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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.

 

Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season (anime review)

Hayate-Combat-Butler-2review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season

Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Kenjiro Hata

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 20, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 25 Episodes / 625 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Harem, School Life, Parody

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hayate the Combat Butler Season 1 and Hayate the Combat Butler Season 3: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

Synopsis:

Ever since he first met Nagi Sanzenin, Hayate Ayasaki’s life has become increasingly more crazed and chaotic. Which is a bit of a problem, since, as the eccentric heiress’ butler/personal bodyguard, he’s theoretically supposed to be a stabilizing and protective influence. Unfortunately, Nagi and her friends attract trouble the way dropped lollipops attract dirt, and if Hayate has to take a couple of nasty licks along the way, that’s just part of the job.

The real sucker punch, though, is that Nagi’s increasing attraction to Hayate himself is getting precariously close to transforming their professional relationship into something far less professional and much more like a relationship. Is Hayate up for the emotional perils of a round of “upstairs, downstairs”? Or will the purely physical dangers of life on Her Majesty’s Domestic Service do him in first?

Commentary:

Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season begins with Hayate still working as the Sanzenin Butler, and Season 2 features a lot more Hinagiku, as scenarios that include herself and Hayate allude to potentially mutual feelings between them. Nagi is also interested in escalating her relationship with Hayate, since Nagi’s perception of her relationship with Hayate remains based on the miscommunication that occurred on their first meeting. That is basically Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season in a nutshell. Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season completely ignores the filler material from the first season and picks up from about episode 25 and continues from there. With most of the filler material gone and forgotten from season one, the parody moments have dropped significantly.

Thankfully, with Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season we receive the character development that was missing in season one. However, Hinagiku takes up most of the screen time and some of the other characters lose out on their screen time and the other members of the Sanzenin household, Klaus, Tama, and to an extent Maria, take the back seat for a big chunk of the series. However, I feel that the “Hayate owes 150 million yen” arc was basically forgotten. It was brought up once or twice but it was basically abandoned and replaced with the Harem arc.

The art was bright and beautiful but different than the first season. The characters were well drawn and the background animation was pretty. The music was fresh and upbeat and the voice actors brought the characters to life before your eyes. The “Narrator” was drastically downplayed in this season. All in all, Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season was an enjoyable series to watch and I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys this type of series.
Extras:

Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second 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-

I feel that Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season is much more enjoyable than the first season because of the amazing interaction between characters. Hayate the Combat Butler: The Complete Second Season has high quality humor and fantastic and likeable characters but most importantly it is just fun to watch.

Beyond the Boundary (anime review)

Beyond the BoundaryTitle: Beyond the Boundary complete collection

Director: Taichi Ishidate

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Original Creator: Tomoyo Kamoi

Anime Writer: Jukki Hanada

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 13th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural, Drama, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

They should never have met. They shouldn’t even exist. But when they come together, the entire world will change.

The last surviving member of her clan, Mirai Kuriyama is cursed with the terrifying ability to control and manipulate blood, a power so heretical that she is shunned even by those with the ability to understand her “gift”. Akihito Kanbara is only half human, but while the monstrous other half of his lineage seems to have doomed him to a life alone, it has also given him near invulnerability in the form of rapid healing. Alone, their futures seem bleak, but when a chance encounter brings them together, it becomes clear that they share more than just an unexpected bond. Together they share a destiny and a mission that only the two of them together may be strong enough to survive.

Commentary:

Beyond the Boundary is one of the more interesting supernatural show to come out this year. It has humor, drama and a solid romance on top of a rather compelling plot line. The most compelling aspect to the series is the love story that develops. It is slow and could go either way thought the series but as the viewer you are always wanting them to move closer. It leaves the mystery fresh enough to keep you watching.

The animation was super slick and unexpected. At first I was very worried that it was going to fall into the trap with the pinks and blues that No Game No Life did, but it leveled off and managed to have a wonderful blending of style and color to help accentuate the story line exceptionally well.

Overall Grade: A-

I found Beyond the Boundary to be a wonderful mix of supernatural and heart warming friendship and romance. The one area that I thought was lacking was character development. Understanding who and what all of these characters are is important to the series and to the most part we are given enough information to make the series understandable. I think that if there was more information about the main characters and even a few of the others that show up from time to time it would have made a big difference in who the series tied together.

As series go Beyond the Boundary reminds me of several series blended together and the mish-mash works  as a hole. If you are looking for a shorter series that has plenty of action and a wonderfully heart warming ending then you should check this series out.

Beyond the Boundary is a real winner!