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Frame Arms Girl: Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Frame Arms Girl: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Studio: Zexcs, Studio A-Cat

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 4th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Fantasy, Action

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: C+

Synopsis:

When Ao found the package on her doorstep, she thought it was a present from her father, but inside the box was something truly unexpected: Gourai!

A Frame Arms Girl, Gourai is a walking, talking, miniature artificial person with the intelligence of a ten-year-old human and a selection of snap-on weapons and armor. And the reason Gourai needs armor quickly becomes clear as two more Frame Arms Girls, Stylet and Baselard, arrive intent on testing Gourai’s combat capabilities! It seems that Ao has been chosen to help test a new toy line and the good news is that she’ll get paid for hosting her diminutive charges’ battles! Of course, since they’re mainly interested in fighting and gathering information, things are going to get awkward when they follow her to school.

Commentary:

Frame Arms Girl is taking off where Gundam Build Fighters left off. The big difference is that the Frame Arms Girls are anthropomorphic girls which has an even deeper history in the anime world leading back to Hand Made Maids and Chobits, but that is were the similarities end. The basic plot is simplistic and rather straight forward with not too many surprises. The one area that the series falls apart for me is the animation itself. The heavy handed computer graphics (CG) put me off right away. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s this style of animations was kind of cool, but with all the advancements in animation software this hard edge CG just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The thing about Frame Arms Girl that makes it special is the fact that it focuses on the younger female audience. Build Fighters brought girls into the mix and recognized the inclusion of girls in the genre, but Frame Arms Girl takes it to the next step and makes them the focus of the entire story. This is the star aspect of the entire series. Funny thing is that over the last few years I have come across more men who want to build these models and it almost seems as though the series has attracted a much difference demographic.

Overall Grade: C+

There is a lot that I liked about Frame Arms Girl, but it has to be the animation production values that stands out for me. The out dated  hard edged CG almost shut me down completely. The saving grace is the fun of the story and the fact that there is an honest attempt to include the younger female audience in the genre.

I really want to recommend this series to everyone because of the overall fun it brings and also to see how series can be more inclusive. I just find the overall endorsement to fail me because of the CG. If you enjoy bad CG and have a younger female viewer who would enjoy this story then you need to rush out and grab a copy. Frame Arms Girl is a minor hit for me and think it could find a broader audience if it had an english dub and better animation. If you are curious then you should defiantly check it out!

No Game, No Life Zero (anime review)

Title: No Game No Life Zero on Blu-ray

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date:  Aug. 28th, 2018

Format: Feature Film / 105 Minutes / Blu-ray

Genre: Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

No Game, No Life Zero is the prequel movie to the anime series.

6,000 years before Sora and Shiro rocked the world of Disboard, black rain falls from the sky and multiple species fight a desperate battle for survival. Constantly caught in the crossfire between the more powerful magical races, Humanity is on the edge of extinction, always on the retreat. But amidst the chaos and destruction, one young man, Riku, has a vision of a better future. And the first step towards achieving that goal comes in a dead city, where he encounters Schwi, an exiled female android who seeks to know one thing: what it is to have a human heart.

The mysterious past of the world of Disboard is unveiled and the ultimate game begins in the spectacular prequel to the hit TV series!

Commentary:

No Game, No Life Zero manages to do something the series failed to do, win me over. The original series seemed to obsessed with Sora and Shiro relationship. In Zero it was exactly what it needed to be. It manages to setup the world in a way that makes sense. Of course you have to believe that gods are petty and could become fixated with ruling it all through war.

No Game, No Life Zero gives us rich full characters who care and are sympathetic by nature. Not weak and pitiful characters you want to hate from the moment you meet them.

Overall Grade: A-

I loved the concept and execution along with 90% of the animation production quality. There is still that pink and blue pallet that dominates after about half way through the film. The thing about pink is that it is by nature a psychotic color that does not impart clam and beauty, but rather nervous tension. Blue on the other hand does create a natural calm state, but when it is heavily paired with pink there is not much peace.

The characters of Riku and Corounne are very well written and easy to like. They provide us with a pair of humans that you want to rook for. Add a cold yet somewhat loving Schwi then you have a trio that makes sense. You want them to win and can only hope for the best.

No Game, No Life Zero is not the No Game No Life many know and love, but rather it is something better. It happens to be one of the best prequel anime movies I have ever seen. I only wish the series was this good.

Vatican Miracle Examiner

Title: Vatican Miracle Examiner: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 11th, 2018

Format: J.C. Staff

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Age Rating: TVMA

Overall Personal Grade: A-

Commentary:

Vatican Miracle Examiner contains episodes 1-12 of the anime directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani.

Miracles don’t happen every day. But when something impossible happens that seems to be the work of supernatural forces or higher powers, it’s the duty of the Assembly of Saints and their agents to investigate. Their job is to determine whether each incident is explainable via previously undisclosed information, a part of some plot to take advantage of the people’s faith, or a genuine miraculous event. Priests Josef Kou Hiraga and Roberto Nicholas specialize in unveiling the truth and unearthing secrets that others might wish to keep buried, but when they’re sent to Mexico to investigate reports of a virgin birth, they end up in danger of being buried themselves. Murder, demonic summoning and deals with the devil are just the beginning of a new war against the ultimate darkness.

Overall Grade: B

Vatican Miracle Examiner is one of a very short list of solid drama, mysteries coming out this year. It is also placed is world that is really rather foreign to the Japanese public and tackles a subject that is hard to understand for most Catholics much less the rest of the world. Vatican Miracle Examiner also takes us down a path that is dark any fraught with danger. It creates a mystery that opens the door for other forces to rule the day. I did find myself thinking back to Le Chevalier D’Eon.

The one thing that stands out for me is the well executed writing for the series and the lovely animation that helps draw us in while we hare exposed to the unnatural forces brewing. Even though I liked the production values I felt like it took on an almost shojo style of rendering that left me just a tad cold. I understand why things happen on a rather overall level but I did expect a fuller richer production value.

As for the character development I felt like we began to understand who we were interacting with, but because of the shortness of the series I came away feeling a little left out. All-in-all Vatican Miracle Examiner gives us a solid mystery drama that will not disappoint.

New Models and Paints Just In

Here is a list of the new models and paints we just got in:

Gundam Marker Airbrush System, GSI

Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn “Gundam UC”, Bandai PG

Gundam AGE-2 Normal “Gundam AGE”, Bandai MG

Providence Gundam  “Gundam SEED”, Bandai MG

Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Ver. Ka) “Gundam UC”, Bandai MG 

Sinanju Stein (Ver. Ka) “Gundam UC”, Bandai MG

Gundam Epyon (EW), “Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”, Bandai MG

Hyaku-Shiki (Ver. 2.0) “Z Gundam”, Bandai MG

Gundam RX-78-2 (Ver 2.0) “Mobile Suit Gundam”, Bandai MG

Gundam Exia (Ignition Mode) “Gundam 00”, Bandai MG

Gundam Deathscythe (EW), “Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”, Bandai MG

Deathscythe Hell (EW), “Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz”, Bandai MG

Haro Shooting Orange “Gundam 00”, Bandai HaroPla

Fluorescent Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Fluorescent Red 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Emerald Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Metallic Blue Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Metallic Red 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Metallic Blue Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

 Metallic Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Clear Red 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Clear Green 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Fluorescent Yellow 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Fluorescent Orange 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

 Fluorescent Pink 10ml Bottle (Box/6), GSI Acrysion

Acrysion Solvent For Airbrush 250ml (Box/6), GSI Thinner

BanG Dream

Title: BanG Dream

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: June 19, 2018

Format: Blu-ray, 13 Episodes plus 1 OVA ,  350 Minutes, Subtitled

Genre: School Girl slice of life/comedy

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis: 

Kasumi Toyama is a happy can-do girl. She is alway looking for the feeling which she calls “sparkle”, which she associates with the symbol of  a star. This feeling can be described as an exciting and hopeful experience/feeling.

One day, following a trail of stars, Kasumi finds herself at an old store where she sees a “star shaped” guitar. This is a seed planted in her mind that begins to grow after she sees a local girl band playing at a small music venue hall. She feels the “sparkle” and becomes determined to form her own band so she can find the excitement she is seeking-wanting to share and inspire others in the future.

Commentary:

BanG Dream is more than a single anime. It is rather like a whole universe created. There is a live band, manga series, this Blu-ray edition and at least 2 more “seasons”(They seem to be listed with extended titles instead of labeled numerically.), and a game.

This anime centers around music as a story telling element, but friendship is really the overwhelming theme to me. As the band is formed, new friendships are forged.

Now, Kasumi as a character brushes way too close to annoying, but manages to squeak by. She has to be rather pushy and persistent to get someone to join the band. I don’t think she sees it that way, she is just so enthusiastic  and doesn’t give up. In her ever optimistic way, she just keeps going for what she wants and knows in her mind is what the other person is supposed to do. True, because the outcome is good, her techniques as a recruiter  are redeemed.

One thing I found annoying because it seems so impossible, is that Kasumi has never played guitar before and is now first learning. Even so, she makes it on stage in a matter of months. The anime does address this by saying it isn’t her skill but her enthusiasm and heart that she brings to the band. Other band members have already been playing instruments and are key to her learning. They value her friendship and know she is the glue that holds them all together.

I didn’t feel like I could rate BanG Dream higher than a B, because I  have been seeing too many of these similar story themes of an enthusiastic student forming a club or group, whose passions become contagious and though there are minor set backs, they prevail spectacularly. Always fun to watch, and this is a good one, but sometimes to compete in this growing selection, something extra would go along way.  As an example, Kabuki-bu is unique by bringing in a the elements of tradition thriving in the modern world, not forced but embraced by a young person.If you like BanG Dream, I think you’ll also like Kabuki-bu. )

BanG Dream may have two more seasons (or series), but this one ends in a way that feel whole and complete in a satisfying way.

Overall Grade: B 

A light and bubbly anime to encourage all to follow their dreams and feel good when your done watching. A fun visit with characters that will feel like friends.

A Spirit Of The Sun (anime review)

Title: A Spirit of the Sun on Blu-ray

Director: Masayuki Kojima

Studio: Madhouse

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: June 19th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray, 2 Episode TV Special, 154 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Seinen

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis: 

In the movie A Spirit of the Sun, it was the worst-case scenario. When the twin disasters of the eruption of Mt. Fuji and a massive earthquake hit Japan, the island nation was literally shattered and torn in two. With millions dead and the life-sustaining national infrastructure destroyed, mass evacuation of much of the country’s population was the only alternative.

But now the Japanese refugees living in Taiwan find themselves in conflict with the native citizens. There’s not enough work, the living conditions are terrible, and what remains of Japan is occupied by China in the North and the U.S. in the south. Genichiro Ryu is just one of the survivors, but having been adopted by Taiwanese parents, he has a foot in both worlds and seeks to find a way to bring peace between the conflicting sides in the movie A Spirit of the Sun directed by Masayuki Kojima.

Commentary:

The Japanese have a history of telling very sad stories about major strife, devastation and the struggle to survive. A Spirit of the Sun is no different. It really shows off the real trouble that can come from nature and economic disaster and reminds us of how fragile our world is. I’m not too sure the American audience will understand this concept too well, but I do know that other film like Grave of the Firefly and Barefoot Jen have found some rather interesting fans in our country.

In the case of A Spirit of the Sun we see how hard life can be when you are the outsider in a country that has old deep feelings toward you. I think it is rather poignant in todays environment with the travel ban having just been upheld by the Supreme Court. I guess a world where we can live together without hatred and anger just isn’t possible.

Overall Grade: B

I think in may ways I wish this could have been just a little better. I found the animation to be relatively low quality even for 2006 production and some of the writing felt overhanded. I get that the story is trying to teach something very important, but see it as missing the mark just a little.

I also find it rather interesting that the Japanese could see bigotry and hatred coming from the sides without being more open about their own nationalism that exists. I guess that there is some discourse here that show the separation and hope along with a vision that just might bring some understanding in its wake.

I would recommend A Spirit of the Sun if for nothing else to see how so many Japanese still have a inferiority complex that plays itself out in these types of stories.

Uta No Prince-Sama Legend Star Season 4 (anime review)

Title: Uta no Prince-Sama Legend Star Season 4 on Blu-ray

Director: Takeshi Furuta

Writers: Tomolo Konparu, Sayaka Konno

Studio: A-1 Pictures

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 3rd, 2018

Format: Blu-Ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Reverse Harem, Musical Slice of Life

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Uta no Prince-Sama: Legend Star contains episode 1-13 of season 4.

The contest to become the opening group for Triple S may have been shaken up by the arrival of the now seven-member group HEAVENS, but QUARTET NIGHT generously declines to take advantage of the decision in their favor… as long as the other two bands agree to an unexpected new phase of the competition!

Are the other two rival groups ready for a new series of cross-band duets, with each song pairing one member of STARISH and one member of HEAVENS? Will Haruka be up to writing yet another round of spectacular songs? It’s time to pick up the tempo and sing to the balconies as the musical one-upmanship only gets wilder!

Commentary:

I never really minded reverse harem anime and I must say that I found the first few seasons of Uta no Prince Sama a little more entertaining than most. Season 4 Legend Star manages to fill some of the requirement and also left me a little flat at times. I guess that it really all comes down to the music with Uta no Prince Sama and for this season I just didn’t connect the way I had hopped to. It was still very happening and if this genre of music is your bag then you will be up dancing your heart out.

Overall Grade: B

With all the drama and competitive vibes going on I believed that Legend Star would have given me more. It is clear that the series is a real hit in Japan and it clearly has its following her in the states, but it is very possible that these types of bands just don’t have the staying power in the west the way they do in the east.

I will say that the animation, writing and storyline manage to prove very adequate and fluid. The production values are by for the strong point followed by the writing. The story is rather basic and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Uta no Prince Sama Legend Star keeps things rolling but also left me sitting way to still for the 13 episodes. I realize that I am not the target audience and that the true believers will love every minute. If you are looking for a boy band reverse harem that has some lively music the the Uta no Prince Sama series is for you. If you haven’t seen any before then I would suggest starting at the beginning with season 1 and working your way over to season 4. If you are already into Uta no Prince Sama then you are ready for season 4 and please move straight ahead.

Ajin: Demi-Human Season 2 (anime review)

Title: Ajin: Demi-Human season 2 on Blu-ray

Director: Hiroyuki Seshita, Hiroaki Andō

Written By: Hiroshi Seko

Studio: Polygon Pictures

U. S. Distributions: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 10th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes, 2 Movies / 325 Minutes

Genre: Seinen, Drama, Supernatural, Action

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Ajin: Demi-Human Season 2 contains episodes 1-13 and movies “Comfort” and “Collide”.

Kei’s stopped running, but his decision to stand and fight comes just as Sato launches his second wave of terror. Angered by the governments’ refusal to admit the truth about the live experiments on captive Ajin, the Ajin terrorist has begun assassinating a list of the key individuals connected to Ajin research, and only someone as unkillable as he is has a chance of stopping the man in the hat.

With Sato being better trained, more experienced, and allied with other Ajins, Kei has only two chances at heading off the final apocalypse: to somehow learn how to better control the Invisible Black Matter being he generates or to recruit other Ajins into the battle. The shadow war explodes and the world burns as the ultimate warriors face off in immortal combat!

Commentary:

Ajin season 2 takes us to the war. It also does something that is very, very typical for anime and the protagonist. It gives us the over-the-top brooding protagonist that consistently misses all the right clues in becoming a better person and demi-human. One thing does become clear and that is the fact that Ajin does fall into that trap of the anti-hero complex which manages to slow down the development of the story.The series is very slow where as the movies help complete the circle in a much more favorable pacing.

The most difficult aspect to Ajin is the animation itself. The rough flat computer graphics may have the sole purpose to creating dramatic effect, instead it makes the series look unprofessional and second rate. I have no idea why this artistic rendering was accepted in the creation of the anime. It would have been very easy to clean up the look and still give some of the original creator look and feel. I found myself loosing my attention all too often due to this second rate animation.

Overall Grade: B

Ajin: Demi Human has such a great opportunity to tell a compelling story and the writing manages to pull off the essence of what it should be , but the animation and typical hero Kei just put a damper on the entire series for me.

Amin: Demi Human is a solid A in writing and has plenty of high points that lead you to a somewhat satisfying series. I just wish they would have re-thought the anime styling.

 

 

GARO Red Requiem (film review)

Title: GARO Red Requiem on Blu-ray

Director: Keita Amemiya

Written By: Itaru Eda and Keita Amemiya

Starring: Ryosie Konishi, Mary Matsuyama, Masahiro Kuranuki and Hironobu Kageyama

Studio: Tohokushinsha Film

U. S. Distributor: Kraken Releasing, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray/ Feature Film / 97 Minutes

Genre: Super Sentai, Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C-

Synopsis:

During the ancient war against the monstrous creatures known as Horrors, many Makai Priestesses have fought and died in battle, yet no woman has ever been chosen to wear the mystic armor of the Makai Knights. Kouga, the current bearer of the gold wolf armor, Garo, doesn’t believe it’s even possible, but when his quest to destroy the Horror Karma thrusts him into conflict alongside the fiery Priestess Rekka, he’s forced to acknowledge that the female is often the deadlier of the species! Because Rekka has a personal score to settle with Karma, and she’s determined to destroy that Horror herself! It will be all Kouga and his Mado Ring Zaruba can do to keep the three of them alive long enough to do it in the GARO universe’s first spectacular feature film directed by Keita Amemiya, GARO Red Requiem.

Commentary:

Garo: Red Requiem is, well, how should I put this, a Super Sentai for adults. Yes, it is Power Rangers all grown up. I can’t say that the transition was all that great, but there are some scenes that contain enough nudity that it requires a mature rating. Other than that, it is just a dark, demonic, Super Sentai. The acting is in par with the Power Rangers and even some of the Ultraman series that have recently been released. It defies logic sometimes to understand how or why the acting is so bad, but it is the nature of this type of shows. Now, in Power Rangers or Ultraman the audience is young enough to see it as fun and extra cool, but in Garo; Red Requiem it just makes it a little more difficult to watch.

Overall Grade: C-

Honestly, I can be a sucker for these silly Super Sentai films because I was raised on Godzilla, Ultraman and even Johnny Socko (who does not rock). Garo: Red Requiem just falls short for me. There is a  solid story line or plot there but the fact that most of the real plot was absent, left me out in the cold. I think that if they would have followed the lead of a film like Zebraman, allowed the story to develop a little more and also added onto the love interest between Kouga and Rekk, then maybe there would have been more connection to the story. Instead there was just hints at connections and then large plot devices left up to the viewer to discover.

For as much as I found lacking with Garo: Red Requiem, I guess that I still enjoyed it enough to laugh at the goofy times and enjoy the battles in a way that is required from these over-the-top stories. So, if you are looking for a Super Sentai film with plenty of computer graphic demons and half naked women to keep you watching, then Garo: Red Requiem is just the ticket.

New Arrivals 3.16.18

Here is a list of the new items we just got in.

Accessories

Wallet: Dragon Ball Z – Z Warriors Vs. Saiyans Bi-Fold

Books

Assassination Classroom Vol. 1 (Manga)

Black Butler Vol. 1 (Manga)

Black Clover Vol. 1 (Manga)

BLAME! Vol. 1 (Manga)

Children of the Whales Vol. 1 (Manga)

 

Fairy Tail Master’s Edition Vol. 1 (Manga)

Food Wars! Vol. 1: Shokugeki no Soma (Manga)

Gangsta. Cursed Vol. 1 (Manga)

Haikyu!! Vol. 1 (Manga)

Howl’s Moving Castle Vol. 3 (Manga)

Howl’s Moving Castle Vol. 4 (Manga)

Inu Yasha VizBig Vol. 1 (Manga)

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3 Stardust Crusaders Vol. 1 (Manga)

Knights of Sidonia Vol. 1 (Manga)

 

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Vol. 1 (Manga)

My Hero Academia Vol. 1 (Manga)

Mysterious Girlfriend X Vol. 1 (Manga)

Not Lives Vol. 1 (Manga)

One Piece: Omnibus Vol. 1 East Blue 1-2-3 (Manga)

One-Punch Man Vol. 1 (Manga)

One-Punch Man Vol. 13 (Manga)

Persona 4 Vol. 1 (Manga)

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Side – P4 Vol. 1 (Manga)

Pokemon Adventures Vol. 1 (Manga)

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Film Comic Vol. 2 (Manga)

Prison School Vol. 1 (Manga)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Vol. 1 (Manga)

Sacred Blacksmith Vol. 1 (Manga)

Seraph of the End Vol. 1: Vampire Reign (Manga)

Servamp Vol. 1 (Manga)

Soul Eater NOT! Vol. 1 (Manga)

Soul Eater Vol. 1 (Manga)

Sword Art Online Novel Vol. 1 Aincrad (Novel)

Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 2 (Manga)

Ultimo Vol. 1 (Manga)

UQ Holder Vol. 1 (Manga)

Yona of the Dawn Vol. 1 (Manga)

Figures

One Piece: Monkey D. Luffy POP Vinyl Figure

One-Punch Man: Saitama POP Vinyl Figure

Plush

Kill la Kill: Guts 12” Plush