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Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 (anime review)

Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 blu-ray

parasyte-the-maxim-2Director: 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: A-

Synopsis:

They seem like the perfect killing machines: taking the form of their latest victim as they move on to hunt their next meal, blending invisibly into chaos of human civilization.

But as the human race becomes aware of the invaders, the rules unexpectedly change. Because, while the predators may be far more deadly individually, human beings hunt in packs… and no species in the universe has spent more time perfecting new ways to kill than man.

As the military secretly mobilizes and a shadow war erupts, Shinichi and Migi find themselves trapped in the escalating purge. Born from a merging of both sides and yet belonging to neither, the best they can do is merely hope to survive as the lines between friend and foe cease to exist.

The war between the planet’s two apex species spills into the streets as human sheep reveal the wolves hidden inside in the apocalyptic second collection of PARASYTE- THE MAXIM!

Commentary:

Parasyte the Maxim does something that reminded me of why I enjoy anime and much of the Japanese culture. It manages to turn this dark story into a lesson in Buddhism. Particularly a lesson in Zen Buddhism. The concept that all life is precious and that humanity has a very narrow view of the world hit home. The odd awareness that Migi goes through is poignant and the awakening that Shinichi experiences is something to be jealous of.

The series did fall back on some rather weak plot line legs that allowed it to slow down and begin to shift focus from a crazy blood lust of season one to a understanding that defines the dichotomy that is humanity. This change over manages to make the series a little less pop culture and I think this is also where it lost a large number of fans. For me, it is where it became stronger and defined itself as a series that had something to say.

Overall Grade: A-

Parasyte the Maxim collection 2 is a hit in my book, I am just afraid that it might loose some of its fan base because it was not as splattery as collection one and there just isn’t the body count that the Parasyte started with. This simple fact gained some respect from me, I feel like anime that makes it over to North America has become too pigeon hold and teed to only offer some of the worst of the art form.

The animation quality of Parasyte is of average quality and is classic Madhouse work. The english voice acting was fine, I can’t say that it made me notice any weakness or strength. Overall, it is simply the emphasis on the plot and change in dialog the series focused on that made the difference for me.

If you are looking for a series that showcases a true Japanese cultural viewpoint the you should pick Parasyte the Maxim up!

 

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.

And Yet the Town Moves: The Complete Series (anime review)

and-yet-the-town-movesTitle: And Yet the Town Moves: The Complete Series (on Blu-ray)

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

Studio: Shaft

U. S. Distributor: Sentia Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: June 21st, 2016

Format: DVD / 300 minutes / 12 episodes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Titles: Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Synopsis:

Hotori Arashiyama just might be one of the most awkward girls in town. She has difficulty making it to school on time, is very clumsy and is know for being rather delusional, but she does have a special ability to make those around realize how special life really is.

Hotori works in a local Maid Cafe, or should we say, almost Maid Cafe. One of her school friends, Toshiko, who is very smart with a slightly different way of looking at the world decides to join her and become a Maid in order to help turn the place into a true Maid Cafe. The owner of the Seaside Maid Cafe, Uki Isohata, has her own ideas of what she wants her cafe to be and stands back and watches while no matter what these girls try they always end up right back at the cafe as it is. This part of town only caters to the shop owners and now with Hotori working there her math teacher who has caught Hotori without permission form the school. He tries to use this opportunity to help teach her and maybe just maybe see her become more than just a slacker without focus.

There is also Hotori’s child hood friend, Hiroyuki Sanda, who has a crush on Hotori and is the subject of affection by Toshiko. With the added inclusion of Futaba Kon the master plan of this simple series is in place. We follow the lives of these warm and funny high school students to see them interact in ways that we all wish we could have at that age. If life was always that strange and simple, what bliss it would be.

Commentary:

And Yet The Town Moves took a few episodes for it to get me warming up to it. At first it came across as just another slapstick comedy that had a very shallow plot. Once all the characters were assembled something very special began to happen. The development of their personalities bonded them in ways that were very unexpected and provided another almost heart warming edge to the series. I realize that comedies tend to try and give us the softer side of humanity but in the case of this small seaside town and these characters connection it gives us hope that people can really be this involved. Even the local cop has a special connection to these girls and especially Hotori and her inability to be serious.

Most of the episodes were self contained but they did have some continuity that provided the glue for the series. I am very glad that it was only 12 episodes because I’m not too sure that any more would have done any good. It said what it needed to and gave us that light hearted humor and that was all it needed to do. I was very glad that it ended the way it did because it left me with the sense that there is hope for these characters that translated over to a overall hope for all of us.

Overall Grade: B

When it come to slice of life anime many of them fall into a trap of either too goofy or too sappy. And the Town Yet Moves managed to maintain a reasonably good balance even though it did lean to the goofy side once or twice. I still thin it was a very good series and if you are into slice of life anime then you should find this one to be something worth checking out.

Some other fine slice of life series worth seeing are Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Arakawa Under the Bridge.

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.

 

Akame ga Kill Collection 2 (anime review)

akame-ga-kill 2Title: Akame ga Kill Collection 2

Director: Tomoki Kobayashi

Creator: Takahiro

Written By: Makoto Uezu

Studio: White Fox, C-Station (ONA)

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 17th, 2016

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

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Supernatural, Drama

Age Rating: TV14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

The convoluted path that has reunited Tatsumi and Esdeath takes another twist as they find themselves transported to a remote island where their strength will be tested as never before. Dr. Stylish may be dead, but Danger Beasts still remain, and that’s only the first challenge the two enemies now face.

If the bonds of love weren’t enough to bring their fates together, could the fire of combat forge a new form of alliance? Meanwhile, the embers of rebellion are being stoked into open insurrection by the pacifist organization Path of Peace. Drawn into the impending inferno, Night Raid and the Revolutionary Army prepare for a major assault on the Capital. But while their Imperial Arms may be indestructible, their wielders are merely flesh and blood.

On the anvil of battle, only human courage and the willingness to give their lives for a cause will lead to the ultimate triumph or failure in collection 2 of Akame ga Kill!

Commentary:

As series go Akame ga Kill is a little above average, but I was very concerned at the end of the first 12 episodes. I have seen all too many anime that started out with a solid story line that ended up become over indulgent and failed to bring it to a reasonable conclusion. Akame ga Kill manages to make it clear that the story is over and also does something very interesting for a mythic tail of heroes, it gives us closure with the characters.

Without giving anything away I have to say that I was a little emotionally wound up by some of the events and more than once felt both excited and sad by the battles fought.

Overall Grade: B+

I really like the second half of the Akame ga Kill  for what it was. The myth of the hero and the battle for what is right cam sometimes cross lines that both corrupt a moral existence but at the same time exact a price that can be too heavy to bear. When all is said Akame ga Kill manages to find a way to give us finality and hope at the same time.

If you are looking for a real action anime with lots of side plots and a harem tossed in to make it more interesting then Akame ga Kill it the one for you. I often find harm anime rather silly and only a very few make any sense, as for Akame ga Kill the story came together because of the harem and without the love story tossed in the plot would have been less favorable and entertaining. This is a winner and is worth the time to check it out.

 

Gundam Evolve (anime review)

gundam-evolveTitle: Gundam Evolve

Director: Various – compilation shorts series

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: DVD / 120 minutes / 15 episodes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis: 

Explore the Gundam Universe from fifteen new perspectives!

Experience the ultimate visualization of the Mobile Suit Gundam Universe with fifteen short films featuring a mix of traditional and digital animation styles. You’ll find adventures from multiple Gundam series, including side stories of characters such as Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing, and a retelling of episode 39 of the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series!

Features fifteen short Gundam films by directors like Kenichi Suzuki (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Shukou Murase (Gangsta., Ergo Proxy), Takashi Imanishi (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin), and more!

Commentary:

The Gundam universe is broad and wide and Evolve is one of the stranger corners of that Universe. These 15 shorts are all over the place and after a while you aren’t sure what you are watching. It is very clear that the point of this compilation was to show off the awesome CG (Computer Generated Animation) in the early 2000’s.  The flaw in having it released now is that the CG just falls short and is at time very hard to watch. The other major flaw is that the continuity fall s apart with have so many different directors and creators involved.

Overall Grade: C+

Gundam Evolve is something very special in the Gundam franchise, but looses in critical aspect of being well made and coherent. The overworked CG and felling that this is nothing more than a compilation of cut scenes or music videos will leave you wanting for a lot more. I also found the inclusion of SD (Super Deformed) shorts as distracting and not helpful in puling off the grouping.

For most Gundam fans Gundam Evolve will be one of those curiosities that they will buy to add to their collection. For everyone else this set is just a confusing grouping of Gundam shorts that will leave you scratching your head and asking yourself what just happened to the last two hours that you will never be able to get back.

 

Mobile Suite Gundam Zeta: A New Translation Movie (anime review)

mobile-suit-zeta-gundam-a-new-translationTitle: Mobile Suite Gundam Zeta: A New Translation Movie

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Sunrise Inc., Right Stuf

U. S. Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: DVD: Feature Films / 3 Movies / 297 minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

The Earth Federation stands victorious, but are they still on the right side?

Universal Century 0087. The Titans, a bellicose faction among the Earth Federation Forces, grows powerful and tyrannical, even using poison gas to suppress a civil unrest. Dissident soldiers from the same military stand against them, forming a resistance group called the A.E.U.G. Kamille Bidan, a civilian student, gets entangled in this conflict when he accidentally steals the Gundam Mk-II and joins the A.E.U.G., running away from his home space colony. Then he begins to fight along with Char Aznable, a former Zeon ace pilot who has infiltrated the Earth Sphere for reasons of his own.

Contains all three Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam compilation films.

Commentary:

Okay, I’m not real sure why there would be a re-release of these films unless they feel as though the original Zeta story was just too long and boring. Or maybe it is just another money grab. Either way it doesn’t make any real sense to make these films. I did enjoy them and I guess that someone not into Gundam might be willing to sit through these rather than the series, but I still have a hard time for more of the same old push by anime producers to crank out these remake films that just shortcut the story just to make a few more bucks.

Overall Grade: C+

Mobile Suite Gundam Zeta: A New Translation could be a great way to have a non-Gundam fan sit through the series without going through the series. I wish I had more positive to say, but this was something very common to have a series truncated into a movie or movies just to milk it for more.

If you are not familiar with Gundam and someone very close to you is then you might want to check this out it might lead to something greater.

Gasaraki Complete Series (anime review)

gasarakiTitle: Gasaraki: The Complete Series

Director: Ryousuke Takahashi

U.S. Distributor: Right Stuf / Nozomi

U.S. Re-Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Format: DVD / 625 Minutes / 25 Episodes

Genre: Mecha, Supernatural

Age Rating: 13+

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Similar Titles: Evangelion

One of the most poignant phrases that haunts humans is “History always repeats itself”. There are many tragic dances that burn in the flames of time and never quite seem to be completed.

Synopsis:

Japan has become fat on its own prosperity and have begun to get more involved in world politics. The Gowa family with their power base and industrial complex have developed bipedal weapons that they call Tactical Armor or T. A.. There is something special about the way they react and it all appears to hinge on how Yushiro Gowa performs. There is a deep seeded bond between man and machine but this bond does not seem to be natural, but rather supernatural.

With strife and war breaking out in eastern Europe the Gowa Organization and the Japanese military use this chase to see these new weapons in action. Unknown to them another organization, Symbol, has developed their  own T. A.s and when the two meet the Gowa team have their hands full.  The key to their team is young girl named Miharu, who had appeared to Yushiro during a ceremony when he was about to resurrect some unknown power that heir family is noted as holding the key to. This power was supposedly given to them by the God Gasaraki.

Once back in Japan Yushiro discover a terrible truth about himself that puts him on the path to uncover the truth about his history. This path leads him directly into the depths of the Gowa history as he discovers that he is what is know as a Kai, the one who can control the giant warrior the Kugai. He ends up fighting Miharu while piloting the Kugai and manages to defeat her. Knowing that there is a connection they both run off to discover their past. In this search they discover that they are connected for over 1000 years and what their terrible purpose just might be.

The power of the Gowa and a highly idealistic Japanese visionary leads Japan to the brink of destruction. The key lies with both Yushiro and Miharu. Will they repeat the nightmare of the past or can they overcome their history and find a new path?

Commentary:

Even though 1998 seems so long ago it is great to take this trip back to see this highly dramatic series. There is so much going on with Gasaraki that it take 5 episodes to get a grip on what is happening. The blend of Japanese myth and modern day technology gives a special edge to the series. This is topped off by the heavy drama that is played out. There are very few light moments and that might be the one area of weakness. The heaviness takes it toll at times and you almost have to take a breath to relax in order to move on. That is not to say that the series is depressing, because I did not find it to be a downer in any way, it just takes itself very seriously.

As I moved through the Gasaraki I found myself coming up with plenty of questions regarding the history of this intense family and how these two young people were really connected to it. I was very happy to see them and us get a solid understanding of the past which suddenly proved to be very poignant. It opened the plot line up and exposed the mysteries that lay beneath the surface. I must admit that there were times that I found Yushiro and Miharu a bit flat and mono dimensional but in many ways it works to their advantage as the series progressed and explained who and what they really are.

Overall Grade: A-

There are several series out there that deserve a second chance through the arena and Gasaraki is one of those series. If you have not seen Gasaraki and are a fan of Mecha intertwine with supernatural elements then this one is up you’re ally. If you just enjoy a serious series that gives plenty of action then you should take the time to enjoy it.

April 13, 2016

utawarerumono-ovareview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Utawarerumono OVA Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Kenichiro Katsura

Studio: Chaos Project

Author: Makoto Uezu

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 29, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 3 Episodes / 85 Minutes

Genre: Adventure, Action, Comedy, Fantasy

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Utawarerumono

Synopsis:

You may have thought the Hakuoro’s saga was over, but the fight for justice and honor never ends. Even in a world filled with sorcery and epic battles, there is always time for a few adventures on the side!

Journey back to the world of Utawarerumono and discover three amazing new stories: Can the priestess Urutori find a way to solve the problem of an abandoned infant, or will she end up raising the child herself? Can healer Eluluu resolve a situation that involves youth potions, some unusually well-intentioned kidnappers, and a very unorthodox romance? And finally, learn just how much trouble a couple of girls can get into on a simple afternoon fishing trip. The tales may be a little shorter, but the fantasy is every bit as fantastic as all the characters you love return in Utawarerumono OVA Collection.

Commentary:

Utawarerumono was a serious series about a nation living amid revolution, constant war, and death. It seldom had a light feel and very little comedy, outside of a few moments where they might have needed to lighten things up just a little. The Utawarerumono OVA Collection was the comedy that never fit in with the story arc of the TV series. All three episodes show the lighter side of things, also adding another dimension on the already well built characters from the original TV series. Three short stories that took place either during the ending time of the original series, or possibly shortly after (in all truth I am not sure which because the ending of Utawarerumono had clear differences that were not necessarily reflected in these OVAs, but not necessarily contradicted either). These extra character arcs, if that is a good way to describe them, do not relate at all to the story arc of the original series, but shine a new light on what it may have been like if the world was not so difficult around them.

The Character designs and artistry was different then from the original series. Everyone looks a little younger or a more childish appearance than what they had before. I do understand that this was made many years later than the original, but having re-watched the original before watching this, it did take some adjustments for me. Now either the original artists were not available, or they had changed the style on purpose, I’m not real sure, but in the end it was still finely illustrated, with the backgrounds having even more detail in them then even the original series.

Extras:

The Utawarerumono OVA Collection includes clean opening and closing animations, Picture Dramas, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. The Utawarerumono OVA Collection was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A

I would recommend watching the original series before watching the Utawarerumono OVA Collection as the original series explains the characters and introduces them to you.

Help Kickstart Skip Beats Official North American Anime

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The company that brought us Time of Eve is taking on another top of the line project and is asking for help.

Pied Piper only has 17 more days to raise $62,000 to reach their goal and are reaching out to everyone to help get the English dub for Skip Beats done.

Pied Piper, Inc. was responsible for the Time of EVE: The Movie Kickstarter, which mobilized over 2,700 fans worldwide to produce the definitive international Blu-ray release for Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s landmark scifi film.

Pied Piper, Inc.’s mission is to continue using crowdfunding to bring passionate fans behind niche titles that otherwise would not see an official release.

You can find out more about this exciting cowdfuning project at.

 

Be sure to check it out and if you are a serious Skip Beats fan like I know many of you are then it should be easy to raise the money needed to make it happen.

Here are a few of the highlights to point out:

  • from the same company that ran the “Time of EVE: The Movie” Kickstarter
  • rescue license for one of the great shoujo anime series of all time
  • dub co-produced by Cristina Vee and Mela Lee

Note: Animeggroll is providing this post as informational only and  has no role in the Kickstarter project or Pied Piper.