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Chivalry of a Failed Knight (anime review)

Title: Chivalry of a Failed Knight the Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directors: Shin Ōnuma, Jin Tamamura

Screenplay Writer: Shogo Yasukawa

Studios: Silver Link, Nexus

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: June 13th, 2017

Format as reviewed: Blu-ray/12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Romance, Magical Users, Fantasy, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Ikki Kurogane may have come from a long line of Blazers, people with the ability to create weapons or devices manifested from their souls, but as far as the Hagun Academy is concerned, he’s been a major disappointment in the magical powers department. He is so disappointing, in fact, that he’s earned the unfortunate nickname of the “Worst One”.

However, things change for Ikki in the most surprising way when Princess Stella Vermillion, the most promising Rank-A Blazer to come along in many years, decides to transfer to Hagun. When she challenges him to a duel where the loser must obey the winner for the rest of their life, the last thing anyone expects is that the Worst One might prove to be a match for the Crimson Princess… and the unforeseen consequences will push the boundaries of society itself!

Commentary:

Chivalry of a Failed Knight takes on many common tropes in the anime world and manages to step up and succeed at some and not quite make it at others. The strongest of the plot devices that it goes after is the romance. It does start off very awkward but overcomes it sort comings relatively quickly. Wishing the first few episodes you become invested in the relationship between Ikki and Stella and root for them the rest of the way through the series.

When the series brings in the little sister and her fixation on Ikki it becomes almost to simplistic and something that should have never been introduced. I am always at a loss when anime finds a need to bring a sibling relationship to the brinks of incest. Thankfully that manages to loose its punch early on and only becomes a side issue that has positive reasoning behind it.

Other aspects of the Chivalry of a Failed Knight that manage to succeed are the character development for Ikki and Stella. Most of the other characters manage to remain secondary and don’t need the development which adds to the strength of the romance. There was also a hint at Chivalry of a Failed Knight becoming a harem early on but that faded as the real plot began to take form.

Overall Grade: B+

Chivalry of a Failed Knight is very entertaining and try to make a real mashup of many different storylines. I think the series does some things well and others were never really given a chance which was reflected in some poor writing. It is very clear to me that if the series had not tried to take on so many plot devices it would have been much stronger.

Overall it is clear that there has been plenty of effort to give the series a focus. There appear to be no plans at this time to give us the rest of the story in anime form, but both the light novel and the manga are ongoing and there is always hope that the studios will take the chance and wrap the story up.

Either way, I found Chivalry of a Failed Knight to be very entertaining and well worth the effort to watch it and hope for a second season.

Kokoro Connect Complete Series (anime review)

Title: Kokoro Connect The Complete TV Series & OVA on Blu-ray

Director: Shinya Kawamo

Studio: Silver Link

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 14, 2017

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes + 4 OVA / 425 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Coming of Age, Romance, Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Grade: A

Synopsis:

The five members of the Cultural Study group that meets in class 401 have spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes. But they’re about to learn that there’s a huge difference between thinking about it and literally BEING in someone else’s shoes! That’s exactly what happens when, suddenly and inexplicably, they each find themselves inside the body of the girl – or boy – next door!

What happens next? Well, besides bringing a whole new meaning to the term “exchange student” and the to-be-expected freaked-out runs to the bathroom, it’s not hard to do the math: take one wrestling geek, the resident cool girl, the class clown, the popular chick and one sultry maid of mystery, scramble thoroughly and divide, and you can bet that pretty soon they’ll be answering ALL of the questions they never wanted to know about the opposite sex in ways they never anticipated!

Commentary:

I always cringe a little when I hear that a show is about people swapping bodies. Kokoro Connect only made me cringe because it is so good and how it manages to hit some genuine nerves with respect to the human condition. I have not felt this strong about a series since AnoHana made to our market. Kokoro Connect goes straight for that dynamic of exploring our relationships and our own frailties.

The animation style reminds me of the simplistic intimacy the K-ON! delivers or many of the other straight forward slice of life series. The one major difference is the solid development of the characters and the superb writing that brings the series to life. Each one of these students have a plenty of experiences that have helped form who they are, but they are just discovering the people they have become and how to move forward. Each are full and rich with plenty to say and it is very easy to become sympathetic toward them and their world.

The one thing that hit me the hardest was the honesty that came from the writing and exposed itself through these characters. This is where it made me cringe because of the way that they allow these characters to expose themselves and the things that they confess. There are things said that I can honestly say I would never expect to hear from anyone, but seeing it in this format makes those comments seem even more honest and revealing.

Overall Grade: A

Kokoro Connect is not for everyone and because of some of the conversations that happen I would say that it should really be rated 16 +. That doesn’t take away from the quality of the series and in fact adds to its overall attractiveness. Don’t expect this to be a sexy romp through adolescence, but rather a honest view of humans at this age and the things that make us who we are. There is one area that the Japanese are great at and they are coming of age stories that tug at our heart strings and Kokoro Connect hits a home run and made it on to my to ten releases. Be sure to check this one out.

Kokoro Connect  found it’s way into a top pick of mine for the series releases and with the addition of the 4 episodes / OVAs it is clear that it is now more than deserving of that list. I loved the way the series explores relationships without turning it into a silly redundant body swapping series. With the added emotion swapping that goes on in these OVAs it gives us another level of complexity and asked the question “how do we hide our feelings from our friends”? Funny thing is that we have all gone through this but not at this level of stress. The way that it is approached is both interesting and painful, but at all times it still keeps us grounded in both the characters humanity and the humanity of the viewers. There are plenty of other series that explore relationships such as Anohana or even Clannad, but Kokoro Connect does something that even they don’t do and that is touch a nerve that is so universal and at the same time so personal that they almost never come up and are almost never discussed among friends. To place young coming of age kids in the position of having to experience what others feel and all the while be bonded together through both friendship and the fact that they are all placed in this position without their consent. These simple factors make the series powerful for what it is and with the added awkwardness of those highly personal secrets rolling out from time to time makes Kokoro Connect something very special.

If you are looking for a series that makes you look at yourself and your friends in a new light then Kokoro Connect should be high on the list.

Similar Anime:

AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day, K-ON! , Tari Tari and Hanasaku Iroha are all in line with Kokoro Connect. AnoHana does explore the aspects of relationships and the dark secrets that we all hold back from each other. K-On!, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari follow a much simpler format of exploration of coming of age but they still deal directly with how we discover how to maintain relationships with those close to us as we age and life becomes more complicated. There are plenty of other series that take on relationships and if you want to feel something other than just a punch of adrenaline then you should be sure to pick one of these series up.

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz! (anime review)

review provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Onuma and Masato Jinbo

Studio: Silver Link

Author: Kenji inoue and Hazuki Minase

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: January 31, 2017

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes / 250 Minutes

Genre: Action, Slice of Life, Comedy, Magic Girl, Fantasy

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya & Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei

Synopsis:

Illyasviel von Einzbern’s life has become ridiculously complicated since the Kaleidostick Ruby convinced her to become a magical girl and join the quest for collecting the seven Class Cards. Since then, almost every day has brought a new surprise, from gaining new friends and partners like Miyu Edelfelt, to encountering her own magical twin!

One would think Illya deserves a little time off, right? No such luck: a trip to the beach quickly turns into a magical quest, and Illya finds herself caught in a string of magical feuds, encounters with love potions, an excursion into the world of “boys love” comics (plus the women who read them), and half a dozen other delirious diversions.

However, that is only the warm-up for what might be her final mission: recovering the long-lost Eighth Card! It’s a mystical whirlwind of unexpected escapades and surprising new revelations as Illya’s saga continues in Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection picks up right where Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei left off and turns into a slice of life series for the first six episodes. During those six episodes everything seemed to drag, as nothing seemed to contribute to the plot of being a magical girl. There was not even one fight, or transformation scene. It took some time, but after finishing the series, I understand why they did that and it makes sense, however at the same time I wish they could have staged it out a little more. One thing they did well during that time was to advance the character development quite a bit, and also beyond Illya, Chloe(Kuro), and Miyu. They developed the characters of their group of friends, and the other normally background characters that are rarely seen more than one episode straight. Another thing that went way over the edge was the fan service. I like my fan service, but this got a little too unnatural and redundant after a while. I wish they would have toned down the fan service a bit. It started feeling forced and burdensome. Eventually, it added up and became too much and did take away from the story but the character development helped keep things moving along at a bearable pace.

Eventually after all the trips to the mall, the beach, the festival, the amusement park, and doing the all the summer homework (Basphamy!!!!) we finally are ready to be a magical girl again. As with all the other seasons the battle scenes continue to be very well done and exciting. As always its action packed and exciting. Even though the action was limited to the last four episodes, they did make up for the slowness of the first half. It even eventually explained, in a roundabout way, why they did it the way they did. By the end of last episode, everything is easily wrapped up tightly with a nice little bow. That is until the credits……..

Though this season was slow at first, the eventual payoff is well worth the investment of time. I normally am a fan of slice of life style animes, but for some reason this dragged to me at first. But once you get thru it and understand the reasons why, Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is a must have continuation of this great series.

Extras:

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations Herz! Shorts, 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-

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2Wei Herz!: Complete Collection is the perfect follow-up to the entire series. Just make sure you watch them in order so you can understand the entire story.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! (anime review)

prisma-illya-2weireview provided by Andrew & Katie

Title: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! On Blu-ray
Director: Shin Onuma and Masato Jinbo
Studio: Silver Link
Author: Kenji Inoue and Hazuki Minase
U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23
U.S. Release Date: February 16, 2016
Format and Length: Blu-ray / 10 Episodes / 250 Minutes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Magical Girl
Industry Age Rating: 17 and up
Overall Personal Rating: A-
Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

Synopsis:
The magical girls are back and are ready for a new adventure! However, with great powers come great responsibilities including cleaning up the aftermath of your previous adventures. Which means that, instead of getting a break after saving the world, newly changed magical girls Illya and Miyu have to help deal with the side-effects caused by the sealing of the Ley Cards.

Still, that shouldn’t be too hard, right? Wrong! Not only are the ley lines failing, but to make matters worse, Illya somehow ends up with a magical clone… and that sinister clone has plans of her own! Worse yet, since the “dark” version of herself is drawing its power from the same source as our heroine, Illya’s own powers are being reduced proportionately. These are definitely not the kind of problems that the average girl should have to deal with. It’s double the trouble as Illya’s split personalities face off and the personal conflicts get physical in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! On Blu-ray

Commentary:
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei!, the second season of the magical girl spin off of the Fate multi-verse, follows the continuing adventures of Illya as a magical girl. If you have not watched the first season, I strongly suggest you do or you will have no idea what is going on. They provide a brief but lacking synopsis of the first season as it does little good to update you on events thus far. You will need an understanding of the first season to understand the story of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei!.

To be or not to be, that is the question. There are many other questions visited in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! including: does one person have the right to turn back time when another person would cease to exist? When one person becomes two, does either really have a say in the other? It almost seems as if Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! asks very difficult and philosophical questions in every episode. The characters are the same from the first season with the addition of Kuro as named by the group, or Chloe as named by herself. Kuro’s introduction to the series could be summed up with such difficult stances. The characters are well developed already coming into this season, but it hardly means they did nothing to build upon what you already thought you knew. They continue to build them up and even made previously unlikable people seem likeable. The second half gets less into the philosophical and more into the lengths people will go to protect what is important to them, even when there is nothing they can really do. The story itself was much deeper than you would expect, and in all truth it does not hit you right away how deep it gets, till you are longing for the 3rd season, which I hope Sentai Filmworks will get out sooner rather than later.

One thing that most series of this genre use is simple animation that will appeal to the younger of fans, but instead the animation was beautiful and the battle scenes, with seamless CG (not the CG that stands out like a sore thumb) and multi angle viewpoints were something to behold. There was fan-service but nothing distasteful or in excess. The voice actors brought the characters to life and made the series very enjoyable. The opening and closing songs were catchy and fun to listen to. I have always had a special place in my heart for magical girls, beginning in my early days of anime long ago. Even now I find myself very much still loving the genre. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei!, the second season of the Fate/Type Moon magical girl spin off, has earned its place among my favorite titles.
Extras:
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei! On Blu-ray includes 2wei! Shorts, TV Spots, 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-
If you love the magical girl genre then I think you would thoroughly enjoy Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2Wei.

Invaders of the Rokujyõma!? (anime review)

invaders-of-rokujyomaTitle: Invaders of the Rokujyõma!?: Complete Collection

Director: Shin Õnuma

Music by: Zero-A

Studio: Silver Link

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Released Date: Nov. 17th, 2015

Format as reviewed: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Moe, Seinen, Harem

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C

Synopsis: 

When Kotaro Satomi discovers an apartment for the ridiculously low rent of 5000 yen a month, he knows there must be a catch. But it’s not until AFTER he’s moved in that he finds out that he’s not the only one laying claim to Room 106 at Corona House, starting with teenage girl ghost, Sanae, who’s currently haunting it!

Still not enough to break the lease? Let’s add in a Magical Girl, Yurika, who wants to take control of the room in order to block its powers from evildoers, a luscious Subterranean bombshell, Kiriha, who needs the room to launch an invasion of our world, and a fiery space princess, Theiamillis, who… well, you get the idea. Can a lone high school student on a limited budget withstand the combined forces of the supernatural, metaphysical, subterranean, and alien worlds? Especially when they’re all also incredibly adorable?

Commentary:

Kawaii, oh so very Kawaii. Invaders of the Rokujyõma!? is so very Kawaii, but that is where the fun stops. IN the world of harem anime I would have to place this series in the lower half. In many ways it was a homage to the genre and offered plenty of parody to many of the great harems, unfortunately it missed the mark. I think the problem was that it tried to hard  and came off a little bland with the plot and the story devices that drove the series as a hole.

Overall Grade: C

Invaders of the Rokujyõma!? lacks the punch that would make it stand out. The characters are easy to like and at times less aggressive than they should be. They are almost shadows of what they should be. I can’t say that any one of them stood out and all together they gave enough charisma to make the series enjoyable but not great.

Simply put is you are hooked on harem anime and need a fix then Invaders of the Rokujyõma!? is the show for you. You will get plenty of the 4 to 5 way love triangle mess you can handle. There is also a full spectrum of anime girls involved to make you question which type of anime girl is the best.

Invaders of the Rokujyõma!? an easy watch with several funny situations. If it was better written and the characters more compelling it would have rated much higher.  I would have loved to be Kotaro Satomi, he had it better than he thought.

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.