Archives for : Mari Okada

A Lull in the Sea (anime review) Nagi no Asukara

A Lull in the Sea Premium EditionTitle: A Lull in the Sea

Director: Toshiya Shinohara

Creator: Project-118

Anime Adaptation: Mari Okada

Studio: P. A. Works

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: Premium Ed. 6/30/2015, Standard DVD Ed. 7/14/2015

Format: Blu-ray / DVD / 615 Minutes / 26 Episodes

Genre: Slice of Life, Fantasy

Age Rating: PG 13

Overall Personal Rating: A


Due to the closure of their middle school, four students from the sea, Manaka Mukaido, Hikari Sakishima, Chisaki Hiradaira, and Kaname Isaki must attend middle school on the land, despite the growing tension between the land and sea people. While getting used to their new lives, these four and their new friend from the land, Tsumugu Kihara, plan to put on an Ofunehiki, a festival traditionally organized by the land and the sea people, in an attempt to create peace between the two villages.

Five years have passed after the Ofunehiki and Shioshishio’s hibernation. Itaru and Akari now have a son, Akira. Sayu and Miuna, now 14, attend Mihama Middle School. All the while, Chisaki continues to worry about the whereabouts of Hikari and the others while living with Tsumugu and his grandfather. One day, an unexpected discovery leads everyone to revisit the events of the Ofunehiki and unlock the mysteries lying deep beneath the sea…


For a great many fans anime is known for its Mecha (Big Robots) or Fan Service (Big Boobs) series that take up all the fresh air in the marketing and fan dome. For me there are the little Slice of Life series that really make the art form shine. A Lull in the Sea is a shinning example of the genre and along with other P. A. Works stand at the top to prove that bitter sweet love stories can stir even the coldest of people.

A Lull in the Sea takes a somewhat simple fantasy and idea and creates a rich love story that not only transcends time but also the line between reality and a world that only exists in dreams. The story allows the viewer to relive many of the same emotions that come with the simple coming of age that a 14 year old might experience and the twist in some reminds us that maybe we never out grow these emotions.

Because A Lull in the Sea is 26 episodes long it allows some rather detailed character development that both helps and hinders the pacing to the series. As I moved through the first 8 episodes I was beginning to wonder if maybe they had lost their focus and were going to just give us a pretty anime with a rather bland story line much the way a  series like Clannad played out. Although, once the plot really began to develop things to a much different path and the real richness of the story began to come out.

Overall Grade: A

The fact that A Lull in the Sea ends up making you feel very good about these people saves it from the fatal blow that many other anime have met. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was very please with how the series wrapped it all up. All too often the end of a series can feel hurried and allow way too many loose ends, but A Lull in the Sea does a great job of letting us walk way with a full belly and a warm smile on our face.

NIS did a interesting thing with the release of the series this time, They released the Premium Edition only 2 weeks before the released the standard DVD editions. Now you might find the price to be high, but if it were other distributors I have a feeling we might even see the retail price even higher.

If you are looking for a series that capture your imagination give you a few tears along the way and then allow you to walk away satisfied then A Lull in the Sea is something you really need to see. I did watch some of the series in English and Japanese and can say the English Dub is well done and stays true to the series. This one is winner the same way AnoHana, Tari Tari or Angel Beats! are.


The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (anime review)

The Pet Girl of SakurasouTitle:The Pet Girl of Sakurasou complete collection on Blu-ray

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Writer: Mari Okada

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 14, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 24 Episodes / 600 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Absurdity, Slice of Life, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+


Banished from normal housing for the crime of adopting stray cats, Sorata Kanda’s life has gone to the dogs and he’s been impounded in Sakura Hall, a notorious den of troublemakers, geniuses and weirdos. Since he has a penchant for taking in small, cute but sometimes not completely loveable creatures, he’s been tasked with keeping fellow resident Mashiro Shiina, an acclaimed but highly dysfunctional and unfocused artist, from forgetting to eat, brush her hair or wear clothes. Then there are the other residents of Sakura Hall, all of whom have their own unique quirks and challenging relationships.


The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has finally been put together as a sin leg set and I think it could have found a good  number of new fans if there was a english dub, but Sentai Filmworks is not there yet. Never-the-less this is still a delightful series that doesn’t demand too much of you and at the same time manages to bring on plenty of good feeling toward this strange, but lovable group of misfits. Sorata may be portrayed as the normal one of the bunch and in some ways he may fit into everyday society a little better, but I see him as possibly the strangest one of the bunch. The fact that he has a unbridled weakness for cat makes him a huge favorite and he also allows himself to be the center of the group without being a overbearing shining obstacle to all of their uniqueness.

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a delightful short series of 24 episodes that manages to give up plenty to smile about. The animation is perfect for the series. It is bright and cheery that helps keep the series in its element. I can’t say that it was powerful or moving like a studio ghibli movie, but it did go well with the story even if it was rather common for 2012/2013 standards.

Overall Personal Grade: B+

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has a level of drama included that helps keep the story level and even. The trial and tribulations these young people are going through are similar to many of the struggle all of have gone through. Of course a couple of the demons are a little melodramatic but that too is fine because it gives everyone a reason to feel their sadness and also cheer when the rest of the world is being brought into their drama.

Again I feel like this is a great series and in many ways it put older classic slice of life series like Clannad to shame, but it doesn’t have a huge fan base in the states because there is no english dub. I know that there are the hard core fans that want the Japanese voices acting with the english subtitle. I think this is a little bit of a narrow view of things and a flash back to older dubs were they just simply sucked. Over the last few years I have only come across very few anime where the english dub ruins the series. Anyway, in the case of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou I am confident that a solid dub would propel it into the classic status it deserves.

Either way I have to tip my hat to the series and tell everyone that if they haven’t see The Pet Girl of Sakurasou yet then they need to get busy and check it out.

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home (anime review)

Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet HomeTitle: Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home the movie

Director: Masahiro Ando

Writer: Mari Okada

Studio: P. A. Works

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 14th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 66 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Coming of Age

Age Rating: TV 13

Overall Personal Rating: A-


In the days before the Bonbori Festival, Ohana’s friend Yuina comes to Kissuiso for training. While cleaning up after her, Ohana discovers a logbook kept by Beans from when her mother, Satsuki, was still a youth at Kissuisso. Through the logbook, Ohana catches a glimpse of her mother’s struggles, and realizes that maybe the two of them aren’t so different after all. Meanwhile, the rest of the inn staff are caught up in dealing with a blackout.


In a continuation of the series a this simple little film manages to keep in line with the same strong sense of self and family that the original series gave us. Although this may be a simple story that just gives us a glimpse into how a girl discovers how much she has in common with both her mother and grandmother there  is so much more conveyed. The ability to reach out cross the divide and touch each of us with a sentimentality that is most often tossed away and make us feel both glad and sad about our own connection is something very special. It is seen in other series like Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Air and even Kanon, but in Hanasaku Iroha it is brought forth by using family connections that tell of both love and rebellion. This might just be more faithful to what most families go through than what is seen some of the other series.

For Home Sweet Home I found it to be come together slowly. At first I was confused by what I was watching and once the plot was drawn out it made sense. I guess that I enjoyed the confusion, but would have rather it not be presented in quite this way. As the story progressed I was pleasantly surprised how it did manage to give us some meaningful interaction with several of the other characters other than Ohana, her mother and grandmother. That was one aspect of the original series that I enjoyed a great deal and getting to spend some time dealing with Minko and Nako who have just as important roles to play in the life of the story as Ohana.

The animation was slick and at times I found the hard edge of CG out of place with the softness of the characters and some of the background. Overall it was beautiful. The writing stood on its own merits and prove that the story is the thing that makes the series.

Overall Grade: A-

If you haven’t seen any of the Hanasaku iroha series, I strongly suggest it before you watch the movie. I not saying the move could stand on its own, but I think have some historical background about the series and characters will help it be that much more enjoyable.

If you are looking for a heart warming film that both reaffirms our own struggles with our past and the connections we have with family the Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home is a film that you will love.

Aquarion EVOL part 2 (anime review)

Aquarion EVOL part 2Title: Aquarion EVOL part 2 combo pack

Director: Shoji Kawamori

Written By: Mari Okada

Studio: Satelight , 8-bit

U. S. Distributor: FUNimation

U. S. Release Date:

Format: DVD / Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Romance, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B-



The intergalactic hijinks continue as beings from a womanless planet target the girls of the newly coed Neo-DEAVA academy. Meanwhile, a mysterious villain’s plot slowly comes to light, Amata’s past is revealed, and Mikono finds herself in the middle of a really awkward threesome.

The hormone-fueled pilots will have to survive unusual training methods and swimsuit-filled secret missions in order to grow strong enough to kick some otherworldly tail, but as the boys and girls get closer to each other, they discover that destiny might not be on their side. Victory could require the legendary mecha Aquarion’s ultimate form – even if summoning it means breaking an intimate taboo.



A 12 thousand year story come to an end. Of course Aquarion EVOL isn’t just another love story it a tail of souls torn apart being reunited. This simple plot is give plenty of life in this fan serviced filled story. I have a feeling that if it were not for the sexual connotations that run through this epic story the plot would end up even flater than it is, but at the same time the fan service ends up getting in the way of a story that could have been much more than it is. As with the original Aquarion story there is a great deal of mystery and confusion that runs through the plot, but with EVOL the main character ends up being way to wimpy which makes the ending a lot less dramtic.

The animation of EVOL is great and serves the story well. In fact I would say it is the saving grace for the entire series. The slick look gives the series its real appeal. It is a classic look given a contemporary style that does not betray the essence of the story, rather it enhances it to the point that makes it watchable. With the writing leaving you dazed and confused it takes the visual power to keep you watching.

Overall Grade: B-

Aquarion EVOL is a series that possess a great deal of potential and also plenty of fun for the fan service crows. Unfortunately, it fails to completely deliver. The level of confusion and just out right complexity betrays it and almost sends the series to its death. The fun with sexual innuendos and the high quality of animation helps save the series from itself. If you are a fan of Aquarion then you will mostly be a fan of EVOL, but don’t expect it to be close to the same, just expect it to look good and manage to lose you from time to time.