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Young Black Jack (anime review)

Title: Young Black Jack: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Tezuka Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2007

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The year is 1968, the war in Vietnam is approaching its zenith, and the counterculture movement that’s been sweeping the world is engulfing Japan. While others are in the streets protesting, one young medical student becomes embroiled in a different kind of battle.

As new medical technologies to save and extend lives come into play, the temptation for a surgeon to play God has never been so powerful. Even as he strives to prove his own skills to his colleagues, Hazama Kuroo begins to suspect that the potentials for abuse inherent in the medical system are already being exploited.

To attempt to change the system means risking his own promising career as a surgeon, and to move against the perpetrators will put his own life in danger. However, as a doctor, how can he not act when lives are on the line?

The diagnosis is murder as the origin of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary rogue surgeon Black Jack is finally revealed in YOUNG BLACK JACK!

Commentary:

In the world of manga / anime few names take on the cult status that Tezuka does. Even the great Myazaki concedes that Osuma Tezuka was a undeniable force in the 1960s. The one thing that Osuma Tezuka did not do was to give us the rich and dramatic early days of Black Jack. This series produced after the legend has passed is far above anything I expected and stands out as one of favorite characters and stories derived from the Tezuka legacy. Young Black Jack provides plenty of drama and a wonderful dose of excitement.

Overall Grade: A-

If I was on the design staff for this series I would have brought up the one glaring issues with the character development. It has to be the unevenness of the character design. I know that there will always be a group that want to stay true to the strange and somewhat silly character design that is trademark Tezuka, but for this series it would have made more sense to make them all look more contemporary than the silly bulbous headed people that show up in the series. There is an uneven mix of normal looking characters and the silly Tezuka people. All I can do is ask why, it looks silly and detracts from the solid aspects of the anime.

To be perfectly honest I see Young Black Jack as something more than a Tezuka product, but rather a drama that continues to prove that humanity may need to be saved and at the same time not saved. I felt this way with other series like Black Lagoon and Darker Than Black. It just seems that Young Black Jack highlights the futility in our world and that giving all of yourself still may not be enough.

All you Tezuka fans get ready to be overjoyed and everyone else please try to get over the poor character design and look at the series as a whole. You will be very surprised and discover the deeper thoughts that run many anime that relate to a very easter way of thinking. So, be sure to check out Young Black Jack you will be happy you did.

 

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection (anime review)

review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection

Director: Makoto Katou

Studio: TROYCA

Author: Takayo Ikami

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 10, 2017

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

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Perfect Insider, Heaven’s Memo Pad

Synopsis:

Shotaro Tatewaki knows that Sakurako Kujo is not a normal person. After all, most young women have multiple interests revolving around things like work, fashion, and sports, but Sakurako is fixated on just one thing: bones.
While she already has a huge collection of them, mostly animal, she is always trying to gather more, especially those of the human variety. This can be quite a problem for Shotaro; especially since he and Sakurako have a positively unnatural aptitude for discovering dead bodies together.
Fortunately, Sakurako is a naturally brilliant detective who unearths the mystery of what happened to the owners of those bones, but it is up to Shotaro to make apologies for Sakurako’s odd quirks and tendency to make off with the evidence.

It’s a grave business that can leave him literally bone-tired, but for the wheels of justice to turn, there are always more skeletons to be bared and new secrets to be exhumed in Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection is an interesting series as it was basically the anime version of a female Sherlock Holmes and her sidekick Dr. Watson. Sakurako seems to know everything and always has an answer for everything she sees. She also have a magical girl style transformation whenever the latex gloves come out, complete with the skeletons of many different creatures. It could be described as CSI meets Mahou Shoujo. It is very episodic in nature, and it actually seems like a slice-of-life series, and every one or two episodes presents a different and new mystery. Some of the mysteries were better than others but overall, they were complex and suspenseful. I really wish they would have finished the storyline that involved Hanabusa but there is always hope for a second season.

There was very little character development throughout the series until the last episode. In the last episode, we learn how Sakurako and Shotaro met each other and worked their first case together. It seemed completely out of place to have this episode at the end of the series because they did not wrap up the series and instead decided to focus on the background story that would have been better suited in a different episode.

The animation for Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection was pretty and colorful and the background was true to life in the way the plants moved. The voice actors did an amazing job bringing the characters to life and it seems like they had fun making this series. The opening and closing animations were catchy and well animated.
Extras:

Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B

All in all, if you like the mystery crime genre then I believe you will enjoy Beautiful Bones-Sakurako’s Investigation: Complete Collection.

Corpse Party Live Action (review)

liveaction-corpse-party-blu-rayreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Corpse Party

Director: Masafumi Yamada

Studio: Kadokawa Daiei

U.S. Distributor: Switchblade Pictures

U.S. Release Date: September 27, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 94 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Mystery

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Corpse Party-Tortured Souls OVA

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

Synopsis:

Horror Movie Lesson Number One: if you want to stay in touch with your friends, performing a binding ceremony on the grounds of a school that was demolished after a series of horrific murders may not be a great idea.

Otherwise, as a group of Japanese teens quickly learn to their horror, the simple ritual may open a doorway to an otherworldly dimension where the infamous Heavenly Host High still exists, and the demonic occupants within seek to redecorate the gore-soaked and carnage-strewn halls with a new set of bloody corpses.

Now, it’s a brutal education in supernatural survival as the students fight both the resident spirits and each other, where the odds of graduating alive, let alone in one piece, are sliced shorter and shorter with every heart-pounding second. Japan’s ultra-violent videogame and anime phenomenon becomes a shocking live action feature film as hell is unleashed at the CORPSE PARTY!

Commentary:

Corpse Party is a live action movie based on the anime series Corpse Party-Tortured Souls OVA and the game series by the same name. 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. I’m happy to say this was not the case. It’s complete, and in an hour and a half they are able to wrap everything up into a nice package and yet still leave something open for a sequel. 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 does beat its predecessors with the amount of blood and gore that it shows. Makes most of the recommended titles seem tame actually.

This leads us to the storyline. Most live actions like Corpse Party 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 does have a couple of twists that you would not expect. Just as you think you know what happened in the past that leads to current events, it throws in something completely unexpected that makes you rethink the entire thing. The only complaint, and considering it’s only an hour and a half, is everything seems rushed. They had to connect the dots in very little time. I have to admit that I had seen the anime and they went into a little more detail in the anime, than they did in the live action. They also had to omit a few things, nothing too consequential, and they also changed up a few times when things happened. The story was pretty decent 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 music is perfect for the setting of the movie.

Because I did love Corpse Party in its animated form, I decided to give it a try in its live action form. I was not disappointed. Maybe one day, if I ever find the time, I will pick up one of the many incarnations of the game, and give it a try.

Extras:

Corpse Party includes scene select and Corpse Party trailer. This movie was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B-

Den-noh Coil: Collection 2

814131014290_anime-den-noh-coil-2-blu-ray-primaryTitle: Den-noh Coil: Collection 2 on blu-ray

Director: Mitsuo Iso

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mystery, Drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Synopsis:

Tracking down the secrets concerning Kana’s death has led Yuko “Yasako” Okonogi into a new series of virtual rabbit holes. Like Alice through the looking glass, Yuko discovers that the digitally augmented world on the other side of her glasses is far more complex and confusing than she could have imagined.

With shocking e-spaces filled with mysterious un-erased levels of data, and virtual creatures that act and think as if they’re truly alive, how many other secrets might these parallel worlds hide? Who is responsible for hiding them?

As new memories from her past begin to surface, she must now confront whether the e-spaces themselves are somehow affecting the real world and how this involves the “other” Yuko. Their destinies may be intrinsically linked as the real and virtual worlds collide in the climactic conclusion of DEN-NOH COIL!

Commentary:

Den-noh Coil collection 2 starts off slow and somewhat disappointing. As the episodes processed it was clear there was either a clear attempt to attract a younger audience or misdirect the viewer completely. Once the writers found their new focus things got more serious and much better. The series did not disappoint at all.

The thing that I find amazing is that this series is almost 10 years old and that it took so long for it to make it over to the U. S.. All I can do is tip my hat to Maiden Japan for putting this one out.

Overall Grade: A-

If the first few episodes hadn’t lost their way I would have given Den-noh Coil a solid A. I think that in many ways it spotlights what solid writing and a mostly clear vision on how to create a story that keeps the mystery alive until the very end.

I know that Den-noh Coil may not find the audience that it deserves, but I hope that people do find this mysterious series and gives it a try. If you are looking for a series that doesn’t give it away right and keeps you wondering what is going on then Den-noh Coil is for you. This is also one that the entire family can watch together. Don’t let the fact that this series is centered around children scare you away. It is a wonderful offering and well worth the time to check out. So, please give it a chance!

 

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.

When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray (anime review)

when-they-cry-1Review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Chiaki Kon

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Ryukishi07

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 15, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Elfen Lied, Another, and Future Diary

Synopsis:

Moving to the picturesque town of Hinamizawa is going to be a big adjustment for Keiichi Maebara. For all its beauty, it is also very small, so small that there’s only one school, one where most of the students have known each other all their lives.

Fortunately, he soon meets four girls… Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika, who are willing to let the new guy in town join their afterschool club. And for a while, things seem wonderful. Until Keiichi starts discovering strange things, like when the project manager for a controversial dam project was found dismembered five years ago.

As he digs deeper, there are whispers and rumors of other murders and disappearances, stories of a town curse, and mysterious rituals. And then people he knows start to die. What secrets have the people of Hinamizawa kept hidden from the rest of the world? Could his new friends somehow be involved? The shocking answers to these and other questions will be revealed in When They Cry: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

When They Cry: Complete Collection epitomizes how you should never judge something by its cover. It looks like a simple, generic harem series at first glance; however When They Cry: Complete Collection is anything but that. When They Cry: Complete Collection is nothing short of genius and the whole setting, atmosphere, and mood are incredibly well executed. The plot may seem simple at first with a new kid moving to a strange, new town and meeting new friends but beneath the exterior appearance of this seemingly tame series lays a dark story of murder, violence, and mystery.

When They Cry: Complete Collection has a plot that consists of arcs. Although these arcs seem disjointed at first, it is all part of the plot and is actually an important part of solving the mystery of the Hinamizawa murders. However, When They Cry: Complete Collection is not a simple, generic murder mystery where the solutions are force fed to us. It is up to us to decide between what is true and what is not. This way we think and interact with the story. Each arc has a twisted finish that will leave you saying, “What just happened?”.

While When They Cry: Complete Collection is full of mentally instable characters, however they are extremely well written and developed. Luckily, the mental instability of the main characters does not take away from their personality and interaction. Each and every character serves a purpose to the plot in some way, shape, or form so be sure to pay attention to what a character does in different arcs.

The animation was normal for the age of the series but the background animation was breathtaking. The opening and closing songs were amazing and fit the series perfectly. The voice actors filled the series with psychotic laughter, blood-curling screams, and extremely cute voices in order to bring the characters to life.

Extras:

When They Cry: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. When They Cry: Complete Collection has both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A+

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am that Sentai Filmworks licensed When They Cry: Complete Collection! I hope they release the rest of the series so that we can learn what else happens. I recommend that you watch When They Cry: Complete Collection if you enjoy the horror or psychological thriller genre. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Wizard Barristers (anime review)

-wizard-barristersTitle: Wizard Barristers Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Yasuomi Umetsu

Written By: Michiko Itou

Music By: Kayo Konishi, Yukio Kondoo

Studio: Arms

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 1st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Action, Drama, Mystery

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

 

Synopsis:

When the laws of magic are broken, it’s the duty of the Police Department’s deadly Section 1 to enforce them. But, since even craven maven Wizards and nefarious Necromancers have the right to a fair trial, the job of defending them belongs to the Benmashi, the Wizard Barristers!

It’s a tricky profession, requiring both arcane ability and a judicious sense of jurisprudence, and at just seventeen, Cecil Sudo is the youngest Benmashi that Butterfly Law has ever employed. That means a lot of late nights burning the midnight brimstone, summoning up summaries, parsing phrases with paranormal paralegals and cutting deals with opposing counsels from hell.

And when a young Benmashi starts to discover that her own charm may be more magically-based than she realized, there’ll be a hex-tra incentive to work wonders outside the courtroom as well! Every trial is a witch trial as the most enchantingly Adept Attorney ever becomes a Master of the Art of Defensive Spells in Wizard Barristers!

Commentary:

Okay, I know that there are some of you that think I am crazy for giving such a high grade to Wizards Barristers. The truth is that I found it rather appealing. I saw it as a true amalgamation of a lot of anime and western pop culture. Right off the bat I saw Cecil as a new form of Sawa from Kite, and a strange blend of Fullmetal Alchemist along with a health dose of Harry Potter. Cecil is the girl who holds the key and doesn’t remember her past. She is destine to be something very special and she is very unaware of it. There are wizards on both sides that want her and she is surrounded by a group of people who are there to be not just friends but protectors too. This series is a interesting blend of  the world of supernatural story telling and if not watched with a curious eye much will be missed.

Overall Grade: A-

Wizard Barristers has much to offer and provides it all in a lively colorful package. The one drawback for me was the animation. I found the computer generated (CG) work to be a little stiff, but with the advances in CG it is easy to watch.

The rest of the series had plenty of light humor tossed in to keep you interested and a lot of dark questions kept coming up that made it a must to watch the next episode. The ending felt a tad rushed and there are some gaps in the plot that I personally would like to see explained in an OVA or a second season. With Wizard Barristers being only an Anime property I just don’t see more coming and that is too bad. If you like Harry Potter, Kite and Fullmetal Alchemist then I believe you should enjoy Wizard Barristers. It is worth the time to check it out.

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-

RE: Hamatora Season 2

RE: Hamatora Season 2Title: RE:Hamatora season 2

Directed by: Seiji Kishi & Hiroshi Kimura

Written by: Tōko Machida & Jun Kumagai

Music by: Makoto Yoshimori

Studio: NAZ

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: January 26th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Sci Fi, Mystery, Supernatural

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Having the incredible powers that come with being a Minimum Holder can be a huge advantage to a private detective firm like Hamatora, but how can anyone stop someone who can both come back from the dead AND steal your powers at the same time?

That’s the problem that now confronts Murasaki and Hajime, and it’s made even more vexing by the fact that the team’s founder, Nice, may be dead as well. But while it may or may not have been Nice, Art is definitely killing himself for more than just Art’s sake and his goal seems to be to gather as many stolen powers as he can in order to rival Nice’s ability.

However, the strength of a power isn’t all that matters, and a lesser ability can triumph over a greater one if used correctly. It’s Rock – Paper-Scissors but with super powers as Minimum Holder takes on Minimum Holder in RE: Hamatora!

Commentary: 

Season 2 of Hamatora does something that every anime should do, tell a great story and give the fans a thrilling plot and solid ending. Season 1 set the plot up and season knocked it down. I thought I understood the characters from their solid development in the first 12 episodes, but that was nothing compared to what was provided in season 2. Honestly it has been a long time since I have come across a series that does this. Mt first thought was Darker Than Black and the complexity of those characters. Although, Darker Than Black was better written and gave us some very memorable individuals. In Hamatora there are plenty of great characters, it isn’t until the end that they become something more than entertaining.

Just as season 1 was quick and dramatic season 2 of Hamatora is a little slower and much more intriguing. Much of the first 5 to 6 episodes I was trying to understand what was really going on and it wasn’t until I got to the last 3 that everything began to come into focus. That is ideal in a dramatic series like Hamatora, but there a few moments that I was ready to step away just be drawn back in. I didn’t get that momentary doubt in season one.

Overall Grade: A-

RE: Hamatora just might prove to be a long lasting series. I just hope anime fans get the opportunity to see it. I have discovered over the last few years that all to many solid series get lost in  the hype and flash of the other super star shows that blast onto the scene. I miss the days where series are discovered and become a small wild fire through the fandom. Now-a-days it seems as if the ones that get the most advertising and hype get the all too much attention. Where there are many great series that get left on the self. I get people asking me about great series and I through out some names and more often than not I get blank expressions then something like “what do you think about Attack On Titan?”. I just smile.

Hamatora has it all and then a little more. If it would not have lost focus early on in season 2 I think it would have been a home run. If you are looking for a true drama that ends up being kinder and gentler than you might expect then you really need to check this series out.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series (anime review)

Brynhildr-Darkness

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series

Director: Kenichi Imaizumi

Studio: Arms

Author: Yukinori Kitajima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 6, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 1 OVA / 350 Minutes

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Elfen Lied

Synopsis:
Haunted by memories of his childhood friend Kuroneko, Ryota Murakami has dedicated himself to discovering the truth behind the claim she’d made before she died: That aliens from other worlds walk among us. Believing that becoming a scientist is the path to the truth, Murakami pursues his studies by day and peers through a telescope at night. But when a girl named Kuroha Neko joins his class, the answers he’s sought may be closer than he ever expected.

For Kuroha looks exactly like an older version of Kuroneko, and seems to have abilities that no human could have. But the truth isn’t the only thing Murakami is about to uncover, and the secrets he’ll learn come with a deadly price. Because Kuroneko was correct in her claim, and there are those who will do anything to keep that knowledge hidden. And unless Murakami and a handful of unlikely allies can somehow survive their lethal purge, the entire human race could be doomed! Will Murakami and his allies survive? Is Kuroha actually Kuroneko? You will have to watch Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series and find out!

Commentary:
Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series is a unique combination of genres that normally do not belong together. Harem animes can usually be grouped with action pretty well, and also mystery. Drama and harem are a given as there is no harem without drama. But it’s not common to group a harem with a sci-fi horror. Most harems these days fall into the rom-com area, where there, the only serious thing that happens is the let down someone gets when rejected for another. Rejection seems so trivial compared to the ultimate fate of many of the characters in this series. In the end it made for a very complicated plot, with a lot of different side stories, and a bit of a twist in the end.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series starts immediately with scenes from the past, of a lost childhood friend and someone trying to cope with loss early in his life. Fast forward several years, Ryota has yet to come to terms with his friend’s death. The nightmares never stopped, nor did the guilt that he was responsible for her death and that he lived. This has made him a bit of a recluse by this point in his life, fearful of the pain he felt then. He focuses more on his studies, being top ranked in his class and 4th in the entire nation. His focus on his work is how he copes. That is until she walks into the classroom. She looked the same, sounded the same, and the name was very close to the nickname he called her. The trauma he never got over comes back full force as he tries to figure out if it’s really her. Life is about to get very complicated.

The plot was unique. Due to this, a few holes did pop up. Nothing you could drive a spaceship thru, but something that made you go ‘huh?’ Because the anime only got a half season (12 episodes) it did seemed rushed at times, as they had to get the story in. Overall it all worked out though. There was plenty of fan service, and 2 minutes later the walls were covered with blood. If you have seen Elfen Lied they are both by the same person, so you have some idea what to expect in the way of blood, guts and gory. But this series does very much separate itself from its older brother. The other thing is character development. They developed the four main characters well, but many of the others you don’t get to know very well. The art and music were good. I loved the opening theme for the first 9 episodes and the OVA. I personally did not need that second opening.

Extras:
Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B+
This was a very difficult series to review without spoiling the plot. Overall Brynhildr in the Darkness: The Complete Series will draw you in, make you feel anger and sadness, and ultimately deliver a twist that was not expected. Just be ready to bathe in blood and entrails.