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Den-noh Coil Collection 1 (anime review)

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

Director: Mitsuo Iso

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

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

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Commentary:

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

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

Overall Grade: A-

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

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

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

Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA (anime review)

corpse-party-ovaReview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA

Director: Akira Iwanaga

Studio: Asread

Author: Shoichi Sato

U.S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 26, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 4 Episodes / 100 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Another, Elfen Lied, When They Cry, Danganronpa the Animation

Fair warning: The following anime series contains massive amounts of blood, body parts, and entrails

Synopsis:

The horrifying events that occurred on the unhallowed grounds of the Heavenly Host School were so gruesome and shocking that the entire school was razed in an attempt to wipe the events from memory. But, foolishly, a new high school, the Kisaragi Academy, was built in Heavenly Host’s place, and the only thing true evil requires is an invitation. So when a group of students innocently perform a charm intended to bind them as friends forever, the nightmarish evil is unleashed once again.

Transported into a living hell where Heavenly Host still stands and undead horrors stalk the bloodstained halls, the students are now the prey in the most brutal test ever designed by inhuman minds. What follows is not for the squeamish or weak of heart, as they are hunted down in a savage game of torture, murder, and insanity. Japan’s most terrifying series of videogames comes to gut-wrenching life as the spirits of the damned host a Corpse Party!

Commentary:

Here we go again. Yet another anime based on a game where the game came first, the bane of anime loving non-gamers everywhere. We all know how these are usually teasers to get you to buy the games. I don’t play games. I don’t have the time. Most have a tendency to end just as you are getting into it and when the story is getting interesting. They hit you with the “Play the game to find out how it ends” part, the thing I have grown to hate more than anything I can name. Why did I pick this up knowing it was… Wait there was an ending. None of this having to play the game to know how it ended bull. In only four episodes they managed to get a story in.

There are not many horror stories in anime that are like Corpse Party-Tortured Souls. The paranormal/slasher genre is not common. With limited titles the story has to be decent. This feels more like the late 1990s, early 2000s Japanese live action horror movie genre, which included titles like Dark Water, Grudge, Ring, Shikoku, and Suicide Club. It has the same ominous feeling and semi-predictability. But those are features that have endeared these types of stories to their fans. One thing is sure and that is Corpse Party-Tortured Souls does beat its predecessors with the amount of blood and gore that it shows. Makes most of the recommended titles seem tame actually. Seems more like an older anime like Ninja Scroll, where it rains blood with half bodies falling from the sky. Corpse Party-Tortured Souls has lots of gore, and horrible ways of dying. With only four episodes they had to work to cram everything in and it did make it hard to follow. I have to admit I had to actually watch it twice thru and caught many things I had originally missed.

Which leads us to the storyline. Most anime series and live actions like Corpse Party-Tortured Souls lack a storyline and are not super original. They solely survive on how bloody it can be and will take another bloody death over a glimpse of story any day. That’s where it breaks from horror and goes into the mystery aspect. Corpse Party-Tortured Souls does have some amazing twists that you would not expect. Just as you think you know what happened in 1973 that leads to current events, it throws in something completely unexpected that makes you rethink the entire thing. The only complaint, and considering its only four episodes, is everything seems rushed. They had to connect the dots in very little time. This is why I watched it twice and had a much better understanding the second time around. The story was complex and you had to connect a lot of those dots yourself, with little explanation outside of contexts clues they give. In the end you will have a few questions left but I think they are not very large compared to the story itself. The other thing was the characters. Though not well developed (how can you with so little time) you get a general idea of everyone and you tend to figure out personalities. In the end you learn to like most of them, but don’t get too attached, as the title lives up to its name. The only other thing to mention is the opening and ending are perfect for the setting of the series.

I could not help but to look up the games because I enjoyed Corpse Party-Tortured Souls a lot. I have come to find out there are many versions of the game and many different ideas in the games, and the anime is completely original from them all, so even if you played the games, this is new and worthwhile to look up, rather be a fan of the games or a fan of the horror genre.

Extras:

Corpse Party-Tortured Souls: OVA includes clean opening and closing animations and Maiden Japan trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade:B-

WXIII: Patlabor The Movie 3 (anime review)

Patlabor-WXIII-Movie-3Title: WXIII: Patlabor The Movie 3 on Blu-ray

Director: Takuji Endo and Fumihiko Takayam (chief)

Screenplay by: Miki Tori

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: September 8th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 107 minutes & 38 minute extra

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating B+

Synopsis:

The SV2’s giant Ingram Patrol Labors may be the ultimate in crime-fighting technology, but there are never enough to tackle every pending case. So when a mysterious series of deadly attacks targets Labor operators across Tokyo’s harbor region, the job goes to “conventional” detectives Hata and Kusumi.

After all, just because it looks like a giant robot-created crime doesn’t mean that it is a giant robot-created crime, and deep inside a web of half-truths and government cover-ups, the detectives uncover a secret biological weapons project called WWXIII. But while this secret may have been buried, it’s still very much alive. And that’s when having the armored force of the SV2 as backup may become a literal lifesaver for the entire city!

Commentary:

The last of the Patlabor franchise films is something very different then the rest of the series, but it is not detached. The one thing that is very consistent is the high quality of story development. One thing that may lose people is the strange concept behind the story. Although the Japanese are not too afraid to take on the issue of monsters derived from mutations and experimentation.

I can say that I was drawn into the story right off the bat and continued to stay with it all the way trough. I loved the way they wrapped it up but I would have liked to see more Patlabor. As a police drama it is solid.

The animation was a let down for me. Almost 10 year passed from Patlabor 2 and the production quality just doesn’t match up. It almost felt older than and lacked the special visual prescience the earlier film had.

Overall Grade: B+

Patlabor the Movie 3: WXIII is a fine film but maybe its title should not have been Patlabor the Movie 3 because of the lack of the Patlabor Mecha and team. Maybe it should have been called the Promise from Space and Death.

Honestly I found Patlabor the Movie 3 to be a wonderfully strange and at the same time a little disappointing. It is telling how production ideals and approaches changed over the years and also the interest that is given to some of the small details. This alone is a simple pleasure that comes with much beloved dramas. I have always marveled at how the Japanese can take some of the strangest story lines and make them interesting and good.

If you are trying find that real “diamond in the ruff” then WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3 is what you might be looking for.

Patlabor 2: The Movie (anime review)

Patlabor 2Title: Patlabor 2: The Movie on Blu-ray

Director: Mamoru Oshii

Studio: Production I. G.

Written By: Kazunori Ito

Orignal Release: August 7, 1993

U. S. Re-Release: July 21st, 2015

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 107 Minutes

Genre: Police Drama, Mecha, Action, Suspense, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A+

 

Synopsis:

A rogue military jet bombs a Tokyo bridge. The city is in panic. But is it a real terrorist attack, the first stage of a coup, or the opening gambit of an even more Machiavellian plot? As the military attempts to take control and Martial Law is declared, the task of untwisting the complex web of secrets, lies, and betrayals falls to the convoluted mind of Captain Kiichi Goto.

But when the Defense Forces have been turned against each other and government itself may be suspect, who can he depend on as his ground troops in a bid to pull the country back from the brink of oblivion? The men and women of the SV2 and their mobile force of Ingram patrol robots, of course.

Commentary:

Wow! Here a anime film that stands out for where awesomeness. This 1993 production shows off everything great about having a outstanding animation crew and a superior script. I have sat through this film several time and every time I am blown away by what I see.

At first blush I thought I was watching something from 2005 or later then as the story progressed I was convinced that it must have been written by a zen master. Patlabor 2 is a stand out film in the world of phycological dramas. It takes you down several paths to have you end up standing on an Island of Sea Gulls.

Overall Grade: A+

Patlabor 2 is a tour de force of both writing and anime production. From some of the simple attention to detail to the depth of each character, Patlabor 2 takes us on a ride that will not be forgotten any time soon.

With all of the tough provoking monolog to the movement of the characters while they go about their activities. We get to see it all. I must warn you that his film was produced in 1993 and even in todays standards it is a very high quality show. This may be one of the few older shows that should be reproduced on Blu-ray because of the original production quality of the film. It is awesome to see a small licenser like Maiden Japan bring this series and film back to us. It is easy to forget the past and even forget how great it was when most of what is remembered is the simple stories that we lived with in our childhood, but it is always wonderful to get a glimpse of what was at the top of the game over 20 years ago.

If you are looking for a thoughtful drama that is less about the action and more about the complexities that go on when our society appears to have lost its way, then Patlabor 2 is the one for you. Better yet, if you are just looking for a anime film that will leave you speechless then this is the one for you.