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Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz! (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Onuma and Masato Jinbo

Studio: Silver Link

Author: Kenji inoue and Hazuki Minase

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 31, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes / 250 Minutes

Genre: Action, Slice of Life, Comedy, Magic Girl, Fantasy

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya & Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei

Synopsis:

Illyasviel von Einzbern’s life has become ridiculously complicated since the Kaleidostick Ruby convinced her to become a magical girl and join the quest for collecting the seven Class Cards. Since then, almost every day has brought a new surprise, from gaining new friends and partners like Miyu Edelfelt, to encountering her own magical twin!

One would think Illya deserves a little time off, right? No such luck: a trip to the beach quickly turns into a magical quest, and Illya finds herself caught in a string of magical feuds, encounters with love potions, an excursion into the world of “boys love” comics (plus the women who read them), and half a dozen other delirious diversions.

However, that is only the warm-up for what might be her final mission: recovering the long-lost Eighth Card! It’s a mystical whirlwind of unexpected escapades and surprising new revelations as Illya’s saga continues in Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection picks up right where Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei left off and turns into a slice of life series for the first six episodes. During those six episodes everything seemed to drag, as nothing seemed to contribute to the plot of being a magical girl. There was not even one fight, or transformation scene. It took some time, but after finishing the series, I understand why they did that and it makes sense, however at the same time I wish they could have staged it out a little more. One thing they did well during that time was to advance the character development quite a bit, and also beyond Illya, Chloe(Kuro), and Miyu. They developed the characters of their group of friends, and the other normally background characters that are rarely seen more than one episode straight. Another thing that went way over the edge was the fan service. I like my fan service, but this got a little too unnatural and redundant after a while. I wish they would have toned down the fan service a bit. It started feeling forced and burdensome. Eventually, it added up and became too much and did take away from the story but the character development helped keep things moving along at a bearable pace.

Eventually after all the trips to the mall, the beach, the festival, the amusement park, and doing the all the summer homework (Basphamy!!!!) we finally are ready to be a magical girl again. As with all the other seasons the battle scenes continue to be very well done and exciting. As always its action packed and exciting. Even though the action was limited to the last four episodes, they did make up for the slowness of the first half. It even eventually explained, in a roundabout way, why they did it the way they did. By the end of last episode, everything is easily wrapped up tightly with a nice little bow. That is until the credits……..

Though this season was slow at first, the eventual payoff is well worth the investment of time. I normally am a fan of slice of life style animes, but for some reason this dragged to me at first. But once you get thru it and understand the reasons why, Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is a must have continuation of this great series.

Extras:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations Herz! Shorts, 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-

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is the perfect follow-up to the entire series. Just make sure you watch them in order so you can understand the entire story.

Comet Lucifer (anime review)

Title: Comet Lucifer: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Yasuhito Kikuchi, Atsushi Nakayama

Writer: Yūichi Nomura

Studio: 8-Bit

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 14th, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Mecha

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Sogo Amagi has spent a good portion of his young life looking for rare crystals in abandoned Giftdium mines, but it’s not until he’s lost in the ruins beneath his own home town that he and his friend Kaon make the most incredible discovery of all: a giant crystal with a girl trapped inside! Things only get wilder when the girl is unexpectedly freed.

Suddenly, the mines are invaded by giant robots controlled by a secret military organization, which is in turn fought off by a mysterious being made of crystal!

That leaves Sogo, Kaon, and their friends scrambling to figure out what to do with Felia, a red-eyed girl with strange powers who doesn’t even speak their language!

They need to figure everything out quickly, because unless they can unravel Felia’s secrets and learn why the military is after her, their whole planet may be in danger of complete annihilation in COMET LUCIFER!

Special Features: Garden Indig’s Train Shorts, Music Videos, Clean Opening and Closing Animation.

Commentary:

Within a few minutes I had a wave of other anime flood my memory. Comet Lucifer is a clear derivative of several there anime and in some ways it fails to live up to the standard that has been set before it. In other ways it manages to give us a story that entertains and intrigue. I understand why Sentai didn’t spend the money to dub Comet Lucifer and also understand why it didn’t take long to go from Crunchyroll to Blu-ray.

There is plenty of decent mystery and tension in Comet Lucifer. Although the area where it falls apart for me is in the character development and attempt to provide some comic relief. I did like the way Felia attached herself to Sogo and Kaon, but also felt like there was a weak attempt to create a real family between the three. It is not until late in the series that there seems to be a sense of connection. Even with that connection there are plenty of question that are left open.

Overall Grade: B-

As much as I wanted to really like Comet Lucifer and did enjoy some aspects of the series, but all in all I bound it to be forced and overly contrived. The series doesn’t have the feel of Fractle or even the odd the special connection that is found in Last Exile.

I tend to really enjoy these fanciful stories and love the way they tend to unfold. Comet Lucifer has much of the key aspects needed to be a fine series. In the end it does some things really well, but the total development of the characters leaves some things out which ends up hurting the overall strength of the series.

If you are a fan of fantasy anime that is a hidden love story the you should like Comet Lucifer just let it flow over you and do try to make it fit the trope it comes from.

The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection (anime review)

Title: The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection

Director: Hideyuki Kurata

Studio: Manglobe

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 3rd, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 36 Episodes and 4 OVAs/ 1000 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Harem, School Life, Video Games

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection contains episodes 1-12 of season 1, 1-12 of season 2, 1-12 of season 3, and 1-4 of the OVA.

Keima Katsuragi’s skill at winning women’s hearts is so legendary that he’s called The God Of Conquests, but that’s only in dating video games, not the real world.

Suddenly, Keima’s life takes a turn for the weird when he answers what he thinks is an online gaming challenge. Instead, he ends up with a demon contract, and now he has to help perky demon hunter Elsie track down a bunch of demons that have escaped from hell!

The reason: the demons have hidden themselves within the hearts of a group of random girls, and the only way to get them out is if Keima can make the girls fall in love with him. Also, just to make sure that Keima is properly incentivized, his failure will result in the loss of something important: his head!

Hopefully, the tricks Keima’s mastered with virtual girls will work just as well with live ones. Otherwise, things are going to get really messy in the spectacular ultimate collection of THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS!

Commentary:

 

In the overarching collection the shinning star are the first two seasons. Watching Keima go from unwilling participant to someone who has a secret love for the chase is fun and entertaining. The parody of the otaku world is not lost and there are some wonderful examples of the reality that has gripped the entire world when it comes to gaming and almost any other fandom.

The story itself is a rather silly, but it creates some wonderful situations  that are played out in a witty and humors fashion. The writing for season 1 and 2 manages to prove the point  that if it is clear what needs to be done then the story can write itself.

For season 3 Dating Game master Keima Katsuragi’s skills at conquering hearts in the virtual world have translated into real life so well that he and Spirit Hunter associate Elsie have already captured 14 of the runaway spirits attaching themselves to the souls of different girls. But is even the God of Conquests up to the task of romancing six REAL Goddesses?

The fate of the world may depend on it, because if Keima can’t do it six more times, a renegade faction of demons will use the Goddesses power to unleash an even more dangerous and powerful group of demons. That could mean the devastation of both Heaven and the Earth! (Not to mention Keima losing his own head.) And if the situation wasn’t difficult enough, it seems that the Goddesses’ souls are hidden inside girls that Keima has already had to make fall in love with him before. As part of the magic spell, they’ve all forgotten about him… or have they?

It is understandable that the overall popularity of the series pushed the studio to make a 3rd season. It is also understandable that there was some attempt to use the earlier plot line to help drive the current story. I can appreciate both, but as it all too often comes to pass, I can say that The World God Only Knows: Goddesses doesn’t even come close to being as entertaining as the first two seasons.

It is great to see all the characters come back and to have the wide array of personalities to play off of it just felt forced and more than just a little contrived. Of course it is natural that anime come across contrived because it is contrived. Once in a while an anime will feel somewhat natural, but most of the time you walk away thinking to yourself that they really pushed it this time. The World God Only Knows: Goddesses doesn’t pull any punches in that category.

One thing I have learned over the years is not to expect much from OVAs. As for The World God Only Knows OVAs I can say that I found them to be both disappointing and pleasing. On the dissapointing side of things I thought 2 of the OVAs were simple through away episodes that didn’t really catch the essence of the series but on the two that dealt with Tenri and Diana proved to be both entertaining and helpful with back story that is key in the Goddess season.

The other two OVAs were a simply there for a quick smile at best. At worst they added nothing to the story and made a few of the characters look a little silly. I’m always amazed when I see OVA’s come out I hope and pray that they wrap things up but more often than not they just give us nothing but a laugh if we are lucky.

Overall Grade: B

When looking at the complete body of the series I find that the balance of interest must fall on season 1 & 2. Season 3 is a weak reminder of the essence of the story and the OVAs are just a money grab.

After being such a fan of The World God Only Knows and having the OVAs tossed out there a reminded that anime is more of a business than an art form and the reality is that they are trying to make a profit. I can’t be to saddened by this release because there is some material in the group that is relevant to the series. I also see the other OVAs as simple comic relief and nothing more.

If you are a serious fan of The World God Only Knows then this set is something that you will want to own. If you aren’t then I would say look else were for your entertainment.

Extras:

Japanese Promos, Music Videos, Clean Opening Animation.

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

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

Director: Soichi Masui

Creator: Ichiro Sakaki

Anime Writer: Touko Machida

Studio: Bones

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

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

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

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Supernatural, Harem

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

Overall Grade: A-

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

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

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

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 (anime review)

cross-ange-2review provided by Karie and Andrew

Title: Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshiharu Ashino

Studio: Sunrise

Author: Tatsuto Higuchi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: August 23, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Queen’s Blade: Rebellion, Freezing, Akame ga Kill!

Synopsis:

The foundation of Ange’s world has been ripped to shreds over and over again, since the moment her throne was stolen and she was stripped of her humanity. But the destruction of Arzenal and the stunning revelation about the true nature of the Dragons were only the start of a devastating new series of shocks and discoveries.

Transported to an alternate and devastated world with Tusk and Vivian, Ange will finally learn the history of her world and the true nature of her own reality. She will discover who her ultimate enemy really is and how her para-mail, Villkiss, may be the only key to salvation.

The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance, but unless Ange can conquer her own fear and rage, the battle will be lost before it’s even begun. The final war between man, Dragon, and machine is about to begin in the climatic conclusion of Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray!

Commentary:

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray is an interesting mix of genres to say the least. It is basically a sci-fi and mecha series that has a lot of promise to be something amazing with a ton of fan-service and yuri scenes added in that take away from that promise. However, they did a very good job of wrapping up the story albeit very quickly. They really could have stretched these last 13 episodes into an extra six episodes or so. Each episode is packed full of drama and energy and they go by far too quickly.

The story picked up right where Collection 1 left off and we are introduced to a new character, Embryo. Embryo is the character that everyone will come to hate if you have a soul. He calls himself “The Turner” and basically he created the world as they all know it. He then decides that Ange would make the perfect wife for him so he sets out to convince her of that fact. But he goes about it all wrong and instead ends up attempting to rape her. I preferred Tusk’s character. Tusk is a Knight of Villkiss, or as he says in the later episodes, Ange’s Knight. He takes all of Ange’s abuse in stride and somehow always ends up with his head accidently between her legs. But that is all sweet and innocent because anything sexual is far out of his mind until the battle with Embryo is over. All he cares about is making Ange smile and protecting her.

The animation was alright; nothing spectacular but it did not look horrible. There was a large number of well known Japanese voice actors in this series and they did a wonderful job as always. The opening and closing songs were enjoyable and the animations were cute. The fighting scenes were short and looked rushed. They were also full of CG but you have to expect that these days. They did a good job with the CG but I wish they had made them look better because the fighting scenes were fun to watch.

Extras:

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray includes Cross Ange talk show, music video, clean opening and closing animations, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray was released with English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 2 on Blu-ray really finished the story off perfectly. I still recommend it as long as you can look past the yuri scenes and large amount of fan-service.

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.

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-2Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Having cleared the Abyssal Shaft, the members of the raiding party have returned to Akihabara to consider their next options.

First, though, there’s an unexpected lesson in history as the founder of the Debauchery Tea Party, the legendary Kanami, resurfaces with an extremely peculiar entourage and some even more stunning revelations about connections to the outside.

But the ramifications of this will have to wait. With new political situations brewing between the Guilds, Shiroe sets Isaac to the task of training Maihama’s knights while the younger members of Log Horizon are sent out on what should be a simple quest.

Collecting the materials required to make a magic bag, however, becomes much more difficult when ogres and nightshades get involved!

Fortunately, the junior team is about to get a jolt of fresh blood… in the form of a Vampire! The action escalates and the world gets even wilder in the second thundering collection of Log Horizon – 2!

Commentry:

Season 2 of Log Horizon is just as much fun as season 1 and in many ways becomes more complicated and intriguing. I was absorbed in the struggle to decide what they should do to protect themselves and maybe find a way home. With everything happening is was easy to get lost in the action, but the writing kept the series focused and on track. I was discussing Log Horizon with another anime fan and they commented that they did not like the series because it was slow and lacked the excitement of other series like Sword Art Online. I can see their point, but for me I think that is exactly what makes Log Horizon great.

The one thing that helped keep the series rolling was to include characters that had been eluded to earlier in the series. Meeting some of Shiroe’s former guild member is fun and opens the door to serious questions about the rest of the game and the servers that control and connect the players of the game.

Overall Grade: A

It is easy for me to grade Log Horizon season 2 part 2 an A because it took the series in another direction and continued to add factors that make it more than just good. Simply put, if you like trapped in the game series and haven’t seen Log Horizon then you are missing one of the best. Log Horizon will show you how how a great series should develop and continue to give the viewer something to think about and enjoy. Season 2 part 2 keeps the hits keep on coming and I have a feeling that season 3 will be even better!

Children Who Chase Lost Voices- Sentai Select (anime review)

children-who-chase-lost-voicesTitle: Children Who Chase Lost Voices Sentai Select (Combo pack)

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: July 19th, 2016

Format: DVD / 117 minutes / Feature Film

Genre: Fantasy

Age Rating: PG

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Titles: Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Vally of the Wind

Synopsis:

Quiet and thoughtful Asuna doesn’t have much time for fun. She works very hard in school and at home because with her father passed away and her mother is working long hours as a nurse. The one thing she does enjoy is going up to the bluff that overlooks the city and try to pickup a strange music with the old crystal radio receiver her father gave her. She is not sure what this strange but beautiful music is but she does enjoy it.

A day after she hear a wonderful song, she is confronted on the railroad track bridge by a odd monster that is acting strange and looks to attack her. Just as it appears to be ready to pounce, a young man rescues her and defeats the monster. He uses a strange blueish crystal that emits a strange light. Before she knows it, this young man, Shun, whisks her away and takes her back up to the bluff where she hears the music.

The next day, she returns to find Shun one more time and she shows him the crystal receiver and he notices the special crystal she uses to listen to the music. Shun then explains that he is from a different land and that he was there to meet someone and that he had finished his journey. The next day he was gone and before too long, a boy’s body was found in the river with Asuna’s scarf. This sends Asuna back to the bluff where she runs into someone else that looks like Shun, but isn’t. They are soon surrounded by a group of soldiers called Arch Angels that are after the other boy and the stone he has. In their escape, the boy, Shin, takes Asuna with him into a cave that leads them to a gateway. Just as they get there, the soldiers arrive and one of them manages to take Asuna through the gateway and Shin just barely makes it through. The gateway leads them to the mythical land of Agartha. The one soldier who forced Asuna into the gateway also happens to be her teacher, Morisaki.

Morisaki is searching for the ancient secret to bring back the dead and now Asuna is coming along with him. They find out quickly that they are not welcomed to this mystical land but through much adversity, they manage to find their way to the gateway of life and death. Will Morisaki revive his long lost love or will they be stopped before he can get to the gods?

Commentary:

Makoto Shinkai has made a dramatic move in his development as a creator. His earlier films, Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second took on much different narratives. They tended to deal with relationships and communication and the way in which separation can effect these relationships, but Children Who Chase Lost Voices is something completely different and falls under the genre of a true fantasy. It takes place in the blend of our current world and the ability to travel to a mystical world underneath the surface where we live. There are fanciful beasts and magical stones and a main plot that revolves around the resurrection of the dead. My first impression was that it may not be the best vehicle for Shinkai, but as I moved through this film I was reminded of some of the films produced by Studio Ghibli and most notable is Tales of Earth Sea. But much of the scenery reminded me of Castle in the Sky. Nonetheless, this story does tell a tale of the discovery of the power of love and that we must be able to get past loss of our loves.

As for the animation it also has the feel of a Ghibli film. There is a richness to the background and the fanciful creatures that inhabit the world. The film is very engaging and the story moves along. The typical gorgeous Shinkai sunsets are abundant. I almost began to think the world always had this warm pinkish glow to it. The characters also have a simplistic feel to them that help draws you in and makes you feel comfortable right away. Asuna is one of the young girls that wants everything to work out and her connection to nature ends up being an absolute savior. The music also plays a role in the film because it help set the feel of a mystical world that hasn’t changed for over 2000 years. Mystery and mysticism abound.

Overall Grade: A-

There is a lot to really like about Children Who Chase Lost Voices and it is no sunrise that Sentai Filmworks made it a Sentai Select, but I think it falls a bit short for a Shinkai story. I’m not completely sold on this fantasy world and at times it came across a little too simplistic. I loved the look and feel, but the story ran aground from time to time. One thing is for sure, this is a film that the whole family can enjoy and it does deserve to be mentioned along side the likes of some of Studio Ghibli’s films. I think that this young animator has a great future and I hope to see him continue to expand his repertoire.

Extras: 

In this 4 disc set the special features include: Interviews, The Making Of, Japanese Promo Video, Japanese Teasers, The Works of Makoto Shinkai, Interview with Makoto Shinkai (text).

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 (anime review)

cross-age-rondo-of-angel-and-dragon 1review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshiharu Ashino

Studio: Sunrise

Author: Tatsuto Higuchi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: June 21, 2016

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

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Queen’s Blade: Rebellion, Freezing, Akame ga Kill!

Synopsis:

Betrayed by her brother, stripped of her birthright, and declared an abomination is just the beginning of the nightmare for the girl once known as Princess Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi since she does not have to ability to use magic, which makes Ange less than human in the eyes of the human law. Now she has been exiled to certain death as a slave soldier in a war against dragon invaders! However, the people and land that cast her out have made a lethal error as Ange is no longer an innocent Princess being led to rape and slaughter. She has learned the hidden truth about the world she thought she had known. She has discovered that she is willing to kill in order to survive and they have given her the training and weapons in order to do so. Will Ange survive? Will she get her revenge against her brother and her people? You will have to watch Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray and find out.

Commentary:

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray is an interesting mix of genres to say the least. It is basically a sci-fi and mecha series that has a lot of promise to be something amazing with a ton of fan-service and yuri scenes added in that take away from that promise. The plot is interesting because God remade the planet to have no war or anything bad and people gained the ability to use Mana, or magic. However, there are some people who are not able to use Mana and they are called Norma. Norma’s are not considered human in the society where Mana is used to control everything around them thus making life easier. Norma’s are hunted down and taken away from society quiet violently and placed on a prison island called Arsenal. That is where they learn how to hunt dragons.

The character development in Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray is well done. Most of the characters do not get too much development but two of the main ones are Hilda and Ange. Ange really grows as a character from the spoiled princess to the killing machine she becomes. She has to learn how to deal with her new situation in life and she really takes to it. Hilda is another story all together. She matured from Ange’s bully to one of her friends. She finally learns how to work with the other girls instead of just bedding them. That is when she actually becomes an interesting character instead of just a background one.

The animation was alright; nothing spectacular but it did not look horrible. There was a large number of well known Japanese voice actors in this series and they did a wonderful job as always. The opening and closing songs were enjoyable and the animations were cute. The fighting scenes were short and looked rushed. I wish they had made them look better because the fighting scenes were fun to watch.

Extras:

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray includes a special interview by Momoka, commercials, clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B

Cross Ange-Rondo of Angels and Dragons: Collection 1 on Blu-ray really drew me into the storyline and I would recommend it as long as you can look past the yuri scenes and large amount of fan-service. I cannot wait for the second collection to be released.

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-1Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!

Commentary:

Over the last few months I have heard more and more people talking about Log Horizon. That is a great thing because the things I am hearing is what I have already said in the past and that is the fact that Log Horizon is one of the best anime to examine what would need to happen if you and others were trapped in a game. Although Sword Art Online is entertaining and very pretty it doesn’t come close to Log Horizon in story and plot driven writing.

The second season of Log Horizon brings with it new challenges and rewards and these first 13 episodes manage to setup a complicated plot line that is both mysterious and deeply intriguing. I thought that wrapping up one large quest and opening the door to a even bigger threat in this first collection is a great way to keep us coming back for more.

Overall Grade: A

Wow, in reality I wasn’t sure if this series could get any better and with the coming of the second season I was proven wrong. The action and complex strategy that is taking place is farm more than I could imagine. The flash backs to their real lives when dead was brilliant and it gave a solid grounding into who these people really are. There was no holding back when the reality was approached and also added meaning to who they had become in the game. It is a solid reminder of our own failures as a society to truly accept and include all people rather than ridicule and shun people for their introverted personalities and awkward social skills. Owning an anime store I meet people like this on a daily basis and make it point to let them know that they are welcome in my store and many of them have become friends over the years and my little store has become a safe haven for them to actually have a social life that is off line.

Getting off my soap box and back to Log Horizon. There is some thing else that made this collection step up to a solid A rating and that was the way it rolled out the plot. There was a steady pacing and flow of the story line that made it easy to watch and to walk away from each episode feeling as though you were provided something important. It also ended with a great cliff hanger that setup the the second half of the season.

If , for any reason you reading this and not familiar with Log Horizon then you really need to start from the beginning and get caught up. You will be very pleased that you dove in.