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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.

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.

The Big O (anime review)

Title: The Big O: The complete Series on Blu-ray

Director: Kazuyoshi Katayama

Studio: Sunrise

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: June 20th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Drama, Post Apocalyptic

Age Rating: TV 14+

Overall Personal Grade: B+

Synopsis:

Forty years ago, the minds of Paradigm City’s inhabitants were wiped clean of all recollections of the past. Now, ruled by a powerful corporation and cut off from the rest of the world by desolate wastelands, Paradigm has become a virtual police state where Negotiators like Roger Smith keep the wheels of progress, commerce, and society turning.

As a combined hybrid of detective, mediator, and enforcer, Smith’s primary resource is his keen, analytical mind, but it doesn’t hurt to have a mansion filled with gadgets, his butler Norman, and his attractive assistant Dorothy to fall back on. Additionally, for those times when cases end up “in dispute,” he also has the biggest, baddest back-up that any cop or small army could ever hope for: the Big O, a giant robot loaded with all the extras. Film noir thriller meets mecha mayhem masterpiece as the acclaimed classic series returns in the complete collection of The Big O!

Commentary:

If you can imagine a nix of Batman the Animated Series and Cowboy Bebop with a dash of Gun X Sword then you should be able to get a great idea of what The Big O is like. It is very clear that designer Keiichi Sato and director Kazuyoshi Katayama (the creators of the series) are major fans of Batman based on some of the supporting dramatic devices that are cemented in the series. You have a single man living in a rather lavish old bank building with his butler who takes care of the home and the Megadeus (Big O).

This blending of both east and west wrapped in the complicated story of Big O makes the first season a little hard to follow because if is basically episodic. That leaves the viewer with a somewhat cold feeling for both the overall feel of the show and the characters too. Once the second season kicks in there is a much different feeling and the fog begins to lift.

Overall Grade: B+

All too often it is hard to get into older series and with Big O almost 20 years old the animation style comes across very dated. That older TV anime style does let the series down a bit, but if you let the story drive your attention then you should be fine.

As a story I found the Big O to keep my interest once the it got later in the first season and began to introduce much of the recurring cast for the second season. As the second season opens and flows through the first few episodes the series really solidifies. As it winds up there is a solid attempt to bring everything together and manages to hold the story and characters up in a fine fashion.

As an example of anime from the late 1990’s, The Big O sits above average. If you are a fan of Batman the Animated series from the early 1990’s then it is a must see.

As for me I found Big O to be a fun and interesting series because of the nostalgia and the plot that goes from simple to complex in a rather short time span and also manages to confuse me a little. So, if you like a dark hero with a heart of gold mixed with some rather strange characters then  The Big O! is for you.

 

Chivalry of a Failed Knight (anime review)

Title: Chivalry of a Failed Knight the Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Shin Ōnuma, Jin Tamamura

Screenplay Writer: Shogo Yasukawa

Studios: Silver Link, Nexus

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: June 13th, 2017

Format as reviewed: Blu-ray/12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Romance, Magical Users, Fantasy, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Ikki Kurogane may have come from a long line of Blazers, people with the ability to create weapons or devices manifested from their souls, but as far as the Hagun Academy is concerned, he’s been a major disappointment in the magical powers department. He is so disappointing, in fact, that he’s earned the unfortunate nickname of the “Worst One”.

However, things change for Ikki in the most surprising way when Princess Stella Vermillion, the most promising Rank-A Blazer to come along in many years, decides to transfer to Hagun. When she challenges him to a duel where the loser must obey the winner for the rest of their life, the last thing anyone expects is that the Worst One might prove to be a match for the Crimson Princess… and the unforeseen consequences will push the boundaries of society itself!

Commentary:

Chivalry of a Failed Knight takes on many common tropes in the anime world and manages to step up and succeed at some and not quite make it at others. The strongest of the plot devices that it goes after is the romance. It does start off very awkward but overcomes it sort comings relatively quickly. Wishing the first few episodes you become invested in the relationship between Ikki and Stella and root for them the rest of the way through the series.

When the series brings in the little sister and her fixation on Ikki it becomes almost to simplistic and something that should have never been introduced. I am always at a loss when anime finds a need to bring a sibling relationship to the brinks of incest. Thankfully that manages to loose its punch early on and only becomes a side issue that has positive reasoning behind it.

Other aspects of the Chivalry of a Failed Knight that manage to succeed are the character development for Ikki and Stella. Most of the other characters manage to remain secondary and don’t need the development which adds to the strength of the romance. There was also a hint at Chivalry of a Failed Knight becoming a harem early on but that faded as the real plot began to take form.

Overall Grade: B+

Chivalry of a Failed Knight is very entertaining and try to make a real mashup of many different storylines. I think the series does some things well and others were never really given a chance which was reflected in some poor writing. It is very clear to me that if the series had not tried to take on so many plot devices it would have been much stronger.

Overall it is clear that there has been plenty of effort to give the series a focus. There appear to be no plans at this time to give us the rest of the story in anime form, but both the light novel and the manga are ongoing and there is always hope that the studios will take the chance and wrap the story up.

Either way, I found Chivalry of a Failed Knight to be very entertaining and well worth the effort to watch it and hope for a second season.

Sound of the Sky (anime review)

Title: Sound of the Sky (Soro no Wata) Complete Set on Blu-ray
Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Writer: Hiroyuki Yoshino
Studio: A-1 Pictures
U.S. Distributor: Nozomi Entertainment
U.S. Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Format: DVD/ 12 episodes/ 355 minutes
Genre: Sci Fi, Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama
Age Rating: 14+
Personal Rating: A
Similar Titles: Air, Kanon

Sometimes our goals in life lead is to do things and impact others in way we would never expect. They also put us in situations that just might make all the difference in the world.

Synopsis:

A young girl, Kanata Sorami, joins the army to learn how to play trumpet because she saw a solider play “Amazing Grace” and was touched so deeply that it is the only goal she has in life. The army sends her to the outpost in the town of Seize to become the bugler. Unknown to her she becomes one of the Fire Maidens of Seize. These are the historical protectors of the Village. The other members of the squad are Rio Kazumiya, Kanata’s trumpet teacher, Filicia Heideman, the company commander, Noel Kannagi, the mechanic and Kureha Suminoya the other private assigned as the gunner.

In the beginning Kanata does not know how to play the trumpet very well but she has a great ear for sound and with some training by Rio she manages to become wonderful player and even the village begins to enjoy her playing. During this time she becomes a valued member of the platoon and the bonds of these 5 women become so close it almost seems as though they are sisters.

There is a tentative peace between Helvetia and Roma. The current talks are not going very well and the platoon must always be on the watch for anyone coming across the no-mans land just outside Seize. During this period of stress there is a secret about Rio that comes to light that drives her away from the platoon to eventually end up having a overreaching impact on everyones life.

Commentary:

This wonderfully crafted anime brings together several key elements that makes it one to be seen. The first of these elements is the bonding of the main characters that creates a group of women who become true sisters and find that they each have their role to play. They are each very different and have a dramatic past that is at the core of who they are. This is highlighted by Kanata who has the loss of her family and the contact with a beautiful bugler who was playing “Amazing Grace” in such a way that made her think to was the true Sound of the Sky. That was the motivating factor behind her having no fear and wanting to be able to play that piece for all the world to hear. The others also have past experience that make them so special that they each bound together make an unstoppable force. All of this is accentuated buy the strong character development and the wonderful series of events that bring them together.

The second of the outstanding elements has to be the plot structure and the way the story is told. By the middle of the series I was a little concerned that Sound of the Sky as nothing more than a string of unrelated events but in classic Japanese story telling fashion all of these events all roll up together and provide a ending that managed to warm even my cold heart. The stories told about these women and girls consistently brought a kind smile to my soul as I moved through the series and at the end I wanted only good to happen for this loving group of women.

The final and possible most impressive is the high quality of the animation. I found myself blown away by the impressive artistry put into creating the world that these intrepid ladies lived. The monastery where they lived was so well developed it made me feel like I was there and the landscapes were Miyazakiesk and created a peaceful place that we all would want to be a part of. At every turn I found myself in awe of the talented work that went into this loving series.

Overall Grade: A

Sound of the Sky is not one of those knock down drag-out anime that is all about the action, it is a kind gentle anime that does not shy away from action, but rather uses it only when it is important. The creators have given us something to contemplate and use as a guide to what it is to truly care about those others around us. This series should be put on everyones must see list.

Because of the gentle spirit of Sound of the Sky I would recommend Air and Kanon as the two other series to get that loving feeling from.

Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection on Blu-ray
Director: Keitaro Motonaga
Studio: White Fox
Author: Takamitsu Kono
U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23
U.S. Release Date: April 25, 2017
Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 600 Minutes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Industry Age Rating: 17 and up
Overall Personal Rating: B+
Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Utawarerumono

Synopsis:
Where is he? More importantly, who is he? Awakening in a frozen wasteland, his first memories are of danger as he is instantly attacked by a giant creature. Kuon, the cat-like girl who rescues him, doesn’t know who he is either, but she gives him the name Haku in honor of another mysterious stranger who came to this world. Now, Haku must quickly learn how to survive in a land where monstrous beasts prowl, and where half-human beings rule in a city riddled with intrigue and secrets. With armies to aid, Princesses to guard, and a whole new future to explore, Haku and Kuon will face truth after shocking truth!

Commentary:
Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection is a continuation of the original series, and takes place several years after the original Utawarerumono series. I have to say that the original scored very high in my book, as it would have received an A. It was an epic tale, with twists and turns all about. Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection (second season is a fair statement) continues to live up to its predecessor. You are introduced to a completely new set of characters, and a new land. There are a few characters that make an appearance from the original series but they are only there for a few scenes, and make little impact. The first ten or so episodes do go slow at first, but they spend all this time building characters and relationships. The characters are very well developed and feel very real. You will develop an emotional attachment to many of them. At first the menial day to day activities will drag, as they develop characters, but after that it turns into another epic story as the action picks up, making it hard to stop watching. Many things will surprise you, and if you are a fan of the original, you will find a few of them will bother you, but rest assured that there is a reason for the turns it takes. The ultimate surprise came in the last episode, and completely without warning. Then it happened. It ended. If you have read any of my previous reviews of animes based on video games, you know it’s a pet peeve of mine that they must wrap up a story, and not use it as a “buy the game to see how it ends” to promote further sales of the game. In fact, there is little that irritates me more, as I am not a gamer. I cannot say that it ended completely, because it did not. It was more an end to that chapter, and more to come, except, there was no more. That was a big let down in the moment, but all things considered they did stop at a good point, if they plan to release another season to continue it. I very much hope they do, because I’m not buying the game. If they don’t, my disappointment will be extreme.

The art work itself was very good. In most scenes, they did a great job of mixing the CG with the animation so it did not stick out like a sore thumb. They also did very well with background scenery. Always active, like real life, the animation did not halt when characters were talking, like they do with many other titles. From tale and ear movements, to overall background action, there was much detail and made it even more enjoyable. Also the music was pretty good. Not epic, but worth listening to and not skipping the openings and endings, unless you cannot wait to see what happens next, like I did. I’m not known for my patience either. Overall, Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection was a great story and worth checking it out. Had it wrapped up better instead of leaving it as an end of a chapter with lots of story left to tell, it would have gotten the highest score possible. I look forward, with much anticipation, to the continuation of Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete Collection.

Extras:
Utawarerumono-The False Faces: Complete 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+

Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory & Afterglow of Zeon Film: Complete series (anime review)

Title: Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory & Afterglow of Zeon Film on Blu-ray

Directors: Mitsuko Kase (eps. 1-5), Takashi Imanishi (eps. 2-13)

Writers: Fuyunori Gobu (eps. 1-4), Akinori Endo (eps. 5-6), Asahide Ookuma (eps. 7-8, 10, 12-13), Ryōsuke Takahashi (eps. 9, 11)

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes & film / 444 Episodes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Drama

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 contains episodes 1-13 of Stardust Memory plus the Afterglow of Zeon compilation film.

Universal Century 0083. Having triumphed in the One-Year War, the Earth Federation has grown complacent, while the last remnants of Zeon forces have been planning one final stand. It all hinges on ace Zeon pilot Anavel Gato stealing one of the new prototype Gundams out from under the Federation’s nose. With a nuclear-equipped Gundam missing and their pride wounded, the Federation ship Albion and rookie pilot Kou Uraki set out in pursuit of the Zeon thieves and the stolen Gundam GP02A.

Special Features: The animation shorts “the Mayfly of Space 1” and “The Mayfly of Space 2”, Clean Openings, Clean Closings, and Japanese Promos.

Commentary:

In the Gundam franchise there are few series that I find above average and Stardust Memory is one of the few. There is still plenty of the over-the-top melodrama and one sided seriousness that I do have to cringe from time to time. Stardust Memory is fairly straight forward and clearly opens with the plot and development of the story.

Overall Grade: B

Without giving anything away I can honestly say that I believe that Gundam and non-Gundam fans will find this to be one of the best written series in the Universal Century saga. I can’t say that the age of the series will help bring people to the table because the animation shows it age and some of the dialogue is standard Gundam diatribe.

With all of the Gundam available I would suggest seeing Char’s Counter Attack before watching Stardust Memories (0083). You would at least have some understanding of what is really going on and maybe even have a little more appreciation of this series and Afterglow of Zeon.

I must admit that it great to see the Gundam universe come back to life.