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Rail Wars! Complete Collection (anime review)

rail-warsTitle: Rail Wars! Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshifumi Matsuda

Studio: Passione

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 minutes

Genre: Harem, Comedy, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

All train fanatic Naoto Takayama has ever dreamed of is becoming an engineer, but when he finally makes the grade and scores a trainee position with the JNR, his ambitions are totally derailed.

Now, instead of the big front cab of his dreams, Naoto’s stuck in the security division working with a squad of gorgeous girls and escorting pretty idol singers. Oh, what a nightmare!

Okay, so there are the occasional bomb threats, thieves, and members of the rogue railway privatization group RJ to deal with, but that’s what trigger-happy harpy Aoi and Sho, the squad’s only other male member, are for. And if Naoto’s one-track mind could just see the light at the end of the tunnel, he might realize that he’s already on an express train to paradise with multiple lovely cabooses. Will getting railroaded take on a whole new meaning? Find out as everyone gets off on the wrong side of the tracks in Rail Wars!

Commentary:

Rail Wars! falls under the standard heading of the Harem genre and it really is a harem anime. In that I mean that it only purpose is to be a harem. The plot was tossed out after the first episode. I had real hope that this would be something more than the guy that all the women wanted. Reality set in quickly and that is what it became. I also had high hopes that he would just accept the relationship with Aoi and move on to a story that had something to say.

Rail Wars! does do a fine job being a Harem and there are plenty of anime that are wonderful in their own right as a harem, like Ai Yoei Yoshi and Tench Muyo. Rail Wars! tries to give us a story but for all of its effort I found it to miss the mark.

Overall Grade: B-

Rail Wars! gives us some fun and excitement following this small team trying to become members of the National Railroad. The premiss is interesting and the title makes it sound like there will be some waring rail road companies, but if there is a war it is just a brief encounter between women who all have the his for Naoto. For all that it is worth, I did find Rail Wars entertaining and honestly wanted him to end up Aoi.

If you like sexy women, easy happy looking anime and plenty of groping going on then Rail Wars! is for you.

Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 (anime review)

parasyte-collection-1Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 on blu-ray

Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Creator: Hitoshi Iwaaki

Screenplay: Shoji Yonemura

Music: Ken Arai

Studio: Madhouse

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Thriller, Sci Fi, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis: 

It’s the ultimate nightmare. One minute Shinichi Izumi is a normal teenager asleep in his bed. The next he’s been infected with a deadly parasitic organism determined to devour his brain and turn his body into the planet Earth’s new apex predator.

But Shinichi partially foils the attack and, instead of being consumed, finds that the creature known as Migi has taken the place of his right hand. Now forced to share the same body, the two must become unwilling allies. Migi isn’t the only one of his kind, and unless human and parasyte work together, they’ll both be killed as abominations. Prepare yourself for a horrifying new world where the survival of the fittest and the survival of the human race are no longer the same thing. Monsters lurk behind every corner and every face as the human race becomes prey in Parasyte ~ the maxim!

Commentary:

Brace yourself, this is not the bloody horror story that cover art would leave you to believe. It is in fact a story of human and alien integration and a battle for survival. Parasyte the Maxim is a serious drama with plenty of blood, but it is more of a conversation of how to coexist rather than destruction. That in itself saves the series from a sorry death of over the top cut up festival. I admit there is plenty of useless slaughtering of people and plenty of dark moments that feel like pure violence for spectacle sake.

Parasyte the Maxim does a very good job of telling this story and the real strength is in the growth and development of Shinichi and how he deals with his changing body. I found his character to be easy to feel some sympathy toward and also have a little dislike for the way he often became a weak kneed young man. The real drama came from the dilemma about taking another life and how Shinichi deals with it. With the focal point being on this dilemma it become a little redundant, but Shinichi is given enough struggles to overcome to make the series move at a decent pace.

Overall Grade: B+

Parasyte the Maxim manages to over come the easy trap of being just another slasher series and gives us a series to with some thoughtful drama. There is a slight tenancy to make Shinichi a tad weak but they keep him strong enough to push the series forward. Parasyte the Maxim is a sold drama that doesn’t play up the gross blood fest that it could be. I am very interested to see collection 2 and wonder if he manages to save his life and the life of the alien life form that is living in him.

 

Wizard Barristers (anime review)

-wizard-barristersTitle: Wizard Barristers Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Yasuomi Umetsu

Written By: Michiko Itou

Music By: Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo

Studio: Arms

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 1st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Action, Drama, Mystery

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

 

Synopsis:

When the laws of magic are broken, it’s the duty of the Police Department’s deadly Section 1 to enforce them. But, since even craven maven Wizards and nefarious Necromancers have the right to a fair trial, the job of defending them belongs to the Benmashi, the Wizard Barristers!

It’s a tricky profession, requiring both arcane ability and a judicious sense of jurisprudence, and at just seventeen, Cecil Sudo is the youngest Benmashi that Butterfly Law has ever employed. That means a lot of late nights burning the midnight brimstone, summoning up summaries, parsing phrases with paranormal paralegals and cutting deals with opposing counsels from hell.

And when a young Benmashi starts to discover that her own charm may be more magically-based than she realized, there’ll be a hex-tra incentive to work wonders outside the courtroom as well! Every trial is a witch trial as the most enchantingly Adept Attorney ever becomes a Master of the Art of Defensive Spells in Wizard Barristers!

Commentary:

Okay, I know that there are some of you that think I am crazy for giving such a high grade to Wizards Barristers. The truth is that I found it rather appealing. I saw it as a true amalgamation of a lot of anime and western pop culture. Right off the bat I saw Cecil as a new form of Sawa from Kite, and a strange blend of Fullmetal Alchemist along with a health dose of Harry Potter. Cecil is the girl who holds the key and doesn’t remember her past. She is destine to be something very special and she is very unaware of it. There are wizards on both sides that want her and she is surrounded by a group of people who are there to be not just friends but protectors too. This series is a interesting blend of  the world of supernatural story telling and if not watched with a curious eye much will be missed.

Overall Grade: A-

Wizard Barristers has much to offer and provides it all in a lively colorful package. The one drawback for me was the animation. I found the computer generated (CG) work to be a little stiff, but with the advances in CG it is easy to watch.

The rest of the series had plenty of light humor tossed in to keep you interested and a lot of dark questions kept coming up that made it a must to watch the next episode. The ending felt a tad rushed and there are some gaps in the plot that I personally would like to see explained in an OVA or a second season. With Wizard Barristers being only an Anime property I just don’t see more coming and that is too bad. If you like Harry Potter, Kite and Fullmetal Alchemist then I believe you should enjoy Wizard Barristers. It is worth the time to check it out.

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

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

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Nippon Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise

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

Format: Blu-ray / 21 Episodes / 525 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

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

Commentary: 

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

Overall Grade: C+

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

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

Animeggroll Voted Best Anime Store In River Front Times Best of St. Louis 2013

8958789.40River Front Times September 26:

Best Anime Shop – 2013

Animeggroll

“Animeggroll’s walls are plastered with a mix of fresh releases and dated rarities. The curio shop of Japanese lore and Western fantasy holds no shortage of Asian comics and figures, but its collection of anime shines above any other store in St. Louis. Animeggroll caters to casual fans with value-priced box sets and used stock, but the hardcore folks can find joy in the store’s supply of special editions. The mass of Japanese anime and manga is bolstered by a trove of used games, including a glass case filled with foreign software and retro titles. Back issues of Asian pop-culture mags, novelty key chains, mascot messenger bags and gaudy wall scrolls round out a massive stack of geeky goods.”

A Devil and Her Love Song (Manga Review)

A Devil and Her Love Song 11Title: A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 11

Story and Art: Miyoshi Tomori

U.S Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: December 3, 2013

Genre, Format and length: Shojo manga, 200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar titles: Strobe Edge, La Corda ‘d Oro

Synopsis:

Series overview: Maria is a seemingly unemotional and blunt sort of person. She transfers to a high school and her personality soon causes trouble while the school is involved in a choral competition. Maria has a beautiful face and a voice to match. She does makes some friends and even finds herself with a boyfriend. Her mysterious history influences  how she reacts to the others and she will need to face her past to heal and move forward.

Volume 11 starts with Maria’s voice still gone and Shin’s hand still injured and not healing well. Now that they are a couple, there is pressure to have more of a physical relationship. When Maria finds she can’t express herself with her words, things start to get serious as she uses her body to communicate. Shin slows them down, not wanting to take advantage of the situation.

In a drastic pusht to help Maria get her voice back, Shin and surprisingly Shintaro, go with her to the town where she was from. First finding her old home, they get a clue to move on to find some key people of her past. It turns out that Shintaro has known a lot more than it seems he should. He had an elaborate plan involving Maria, but his motives are as not selfish as they seem.

Commentary

There is a lot that happens in this volume, but trying to avoid spoiling the details leaves me less to talk about. It is strange the way in the beginning of the series, things seem to be at a slower pace and each story took a longer time. Now with this important trip, it all happens very quickly. Not enough time seemed to be given to the unfolding.

Communication is still a problem between Maria and Shin. They are very concerned about each other and are always trying to be protective but without expressing what they need and want, even as they are trying to figure out what is in their own hearts and minds.

Maria definitely pushes the physical relationship since her voice is gone. It is her way to express herself . Shin was really sweet the way he reacted. For me, it makes it a bit confusing about the intended age range. It had seemed okay for early teens, but now with this one scene, I don’t really think so any more. I wish it had not been put in to keep all the content at the same age level.

Maria’s character started out as sort of a loner and blunt in her manner but now she seems to have really embraced emotions. She reacts to meeting the man who appears to be her father surprisingly mild. Perhaps it was Shintaro’s influence, but it just seemed too easy, more like the writer was trying to tie things up for the impending ending, which is at least 2 volumes away. It looks like there is 13 total. So where is this quick revelation going to take us? This leaves some time for Shin and Maria to find where their relationship is going. I hope it slows back down to its original pace. All in all, it is still and enjoyable romance series.

Overall Grade:  B

 

 

Is This A Zombie? of the Dead (anime review)

Is This A Zombie? of the DeadTitle: Is This A Zombie?

Director: Takaomi Kanaski

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: FUNimation

U. S. Release Date: Dec. 11th, 2012

Format: DVD / 325 minutes / 13 episodes

Genre: Harem, Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Supernatural

Age Rating: MA (Mature Audience for Violence and Fan Service)

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Titles: Tenchi Munyo, Ai Yori Aoshi and Ah! My Goddess

 

Synopsis:

Season Two gets off to a shocking start as Ayumu breaks Haruna’s magic chainsaw and accidentally exposes his fondness for pretty pink dresses to the entire school! Next there’s an incident with a dreadful dance that turns out to be a curse – and an embarrassing trip to a maid cafe where all the zombie’s roommates work! But the shenanigans take a backseat to bigger problems when Ayumu’s mysterious drinking buddy turns out to be the most powerful magical girl of them all!

To save his friends and defeat this adorable new menace, zombie boy must do the unthinkable: throw a mixer for his own murderer! With a little help from his loyal harem of vampires, magical girls, and the world’s cutest necromancer, Ayumu just might survive to rot another day!

Commentary:

When coming to this second season I was interested to see if they would go further into the back stories of these strange character, but I have to be honest and say that I was disappointed on that front. The other aspect of the series that I looked forward to was the humor and I was not disappointed one this point. The goofy strange humor held this season together. That fact that each one of the lead characters have such strange personalities that the way they work together seems to make it all even more humorous.  I personally like the way that Ayumu moves between being a normal caring person and a rather delusional pervert, but the second season brings out the perversion in several of them. Even though the humor is edgy  it doesn’t cross over to the world of vulgar. I found myself laughing out loud enough times to make the pointless plot line worth while.

This simply unique harem anime does much to prove that you take anything and make it a funny series that works even though there is not point to it. In the worlds of harems there are plenty that follow the standard formula and others like Is This A Zombie where the supernatural ends up being the focal point of the comedic relief. It is easy to like this show for  what it is.

Overall Grade: B-

Although the comedy is great the lack of a plot is a real downer. I thought something was happening just for it to be dismissed and piled on top of the rest of the strangeness that rolls through the series. It was fun to have Ayumu end up having a little more fun and the fact that so many of the rest of the player became more animated, but the way the story just flopped around left it in a sorry state. I just wish they given us something more to latch onto so that all the humor had something to make it all even funnier. This is still one to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.