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Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior: Complete Collection (anime review)

kawai-complex-guide-blu-rayTitle: Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Shigeyuki Miya

Anime Writer: Takeshi Konuta

Original Creator: Ruri Miyahara

Studio: Brian’s Base

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Film Works, Section 23 Films

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

Format: DVD / 12 Episodes & OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Seinen, Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

 

Synopsis:

Some say a home is where your heart is. Others say that a home is where you send people whose brains aren’t functioning quite properly. So, when Kazunari Usa’s parents send him to the Kawai Boarding House while they work abroad, it may take a while to figure out whether this is really his new home, let alone what kind of home it is.

On the one hand, his new roommate is a pervert and a masochist who peeps at girls’ schools, while his new landlady thinks leaving a variety of weapons lying around the girl’s area is a proper form of feminine protection. And when it comes to the trouble-making college girl and the perpetually grumpy working woman… well, let’s just say that those two have some serious issues to work out. On the other hand, Kawai is also home to Ritsu Kawai, who stole Usa’s heart from the first second he saw her on his first day at his new high school. And that alone may just make living in this strange new house worth it!

Commentary:

Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior is a simple straight forward coming of age high school romantic comedy. The comedy aspect is what is front and center with this silly story. The love story is between two rather shy kids who for their own reasons aren’t able to show their true feelings, but as the series progresses things are clear that they are headed to a similar place. The strength is based on the comic relief and the other main characters who give us the extraverted side of the tale. From the very beginning the humor is pushing some boundaries with several of the characters, but they hold the situation back just enough to keep things on a relative level playing field. It would have been very easy for the writers to go too far with the perversion that a couple of the characters clearly would like to exhibit.

The other strength happens to be the animation and much of the background and the use of highlights and polished surfaces. With in the first few minutes I was reminded of the work of Mikoto Shinkia. The work my not reach that high of a quality, but it clearly show how the rest of the anime world has watched and learned the power of reflection and highlights. I found the school hallways and classrooms to exhibit much of the slick styling and one you get to the Kawai Complex there is a great deal of time spent on the polished floor and the rich look it provides. There was even an obligatory  railroad crossing scene early one that cemented some of the reference to Shinkai.

Overall Grade: B+

Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior is a silly and light comedy that gives us all hope that two rather shy sweet kids can connect even in a world of absurdity swirling around them. Innocence still has its place in todays world and thanks to show like this it is honored and showcased. I would recommend this for the younger crowed but can’t because of the perverted humor that is found in every episode. It is a good story for those 13, 14 and 15 year old girls who want to watch a silly show about a shy bookworm and a sweet nice guy. But, I am sure that the majority of the fan base will be 20 something guys who like slick production and plenty of silly humor and cute gils.

I really did enjoy Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior even if it did come cross a little heavy handed form time to time. The animation is stellar for a 13 episode series and the writing kept pace and the story was able to survive under its own weight. So, if you are looking for something that will make you laugh and feel just a little better at the end of the then you should check out Kawai Complex Guide To Manors & Hostel Behavior.

Sakura Trick (anime review)

sakura-trick-blu-rayTitle: Sakura Trick: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed by: Ken’ichi Ishikura

Written by: Tachi

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23 Films

U. S. Release date: September 13th, 2016

Format: DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Yuri, Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C

Synopsis:

Haruka and Yuu have been best friends forever and they’ve always sat next to each other in class since… well, since they were just girls in junior high anyway. But on their first day of high school, they’re stunned to learn that the new seating plan has them on opposite sides of the classroom! So, since everyone knows that long distance relationships won’t work unless the parties involved put extra effort into it, they decide they need to do something extra special to permanently seal their friendship. However, deciding to kiss each other awakens a whole new level of feelings, and it doesn’t help that some of their classmates seem to be “involved” in similar circumstances.

So what’s a girl to do when her best girl friend suddenly seems more like a girlfriend? It’s a life lesson that the school curriculum isn’t normally prepared to teach, except maybe in French class, and our two young heroines are about to get a private education you’ll never forget! Discover the truth about the birds and the… er… birds, as two young ladies learn to deal with the pros and cons of intramural osculation!

Commentary:

When it come right down to it a series based on a simple proposition that the feature young lades fall in love is not alway a poor option for a story. In the case of Sakura Trick the fact that they are best friends form Jr. High School and both girls narrows the field for potential fans. On the surface things are rather simple and the everything is basically put right out there in the first episode, but as the series progressed I found myself loosing focus and my attention span wondered off to other things.

Now this isn’t the first time I have found myself loosing focus early on in a series just to find out later that it came together and gave me a reason to keep going. Unfortunately Sakura Trick did not give me a reason to say thank you at the end.

Overall Grade: C

Most of the time I was watching Sakura Trick I kept asking myself “who is the fan base they are going after?”. My first thought was younger girls just coming to age and discovering their sexuality, but after the first few episodes I realized that those fans will gravitate to other story lines. The next option was the 20 to 30 male population who lean toward 2D girls and a solid level of fan service. Sakura Trick does have fan service, but it did not reach the level of a Sekirei or Freezing. I kept pondering this question and really couldn’t place the otaku that would be all over this series.

I would love to say that if you are looking for a fun and delightful teen romantic comedy then you should pick up Sakura Trick, but I just can’t. I guess that the blatant Yuri aspects just turned me off. So, maybe if you are a true fan of Yuri comedy that is simple and not so graphic then Sakura Trick is for you, enjoy,

Argevollen Collection 1 (anime review)

ARGEVOLLEN-Collection-1Title: Argevollen Collection 1

Directed by: Atsushi Ōtsuki

Written by: Tatsuo Satō

Studio: Xebec

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23 Films

U. S. Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Other series to check out: Knights of Sidonia, Nobunaga the Fool and Aldnoah. Zero

Synopsis:

Tokimune Susumu has every reason to distrust the military and question orders. His sister has already died in the service of the Arandas military, and his secret reason for enlisting is to ferret out the truth behind her mysterious death. So, when a civilian convoy is in jeopardy and his own battle mech is destroyed, Susumu’s all too ready to break ranks and jump into the cockpit of the experimental Argevollen.

What he isn’t expecting, however, is that activating the Argevollen conforms it to his mind alone. Now he’s on the frontline of the ongoing meat-grinder that the war between Arandas and Ingelmia has become, and his only certain ally is an attractive civilian contractor whose reasons for being in the war are as convoluted as his own.

Commentary:

2015 may just end up being the year that the Mecha series made their triumphant return. At least in the U. S., really 2014 was the year in Japan. I think that some of the very best series release in the states this year are mecha and Argevollen is a classic example of where the genre tends to be very good and also very heavy handed.

Argevollen gives us a rather common story line of a young mecha pilot who has raw ability but doesn’t understand how to control himself. Can you say Full Metal Panic, you know it is all about being able to connect with the machine to become the ultimate fighting mecha. Of course his youth and lack of understanding tends to get in the way and is pure energy and mindless will ends up being his savior. The level of coming of age struggles may be at the core of all too many anime, but is is also fun to watch and at the same time very frustrating when the drama ends up being heavy handed. And heavy handed drama is front and center with Argevollen.

Overall Grade: B

For a mecha series it is very entertaining because of the way they bring this band of military outliers together and prove that you don’t have to be spit and polished to be good. There is also the connection between Tokimune Susumu and Jamie Hazaford that is handled very well. Jamie is a reluctant player in this war but as things move forward it is clear that she is meant to be right where she is and that she is there to help Tokimune and Argevollen become a single unit.

The animation is above par but in the end it is all about how these characters blend together. I can’t say that Argevollen is one of the top offerings of the season, but if you are a mecha fan then you should be pleased with this series too. I still think the heavy handed dramatic approach is what always hurts mecha series. I will always love the approach that Full Metal Panic took with a easy blend of comedy and drama with plenty of wonderful action to keep things going.

Argevollen will find its home in the hearts of plenty of fans, so if you enjoy a action packed mecha then this one is for you.

 

Appleseed (anime review)

AppleseedTitle: Appleseed Blu-ray, DVD combo (Sentai Selects)

Based on: Appleseed by Masamune Shirow

Director: Shinji Aramaki

Written By: Haruka Handa, Tsutomu Kamishiro

Producer: Fumihiko Sori, Hidenori Ueki, Naoko Watanabe

Production Company: Micott & Basara, Digital Frontier

Music By: Boom Boom Satellites, Tetsuya Takahashi

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23 Films

U. S. Re-Released Date: September 8th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / DVD / Feature Film / 105 Minutes

Genre: Cyber Punk, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Plucked from the last battlefields of the final war, mercenary Deunan Knute finds herself pressed into duty with the ESWAT, defenders of the Utopian city of Olympus. But serpents lurk beneath the peaceful surface of this apparent Garden of Eden, and new seeds of destruction have already been planted! Now it’s up to Deunan and her former lover, the now-cyborg Briareos, to unravel a deadly web of plots that threaten to bring down Olympus from within!

Commentary:

2015 just might become the year of the retread or revival of some long beloved films and  series. Appleseed is one of those films that was at the forefront of Computer Generated animation and one of the first anime that Sori got his hands on. In 2004 when this first came out it was hailed for its visual presence and the strength of the story itself.  It may not have gotten the same praise that Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, but it did find a special spot in the hearts of many a anime fan.

Looking back at the film today it is hard to find the same level of awe or the interest in the story line. It does bring back plenty of fond memories though and I have a feeling that is what Sentai is expecting. With the creation of the Sentai Selects I am interested to see how Sentai uses this new grouping. I have seen what they have planed for release later this year under that subset. I see it as being used much the way Anime Classics is used by one of their major competitors.

Either way it is great to see Appleseed regain some new life and possibly get seen by a new generation of anime fans. I for one love the film.

Extras:

Alternate English Dub, Audio Commentary, The Birth of 3D Live Anime, Staff Profiles, Original Japanese Trailer, Special Japanese Trailer.

Overall Grade: B

When giving a new grade to a film that in the past you gave a high rating to is difficult. Based on how dated the CG looks I found it hard to stay focused and with my love of the film from 10 years ago I found myself becoming a little disappointed with the film.

This of course is a very personal aspect to the my viewing enjoyment and feel as though a new fan will find the film a lot more engaging. I still loved story and can see how much impact Appleseed had on many of the newer writers and film makers, I is a true classic I just wish I could have graded this version higher.

If you are new to the film then you should try to look past the dated CG and pay attention to the story. I know you will be hooked in no time.

Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection (anime review)

Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete CollectionReview provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection

Director: Keiichirou Kawaguchi

Studio: SynergySP

Author: Kenjiro Hata

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23 Films

U.S. Release Date: August 18, 2015

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 52 Episodes / 1300 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Harem, Action, Parody

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: The Familiar of Zero and Student Council’s Discretion

Synopsis:

Could Hayate Ayasaki’s life get any unluckier? Because his unemployed parents are good-for-nothings who waste what money they have on gambling, Hayate had to start working at a young age to help out his family. Although such experience has made him inhumanly fast and tough and skilled at things boys aren’t normally skilled at, it has also left him in an awkward position, as his parents have racked up such a huge gambling debt that they have sold Hayate to the yakuza for the value of his organs. Desperate to pay off the 156,804,000 yen debt before he’s converted into black market organ parts, Hayate strikes on the idea of kidnapping oddball heiress Nagi Sanzenin. Unbelievably, however, even that goes wrong and not only does he end up not kidnapping her, he rescues her from other kidnappers. (Apparently this happens to her all the time.)

But maybe, just maybe, there might be a tiny, dim light at the end of the very dark tunnel of Hayate’s existence, and the skills that Hayate’s had to develop to stay alive will pay off. Because Nagi needs a butler/bodyguard and Hayate could just fit the bill. But he will have to survive the on-the-job training first. Fate can be a harsh mistress, but Hayate may have just signed up with an even harsher one!

Commentary:

Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection is a hilarious rom-com that is full of parodies from well-known shounen series. They also include many parodies Japanese television culture jokes along with references to famous idols and random television shows. Luckily, they give some background information at the top of the screen whenever this happens so you can fully understand the joke. The romance part of the rom-com is pretty one-sided for this season, but I believe it will eventually even out.

With Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection being mainly a comedy series, it does not have a strong storyline. However, the vibrant characters make up for it. Each character has their own interesting personality which gives equal balance between characters. There are a ton of different characters in this series, almost too many and they do not have much development happen. I almost wish they would have made fewer characters and had more development for them. But, that is why three other seasons have been released. Nagi has to be my most favorite and lease favorite character of the series. She is the tsundere character of the series and basically acts like a spoiled brat to get whatever she wants. However, she is adorable when thinking about Hayate. Nagi is also your basic shut-in teenager who would rather read manga, watch anime, and play games than go to school. Luckily for her, she is really smart so that does not affect her grades.

The animation was pretty and the colors were very vivid. The voice actors did a great job and you will probably recognize many of them from other series. There was not a lot of fan-service and when it appeared, it was well done and tasteful.

Extras:

Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One 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-

Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection is quite a long series, but the comedy makes it very easy to watch. Parts of it reminded me of Excel Saga and that made me laugh for a long time. If you enjoy comedies with a little bit of romance added in then I recommend Hayate the Combat Butler: Season One Complete Collection.