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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.

 

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.

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.

Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior: Complete Collection (anime review)

kawai-complex-guide-blu-rayTitle: Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Shigeyuki Miya

Anime Writer: Takeshi Konuta

Original Creator: Ruri Miyahara

Studio: Brian’s Base

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Film Works, Section 23 Films

U. S. Release Date: December 6th, 2016

Format: DVD / 12 Episodes & OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Seinen, Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

 

Synopsis:

Some say a home is where your heart is. Others say that a home is where you send people whose brains aren’t functioning quite properly. So, when Kazunari Usa’s parents send him to the Kawai Boarding House while they work abroad, it may take a while to figure out whether this is really his new home, let alone what kind of home it is.

On the one hand, his new roommate is a pervert and a masochist who peeps at girls’ schools, while his new landlady thinks leaving a variety of weapons lying around the girl’s area is a proper form of feminine protection. And when it comes to the trouble-making college girl and the perpetually grumpy working woman… well, let’s just say that those two have some serious issues to work out. On the other hand, Kawai is also home to Ritsu Kawai, who stole Usa’s heart from the first second he saw her on his first day at his new high school. And that alone may just make living in this strange new house worth it!

Commentary:

Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior is a simple straight forward coming of age high school romantic comedy. The comedy aspect is what is front and center with this silly story. The love story is between two rather shy kids who for their own reasons aren’t able to show their true feelings, but as the series progresses things are clear that they are headed to a similar place. The strength is based on the comic relief and the other main characters who give us the extraverted side of the tale. From the very beginning the humor is pushing some boundaries with several of the characters, but they hold the situation back just enough to keep things on a relative level playing field. It would have been very easy for the writers to go too far with the perversion that a couple of the characters clearly would like to exhibit.

The other strength happens to be the animation and much of the background and the use of highlights and polished surfaces. With in the first few minutes I was reminded of the work of Mikoto Shinkia. The work my not reach that high of a quality, but it clearly show how the rest of the anime world has watched and learned the power of reflection and highlights. I found the school hallways and classrooms to exhibit much of the slick styling and one you get to the Kawai Complex there is a great deal of time spent on the polished floor and the rich look it provides. There was even an obligatory  railroad crossing scene early one that cemented some of the reference to Shinkai.

Overall Grade: B+

Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior is a silly and light comedy that gives us all hope that two rather shy sweet kids can connect even in a world of absurdity swirling around them. Innocence still has its place in todays world and thanks to show like this it is honored and showcased. I would recommend this for the younger crowed but can’t because of the perverted humor that is found in every episode. It is a good story for those 13, 14 and 15 year old girls who want to watch a silly show about a shy bookworm and a sweet nice guy. But, I am sure that the majority of the fan base will be 20 something guys who like slick production and plenty of silly humor and cute gils.

I really did enjoy Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior even if it did come cross a little heavy handed form time to time. The animation is stellar for a 13 episode series and the writing kept pace and the story was able to survive under its own weight. So, if you are looking for something that will make you laugh and feel just a little better at the end of the then you should check out Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior.

The Perfect Insider (anime review)

perfect-insiderTitle: The Perfect Insider

Directors: Mamaru Kanbe

Writer: Toshiya Ono

Music: Kenji Kawai

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release date: October 25th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray/ 11 Episodes / 275 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Suspense, Murder Mystery

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

For most people, finding a dead body on their vacation would mean the vacation is over. However, for Souhei Saikawa, a professor of architecture, and his student Moe Nishinosono, a math prodigy, it’s a different kind of challenge.

Genius programmer Shiki Magata, one of Souhei’s idols, is inexplicably murdered inside the sealed research lab she disappeared to after being found innocent of her parents’ murder. As Souhei and Moe take the first steps into a deadly new world, they must untangle the complex web of events and clues leading up to the murder. With danger creeping up around them, this may be the last mystery this pair of human anomalies attempts to solve in THE PERFECT INSIDER!

Commentary:

It has been a while since I have enjoyed a murder mystery like The Perfect Insider. From the very first episode I was hooked. I had no idea what was going on but the characters were coming at me in a strange and intriguing direction. I found the plot development rather satisfying with plenty of open question that needed to be answered and most were covered as the series progressed.

The Perfect Insider is a great and refreshing anime after see the market flooded with magical power and fan service anime. I like most of the new series but there has become a series lack of great dramas coming over to the North America. This is where The Perfect Insider stands out. It doesn’t waist your time with frivolous fan service or make our characters magically powerful, it takes a group of people and places them in the middle of a rather confusing and disturbing situation.

Overall Grade: A-

The Perfect Insider does almost everything a great dramatic anime does. It provides a tense mystery with plenty of dark under pinnings. Some of those darker elements put me off a bit, but I understand why they were there.

The animation work perfectly with the story. It is slick enough to make it easy to concentrate on the story and tosses in some well done CG (computer graphics) to provide the eye candy when needed. It help a hard enough edge and color palette that helps keep the focus on the story and the characters. Often you will have anime blast you with bright colors and overly stylized environment to hide the fact that the story is week. The Perfect Insider manages to keep you focused on the story and the character. The only weakness I saw was that there was a lacking of emotion showing in some of the characters faces when important information was discovered.

If you are looking for a strong mature drama with a great ending then you really need to check out The Perfect Insider. One word of caution, this series is not for younger viewers it does contain some rather unpleasant imagery and plot topics that are not suitable for minors.

 

Aoharu X Machinegun Complete Collection(anime review)

814131018090_anime-aoharu-x-machinegun-primaryTitle: Aoharu X Machinegun

Director: Hideaki Nakano

Studio: Brian’s Base

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: November 15th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray/13 Episodes/325 minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy

Age Rating: TV14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis: 

When Hotaru Tachibana storms into a host club to avenge the honor of a wronged female student, the last thing Hotaru expects is to duel the club’s most popular host with airsoft guns instead of fists.

When Masamune Matsuoka’s experience wins out over Tachibana’s brawn, he realizes that he can use his victory (and the large bill for damaging the club) to make Tachibana join his struggling Survival Gaming team. However, what ladies’ man Masamune totally misses is that his unwilling new guy… isn’t a guy at all!

Under the boy’s clothing and strong need to defend justice, Tachibana is all-girl, but, for a number of complicated reasons, she absolutely CAN’T expose that fact to Masamune or his teammate, the erotic manga artist Toru Yukimura.

Blood will boil both on and off the airsoft arena, but it’s not over until the last round is shot in AOHARU X MACHINEGUN!

Commentary:

After reading the synopsis of Aoharu X Machinegun I was sure that it was going to be a remake of Ouran Highschool Host Club but with Air Soft guns. It didn’t take long for me to get past that see Aoharu X Machinegun for what it real is. It is fun to watch and engage with. This odd series gives you almost every reason to walk away, but it also manages to grab and hold your interest all the way through all 13 episodes.

There was plenty of character development, but there was plenty of questions left open at the end. Now it is very possible that a second season might show up at some time I just have a feeling that it really is complete. The way the plot developed and the ending managed to pul a few things together it still had that all too common Japanese ending. The final few episodes reminded me of how culture plays a big role in what we see and how stories play out. In the west there would have been a huge battle that ended with the underdog triumphing over the big dog and making everyone feel good and wonderful. This is not the Japanese way, there is a feel good ending, but it is much more personal.

Overall Grade: B+

Aoharu X Machinegun is a fun series that leaves you wishing you had friends like that. Of course this is anime and the real world might have been much more cruel. I think the one thing that held me back on the series is the inability to open the story up for a deeper connection between the trio.

If you are looking for a series that is just fun to watch and takes an older plot device and gives you something you didn’t expect then Aoharu X Machingun is for you.

Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle; Season 2 (anime review)

chaika-the-coffin-princess-2Title: Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle (Season 2) Blu-Ray

Director: Soichi Masui

Creator: Ichiro Sakaki

Anime Writer: Touko Machida

Studio: Bones

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: September 27th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray/ 10 Episodes + 1 OVA/ 275 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Supernatural, Harem

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The battle on the floating fortress is over, but the quest to recover the scattered remains of Emperor Gaz is too important to delay. As Chaika and her companions seek out the hero Claudia in order to obtain the heart, they race against Red Chaika, who seeks the hero, Guy, who possesses one of the arms.

Even as Chaika struggles to learn the new magical skills required to defeat Claudia, a startling new revelation comes to light which may change their mission entirely: not all of Gaz’s magic research was destroyed, and information regarding the creation of the Chaikas may have been taken to a mysterious island!

With the possibility of uncovering the secrets behind their mysterious origins dangled in front of them, the Chaikas must decide whether or not they want to find the hidden island and brave its unknown perils. Could the entire thing be a trap?

It’s highly likely, but how can they resist the bait as the spellbinding adventure continues in CHAIKA THE COFFIN PRINCESS – AVENGING BATTLE!

Commentary:

After almost 10 months Chaika returns to complete the series. Chaika the Coffin Princess Avenging Battle is more than the second season it manages to take the series to another level. There was much less concentration on the harem aspects and real focus on the plot and character development. The simple fact that all of the characters knew what they were after and set their sights on completing their mission was very helpful in drawing a clear line between them. As the mystery unfolded for both the viewer and the lead characters it became obvious that there had to be some soul searching as the final battle drew close.

Overall Grade: A-

Unlike the first season of Chaika the Coffin PrincessChaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle is much faster and full of action. The plot develops at a lightening pace which is great if you are in a hurry to get to the end. I enjoyed it but felt like there could have been a little more story development to help explain everything that was going on. Even with the shortened length I still felt like there was plenty of information and  lots of excitement. I was even pleased with the ending.

It was refreshing to have the series focus on the end and also loose some of the emphasis on the Moe and Harem aspects to provide a solid series that has plenty of characters that anyone can connect with.

If you liked the first season of Chaika then you will love Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle. If you haven’t seen the first season and are interested in some fun and excitement then you should check out the series from the beginning. I think  you should be hooked and ready to see the rest.