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Golden Time Collection 2 (anime review)

Golden Time collection 2Title: Golden Time Collection 2 on blu-ray

Director: Chiaki Kon

Author: Yuyko Takemiya (Light Novel), Fumihiko Shimo (Anime)

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 3, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Drama, Josei

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Adjusting to college life is hard enough for most students, but ever since Banri Tada lost all his memories he’s literally being haunted by the spirit of the person he was before the accident. And now that the Banri-that-is has fallen in love with Koko instead of Linda, the girl his old self was in love with, the ghost of the Banri-that-was is stepping up its efforts to sabotage his new relationship with every power at its disposal.

Since past-Banri can sometimes take over present-Banri’s body, the entire life new-Banri has built is now in imminent danger of being blown away like a house of cards in a whirlwind. That doesn’t even take into account Linda and Koko’s feelings, let alone those of Banri’s friend, Mitsuo, who Koko was formerly in love with, but who now has a thing for Linda – at least, when he isn’t crushing on Chinami. And if that sounds confusing, it’s nothing compared to how Banri feels as his old memories begin to resurface and the ultimate battle of Man Vs. Himself escalates!

Commentary:

Golden Time Collection 2 wraps up this outstanding series. Being an old soft when it comes to love stories I found Golden Time very satisfying. It takes you on a journey of discovery when it comes to the elusive beast know as true love. I know we have all felt like we are in love with someone and that feeling was presented early on, but as the series progresses it begins to explore the part of love that isn’t natural, but instead the aspects that must be learned. Being in love with a person is easy, but loving them and making sure they know it isn’t so easy and it is clearly demonstrated between Barni and Koko.

Other than the way in which this love story develops there is the relationships between friends that is also explored. There are some very real moments that both make you think about your own relationships, make almost off of the characters in the series very believable and sympathic. The fact that Golden Time walks a fine line between a sappy over the top love story and the melodramatic real life collage age drama helps make it both entertaining and somewhat realistic.

Overall Gade: A

Golden Time collection 2 is a heart warming love story that feels like it could go several different directions and in the end delivers a result that is extremely satisfying. You really don’t know which way Barni’s final relationship will go which I found to be realistic to a point. I think that the memory loss aspect to the plot made it very easy to wind through the possibility that he could possibly love two people and at the same time added some dramatic focus on the characters that was in many ways very unrealistic. That is what anime does and I think it hep keep Golden Time on step above the many slice of life / love stories that are out there.

I know that most people go to Clannad she they think about a solid love story, but much of Clannad is way to day to day and boring, but Golden Time adds the magic early on with the memory loss tension and how it intertwines throughout the series. There are also well written supporting characters that keeps the series solid and easy to watch.

If you are looking for a series that is a tear jerker that keeps you wondering all the way through I think you should give Golden Time a chance. It should also be noted that Golden Time collection 2 does a great job of wrapping the series up and providing closure and hope whereas other series just make you cry because that is what they want you to do.

A Certain Magical Index, A the Movie: Miracle of Endymion (anime review)

Certain Magical Index, A the Movie: Miracle of EndymionTitle: A Certain Magical Index,  the Movie: Miracle of Endymion

Director: Hiroshi Nishikiori

Written By: Kazuma Kamachi, Hiroyuki Yoshino

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 17th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / DVD / Feature Film / 90 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Supernatural, Action, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

Welcome to Academy City, a futuristic metropolis populated with super-powered students. As the brightest intellectual minds in the city work to complete the world’s first space elevator – a towering spire capable of taking citizens into the heavens – perpetually unlucky Kamijo and nun-in-training Index befriend a talented street musician named Arisa. When the beautiful singer lands a big break, her miraculous voice attracts unwanted attention, making the songstress a target for magicians and scholars alike. As the battle between sorcery and science blasts into space, Kamijo, Index, and their allies in Academy City are rocketed to a psychedelic stadium thousands of feet above Japan in a desperate attempt to keep Arisa – and the rest of the world – safe.

Commentary:

Well, I am not going to stand up and cheer for this film. I found it to be a little pandering to the audience and simply put I am somewhat disappointed that it did not wrap up the series. It is just a plan old filler that can be taken or fleet for what it is. Of course it can’t just stand on its own as a story because you must understand all of the back story or you will be lost. I didn’t see anything out of the film that helped make any of the characters better. There was no revelation that makes a difference to the series and in the end everything goes back to the way it was. There aren’t even any new characters to add to the pantheon of players in the series.

As a film is was entertaining for what it is. As a fan of the series I understood what was going on and knew most of the characters. It felt like one of the many Bleach or Naruto films where they run off to save the girl and in the end nothing really happened, well almost nothing happened. I guess the focus of the movie was to sell a music CD, but the music is not that interesting or even good.

Overall Grade: B-

I really wish that there was something positive to say about A Certain Magical Index,  the Movie: Miracle of Endymion, but in reality I just found it flat. The writing made Kamijo even more preachy then usual and very much the dunce who just happens to be there. I also found his final speech to be lacking any convincing arguments it just comes down to the reality of remembering the past that makes the difference.

So, if you are a fan of the series you just might find it entertaining, but if you are not familiar with the series don’t waist your time.

A Certain Magical Index II part 2 (anime review)

Magical Index season 2 part 2Title: A Certain Magical Index II part 2

Director: Hiroshi Nishikori

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Funmation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: Dec. 16th, 2014

Format: DVD / Blu-ray / 12 episodes / 300 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Harem, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

The Book of the Law – an encoded grimoire containing catastrophic magic – has been stolen, so naturally Kamijo, Index, and a few familiar faces join in the crusade to protect the one nun who can decipher the powerful text. But as the group battles church sects and holy assassins, they realize that discovering who their true enemy is may be more difficult than saving the sister.

Meanwhile, an organization known as the Science Society resurrects an esper-producing program, a school festival brings out the competition – and drama – in the student population, and a mysterious figure negotiates the purchase of a sacred relic that could threaten the future of Academy City.

Commentary:

As with the rest of the Magical Index series there is plenty of fan service, but this 12 episodes tends to take itself a little more serious. That is a nice departure from the earlier episodes. This are getting much more tense and I was really looking for some sort of closure  and as with the first season it just doesn’t happen. That is not to say I was left unsatisfied, instead I felt like I had been give a generous dose of this odd magic / scientific series. I am still rather confused as to the scientific aspects because all of the  special powers seem to be somewhat magical even though they call themselves ESPers. Still it is cleat that the church and the scientific community still have a long way to go before they can find common ground.

Overal Grade: B+

A Certain Magical Index season II part 2 brings it all back together and adds another layer of complexity to this simple yet strange harem series. The series has managed to move further away form the harem aspects and lean much more on the action supernatural backbone of the series and i for one really do enjoy that. There are still moments that the easy way out with moe / fan service is just a downer for me. I can enjoy the juxtaposition of an older teenage boy and a 12 year old girl, but to make a large number of the sexually charged girls in this series so blatantly young yet scantily clad is tiresome and somewhat a waist of time. Magical Index has a strong enough plot and rich enough characters that they could have all been college age and it would have made much more sense.

I do like the series and am looking forward to the movie to see if it wraps things up. I suspect it does. Maybe we will discover what the real importance of Kamijo’s right hand really is. I am not buying that he is a level zero who just so happens to be able to negate magic. He is also able to take a great deal of punishment and keep on coming back for more. I do hope the movie satisfies what ails the series and give it closure that is so deserves.

Golden Time collection 1

Golden Time Collection 1Title: Golden Time Collection 1

Director: Chiaki Kon

Author:  Yuyko Takemiya (Light Novel), Fumihiko Shimo (Anime)

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 30th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Drama, Josei

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Tada Banri is beginning anew in the busy streets of Tokyo as a freshman student at a private law school, away from the troubles of his former life. While managing to get lost on his very first day of class, he finds himself befriending fellow law student Mitsuo on the way. Things get a little more interesting when a stylishly well-dressed beauty suddenly appears – only for her to slap Mitsuo across the face with a bouquet of roses!

The mystery girl is Mitsuo’s childhood friend and self-appointed future bride Kaga Koko. It seems that more problems are on the horizon for Banri and his new friends with a troubling secret that will change them forever. What kind of new life has Banri stepped into and will he be able to survive the trials ahead of him? Join this group of friends as they attempt to discover themselves while juggling love, life, and a little drama!

Commentary:

One of the more popular story lines in anime over the last few years has been the use of amnesia as a important plot device. In Golden Time the discovery of this issue comes on slow, but ends up playing a very important role is creating the tension and drama in this straight forward love story. I have to say that using amnesia for this story works well and the way that it is given an almost counter intuitive aspect gives the series a life of its own.

The diversity in the characters also makes the series work well. It really does have the feeling of a collage where the students come from all walks of life and have a broad and various backgrounds. We have the rich who generally haven’t experienced much in life outside their sheltered worlds and there are also students form the other end of the spectrum who have seen all kinds of experiences and don’t always have the common sense to show restraint.

The animation itself is classic J. C. Staff. It looks warm and inviting.  I would think most us would connect with the artist work similar to Torardora! and even Waiting in the Summer. There is also some of the same feeling of visual statement found in Heavens Memo Pad. Golden Time continues to show why J. C. Staff continues to dominate these warm heartfelt stories and showcase their ability to make the visual and emotional come together.

Overall Grade: A-

I am easily soft at heart or rather a easy target for these emotional stories that give you great hope for the story and at the same time lee you wondering which way the love story will fall. There are plenty of possibilities left for Golden Time and don’t even come close to believe that it will stay on the same trajectory that it is on. I think that the second half of the story will bring the story home in a wonderful way that will not only continue to give us hope in the power of love but also in the spirit of the human soul.

If you enjoy love stories that have a twist and want to see one that takes place in college rather than high school then you must check out Golden Time. It is a winner in my book.

 

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Seishi Minakami

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: August 19, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Fantasy, Super Power

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Magical Index

Synopsis:

The Sister’s Arc continues in A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2. Since Misaka knows the entire truth about the organization that is making the sister clones, she will stop at nothing to bring it down. However, that means facing Accelerator in a fight that only one of them will walk away from.

Elsewhere in Academy City, an adorable girl named Febrie is introduced to Misaka’s circle of friends. As the girls begin to learn more about Febrie’s past, they discover that she is a victim of scientific forces in the city as well. Of course, that is something that Misaka and the girls of Judgment simply will not stand for. Will Misaka and her friends be able to help Febrie? Will Misaka be able to stop the organization that is making the sister clones? You will have to watch A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2 and find out.

Commentary:

In A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2, the Sister’s Arc finally comes to an interesting conclusion. The Sister’s Arc gives us thrilling action, emotional and powerful revelations, and portrays the story in an exciting, multi-perspective fashion. Misaka’s character development was amazing and was awesome to watch. Touma makes appearances once again and adds an interesting plot twist. I absolutely loved the Sister’s Arc because you really begin to understand Misaka more. However, I thought that the conclusion to this Arc was a little rushed and I really wish they would have taken a little more time on it.

Now for the Silent Party Arc. I like to think of the Silent Party Arc as the red-headed step-child of the Sister’s Arc. The Silent Party Arc had a very weak plot that was filled with inconsistencies and characters who acted completely out of character. Basically Misaka and her friends meet the most adorable little girl ever, Febrie, and try to find her a place to live since she does not have parents. They end up learning that she is not really human but a genetically manufactured being that is going to be used to destroy Academy City. I believe that if they would have taken more time to make the plot flow better and actually make sense that this story arc would have been interesting. I wish that the characters did not act so out of character because Misaka went through some amazing development in the Sister’s Arc but reverted back to her original character for the Silent Party Arc. That really took away from the story and also made it very hard to watch. All that being said, if you watch the Silent Party Arc with low expectations it is a cute, light arc to watch and it is only eight episodes long.

J.C. Staff did an amazing job with the animation. The scenes burst to life off the screen and drag you into the story and do not let go until the end of the disc. The voice actors did an amazing job and brought the characters to life. The opening and closing songs were okay. I did not see anything special about them but they were decent for what they were.

Overall Grade: B+

I really enjoyed A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 2 and I recommend it to anyone. I really loved the Sister’s Arc and could take or leave the Silent Party Arc. Either way, this entire series has found a way into my heart and I am okay with that.

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 (anime review)

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Seishi Minakami

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: July 1, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Fantasy, Super Power

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Magical Index

Synopsis:

Something sinister is growing in Academy City. The shadows are filled with whispers of a project to clone one of the super-powered students known as espers. High-ranking master of electricity Mikoto Misaka, or Railgun as she is known to other espers, laughs off these stories until she comes in contact with a copy of herself. The duplicates are real and are being mass-produced from Misaka’s own DNA, making each one of them a little piece of her. The Sisters, these clones, are being systematically murdered in a series of experiments designed to turn a sadistic killer into the strongest esper in history. Misaka vows to save her copies and destroy the project. However, this might be one fight she cannot win alone but she hates to ask for help. Be on the lookout for high-energy battles and intense action in this continuation of the A Certain Scientific Railgun series. Will Misaka be able to turn to her friends for help or will she be forced to fight the good fight on her own? You will have to watch A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 and find out.

Commentary:

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 still takes place in academy city with the four usual characters Misaka, Kuroko, Uiharu, and Saten. However, this season focuses more on Misaka’s background story and outlines her more as a character. We are also introduced the fourth level five esper and the first level five esper making for some well animated fighting scenes. In these first twelve episodes some of the characters from the first season were not featured as much as they could have been. I am hoping that will change in Part Two.

The Sister’s story arc really caught my interest. I remember some of it from A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 just expands on it and fills in any blanks that A Certain Magical Index left. You also see a different side of Misaka in this season. She became slightly darker, at least to me, and that added depth to her character. She really grew into her character this season and she also learns some very important life lessons. It also ties you emotionally to her and the fights that she has in A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1. Touma from A Certain Magical Index also makes an appearance in the last few episodes and I am hoping that he will be there in Part 2 because he adds that certain something to the plot. Academy City seems like a Stepford city. Rules for the general public must be followed and images for the general public must be believed. So long as the general public accepts those rules then everything will be great, however there are issues because every city has its issues. It will be interesting to see how Academy City fairs in Part 2.

J.C. Staff did an amazing job with the animation. The scenes burst to life off the screen and drag you into the story and do not let go until the end of the disc. The voice actors did an amazing job and brought the characters to life. The opening and closing songs were okay. I did not see anything special about them but they were decent for what they were. I cannot wait to see the rest of the series and I will be sitting on the edge of my seat while watching it.
Extras:

A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 includes episode commentary, clean opening and closing animations, and Funimation trailers.

Overall Grade: A-

I really enjoyed A Certain Scientific Railgun S—Season 2 Part 1 and I cannot wait to see Part Two. I personally enjoyed this season more than the first but I recommend the entire A Certain Magical Index series and spin-offs as the storylines keep you interested. Just a word of advice for those who are reading this, do not offer up your DNA to some doctor unless you are ready for the consequences.

The Familiar of Zero: Season One Complete Collection (anime review)

The Familiar of Zeroreview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: The Familiar of Zero: Season One Complete Collection

Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Noboru Yamaguchi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: April 8, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, School, Harem

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Shakugan no Shana and Toradora!

Synopsis:

Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere’s name is so long and her spell-casting skills are so poor that everyone at the Tristain Academy of Magic just calls her “Louise the Zero”. Louise’s humiliation only increases during an important second-year test, where the other students summon up mythological creatures as their familiars, and she inexplicably summons a human named Saito, a totally normal teenage boy from Tokyo. Now she’s stuck with him and Saito’s stuck with the lousy life of being a familiar. Except, maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye, because Saito’s not prepared to accept the social inequities that Louise and other aristocrats consider the status quo, and he may not be quite as normal as everyone thinks. And the reason Louise is so bad at magic might just be that she has yet to figure out what she is good at. In fact, they might even have the makings of a great team… if they can learn to stand each other first, that is!

Commentary:

When first picking up The Familiar of Zero, at first glance it doesn’t look to be much more than a standard cliché love comedy, harem anime. It has all the usual suspects, and has kind of the same set up. The standard leads are the under-developed tsundere, the well endowed easy girl, the quiet bookworm that you know could kick butt if she has to, and the unsuspecting innocent girl. All these are old cliché character archetypes, all used over and over again, over many series. In all truth, these clichés hold pretty firm throughout the series. But it was not the cliché characters that made this series fun to watch, it was how well they were utilized. The first thing you will notice different from the status quo is the male lead. In most harem love comedies, the male lead is beta, shy, and socially inept, and we always wonder what the girls see in him. Saito does not properly fit that mold. He is hardly the mamma’s boy we expect. He’s a bit of a playboy, seems to have guts, and never backs down if he feels spited. Oh and he had no issues flirting with the ladies, a typical teenage boy, for once. Outside of that, the character development is a bit lacking. The story is based in a cliché setting, a school named Tristain Academy of Magic, seeming quite similar to a very popular children’s book about a boy wizard. You know the one. Of course this looks to be a standard middle ages european style setting. And the magic is based on basic elementals, nothing new here. But all the cliché stuff hardly detracts from the series. Its strengths are the character interactions and the comedy anyway. At first you will probably watch The Familiar of Zero with a bit of reluctance, but that will all vanish quickly as the story picks up.

Louise, a member of a high ranking noble family with a history of producing powerful mages, seems to be the odd ball of the family, having little to no magical ability. As a second year student, she must, as all the others must, summon a familiar, to be a lifetime companion. She is extremely worried, because she is so inept she couldn’t summon a hungry cat, standing in front of her with a piece of meat. As the others summon their familiars, she prays and cowers in fear, praying she will be able to summon anything. As she does, everyone watches in astonishment as she manages to summon a boy. A peasant boy. In a world where peasants basically are slaves to the nobility, can anything be more embarrassing than summoning a peasant boy? Anyway what is done is done, and she has to keep him. The rules forbid she do anything else. Saito, confused after being ripped from his world to this one, is quickly surprised when Louise seals the deal with a kiss. Saito is quite reluctant in his new role, as a familiar. He has no regard for the hierarchy that is in place, separating nobility from peasantry, and practically enslaving them. It does not help that Louise treats him like nothing more than a dog. Of course Saito seems to be completely useless, being a human and not a creature, he seems to have little to offer Louise as a familiar, until he insults a peer of Louise’s names Guiche, and does not back down from a challenge to duel him. The comedy quickly picks up and becomes the main stable of the show. The story line does have its good points, but at times you may find it predictable. But even so, you will laugh.

Extras:

The Familiar of Zero includes extended episode previews, Japanese promos, clean opening and closing animations and Sentai trailers as special features.

Overall Grade: A-

Even with all its clichés and predictability, The Familiar of Zero, is a well done comedy. Also a quick note to Sentai Filmworks, please release the seasons that follow this one unlike the last company that released this title. We beg you.