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Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection (anime review)

814131013491_anime-rozen-maiden-zuruckspulen-blu-ray-primaryoriginal review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mamoru Hatekayama

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Tomomi Mochizuki

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Magic

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate / Stay Night, Another, and Steins;Gate

Will you wind it? Yes or No?

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered how your life would be if you had made a decision that led down a different path than you are on now? Just such an opportunity is presented to Jun Sakurada in his darkest hour so he could possibly fix the shattered remains of his own world. He is given the chance to communicate with a future version of himself; however this version did not wind the key but still needs to bring forth the Rozen Maidens. When adult Jun discovers a box with parts and building instructions for a familiar red-dressed doll, the goal becomes clear: revive Shinku in his world to save both worlds from succumbing to the evils of Kirakisho, the seventh sister, only a disembodied soul in a desperate search for a body and master. For adult Jun, who originally did not wind up Shinku, the messages from his younger self represent a beacon of light in his mediocre and disappointing existence. The Alice Game will become a war of dimensions as two worlds hang by the threads of fate.

Commentary:

Having been years since the release of the last Rozen Maiden season, this release kinda took some by surprise, as the thinking was that there was not a further continuation to the story. For those who are familiar with or got in to the original releases, this one is a must have continuation. Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection (referred to by some as the third season) dives deeper into the possibilities it had opened than any storylines previously. It extends deeper into the psychological side of the series. You will know all the characters, as the only addition is, of course, the older Jun, now away from his sister, by himself, in college, and working part time. It dives into who he had become, never having met or known Shinku and the others. Never having changed from the negative anti-social shut in, you find how Jun’s life is today.

But this is not the same old Rozen Maiden you first saw years ago. This does not necessarily feel like a sequel. It’s a new story, and the only relation to the original is the main “what if” premise, the Alice games, and of course the characters. All the characters are basically the same as originally built in the previous series, with new personality additions that you never got in the originals. One major difference you will notice is they gave everyone some touch up. They added more detail to the art. They lessened the extreme color saturation you will remember bleeding across the old tube tvs. Overall, it’s a darker story line than any of the previous. Because of this, they had to add a new side to all the personalities, building the characters even deeper than you previously had known them to be. Never seen the original two seasons? Even if you are picking up Rozen Maiden for the very first time, they take the time to explain what you need to know, and to re-establish everybody’s personalities so don’t worry, you will be able to fully enjoy this one without finding the originals and having to play catch up. It may also spark a desire to watch, or re-watch in my case, the original series.

As I said before they gave everything a touch up artistically. Being in high definition they had to, but it was nice to see the extra detail you never got before. The art work seemed more sketched at times, but it worked. They also added detail to the lolita costumes they all wear. It was also nice that they adjusted the colors from the original. The extreme hues always drove me up a wall. The original personalities meld quite will with the new additions. They remain as kawaii as ever, ending every sentence with desu (or yes in the English dubbed versions) and of course kashira (maybe, and you know in English dubs). The opening and closing animations and music are quite catchy. I found myself humming the closing the entire time I was typing this. They helped to set the mood they wanted for the series. Overall if you are a fan, or a newbie trying this one for the first time, it will not disappoint.

Extras:

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series has both English and Japanese with English Subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B+
I really enjoyed watching this series and cannot wait to re-watch the entire series again.

Gundam Build Fighters Try (anime review)

gundam-build-fighters-tryTitle: Gundam Build Fighters Try 

Director: Shinya Watada

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise, Right Stuf

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

Format: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Drama, Comedy, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV – 8+

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

In Gundam Build Fighters Try, seven years have passed since Sei Iori won the 7th Gunpla Battle Championship World Tournament. The Gunpla Battle Championship is now run by Yajima Trading. With new rules and battle modes, the game’s popularity has become even more widespread.

However, the Seiho Academy that Sei Iori once attended has failed to catch onto the trend. The only member of the school’s Gunpla Battle Club is its president, middleschooler Fumina Hoshino. Currently there is no way the club can participate in the upcoming Gunpla Battle Japanese Under19 Championship, where players fight in teams of three.

Then Fumina meets a new transfer student. He is Sekai Kamiki, a young martial artist who has been travelling with his master. Together with a young Gunpla builder named Yuuma Kousaka, they finally have three members for their team.

Sekai Kamiki, Yuuma Kousaka, and Fumina Hoshino — team “TRY FIGHTERS” is about to begin its challenge!

Commentary:

The Build Fighters universe is a lot more fun than the original Gundam universe. Nobody dies and only the ones who really love the battle get the win. The concept of building these Gunpla just for the fun to compete is something to take and enjoy for what it is. I know that I found it both funny and uplifting. In may ways it was a typical anime that used heavy sentimental posing to bring home the dramatic moments and then tossed in a mild harem aspect to keep the comedy moving forward. I think that many of the plot points may have been simplistic, but it is the nature of the series to be that way.

The way that the try fighters grew in both understanding and friendship is a reminder of how we, as humans, need each other to find  richer  meaning and satisfaction in our lives. Gundam Build Fighters Try showcases each of the team members and shows how different personalities and abilities make a strong team not a bunch of members with the same views and talents. We are also given a taste of what it is to be underdogs who manage to find respect and unification in all that they do.

Overall Grade: A-

After all is said and done Gundam Build Fighters Try is a solid series. The one area that I thought was a tad weak was the writing, it was simply to base and silly at times. The easy way out is to make the drama over the top and to follow with simple silliness and because the series is geared toward the under 12 age group it stayed simple. The funny thing is that, in the U. S., the audience is the the over 20 age group. It is great to see the Gundam universe take a look at how Gundam and Gunpla has found a genuine fandom.

If you are looking for some fun and don’t mind it being a little over the top from time to time then Gundam Build Fighters Try is the series for you, I know I loved it.

Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 (anime review)

Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 blu-ray

parasyte-the-maxim-2Director: 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: A-

Synopsis:

They seem like the perfect killing machines: taking the form of their latest victim as they move on to hunt their next meal, blending invisibly into chaos of human civilization.

But as the human race becomes aware of the invaders, the rules unexpectedly change. Because, while the predators may be far more deadly individually, human beings hunt in packs… and no species in the universe has spent more time perfecting new ways to kill than man.

As the military secretly mobilizes and a shadow war erupts, Shinichi and Migi find themselves trapped in the escalating purge. Born from a merging of both sides and yet belonging to neither, the best they can do is merely hope to survive as the lines between friend and foe cease to exist.

The war between the planet’s two apex species spills into the streets as human sheep reveal the wolves hidden inside in the apocalyptic second collection of PARASYTE- THE MAXIM!

Commentary:

Parasyte the Maxim does something that reminded me of why I enjoy anime and much of the Japanese culture. It manages to turn this dark story into a lesson in Buddhism. Particularly a lesson in Zen Buddhism. The concept that all life is precious and that humanity has a very narrow view of the world hit home. The odd awareness that Migi goes through is poignant and the awakening that Shinichi experiences is something to be jealous of.

The series did fall back on some rather weak plot line legs that allowed it to slow down and begin to shift focus from a crazy blood lust of season one to a understanding that defines the dichotomy that is humanity. This change over manages to make the series a little less pop culture and I think this is also where it lost a large number of fans. For me, it is where it became stronger and defined itself as a series that had something to say.

Overall Grade: A-

Parasyte the Maxim collection 2 is a hit in my book, I am just afraid that it might loose some of its fan base because it was not as splattery as collection one and there just isn’t the body count that the Parasyte started with. This simple fact gained some respect from me, I feel like anime that makes it over to North America has become too pigeon hold and teed to only offer some of the worst of the art form.

The animation quality of Parasyte is of average quality and is classic Madhouse work. The english voice acting was fine, I can’t say that it made me notice any weakness or strength. Overall, it is simply the emphasis on the plot and change in dialog the series focused on that made the difference for me.

If you are looking for a series that showcases a true Japanese cultural viewpoint the you should pick Parasyte the Maxim up!

 

Den-noh Coil Collection 1 (anime review)

den-noh-coil-1Title: Den-noh Coil: Collection 1 on blu-ray

Director: Mitsuo Iso

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

In Den-noh Coil, Yuko “Yasako” Okonogi and her little sister Kyoko can’t remember a time when they weren’t looking at the world through their digitally augmented glasses. After all, e-space, a series of world-wide overlays of images and information, is where their virtual dog Densuke lives, and like many kids, the girls rarely take their glasses off.

But when their family moves to Daikoku City, the e-space suddenly seems different. Yasako’s new classmates are involved in hacking, and the urban legends about dangerous entities hidden in the programming become much more believable when she learns that one of their friends may have died chasing one.

Scariest of all, Yasako has missing memories from the last time she was in Daikoku City. Did something happen to her? And did it happen in our world or one that shouldn’t even exist? To find out, she’ll have to take a journey through the digital looking glass and learn the shocking secrets of DEN-NOH COIL!

Commentary:

Den-noh Coil is one of the more unique offering so far this year. I’m not completely sure what is going on but the hints lead to an unusual event including Yuko. The funny thing is that even after 13 episodes anything is possible. All I can be sure of is that Den-noh Coil is interesting and fun to watch. The mystery surrounding all of the main characters is deep and wide and with them being children and the goofy old grandmother who seems to know the secret to making things work.

Den-noh Coil doesn’t come across as a slick production with a big budget marketing team behind it and win fact Maiden Japan has provided several titles that still fly under the radar and for some unknown reason the U. S. Anime world appears to be blind to the greatness found in this and some other Maiden Japans offerings.

Overall Grade: A-

Den-noh Coil appears to be a great series based on the first 13 episodes. I hope that the second half of the series stays strong and opens the door to most of the questions that have been raised. The only drawback I have is the fact that the series would have made a lot more sense if the main characters would have been older. The idea that someones past holds the secrets if a great way to hide the plot, but if these characters would have been in their 20’s or 30’s it would have had a much more dramatic effect. Much the 20th Century Boys played off an older history of the main group.

The animation of the series is a little light, but I don’t see that as a detractor. I think the artist selection helps place the importance on the writing and character development. I do feel like the characters are a little slow to come around and that they are falling into some easy and somewhat minor personality traits that may end up failing them and the series. Only time will tell.

If you don’t mind a series where the main characters are kids and that much of the story remains hidden after 13 episodes then you will really like Den-noh Coil. If you are looking for a good mystery they will also like Den-noh Coil. I like it very much and am really looking forward to discovering what is going on and what it all means.

Shirobako Collection 2 (anime review)

shirobako-2Title: Shirobako Collection 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima

Writer: Michio Yokote

Studio: P. A. Works

Produced by: Warner Entertainment Japan

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 24th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s official. Musashino Animation’s next production is “Third Aerial Girls’ Squad!” In a surprising turn of events, Aoi finds herself assigned as the production manager for the project, but from the very beginning it looks like she may be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the project. Of course, her old friend Ema is already aboard as one of the animators, while Midori makes an enormous contribution by taking on many of the program’s important research duties. And when Misa’s new company contracts to produce CG for the series, all but one of the members of the old animation club are working on the same production! Left out again, Shizuka auditions for a role, but, as a relatively new voice actor the odds of her being cast in a major part seem highly unlikely. That doesn’t break the bonds of their friendship, however, and there are tons of surprises ahead as TAGS’s journey to broadcast draws to the finish in the second collection of SHIROBAKO!

Commentary:

Shirobako is one of those anime that will end up standing out as a go to anime for all serious fans. It will also find its way into the library of those who aren’t everyday fans but those who are looking for another slice of life anime that deals with everyday struggle that come with any job and deadlines. Anyone who has ever been a part of a major project with tight deadlines will enjoy this series because that is what it is all about.

The real strength of Shirobako is the character interaction and the wide variety of personalities blended in the stressful dynamic of the world of anime production. Everyone must start somewhere and for Aoi this is her big opportunity to discover her abilities and to maybe even learn something about herself that will help her become more confident in the path she is following.

The rest of the cast have their ups and downs but it is Aoi who is the spotlight and who has the biggest job that requires wearing many different hats. I loved the way we saw the doubt and resolve in her life along with the support she got from those around her along with the suspicion of her abilities for some.

Overall Grade: A

I can say that I have been very lucky with many of the series I have had the chance to review over the last few weeks and Shirobako stand at the top of the list with my other favorite Space Brothers. Both of these series take on the topic of following your dreams and even look at finding what is important in life too. Shirobako gives us glimpse into the fast paced world of anime production and also shows us how many different people and companies are involved in getting something as complicated as an anime on the air.

When it comes to anime or any series I find the story to be the driving reason to like it. Shirobako’s story hits a home run and is another one that could easily be prime time TV in the U. S. I think more and more families are discovering anime as a great source of entertainment and once people get over the sub title issues they will discover a whole world of stories that they could have never imagined existed. This type of series is s shining example of the difference in American and Japanese animation. I for one can’t remember the last time I watched a slice of life animation from any american production company. Yea for Anime give us more shows like Shirobako please!

Space Brother Collection 8 (anime review)

space-brothers-collection-8Title: Space Brothers Collection 8

Director: Ayumu Watanabe

Music By: Toshiyuki Watanabe

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 26th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 11 episodes / 275 minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Slice of Life, Action, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A

Synopsis:

The single most important element of any mission is trust: trust in your equipment, trust in your crewmates and support team, and trust in yourself. As the trajectories of Mutta and Hibito’s careers continue to alter dramatically, self-doubt and lack of trust become the deadliest of enemies. Once the rising young star, Hibito must now undergo round after round of grueling tests in order to prove that he still has the right stuff for the space program.

Meanwhile, Mutta has never been working harder, continuing to prepare for his own mission to the moon while serving as Vince’s backup. But Mutta’s team is still incomplete, and Chief Butler has yet to assign a captain to the CES-62 backup crew. Will the unexpected new addition to the roster change everything? Get ready for a rendezvous with destiny as the brotherhood of space meets its greatest challenge in the eighth interstellar collection of Space Brothers!

Commentary:

The end of any series is always bitter sweet because you have invested so much time, energy and emotion into watching it. Space Brothers is no different in fact it may even be more emotional just because the series is 99 episodes long. Of course there will be calls for it to add another season, but in many ways I think it ended perfectly. My imagination filled in many of the questions left at the end and played out several scenarios that would make the story even better.

It is no secret that I found Space Brothers to be a top notch series and something the entire family could spend hours and hours watching with great delight. I realize that most anime fans will not give this series the time of day because it doesn’t have blood spattering or bouncing boobs in every scene, but for those who are looking for solid entertainment and a story you can enjoy then Space Brothers is for you.

Overall Grade: A

As I mentioned above, I think this is a series for the entire family. There is something for everyone. Thinking about prime time TV I could see Space Brothers filling a 7 PM slot and also finding a lot of families sitting down every week to get their dose of these two brothers trying to make their dreams come true. The series has it all, excitement, action, disappointment, attraction and even simple family fun. I am sorry to see it end and would like to know what the creator would do to fill in the open questions. The funny thing about leaving so much unanswered it that it is a very Zen thing to do. Life is full of unanswered questions and there are many possible directions to follow when traveling down any path which is why I found the ending of this series so poignant.

Giving an A to just this set of episodes is a true of not just Space Brothers collection 8 but of the entire series. I highly recommend Space Brothers to everyone and tell them to leave the world of fan service and extreme violence behind for a great story of dreams and struggles that can be applied to all of our lives.

 

Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie (anime review)

wake-up-girls-movieTitle: Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie

Director: Yutaka Yamamoto

Studio: Ordet x Tatsunoko Production

Author: Touko Machida

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: June 7, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / Movie / 52 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Music, Comedy

Industry Age Rating: 13 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The iDOLM@STER, Tari Tari, AKB0048

Synopsis:

In Wake Up, Girls!, Green Leaves Entertainment is in the worst situation any Talent Management Agency can be in… they have absolutely NO talent! Desperate for an act, President Junko Tange targets the idol singer market and gives her flunky assistant Matsuda his marching orders; get a girl group to manage, even if it means building one from scratch!

Since complete singing groups rarely appear out of thin air, Matsuda’s now in the difficult position of having to find girls with the right skills who don’t already have contracts with Japan’s music industry. That girl at the Maid Café? Good enough! A lead singer who’s been fired from another group? Sure, why not? How about one who’s only 13 years old? What could possibly go wrong there?
They may not be on the A-list, the B-List, or even the C-list to start, but with a little love and a whole lot of hard work, it’s possible that all Japan may someday wake up to the music of Wake Up, Girls!

Commentary:

Idol based animes are normally very stereo-typical and all usually about the same. I was not expecting anything special from Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie. Just the same old tired “I’m gonna be an idol and it’s really very easy to do”, is basically what I expected. What I really got was a lot more powerful and telling story, and yes, an actual storyline, of the difficulty, heart-break, deception, back-stabbing and the joys of success when you follow your dreams. The story quickly draws you in with the feelings of failure, and a person in denial. The story quickly takes a change as the president of a failing talent business, desperate for the next big break, any break actually, to save her failing business. The story, with a very realistic feel to it, dives deeper in as they try to recruit, and train and everything else you have to do to achieve what you want. As the story progresses you begin to notice that failure is a very real option, and that with strife, people can turn their backs on you and leave you with nothing. I was quite surprised by the depth of the story they started to develop, in such a short time. But it did not end really. There was a lot left unanswered, and a lot of the story yet to be told. It felt more like a prequel than the whole thing.

Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie can basically be summed up as the 52-minute first episode to the anime series of the same name. It perfectly sets the stage for the anime series and at the end of Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie I was hooked. Hopefully the anime series gets released soon. This was a strong start. The characters had some basic development, as much as you can in such a short time, but more than enough to start everything out. You really can identify with them and all they do. I can’t wait for the rest to come out, to answer any questions I have left. One major one which I am curious is each character is named after her voice actress and you have to wonder if this is some kind of autobiography of these voice actresses. Hopefully there is an explanation to come.

Extras:

Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B+

Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie is the perfect inside look into the “Idol” culture of Japan. If you enjoyed The iDOLM@STER or Tari Tari then I strongly recommend giving this movie and the upcoming series a try.

Akame ga Kill Collection 2 (anime review)

akame-ga-kill 2Title: Akame ga Kill Collection 2

Director: Tomoki Kobayashi

Creator: Takahiro

Written By: Makoto Uezu

Studio: White Fox, C-Station (ONA)

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 17th, 2016

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

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Supernatural, Drama

Age Rating: TV14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

The convoluted path that has reunited Tatsumi and Esdeath takes another twist as they find themselves transported to a remote island where their strength will be tested as never before. Dr. Stylish may be dead, but Danger Beasts still remain, and that’s only the first challenge the two enemies now face.

If the bonds of love weren’t enough to bring their fates together, could the fire of combat forge a new form of alliance? Meanwhile, the embers of rebellion are being stoked into open insurrection by the pacifist organization Path of Peace. Drawn into the impending inferno, Night Raid and the Revolutionary Army prepare for a major assault on the Capital. But while their Imperial Arms may be indestructible, their wielders are merely flesh and blood.

On the anvil of battle, only human courage and the willingness to give their lives for a cause will lead to the ultimate triumph or failure in collection 2 of Akame ga Kill!

Commentary:

As series go Akame ga Kill is a little above average, but I was very concerned at the end of the first 12 episodes. I have seen all too many anime that started out with a solid story line that ended up become over indulgent and failed to bring it to a reasonable conclusion. Akame ga Kill manages to make it clear that the story is over and also does something very interesting for a mythic tail of heroes, it gives us closure with the characters.

Without giving anything away I have to say that I was a little emotionally wound up by some of the events and more than once felt both excited and sad by the battles fought.

Overall Grade: B+

I really like the second half of the Akame ga Kill  for what it was. The myth of the hero and the battle for what is right cam sometimes cross lines that both corrupt a moral existence but at the same time exact a price that can be too heavy to bear. When all is said Akame ga Kill manages to find a way to give us finality and hope at the same time.

If you are looking for a real action anime with lots of side plots and a harem tossed in to make it more interesting then Akame ga Kill it the one for you. I often find harm anime rather silly and only a very few make any sense, as for Akame ga Kill the story came together because of the harem and without the love story tossed in the plot would have been less favorable and entertaining. This is a winner and is worth the time to check it out.

 

Magical Users Club OVA & Series (anime review)

magic-users-club-ovaTitle: Magical User’s Club (OVA & TV Series)

Director: Michiru Oshima

Studio: Triangle Staff (OVA & TV Series), Madhouse (TV Series)

U. S. Distributor: Nozomi, Lucky Penny

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

Format: DVD / OVA – 6 Episodes, TV Series – 13 Episodes / OVA – 150 Minutes, TV Series – 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Supernatural, Comedy, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating B+

magic-users-club-tvSynopsis:

OVA – This Magic Club can do a lot more than card tricks!

Exactly one year ago, aliens invaded Earth. But it wasn’t the kind of invasion you’d expect. After descending from space and destroying any opposition, the giant spaceship known as The Bell just… sat there. For a year it’s been floating silently over the ocean, quietly observing how Earthlings live. Everyone’s pretty much used to it by now.

Everyone, that is, except the Magic User’s Club. They’re a small band of misfits who can do actual, honest-to-goodness magic! Their leader, Takeo, doesn’t trust the aliens to stay peaceful. He wants to fight the alien menace, but it’ll be a tough task when his club consists of a perverted president, a flamboyant VP, a flaky princess, a bumbling new recruit, and her temperamental best friend! Can this motley crew pull it together and save the world?

TV Series – More Misadventures with the Magic User’s Club!

The Magic User’s Club is a group of five well-meaning misfits who do more than card tricks – they can use actual magic. And with that magic, they managed to defeat a giant ship from outer space! But their close encounter left an enormous cherry blossom tree right in the middle of the city. It’s so big that it blocks out the sun!

Takeo Takakura, the club’s noble (but perverted) president, calls a special Sunday meeting to take care of the tree. It seems simple enough, but when magic is involved, nothing ever goes according to plan… What’s more, there’s a ghostly figure hidden among the branches, watching their every move. Who is this silent specter, and what does he want?

Commentary:

The list of re-release of late 90’s anime keeps on coming and Magical User’s Club is one of the most recent made available. This some what silly and a little sexy series gives us a glimpse into the fun that was happening almost 20 years ago. The story line is nothing special, but the development and offerings is different. For Magical User’s Club the release of the OVAs came first and because of the story it is important to watch them first and the TV series followed. To me it is obvious why this series was a hit in the 90’s and why it might come across as timely, but also dates now. The characters give us everything from a naive young girl to a oversexed gay student in love with the club leader. It is wonderful how the world is blended into this comedy.

Overall Grade: B+

Both Magical User’s Club sets are more than worth being checked out. The animation might be somewhat aged, but the story and the character development are superior and make all the difference for this series. I loved the way the club was made up of such wonderful individuals and of course they keep you smiling all the way through.

I know that many people are a little hesitant to pick up an anime that is almost 20 years old unless they experienced it as a child, but I can’t stress how good this series is and how fun it is. Check it out you won’t be disappointed.

 

Gasaraki Complete Series (anime review)

gasarakiTitle: Gasaraki: The Complete Series

Director: Ryousuke Takahashi

U.S. Distributor: Right Stuf / Nozomi

U.S. Re-Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: DVD / 625 Minutes / 25 Episodes

Genre: Mecha, Supernatural

Age Rating: 13+

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Similar Titles: Evangelion

One of the most poignant phrases that haunts humans is “History always repeats itself”. There are many tragic dances that burn in the flames of time and never quite seem to be completed.

Synopsis:

Japan has become fat on its own prosperity and have begun to get more involved in world politics. The Gowa family with their power base and industrial complex have developed bipedal weapons that they call Tactical Armor or T. A.. There is something special about the way they react and it all appears to hinge on how Yushiro Gowa performs. There is a deep seeded bond between man and machine but this bond does not seem to be natural, but rather supernatural.

With strife and war breaking out in eastern Europe the Gowa Organization and the Japanese military use this chase to see these new weapons in action. Unknown to them another organization, Symbol, has developed their  own T. A.s and when the two meet the Gowa team have their hands full.  The key to their team is young girl named Miharu, who had appeared to Yushiro during a ceremony when he was about to resurrect some unknown power that heir family is noted as holding the key to. This power was supposedly given to them by the God Gasaraki.

Once back in Japan Yushiro discover a terrible truth about himself that puts him on the path to uncover the truth about his history. This path leads him directly into the depths of the Gowa history as he discovers that he is what is know as a Kai, the one who can control the giant warrior the Kugai. He ends up fighting Miharu while piloting the Kugai and manages to defeat her. Knowing that there is a connection they both run off to discover their past. In this search they discover that they are connected for over 1000 years and what their terrible purpose just might be.

The power of the Gowa and a highly idealistic Japanese visionary leads Japan to the brink of destruction. The key lies with both Yushiro and Miharu. Will they repeat the nightmare of the past or can they overcome their history and find a new path?

Commentary:

Even though 1998 seems so long ago it is great to take this trip back to see this highly dramatic series. There is so much going on with Gasaraki that it take 5 episodes to get a grip on what is happening. The blend of Japanese myth and modern day technology gives a special edge to the series. This is topped off by the heavy drama that is played out. There are very few light moments and that might be the one area of weakness. The heaviness takes it toll at times and you almost have to take a breath to relax in order to move on. That is not to say that the series is depressing, because I did not find it to be a downer in any way, it just takes itself very seriously.

As I moved through the Gasaraki I found myself coming up with plenty of questions regarding the history of this intense family and how these two young people were really connected to it. I was very happy to see them and us get a solid understanding of the past which suddenly proved to be very poignant. It opened the plot line up and exposed the mysteries that lay beneath the surface. I must admit that there were times that I found Yushiro and Miharu a bit flat and mono dimensional but in many ways it works to their advantage as the series progressed and explained who and what they really are.

Overall Grade: A-

There are several series out there that deserve a second chance through the arena and Gasaraki is one of those series. If you have not seen Gasaraki and are a fan of Mecha intertwine with supernatural elements then this one is up you’re ally. If you just enjoy a serious series that gives plenty of action then you should take the time to enjoy it.