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Chihayafuru Season One (anime review)

review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Chihayafuru Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Morio Asaka

Studio: Madhouse

Author: Sumino Kawashima

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 12, 2017

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

Genre: Drama, School Life, Slice of Life, Sports, Card Game

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow

Synopsis:

Chihaya Ayase was a girl who never seemed to fit in. She never had much in common with the other kids, and her family was so obsessed with her older sister’s modeling career that, sometimes, it was like Chihaya was not even there. Everything changes when transfer student Arata gets Chihaya interested in the world of competitive Karuta, a unique card-based game that requires lightning fast reflexes, an exceptional memory, and a keen ear. Chihaya is a natural, and she has the skills to take her to the very top. Suddenly, Chihaya has found her goal: to become the best player in Japan! It will not be easy, but when a girl has a dream in her heart, nothing else matters! Will Chihaya become the Queen of Karuta? You will have to watch Chihayafuru and find out.

Commentary:

Chihayafuru is a series that starts off very slow but then it becomes something amazing. The character development is amazing and I truly believe that Chihayafuru loves its characters. Chihaya is the tom-boy who wanted nothing better than for her sister to become the top supermodel in Japan. That was her dream for her life. But thanks to Arata and Taichi, she finally realizes that she wants to be the Queen of Karuta. Taichi is from a wealthy family and he is quite the golden boy as he is smart, good looking, and mature. He also excels at nearly everything he does which is why he is the President of the Misusawa Karuta Club. He has a crush on Chihaya but is hesitant to do anything about it as he believes she only has eyes for Arata. Arata left after elementary school graduation to take care of his grandfather. His passion for Karuta is inspired by his grandfather who was a Meijin (master).

I will try and explain Karuta but it will not be short. Karuta is not to be compared with playing cards in the sense of the Western World. It is not Poker, Rummy or Skat. It would be most comparable to Memory. There are different types of Karuta that can be played. Uta-Garuta is played in Chihayafuru. The card game consists of 200 cards, 100 of which are called Yomifuda, this are the reading cards and 100 Torifuda, which are the cards that are use by the players itself. On the Yomifuda are the first three verses of a traditional Japanese poem. The Poetry comes from the Hyakunin Isshu (100 poems of 100 poets, each poet one poem). The Torifuda (game- or field-cards) contain the last two verses of the respective poem. The challenge consists in recognizing the poems during the reading and to catch the corresponding play card in front of the opponent. Karuta fulfills everything a sport should have, high concentration, excellent memory, lightning reflexes, strategic thinking, endurance, resilience, mental strength and a tremendous commitment to the long training for coordination and precession. The person who touches the right card on the field first gets the card, when you take a card from the opponents side you can give them one of yours, when your half of the playing field is empty you win.

It sounds simple and quite boring but it’s NOT. In order to touch the right card quickly, cards get flung of the playing field, people are sweating, thinking and reacting at full speed and crazy-eating chocolate in between these intense games. To really play Karuta at top level you need memorization skills, good hearing and senses, good posture, analytic and strategic skills, precision, strength, speed, perseverance, an emotional connection to the cards and so much more. As you can see, Karuta is very difficult to play but when it is played by people who love it, it is a beautiful thing.

The animation was so beautiful and colorful. They showed off backgrounds that will take your breath away and traditional Japanese clothing that is just amazing. The voice actors did a great job and I really enjoyed this series even if the first five to six episodes drag a bit.

Extras:

Chihayafuru 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: A

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood on Blu-ray

Director: Risako Yoshida

Studio: Zexcs

Author: Hiroko Kusanagi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 28, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 180 Minutes

Genre: Reverse Harem, School Life, Supernatural, Shoujo, Vampire

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: D

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Diabolik Lovers

Synopsis:

As the sole human living alone with six handsome vampires, beautiful young Yui Komori is slowly becoming used to being the constant focus of all of their attentions, both amorous and otherwise. However, if she was feeling pale and weak before, her ordeal is about to become even more emotionally draining as four new vampire brothers appear with the intention of making Yui their own permanent dinner guest.
Who are the Mukami brothers, and why are they so dead set on keeping Yui for themselves? Why do they keep referring to her as “Eve” and whose master plan are they following? How will the original six Sakamaki brothers react to having Yui stolen out of their clutches? Will the Sakamaki brothers get her back or will the Mukami brothers follow through with their master plan? You will have to watch Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood and find out.

Commentary:

I feel as if I need to add a few warnings to this series before I go any further: 1. Yui is treated like a blood bag and is not just bitten on the neck. 2. There is a religious theme to this season and that might turn you off of the series if that bothers you. 3. This has to be one of the worse reverse harem series I have ever watched.*

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood is the second season of Diabolik Lovers and honestly I cannot be more disappointed in the entire series. There are more plot holes than swiss cheese and just when you think they are actually going to explain what is going on, they end the series with the biggest cliff hanger ever! They rely heavily on the Adam and Eve story and you spend most of the series trying to figure out who is Adam and then they never say anything about it again.

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood has little to no character development and most of the characters are poorly designed with weak personalities that make the characters unlikable. The relationships between Yui and the brothers are terrible to say the least. They treat her like furniture and never have anything nice to say to her at all. I was really hoping that Yui would grow a backbone and tell the brothers off, but of course she cannot do that as their blood bag.

The animation was dark and tried to be gothic but did not get there. Since Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood is about vampires they really do not go out during the day and attend school at night. There really is not any change in the animation between the manor and the school. The voice actors did alright, nothing really stood out but I really did not expect anything to. The opening animation fit the general theme well and was enjoyable to listen to. The ending was nothing special but one out of two is not a bad deal.

Extras:

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood includes both 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: D

Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood seems like it is geared more to the ecchi vampire crowd. The entire series is just about sucking tasty blood from a human. Not my thing.

The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection (anime review)

Title: The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection

Director: Hideyuki Kurata

Studio: Manglobe

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 3rd, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 36 Episodes and 4 OVAs/ 1000 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Harem, School Life, Video Games

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

The World God Only Knows Ultimate Collection contains episodes 1-12 of season 1, 1-12 of season 2, 1-12 of season 3, and 1-4 of the OVA.

Keima Katsuragi’s skill at winning women’s hearts is so legendary that he’s called The God Of Conquests, but that’s only in dating video games, not the real world.

Suddenly, Keima’s life takes a turn for the weird when he answers what he thinks is an online gaming challenge. Instead, he ends up with a demon contract, and now he has to help perky demon hunter Elsie track down a bunch of demons that have escaped from hell!

The reason: the demons have hidden themselves within the hearts of a group of random girls, and the only way to get them out is if Keima can make the girls fall in love with him. Also, just to make sure that Keima is properly incentivized, his failure will result in the loss of something important: his head!

Hopefully, the tricks Keima’s mastered with virtual girls will work just as well with live ones. Otherwise, things are going to get really messy in the spectacular ultimate collection of THE WORLD GOD ONLY KNOWS!

Commentary:

 

In the overarching collection the shinning star are the first two seasons. Watching Keima go from unwilling participant to someone who has a secret love for the chase is fun and entertaining. The parody of the otaku world is not lost and there are some wonderful examples of the reality that has gripped the entire world when it comes to gaming and almost any other fandom.

The story itself is a rather silly, but it creates some wonderful situations  that are played out in a witty and humors fashion. The writing for season 1 and 2 manages to prove the point  that if it is clear what needs to be done then the story can write itself.

For season 3 Dating Game master Keima Katsuragi’s skills at conquering hearts in the virtual world have translated into real life so well that he and Spirit Hunter associate Elsie have already captured 14 of the runaway spirits attaching themselves to the souls of different girls. But is even the God of Conquests up to the task of romancing six REAL Goddesses?

The fate of the world may depend on it, because if Keima can’t do it six more times, a renegade faction of demons will use the Goddesses power to unleash an even more dangerous and powerful group of demons. That could mean the devastation of both Heaven and the Earth! (Not to mention Keima losing his own head.) And if the situation wasn’t difficult enough, it seems that the Goddesses’ souls are hidden inside girls that Keima has already had to make fall in love with him before. As part of the magic spell, they’ve all forgotten about him… or have they?

It is understandable that the overall popularity of the series pushed the studio to make a 3rd season. It is also understandable that there was some attempt to use the earlier plot line to help drive the current story. I can appreciate both, but as it all too often comes to pass, I can say that The World God Only Knows: Goddesses doesn’t even come close to being as entertaining as the first two seasons.

It is great to see all the characters come back and to have the wide array of personalities to play off of it just felt forced and more than just a little contrived. Of course it is natural that anime come across contrived because it is contrived. Once in a while an anime will feel somewhat natural, but most of the time you walk away thinking to yourself that they really pushed it this time. The World God Only Knows: Goddesses doesn’t pull any punches in that category.

One thing I have learned over the years is not to expect much from OVAs. As for The World God Only Knows OVAs I can say that I found them to be both disappointing and pleasing. On the dissapointing side of things I thought 2 of the OVAs were simple through away episodes that didn’t really catch the essence of the series but on the two that dealt with Tenri and Diana proved to be both entertaining and helpful with back story that is key in the Goddess season.

The other two OVAs were a simply there for a quick smile at best. At worst they added nothing to the story and made a few of the characters look a little silly. I’m always amazed when I see OVA’s come out I hope and pray that they wrap things up but more often than not they just give us nothing but a laugh if we are lucky.

Overall Grade: B

When looking at the complete body of the series I find that the balance of interest must fall on season 1 & 2. Season 3 is a weak reminder of the essence of the story and the OVAs are just a money grab.

After being such a fan of The World God Only Knows and having the OVAs tossed out there a reminded that anime is more of a business than an art form and the reality is that they are trying to make a profit. I can’t be to saddened by this release because there is some material in the group that is relevant to the series. I also see the other OVAs as simple comic relief and nothing more.

If you are a serious fan of The World God Only Knows then this set is something that you will want to own. If you aren’t then I would say look else were for your entertainment.

Extras:

Japanese Promos, Music Videos, Clean Opening Animation.

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection (anime review)

little-busters-exreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection

Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa

Studio: J.C. Staff

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: December 6, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 8 Episodes / 200 Minutes

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

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Little Busters, Little Busters: Refrain

Synopsis:

Does the new girl in Riki Naoe’s life need his help, or is she actually trying to kill him? After a chance encounter on a rooftop brings the enigmatic Saya Tokido into the Little Busters’ world, the only thing that’s certain is that trouble is sure to follow.

As if saving the lives of his teammates wasn’t enough of a task to handle, now Riki must also untangle a web of new mysteries that seem to be rooted in his own personal past! Who are the Dark Executives, why do they want to keep Saya and Riki apart, and what is the nature of the secret treasure that Saya seeks? Sometimes, answers lead to even more questions as Riki and the Little Busters discover that they weren’t the only people drawn into Kyousuke’s artificial world in Little Busters! EX!

Commentary:

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection in the three-arc OVA series that follows Little Busters!: Refrain. However, it seems that Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection takes place in an alternate world or universe and the characters know about it. Two of the arcs, the Kanata and the Sasami arc make the most sense and fit in with the rest of the series. Saya’s arc made the least sense of all because she only exists in the alternate world and the four episode arc is the only time she is in the entire series. Her arc was also the weakest in that it ends with no resolution while the other two arcs have some kind of resolution even though they are shorter in length.

There was a decent amount of character development in Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection. Saya was an interesting character to say the least.  Apparently she and Riki met each other when they were children and that causes her to fall in love with him. She is also your run-of-the-mill tsundere that appears in every harem amine series. Sasami and Kanata are a bit more realistic but I can name other series where I have seen the cold/mysterious personalities. They are both every stand-offish and keep to themselves. However, both girls did grow as characters over their separate two episode arcs and eventually learned to trust and fall in love.

The animation was very pretty and the backgrounds did not take away from the characters. The voice actors did a good job of bringing the characters to life. The opening and closing songs were catchy and were fun to listen to. All in all, Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection was an interesting addition to the entire series.

Extras:

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection 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-

Little Busters! EX: Complete OVA Collection is an interesting addition to the Little Busters! series. I recommend this release to anyone who has seen the rest of the series.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection (anime review)

snafu-season-2Review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection

Director: Kei Oikawa

Studio: feel.

Author: Shotaro Suga

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: October 18, 2016

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

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School Life, Drama

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Haganai, Haganai: NEXT, Kokoro Connect, and Toradora!

The good, the bad, and the socially maladjusted are back!

Synopsis:

The stampede of recent events may have herded the awkward members of the Service Club into something closer to a real bonding, but the upcoming field trip to Kyoto threatens to reverse those tiny steps forward. Alongside a list of attractions to see, they will also be taking along a lot of emotional baggage, and helping others with their personal and romantic issues may just cause the entire luggage rack to collapse.

Between Hachiman’s growing realization of how much he can manipulate others, Yukino’s underlying battles with responsibility, and Yui’s shifting needs and insecurities, the tenuous thread that holds their relationship together is more fragile than ever. Even as the path ahead is strewn with psychological traps, the feelings that each of them refuse to acknowledge may end up being the true pitfall in My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection.

Commentary:

I was so excited to hear that My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection was finally being released. I loved the first season and I was really looking forward to the conclusion that My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection would give the story. Boy was I wrong about that conclusion because Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui end up not talking about their feelings at all and instead shove them all to the side so they can just be friends. There was no plot progression, actually it crawled at a snail’s pace and never really went anywhere, and the characters did not change or develop at all.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection starts off where the first season left off at the school festival and Hachiman’s behavior is explained to some degree. Then they all go off to Kyoto and that is where all the problems for our three main characters start. Hachiman decides to go off and change the outcome of one of the club’s projects and they did not care at all for how he handled it. Yukino’s older sister comes back into the story and just causes all sorts of trouble and eventually brings their mother into the picture because she is worried that Yukino is just copying her older sister and not becoming her own person. That situation is what forces Yukino to set her true feelings aside and it changed her personality. Yui is just too shy to say her true feelings and instead just wants everyone to be friends and get along. She knows that cannot happen but she still pushes for it every chance she gets.

The animation changed a bit from the first season but it still looks great. The colors are bright and lively and the backgrounds do not detract from the characters. The voice actors did a great job as always. The opening and closing animations were catchy and I found myself singing along with them within a few episodes.

Extras:

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations, a special animation, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

 

Overall Grade: B-

Even though I do not have much good to say about My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!: Complete Collection I did still enjoy it and I hope they decide to make a third season so that the story can be wrapped up. A girl can always wish, right?

Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia (anime review)

labyrinth-of-grisaiareview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection

Director: Motoki Tanaka

Studio: 8-bit

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 27, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes + 1 OVA / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Fan Service, School Life

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fruit of Grisaia

 

“Yuji, you are not allowed to die until you save the lives of five people.” – Asako

Synopsis:

Yuji Kazami fulfilled a promise, but that promise was made long before he reached Mihama Academy. The seeds of the future are sown as young Yuji’s family is ravaged and his psyche is shattered, only to be reshaped in the fires of violent training and war in The Labyrinth of Grisaia. However, Yuji’s saga continues as his past catches up with him, and he is defended by the most unlikely guardian angels in The Eden of Grisaia.

 

Follow the grisly journey as the boy is forced to become a man, and delve into the aftermath of The Fruit of Grisaia in this special complete edition that contains both parts of the untold story: Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection

 

Commentary:

The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection is the ending to a wonderful series named The Fruit of Grisaia. You must begin with Fruit then you move onto Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection. The Labyrinth of Grisaia is what is on the entire first disk and is the OVA that starts this release off. We learn all about Yuji’s past, including the good, the bad, and the really ugly. The Labyrinth of Grisaia also explains why Yuji is the way he is and also tells us where he learned his skills. Everything is coming to light because of meeting up with JB and having to be debriefed. While this is going on, the Mihama Academy girls find out about Yuji’s past and want to let him know they still care about him and they all love him in their own way. Personally, I do not believe a normal human being could survive what he went through. As for The Eden of Grisaia, it picks up right where The Labyrinth of Grisaia leaves off. The girls find out that Yuji has been framed for terrorist activities and set out to save him. That is the entire plot of The Eden of Grisaia in just a few words.

 

I loved the character development that happened in both The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection because it gives you more insight into the characters that we were introduced to in the first season. We finally learn all about Yuji and we also learn about his relationship with his sister. The girls also come into their own and mature throughout the series. JB is finally given some background and we learn why she does what she does. We are also introduced to Asako who took Yuji in when they saved him from his evil guardian. Asako really understood Yuji’s frame of mind when he was rescued and in the end she saved his life and gave him a reason to live.

 

The animation was beautiful and really worked for the setting of the series. The voice actors did an amazing job with their characters and you can tell they had some fun while working. The music added to the series as it was moving yet at the same time, it was just light enough to remind you that there is some comedy in the series.

 

Extras:

The Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: 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+

Labyrinth of Grisaia and Eden of Grisaia: Complete Collection is the perfect conclusion to The Fruit of Grisaia and I highly recommend it for an enjoyable watch. Be forewarned though, the age rating is there for a reason because there is a large amount of fan-service and adult language/situations in this series.

 

 

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.

Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series (anime review)

Dragonar-Academyreview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series

Director: Shunsuke Tada and Tomoyuki Kurokawa

Studio: C-Station

Author: Noboru Kimura

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: November 24, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray –DVD Combo Pac / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Fan Service, Harem, School Life, Ecchi

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: D

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Familiar of Zero

Synopsis:

Learning to ride and tame dragons comes easy to most students at Ansarivan Dragonar Academy.
Known by his fellow classmates as a “problem child”, hot tempered student Ash Blake is one of the only students who have yet to get his own dragon companion. Many of his fellow students also hate the fact he has a skill no one else has, the power to ride other’s dragons, any dragon. Poor Ash is the laughing stock at school because, despite his unfashionably large star-shaped brand that marks him as a future dragon master, he has nothing to show for it. His dragon has never appeared. However that day finally came, and Ash’s dragon awakes in full glory, but appears different than any dragon ever seen before—in the form of a beautiful girl! What’s worse, Ash soon discovers that this new dragon has attitude to spare, as she promptly informs him that she is the master, and he, the servant. Ash’s problems with dragon riding have only just begun.

Commentary:

Every once in a while an anime series comes along that looks like it’s going to be absolutely awesome. Then you watch it. Very few animes have disappointed more than Dragonar Academy. Two dimensional, excessively cliché characters, who do not know how to keep their clothes on, combined with lack of story and uninspired storytelling, and unfortunately, horribly excessive fan service (bordering on adult) combined to ruin a very promising premise. Anime is full of time honored clichés that never seem to disappear and Dragonar Academy is so packed full of them, it shows just how void this show is of any creativity or imagination. Giant bouncing breasts on all women characters, naked magic girls showing up from nowhere and mood swinging tsundere characters are ripe and abound in this series. It felt that it could not even do that right, not bringing anything original in, but more a copy/paste of many similar series that did equally as poorly.

There was hardly any plot in Dragonar Academy as it was abandoned, or completely sidetracked within the first three episodes. The premise behind it all was great but the execution was horrible. It seems as if they decided they could not fit everything from the source material into a twelve episode season, so they just did what they did. The characters were very boring and none seemed interesting in the least. None of them stood out from the others and made the series drag on.

I was also disappointed when I saw the dragons as I thought they would be more along the looks of a Chinese style dragon more instead of what was shown, which looks like a t-rex mated with a European style dragon and that was their kid. The dragons looked like a fantasy dragon with grossly exaggerated character designs. The dragons are also pushed into the background so that the fan service can take over the series. The rest of the art was okay but nothing special. The voice actors did a good job but I do not think anything could have made these characters interesting.

Extras:

Dragonar Academy: The Complete Series includes episode commentary, commercials, promotional videos, clean opening and closing animations, U.S. trailer, and Funimation Entertainment trailers as special features. This series was released with both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: D

Dragonar Academy was a letdown across the board. It had so much potential but they instead went the fan service way. I would recommend watching The Familiar of Zero or any other series like that instead of watching Dragonar Academy.

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.