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Rin-ne collection 2 (anime review)

814131013194_anime-rin-ne-2-blu-ray-primaryTitle: Rin-ne Collection 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Seiki Sugawara

Writer: Michiko Yokote

Studio: Brian’s Base

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: September 6th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray/ 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Sakura Mamiya’s life was odd long before she started helping her fellow student and half-Shinigami Rinne Rokudo assist lost souls in reaching the land of the dead. However, as strange as the various spooks, specters and other other-worldly entities that Sakura has encountered on a daily basis may have been, nothing is as out and out bizarre as finding herself and Rinne involved in a complicated web of perceived romantic relationships that also include a former childhood friend and now frustrated exorcist, Tsubasa Jumonji, and the air-headed and extremely gullible Shinigami Ageha. After all, Sakura’s not really sure she’s even attracted to Rinne!

On the other hand, given the dangers inherent in foiling the efforts of the soul-stealing Damashigani, worrying about anyone’s love life is going to have to take second place to avoiding becoming part of the afterlife herself. It’s a second round of second thoughts and second chances in the second stunning collection of RIN-NE!

Commentary:

Rin-ne is one of the contemporary classic anime that follows the supernatural world with lots of slapstick comedy and silly comedic romance. With the love triangle between Rinne, Sakura and Tsubasa and of course the more than silly Ageha vying for Rinne the series jumps from situation to situation with much the same result. There are plenty of smiles in this rather silly series and when it comes to playing with the supernatural Rin-ne has a lot of fun.

Overall Grade: B+

With 50 episodes to date this set only gets us half way there. In the world of Shinigami Anime Rin-ne gives us purely comedic look much the same as some newer anime like Kokomo San. It doesn’t get as bogged down as Inu Yasha or Bleach and surely doesn’t have the darkness of Blue Exorcist.

Rin-ne is a fun series and if you are looking for something that has a light romantic tenge or rather silly high school look at a couple of boys after one girl then you should check out Rin-ne. Be sure to start with collection one if you do.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection (anime review)

when-supernatural-battles-became-commonplanereview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Masanori Takahashi

Studio: Trigger

Author: Masahiko Otsuka

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: August 30, 2016

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

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Harem, School Life, Slice of Life, Supernatural

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! and Student Council’s Discretion

They may not be known as heroes but superpowers at least make their lives interesting, right?

Synopsis:

The origin of the Senko High School Literature Club’s powers might be a little sketchy, and they may spend more time chatting than engaging in superhuman feats. Still, there is no questioning the incredible abilities of the club’s female members: Tomoyo can control time; Hatoko is a mistress of the elements; Chifuyu can create matter; and Sayumi can return any item to a previous state. With these powers, there are few tasks these girls can’t handle.

Meanwhile, Jurai, the club’s only male member has a dark flame that seems a little pointless in comparison and only time will tell if it matures into anything more useful. Toss in a Student Council president who has developed powers of her own and things are about to get seriously weird as the study of literature takes a comic book turn in When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray.

Commentary:

“Can your common sense explain the secrets behind how this universe originated 13,700,000,000 years ago?” Jurai Ando

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray has to be the most misleading title for an anime series I have ever seen. I was expecting some romance with a lot of battle scenes and what I got was a harem, slice-of-life romance with maybe one or two battle scenes that did not even involve the main cast of characters. Of course, the ending battle did include them and it made the entire series. There is also an epic tantrum involving Hatoko and Jurai in episode seven that also makes the entire series worth watching.

The characters were interesting to say the least. Each main character gets their background explained throughout the series and various episodes explore their personalities. The female characters fit into the usual harem genre archetypes as Tomoyo is the tsundere, Hatoko is the polite airhead, Sayumi is the book nerd, and Chifuyu is the young and playful elementary school girl and niece to the club sponsor. Jurai Ando seems like he was the key in getting each character to develop and fully understand her new superpower. Each girl, in her own way, has a crush on Jurai and it is hilarious to see what they do so that he might notice them in a different light. Towards the end, you can tell that the field has been narrowed down and that only two girls are left. I will let you figure out which two since that is half of the fun.

The animation was pretty good and very pretty to watch. The characters were drawn well and the backgrounds popped. The voice actors did a great job bringing the characters to life. The opening and closing songs were alright but nothing special. There was hardly any fan-service in When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray and what there was usually was aimed at cosplay gimmicks and swimsuit shenanigans.

Extras:

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray 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

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Complete Collection on Blu-ray is a cute and enjoyable slice-of-life series. I recommend this series to anyone who loves the slice-of-life genre.

The Fruit of Grisaia: Complete First Season (anime review)

fruit-of-grisaia season 1review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: The Fruit of Grisaia: Complete First Season

Director: Tensho

Studio: 8-Bit

Author: Hideyuki Kurata

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: May 10, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School Life

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Angel Beats! And My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

“Being indebted to someone is nothing to be ashamed of, not repaying that debt is.” – Yuuji Kazami

Synopsis:

Yuuji Kazami is a transfer student who has just been admitted into Mihama Academy. He wants to live an ordinary high school life, but this dream of his may not come true any time soon as Mihama Academy is quite the opposite. Consisting of only the principal and five other students, all of whom are girls, Yuuji becomes acquainted with each of them, discovering more about their personalities as socialization is inevitable. Slowly, he begins to learn about the truth behind the small group of students occupying the academy—they each have their own share of traumatic experiences which are tucked away from the world.

Mihama Academy acts as a home for these girls, they are the “fruit” which fell from their trees and have begun to decay. It is up to Yuuji to become the catalyst to save them from themselves, but how can he save another when he cannot even save himself?
Commentary:

On the face of The Fruit of Grisaia, it looks to be another harem. Guy transfers into new school looking to get away from his old life and to be normal for once. Does he have a chunibyo or something? Ok… The school is huge, and only has five other students, of all ages, and they are all females…. Where is this show going? This is going to be interesting. Oh wow… first day of school and one of the girls picks his lock and does ‘inappropriate things’ in his room. Another girl attacks him with a box cutter and he stops her cold in one move… What the heck is going on? Is this a school for assassins? I am so lost right now…………..

A few times you have heard me say things like “they rushed the story” or “it needed more episodes” or even, “They skipped something.” In this one, they rushed the story, skipped a whole lot, and needed more episodes… A lot more episodes. As I watched, and scratched my head, trying to figure out how we got from A to B in the story line, it occurred to me that we actually went from A to L skipping many letters in the middle. Unfortunately, that left me wondering what was going on quite a bit. One thing the story lacked was any real background on the characters. You would get tidbits here and there, and only when absolutely needed to feed the relevance of the story, but hardly enough to really understand what, why, and even the how sometimes. The who part was left in the wind, and honestly, I’m still sorting that one out. Even in all its confusion and incoherency, I still found myself watching intently, wanting to know what was going on, and to learn all the details. Even when skipping half the alphabet, the story was very intriguing, and it did not have a hard time keeping my interest, even if I was not really sure what was happening, my interest in knowing more very much intensified. In the end, I figured out that it followed an arc for each girl, some lasting an episode or two, to one lasting as many as four. In the end I very much felt that there were a lot of details in the original story that got cut, either because of time, budget, or administrative limitations. This one had the potential to be a masterpiece. Even now, I am highly anticipating the sequel, which they so blatantly set up at the end of the last episode.

Extras:

The Fruit of Grisaia: Complete First Season 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

Just as an FYI, animal lovers may have some issues watching the ending of episode two. It almost put me off the entire series but I am glad that I gave it a second chance.

Waiting in the Summer (anime review)

waiting-in-the-summerTitle: Waiting in the Summer Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Written By: Yōsuke Kuroda

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 15th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes + OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Slice of Life, Fan Service, Romance, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about film-making and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate, and downright revealing.

As the summer heats up, so do the maturing relationships between the young cast members, taking some new, and sometimes unexpected, turns. Get ready for a whole new look at summer romance as hidden emotions get captured and secrets meant to be kept hidden inside young hearts instead spill off the screen for your viewing pleasure in Waiting in the Summer!

Commentary:

Waiting in the Summer is one of the sleeper anime that few people have seen. It has a rather straight forward plot and a simplistic romance structure, yet it catches your attentions and makes you really like these high school students on summer break and wish you could hang out with them and make a move too.

With this being a re-release and adding the OVA I am curious why there wasn’t a English dub. I understand that there is a large cost to doing that. I just think that a English dub would have brought another layer of fans to the series and proved to be profitable.

Overall Grade: A-

I is nice to see Waiting in the Summer re-released with the OVA and forcing me to take another look at it. One one level there is a warn innocence that flows though it and on the other hand a sad reality to some things just can’t be. With all that is going on with the film mirroring the plot line and the hidden specter of the men in black makes it hard to stop watching.

The animation is a smooth easy touch that is very typical   for anime of this type and the attention to detail done with such a soft touch that things flow together with the plot perfectly. I can’t think of any other style that would have helped tell the story any better. The only detractor I have is that it does drag a bit in the middle and leave the viewer a tad frustrated with what is going on. I still find the series strong and with the added OVA it is just that much better.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Waiting in the Summer then I think that this is the time to discover a series that is warm and friendly with layers of strange goings on. If you are in the mood for a easy going anime that has plenty of fun and oddities in it then Waiting in the Summer is for you.

Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection (anime review)

Review provided by Andrew and Katieblade-dance-of-the-elementalers

Title: Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection

Director: Tetsuya Yanagisaw

Studio: TNK

Author: Takao Yoshioka

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: February 2, 2016

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

Genre: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem, Romance, School, Supernatural

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: C

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Familiar of Zero and IS: Infinite Stratos

Synopsis:

In order to enroll at the Areisha Spirit Academy, where young priestesses learn how to form contracts with Spirits, the ideal prospective student must be pure, chaste, and of a superior lineage. They must also be female as only one man has ever made a Spirit contract and He was the Demon King.
The entire Academy is thrown into chaos and confusion when Kamito Kazehaya arrives at the Headmistress’ request because not only is he very obviously a guy, but he also managed to form a Spirit contract in the short time it took him to walk through the woods surrounding the Academy.
And what other secrets might the new enrollee have hidden? The unexpected intrusion of something male is certain to work the female student body into a tizzy as the answers are revealed in Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection is your basic magical harem anime series. There is nothing original about the series and that saddened me. Basically, the plot is full of holes and does not explain much of anything. A great example is how Kamito Kazehaya won a Blade Dance three years prior to the setting of the series, but no one knows that as he was in a robot suit. It seems as if they decided to use the first eleven episodes as filler and the actual series began in the final episode. The battles reminded me of Pokémon battles due to the use of “spirit animals” and the battles lasted far too long for my taste. There was also an over-use of fan-service and there was one scene that bordered on hentai so I personally believe that the age rating should have been higher.

Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection included every character archetype, but mostly focused on tsundere, that harem animes use but there was hardly any development done to the characters. Kamito Kazehaya is the only male spirit contractor in the series so naturally the rest of the characters are wary of him. He has a good nature personality but also teases the other characters. Kamito is a competent fighter and uses his head more than his emotions in his fights. Claire Rougeis one of the tsundere’s in the series; however she is heavy on the tsun and light on the dere. Her contracted spirit is a flame cat named Scarlett. Rinslet Laurenfrost is also a tsundere but instead of tsundere to Kamito she is mostly tsundere to Claire, her childhood friend. Her contracted spirit is an ice wolf named Fenrir. Ellis Fahrengart is another tsundere, but she uses the tsundere to protect her school as a Knight. Her contracted spirit is an eagle named Simorgh. Those are the characters that stood out the most to me. There are others including Fianna Ray Ordesia and Est.

The characters were well drawn but the background animation seemed to get lost. The music was standard for this genre and did not stand out in any way. The voice actors did a good job but some left something to be desired.
Extras:
Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection includes Japanese Promos, Blade Dance Special Mini OVA’s, 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: C
While I was somewhat let down by Blade Dance of the Elementalers: Complete Collection I believe that someone who loves the harem genre will enjoy it.

Dai Shogun Great Revolution (anime review)

dai-shogunTitle: Dai Shogun Great Revolution; Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Takashi Watanabe

Writer: Dai Sato

Studio: J.C. Staff, A.C.G.T.

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

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

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Pseudo Historical, Action, Ecchi

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

In a world where history took a different path, Japan has been isolated from the outside world by steam-powered robots that repel all invaders. Inside Japan, however, the people are divided into feuding and fighting feudal factions. Feisty Keiichiro Tokugawa dreams of changing this and unifying Japan, and he just may be the one man who can use the legendary giant robot Susanoo.

Unfortunately, just touching a woman makes him break out in hives, and the Susanoo ALSO requires a female copilot. In VERY close quarters. And just to twist the katana, while there seem to be plenty of women who might covet the copilot’s seat, not all of them have his best interests at heart! Who can he trust? Kiriko the Ninja? Chiharu the fox-demon? Or will Keiichiro’s rash ambitions be thwarted by rashes and a totally rational phobia of the female form? It’s a giant robot show like no other as the birds, the bees, and the giant robots take flight in Dai Shogun!

Commentary:

Dai Shogun is a series that, simply put, fun to watch. Of course it gets a little lost in the fan service and sexually provocative situations. This is more of a typical harem anime than I expected it to be and it does give us someone to root for other than the bouncing breasts everywhere you look. The story sets itself up for plenty of jokes and some of them are funny but most are rather contrived. Where the series succeeded was in the dramatic aspects and the central love story. Take the dense young man with something to prove and the beautiful, talented, shy woman who falls for his simple boyish charm and make them both virgins who must work together to save Japan. Well, add in plenty of other large breasted women and center the story at a bath house and it equals lots of peekaboo.

Once the series settles in and gets serious about the plot, things get entertaining and much of the sexual tension takes the back seat. This change in posture works, and makes most of the rest of the series worth watching. The writing was strong enough to carry much of the series, but the animation was a let down. It almost as if the series was given a cut rate budget and rather than push the limits, they cut every corner they could. The simple static figures with a moving background left me cold. I would have loved to see someone like Gonzo or even Sunrise animate this series rather than the sloppy work that was done by J. C. Staff.

Overall Grade: B

Now, Dai Shogun isn’t for everyone, but for adults it is a series that I think both men and women can enjoy. It has all the great trappings that a solid Harem anime needs and some of the perversion that a light ecchi anime would have. There is plenty of action and a solid moral backbone to the series that does make a difference.

I would have liked to see more background development on a few of the characters, but I understand that not every anime can tell all of the story. The ending is left open in the event some money should come their way, but I fear that some of the failure in the series will leave it destine to be a one shot series.

Anyway, if you want a decent love story that has a lot of action and plenty of well built women in it then Dai Shogun Great Revolution is something you need to check out.

Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- (anime review)

aura

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War-

Director: Seji Kishi

Studio: AIC ASTA

Author: Makoto Uezu and Jun Kamagai

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: December 8, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / Movie / 90 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Supernatural

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Garden of Words and Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!

The difference between reality and fantasy is that the monsters in the real world are more dangerous.

Synopsis:

Ichiro Sato used to spend his life dreaming, pretending to be a great fantasy hero. Pretend heroics, however, do not allow for much protection from bullies and social ridicule. Now determined to follow a different path and fit in, Ichiro thought he had managed to give up his old fantasies. Until he encountered Ryouko Satou, who is even more deeply immersed in her own imaginary world than Ichiro was – and is bullied just as cruelly for it. If he stands up for Ryouko, Ichiro could destroy the new life he is trying to build.

But at the same time, the intensity of her fantasies and predicament reminds him all too vividly of the person he once was. In the end, it may just be that the only one who can really rescue this damsel in distress is the dream hero that Ichiro thought he had buried forever in Aura. Will Ichiro save Ryouko? You will have to watch Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- to find out.

Commentary:

There comes a time in everyone’s life that we tend to hate reality. Rather it be the monotony of everyday life, failed dreams, or even stress and being overwhelmed by life, we all turn to fiction as an escape. Some cases are much more extreme than others. Lately there have been a few series coming out addressing Chuunibyou (rough translation; middle school second year syndrome, a common stage of growth for most people in Japan, where fantasy is used to escape the reality of growing up). Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- is a movie that introduces us to a more mature look at what a victim of Chuunibyou suffers from, but everything plays out like a typical high school bullying story. There are not many twists and turns and everything can be seen coming from a mile away. However, the story still works well and is enjoyable. The drama in Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- falls perfectly in the center as everything feels natural. The angst and conflicts are perfectly and realistically presented and are not used as cheap means to manipulate our emotions. The drama is sincere, heartfelt, and heartbreaking at times. Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- shows the pain of bullying either as the recipient, Ryouko and Ichiro, or as a bystander observing the damage done, the rest of the class, and Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War- shows that it is never a good thing.

The characters had a sense of realism in the way that they spoke that many will be able to relate to. The main characters, Ichiro and Ryouko, were very likeable and easy to sympathize with. In the short time the writers manage to develop the characters quite extensively, and it helps the story and the emotional attachments that you form with them. This does feed the interest as they developed the story, which in itself does not have many twists or unforeseeable turns to grab your interest. Without the awesome character development, I doubt that the story would have been as good as it was. From the first scene you are given a chance to see inside the mind of the male main character, as he lives out his fantasy he is highly ridiculed for. Bullying is an issue in Japan as Japanese society is highly conformist. “The nail that sticks out the most is hammered down the hardest.” This gives a realistic look into what happens in Japan schools and why chuunibyou exists, and the issues around it.
Extras:

Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War– includes Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This movie was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options. Both are enjoyable and I would recommend either one depending on your preference.

Overall Grade: A-

Aura-Koga Maryuin’s Last War– gives new insight into the strange phenomenon known as chuunibyou. I recommend this movie to anyone who is wanting to see something more realistic.

If Her Flag Breaks (anime review)

If Her-Flag-Breaks Premium EditionTitle: If Her Flag Breaks: Premium Edition

Directed by: Ayumu Watanabe

Written by: Takashi Aoshima (anime), Toka Takei (original story)

Studio: Hoods Entertainment

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Genre: Harem, Romance, Comedy

Age Rating: T 13+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Souta Hatate is a new student at Hatagaya School. His cold and impersonal manner draws the attention of Nanami Knight Bladefield, a princess of a European nation, and she confronts him about it. He reveals that he is the only survivor of the sinking of the cruise ship Premium Ambriel. On that tragic day he received a special power from a mysterious stranger: the power to see people’s fates in the form of flags sprouting from their heads.

Some flags are simple things like “friendship” flags, but others are more ominous, like “death” flags. Over the next few days, more and more classmates and friends are drawn to him and live with him at the Quest Dorm, and Sota must occasionally use his powers to alter their fates. He and his new friends and dormmates get up to all kinds of fun adventures. However, he eventually discovers that there is more to his power, and the world itself, than he realized.

Commentary:

If Her Flag Breaks falls into the classic Harem / Comedy genre and it follows all of the defined formulas that you would expect to find, even in a story that one of the strangest plot lines I have come across in some time. Why are there flags piping up out of their heads, why not an aura or even a cloud? Once I got past the basic concept I was able to get into Sota’s collection of all these girls. I did find it rather odd that he was able to say just the right thing to get them to fall in love with him. He is a typical sad sack who feels like he shouldn’t be around others because of his strange ability was magically given to him. Well, like I said, the plot line is a stretch and is the one major issue I have with the series.

The writing is solid enough and they do spend enough time developing the characters with a steady pace that keeps you coming back for more and of course I can’t think of a red blooded boy who wouldn’t trade anything for the life Souta and living situation. Still, it leave much to be believed. I found the concept behind most Harem series hard to believe but of course that is not the point. The one thing that I did appreciate was the lack of blatant fan service. It is refreshing to have a Harem series that is more interested in the story than panty shots.

Overall Grade: B

If Her Flag Breaks is a bit of a surprise for me as a NIS America title. I didn’t find it as endearing as some of their other releases like Anohana, Eccentric Family or even Arakawa Under the Bridge. Never-the-less If Her Flag Breaks is a fun Harem / Comedy that keeps you wondering what is really going on and also wondering if Sota will pick just one of them to love and will he break the others hearts in the end.

If you are a true Harem fan then you will find If Her Flag Breaks a refreshing change of pace and a story the defies explanation. The premium edition is slick and the book lives up to the standard for NIS products. I think that If Her Flag Breaks should be a real hit with the target market and I am looking forward to see the OVA if it makes to our shores.

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series (anime review)

Umi-Monogatarireview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series

Director: Junichi Sato

Studio: Zexcs

Author: Toshihiko Tsukiji

U.S. Distributor: Nozomi, Lucky Penny

U.S. Release Date: November 3, 2015

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Supernatural

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Aria The Animation

Synopsis:

Marin and Urin are sea folk, people who live in a peaceful underwater world surrounded by bright fish and colorful coral. But one day, a beautiful ring falls from the “sky” – that dangerous place above the water – and the two girls decide to return the lovely trinket to its owner.

While the surface world holds amazing wonders for the pair, it also hides a great darkness… a darkness that Urin accidentally unleashes when she opens a stone box at a local shrine. Now it’s up to Marin, Urin, and their new friend Kanon to set things right again before that darkness swallows the entire world! Will they set everything right again in time? Will this new friendship survive? You will have to watch Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series and find out.

Commentary:

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was a refreshing and laid back series to watch as it is part magical adventure and part romance yet neither part overshadows the other. Unlike many similar series, Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series managed to stay on task for each and every episode and not devolve into a series of filler (Marin and Urin go to school) and fan-service (Mermaids at the Hot Springs) episodes half way through the series. Yes, there was fan-service but it was not over-done. I did feel like the storyline went very slow, there was not much action most of the time and many people may find Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series to be boring do to the pacing. However, the drama picks up in the last few episodes and the ending wrapped up all of the important story elements.

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series has some interesting characters to say the least. Marin and Urin are both sweet and likable girls who are also “pure” at heart. These sisters are naïve to the surface world’s ways, though perhaps not as much as they should have been. Sadly, even with the decent amount of background on their relationship and their past, it does not feel as if you really know them that well. Kanon felt like the most emotionally invested character in the series. She is a bit darker than Marin, but most people would be as Marin is full of love and energy all the time. Kanon is just a girl who wants to be liked but does not know how to show it to people. She is often referred to as “evil” or having an “evil aura” but she does not act evil. That may have been a mistranslation or something. The background characters were well done as they were fairly deep and interesting characters but their screen time was kept to a minimum to focus on the main storyline. The villain, Sedna, was very intriguing because she seems like that dark inner voice that everyone hears from time to time. She is a terrifying presence despite not having a physical form.

The animation in Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was very beautiful. The sky and sea worlds were just beautiful and the magical effects and action were well animated. The character designs were amazingly cute and the voice actors did a great job in the series. The opening and closing songs fit right in the relaxed mood of the series.

Extras:

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series includes Marin’s “What Is This?” episodes 1-4, clean opening and closing animations, web promos, promotional video, commercials, and Nozomi/Lucky Penny trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English Subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: B

Umi Monogatari: The Complete Series was a relaxing series to watch. I enjoyed it but I feel like they missed the mark by only having it subtitled because I think children would love this series and they would probably like to watch it dubbed. I would recommend this series if you enjoyed Aria The Animation.

Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu (anime review)

FMP-FumoffuTitle: Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu the complete series (anime classic)

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Studio: Kyoto Animation

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: September 15th, 2015

Format : DVD / Blu-ray / 300 minutes / 12 Episodes

Genre: Mecha, Comedy, Romance, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis: 

Sousuke’s locked, loaded, and ready to attack – which would be awesome if he was going into battle. But he’s just going to high school, and all the qualities that make him a good soldier make him an amazingly awkward classmate.

Poor Kaname knows that better than anyone, since Sousuke’s her undercover bodyguard. The guy’s supposed to protect Tessa too. But how “top secret” can he really be when he’s sneaking around in a teddy bear suit, blowing up lockers, striking out with every girl in sight, and taking a mech to the hot springs? Sure, Sousuke’s methods are a little intense, but high school’s tough. Collateral damage is to be expected, right?

Commentary: 

There are classic series and then there are ethos special series that are a little more than just classic series. Full Metal Panic is one of those very special series that is more than just a classic. Of course I am huge fan and since I first saw the original series. Now  I can’t say that Fomuffu stands as high on the ranking as Full Metal Panic or Full Metal Panic Second Raid. The reason is because the series is much more silly and looses itself in side stories that are there just to be funny.

In FMP and FMP Second Raid the humor was blended in with the overarching story which made them special and help raise the popularity of the franchise. Now Fomuffu being what it exists because there was a move form the original studio (Gonzo) to Kyoto Animation (their first production) and a clear imperative to make this grouping of episodes more episodic and only related to the series by characters. This concept worked only by providing 12 very entertaining episodes that are strong enough to stand on their own, not because of its relationship to the original anime.

Overall Grade: B

Fomuffu is a pure comedy and provides plenty of laughs. There is also the familiar characters who bring a smile to my face any time I see them. Much of my grade is based on a sentimental fondness for the series, but I have a feeling that new eyes to the series will also see the humor that exists in these episodes.

The thing that I both like and dislike about Fomuffu is the stand alone aspect to the episodes. Now there are some that are 2 episode arcs but on a hole the series is much more about the story in easy episode rather than an overarching plot line. Normally I dislike this approach because it mimics a pattern developed in the west to make each episode stand on its own. That makes for little development and little substance when you are dealing with a 25 minute episode.

I do have to hand it Kyoto Animation for their first production and their ability to follow one of the superstars in the anime world at that time. They did a great job and I didn’t see Fomuffu and looking dated that way I see many other shows form that 2003 time period. The look is clean and easy to watch.

If you are looking for a comedy that does not require any long term development in the story then you need to check this out. Better yet, if you are looking for 12 episodes that will make you laugh then you really need to spend some time with Full Metal Panic? Fomuffu.