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Maid Sama!: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray (anime review)

Maid Sama!Title: Maid Sama!: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Maid Sama!

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Hiro Fujiwara

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 27, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes + 1 OVA / 665 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Shoujo

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Special A and Ouran High School Host Club

No, he is not my boyfriend. He is just my creepy stalker.-Misaki Ayuzawa

I’ll come to save you as much as you want. I’ll make you fall for me as much as you wish.-Usui Takumi

Synopsis:

Misaki Ayuzawa has many problems in life. For starters, she is the first female student council president of the formerly all-male Seika High School and she is trying to get more girls to enroll for the next year. Then she works at a maid café in the next town, so no one from Seika High will run into her, so she can help her family out. But who does she run into but Usui Takumi, a classmate. This causes things to get very interesting, very fast! Toss in a handful of extremely annoying transfer students and the inevitable trip to the hot springs and everyone is going to end up in hot water one way or another. But Misaki is not going to let any of that stop her from maintaining order in the classroom and taking orders in the tea room. Will Usui Takumi spill the beans about Misaki Ayuzawa? Will Misaki be able to handle the stress of working and being student council president? You will have to watch Maid Sama! and find out.

Commentary:

Maid Sama!: The Complete Collection is far from the regular romance genre anime and that is exactly why I loved it so much. If you are the hopeless romantic type of person, you will love how this series defines your anime dream romance to a “T”. Every episode gives you a chance to say “Awww” while also shaking your head at the main characters. But the ending is worth it. The comedy part of this series is also spot-on. Maid Sama! will have you laughing so hard that you cry in quite a few episodes.

The character development in Maid Sama! is interesting to say the least. Usui is the male main character and he has an adorable chibi form that appears whenever he is teasing Misaki. He is aloof and great at everything he tries. Misaki is your stereotypical tsundere character but eventually she shows more kindness over her aggressiveness. Plus she is adorable in her maid outfit. Usui and Misaki have wonderful chemistry together and the series does a good job showing it. There are many background and supporting characters in Maid Sama! but my favorites have to be the Three Morons. They make things interesting to say the least.

The art work was standard and nothing really stood out. However, the scenes did look good, but not great. The Japanese voice actors did a great job of bringing the characters to life. Personally, however, I did not care for the English dubbed version. The opening and closing animations were well done and the songs were catchy and enjoyable to listen to. I found myself humming the songs after a few episodes.

The OVA episode, or the last episode on the third disk, does not add anything to the series but it is really worth watching. It is a cute, fun episode albeit short. They could have made the OVA really special by extending the final scenes of the series. But at least Maid Sama! has an ending and a happy one at that.

Extras:

Maid Sama!: The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This release also included the OVA for the series and has a new English dub track.

Overall Grade: B+

I really enjoyed Maid Sama! and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys rom-coms. The episodes seem to fly-by and leave you wanting to watch the next one.

My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy: The Complete Collection
 (anime review)

My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy: The Complete Collection
review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy: The Complete Collection


Director: Takayuki Inagaki

Studio: Diomedea

Author: Hiroko Kanasugi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: November 11, 2014

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes and 1 OVA / 275 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Harem, School

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Date A Live, Excel Saga, The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat

Choose…

Synopsis:

Thanks to a very strange curse called “Absolute Choice,” Kanade Amakusa’s life has turned into a “choose your own adventure” game from the depths of Hades. A series of options that seem designed to cause him the maximum amount of duress and/or public embarrassment randomly appear in front of him, and if he does not choose one he suffers agonizing headaches. Due to his bizarre behavior because of this curse, Kanade is branded as one of his school’s five worst social misfits, and things get even weirder when he chooses one of the strangest options yet: “have a beautiful girl fall from the sky.” Not only does the sweet and adorable Chocolat drop on him like a bag of rocks, but she seems to have been sent to help remove the curse! However, she cannot remember how to because she has amnesia. But it has something to do with the missions this flippant God has him perform, and if he fails to achieve the objective of any of them he will be stuck with the curse for life! Will Kanade be able to complete all his missions and get rid of this cruse for life? You will have to watch My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy and find out.

Commentary:

My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy is a story about choices. We make them every day. Some we put a lot of thought into, and some we do not. Imagine if you are issued the choices for you to choose from. You cannot deviate or severe pain will result. Now imagine that your choices are absurd, and any one of them will damage you some way or another. That’s what you get with this series. It falls into the over the top comedy category, which really does not have many choices, because they all usually range from “meh” to “why am I watching this stupid….” This one chose to be better than that. Combining an absurd storyline, absurdly cute girls, and an even more absurd situation, picking up this one is a choice that you will not regret.

Overall this series (too long to keep naming) does touch into several other genres other than romcom, but it never really looses that romcom feel. I know it can be classified as a harem, and that is its second strongest category, but falls short of it in feel. The humor is strong with this one and looking for something other than the humor would be a poor choice. The characters were developed as much as you would expect. Some were developed better than others, and most fell into the standard archetypes like tsundere, kun-dere, dere-dere, imouto, etc., nothing too unexpected. It even makes fun of itself and this very issue in the later episodes. One thing that was different was the main character, Kanade, who seemed a bit underdeveloped at times. If it were not for the curse, he would have been a very boring main character. Another thing this series was strong in was the ‘moe’. If the three main female characters got any cuter, it would have hurt. With such characters, a series usually dives deep into the fan service, but this one kept it light. A few shots here and there and most had a point that related to the story, not just for the sake of exhibitionism.

The art was nothing special, with exception of character design of the named females. They chose to take special care in making them sickenly cute and colorful. Outside of that the scenes where normal. The occasional CG worked in was annoying, but I always find CG worked in with regular animation annoying, and the overall backgrounds were nothing special. Sadly as I write this, I cannot really remember the opening and endings themes, so they were nothing special either. Your standard J-pop with character scenes. But those are not the reasons to choose this anime. You choose it for the comedy or the moe, or if you want to rile the flippant god, choose it for both.
Extras:

My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy: The 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

My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy: The Complete Collection is a weird series but it is also very funny. Be advised though that there are a few dirty moments in some episodes. Watch out for episode nine especially.

Kampfer: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Kampfer: The Complete CollectionReview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Kampfer: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yasuhiro Kuroda

Studio: Nomad

Author: Toshihiko Tsukiji

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 23, 2014

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes + 2 OVA’s / 350 Minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, School, Super Power

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Ikki tousen, IS: Infinite Stratos, and Sekirei

Synopsis:

Waking up transformed into a beautiful girl might be the stuff of some guys’ fantasies, but when the suddenly effeminized Natsuru is informed by a stuffed tiger that he is now a Kampfer, a mystical fighter who has to fight other Kampfers in female form, his life becomes a living nightmare. Putting aside the obvious issues of turning into a girl, Natsuru’s best childhood friend turns out to swing the other way and she has a crush on his new female body. But that is not complex enough for Natsuru as his school has separate sections for boys and girls, so he and she are now double enrolled. The rumor-mill is running wild saying that he is dating herself. Then there are those other crazy Kampfers who want to take her out. But does that mean on a date or permanently?

Things get even trickier when Natsuru becomes convinced that it would be a good idea to move in with his three Kampfer friends for their “mutual defense.” Natsuru must become a full-fledged wonder woman or die trying in this full-contact, no-holds-barred, Amazon action-fest that is Kampfer: The Complete Collection.
Commentary:

Let me start by saying I am somewhat separating this review. Kampfer: The Complete Collection is true to its name as it included both the TV series and the OVAs on this Blu-ray edition. I am extremely happy to see that they grouped them together instead of separating them, not making you have to buy an additional set to finish it off. Good work Sentai Filmworks!

Kampfer: The Complete Collection is a series that packs a lot in. Want action? Fighting? There’s some of that. Romance? Yep, got it. Echhi fan service? Why not. Comedy and humor? Boy you want a lot don’t ya, but it’s in there. A poor high school boy that wakes up one day to find that ‘its’ not there anymore, replaced by the parts of the other sex, and a disemboweled stuffed animal tiger with an eye patch, is talking to him, telling him he is now a Kampfer? Yep, just what you wanted, right? You ask for a lot. But that’s not a problem. You can have all this, and without the need for a shrink afterwards. Awesome! Kampfer: The Complete Collection is that series.

Kampfer: The Complete Collection manages to combine all those attributes and does it successfully. Not overpowering any one aspect, it covers all you could ever want from a series like this, except for being a bit more unique. It does share many of the same themes as other series, with a few exceptions. The male lead is forced to become a female to fight. That’s a bit different. Another thing is that though action is considered a main theme, there was some, but never was it a main theme. No crazy multi-episode bouts, with heavy destruction and the elimination of a character. Just kinda fun little skirmishes meant to keep things lively. The other thing that sets it way apart is character development. Most of the time character development will be non-existent in series with similar themes. Kampfer took the time to develop the characters, and give each their own personalities.

Kampfer: The Complete Collection is a very funny anime series to say the least. The humor, though not necessarily blatant, is clouded in heavy innuendo and sexual jokes. They don’t say what they mean outright, but anyone with any intelligence will know what they are going for. Not quite over the top but close. Kampfer does primarily focus on echhi and romance, and has a shounen fighting feel to it at times, but that does not last too long, and neither is overpowering one or the other. Though it seems every girl in that school ‘prefers the company of other girls’, it hardly stops whatever romance they can come up with. There was fan service for those who like it, again not too overpowering or dominating everything else out of the equation.

The two OVA episodes are the continuation of season one of Kampfer and explain what really happened after the final battle of the series. They also added an additional special episode just for the laughs. If you liked the original Kampfer, you will also like this one. There are more girl on girl battles, more guy trying to figure out how to be girl while trying to handle a love, multi pointed two-dimensional object crazier than any triangle, and more all female harems. That and fan-service; must not forget the fan-service. There was a ton of comedy in the two OVA episodes but there was also a ton of fan-service, much more in these two episodes than in the entire TV series in my opinion.

The animation was pretty good and the opening and closing themes were catchy. The voice actors did an amazing job and really brought the characters to life. I really wish that Kampfer: The Complete Collection had wrapped up the series because I hate that I do not know what will happen in the end. The story line was actually interesting and they could have made additional episodes or a movie to wrap everything up. They really had a good concept with the Kampfer’s fighting battles on earth that decided the future of far away planets. They could have done so much more but I am hopeful that eventually they wrap up everything and release either more episodes or a movie.

Extras:

Kampfer: The Complete Collection includes the short animation “Amazing Bowel Familiars”, clean opening and closing animations, and Sentai Filmworks trailers. This release is only available in Japanese language with English subtitles.

Overall Grade: B

Kampfer: The Complete Collection is a really interesting anime and I recommend it for anyone who is into the fighting ecchi genre of anime.

Stella Women’s Academy High School Division Class C³: The Complete Collection

Stella Women’s Academy High School Review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Stella Women’s Academy High School Division Class C³: The Complete Collection

Director: Masayoshi Kawajiri

Studio: Gainax

Author: Getsumin Ikoma

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 2, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy, School, Sports, Military, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating:C

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Girls und Panzer and Upotte!!

Synopsis:

Yura Yamato has just arrived at Stella Women’s Academy. She transferred in wanting to avoid people from her old school, seeking a “new life” because her shy nature has made her a social outcast at her middle school. On her first day she remains shy, but is overwhelmed with requests to join a club called C³, who are lacking members. After finding out her roommate Sonora was also part of the club, she was again extended an invitation to join. It quickly becomes clear that the girls of Stella Women’s Academy are VERY different. She joins C³ (which stands for Command, Control and Communications) whose main afterschool activity is playing survival games! It’s not a typical teenage girl pastime, but Sonora and her trigger-happy friends are seriously into it. The question that puts Yura in the crosshairs of a dilemma is if she has what it takes to join up, stand up, and deliver in the face of friendly fire.

Commentary:

Stella Women’s Academy High School Division Class C³: The Complete Collection on its face looked to be another notch in the belt of the “cute girls doing cute things” slice of life genre, a genre that has had a few successful entries in the last two years. Right off the bat, it wastes no time starting out as a “cute girls doing cute things” series. Cute girls playing war games with airsoft guns. What’s not to like? The main story line revolves around Yura, the quiet newbie that everyone continuously tries to get to come out of her shell. It continues on its way the way all the others did. It looked like it was gonna be a cliché addition to all the rest. At this point you are looking for something to differentiate one series from another. Then out of nowhere it changes. Suddenly it adds a supernatural link. A deity from feudal Japan suddenly joins the story line, to teach someone that they have some special power. The artistry in this portion is quite good. At first it seemed it would be quite an intriguing addition. You are suddenly drawn back in wondering where they may take this. You think of how this could make the series very unique. They focus on it quite strongly… For one episode… Then it returned back to the slice of life it was beforehand completely forgetting that a feudal deity ever even appeared. Then out of nowhere it changes once again. Then it becomes a motivational story line. How with hard work, you can do anything. That lasted for maybe one and a half episodes. After that it quickly becomes completely serious, a lesson teacher. Suddenly morals come into play. It’s now a story about how a character loses sight of what’s really important while chasing a dream and how she works to gain it back. This at least sticks around for a few episodes. Then once again, all is forgotten and returns back to being cute. This discombobulated mess tends to leave you scratching your head. Don’t get me wrong. Individually, they are all good ideas to go with this type of series, to help further expand the normally weak story line. But the problem is that they cannot seem to choose a direction of which they want to go. And this odd range of choices does not go well together, since they can’t seem to pick which one they really want to go with. And they change the idea as quickly as a quack experimental anime. I wish they would have choose one and stuck with it.
The character development was pretty decent. Even at the end you tend to see everyone is likeable, and that each have individual, and maybe a little cliché, but developed personalities. You even tend to like the person you least expected to like. The art was standard. Not anything special, except the details of the supernatural scene, and the weapons. None actually look like airsoft unless you see them loading and charging them. With no differentiating characteristics from the real thing, you would probably be arrested for having one in Japan. The battle background music caught my ear quickly, being a nice higher tempo modern jazz piece. The opening and ending were nothing special either. Overall I had high hopes for this one and they made sure to quash them at every turn.
Extras:

Stella Women’s Academy High School Division Class C³: The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series was released with only Japanese language with English subtitles.

Overall Grade: C

While I enjoyed watching Stella Women’s Academy High School Division Class C³: The Complete Collection, it fell short of what it could have been.

WataMote-No Matter How I look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!: Complete Collection

Watamotereview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: WataMote-No Matter How I look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Onuma

Studio: Silver Link

Author: Takao Yoshioka

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: August 26, 2014

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

Genre: Comedy, School, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and Welcome to the NHK

Synopsis:

Tomoko Kuroki has already dated many boys and she is easily the most popular girl around at the young age of 15, however the only problem is that none of that has actually happened! Tomoko’s perfect little world only exists in dating games and romance shows on T.V. The sad truth is that she is unable to actually talk to people and she only had one actual friend in middle school. This makes Tomoko’s first year of high school miserable. She wants to be popular but she ends up trying too hard and learns that things so not play out the same in reality as they do in her “otome” games. She is in for a lot of pain and blames a new person every time she fails. Will Tomoko ever make a friend at school or is she doomed to be lonely for ever? You will have to watch WataMote and find out.

Commentary:

WataMote is a true slice-of-life anime as each episode gives us a daily view into the life of Tomoko. We see her at school, at home annoying her brother, and on summer break. Her days are filled with fantasying, video games, television, and her continual thoughts on why she is a ‘mojyo’(the anime provides a definition in the first and last scenes, but basically it’s an unpopular, dateless, unwanted, untouched female). In a nutshell, WataMote is the painful story of a painfully anti-social girl’s painful life. Some will relate to Tomoko and others will just shake their heads. She cannot interact with anyone, except maybe her own family, or people much younger than her. Every time someone speaks to her, they are greeted with stuttering, mumbling, and a constant view of her hair, as she stares at the ground, unable to even fake eye contact. There are not many characters because the entire story is about the life of Tomoko and without friends or the ability to interact with people, there is few people in her life. This first person perspective limited you to her views, ideas, and criticisms of the other characters. And she does have a lot of criticism for all who have ignored her, usually laced with dirty jokes and profanity. The plot progression is very lifelike, as in nonexistent. If you are able to relate to Tomoko then the progression will be very close to how life actually is. However, if you are on the other side you will not understand why the word ‘hello’ is so hard to say.

WataMote is a series that you will either enjoy or hate. This series dares to be different and wastes no time on romanticizing high school life. Instead it portrays it for what many of us really saw it for, a sad place that you are forced to endure for eight hours a day. Few anime series have had the courage to do this. That being said, I found that some of the episodes seemed to go on forever and some of the episodes seemed to be very similar to other episodes. The ending also upset me because it abruptly ended and gave no closure to Tomoko’s problem and the main plot line in the series. She at times would contradict herself, always wanting to be extremely popular, yet in the next sentence complain about how she cannot lead the life of a neet. In the end she gained nothing and was unchanged. I think they did this in hopes of a second season, or maybe so that you would check out the manga. Or in all truth, maybe she never changes and this will be her life. Either way there is no conclusion. She continually fails to understand that life is nothing like dating sims, or video games. The opening animation was definitely fitting for the mood of the series. Not often does a screaming heavy metal rage piece fit, but here it fit so perfectly, with the transitions of Tomoko screaming into the opening worked and set the tone for what to expect. The ending was a pretty normal j-poppy song with Tomoko singing over it at certain parts like bad karaoke, cute, but not really special. Overall, if you are another Tomoko, or have any ability to relate in any way, you will enjoy WataMote.

Extras:

WataMote includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai trailers as special features. This series includes both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options. Both are good options, it just depends on your viewing preference.

Overall Grade: B

I found WataMote to be an interesting series. However, just remember that this series is a little strange and has many dirty jokes and rough language running through it. As long as you are prepared for those things I think many people may enjoy this interesting, off the wall anime.

 

KinMoza! Kiniro + Mosaic: Complete Collection

KinMoza!review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: KinMoza! Kiniro + Mosaic: Complete Collection

Director: Motoki Tanaka

Studio: Studio Gokumi

Author: Yuniko Ayana

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: August 26, 2014

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

Genre: Comedy, School, Slice of Life

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: K-On! and A-Channel

The British are invading Japan once again.

Synopsis:

Shinobu Omiya loves anything and everything English. While still in middle school, Shinobu had the amazing opportunity to join an exchange program and was able to study in England. Funny thing, she still has problems in her high school English class. The daughter of the family she stayed with in England, Alice Cartelet, decides that it is her turn to study abroad so she comes to Japan to attend high school. Hilarity ensues once Alice meets Shinobu’s friends Yoko and Aya. Then Alice’s friend, Karen, shows up and nothing will ever be the same again. Will Shinobu be able to pass her English class? Will Alice and Karen find their place in the Japanese high school? You will have to watch KinMoza! Kiniro + Mosaic: Complete Collection and find out.

Commentary:

KinMoza! Kiniro + Mosaic: Complete Collection is a very heartwarming anime that brings entertainment and relaxation to its viewers. It is a funny, yet entertaining show that anyone can and will enjoy. However, you will not find any fan-service or complex storylines in KinMoza!, but do not let that keep you from watching this amazing series. The first episode is a little weird and full of Engrish, but do not be frightened as it is not how the rest of the episodes are. The story line flows well for being a slice-of-life anime and the art reminds me of Kiki’s Delivery Service, especially the scenes set in England.

KinMoza! mainly focused on five characters. Those characters include Aya, Karen, Shinobu, Alice and Yoko. Of those characters, I would say that Shinobu and Alice are the main characters with the other girls being a close second. Shinobu, or Shino as her friends call her, is your normal 15-year old air headed girl who is extremely fascinated with foreigners, especially blonde girls. She can get into loads of trouble unless someone looks after her. She dreams of being an interpreter, but she needs to pass English first. Alice is your typical blonde moe loli that likes Shino. Alice is probably the most level headed people in the group, although she finds herself embarrassed when she is in strange situations. Yoko is the energetic and loud big sister of the cast and is described as a convenience store by Karen because of how dependable she is. Aya is bright and graceful but is also timid and shy occasionally. She displays tsundere tendencies towards Yoko. I also think she is in love with Yoko. Finally, Karen is the other English transfer student. She is a half-British and half-Japanese girl who is very energetic, almost more than Yoko. She is also very outgoing and not afraid to show her emotions. Karen loves to make Alice jealous by saying that she loves Shino more than her. That makes for some very interesting scenes.

KinMoza! shows the everyday lives of these five friends that are filled with humorous situations. The characters are drawn so well that they jump to life off the screen and the seiyuus, or voice actors, did an amazing job on making you love these characters. I am so happy that the slice-of-life genre of anime is coming back around because you really can get drawn into the series if you enjoy the characters.
Extras:

KinMoza! Kiniro + Mosaic: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai trailers as special features. This series was released with Japanese with English subtitles as the only language option.

Overall Grade: A-

KinMoza! is one of the most enjoyable animes I have seen in a while. If you enjoy anime series that are the cute girls doing cute things genre then you will love KinMoza!.

 

Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends NEXT-The Complete Series (anime review)

Haganai I Don’t Have Many Friends NEXT-The Complete Seriesreview provided by Andrew and Katie

 

Title: Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends NEXT-The Complete Series

Director: Toru Kitahata

Studio: AIC Build

Author: Yomi Hirasaka

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: May 13, 2014

Format and Length: DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Harem

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Mayo Chiki!, Oreimo, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Toradora!, and Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends

 

Maybe I do not realize I have friends…

 

Synopsis:

Kodaka and the rest of the gang from the Neighbors Club are back and up to their same tricks again in Haganai: NEXT.  From friendship to romance, things get a little more serious in Haganai: NEXT. New feelings are shown and the relationship between Kodaka and Yozora, Sena, and Rika reaches another level. How will Kodaka deal with that because he has never been in a situation like this before? Will he be able to face these new feelings and say what he really thinks about the girl or will he just run away. You will have to watch Haganai: NEXT to find out.

 

Commentary:

Haganai: NEXT continues where the first season left off, as the Neighbors Club is up to its usual antics. But it’s a little different from the first season. Haganai: NEXT focuses more on character development more than anything else, putting the comedy part of this romantic comedy as more a second concern than a primary focus. The story line is kinda episodic at first, mainly revolving around the activities of the Neighbors Club, but does start to come together after a few episodes and is not as disjointed as the first season. It also focuses on the characters actually dealing with their feelings instead of making fun of each other with the massive use of innuendo, sexual jokes and sexual harassment. Haganai: NEXT is a bit more serious than its predecessor, but humor is still a highly prevalent theme of the series. Haganai: NEXT is a fun anime and you can get caught into it making it very easy to absorb.

 

Haganai: NEXT did a wonderful job with character development and those developed characters endear you to this series more than ever. Of all the characters in Haganai: NEXT, Rika is the one that grew the most. Throughout the entire first season Rika played the part of the science nerd and acted very perverted because as she says, she would be a boring person if people only thought of her as the genius girl. In Haganai: NEXT the changes to her character begin slowly. Her hairstyle is changed at first and it takes Kodaka a couple of episodes to notice and then she begins to cosplay different anime characters to see if he notices the changes in her. Eventually she confronts Kodaka because she notices that he was just playing ignorant to the feelings of herself, Yozora, and Sena. It is very clear that Rika is the only one in the club who knows the most about Kodaka’s feelings and fears. By the end of this season, she finally has a friend for the first time in her life. Rika seems to be coming into her own personality now instead of focusing on how people want her to be. I also really like Kobato’s character. Kobato is Kodaka’s younger sister that he takes care of while his father is away working. She attends the middle school that is attached to the high school, Saint Chronica’s, and was able to join the Neighbors Club. She has a penchant for darkness, vampires, and the macabre and usually dresses as her favorite character from the anime “Full Metal Necromancer” that exists in the series unless she is at school. She also seems to have a brother complex due to her jealous behavior and clingy ways whenever she feels slighted because her brother, or An-Chan as she calls Kodaka, is not giving her the attention she believes she deserves. However, she is so adorable that you cannot help but say aww.

 

Once again for this season the voice actors and actresses were amazing. They really bring the characters to life along with the awesome art. The eyes of the characters are so big that you feel they can see right into your soul and draw you into the series. I really hope that there is a third season or a four to six episode OVA to wrap up the series. The ending was left wide open and a conclusion would be nice.

Extras:

Haganai: NEXT includes commentaries for episodes 7, 11, and 12, “Black Dragon: The Cries of the Damned,” clean opening and closing animations, Blu-Ray and DVD spots, T.V. Spots, U.S. Trailer, and Funimation trailers as special features.

 

Overall Grade: B+

Haganai: NEXT is an enjoyable anime that shines light on the characters from the first season and adds a few new ones. After watching Haganai: NEXT I feel more connected to the characters than after watching the first season. There is not as much fan-service as the first season but there is some. I loved the romance element in this season as well as the comedy.

The Familiar of Zero: Season One Complete Collection (anime review)

The Familiar of Zeroreview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: The Familiar of Zero: Season One Complete Collection

Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Studio: J.C. Staff

Author: Noboru Yamaguchi

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: April 8, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, School, Harem

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Shakugan no Shana and Toradora!

Synopsis:

Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere’s name is so long and her spell-casting skills are so poor that everyone at the Tristain Academy of Magic just calls her “Louise the Zero”. Louise’s humiliation only increases during an important second-year test, where the other students summon up mythological creatures as their familiars, and she inexplicably summons a human named Saito, a totally normal teenage boy from Tokyo. Now she’s stuck with him and Saito’s stuck with the lousy life of being a familiar. Except, maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye, because Saito’s not prepared to accept the social inequities that Louise and other aristocrats consider the status quo, and he may not be quite as normal as everyone thinks. And the reason Louise is so bad at magic might just be that she has yet to figure out what she is good at. In fact, they might even have the makings of a great team… if they can learn to stand each other first, that is!

Commentary:

When first picking up The Familiar of Zero, at first glance it doesn’t look to be much more than a standard cliché love comedy, harem anime. It has all the usual suspects, and has kind of the same set up. The standard leads are the under-developed tsundere, the well endowed easy girl, the quiet bookworm that you know could kick butt if she has to, and the unsuspecting innocent girl. All these are old cliché character archetypes, all used over and over again, over many series. In all truth, these clichés hold pretty firm throughout the series. But it was not the cliché characters that made this series fun to watch, it was how well they were utilized. The first thing you will notice different from the status quo is the male lead. In most harem love comedies, the male lead is beta, shy, and socially inept, and we always wonder what the girls see in him. Saito does not properly fit that mold. He is hardly the mamma’s boy we expect. He’s a bit of a playboy, seems to have guts, and never backs down if he feels spited. Oh and he had no issues flirting with the ladies, a typical teenage boy, for once. Outside of that, the character development is a bit lacking. The story is based in a cliché setting, a school named Tristain Academy of Magic, seeming quite similar to a very popular children’s book about a boy wizard. You know the one. Of course this looks to be a standard middle ages european style setting. And the magic is based on basic elementals, nothing new here. But all the cliché stuff hardly detracts from the series. Its strengths are the character interactions and the comedy anyway. At first you will probably watch The Familiar of Zero with a bit of reluctance, but that will all vanish quickly as the story picks up.

Louise, a member of a high ranking noble family with a history of producing powerful mages, seems to be the odd ball of the family, having little to no magical ability. As a second year student, she must, as all the others must, summon a familiar, to be a lifetime companion. She is extremely worried, because she is so inept she couldn’t summon a hungry cat, standing in front of her with a piece of meat. As the others summon their familiars, she prays and cowers in fear, praying she will be able to summon anything. As she does, everyone watches in astonishment as she manages to summon a boy. A peasant boy. In a world where peasants basically are slaves to the nobility, can anything be more embarrassing than summoning a peasant boy? Anyway what is done is done, and she has to keep him. The rules forbid she do anything else. Saito, confused after being ripped from his world to this one, is quickly surprised when Louise seals the deal with a kiss. Saito is quite reluctant in his new role, as a familiar. He has no regard for the hierarchy that is in place, separating nobility from peasantry, and practically enslaving them. It does not help that Louise treats him like nothing more than a dog. Of course Saito seems to be completely useless, being a human and not a creature, he seems to have little to offer Louise as a familiar, until he insults a peer of Louise’s names Guiche, and does not back down from a challenge to duel him. The comedy quickly picks up and becomes the main stable of the show. The story line does have its good points, but at times you may find it predictable. But even so, you will laugh.

Extras:

The Familiar of Zero includes extended episode previews, Japanese promos, clean opening and closing animations and Sentai trailers as special features.

Overall Grade: A-

Even with all its clichés and predictability, The Familiar of Zero, is a well done comedy. Also a quick note to Sentai Filmworks, please release the seasons that follow this one unlike the last company that released this title. We beg you.

Ebiten: The Complete Collection (anime review)

Ebiten: The Complete Collectionreview provided by Katie

Title: Ebiten: The Complete Collection

Director: Hideki Okamoto

Studio: AIC Classic

Author: Kira Inugami and SCA-ji

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 2

U.S. Release Date: April 1, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 10 Episodes + OVA / 275 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Parody, Harem, School

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Maria Holic and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Sometimes friendship is all about chemistry! And sometimes chemistry is just about blowing stuff up!

Synopsis:

What do you get when you take one group of crazy fan girls with questionable grips on reality, toss out all rules of proper social behavior and mix them together in a basement with more twisted anime parodies and allusions than you can imagine? Besides a recipe for disaster, hilarity ensues when you meet the members of the Astronomical Club where mayhem rules and the wall between the real world and total fantasy crumbles at least once every five minutes.
Commentary:

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Or so the old adage says. Ebiten: The Complete Collection takes this concept and completely warps it to something that can only be described as beyond over the top. Parodies are hard to accomplish and are often done incorrectly, becoming nothing more than a mockery of what they intend to pay tribute to. For the most part this is not the case. The story revolves around the adventures of the members of the Ebisugawa High School “Asstronomy” Club. That’s their spelling, not mine. Gotta love Japanese wordplay jokes. It’s a small club that’s not really all that popular, has few members, no budget or funding, an absent teacher adviser, being shoved into a small room in the basement of the oldest part of the school, and has a club president who does not participate, and wants to disband the club for any reason she can find. But all that doesn’t discourage the members from their daily activities.

Ebiten: The Complete Collection’s story mostly revolves around Kyouko Todayama, the unofficial head of, and most outspoken member of the club. Her only check is Hasumi Ooba, club vice president, and she really only intervenes when Todayama goes too far. But that scale is full of blurry lines and undefined limits that nearly don’t exist. And with little adult supervision, since the teacher sponsor, Shouko Oomori is more interested in ‘pursuing’ her love life, and her lover for that matter, than doing her job, she leaves her cat Oomori Neko Sensei in charge, and of course, the cat rubberstamps everything with a “nyan”, the adventures get quite crazy. Followed by Rikei Hiromatsu, the quiet and obedient member with a strange fetish, Hakata Kanamori, the club’s ditzy cosplayer, manga and dojinshi collector, and easy target for jokes and fan service, and freshman member Itsuki Noya, the story revolves around the club’s atypical activities, which has little to do astronomy, minus a small reference from time to time. Throw in Izumiko, aka Elizabeth, an unexpected visitor from a different school, Yuka Iseda, the unsupportive club president, and member of the student council, and the poor unsuspecting man Shouko is stalking, and you get Ebiten: The Complete Collection.

Though the story is a bit off the wall, chaotic, changes from a bit from one episode to another, and kinda seems written as they went, there was lots of humor to be had. Of course the story line was second to the parodies, and had to change a little to match what they were doing a parody of. Each episode parodies a different anime, and some of the parodies followed the characters themselves. When watching it, I found myself more concerned with trying to figure out what they were doing a parody of, than how consistent the story line was. Ultimately I did find it difficult to pick out a few of the animes they were doing a parody of, because at least half of them never made it here, or are old and have been forgotten, having been out of print since the 90s. At one point I had to look it up online to find a few of them, but for some reason I enjoyed doing all that. Normally if you have to work to understand something, they are doing it wrong, but not in this case. I have to mention though that I am old enough to remember most of the older animes they parodied, so I did have that advantage, and it added even more enjoyment, remembering the early days of anime, before it was cool, mass produced, or easily obtained. Also I need to note that there was fan service, quite often just to have it, but it’s nothing really excessive or over done.

Extras:

Ebiten: The Complete Collection includes Heart Throb Hot Springs, Japanese commercials and promos, music videos, clean opening and closing animations, and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features.

Overall Grade: B

Ebiten: The Complete Collection will make you laugh with all the parodies they use in each episode. You have been warned.

Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor (anime review)

Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutorreview provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA “Shugaku Toshi Keppu-Roku”

Director: Series-Koichi Ohata  OVA-Rion Kujo

Studio: Series-TNK  OVA-Arms

Author: Series-Koichi Ohata  OVA-Koichi Ohata

U.S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U.S. Release Date: March 11, 2014

Format and Length: DVD / 12 Episodes + 1 OVA / 300 Minutes

Genre: Action, Ecchi, Martial Arts, School, Super Power

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: C

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Ikki-Tousen

Synopsis:

The fourth season of Ikki-Tousen delivers double the ditz when Hakufu gets a disciple. But training a pupil is tiring work and catching some sleep at random times puts a delay on her dreams of combat conquest. Hakufu is ready to rumble when word of a tournament gets around and that is when a sinister force sabotages the rival schools’ into submission. Can Hakufu muscle her way to victory and save all her friends from repeating their fatal past? You will have to watch Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA to find out.

Commentary:

I can only describe Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA as more of the same that you come to expect from the series. The story line, however small it was, moved at a very fast pace and I was lost most of the time. There are many flashbacks right off the bat in the first episode that can confuse you if you have not watched the first season of Ikki-Tousen lately.

However, they did decide to introduce two new characters, Kentei the self-proclaimed “True King” and Mouki Bachou, Hakufu’s disciple.  Kentei is the one planning a new tournament for the Great Fighters so he can force them to fulfill their destiny from eighteen hundred years ago. He lures each fighter with a Magatama to an island under the name of Nanban High School where may hardships await them. Mouki Bachou’s main objective is to fight and win a battle against the person who killed her precious older brother and that person is Sousou Moutoku , the head of Kyoshou Academy. Mouki can be described as being reckless, oblivious to her own limitations, and a leaping and kicking disaster in pink sneakers. I saw her as the comedic relief among the massive amounts of fan-service.

The characters were drawn well and the fight scenes were interesting. However, the fight scenes overpowered everything else in the series because they took up most of the episode time. The rest of the time was spent filling the screen with fan-service aka shirt shredding and looking up skirts for panty shots. The plot is Ikki-Tousen classic, girls from different schools fighting until their clothing shreds apart. Nothing special there but with the two new characters added in this season we do see some character development, but not much.

The OVA, Shugaku Toshi Keppu-Roku, the three major schools are off to Kyoto seeking spiritual energy tokens called Tsubas. You also finally get an explanation for why there are no innocent bystanders hurt during the battles. Shugaku Toshi Keppu-Roku is supposed to be the sequel to Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series but it feels more like an abbreviated retelling of the series.  Nothing special in the plot or characters but it was nice to get a refresher for the series.

Extras:

Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA includes “Six Dreamy Views,” promotional videos, clean opening and closing animations, Japanese commercial, U.S. Trailer, Funimation Entertainment trailers, and episode commentary as Special Features. Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA has English and Japanese languages with Japanese subtitles.

Overall Grade: C

Ikki-Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor-The Complete Series Plus OVA has an extreme amount of fan-service and it takes away from the story line. However, it is an okay anime for what it is.