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Ajin: Demi-Human Season 2 (anime review)

Title: Ajin: Demi-Human season 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Hiroyuki Seshita, Hiroaki Andō

Written By: Hiroshi Seko

Studio: Polygon Pictures

U. S. Distributions: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 10th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes, 2 Movies / 325 Minutes

Genre: Seinen, Drama, Supernatural, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Ajin: Demi-Human Season 2 contains episodes 1-13 and movies “Comfort” and “Collide”.

Kei’s stopped running, but his decision to stand and fight comes just as Sato launches his second wave of terror. Angered by the governments’ refusal to admit the truth about the live experiments on captive Ajin, the Ajin terrorist has begun assassinating a list of the key individuals connected to Ajin research, and only someone as unkillable as he is has a chance of stopping the man in the hat.

With Sato being better trained, more experienced, and allied with other Ajins, Kei has only two chances at heading off the final apocalypse: to somehow learn how to better control the Invisible Black Matter being he generates or to recruit other Ajins into the battle. The shadow war explodes and the world burns as the ultimate warriors face off in immortal combat!

Commentary:

Ajin season 2 takes us to the war. It also does something that is very, very typical for anime and the protagonist. It gives us the over-the-top brooding protagonist that consistently misses all the right clues in becoming a better person and demi-human. One thing does become clear and that is the fact that Ajin does fall into that trap of the anti-hero complex which manages to slow down the development of the story.The series is very slow where as the movies help complete the circle in a much more favorable pacing.

The most difficult aspect to Ajin is the animation itself. The rough flat computer graphics may have the sole purpose to creating dramatic effect, instead it makes the series look unprofessional and second rate. I have no idea why this artistic rendering was accepted in the creation of the anime. It would have been very easy to clean up the look and still give some of the original creator look and feel. I found myself loosing my attention all too often due to this second rate animation.

Overall Grade: B

Ajin: Demi Human has such a great opportunity to tell a compelling story and the writing manages to pull off the essence of what it should be , but the animation and typical hero Kei just put a damper on the entire series for me.

Amin: Demi Human is a solid A in writing and has plenty of high points that lead you to a somewhat satisfying series. I just wish they would have re-thought the anime styling.

 

 

GARO Red Requiem (film review)

Title: GARO Red Requiem on Blu-ray

Director: Keita Amemiya

Written By: Itaru Eda and Keita Amemiya

Starring: Ryosie Konishi, Mary Matsuyama, Masahiro Kuranuki and Hironobu Kageyama

Studio: Tohokushinsha Film

U. S. Distributor: Kraken Releasing, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray/ Feature Film / 97 Minutes

Genre: Super Sentai, Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C-

Synopsis:

During the ancient war against the monstrous creatures known as Horrors, many Makai Priestesses have fought and died in battle, yet no woman has ever been chosen to wear the mystic armor of the Makai Knights. Kouga, the current bearer of the gold wolf armor, Garo, doesn’t believe it’s even possible, but when his quest to destroy the Horror Karma thrusts him into conflict alongside the fiery Priestess Rekka, he’s forced to acknowledge that the female is often the deadlier of the species! Because Rekka has a personal score to settle with Karma, and she’s determined to destroy that Horror herself! It will be all Kouga and his Mado Ring Zaruba can do to keep the three of them alive long enough to do it in the GARO universe’s first spectacular feature film directed by Keita Amemiya, GARO Red Requiem.

Commentary:

Garo: Red Requiem is, well, how should I put this, a Super Sentai for adults. Yes, it is Power Rangers all grown up. I can’t say that the transition was all that great, but there are some scenes that contain enough nudity that it requires a mature rating. Other than that, it is just a dark, demonic, Super Sentai. The acting is in par with the Power Rangers and even some of the Ultraman series that have recently been released. It defies logic sometimes to understand how or why the acting is so bad, but it is the nature of this type of shows. Now, in Power Rangers or Ultraman the audience is young enough to see it as fun and extra cool, but in Garo; Red Requiem it just makes it a little more difficult to watch.

Overall Grade: C-

Honestly, I can be a sucker for these silly Super Sentai films because I was raised on Godzilla, Ultraman and even Johnny Socko (who does not rock). Garo: Red Requiem just falls short for me. There is a  solid story line or plot there but the fact that most of the real plot was absent, left me out in the cold. I think that if they would have followed the lead of a film like Zebraman, allowed the story to develop a little more and also added onto the love interest between Kouga and Rekk, then maybe there would have been more connection to the story. Instead there was just hints at connections and then large plot devices left up to the viewer to discover.

For as much as I found lacking with Garo: Red Requiem, I guess that I still enjoyed it enough to laugh at the goofy times and enjoy the battles in a way that is required from these over-the-top stories. So, if you are looking for a Super Sentai film with plenty of computer graphic demons and half naked women to keep you watching, then Garo: Red Requiem is just the ticket.

Chihayafuru Season 2 (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Chihayafuru Season 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

Author: Yuki Suetsugu

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 20, 2018

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

Genre: Drama, Game, Romance, School Life, Sports

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow and Chihayafuru Season 1

 

Synopsis:

Chihaya’s determination to become a master karuta player has not changed, but as a new semester begins, the team’s focus switches to recruiting new members for the club in order to keep their meeting space. Unfortunately, while a number of students initially express interest, few are willing to put forth the effort it takes to play on the level of the existing members. Enter Sumire Hanano, who split with her boyfriend on the first day of school. Now seeking a replacement, she thinks that Taichi might just fill the role nicely, even if it means jumping into a pool with a shark like Chihaya! Now all the cards are on the table or, in this case, the floor and the games are really about to start!

 

Commentary:

I will first 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.

 

Chihayafuru Season 2 starts off right where season one left off. We are introduced to two new characters who are the only students who join the club in the new semester. We first meet Sumire Hanano, an incoming first year, and she has decided to only join the club and learn to play Karuta in order to get closer to Taichi. Eventually, she is moved by everyone else’s passion and becomes a proper member of the club. She uses makeup, especially mascara, as battle armor and is never without it. We then meet Akihiro Tsukuba, an incoming first year student who has played Hokkaido-style Karuta (second verse karuta using two hands) and wants to join the club and learn how to play first verse karuta. He is the annoying/creepy character that you want to hate but instead learn to love. He has three younger brothers who look up to him and he plays off their attention to the extreme. He is drawn to pretty people so of course he looks up to both Chihaya and Taichi. Both characters added to the plot and made a great addition to the series.

 

Chihayafuru Season 2 focuses more on the competitive karuta than the love triangle between Arata, Chihaya and Taichi. The love triangle was there but we saw a lot more karuta games, both individual and the group games. The Tokyo finals and the High School Nationals were both shown and the other schools from season one were back again, along with a few new ones. Chihaya also faces off against the current kurata Queen and once again loses but she learns an important lesson while doing so.

 

The animation was beautiful and breath-taking. The background animation popped with color and the music really set the mood. I truly cannot wait for the third season to air so I can see what happens next.

 

Extras:

Chihayafuru Season 2 on Blu-ray 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

Girlish Number: Complete Collection

Title: Girlish Number: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Shota Ibata

Writer: Wataru Watari

Studio: Diomedea

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 6th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C

Synopsis:

Chitose Karasuma wants to make it big as a voice actor, but while she looks and sounds adorable, she’s also self-absorbed, inattentive, selfish, and lazy. However, since her manager is also her big brother, she’s still getting bit parts and dreaming of landing the big role that will make her famous.

Unfortunately, karma bites Chitose in the worst way possible when her big chance finally arrives, because the producers who’ve hired her are even more clueless than she is! Now, she’s trapped in a nightmare production where nothing goes right, the ratings are in the toilet, and swimsuit photos and live stage shows take priority over making quality programming! Can Chitose and her fellow trapped actresses turn things around and save their careers? Or will they all go down with the sinking ship?

Commentary:

I am always a sucker for a fun easy slice of life anime and Girlish Number fits the bill. Of course you have to navigate through all of the silliness to get to some meaning. In the case of Girlish number you are given a look into voice actors and their approach to dealing with other voice actors. Most of them are rather fake about how they portray themselves and at times it becomes a little annoying. Chitose is one of the biggest offenders of this fake persona which  is my main problem with the series.

Overall Grade: C

Girlish Number peeked my interest because of my affection for these types of Slice of Life anime, but in the end it fell a little flat for me. I was thinking that I would find some connection with Chitose and what I found was something much different. I ended up siding with the more seasoned and crass voice actors who did not hide their feeling or persona the way Chitose did. Of course we did get to see who she really was, but it took some time and several episodes of cringe worthy character development.

The overall production values of the series are high enough to help keep the viewer entertained and they followed the tried and true artistic stylings of most girl centered slice of life anime that made it pleasing to watch. The one area that I was really disappointed with was the writing , but of course it may have been too real to make me want to enjoy the story. From the incompetency of the producer and director to the general lack of motivation of the production staff and the off putting personalities of the voice actors I found the series difficult to get into.

If what you want in an anime is a look at the voice acting world and some of the trouble with anime production then Girlish Number is right up your ally.

 

 

 

 

 

Flip Flappers: Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Flip Flappers: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Kiyotaka Oshiyama

Writer: Yuniko Ayana

Music By: To-Mas

Studio: Studio 3Hz

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 27th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Magical Girl, Absurdity, Adventure, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A

Synopsis:

As a middle school student, Cocona has been trying to decide what to do with her life. Magical Girl, however, wasn’t a career path that she’d ever considered. When suddenly a strange girl named Papika thrusts her into a secret organization called Flip Flap, Cocona’s outlook does a radical flip-flop. Her views start to change when she is dragged into an alternate dimension called Pure Illusion where she’s charged with gathering crystal shards and fighting strange creatures.

Now, between running missions and facing off against a rival organization, Cocona doesn’t have much time to consider alternate career choices. What are these shards, and why is gathering them so important? There’s a mystery to be solved and multiple worlds to be saved!

Commentary:

Flip Flappers is another great example of the direction anime has begun to explore as we see new creative teams finding the financing to create new and imaginative series. Only 13 episodes long there is a great deal of action, weirdness and story packed into Flip Flappers. Looking at the series as a whole I can say that I see Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Fooly Cooly, Puella Madoka Magica and even Space Dandy all rolled up into it. In fact I feel as though that the list is on the short side. I would consider Flip Flappers a true post modern production the way it takes the past and manages to deconstruct so many anime and reconstructs it into a crazy series that leaves you smiling and scratching your head at the same time.

Overall Grade: A

Just the animation for Flip Flappers makes it a winner for me. With some solid absurdity and plenty of surreal surroundings take the series over the top. There are a few weaknesses and I think the the character development of Cocona and Papika could have been drawn out a little better with more hints and story development earlier on. The real meat of the series doesn’t come into play until later in the story line and it would have been nice to give more glimpses of their past together before we get to episode 9/10.

I think Flip Flappers is a big surprise for the winter releases but I am afraid it will be over looked for other big name releases. So, if you are looking for a series that will keep you guessing and make you smile all the way down the rabbit hole then Flip Flappers is the series for you. It is not too often that we get treated to a new series that will blow your mind from the very beginning and keep blowing it all the way to end.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Complete Collection Blu-Ray (anime Review)

series was reviewed by Andrew and Katie

Title: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Complete Collection Blu-Ray

Director: Ai Yoshimura

Studio: Brian’s Base

Author: Shotaro Suga

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 13rd, 2018

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular, Haganai, and Haganai: NEXT

Synopsis:

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Complete Collection contains episodes 1-13 of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and episodes 1-12 of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!

Caution! Opposites may attract, but putting them together may result in chemical burns, electric shocks, and explosions. Enter Hachiman Hikigaya, a pessimistic high school student with no friends and absolutely no interest in making any, and the firm belief that everyone else’s cherished high school experiences are either delusions or outright lies. Hachiman finds himself forcibly coerced by his well-meaning student advisor into joining the one member Service Club. There he encounters club founder Yukino Yukinoshita, a smart, attractive, walking superiority complex who looks down on the entire student body.

These two negative personalities are quick to attract Yui Yuigahama, who’s cute, bright, cheerful, and needs the Service Club’s help to… bake cookies as she should not be allowed in a kitchen by herself. Is this a recipe for romance or the precursor for a nuclear meltdown? Will there be cookies or a reason for everyone to play hooky? Get ready for rom-com gone totally wrong as the three members of the Service Club is unleashed on the unsuspecting student body!

The stampede of recent events may have herded the awkward members of the Service Club into something closer to a real bonding, but the upcoming field trip to Kyoto threatens to reverse those tiny steps forward. Alongside a list of attractions to see, they will also be taking along a lot of emotional baggage, and helping others with their personal and romantic issues may just cause the entire luggage rack to collapse.

Between Hachiman’s growing realization of how much he can manipulate others, Yukino’s underlying battles with responsibility, and Yui’s shifting needs and insecurities, the tenuous thread that holds their relationship together is more fragile than ever. Even as the path ahead is strewn with psychological traps, the feelings that each of them refuse to acknowledge may end up being the true pitfall in My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: The Complete Collection is the opposite of a rom-com but at the same time it is one as well it just depends on the episode. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: The Complete Collection gives you a fresh and exciting spin on anime stereotypes that will leave you bawling in laughter. The storyline is mostly episodic and character-driven. The last few episodes flow together but the rest of the episodes do not need to be watched in order after the first episode.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: The Complete Collection really gets its characters and empathizes with them, but it does not make excuses for them. The characters are wonderful and well thought-out. Hachiman Hikigaya, or Hiki, is your cynical and somewhat pessimistic lead male character and his dissections of everyday occurrences and his appreciation for the little things in life bring hilarity to the story. The way he thinks and acts changes drastically throughout the course of the show as he meets new people and learns more about how to be a friend. Yukino Yukinoshita is the incredibly cunning and calculative tsundere of the series. She and Hiki are in the same boat when referring to lack of friends because she lacks them due to her perceived perfection and elitist attitude; while Hiki lacks them for his mistrust of others and cynical behavior. It was amazing to watch them grow on each other in a way that is not very predictable, but extremely well done. Yiu Yiugahama is the air-headed and inexplicable nice member of the group and serves as the glue that sticks them together with her much needed comical outbreaks and genuine emotions.

The animators brought these characters to life and it was amazing to watch. The character designs were bright and the facial expressions added the realism to the series. The opening and closing songs were fun to listen to and were easy to sing-along with. The voice actors did a great job and helped bring the characters to life before your eyes.

I loved the first season and I was really looking forward to the conclusion that My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection would give the story. Boy was I wrong about that conclusion because Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui end up not talking about their feelings at all and instead shove them all to the side so they can just be friends. There was no plot progression, actually it crawled at a snail’s pace and never really went anywhere, and the characters did not change or develop at all.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection starts off where the first season left off at the school festival and Hachiman’s behavior is explained to some degree. Then they all go off to Kyoto and that is where all the problems for our three main characters start. Hachiman decides to go off and change the outcome of one of the club’s projects and they did not care at all for how he handled it. Yukino’s older sister comes back into the story and just causes all sorts of trouble and eventually brings their mother into the picture because she is worried that Yukino is just copying her older sister and not becoming her own person. That situation is what forces Yukino to set her true feelings aside and it changed her personality. Yui is just too shy to say her true feelings and instead just wants everyone to be friends and get along. She knows that cannot happen but she still pushes for it every chance she gets.

The animation changed a bit from the first season but it still looks great. The colors are bright and lively and the backgrounds do not detract from the characters. The voice actors did a great job as always. The opening and closing animations were catchy and I found myself singing along with them within a few episodes.

Overall Grade: B

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: The Complete Collection has made it onto my list of favorite series and I found it quite enjoyable. It is a refreshing and interesting take on the rom-com genre. It is great that Sentai Filmworks has put both together in one package.

Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-Ray Collection (anime review)

Title:Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-Ray Collection

Director: Kazuhiro Furuhashi

Writer: Yasuyuki Muto

Music by: Hiroyuki Sawano

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: March 6th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 7 Episodes / 450 Minutes

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

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn) Blu-ray Collection contains episodes 1-7.

Universal Century 0096. Three years after the last conflict between Neo Zeon and the Earth Federation Forces, the tentative peace of the Earth Sphere is about to be shattered again. Cardeas Vist, the head of the powerful Vist Foundation, has decided to hand over “Laplace’s Box,” the secret of the Foundation’s prosperity, to the supposed enemy, Neo Zeon. Banagher Links, a student at the space colony Industrial 7, rescues a mysterious girl who calls herself Audrey Burne. Audrey is seeking to prevent a war, but it seems she has come too late. As Banagher’s home colony is devastated by the attacks of the enemy mobile suit Kshatriya, he finds his strange destiny and is forced to fight in the formidable weapon system known as the Unicorn Gundam.

Based on a bestselling novel by the famed writer Harutoshi Fukui and animated with theatrical quality, this new chapter in the Gundam saga is a cutting-edge anime series for all coming generations.

Special Features: The “Story So Far”, Episode EX “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, Episode Recaps, Episode 5 Ending with Lyrics, Trailers, Promotional Videos, Commercials, MS & Character Highlights, Episode 3 Textless Ending.

Commentary:

In the wide world of Mobile Suit Gundam there are few series that I find as well put together as Unicorn. This short but exceptional series does something that others did not manage to do. It makes the characters mostly likable and less melodramatic than most of the other series. Unicorn does play fast and loose with physics and makes some aspects a little hard to believe but it remains fun and entertaining. Maybe not as much fun as MS 08th Team or dramatic and hard hitting as Thunderbolt,  but it still hits most of the high points and leave little to disappoint.

The one thing that I felt was a little to tried and true for a Gundam series was the way Banagher was whinny and somewhat of a punk. This model of the anti-hero is something the Japanese love to have as the star protagonist. At least they toned it down somewhat and didn’t allow him to ruin the series the way Camille or even Amuro Ray for that matter. This whinny hero boy archetype is always the weak link in gundam and it is not surprise that most fans will levitate toward  Char or Full Frontal as the real favorite.

Overall grade: A-

One great benefit to being produced in the last 10 years is the quality of animation. Unicorn is top flight and it really does make a difference. Being easy to watch make all the difference in the world. I found it much easier to overlook the bad physics and melodramatic writing when the overall look is fluid and appealing.

Overall Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn is one of the best short series for Gundam, next to MS o8th Team. I know that this group of disc were out already, but the repackaging in a single group is much appreciated and I have a feeling that plenty of Gundam fans will be standing in line on March 6th to get their copy. I know I am glad to have mine.

 

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (anime review)

Title: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless on Blu-ray

Director: Shin’ya Kawatsura

Writer: Akemi Omode

Music by: Hiromi Mizutani

Studio: Silver Link

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 30th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes/ 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: PG

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Tanaka-kun can’t help it. Put him someplace nice and warm, and he’ll start nodding off, even in class or on the way to school. You would think that this would eat into Tanaka’s social life, but, fortunately, our consciousness-challenged protagonist has a guardian angel in the form of his best friend Ohta, a gentle giant who (literally) carries Tanaka from place to place. Then there’s class-rep Shiraishi, who’s convinced that Tanaka’s unique perspective lets him see past her beautiful appearance; Miyano, their hyper pint-sized classmate who somehow becomes Tanaka’s unwanted apprentice in listlessness; and Echizen, a self-proclaimed delinquent who’s determined to fight him. As for Tanaka, being the center of attention is the last place he wants to be, but the world just won’t leave him alone.

Commentary:

I find Tanaka-kun is Always Listless to be a very interesting series. That fact that someone that sleepy has such devoted fiends says a lot about the Japanese culture. Tanaka being one of the most tied characters in all of anime manages to lead a full ice life. If he were in an western series he would be a side character who manages to get in the way every once in a while, but to see him have not just friends but a cute girl who has a crush on him is outrageous at best.

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless has a full variety of characters and that is where it really shines. I found Ohta to be one of the more interesting character with his stoic manner and unwavering friendship to be spot on. Most of the rest of the group are standard fair for most slice of life anime, but with this series you get to enjoy them in a much different way because of Tanaka and his sleepy nature.

Overall Grade: A-

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless hits the mark on many levels and even though it has its slow moments I found it to be vey likable. I would not recommend Tanaka-kun is Always Listless if you are tired because you might fall asleep just watching Tanaka and his listless nature.

I did find the animation style to be perfect of the series and the English voice actors did a great job with understanding their character. Most of the overall production was spot on. The only area where I found any issues was with some of the basic plot line and character development of a couple of the secondary character.

I found it to be a much more positive experience than with some of the other recent slice of life series and would suggest that if you are looking for something that is straight up funny thenTanaka-kun is Always Listless is of you.

 

KISSDUM-R Engage Planet

Title: KISSDUM-R Engage Planet on Blu-ray

Director: Yasuchika Nagaoka and Eiichi Satō

Writer: Yasuchika Nagaoka

Studio: Satelight

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 2nd, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes plus 4 OVA / 650 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action/Adventure and Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

KISSDUM-R Engage Planet the Complete Collection contains episodes 1-25 and OVA’s 1-4.

The destruction of a cruise ship leaves thousands dead, but the body count is only beginning. As researchers try to make sense of the strange new fish and insects appearing around the world, scientist Rurika Yuno and the N.I.D.F. attempt to track down the source of the mutation, a mysterious artifact called the Book of The Dead. When the Book is finally located, all Hell breaks loose. Literally. As swarms of hellspawned fireflies and giant unearthly creatures attack mercilessly across the planet, Rurika is forced to use the Book to resurrect her dead lover, fighter pilot Aiba Shu. But can even humanity’s last desperate line of defense – the Necrodiver – defeat an ancient evil whose only goal is to exterminate all mankind? The final war has begun!

Special Features: Japanese Commercials & Promos, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation.

Commentary:

Okay, Kissdum-R Engaged Planet is something of a real mystery for me. From the opening episode I was intrigued and began to get into many of the characters. A few episodes later I was a broken man and not sure what direction the series was going. As I stuck to the series I found myself hitting his and lows every few episodes. I just felt like I wasn’t sure about getting connected to any of the secondary characters. Shu Aiba was the only one that I could latch onto and begin to bond with his character. I did appreciate that he didn’t fall into the stereotypical male protagonist who wined more than anyone else. Shu was solid and followed through with what he needed to do and I appreciated it very much. Although, his character was a little one sided and felt like a simple shonen hero.

It did take a long time for the series to settle in and start making some progress with the plot line and as it began to solidify I began to warn to the simple nature of the story and action. I began to feel like it was one of those average series that just wanted to give you some action on a weekly basis and there is nothing wrong with that.

Overall Grade: B+

Kiss dun-R Engaged Planted falls under one of the many overlooked shonen series that take a simple story and manages to throw several curves at you right away but eventually settles into a rhythm that makes total sense. I found the animation to be slightly above average and much of the writing to hit the mark. I was somewhat confused in the first 6 to seven episodes as the overall cast changed so much, but one I got into the middle of the series I understood why things had to be that way.

My one disappointment was that Kissdum-R Engaged Planet fell into the battle of the week series and tended to forget the post and series progressing in the middle episodes which I found to be reassuring and somewhat of a letdown but not an overwhelming disappointment.

When it comes to new releases I honestly think that Kissdum-R Engaged Planet will be overlooked and it really shouldn’t be. It has every right to stand next to many of the big budget, heavly marketed series that are coming out.

So, if you are looking for a interesting action adventure series that mixes it up on you right off the bat then you should check out Kissdum-R Engaged Planet.

 

 

Initial D Legend 1 Awakening (anime review)

Title: Initial D Legend 1 Awakening

Director: Masamitsu Hidaka, Tomohito Naka (co-director)

Studio: Sanzigen & Liden Films

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: Dec. 5th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 60 minutes

Genre: Car Racing, Coming of Age

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening, when aspiring racer Koichiro Iketani witnesses an unplanned street duel between Keisuke Takahashi, a member of a rival race team, and a mysterious Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86, Koichiro’s totally blown away by the skill of the 86’s driver. What Koichiro doesn’t know is that the driver is fellow gas station attendant Takumi Fujiwara, who was making a late-night tofu delivery for his father, a legendary Mt. Akina driver himself.

Unforeseen events are about to springboard Takumi into the center of the street-racing world, turning the rivalry between Iketani’s Akina Speedsters and Takahashi’s Akagi Red Suns into an all-out street war! The legendary series that introduced the west to the sport of drift racing is reinvented in an all new feature film that’s even faster and more furious than ever before: NEW THEATRICAL MOVIE INITIAL D LEGEND 1: AWAKENING!

Commentary:

Initial D is one of those series that has lasted the test of time even though the cars have shown their age there is something very real about teenage boys and cars. That is really the only thing that Initial D Awakening has going for it. I know that if I were still in my 20’s or even my 30’s I would be all over this film, but I found it rather single minded and lacked a depth that I was hoping for. The fact that the natural racer (Takumi) doesn’t really care about racing and is just doing it to get home faster. There is also the connection between Takumi’s father and his racing history that is way to easy and somewhat disappointing.

The plot does hold up and Awakening does a great job of setting us up for the second film. The animation is good and the work that went into the races really paid off. There is also an attention to detail on the cars that I found interesting and reassuring. The voice acting was much more typical and fell apart at time and lent itself to the typical American answer of overacting for some of the core characters that tend to add a tension that isn’t needed.

Overall Grade: B

Initial D Legend 1: Awakening has everything any Initial D fan will need to make them very happy. It is also a great film for any young man between the age of 15 and 40 who is into cars. This gives a very special depiction of Drifting and what made it so very special in the 80’s and 90’s.

It is always fun to get a feeling for the beginning of a story line and get a sense of what these beloved characters were all about before the original series began. Initial D Legend 1: Awakening does several things very well and a few thing not so well. The biggest issue for me is that the film is broken into two films and maybe should have been edited so that it is just one full length film.

Initial D fans get your motors running!