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Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (anime review)

Title: Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto on Blu-ray

Director: Shinji Takamatsu

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 21, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genere: Slice of Life, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Step into classroom 1-2 and meet the coolest guy in school. In fact, Sakamoto may just be the coolest guy ever. And that’s not just because he makes his student uniform and glasses look like a fashion magazine cover. There’s also the fact that nothing ever seems to surprise or rattle him. The girls are all crazy for him, of course, but even the most macho delinquents start to feel a little funny when he’s around.

However, Sakamoto never seems to notice, let alone take advantage of the attention. He’s too busy being cool and mysterious without even trying! This does drive some people crazy, but the more someone tries to challenge Sakamoto, the more they start to fall under his spell. Intrigued? Then come join the class and get a lesson in cool from the master in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto!

Commentary:

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto! is something of a dilemma anime for me. On one hand I think it is great and makes you want to be that extra cool Sakamoto, but on the other hand I feel like it is a one note anime. There is just too much thing to upstage or discover any flaws in Sakamoto that I feel as though the series is missing a great opportunity to make a average person manage to get through High School by just being very cool. Instead they make Sakamoto cool without trying to be cool.

I know it may seem petty and in fact I see the series as a true hit and yet I still don’t connect with the character they way I wish I could have. Of course it is more important to connect with the other characters to make the series worth while.

Overall Grade: A-

I realize that this is a high grade for a series that I believe has some serious flaws and in a way I am just another hypocrite falling in line with all of the other anime fans who like this series. I did find the other students to be worthy of my fandom and also enjoyed seeing them fail at all of their attempt to trip Sakamoto up or even discover his first name. I am just a weak as everyone else that has seen and enjoyed Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.

As far as the animation, voice acting and overall production of the series, I would have to say that it was above average but not something to write home about. I could say there was any real standouts or major failure. That for me is a job well done and should be recognized for the effort put into the series to make it work a seamlessly as they did.

If you always wondered how the really cool kids managed to be really cool then don’t watch Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto because, it will only fool you to think they didn’t even try. If you want to watch a series and realize that you are just like all the other students then Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is just the medicine you need.

 

The Dragon Dentist (anime review)

Title: The Dragon Dentist on Blu-ray

Directed By: Kazuya Tsurumaki

Produced By: Hideki Anno

Studio: Khara

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 31st, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 2 Part Special Film / 90 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Going into war against a dragon takes incredible courage, but even that danger pales in comparison to the hazards of young Nonoko’s job. As a Dragon Dentist, she’s charged with venturing into the jaws of the country’s dragon protector to keep its pearly canines free of plaque, decay, and other debris. One day, Nonoko discovers an unconscious soldier between her dragon’s teeth instead of a cavity, and she finds herself caught up in a series of events that have been foretold to bring disaster to her people! Get ready for an incredible brush with destiny that leads two young people through the mouth of hell and towards certain doom as the creators of the new EVANGELION feature films unleash an epic unlike anything you’ve seen before in THE DRAGON DENTIST!

Commentary:

It has been some time since I was introduced to a anime that took me by surprise. The Dragon Dentist is one very unexpected 2 part film. In some ways I am still not sure what to think. The plot and overall story is very unusual and at times almost was too surreal. At other times there was some rather profound moments that seem to give purpose to the storyline.

I am still not sold on the idea of Dragon Dentist and what their purpose really is. I get the fact that they take care of the dragon’s teeth, but I also see them as a metaphor for something very deep and meaningful. I just can’t make the complete connection.

The Dragon Dentist is full of some rather cliche connection and tropes, but just underneath the story is a rather poignant meaning of life anime that makes you ponder more than just what you are watching.

Overall Grade: A

I knew that it would be weird with Anno being the producer, but I never thought it would take me on a journey that would leave me confused and satisfied at the same time. The Dragon Dentist is a must see for anyone who enjoys a good mind game anime and if you liked Evangelion then you will love The Dragon Dentist.

The production and animation is also a bit different. I can’t say that it was beautiful like a Shinkai film or imaginative like Ping Pong. I would have to call it interesting and very suited for the story. It takes on a bit of a Post-Modernist viewpoint and artistic perspective and still provides plenty of visual interest to keep your eyes pealed to the screen. At first I was distracted by the break in the middle between the two episodes, but now that I think about it, I see the break as being rather clever. It provided time to stop and think about what you just watched and helps set you up for the second half. It also draws you to the point that makes you desire more.

The Dragon Dentist is a hit in my book and I think anyone who likes anime that makes you think will see it as a hit too.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version (anime review)

review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version on Blu-ray/DVD

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Author: Jukki Hanada

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 17, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pac / Movie / 96 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions and Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Heart Throb

 

REALITY, BE RENT! SYNAPSE, BREAK! VANISHMENT, THIS, WORLD!!!

 

Synopsis:

In Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version, it’s just so not fair! Sure, Rikka may be a “chunibyo” afflicted with a state where she’s convinced that she has hidden powers. Maybe she DOES think she has an evil eye that always has to be covered with a patch. But that does not mean that what she believes is not real to her, and Rikka knows in her twisted little heart that Yuta Togashi is much more than just another boy. So why is he always pulling away? At long last, here is the chance to see the world through Rikka’s eyes (or eye, technically, since the evil one is usually covered). Armed with your trusted parasol, you will deal with evil high priestess sisters, enchanted animals, and the scariest thing of all, going literally boy crazy!

 

Commentary:

Basically, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version is cut scenes from season one of the series in Rikka’s perspective. There is an awesome dream sequence in the beginning that I really hope they revisit in the next movie that is due out. I am having trouble seeing this as a movie as the only thing added was that dream sequence and I was quite disappointed when it was found to be a dream. They did pick good scenes from the first season and it did make me remember the first season better.

 

Every character is likable, well developed, and brings something to the story. Yuta, the former chunibyo, looking to get away from it and to being a normal teenager. Rikka, a fully fledged chunibyo, follower of the Wicked Lord Shingan. Dekomori, the pig tailed middle school student, servant to Rikka, and wielder of the Mjolnir Hammer. Nibutani, the seemingly popular girl, cheer leader, class president, and general fantasy of all the guys, that seems to be the oddball-out in this group. And Kumin, who just wants a club she can nap in. They all bring a high level of moe, and you will quickly fall in love with them all. Watch as imaginary fights come to life, with overactive imaginations of the chunibyo. Plus you get a taste of the fascinating martial art of cooking utensils. If that’s not enough for you, enter the comedy. Well thought out Yonkoma style gags, mocking of cultural clichés and overall random insanity assist the whole thing along. Need some drama? Well aren’t you demanding… Well guess what, it has that too. There is a lot of love in this story too, so you know. How can all this work together? They did a great job of combining it all together, and giving it a balance of reality, and the fantasy of escaping reality. They also included some cultural clichés than have transcended Japan, like capcom code, role playing, slapstick comedy, and issues more serious in nature like dealing with loss and the pains of growing up. Some of us may not understand that last one, since we never actually grew up, but that is a story for another day.

 

The animation was well done and the voice actors did a great job bringing the characters to life. The music was catching and the opening and closing was interesting. All-in-all, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version is a wonderful re-cap of the first season but I was wishing for something more.

 

Extras:

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions Rikka Version includes clean opening and closing animations, My Brother 2 short, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This movie was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options. However, the My Brother 2 short is only in Japanese with English subtitles.

 

Overall Grade: B

Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Studio: AIC
Author: Noboru Kimura and Touko Machida
U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks/Section 23
U.S. Release Date: October 10, 2017
Format and Length: Blu-ray /37 Episodes + 2 OVA’s / 975Minutes
Genre: Drama, Romance, School Life
Industry Age Rating: 13 and up
Overall Personal Rating: C+
Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: KimiKiss: Pure Rouge, Hatsukoi Limited, Clannad, and Kanon (2006)

Synopsis:
Junichi Tachibana has never been lucky in love. Ever since his date stood him up on Christmas Eve two years ago, he has pretty much given up on the whole idea and spends his days inside his closet planetarium, going to school and hanging out with his friends Kaoru and Umehara. However, there are quite a few girls who would all make wonderful partners for Junichi if he would only open his eyes and his heart. Could he have struck up a meaningful relationship with any of them if he’d done the right things and said the right words?

Well, it is time to find out as Fate steps in and decides to see what would happen if Junichi were to snap out of his funk and take a chance. This is a whole new twist on the idea of love at sixth or seventh sight, and if one boy and a whole lot of different girlfriends-to-be sounds like a lot of wishful thinking… well, it is! But wishes have that weird habit of coming true and the statistical odds are definitely on Junichi’s side as the guy without a date’s luck with the ladies goes from bad to multi-verse! Will Junichi find his good ending with one of the ladies, or is he to be lonely for the rest of his life? Watch Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection and find out!

Commentary:
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection is a series that follows Junichi Tachibana as he falls in love with six different girls at different times within the same time period; almost like Groundhog Day. Amagami SS is the first season and Amagami SS+ is the second season. I personally prefer the first season over the second but you will need to watch both and figure out which on you like better. This series is based off a PS2 dating game with the same idea. Each girl gets their own story arc of four episodes and we usually get a nice wrapped up story within those four episodes. Some arcs were better than others, but I enjoyed them all. I am a hopeless-romantic and I love a good romance if it is well done and Amagami SS: The Complete Collection is one of the good ones. I can see myself rewatching this series again.

Junichi’s character is very well developed and we get to see this development through the arcs. However, he is always slightly perverted no matter what, but eventually you accept it and just laugh at those moments. Haruka is the girl the first arc is about. She is a very unique and cheerful girl who loves puppies and other cute things. She is really loveable and her voice actress did an amazing job bringing her to life. Kaoru is a childhood friend of Junichi and the second arc is all about her. She is hard-working and has a cool personality. Sae is the girl in the third arc. She is a first year student at the school and is very shy. They actually make a very cute couple. Ai and Junichi meet up for the fourth arc. This arc has the most emotion and development. The ending was beautiful and really moving. I could not help but feel attached to Ai as her personality is just too cute. Rihoko is the fifth arc’s girl. However, she already loves Junichi but he does not love her. This arc felt very slow and drawn out. She is not a horrible character but this arc did not hold my interest very well. We finally meet Tsukasa in the final arc. She is the class volunteer for the Christmas festival at school and Junichi decides to help her out. Eventually they get closer and something beautiful happens at the end. Tsukasa is a wonderful and likable character.

In Amagami SS+, each girl is given two episodes to wrap up everything in a pretty bow. Personally, I think they could have cut it down to one episode each and made them into OVA episodes. They drew out the episodes by adding more drama than was necessary or by introducing characters that were not in the first season. If I had to pick a favorite arc for the second season I would have to say it was the Sae arc. It was cute but drawn out.

The opening and closing songs were well done and each arc has its own closing songs. There are two different opening songs and both are well done and catchy. Some of the closing songs are better than others but I think that has more to do with how you feel about the arc itself. The artwork was well done and the background pictures jumped off the screen.

Extras:
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series only has Japanese with English subtitles as the language option.

Overall Grade: C+
Amagami SS and Amagami SS+: The Complete Collection is a wonderful romance and I recommend it if you enjoy that genre of anime. It would have a higher grade if the second season was better.

 

Chihayafuru Season One (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Chihayafuru Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

Author: Sumino Kawashima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 12, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Drama, School Life, Slice of Life, Sports, Card Game

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow

Synopsis:

Chihaya Ayase was a girl who never seemed to fit in. She never had much in common with the other kids, and her family was so obsessed with her older sister’s modeling career that, sometimes, it was like Chihaya was not even there. Everything changes when transfer student Arata gets Chihaya interested in the world of competitive Karuta, a unique card-based game that requires lightning fast reflexes, an exceptional memory, and a keen ear. Chihaya is a natural, and she has the skills to take her to the very top. Suddenly, Chihaya has found her goal: to become the best player in Japan! It will not be easy, but when a girl has a dream in her heart, nothing else matters! Will Chihaya become the Queen of Karuta? You will have to watch Chihayafuru and find out.

Commentary:

Chihayafuru is a series that starts off very slow but then it becomes something amazing. The character development is amazing and I truly believe that Chihayafuru loves its characters. Chihaya is the tom-boy who wanted nothing better than for her sister to become the top supermodel in Japan. That was her dream for her life. But thanks to Arata and Taichi, she finally realizes that she wants to be the Queen of Karuta. Taichi is from a wealthy family and he is quite the golden boy as he is smart, good looking, and mature. He also excels at nearly everything he does which is why he is the President of the Misusawa Karuta Club. He has a crush on Chihaya but is hesitant to do anything about it as he believes she only has eyes for Arata. Arata left after elementary school graduation to take care of his grandfather. His passion for Karuta is inspired by his grandfather who was a Meijin (master).

I will try and explain Karuta but it will not be short. Karuta is not to be compared with playing cards in the sense of the Western World. It is not Poker, Rummy or Skat. It would be most comparable to Memory. There are different types of Karuta that can be played. Uta-Garuta is played in Chihayafuru. The card game consists of 200 cards, 100 of which are called Yomifuda, this are the reading cards and 100 Torifuda, which are the cards that are use by the players itself. On the Yomifuda are the first three verses of a traditional Japanese poem. The Poetry comes from the Hyakunin Isshu (100 poems of 100 poets, each poet one poem). The Torifuda (game- or field-cards) contain the last two verses of the respective poem. The challenge consists in recognizing the poems during the reading and to catch the corresponding play card in front of the opponent. Karuta fulfills everything a sport should have, high concentration, excellent memory, lightning reflexes, strategic thinking, endurance, resilience, mental strength and a tremendous commitment to the long training for coordination and precession. The person who touches the right card on the field first gets the card, when you take a card from the opponents side you can give them one of yours, when your half of the playing field is empty you win.

It sounds simple and quite boring but it’s NOT. In order to touch the right card quickly, cards get flung of the playing field, people are sweating, thinking and reacting at full speed and crazy-eating chocolate in between these intense games. To really play Karuta at top level you need memorization skills, good hearing and senses, good posture, analytic and strategic skills, precision, strength, speed, perseverance, an emotional connection to the cards and so much more. As you can see, Karuta is very difficult to play but when it is played by people who love it, it is a beautiful thing.

The animation was so beautiful and colorful. They showed off backgrounds that will take your breath away and traditional Japanese clothing that is just amazing. The voice actors did a great job and I really enjoyed this series even if the first five to six episodes drag a bit.

Extras:

Chihayafuru 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: A

Usher and Tora Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Usher and Tora: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Studio: MAPPA, Studio VOLN

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Aug. 29th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 39 Episodes / 975 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Shonen, Drama

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Ushio always ignored his father’s crazy tales about the temple where they live. All that talk of restless souls and vicious monsters are nothing more than stories, right? However, Ushio quickly rethinks his position when he discovers a locked basement with an actual demon pinned to the wall by a spear! The tiger-striped demon threatens to eat Ushio if he doesn’t free him, so Ushio naturally chooses to ignore him. However, when the demon’s presence starts to attract others, Ushio is forced to remove the spear to save himself. To make a bad situation even worse, freeing the demon, Tora, also bonds Ushio to the cursed Beast Spear, sending him on a journey where unspeakable dangers await. The battle is only beginning for these unlikely partners!

Commentary:

In today’s environment to see so many older series being brought forward and rereleased and not being brought up-to-date makes Ushio and Tora a real unique entity. This series from the early 90’s has been given a new lease on life and even expanded. It is a major plus to see this revisiting of interesting series and even becoming a current hit for the strength of the story.

As for Ushio and Tora I found the story to be too episodic much the way Yu Yu Hakusho  seemed to be focus on simple battles. I think that is where Ushio and Tora looses me. The area it manages to keep me involved is the relationship that is developed between Ushio and Tora.

Overall Grade: B

I wish I could have given Ushio and Tora a higher grade, but I just got worn out by the simplicity of the story line. I do see it as a series that most seekers of action would like and the with it having 39 episodes manages to give everyone plenty to enjoy. The updated animation is strong and fluid enough to make it easy to watch and stay focused on the story and battles.

I realize that there are a great history of episodic series that are only about the battles and Ushio and Tora is not different except for the fact that it becomes a little more tiresome than some of the others. I don’t see it finding it’s way into the hearts and minds of the fan base like Yu Yu or Dragon Ball Z and that is because of the Mature Audiance rating. I think that if the violence would have been reduce down to a 13+ rating there might be a greater fan base to find and a way to secure a more sustained group of followers.

If you are looking for a solid battle anime then Ushio and Tora is one you need to pick up. It is great to see older series getting a true new lease on life.

Bakuon!! Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Bakuon!! Complete Collection

Director: Junji Nishimura

Written By: Kurasumi Sunayama

Studio: TMS Entertainment

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Aug. 22, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Riding a bicycle may be better than walking, but when another girl zips past her on the way to class, Sakura Hane realizes that there’s an even better option: motorcycles! Fortunately, Sakura’s all-girl school just happens to have a motorcycle club! It only has one member though: the mysterious Raimu Kawasaki, who’s never been seen without her face-obscuring helmet. But that changes immediately once Sakura and the girl who passed her, Onsa Amano, sign up and start recruiting!

It won’t all be easy riding… Sakura still has to earn her license, and there are problems like the club’s official status having slipped, and the need to recruit a faculty sponsor. But when the rubber hits the road, those are just little potholes as six student bikers take a ride on the wild side!

Commentary:

Bakuon!! is simply K-On! on motorcycles or one of the other many girl high school clubs slice of life series that manage to tug at that the heart strings and manage to give us all a reminder that somewhere in the world teenage girls are not possessed with being mean or crappy like they are in the U. S. Ok, that might have been a little harsh, but in reality the current media fixation on mean girls is breading a new generation of teenage girls that are crappy at best. Bakuon!! is the opposite. It gives us girls that may not always get along but they still care enough to show kindness to each other when it matters.

Bakuon!! may not reach the classic hight of K-On! but it still manages to give us some rather wonderful slice of life moments and plenty of humor to keep the viewer coming back for more. Bakuon!! also manages to avoid the trap of Love Live or Cinderella Girls and tends to stick with the much simpler trappings of a bike club. There is some mystery and suspense when it comes to their senpai Raimu.

Overall Grade: B+

I make no secret that I enjoy these simple slice of life anime and see the easy noncommittal viewing that comes with them. Bakuon!! manages to hit all the points that make it worth watching and enjoying.

The animation quality is good and so is the character design and approach to highlighting the motorcycles they ride. There is a solid attention to where they took the series adding in plenty of humor and bizarre happenings that it is easy to stay with the series. I can’t tell if Rin’s father is immortal or just very lucky.

Bakuon!! is one for the books it may not be a solid A but it sure is a series worth checking out. I just hope it doesn’t fall by the wayside in favor of mediocre series like Attack on Titan when the real hope and allure of anime is not how mucho it can be like western comics, but rather how much it can showcase the eastern idealism and philosophy that makes it so powerful.

Bakuon!!, check it out you won’t be disappointed.

Food Wars: Season 1 (anime review)

Title: Food Wars: Season 1

Director:  Yoshitomo Yonetani

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: August 15th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 24 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Comedy,  Food Battle,  Slice of Life, Harem

Age Rating: TV-MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Ever since he was little, Soma Yukihira’s main goals have been to beat his father in a cooking contest and take over the family diner. That’s why, when his dad suddenly announces that he’s shutting the restaurant down and sending Soma to cooking school, Soma is shocked. However, Tohtsuki Academy is no ordinary cooking school.

This elite institution is filled with culinary giants like Erina “God Tongue” Nakiri, who does her best to keep a lowly short-order like Soma from even making it inside the door. However, if the snobs can dish it out, Soma can serve it up, and when he learns that only a handful of the students manage to graduate every year, he swears that the only way he’ll leave is as number one!

Commentary:

Food Wars is a show that hit many of the high points right off the bat. The awesome way the eating experience is depicted is a  shinning star of the series. The orgasmic nature of eating food says a lot about how great food is approached by the writers. The fact that they explain what is going on also plays into the greatness of Food Wars. Spending so much time watching Iron Chef and Top Chef along with loving anime such as Toriko and Yakatate Japan I fell in love with Food Wars and having these characters run the gantlet to become serious chefs.

The characters of Food Wars have pluses and minuses. Soma is the biggest plus and Megumi is the weakest one of the bunch. I found it too easy to dislike Erina and way too easy to like Meat-Meat. Soma is more complex and being the star of the series, he has that typical Naruto characteristic of being overly positive with that overwhelming can do attitude. It is sometimes a drag on his personality but is also a rather basic trait for a anime protagonist.

Overall Grade: A-

Most of Food Wars works very effectively, the orgasmic tasting gets rather boring after the 4th of fifth episode and some of Megumi’s anxiety attacks are annoying. I think a major positive of the show is the cooking. J. C. Staff did a great job of depicting the cooking process and the talent that goes into preparing food. I loved the way the final dishes were given the spotlight and as a fan of cooking battle shows, I had a hard time not binge watching the entire 24 episodes.

I was transported back to the wonderful world of the original Japanese Iron Chef I just wish the judging was as much fun in the live action battles as it is in Food Wars. I guess I am a little jealous that I have never had a full body experience eating food. I hope season 2 of Food Wars is released soon. If you haven’t seen it then you should put on you bibs and get your knife and fork because a full course meal is coming your way.

 

SCHOOL-LIVE! The Complete Collection


review provided by Luther

Title: SCHOOL-LIVE! on  Blu-Ray

Director: Masaomi Ando

Studio: Lerche

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: June 27th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of life, Comedy, Horror, Mystery

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

Why would anyone form a School Living Club? Could four girls, their advisor, and a puppy really love their school so much that they’d want to live in it? Or is there another reason, something that lurks behind the façade of their comfortable existence? Something that waits outside their school’s doors. Something that has already robbed one girl of her sanity? While the others try to come to grips with a dark new reality, the rest of the world falls to ruin at the hands of a ravenous force, and insanity may be the last hope for survival. Shocks, heartbreak and stunning revelations await as the twisted tale unfolds in School Live!

Commentary:

School Live! is a series that is constantly surprising the viewer with shocking, but not unreasonable, plot twists and is a show that is best enjoyed without knowing much about the plot or setting. My first time watching the series was when it was originally airing, and all I knew about it was the name of the show and what the main characters looked like. At the time I was under the assumption that the show was going to be a standard slice of life anime, but after the twist ending of the first episode I knew I was in for something much darker.

However, School Live! is not an entirely dark horror show. Rather School Live! is an interesting blend of lighthearted comedy about girls living at school woven in between the intense drama and troubled lives of people surviving a zombie apocalypse. While slice of life comedy and horror are two genre that seem to be complete opposes, but in School Life the two tonal differences provide a unique juxtaposition. The lighter element of the series provides comedic relief and gives the viewer time to get to know and feel for the different characters; whereas the horror elements gives rise to compelling narrative and a deep mystery.  

Incorporating horror elements in to this series also provided a different take on slice of life anime. In many slice of life anime, like Lucky Star or Nichijou, bazar characters or situations appear in the everyday lives of the characters with little to no reasonable explanation and exist solely for the joke. Yet, in School Live! when similarly strange comedic occurrences happen, like a club that lives at school or a professor with so little presence that people sitting next to her forget that she is there, they are often reviled later to be a direct result of the zombie apocalypse.

Overall rating: A-

Neither existing as purely a slice of life or a horror anime, School Live! may not be what serious fans of either genre would enjoy. Nevertheless it is an interesting compelling take on both of that genre, and continually left me wanting to watch more. While the English dubbing did not have the best casting and the animation quality left something to be desired, the interesting cast of characters and the gripping story more than made up for any of the show’s short comings.

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky

Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky on Blu-ray

Director: Kō Matsuo

Writer: Kō Matsuo

Music by: Naruyoshi Kikuchi

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise, Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: July 7th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 70 Minutes

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

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Their war has not yet ended…

It is Universal Century 0079, at the end of the One Year War between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. The space colonies of Side 4, or Moore, were previously destroyed by a Zeon attack, and many colonists lost their lives. Side 4 became a shoal zone filled with the wreckage of destroyed colonies and warships, lit by constant flashes of lightning due to collisions between electrified debris. It soon came to be known as the “Thunderbolt Sector.”

The Moore Brotherhood, an Earth Federation Forces unit made up of surviving citizens from Moore, set out to exterminate the Zeon forces in the Thunderbolt Sector in order to reclaim their homeland. To halt the Federation advance, the Zeon forces deployed their own Living Dead Division, which was established to collect combat data on soldiers with prosthetic limbs.

Io Fleming, though part of the Moore Brotherhood, hates being tied down by his homeland and family history. Daryl Lorenz, having lost his legs in earlier battles, is now an ace sniper of the Living Dead Division. When they confront each other on the battlefield, they will reach a mutual realization. These two are destined to kill each other.

Commentary:

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt December Sky is the type of anime film that proves if you keep doing a thing enough you will finally get it right. This film hits on several major points and leave3s you wanting for a lot more. From the opening sequence all the way to end ending montage I found December Sky to be a delight. It did manage to have some of the overly melodramatic elements that Gundam Universal Century calls for and at the same time uses music and lively characters to make this fast paced film something worth watching.

One thing is very clear and that is the fact that Kō Matsuo understood the import of making these characters complex and human enough to sympathize with on both sides. Funny thing, I found December Sky to be one of the most anti war Gundam produces yet.

Overall Grade: A

As you can tell, I really liked December Sky and will recommend it to all Gundam fans and all other Sci Fi fans who love music and action. I don’t really care if it doesn’t resolve anything I think that from the artistic stylings to the insane character development everyone can get a great idea of what this film is all about. So, I just want to tell Kō Matsuo thank you for proving us with 70 minutes of pure excitement.