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Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection (anime review)

814131013491_anime-rozen-maiden-zuruckspulen-blu-ray-primaryoriginal review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mamoru Hatekayama

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Tomomi Mochizuki

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Format and Length: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Magic

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Fate / Stay Night, Another, and Steins;Gate

Will you wind it? Yes or No?

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered how your life would be if you had made a decision that led down a different path than you are on now? Just such an opportunity is presented to Jun Sakurada in his darkest hour so he could possibly fix the shattered remains of his own world. He is given the chance to communicate with a future version of himself; however this version did not wind the key but still needs to bring forth the Rozen Maidens. When adult Jun discovers a box with parts and building instructions for a familiar red-dressed doll, the goal becomes clear: revive Shinku in his world to save both worlds from succumbing to the evils of Kirakisho, the seventh sister, only a disembodied soul in a desperate search for a body and master. For adult Jun, who originally did not wind up Shinku, the messages from his younger self represent a beacon of light in his mediocre and disappointing existence. The Alice Game will become a war of dimensions as two worlds hang by the threads of fate.

Commentary:

Having been years since the release of the last Rozen Maiden season, this release kinda took some by surprise, as the thinking was that there was not a further continuation to the story. For those who are familiar with or got in to the original releases, this one is a must have continuation. Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection (referred to by some as the third season) dives deeper into the possibilities it had opened than any storylines previously. It extends deeper into the psychological side of the series. You will know all the characters, as the only addition is, of course, the older Jun, now away from his sister, by himself, in college, and working part time. It dives into who he had become, never having met or known Shinku and the others. Never having changed from the negative anti-social shut in, you find how Jun’s life is today.

But this is not the same old Rozen Maiden you first saw years ago. This does not necessarily feel like a sequel. It’s a new story, and the only relation to the original is the main “what if” premise, the Alice games, and of course the characters. All the characters are basically the same as originally built in the previous series, with new personality additions that you never got in the originals. One major difference you will notice is they gave everyone some touch up. They added more detail to the art. They lessened the extreme color saturation you will remember bleeding across the old tube tvs. Overall, it’s a darker story line than any of the previous. Because of this, they had to add a new side to all the personalities, building the characters even deeper than you previously had known them to be. Never seen the original two seasons? Even if you are picking up Rozen Maiden for the very first time, they take the time to explain what you need to know, and to re-establish everybody’s personalities so don’t worry, you will be able to fully enjoy this one without finding the originals and having to play catch up. It may also spark a desire to watch, or re-watch in my case, the original series.

As I said before they gave everything a touch up artistically. Being in high definition they had to, but it was nice to see the extra detail you never got before. The art work seemed more sketched at times, but it worked. They also added detail to the lolita costumes they all wear. It was also nice that they adjusted the colors from the original. The extreme hues always drove me up a wall. The original personalities meld quite will with the new additions. They remain as kawaii as ever, ending every sentence with desu (or yes in the English dubbed versions) and of course kashira (maybe, and you know in English dubs). The opening and closing animations and music are quite catchy. I found myself humming the closing the entire time I was typing this. They helped to set the mood they wanted for the series. Overall if you are a fan, or a newbie trying this one for the first time, it will not disappoint.

Extras:

Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen—The Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. This series has both English and Japanese with English Subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: B+
I really enjoyed watching this series and cannot wait to re-watch the entire series again.

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-2Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 2 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Having cleared the Abyssal Shaft, the members of the raiding party have returned to Akihabara to consider their next options.

First, though, there’s an unexpected lesson in history as the founder of the Debauchery Tea Party, the legendary Kanami, resurfaces with an extremely peculiar entourage and some even more stunning revelations about connections to the outside.

But the ramifications of this will have to wait. With new political situations brewing between the Guilds, Shiroe sets Isaac to the task of training Maihama’s knights while the younger members of Log Horizon are sent out on what should be a simple quest.

Collecting the materials required to make a magic bag, however, becomes much more difficult when ogres and nightshades get involved!

Fortunately, the junior team is about to get a jolt of fresh blood… in the form of a Vampire! The action escalates and the world gets even wilder in the second thundering collection of Log Horizon – 2!

Commentry:

Season 2 of Log Horizon is just as much fun as season 1 and in many ways becomes more complicated and intriguing. I was absorbed in the struggle to decide what they should do to protect themselves and maybe find a way home. With everything happening is was easy to get lost in the action, but the writing kept the series focused and on track. I was discussing Log Horizon with another anime fan and they commented that they did not like the series because it was slow and lacked the excitement of other series like Sword Art Online. I can see their point, but for me I think that is exactly what makes Log Horizon great.

The one thing that helped keep the series rolling was to include characters that had been eluded to earlier in the series. Meeting some of Shiroe’s former guild member is fun and opens the door to serious questions about the rest of the game and the servers that control and connect the players of the game.

Overall Grade: A

It is easy for me to grade Log Horizon season 2 part 2 an A because it took the series in another direction and continued to add factors that make it more than just good. Simply put, if you like trapped in the game series and haven’t seen Log Horizon then you are missing one of the best. Log Horizon will show you how how a great series should develop and continue to give the viewer something to think about and enjoy. Season 2 part 2 keeps the hits keep on coming and I have a feeling that season 3 will be even better!

Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (anime review)

log-horizon-2-1Title: Log Horizon Season 2 Collection 1 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

It’s been six months since the event that trapped thousands of players in the online game world of Elder Tales and the situation is far from secure. The People of the Land are engaged in open warfare against the Goblin armies of Zantleaf. Minami spies are infiltrating the populace. And even with the support and guidance of the Round Table Alliance, the cost of sustaining the city of Akihabara is causing the entire infrastructure to teeter on the brink of collapse. With winter coming, Shiroe and his companions are forced to consider their options. Should they stay in Akihabara and attempt to weather the oncoming storm? Or should they gamble on missions to other portions of the world in search of new sources of valuable treasure? The launch of another series of raids will test old alliances while new ones are forged, as the adventure continues in the second season of LOG HORIZON!

Commentary:

Over the last few months I have heard more and more people talking about Log Horizon. That is a great thing because the things I am hearing is what I have already said in the past and that is the fact that Log Horizon is one of the best anime to examine what would need to happen if you and others were trapped in a game. Although Sword Art Online is entertaining and very pretty it doesn’t come close to Log Horizon in story and plot driven writing.

The second season of Log Horizon brings with it new challenges and rewards and these first 13 episodes manage to setup a complicated plot line that is both mysterious and deeply intriguing. I thought that wrapping up one large quest and opening the door to a even bigger threat in this first collection is a great way to keep us coming back for more.

Overall Grade: A

Wow, in reality I wasn’t sure if this series could get any better and with the coming of the second season I was proven wrong. The action and complex strategy that is taking place is farm more than I could imagine. The flash backs to their real lives when dead was brilliant and it gave a solid grounding into who these people really are. There was no holding back when the reality was approached and also added meaning to who they had become in the game. It is a solid reminder of our own failures as a society to truly accept and include all people rather than ridicule and shun people for their introverted personalities and awkward social skills. Owning an anime store I meet people like this on a daily basis and make it point to let them know that they are welcome in my store and many of them have become friends over the years and my little store has become a safe haven for them to actually have a social life that is off line.

Getting off my soap box and back to Log Horizon. There is some thing else that made this collection step up to a solid A rating and that was the way it rolled out the plot. There was a steady pacing and flow of the story line that made it easy to watch and to walk away from each episode feeling as though you were provided something important. It also ended with a great cliff hanger that setup the the second half of the season.

If , for any reason you reading this and not familiar with Log Horizon then you really need to start from the beginning and get caught up. You will be very pleased that you dove in.

 

When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray (anime review)

when-they-cry-1Review provided by Andrew and Katie

Title: When They Cry: Complete Collection Season One on Blu-ray

Director: Chiaki Kon

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Ryukishi07

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 15, 2016

Format and Length: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller

Industry Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A+

Similar Series or Titles to Check Out: Elfen Lied, Another, and Future Diary

Synopsis:

Moving to the picturesque town of Hinamizawa is going to be a big adjustment for Keiichi Maebara. For all its beauty, it is also very small, so small that there’s only one school, one where most of the students have known each other all their lives.

Fortunately, he soon meets four girls… Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika, who are willing to let the new guy in town join their afterschool club. And for a while, things seem wonderful. Until Keiichi starts discovering strange things, like when the project manager for a controversial dam project was found dismembered five years ago.

As he digs deeper, there are whispers and rumors of other murders and disappearances, stories of a town curse, and mysterious rituals. And then people he knows start to die. What secrets have the people of Hinamizawa kept hidden from the rest of the world? Could his new friends somehow be involved? The shocking answers to these and other questions will be revealed in When They Cry: Complete Collection!

Commentary:

When They Cry: Complete Collection epitomizes how you should never judge something by its cover. It looks like a simple, generic harem series at first glance; however When They Cry: Complete Collection is anything but that. When They Cry: Complete Collection is nothing short of genius and the whole setting, atmosphere, and mood are incredibly well executed. The plot may seem simple at first with a new kid moving to a strange, new town and meeting new friends but beneath the exterior appearance of this seemingly tame series lays a dark story of murder, violence, and mystery.

When They Cry: Complete Collection has a plot that consists of arcs. Although these arcs seem disjointed at first, it is all part of the plot and is actually an important part of solving the mystery of the Hinamizawa murders. However, When They Cry: Complete Collection is not a simple, generic murder mystery where the solutions are force fed to us. It is up to us to decide between what is true and what is not. This way we think and interact with the story. Each arc has a twisted finish that will leave you saying, “What just happened?”.

While When They Cry: Complete Collection is full of mentally instable characters, however they are extremely well written and developed. Luckily, the mental instability of the main characters does not take away from their personality and interaction. Each and every character serves a purpose to the plot in some way, shape, or form so be sure to pay attention to what a character does in different arcs.

The animation was normal for the age of the series but the background animation was breathtaking. The opening and closing songs were amazing and fit the series perfectly. The voice actors filled the series with psychotic laughter, blood-curling screams, and extremely cute voices in order to bring the characters to life.

Extras:

When They Cry: Complete Collection includes clean opening and closing animations and Sentai Filmworks trailers as special features. When They Cry: Complete Collection has both English and Japanese with English subtitles as language options.

Overall Grade: A+

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am that Sentai Filmworks licensed When They Cry: Complete Collection! I hope they release the rest of the series so that we can learn what else happens. I recommend that you watch When They Cry: Complete Collection if you enjoy the horror or psychological thriller genre. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Student Council’s Discretion Season 1 Complete Collection (anime review)

Student Council’s Discretion season 1review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Student Council’s Discretion Blu-ray Season 1 Complete Collection

Director: Takuya Sato

Studio: Studio Deen

Author: Jukki Hanada

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U.S. Release Date: March 24, 2015

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

Genre: Comedy, Parody, School, Harem

Industry Age Rating: 14 and up

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Other Titles to Check Out: Lucky Star, Ebiten, Haganai, Haganai Next, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

“Mukyu.”

Synopsis:

At Hekiyo Academy, the Student Council members are elected via the usual popularity contests, and since most teenagers think more with hormones than brains, those seats are filled by the school’s most beautiful girls. But one student is chosen based on academic scores. Besides being the council’s only male member, one of Ken Sugisaki’s main assignments is writing stories informing the student body what the student council actually does. To do that he’ll have to manipulate the truth just a bit, and given that Ken’s an obsessive fan of dating sims who fantasizes about his fellow council members as his “harem”, things tend to get even more out of hand. Plus, exactly who’s going to be the leading lady is up for debate, as immature Kurimu, tomboyish Minatsu, twisted Chizuru, and “boy’s love” obsessed Mafuyu are all trying to add their own particular spins to everything. If that’s not enough, the journalism club has it out for all of them.

Commentary:

Dragging the otaku culture, kicking and screaming the whole way, Student Council’s Discretion Blu-ray Season 1 Complete Collection, brings more anime memes and parodies than you can possible count. Just in the opening sequence of the first episode, they have over ten references before they show the opening. With some touching on the obscure, they can make things a bit difficult, so it does help to know what they are referencing for a lot of it to make any sense. This series will probably be more entertaining to those who are familiar with otaku culture.

Student Council’s Discretion Blu-ray Season 1 Complete Collection follows Ken Sugisaki and the rest of the student council (aka harem) on their daily activities of conducting the student government. That just sounds like some fun stuff doesn’t it? The catch is that they really don’t do anything meaningful, often each doing their own thing, as the meetings hardly go as planned, if even planned at all. The Student council president, Kurimu Sakurano, the resident loli, leads in the randomness with sheer determination and cuteness. Ken Sugisaki, Vice President, has one thing on his mind and being a teenage male, you can easily imagine what that is. So what is this series about? Nothing really. No, seriously. It’s episodic and random. It’s very Seinfeldish, if you will. No central plot, or conceptual story line, loveable characters that are a bit cliché, and random humor, that is sometimes a little misplaced. On a few occasions their jokes did fall flat, but that was mostly on the more obscure references they made. At those times, it felt like I was with a group of people that I had never met and they had a lot of inside jokes, that you had to of been for a while there to get.

The characters were developed a bit, but since they are all standard archetypes, everyone quickly fell into those clichés and not much development was done beyond that. At some point, they even made it a butt of some of the jokes. Another thing that seemed odd is in the first half of the series, you could count on one hand how many locations they interacted in. By the end you probably had to use both hands, so the scenery did not change often. Considering that humor was the main concept, background scenery was also not built up or changed often. The background was decently detailed, and the club room seemed to have a lot going on in it. They had to fill the space with something I suppose. The opening theme was a bit catchy, and the ending theme was ok. Background music was non-existent. The focus was mostly on the humor, and it did not detract from the series.

Extras:

Student Council’s Discretion included 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-

This series is not for those who are new to anime, or those who have to have a completely coherent story from beginning to end. It’s not there. I found it easiest to watch a couple at a time, as watching too many episodes at once got tiring and I would lose interest. Enjoy it for what it is. Overall it was a decent series, if you are watching it for the parody and humor.

Fantastic Detective Labyrinth (anime review)

Fantastic Detective Labyrinth Title: Fantastic Detective Labyrinth

Director: Hiroshi Watanabe

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Nozomi, Lucky Penny

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 6th, 2015

Format: DVD / 625 minutes / 25 Episodes

Genre: Drama, Supernatural

Age Rating:  TV 13+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis: 

Thirty years ago, Tokyo was destroyed in a massive earthquake. Most people have moved on to a new capital, Shinto, but a string of bizarre murders and supernatural events keep occurring in the ruins of the old city. The only one with the ability to see through to the heart of these mysteries is the enigmatic Mayuki Hyuga, a boy with extraordinary detective skills and powers that even he doesn’t yet understand. Together with his guardian and butler Seiran Shinano, Mayuki must not only help the police solve cases, but also uncover the secrets of his lineage.

Mayuki Hyuga has more than the unknown about his family history to contend with. There is a burden that his heritage will exact and at the same time may cost the lives of his friends and those closes to him. Will he be able to find the right path in time?

Commentary:

For whatever it is worth, Fantastic Detective Labyrinth is a odd but very entertaining series. From the very beginning it sets up a plot line that has nothing to do with the real story and ends up leaving things very confusing. On a whole this twist is not a detractor, but rather a tool that proves to be a real positive for the show.

Of course the story really revolves around family and friendship which is a nice touch and it gives us something to root for. The characters are interesting even if they are a little stiff from time to time. With this being a series aimed at a younger audience it is easy to see why the characters are developed in this rather stoic manner even if it does end up letting the series down. There is always the opportunity to interject yourself into the group and feel apart of the story.

The writing does manage to weave a story that maintains itself through all 25 episodes although it does struggle at times to keep things lively. The animation is really stiff and by far the weakest aspects to the series. i felt like the animators were too interested in the dolls because they were the most interesting in their artistic development. The others lacked a vibrance that would have helped the flat writing and possibly elevated the series to a higher rating.

Overall Grade: B

If you are looking for a exciting series that really shows off some serious abilities you may not want to take on Fantastic Detective Labyrinth. If you are looking for a series that keeps you guessing for most of the episodes them Fantastic Detective Labyrinth will hit the spot. The real strength to the series is that it should appeal to a younger audience that need some excitement and also can feel like it is close to their own world. I think that the stylistic approach to the dolls is something that a younger male would really enjoy and of course the friendship and family bonds will appeal to the younger female viewers. The mystery will cross a lll lines and even appeal to a older age group such as myself.

Fantastic Detective Labyrinth is a solid series that presents itself as a entertaining show that keeps you interested and guessing almost all the way to the end.

Log Horizon Collection 2 (anime Review)

Log Horizon collection 2Title: Log Horizon Collection 2 (on Blu-ray)

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 27th, 2015

Format: Blu-ray / 300 Minutes / 12 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Even as Shiroe slowly learns the secrets behind the creation of the World Fraction spell, the origin of the Demi-humans, and how his own actions in the Real World have affected the world in which he now dwells, the seeds of thought he’s planted in the minds of others begin to bear fruit. Game strategy and tactics may have been intended for amusement, but their origins were pulled from actual war planning and stratagems. As others begin to accept and implement those theories on their own, the existing alliances and balance of power begin to shift.

Those changes can’t possibly come quickly enough, as the adventurers’ preoccupations have allowed the Goblins to unite and amass a giant army. Now the Goblins are on the march, and as the Estal Lords debate their course of action, Minori makes a dangerous gamble and initiates action on her own. In the midst of this MMORPG turned real, an unassuming princess may prove to be the key to ultimate victory.

Commentary:

As Log Horizon progresses so does its depth. In the first half of the first season it setup the premiss and gave us a working understanding of the world these characters live in. Now that things are somewhat set it looks like the plot thickens with another layer of underlying complexity. I found this new aspect to be rather refreshing. This is where many series fail to properly setup the story and end up falling flat. Log Horizon doesn’t loose focus and continues to give us the same structure we have become used to and at the same time show bits and pieces of the layer beneath it all.

If there is a weakness to the series it has to be the animation style. I’m not saying it doesn’t look good, I just find it to be a little too playful with the characters and if it had been a little darker in nature and styling I think the series would stand out even greater. On the other hand I find the writing to be outstanding. This series is about strategies and that is what games are really all about. We get every bit of the plot and strategy that goes into the story.

Overall Grade: A-

Log Horizon collection 2 managed to continue the story in a way that both gave support and depth to the plot. I am very interested in what comes next. I can see why the series found a fan base in Japan and believe that with the right connection here it will find the fan base in the U. S., or at least I hope so. Honestly I found it better than Sword Art Online, but there is a cult aspect around that series and the animation style is less playful which helps add to the mystic. I’m not trying to alienate SAO fans, but I think that if you are a gamer and also enjoy the concept of people being trapped in a game then I think you will find Log Horizon truer to the concept then maybe SAO or even .hack.

I am looking forward to season 2 (collections 3 and 4) to come out.

Log Horizon Collection 1 (anime review)

Log Horizon collection 1Title: Log Horizon collection 1

Director: Shinji Ishihara

Author: Toshizo Nemoto

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 25th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episode

Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Elder Tales has become a global phenomenon, immersing millions of players in its online fantasy world. However, something goes wrong with the twelfth expansion pack. Eight-year veteran Shiroe and 30,000 other players suddenly find themselves trapped in the game’s no-longer-fictional universe!

Except it’s not even exactly the game they knew: things are in different places, the portals don’t work, and if a gamer was playing an avatar who wasn’t a physical match for their real self… well, let’s just say that everyone who’s been playing is going to have to make some serious adjustments to their new world view.

On top of that, the former Non-Player-Characters are now self-aware and working towards their own ends. This collision of the Elder Tale people and players with seemingly impossible skills, abilities, and knowledge promises to be cataclysmic. Get ready for heroes to rise and new legends to be forged as Shiroe and fellow players Naotsugu and Akatsuki discover what happens when sword and sorcery becomes real!

Commentary:

My first impression of Log Horizon was thinking “Oh, no not another gamer stuck in the game anime”. As I settled in and started watching the first episode I began to see something I really didn’t expect. I saw a series that take the gaming world and leans on the structure of the game more than giving us a bunch of teenagers who run around and battle things just because. Log Horizon takes the concept one step further and gives a feeling that the story is still in the game with a little more reality for the players.

I think that the concept is taking the right view and allowing the characters to develop as the also discover their new reality and what they can do in it. There is also the aspect that the ancillary game characters the are not players take on personas and are given life is a wonderful way to add depth to the show.  With each episode we get to see these characters grow and develop as they become more involved in the world around them. They also discover that they have limitations to what they can do and also what they can be, but this just adds to the richness of the series.

Overall Grade: A-

Log Horizon has caught my attention with this first collection. I manages to paint the picture of a rich world that may be a prison for these players, but it also represents itself as a fully realized environment that can be both dangerous and rewarding. The show forces these new inhabitants to look at this reality differently and end up understanding that they have more and greater abilities than they thought. My trepidation that it would just be a ripoff of the popularity that Sword Art Online has is not founded and in fact I see this series as being superior in many ways to Sword Art Online. Too bad that it may never get the chance for the broader distribution that  would get in front of more people. If you haven’t see Sword Art Online yet and are interested by the concept of players getting trapped in the game then I would start with Log Horizon it is, in my opinion, a better series.

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East Season 2 Collection (anime review)

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs from the East Season 2Title:Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East Season 2 Collection

Director: Mitsue Yamazaki

Creator: Miyuki Abe

Anime Adaptation: Osamu Yamasaki

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 28th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray / 13 episodes / 325 minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Fantasy, Historical Myth, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Forced to choose between death and an unnatural life bound to the living sword Murasame, Shino Inuzuka chose the sword. Now, however, in the bloody aftermath of his transformation and Kohaku’s death, Shino’s awareness of the true scope of his bond with Murasame has expanded. Is he truly a curse to all who meet him?

In the end, the focus must return to the mysterious beads which started everything. What exactly are their origin and powers? Who and where are the holders who have not yet been located? And what are Rio Saotome and the Imperial Church’s real roles in all of this? Does the woman who is “She,” hold the answers?

Commentary:

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East Season 2 is a great followup to the plot and story layer down in season 1. The follow through is seamless and it allows the tail to be revealed in a smooth and reliable manner. The characters are brought together and with the search for the remaining Dog Worriers things come together nicely. The episodes are well written and do a great job of telling us about each of the history of the remaining group. I felt like if there was a easy out for these characters to be brought together it was the fact that each was forced out of their home and ended up heading to the capitol city. Of course they needed to come together, but to make them abandon their homes the way they did seemed a little contrived.

The animation was well done and it suited the series well. It came across with a soft easy feeling that also aided in helping the characters remain sympathic and easy to stay connected to. I can’t say that the soundtrack or music made any difference for me. I was somewhat stock and blended in to become nothing more than background noise. That in itself is not a bad thing and in this case I guess it was appropriate because the story didn’t need a dramatic soundtrack.

Overall Grade: B+

I am a fan of the series and found most of it to be really enjoyable. If there was any aspect to it that I found unsettling it was the tendency to make Shino a object of desire for too many of the male characters. I really found that humor to be somewhat disturbing and rather tasteless. I would have rather seen more of a brother approach to the relationships. I know that there was a brotherly commentary running through the series when it cam to Shino and Sosuke and even some underlying connection with Rio Saotome. It is some of the other that seem to come across with more than a brotherly love .

I was also disturb that the story was not properly wrapped up. I guess that there is always hope that more funding will come along to allow production of a third season. If not I will be rather disappointed that there are so many questions left unanswered.

Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East Season 2 is a wonderful second step and it does a great job of bringing the group together. I believe that the fans of this series will be happy with season 2 and that they will also find some frustration with the way it is wrapped up.

Ah My Buddha! Complete Collection

Ah My Buddha!Title: Ah My Buddha!!

Director: Keitaro Motonaga

Studio: Studio Deen

U. S. Distributor: Nozomi / Lucky Penny

U. S. Re-Release Date: June 3rd, 2014

Format: DVD / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Harem, Supernatural

Age Rating: 16 +

Overall Personal Rating: B

 

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Ikkou Satonaka has raging hormones that make every other boy’s look simply weak in comparison. When he gets turned on, he’s literally turned into a super-powerful Buddhist monk capable of vanquishing the most evil of spirits! Ikkou’s parents send him to the Saienji Temple to train to become a proper monk under the watchful eye of his grandmother. One of his first challenges is to learn to control his lusty desires – but that’s easier said than done when he’s surrounded by a bevy of beautiful nun trainees who keep losing their clothes! Can Ikkou pull himself together, or will his pervy nature win out?

 

Commentary:

Following behind some other great Harem series like Ah! My Goddess and Ai Yori Aoshi, Ah My Buddha!! stays true to the sexy comedic format that made these harem anime so very popular. In this case it plays off the heavy use of a simple young man who is plagued with a very special spiritual ability that helps drive away demons and spirits who aim to cause harm. The only thing is that his awakening is brought on by his natural perversion and inability to control himself when flashed by a young women. Of course this leads to plenty of humors situations, but it also limits the series to a continual stream of some rather uncomfortable situation for the other young sisters in training.

For the viewer it comes across as an inevitable event, but after a while it becomes a little sexist in nature. It was nice to see this become a condition that Ikkou, our hero, is forced to learn how to control and something less of a prop and more of serious plot device.

The animation is still fresh looking today, almost 9 years after first released and the writing is strong enough to keep us entertained throughout the series. I do have to admit that all things being equal, this series is full of fun and sexy young women. It is classic in its depiction of young ladies and their full development that is clearly idealized.

Overall Grade: B

Ah My Buddha!! is very easy to watch and stays light enough to keep you coming back for more. One thing about Ah My Buddha! is that it is a perfect example of the style of series that had it height of popularity from the late 1990’s thru the mid 2000’s.  There are still plenty of new harem series being produced but they tend to have a darker side and some what more cynical outlook.  The one that has a very similar premise to Ah Mt Buhhda! is the more recent release I Can’t Play H where a young mans simple perversions make him a savior of humanity and the demon world. So, if you want some fan service and a relatively fun harem then Ah My Buddha!! would be a great choice. Thanks Nozomi/ Lucky Penny for bring this back to life for the next generation to experience the fun ans simple approach to telling a story of this nature.