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Rail Wars! Complete Collection (anime review)

rail-warsTitle: Rail Wars! Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshifumi Matsuda

Studio: Passione

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 minutes

Genre: Harem, Comedy, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

All train fanatic Naoto Takayama has ever dreamed of is becoming an engineer, but when he finally makes the grade and scores a trainee position with the JNR, his ambitions are totally derailed.

Now, instead of the big front cab of his dreams, Naoto’s stuck in the security division working with a squad of gorgeous girls and escorting pretty idol singers. Oh, what a nightmare!

Okay, so there are the occasional bomb threats, thieves, and members of the rogue railway privatization group RJ to deal with, but that’s what trigger-happy harpy Aoi and Sho, the squad’s only other male member, are for. And if Naoto’s one-track mind could just see the light at the end of the tunnel, he might realize that he’s already on an express train to paradise with multiple lovely cabooses. Will getting railroaded take on a whole new meaning? Find out as everyone gets off on the wrong side of the tracks in Rail Wars!

Commentary:

Rail Wars! falls under the standard heading of the Harem genre and it really is a harem anime. In that I mean that it only purpose is to be a harem. The plot was tossed out after the first episode. I had real hope that this would be something more than the guy that all the women wanted. Reality set in quickly and that is what it became. I also had high hopes that he would just accept the relationship with Aoi and move on to a story that had something to say.

Rail Wars! does do a fine job being a Harem and there are plenty of anime that are wonderful in their own right as a harem, like Ai Yoei Yoshi and Tench Muyo. Rail Wars! tries to give us a story but for all of its effort I found it to miss the mark.

Overall Grade: B-

Rail Wars! gives us some fun and excitement following this small team trying to become members of the National Railroad. The premiss is interesting and the title makes it sound like there will be some waring rail road companies, but if there is a war it is just a brief encounter between women who all have the his for Naoto. For all that it is worth, I did find Rail Wars entertaining and honestly wanted him to end up Aoi.

If you like sexy women, easy happy looking anime and plenty of groping going on then Rail Wars! is for you.

Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 (anime review)

parasyte-collection-1Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 on blu-ray

Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Creator: Hitoshi Iwaaki

Screenplay: Shoji Yonemura

Music: Ken Arai

Studio: Madhouse

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Thriller, Sci Fi, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis: 

It’s the ultimate nightmare. One minute Shinichi Izumi is a normal teenager asleep in his bed. The next he’s been infected with a deadly parasitic organism determined to devour his brain and turn his body into the planet Earth’s new apex predator.

But Shinichi partially foils the attack and, instead of being consumed, finds that the creature known as Migi has taken the place of his right hand. Now forced to share the same body, the two must become unwilling allies. Migi isn’t the only one of his kind, and unless human and parasyte work together, they’ll both be killed as abominations. Prepare yourself for a horrifying new world where the survival of the fittest and the survival of the human race are no longer the same thing. Monsters lurk behind every corner and every face as the human race becomes prey in Parasyte ~ the maxim!

Commentary:

Brace yourself, this is not the bloody horror story that cover art would leave you to believe. It is in fact a story of human and alien integration and a battle for survival. Parasyte the Maxim is a serious drama with plenty of blood, but it is more of a conversation of how to coexist rather than destruction. That in itself saves the series from a sorry death of over the top cut up festival. I admit there is plenty of useless slaughtering of people and plenty of dark moments that feel like pure violence for spectacle sake.

Parasyte the Maxim does a very good job of telling this story and the real strength is in the growth and development of Shinichi and how he deals with his changing body. I found his character to be easy to feel some sympathy toward and also have a little dislike for the way he often became a weak kneed young man. The real drama came from the dilemma about taking another life and how Shinichi deals with it. With the focal point being on this dilemma it become a little redundant, but Shinichi is given enough struggles to overcome to make the series move at a decent pace.

Overall Grade: B+

Parasyte the Maxim manages to over come the easy trap of being just another slasher series and gives us a series to with some thoughtful drama. There is a slight tenancy to make Shinichi a tad weak but they keep him strong enough to push the series forward. Parasyte the Maxim is a sold drama that doesn’t play up the gross blood fest that it could be. I am very interested to see collection 2 and wonder if he manages to save his life and the life of the alien life form that is living in him.

 

Anime Now in Store

Here is a list of anime and live action that have come in. This list is only for information and not updated as an inventory.

1Aquarion

Baccano Complete Series

The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Dragon Ball z Battle of the Gods

Garden of Words

Ghost in the Shell The Laughing Man

Ghost in the Shell 1

Ghost in the Shell 2nd2

Kill La Kill Volume 2

K-ON Season 1

Last Exile Complete Series

Ouran High School Host Club Complete

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt Complete

Shangri La

Shiki

3Slayer Seasons 1-3

Space Battleship Yamato

Strategic Armored Infantry

Tamako Market

Tenchi Muyo! Complete Series

Tenchi Muyo OVA Collection

Trigun Comlete

4Trinity Blood Complete

Wolf Children

Animeggroll At St. Louis Comic Con April 2-4

st-louis-comic-con-2014-wizard-world-convention-april-4-5-6-2014-fri-sat-sun-1That’s right, Animeggroll will be a dealer at this years St. Louis Comic Con (Wizard World). So, if you make it downtown to Americas Center be sure to come on by and visit our booth.

Here is a link to the convention. Check out all the guests.

http://www.wizardworld.com/home-stlouis.html

Bokurano Ours 10 Manga Review

bokurano ours 10Title: Bokurano Ours 10
Author/Artist: Mohiro Kitoh
Publisher: Viz Signature
American Release Date: February 18, 2014
Format: Manga
Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teen
Genre: Science Fiction, Suspense, Mecha
Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Bokurano Ours Series Overview:

A group of middle school students unwittingly enter into a game which is actually a contract to pilot a giant mech in battle against a mech from another universe. Losing has immense consequences for each world. As each kid takes a turn, we explore their back story which helps explains why they make the choices they do and how they end up handling it all.

If you haven’t read the books up to volume 9, please skip the next paragraph because, as it is specific to volume 10, it may give clues that could ruin the natural unfolding of the story but I’m trying not to.

Volume 10:

More of the origins of the game are revealed. Machi explains all she knows to Jun but there is more, even Koyemshi doesn’t understand it all. There is no escaping the game.

Now that only Machi and Jun are left, they try to make their remaining time mean something as they wait for the next battles. They leave on the train to visit the families of the other pilots. They see how things are affecting others, something they hadn’t had thought of before.

 

Commentary:

Whoa, another intense volume. Once again, I have to leave out important stuff, but that is how Bokurano Ours really is. There is so much story in each volume.  This volume doesn’t fail on the twists. There is a real stunner in here and leaves me wanting to see what happens in the next (and last) volume. I’m not even sure what happened at the very end of volume 10 and looking forward, I no longer can assume how I want it all to end.

The art comes across as a bit stark and stiff, yet very concise and clear. It struck me how emotionally deficient their faces usually are. It is more than a sense of calm, which is part of it, but the drawings don’t do much to convey emotion. The emotions come most from the words. I don’t know if it is intentional, an artistic style, or lack of skill. Still, it doesn’t change the overall performance of the series.

Two peeves that I have about this volume are: Not always making it clear when the Machi and Jun arrive at another family, even with a location shot because they were not labeled. There is a large secondary cast with the families and there is no way I could remember what they all looked like or where they lived.  My second issue was something Machi said to Jun, another one of those too adult moments for middle school age kids.

Volume 10 seems wordier than usual, but it makes sense because there is a lot of explaining to do as we near the end of the series. It was unexpected but good to see how the battles and the losses were affecting the families and other citizens. What they were doing now, how they were handling it, how they all adapt to deal with what happened. This really got us out of the group box and brought us closer in as spectators.

Bokurano Ours  is a Viz Signature series and it meant for adults, and I think will best be appreciated by those a little older. Even though it is a story about kids, it is about kids who have to deal with things they shouldn’t because they are kids. These are still adult issues.  This series has a lot of merit, but it isn’t flashy, or romantic, or funny or cool, so I think it might be one of those with a quiet place on the manga shelf but it probably deserves more attention because it can really illustrate what is beyond the typical manga.

 

Overall Grade: A-

 

Animeggroll Voted Best Anime Store In River Front Times Best of St. Louis 2013

8958789.40River Front Times September 26:

Best Anime Shop – 2013

Animeggroll

“Animeggroll’s walls are plastered with a mix of fresh releases and dated rarities. The curio shop of Japanese lore and Western fantasy holds no shortage of Asian comics and figures, but its collection of anime shines above any other store in St. Louis. Animeggroll caters to casual fans with value-priced box sets and used stock, but the hardcore folks can find joy in the store’s supply of special editions. The mass of Japanese anime and manga is bolstered by a trove of used games, including a glass case filled with foreign software and retro titles. Back issues of Asian pop-culture mags, novelty key chains, mascot messenger bags and gaudy wall scrolls round out a massive stack of geeky goods.”

Store Photos

Cosplaly at Animeggroll

 

 

A Devil and Her Love Song (Manga Review)

A Devil and Her Love Song 11Title: A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 11

Story and Art: Miyoshi Tomori

U.S Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: December 3, 2013

Genre, Format and length: Shojo manga, 200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar titles: Strobe Edge, La Corda ‘d Oro

Synopsis:

Series overview: Maria is a seemingly unemotional and blunt sort of person. She transfers to a high school and her personality soon causes trouble while the school is involved in a choral competition. Maria has a beautiful face and a voice to match. She does makes some friends and even finds herself with a boyfriend. Her mysterious history influences  how she reacts to the others and she will need to face her past to heal and move forward.

Volume 11 starts with Maria’s voice still gone and Shin’s hand still injured and not healing well. Now that they are a couple, there is pressure to have more of a physical relationship. When Maria finds she can’t express herself with her words, things start to get serious as she uses her body to communicate. Shin slows them down, not wanting to take advantage of the situation.

In a drastic pusht to help Maria get her voice back, Shin and surprisingly Shintaro, go with her to the town where she was from. First finding her old home, they get a clue to move on to find some key people of her past. It turns out that Shintaro has known a lot more than it seems he should. He had an elaborate plan involving Maria, but his motives are as not selfish as they seem.

Commentary

There is a lot that happens in this volume, but trying to avoid spoiling the details leaves me less to talk about. It is strange the way in the beginning of the series, things seem to be at a slower pace and each story took a longer time. Now with this important trip, it all happens very quickly. Not enough time seemed to be given to the unfolding.

Communication is still a problem between Maria and Shin. They are very concerned about each other and are always trying to be protective but without expressing what they need and want, even as they are trying to figure out what is in their own hearts and minds.

Maria definitely pushes the physical relationship since her voice is gone. It is her way to express herself . Shin was really sweet the way he reacted. For me, it makes it a bit confusing about the intended age range. It had seemed okay for early teens, but now with this one scene, I don’t really think so any more. I wish it had not been put in to keep all the content at the same age level.

Maria’s character started out as sort of a loner and blunt in her manner but now she seems to have really embraced emotions. She reacts to meeting the man who appears to be her father surprisingly mild. Perhaps it was Shintaro’s influence, but it just seemed too easy, more like the writer was trying to tie things up for the impending ending, which is at least 2 volumes away. It looks like there is 13 total. So where is this quick revelation going to take us? This leaves some time for Shin and Maria to find where their relationship is going. I hope it slows back down to its original pace. All in all, it is still and enjoyable romance series.

Overall Grade:  B

 

 

Yuru Yuri Premium Edition (anime review)

 Yuri Yuri“The Radius”

Title: Yuru Yuri Premium Edition

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 3, 2013

Genre: Yuri, Slice of School Life  and Comedy

Length: 12 episodes, 288 minutes

Format: Blu-ray, 2 disc, Art Book and Box

Age Rating: Teen

Overall Personal Rating: C+

A group of friends begin the academic year in an all girls middle school. Together they are the “amusement club”.

Synopsis:

Kyoko is the self appointed leader of the group of friends and their amusement club.  Yui, more serious and patient,  has been her friend since early childhood. Akari is a bit scattered brain and makes less of an impression on the world around her. Soon to join them is Chinatsu, although she was really looking for a different club when she walked in to the amusement club room. Flashback to when they were young friends in preschool give insight to their relationship. A bump on the head causes Kyoto’s personality to change for the better, but can her friends stand it?

School isn’t the only time they spend together. Yui has her own apartment (owned by a relative). She has the girls over to hang out, making a meal together. Kyoko invites herself over to spend the night. When the weather is warm, the larger group heads to the beach for the day. Swimsuits can cause some awkward moments (of course). The day is full of games, food and fun. When the night arrives, they all change into their Yukatas and light fireworks. Next it is time for a road trip. Kyoko is artistic and writes/illustrates fan manga. She take her friends along with her to a fan comic market expo. She doesn’t warn them ahead of time that they have to wear a costume! With plenty of jealousy and competition in the group, some of the others are inspired to write their own mangas. Chinatsu has an unusually bad talent that comes across as creepy. Unaware of this, she adds her artistic flair to a variety of projects.

The group often interacts with the girls from the student council. Kyoko is naturally good at getting top grades to the dismay of Ayano, student council member. A “friendly” competition begins to see who can score the best on the next exam. When Chitose, also from the council, is acting odd, Kyoto can’t get a response out of her and the reason behind it will be a surprise for the other girls. The school trip takes them to Kyoto. There is lots to see and do, but staying at a hotel is what some of them look forward to, it is like a big slumber party, with hot springs bathing.

Holidays are part of their friendship. Christmas has arrived and the idea comes up that they should have a drawing to see who will pair up and go out on a date. Since they didn’t all get who they wanted, the dates can be pretty awkward. But as time goes on, the understanding and friendships have time to grow. April Fool’s Day is also a day to note.

The season ends with a sleep over at the club room with the amusement club and the student council.

 

Commentary:

The most notable elements of this anime for me can be broken down into 4 parts; the yuri element, humor, plot/story, and the technical aspects of sound and visual animation.

The yuri element is strong throughout with girl crushes, obsessions, fan service and jokes. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem, but this would have been better suited to a high school setting or older. Using middle school students as the cast engaging in all the sexual humor was icky. They even made being sisters seem creepy.

It is a story of friendship, albeit often rather self-centered. Plot or story elements weren’t as strong as they could be. There was one episode where the first half was drowned in pointless chatter (at least it provided relief from the pointless sexual maneuvers and obsessing). The usual bath, beach and Christmas scenes/stories were there. The Christmas pairing up was the one of the more unusual holiday ideas. Some of the pluses were that the girls have some strange imaginations.

A moment on characters. Chitose was constantly fantasizing about encounters between the other girls and getting a bloody nose. Over and over. Ugh. Tedious and not funny, it was getting gross. It is not that this element can’t be used successfully, for example, Arakawa Under the Bridge does a great job of incorporating the element into Sister’s romantic thoughts.

With the enthusiastic and comically emotional characters, the humor was mostly slapstick and sexual jokes. Somethings just weren’t funny, they were just stupid. Let’s not mix the two up. Stupid can get a laugh but it isn’t really fun to watch. I did appreciate the humor of Chinatsu’s creepy art talent.

The sound is really two parts.  The music and sound effects were generally invisible. I don’t know if that is good or bad. The opening song is catchy and the cicadas get very noisy is all the impact I remember. The voices varied by character, but there was some annoying voice work which involved the high pitch squeaky little girl like sounds, too much so. Visually, it is an attractive anime. The colors were a mix of bright and gentle, lending to the  great illustration. The characters were well animated and very cute. The setting and backgrounds were well done with detail, plenty to look at and often pretty. This was the strongest elements in the whole anime. It has the cute look of Lucky Star and Everyday Tales of a Cat God.

Yuru Yuri  is not appropriate for anyone under 15. I don’t like the way they make things look enticing to younger viewers that really aren’t for them by making everyone look so cute, young and enthusiastic. I’ve always thought that slice of life anime was either pleasant, feel good stuff, or thought provoking, not something to create disappointment in humanity. I can watch the news for that.

Season 2 will be coming next January.

Extras: There is a 32 page art book with episode lists, character sketches and bios. Also, there are location sketches and color art  scenes.

Overall Personal Rating: C+

 Review provided EAV

Golgo 13 (anime review)

Golgo13

Title: Golgo 13

Original Creator: Saito Takao

U.S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: Sept 17, 2013

Format and length: Blu-Ray; 50 ep; 1250 min

Genre: Action

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar titles: Ghost in the Shell; Mobile Suit Gundam

Synopsis

Duke Togo has lived his life as a hitman.  Throughout this career, he has taken the codename of Golgo 13 and with that name, a reputation as the world’s deadliest sniper.  This reputation attracts many employers in search of his services.  However, only a few of his prospective employers hire him as there are two conditions that must be met before Golgo 13 will accept a job.  The first is his payment.  His price is three million dollars.  As such, only extremely wealthy individuals even have the assets to hire his services.  The second is that he must  approve the job.  A number of things seem to affect whether or not he accepts a job.  Part of it seems to be the reason the employer desires his services, part of it is the conditions of the job itself, and part of it seems to be just whether or not he feels like taking the job.  Because of his reputation he has no shortage of possible employers and thus can afford to be picky about the jobs that he accepts.  A regular theme that seems to occur with each job that Golgo 13 accepts is that the conditions make eliminating his target seem utterly impossible.  To the man who hired him, to the police who investigate the murder after he is finished, to anyone who seems to be unfortunate enough to know about his existence, the fact that he was able to pull off such a crime is practically a miracle.

Commentary

I cannot say that Golgo 13 was a bad series, but it gets old very quickly.  There are, essentially, only two episodes.  One episode where he takes on a job where he has to make a seemingly humanly impossible sniper shot. In one situation, he has to hit his target from a distance of two kilometers.  Even the SWAT team snipers on duty said that they would be unable to accurately shoot from a distance any greater than five hundred meters.  In another scenario, He has to wait for just the right opportunity as he has to shoot a man while he’s next to a window which is behind a sliding door which is behind a revolving door.  So both doors had to be open and the man by the window all at the same time in order for him to make the shot. And one episode where, either through bad luck or treachery, he ends up in a situation where his skills as a killer are tested by someone or something that has a huge advantage over him.   For example, in one situation he was drugged and was forced to defend himself with impared motor skills, or in another situation, he ended up being targeted by an experimental military weapon.

There were one real problem that I had with Golgo 13.  One was that there was lots of pointless sex.  For being a cold, emotionless, inhuman killer, Golgo 13 has sex a lot.  There does not seem to be any reason for it other than just because sex.  He leaves almost immediately and she is never seen again.  As far as I can tell, it seems like an attempt to make Golgo 13 seem more like a James Bond 007 kind of character.

Other than that, I had no problems with Golgo 13.  The art was some of the most realistic art I’ve seen in an anime and it really fit with the plot of the series.  The opening and closing themes both had excellent music and the art was more stylized than the episodes were which made the openings and closings nice to look at as well.  I would just not recommend watching the whole series back to back

Overall Grade:  B

Golgo 13 was a good series, it is just not one that should be watched in a marathon as the episodes are extremely similar to each other.

 Review provided by TJ