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Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia (anime review)

labyrinth-of-grisaiareview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection

Director: Motoki Tanaka

Studio: 8-bit

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 27, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes + 1 OVA / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Fan Service, School Life

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fruit of Grisaia

 

“Yuji, you are not allowed to die until you save the lives of five people.” – Asako

Synopsis:

Yuji Kazami fulfilled a promise, but that promise was made long before he reached Mihama Academy. The seeds of the future are sown as young Yuji’s family is ravaged and his psyche is shattered, only to be reshaped in the fires of violent training and war in The Labyrinth of Grisaia. However, Yuji’s saga continues as his past catches up with him, and he is defended by the most unlikely guardian angels in The Eden of Grisaia.

 

Follow the grisly journey as the boy is forced to become a man, and delve into the aftermath of The Fruit of Grisaia in this special complete edition that contains both parts of the untold story: Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection

 

Commentary:

The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection is the ending to a wonderful series named The Fruit of Grisaia. You must begin with Fruit then you move onto Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection. The Labyrinth of Grisaia is what is on the entire first disk and is the OVA that starts this release off. We learn all about Yuji’s past, including the good, the bad, and the really ugly. The Labyrinth of Grisaia also explains why Yuji is the way he is and also tells us where he learned his skills. Everything is coming to light because of meeting up with JB and having to be debriefed. While this is going on, the Mihama Academy girls find out about Yuji’s past and want to let him know they still care about him and they all love him in their own way. Personally, I do not believe a normal human being could survive what he went through. As for The Eden of Grisaia, it picks up right where The Labyrinth of Grisaia leaves off. The girls find out that Yuji has been framed for terrorist activities and set out to save him. That is the entire plot of The Eden of Grisaia in just a few words.

 

I loved the character development that happened in both The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection because it gives you more insight into the characters that we were introduced to in the first season. We finally learn all about Yuji and we also learn about his relationship with his sister. The girls also come into their own and mature throughout the series. JB is finally given some background and we learn why she does what she does. We are also introduced to Asako who took Yuji in when they saved him from his evil guardian. Asako really understood Yuji’s frame of mind when he was rescued and in the end she saved his life and gave him a reason to live.

 

The animation was beautiful and really worked for the setting of the series. The voice actors did an amazing job with their characters and you can tell they had some fun while working. The music added to the series as it was moving yet at the same time, it was just light enough to remind you that there is some comedy in the series.

 

Extras:

The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

 

Overall Grade: B+

Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection is the perfect conclusion to The Fruit of Grisaia and I highly recommend it for an enjoyable watch. Be forewarned though, the age rating is there for a reason because there is a large amount of fan-service and adult language/situations in this series.

 

 

Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection (anime review)

814131011398_anime-hanaukyo-maid-team-la-verite-dvd-primaryreview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection

Director: Takuya Nonaka

Studio: Daume

Author: Morishige

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 6, 2016

Format and Length: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Harem, Fan Service

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: C

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hayate the Combat Butler

Synopsis:

Moving is seldom easy, but when newly orphaned Taro Hanaukyo arrives in Tokyo to live with his wealthy grandfather, what he finds literally blows his mind. Because Grandpa has skipped off to a remote island, leaving his estate and its huge staff at Taro’s beck and call. A staff that seems to consist entirely of maids: maids in charge of cooking, maids in charge of cleaning, maids in charge of computer programming, maids in charge of technological research and development, and, of course, maids in charge of making the garden grow.

But of course Taro doesn’t just have pretty maids all in a row; he’s got them in regiments and battalions! What was his grandfather thinking? And what will Taro do with them? Did we mention that he is a middle school student with otaku tendencies?

Head maid Mariel and her staff may be in for a rough period of adjustment as the new master of the house takes charge in Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

UGH, yet another anime series that had its plot ruined by fan service! Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection had a lot of promise in theory; however there was absolutely no tone or theme set up. Instead the first episode consists of bad one-liner jokes and Toro being chased around his manor by “thousands” of naked maids yelling “Toro-sama!!” and trying to smother him. This happens a couple of more times throughout the series but it just seems ridiculous. Then the plot completely flips into a sad story about Mariel, the head maid, and how her “secret” might mess up the love story between her and Toro.

There was no character development past the love story between Mariel and Toro. The only other character that was well done and added dimension to the story was Grace/Cynthia. They are the same person; just that one is awake while the other sleeps. The other characters seemed flat and took away from the scenes they were in. Sadly, Mariel’s “secret” is not so much a surprise or damaging to the story as it sets up the actual story line that is completed in the last three to four episodes. And you can see it coming from a mile away.

The animation was interesting. It looked like they changed animation styles after about 7 episodes as everything turned really bubbly then. It was a little distracting because you focus more on what happened to the animation instead of what is going on in the episode. The voice actors did a good job and the music was standard, nothing stood out and I cannot really remember any of it.
Extras:

Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: 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: C

Personally, I would just watch Hayate the Combat Butler instead of Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection as it is the better of the two. However, if you want to see a boy get chased around his manor by naked maids then Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite: Complete Collection is the series for you.

Punch Line (anime review)

punch-lineTitle: Punch Line: The Complete Collection

Director: Yutaka Uemura

Studio: MAPPA

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: August 16th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Sci Fi, Harem, Supernatural, Fan Service

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

When your day begins with being held hostage in a hijacking, can things get much worse? How about being kicked out of your own body? Or learning that if you can’t re-possess your physical shell, you’ll trigger a panty-fueled apocalypse that will wipe out all life on the planet?

For Yuta Iridatsu, it’s just the start of the worst out-of-body experience ever. Now, if his dissed disembodied spirit doesn’t pursue the persuasions of a porn-obsessed paranormal pussycat and purloin a missing mystical manual, a meteor will collide with Earth!

And to stack the odds even further, the book is hidden somewhere in the boarding house Yuta shares with a bevy of beautiful babes, but if he gets an eyeful of his ravishing co-renters in their unmentionables before he’s back in himself, it’s flash-forward to Doomsday!

Will the literal end of the world be wearing briefs, a bikini, or a thong? Find out when panties, possessions and extinction level events have the ultimate rear-end collision in Punch Line!

Commentary:

Punch Line is another in the long line of fan service harem anime that has great potential to be something other than a gratuitous panty shot anime. Unfortunately, it seems to focus on the panties and leave the solid plot at home. I really enjoyed the story for the underlying plot line and thought many of the characters where rather well developed. The would have loved to get more about what was really going on. It isn’t until the later episodes that the writers decided to get serious about the story and by that time it was too late to fully develop the plot.

As for the strange aspects to who all of the main characters are doesn’t come out until much of the series has lost its charm. I think that the fixation on the panty obsession early on created a false impression for the series. I understand the thought process behind this fan service focus, but I would hope that the intent of the series was to get a broader audience than just a small minority of fan service fans. None-the-less, Punch Line does end up being solid enough to be entertaining and somewhat confusing until the later episodes.

Overall Grade: B

Punch Line may or may not be your type of anime, so, if you are looking for some light fan service and odd plot with plenty of twist as the later episodes unfold the it is a series for you.

 

Waiting in the Summer (anime review)

waiting-in-the-summerTitle: Waiting in the Summer Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Written By: Yōsuke Kuroda

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

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

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes + OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Slice of Life, Fan Service, Romance, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about film-making and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate, and downright revealing.

As the summer heats up, so do the maturing relationships between the young cast members, taking some new, and sometimes unexpected, turns. Get ready for a whole new look at summer romance as hidden emotions get captured and secrets meant to be kept hidden inside young hearts instead spill off the screen for your viewing pleasure in Waiting in the Summer!

Commentary:

Waiting in the Summer is one of the sleeper anime that few people have seen. It has a rather straight forward plot and a simplistic romance structure, yet it catches your attentions and makes you really like these high school students on summer break and wish you could hang out with them and make a move too.

With this being a re-release and adding the OVA I am curious why there wasn’t a English dub. I understand that there is a large cost to doing that. I just think that a English dub would have brought another layer of fans to the series and proved to be profitable.

Overall Grade: A-

I is nice to see Waiting in the Summer re-released with the OVA and forcing me to take another look at it. One one level there is a warn innocence that flows though it and on the other hand a sad reality to some things just can’t be. With all that is going on with the film mirroring the plot line and the hidden specter of the men in black makes it hard to stop watching.

The animation is a smooth easy touch that is very typical   for anime of this type and the attention to detail done with such a soft touch that things flow together with the plot perfectly. I can’t think of any other style that would have helped tell the story any better. The only detractor I have is that it does drag a bit in the middle and leave the viewer a tad frustrated with what is going on. I still find the series strong and with the added OVA it is just that much better.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Waiting in the Summer then I think that this is the time to discover a series that is warm and friendly with layers of strange goings on. If you are in the mood for a easy going anime that has plenty of fun and oddities in it then Waiting in the Summer is for you.

Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series (anime review)

Dragonar-Academyreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series

Director: Shunsuke Tada and Tomoyuki Kurokawa

Studio: C-Station

Author: Noboru Kimura

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: November 24, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray –DVD Combo Pac / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Fan Service, Harem, School Life, Ecchi

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: D

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Familiar of Zero

Synopsis:

Learning to ride and tame dragons comes easy to most students at Ansarivan Dragonar Academy.
Known by his fellow classmates as a “problem child”, hot tempered student Ash Blake is one of the only students who have yet to get his own dragon companion. Many of his fellow students also hate the fact he has a skill no one else has, the power to ride other’s dragons, any dragon. Poor Ash is the laughing stock at school because, despite his unfashionably large star-shaped brand that marks him as a future dragon master, he has nothing to show for it. His dragon has never appeared. However that day finally came, and Ash’s dragon awakes in full glory, but appears different than any dragon ever seen before—in the form of a beautiful girl! What’s worse, Ash soon discovers that this new dragon has attitude to spare, as she promptly informs him that she is the master, and he, the servant. Ash’s problems with dragon riding have only just begun.

Commentary:

Every once in a while an anime series comes along that looks like it’s going to be absolutely awesome. Then you watch it. Very few animes have disappointed more than Dragonar Academy. Two dimensional, excessively cliché characters, who do not know how to keep their clothes on, combined with lack of story and uninspired storytelling, and unfortunately, horribly excessive fan service (bordering on adult) combined to ruin a very promising premise. Anime is full of time honored clichés that never seem to disappear and Dragonar Academy is so packed full of them, it shows just how void this show is of any creativity or imagination. Giant bouncing breasts on all women characters, naked magic girls showing up from nowhere and mood swinging tsundere characters are ripe and abound in this series. It felt that it could not even do that right, not bringing anything original in, but more a copy/paste of many similar series that did equally as poorly.

There was hardly any plot in Dragonar Academy as it was abandoned, or completely sidetracked within the first three episodes. The premise behind it all was great but the execution was horrible. It seems as if they decided they could not fit everything from the source material into a twelve episode season, so they just did what they did. The characters were very boring and none seemed interesting in the least. None of them stood out from the others and made the series drag on.

I was also disappointed when I saw the dragons as I thought they would be more along the looks of a Chinese style dragon more instead of what was shown, which looks like a t-rex mated with a European style dragon and that was their kid. The dragons looked like a fantasy dragon with grossly exaggerated character designs. The dragons are also pushed into the background so that the fan service can take over the series. The rest of the art was okay but nothing special. The voice actors did a good job but I do not think anything could have made these characters interesting.

Extras:

Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series includes episode commentary, commercials, promotional videos, clean opening and closing animations, U.S. trailer, and Funimation Entertainment trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: D

Dragonar Academy was a letdown across the board. It had so much potential but they instead went the fan service way. I would recommend watching The Familiar of Zero or any other series like that instead of watching Dragonar Academy.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 (anime review)

Muv - Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2Title: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2

Director: Masaomi Ando

Written By: Takayuki Inagaki

Studio: ixtl, Satelight

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 12th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Sci Fi, Action, Romance, Fan Service

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Even in the face of annihilation by the invading BETA forces, the persistent hostilities between the surviving nations continue to undermine mankind’s chances for survival. Desperate to gain the Type 99, the Soviet Command puts not only their own pilots but the rest of the human race on the firing line as they sabotage the Kamchatka base self-destruct codes in an attempt to salvage the railgun for their own purposes.

Caught in the crossfire, Yuuya, Yui, and the other TSF pilots must fight their way to safety through a nightmarish series of traps and counter-traps before the base is bombed or the BETA take them all. Only a series of heroic sacrifices can save them, and that’s just the beginning of the danger. The mysterious arrival of an unidentified TSF and an escalating competition to dominate the new world’s power and military structures ignite a new chain of events that further threaten to undercut humanity’s chances.

Commentary:

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 follows up with the end of the series that proves that sometime you can mix fan service with a darker mecha and see it succeed to a reasonable result. I’ve see plenty of other series take a much more ecchi approach and miss the mark. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse manages to give us a story only get distracted by bouncing boobs a little. Of course the girls are highlighted changing into their pilot suites in a way that highlights their endowments which left me a little disappointed.

Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the female form, on the contrary, I find women delightful but when you are trying to tell a serious story I find the distraction of fan service is misplaced. If we can get past the tight suites and partial nudity the story still needs to stand on its own. This is where the animation may be the saving grace and the writing comes across as something a little more pedestrian.

Overall Grade: B-

I was very hopeful for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part 2 and discovered that some stories should stick to one focus. Being a genuine fan of any solid Sci Fi stories that can entertain I found myself getting sucked into the series and then tossed back out. The unevenness of the story and the overall flatness if the writing left me wanting something completely different.

I am confident that the series will retain its true fan base and sell plenty of copies. I also thought that the series looked good and on Blu-ray it stood out with a relative higher quality than I see in other series lately. So, if the sexy mecha is your bag then you should head on over and start with Muv-Luv from the beginning.

Freezing: Vibration season 2 (anime review)

Freezing VibrationTitle: Freezing: Vibration season 2

Director: Takashi Watanabe

Studio: A.C.G.T.

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: April 21st, 2015

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

Genre: Seinen, Drama, Supernatural, Sci Fi, Fan Service

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Satellizer el Bridget and some of the most powerful – and desirable – Pandoras in the world are summoned to a secret base in the wilds of Alaska. These gorgeous warriors arrive primed for battle, but they soon discover the true purpose for their presence: to assist the clandestine Chevalier organization in forging a new breed of soldier – E-Pandoras!

Once normal girls, these eager beauties volunteered to have their bodies genetically enhanced in order to join the fight against the deadly alien invaders plaguing the planet. But there’s more to becoming a superhuman battle vixen than tattered uniforms and sultry slugfests. Rumors of heinous experimentation haunt the E-Pandora project, and only Satellizer and her loyal companion Kazuya can unravel the mystery before it’s too late!

Commentary:

There are long string of sexy girl battle anime and most of them fall apart pretty quick. The first season of Freezing may have help some promise for season 2 and amazing enough there is something here that manages to rise above the bouncing boobs, just barely. The great failure of these series is that they aim to entertain just one thin section of the anime fan base and many of those young men between 16 and 25 will be getting in line to pickup their copy of this wild series. Being a little older than that and liking my women to be 3d and flesh and flood would not make me one of the army of fans running to the nearest store to get this action packed series.

I thought the plot was stimulating enough to stand on its own and at the same time found the nude women rather distracting, plus every scene seemed to be more focused on boobies or panty shots. If there would have been less of this silliness it is very possible that Freezing Vibration could have become a classic along the lines of Claymore. I’m not here to discount the power of fan service, there can be opportune times to use sex or sexuality to give more power to the story and for some reason anime has a hard time understanding a solid balance.

Overall Garde: B-

If it weren’t for a solid story line I would have write Freezing off as just another bouncing booby show that is there to prove that the understanding of the human anatomy continues to elude all too many animators. I does continue to re-enforce the age old complaint about anime and manga and that is that it is created by too many men who use this medium as their idealized world.

If you prefer real bodies and a world that is more interested in the problems at hand then freezing is not for you. If you prefer your world to be full of buxom women who would rather not wear cloths then you need to rush out and get in line for the release of Freezing Vibration!

Samurai Bride (anime review)

Samurai BrideTitle: Samurai Bride on Blu-ray

Director: KOBUN

Studio: Arms

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date:  June 24th

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Fantasy, Comedy, Fan Service!!!!

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C+

 

Synopsis:

Things seemed to be going so well for Muneakira Yagyu. On top of dealing with Jubei, the immortal samurai warrior who fell out of the sky and into his arms and lips, he used his ability to awaken the latent power of a female samurai with a kiss to successfully juggle a handful of very powerful, very female master samurai, AND led them all to victory against the minion of a great evil. So was it too much to ask for a little break in the routine of saving Japan?

Apparently it was, as another great evil has appeared in the land, this one even stronger than the last. However, that’s the least of Muneakira’s problems, because with all the women he’s kissed in order to awaken their latent samurai powers, the inevitable has finally happened. Someone’s taking the long walk down the aisle with a samurai girl! It’s going to be a really old-fashioned wedding and any resistance by the groom will be totally feudal!

Commentary:

Ok, all you fans of Samurai Girls here comes the next installment. All the bouncing women parts are making their way through this simplistic story of light vs dark. Of course the series characters take on the names of famous historical figures, but all of these figures must be rolling in their graves with the depiction of their famous personas. I doubt seriously that the great Yagyu, Jubei was ever interested in being depicted as a rather  simple young woman, but this is not the first time his should has found its way into a rather bountiful young women. The thing with this series is the fact that it is really focused on the fan service.

Studio Arms has done its best at what it does best Samurai Bride. That is depicting the female form and showing to off from opening credits throughout the entire series to the closing credits. On the other hand the male characters much less developed and they clearly are secondary figures and represent a vessel for that viewer to use as a conduit to the women.

Overall Personal Grade:

Samurai Bride is not a series for everyone and in fact it has a rather narrow audience in the U. S. When putting the series together I can tell that the target audience is males between age 17 to 30 and it is put together just for them. I guess there can be some cross over, but seriously doubt if it will find a place in many other collection. For the harem, Fan Service crowd this one will hit a home run. This one is a classic of the idealized female form and does have its moments of real comedic relief that makes it fun. So, if you are looking for something that will arouse and humor you at the same time then Samurai Bride is just the thing you are looking for!