noted that Knights of Sidonia is not finished. You should give it a try and if you haven’t seen season one you should watch the movie before you watch Battle for Planet Nine.

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection (anime review)

little-busters-exreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection

Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa

Studio: J.C. Staff

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: December 6, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 8 Episodes / 200 Minutes

Genre: School Life, Slice of Life, Supernatural, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Little Busters, Little Busters: Refrain

Synopsis:

Does the new girl in Riki Naoe’s life need his help, or is she actually trying to kill him? After a chance encounter on a rooftop brings the enigmatic Saya Tokido into the Little Busters’ world, the only thing that’s certain is that trouble is sure to follow.

As if saving the lives of his teammates wasn’t enough of a task to handle, now Riki must also untangle a web of new mysteries that seem to be rooted in his own personal past! Who are the Dark Executives, why do they want to keep Saya and Riki apart, and what is the nature of the secret treasure that Saya seeks? Sometimes, answers lead to even more questions as Riki and the Little Busters discover that they weren’t the only people drawn into Kyousuke’s artificial world in Little Busters! EX!

Commentary:

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection in the three-arc OVA series that follows Little Busters!: Refrain. However, it seems that Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection takes place in an alternate world or universe and the characters know about it. Two of the arcs, the Kanata and the Sasami arc make the most sense and fit in with the rest of the series. Saya’s arc made the least sense of all because she only exists in the alternate world and the four episode arc is the only time she is in the entire series. Her arc was also the weakest in that it ends with no resolution while the other two arcs have some kind of resolution even though they are shorter in length.

There was a decent amount of character development in Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection. Saya was an interesting character to say the least.  Apparently she and Riki met each other when they were children and that causes her to fall in love with him. She is also your run-of-the-mill tsundere that appears in every harem amine series. Sasami and Kanata are a bit more realistic but I can name other series where I have seen the cold/mysterious personalities. They are both every stand-offish and keep to themselves. However, both girls did grow as characters over their separate two episode arcs and eventually learned to trust and fall in love.

The animation was very pretty and the backgrounds did not take away from the characters. The voice actors did a good job of bringing the characters to life. The opening and closing songs were catchy and were fun to listen to. All in all, Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection was an interesting addition to the entire series.

Extras:

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B-

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection is an interesting addition to the Little Busters! series. I recommend this release to anyone who has seen the rest of the series.