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Young Black Jack (anime review)

Title: Young Black Jack: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Tezuka Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2007

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The year is 1968, the war in Vietnam is approaching its zenith, and the counterculture movement that’s been sweeping the world is engulfing Japan. While others are in the streets protesting, one young medical student becomes embroiled in a different kind of battle.

As new medical technologies to save and extend lives come into play, the temptation for a surgeon to play God has never been so powerful. Even as he strives to prove his own skills to his colleagues, Hazama Kuroo begins to suspect that the potentials for abuse inherent in the medical system are already being exploited.

To attempt to change the system means risking his own promising career as a surgeon, and to move against the perpetrators will put his own life in danger. However, as a doctor, how can he not act when lives are on the line?

The diagnosis is murder as the origin of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary rogue surgeon Black Jack is finally revealed in YOUNG BLACK JACK!

Commentary:

In the world of manga / anime few names take on the cult status that Tezuka does. Even the great Myazaki concedes that Osuma Tezuka was a undeniable force in the 1960s. The one thing that Osuma Tezuka did not do was to give us the rich and dramatic early days of Black Jack. This series produced after the legend has passed is far above anything I expected and stands out as one of favorite characters and stories derived from the Tezuka legacy. Young Black Jack provides plenty of drama and a wonderful dose of excitement.

Overall Grade: A-

If I was on the design staff for this series I would have brought up the one glaring issues with the character development. It has to be the unevenness of the character design. I know that there will always be a group that want to stay true to the strange and somewhat silly character design that is trademark Tezuka, but for this series it would have made more sense to make them all look more contemporary than the silly bulbous headed people that show up in the series. There is an uneven mix of normal looking characters and the silly Tezuka people. All I can do is ask why, it looks silly and detracts from the solid aspects of the anime.

To be perfectly honest I see Young Black Jack as something more than a Tezuka product, but rather a drama that continues to prove that humanity may need to be saved and at the same time not saved. I felt this way with other series like Black Lagoon and Darker Than Black. It just seems that Young Black Jack highlights the futility in our world and that giving all of yourself still may not be enough.

All you Tezuka fans get ready to be overjoyed and everyone else please try to get over the poor character design and look at the series as a whole. You will be very surprised and discover the deeper thoughts that run many anime that relate to a very easter way of thinking. So, be sure to check out Young Black Jack you will be happy you did.

 

Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 (anime review)

Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 2 blu-ray

parasyte-the-maxim-2Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Creator: Hitoshi Iwaaki

Screenplay: Shoji Yonemura

Music: Ken Arai

Studio: Madhouse

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Thriller, Sci Fi, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

They seem like the perfect killing machines: taking the form of their latest victim as they move on to hunt their next meal, blending invisibly into chaos of human civilization.

But as the human race becomes aware of the invaders, the rules unexpectedly change. Because, while the predators may be far more deadly individually, human beings hunt in packs… and no species in the universe has spent more time perfecting new ways to kill than man.

As the military secretly mobilizes and a shadow war erupts, Shinichi and Migi find themselves trapped in the escalating purge. Born from a merging of both sides and yet belonging to neither, the best they can do is merely hope to survive as the lines between friend and foe cease to exist.

The war between the planet’s two apex species spills into the streets as human sheep reveal the wolves hidden inside in the apocalyptic second collection of PARASYTE- THE MAXIM!

Commentary:

Parasyte the Maxim does something that reminded me of why I enjoy anime and much of the Japanese culture. It manages to turn this dark story into a lesson in Buddhism. Particularly a lesson in Zen Buddhism. The concept that all life is precious and that humanity has a very narrow view of the world hit home. The odd awareness that Migi goes through is poignant and the awakening that Shinichi experiences is something to be jealous of.

The series did fall back on some rather weak plot line legs that allowed it to slow down and begin to shift focus from a crazy blood lust of season one to a understanding that defines the dichotomy that is humanity. This change over manages to make the series a little less pop culture and I think this is also where it lost a large number of fans. For me, it is where it became stronger and defined itself as a series that had something to say.

Overall Grade: A-

Parasyte the Maxim collection 2 is a hit in my book, I am just afraid that it might loose some of its fan base because it was not as splattery as collection one and there just isn’t the body count that the Parasyte started with. This simple fact gained some respect from me, I feel like anime that makes it over to North America has become too pigeon hold and teed to only offer some of the worst of the art form.

The animation quality of Parasyte is of average quality and is classic Madhouse work. The english voice acting was fine, I can’t say that it made me notice any weakness or strength. Overall, it is simply the emphasis on the plot and change in dialog the series focused on that made the difference for me.

If you are looking for a series that showcases a true Japanese cultural viewpoint the you should pick Parasyte the Maxim up!

 

Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 (anime review)

parasyte-collection-1Title: Parasyte the Maxim Collection 1 on blu-ray

Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Creator: Hitoshi Iwaaki

Screenplay: Shoji Yonemura

Music: Ken Arai

Studio: Madhouse

U. S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 4th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Thriller, Sci Fi, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis: 

It’s the ultimate nightmare. One minute Shinichi Izumi is a normal teenager asleep in his bed. The next he’s been infected with a deadly parasitic organism determined to devour his brain and turn his body into the planet Earth’s new apex predator.

But Shinichi partially foils the attack and, instead of being consumed, finds that the creature known as Migi has taken the place of his right hand. Now forced to share the same body, the two must become unwilling allies. Migi isn’t the only one of his kind, and unless human and parasyte work together, they’ll both be killed as abominations. Prepare yourself for a horrifying new world where the survival of the fittest and the survival of the human race are no longer the same thing. Monsters lurk behind every corner and every face as the human race becomes prey in Parasyte ~ the maxim!

Commentary:

Brace yourself, this is not the bloody horror story that cover art would leave you to believe. It is in fact a story of human and alien integration and a battle for survival. Parasyte the Maxim is a serious drama with plenty of blood, but it is more of a conversation of how to coexist rather than destruction. That in itself saves the series from a sorry death of over the top cut up festival. I admit there is plenty of useless slaughtering of people and plenty of dark moments that feel like pure violence for spectacle sake.

Parasyte the Maxim does a very good job of telling this story and the real strength is in the growth and development of Shinichi and how he deals with his changing body. I found his character to be easy to feel some sympathy toward and also have a little dislike for the way he often became a weak kneed young man. The real drama came from the dilemma about taking another life and how Shinichi deals with it. With the focal point being on this dilemma it become a little redundant, but Shinichi is given enough struggles to overcome to make the series move at a decent pace.

Overall Grade: B+

Parasyte the Maxim manages to over come the easy trap of being just another slasher series and gives us a series to with some thoughtful drama. There is a slight tenancy to make Shinichi a tad weak but they keep him strong enough to push the series forward. Parasyte the Maxim is a sold drama that doesn’t play up the gross blood fest that it could be. I am very interested to see collection 2 and wonder if he manages to save his life and the life of the alien life form that is living in him.

 

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.

 

 

 

Tokyo Ghoul season 1 (anime review)

Tokyo-Ghoul season oneTitle: Tokyo Ghoul season 1

Director: Yutaka Yamada

Creator: Sui Ishida

Studio: Pierrot

U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 22nd, 2015

Format: Blu-ray & DVD / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Thriller, Dark Fantasy

Age Rating: TV 17+ (violence)

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures who look exactly like humans, yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his new found powers, and the fine line between man and monster.

Commentary:

Tokyo Ghoul has already taken on a hype that hasn’t been seen since Deadman Wonderland first made its way to our shores. I use Deadman Wonderland as the prime example because the story feels a lot like it. It just has enough story line changes that very few people will see the similarity. There is also the over used young whinny male lead that we have seen over and over since Evangelion first aired. Ken is a nice young man given a terrible gift to remain alive and now must whine about not wanting to kill for the next 11 episodes and honestly I for one am getting very tired of this charter being forced upon us over and over again.

Tokyo Ghoul is much better than Deadman Wonderland and no where as confusing as Evangelion, but that doesn’t help it get over the punk factor. I get where they are coming from by making the humans nothing more than cattle to the ghouls. That concept is nothing new or different. The main draw to the series is most likely the graphic amount to blood that splatters the world they live in. The only reason they create the moral conundrum is to give the series a point.

Overall Grade:

My great hope for Tokyo Ghoul is that it makes it past the overwhelming anime history that it has decided to emulate. I am looking forward to the second season because the end of the first season gave me a peek at something that could in fact take the series to the next level. I just hope Ken looses that Kenji whinny persona because it makes me want to turn off the blu-ray player and never watch it again.

The production values are that standard fare from studio Pierrot and the writing manages to give us enough solid footing to keep the viewer moving to the next episode. The one thing that is for sure is that the U. S. audience is clearly a sucker for a bloody series that just might go absolutely nowhere. Maybe there will be a surprised or maybe just maybe it will fall apart and prove to be another series that never made it Japan and was sold to the U. S. Viewer as something really special.

 

Hellsing Ultimate Volume 2 (anime review)

Helsing Ultimate 2review provided by Katie and Andrew

Title: Hellsing Ultimate Volume 2

Director: Tallesin Jaffe

U.S. Distributor: Funimation

U.S. Release Date: November 13, 2012

Format and Length: DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack / 180 Minutes

Genre: Action, Thriller

Age Rating: 17 and up

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Series or Titles: Devil May Cry, Hellsing, Hellsing Ultimate Volume 1

Synopsis:

Alucard and the entire gang are back for Hellsing Ultimate Volume Two. Things are heating up between the Hellsing Organization and the crazy Nazi Major, but Alucard is far away on another mission. Whatever will Sir Integra and Seras Victoria (Police Girl) do? They will split up and try to survive until Alucard comes back to save the day. Police Girl and the mercenaries that Sir Integra hired will stay back and protect the Hellsing Manor while Sir Integra and the Iscariot, along with Anderson, try to protect the streets of London from the Major’s vampires and the ghouls that they create. Add in the fact that the Vatican decided to send in the crusaders and things get interesting quickly. Make sure to watch out for flying body parts and blood along the way.

Finally, Alucard comes back to save the day. He is finally allowed to show his true form and that allows him to fight against the crusaders and the Major’s undead army. Of course, the Major had planned for this and it does not faze him in the slightest. But of course, what would Hellsing Ultimate be without the fighting between the Iscariot and the Hellsing Organization? Never fear, Anderson and Alucard will make things interesting and not even give Police Girl a chance to break up their fight.

Commentary:

Once again, I can say that I really enjoyed watching Hellsing Ultimate Volume Two. This time around they decided to add some interesting animation within the episodes as comedic relief. Those short scenes had me holding my side because I was laughing so hard. The music was roughly the same as Volume One, slightly gothic and fit well with the theme of the anime. The ending animation and music was different for each episode. I have to say that this OVA series has worked its way into my heart and I hope that there are more episodes released soon. The animation was better this time around, which was nice.

The character development was greatly improved this time. They focused on Seras’ background mostly, but it added much depth to her character and made me like her even more. She is still the comic relief at times but she also turned into a serious character when the time called for it. It was also interesting to see the past between Sir Integra and the Minister of Defense because it showed their mutual respect for each other. They also gave insight into the Iscariot’s past, for better or worse. The Nazi’s also had their background focused on this time. We learn all about the “special experiments” they did during WWII and the consequences that the world faces due to them.

I also loved the interaction between Police Girl and the leader of the group of mercenaries, Pip Bernadotte. Their story is not the classic boy meets girl love story, but it is romantic in its own way. Thanks to them, we also learn what happens when someone willingly allows you to drink their blood and because of that Police Girl turns into a true vampire. That is the first thing that Alucard notices upon his return.

This anime is available in the Blu-ray Combo Pack and that includes 3 DVDs and 2 Blu-ray disks. All episodes are on the first Blu-ray disk and the extras are on the second. I believe that there are two episodes per DVD and then the final disk is the extras.

Extras:

Hellsing Ultimate Volume Two includes episode commentary, dubbing Hellsing – the 10th year anniversary interviews, Hellsing cast round table discussion, anime Vegas 2010 Hellsing Panel, fans’ questions answered, The Dawn: A Supplementary of Hellsing, textless closing songs, U.S. Trailer, and previews as the extras. Again that is a lot of extras but I do recommend that you watch The Dawn: A Supplementary of Hellsing as it shows the work of Alucard during WWII.

Overall Grade: A-

Hellsing Ultimate Volume Two is a very gory and bloody anime. This volume is much more bloody than the first one, but do not let that deter you from watching, just be prepared.

XIII: The Series (Live Action Review)

XIIITitle: XIII

Staring: Stuart Townsend and Aisha Tyler

 

Produced By: Prodigy Pictures and Luc Besson’s production company

U. S. Distributor: Giant Ape / FUNimation (Group 1200)

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 16th, 2014

Age Rating: TV 14

Genre: Thriller, Spy, Espionage

Overall Personal Grade: B

Synopsis:

Agent XIII was left to rot in an Eastern European prison with no memories of his past or hope for his future. After a high-stakes breakout, he finds himself immersed in a network of spies and special agents as he attempts to figure out if the man he used to be was a patriot or a monster. Along the way, he uncovers a global conspiracy reaching from the Oval Office to the prisons of Venezuela involving plans for a weapon that could forever change the balance of international power. But when you’re a rogue agent on the run from both government agencies and terrorist cells, is there anyone you can really trust?

Originally airing on broadcast on Reelz in 2012-2013, XIII-The Series also aired in Canada and France.

Giant Ape Media will release the series in two parts on DVD on September 16, 2014.

Commentary:

This special early review of XIII is based on the first 3 episodes of the series. I realize that that is not much to go on, but in this case it is enough to understand where it fall in the world of spy thrillers. Typically we don;’t see to many spy thinners hit the small screen or even come in a full 26 episodes. We almost always see them on the big screen and made into an action packed block buster. XIII is clearly action packed but because of its format it certainly does not rate as a block buster. Based on what I saw the production level matched well with a lower budget tv series set to air on one of the lower numbered cable channels. This doesn’t mean that it poorly made it just means that the production quality does not always do the series justice.

As for the acting, I am a fan of Aisha Tyler and her comedy has alway been top notice, but in XIII I felt like she left something at the door. It is obvious that her character had feeling for Agent XIII but she doesn’t let that show through when it would make the most sense. In other words I felt like she came off flat. As for Stuart Townsend I found him to have much more pronounced ups and downs. In some of the quitter moments I could really confect with his character and his whole struggle with his identity, but when his character became more active and involved he seemed to leave the set and just let his shell go through the motions. I guess he elves me rather ambivalent about the staring role.

Now the story is cool and the plot live seem to want to give us a lot to think about and in the first three episodes I found myself wondering what is really going on. Is this a conspiracy against the President of the US or is this some corporate plot to hide the deep dark truth about something they did. I just don’t know and in some ways just don’t care. I guess that I will need to see the rest of the series to understand what is going on. I did find this to be one of the best series for live action fight scenes especially early one when XIII takes on the woman spy who helps him break out of prison. I found it to be somewhat believable and almost honest. There were only one or two moments when I thought any real human would be on the floor swimming in the see of black fog because they were utterly unconscious. Other than that most of the action was rather typical spy thriller hero action where the good guy can take a bullet and keep going, but the minions  even smell a bullet coming their way and they are flat on the found.

Overall Grade: B

XIII is a action packed series and it brings on the fight scenes to keep things going. I feel like the plot is coming off a little convoluted and confusing but very entertaining for what it is. As for the acting, this is where I have my biggest problem. I can honestly say that the two main stars are the weakest of the bunch. The strongest acting in the first three episodes was by Caterina Murino who played Samantha, XIII’s love interest and helper. She brought some feeling to her role that helped give focus to Townsend’s character and also provided him an opportunity show some feeling too. If you are looking for a fun action packed spy thriller that has some rather deep layers , then you need to check it out when it comes out.

 

 

Robotics;Notes part 2 (anime review)

Robotics;Notes part 2Title: Robotics;Notes part 2

Director: Kazuya Nomura

Writer: Jukki Hanada

Studio: Production I. G.

U. S. Distributor: FUNimation

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

Format: Blu-ray /DVD/ 11 Episodes / 235 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Thriller, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Kaito, Akiho, and the rest of the Robot Research Club have finally completed their dream of building a giant robot, only to discover they’ve still got a ton of work to do. As they draw up plans for a new model, strange things start happening around them. A robot uprising wreaks havoc in Tokyo, a network-based AI crosses over into the real world, and the Kimijima reports foretell of an impending apocalypse.

The real questions are what is up with Misa, Akiho’s big sister? Who is Ko Kimijima and what is his role in all of this? Will Gunvarrel make it to Tokyo? What is the story behind Aire? What makes Frau Koujiro so freeky?  These and many other question are answered in part 2 of Robotics;Notes, or are they?

Commentary:

The first thing that stood out in the conclusion of Robotics; Notes was the tone of the series. With no real surprise, the series took on a much more serious flavor that took it from being a light high school club series to a dramatic  Sci Fi that has hidden romantic undertone. This shift in focus is also very reminiscent of Steins; Gate, but the plot twist imbedded in the series is not as convoluted. The fact that it comes across somewhat simplistically just might be the reason it doesn’t have as high of an impact as Steins; Gate.

Robotics; Notes is a very good series that turns a Sci Fi mystery into a conversation on our reliance on technology and the future that could prove to be very challenging. The one thing that I was expecting, but did not get in part 2 was a bigger story and more leaps of faith between the story and the viewer.  No getting that pushing of plausibility is a real disappointment for me but it does not mean that there aren’t plenty of classic anime physics benders in Robotics; Notes, I just didn’t see any that made me question the sear nature of things.

Overall Grade: A-

Robotics; Notes delivers a solid package that is full of fun and entertainment and continues to showcase why anime is so much different than western cartoons. There were parts in this 22 episode series that I felt is dragged a little and in doing so it detracted from the story, it didn’t have that negative of an effect.

So, if you are looking for a fun story that intertwines Sci Fi, Romance, and a Thriller with the world at stake then Robotics; Notes is for you.

Mardock Scramble The Third Exhaust (anime review)

Mardock Scramble The Third ExhaustTitle: Mardock Scramble The Third Exhaust on Blu-ray

Director: Susumu Kudo

Writer: Tow Ubukata

Studio: GoHands

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

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

Format: Blu-ray / Feature Film / 66 minutes

Genre: Cyberpunk, Sci Fi, Drama, Action, Adventure

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: A

Synopsis:

Rune Balot’s struggle to bring the man who killed her to justice continues amid the world of high-stakes gambling and glamour at the Eggnog Blue Casino. The odds are stacked heavily in the house’s favor, and even with the aid of Dr. Easter and Oeufcoque, a universal item capable of turning into anything and everything, Rune’s chances of winning are slim. But winning the golden chips containing Shell Septinos’ memories is only the next step on a long and treacherous road.

Run will still have to live long enough to bring those memories before the court, and even that isn’t the end of the journey. Rune’s search for answers to the questions that haunt comes to a shattering climax!

Commentary:

Finally we have the chance to see how the animated form of Tow Ubukata’s dark Sci Fi thriller Mardock Scramble. Coming to the anime after reading the 750 page novel several years ago brings plenty of expectations and desires, but in the end this anime managed to take on a life of its own without letting me down. This last installment and third film brought Rune Balot’s personality to full fruition and completed the connection between her and the AI weapon that is her partner, Oeufcoque.

As this story developed it brought together a look at humanity in both its darkest and lightest at the same time. There is also a very eastern approach to the dark side that allowed it to have a small but intense sense of honor and love. That does not say that most of the antagonist have something honorable, but there are one or two that bring some added baggage along with their external personas. The yin and yang within the characters adds so much death to the story it makes it all worth while.

Overall Grade: A

This final installment of the Mardock Scramble films does exactly what it needs to do. There is very little waist to the story and also develops a rather deep and enlightening interaction for Rune  that results in a very special aspect of the human condition. Mardock Scramble is something very special in the way it is constructed and executed. Tow Ubukata gives a look at ourselves in a raw and brutal way that goes straight to the core of our existence. I’m not sure that I can do justice to the fine story in this rather weak review, but if you have any interest in the underbelly of humanity and are looking for an honest approach to this genre that provides a hero, or should I say heroin who struggles with her own demons and hatred just to become stronger in order to defeat not just the person but ideals of that dark world. Then you should pick up these movies and enjoy each film. My only complaint is that it took so long to produce and distribute them. Now, I guess it is time to package them all together.

If you are looking for a real treat, be sure to read the novel and them watch the film. I think you will find the translation worth while and get a real treat in seeing for once a genuine translation that gives us two visions of the same story and succeed with both.

This is not for everyone and it doesn’t hold back when showing off the darker side of our species, but if you are looking for a insightful Cyberpunk story that says more than most in a way that leaves you thinking rather seriously about the world we live in and where we are headed, then Mardock Scramble is for you.

Robotics;Notes part 1 (anime review)

Robotics;NotesTitle: Robotics;Notes part 1

Director: Kazuya Nomura

Writer: Jukki Hanada

Studio: Production I. G.

U. S. Distributor: FUNimation

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 18th, 2014

Format: Blu-ray /DVD/ 11 Episodes / 275 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Thriller, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

Kai and Aki dream of building a giant fighting robot based on a super-popular anime, but that’s going to be impossible if they don’t get more members into their school’s Robot Research Club. They’ll take anyone they can talk – or force – into joining them, including an eccentric robotics champion with a secret identity and a l33t video-game designer who’s spent one too many late nights online. Finally, their goal looks like it’s within reach.

But when a sentient AI program tells Kai about mysterious documents hidden on the internet, things start to get strange for everyone. As the club members track down the secret messages, they realize that the information might be far bigger – and more dangerous – than they expected.

Commentary:

Following the Techie anime of the last few years like Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes brings things back to earth and give us a bit more plausible story line (at least so far). With that said there is still plant of little signals that tell me there are things yet unrevealed that will add several layers to the series and make it more like the multi layered Steins;Gate. I’m not saying that those layers are a bad thing and intact I really enjoy it when a series makes me think and then surprises me later. That level of writing is hard to find and also hard to pull of.

So, far the series seems to be somewhat straight forward with a darker mystery sitting there just below the surface. I am very much looking forward to how this plays out and truly expect it to give me reasons to cheer it on. The thing about Robotics;Notes so far is that it is drawing us in with some rather likable characters and a challenge to have a high school club actually build a full size mecha robot that doesn’t defy physics and at the same time makes us imagine a world in our own future where these things can be done.

Overall Grade: A-

With Robotics;Notes following the indirect path or rather a simplistic story line to set us up for something much deeper I find myself hooked. The animation production is at times a bit simple, but that too is a trick that gives us an illusion of a basic teenage high school story and a false sense of security. The voice acting is fitting in just perfectly and gives a another sense of reality that is both reassuring and somewhat unbalanced with the light comedic presence. Of course the story follows a group of high school seniors and their drive to make their mark so the voice acting must come across with the same naivety of those very 17 and 18 year olds, and so far I see them hitting the mark.

Robotics;Notes part 1 doesn’t hit you with a dazzling display of action or in your face mystery. What it does is give you some very likable high schoolers who have their own motivations or lack there of and places them in a very believable world that just might get turned upside down as we go along. I am looking forward to seeing how the series concludes and honestly expect some strong twist along the way. As a Techie Sci Fi companion to the likes of Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate I honestly expect the second half of Robotics;Notes to blow my socks off, so bring it on I am ready.