Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Spirit of the Sun

A Spirit of The Sun is a two-part television special produced by Madhouse, which first aired in 2006. For the first forty minutes or so of its 2.5-hour runtime, it takes the form of a boilerplate disaster story, with Japan suffering from the fallout of a devastating set of earthquakes and the eruption of Mt. Fuji. Entire cities are drowned by the ocean, over half of Japan’s population is killed, and a neverending sky of ash and smoke chokes the life out of many lingering survivors. At the center of it all is Genichiro Ryu, a good-hearted and selfless young boy who finds himself without his family and without a way out of the disaster zone. That’s the first part of the story. The rest of the narrative takes a shocking number of twists and turns, and for A Spirit of The Sun, that’s both a good thing and a bad thing.”

You can read the rest of my review on Anime News Network!

Series Reviews

Series Review: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

“One of the best tricks that Takagi-san (both the show and the character) pulls over the course of these twelve episodes is how it takes the inherently repetitive formula of its comedy and manages to evolve Takagi and Nishikata’s relationship through it in a sweet and realistic way. Being such a sly trickster, Takagi essentially uses her wit to bamboozle Nishikata into being her unspoken boyfriend, which gives the usual romcom clichés a fun new twist. The two tweens go shopping for swimsuits, learn to ride a bicycle as a pair, and generally engage in all of the dorky dating practices that young teens get into, even if Nishikata remains slow on the uptake.”

You can read the rest of my review on Anime News Network.

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Touken Ranbu: Hanmaru

“Before last year, I had never even heard of the mobile game that kickstarted the Touken Ranbu franchise; my introduction to it was in covering the premiere of ufotable‘s take on the series, Katsugeki! Tōken Ranbu, which I found to be an enjoyable bit of sword-fighting spectacle in keeping with the work of the studio responsible for the best Fate adaptations. I expected something in a similar vein going in to Touken Ranbu Hanmaru, despite being produced under a different studio (Doga Kobo), with an entirely new creative team at the helm.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that when you compare Touken Ranbu Hanmaru to its sister series from 2017, the former is an entirely different beast, mostly in that there isn’t anything beastly about it. Where ufotable‘s series put the focus on the hacking and the slashing, where the action here is tossed about only occasionally. Outside of one surprisingly dramatic virtuoso sequence from the season’s last episode, most of this series’ fight scenes are inconsistent and largely inconsequential. In reality, Touken Ranbu Hanmaru is much more of a slice of life series, with each of its twelve episodes devoted mostly to giving the cast of manypretty sword-boys time to play off of one another and generally be cute.”

You can find the rest of my review on Anime News Network.

Series Reviews

Netflix Review – Aggretsuko

“I’m not normally one to go crazy over Sanrio characters, but from the moment the credits rolled on the first of Aggretsuko‘s ten 15-minute episodes, I knew I had found in Retsuko the ideal mascot for perpetually exhausted millennials like myself. Not only do I personally relate to the humor and pathos of this little Red Panda’s struggles, but when you look past Aggretsuko‘s charming animation and delightful characters, there is a sharp and socially conscious edge to its story that makes it a perfect watch for anyone who feels beat down by The System in some way, especially if you can also indulge in some death metal screams and blast beats in the process.”

You can find the rest of my review on Anime News Network.

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – The Morose Mononokean

“If I had to pick any one word to describe the experience of watching The Morose Mononokean, it would probably be “cute”. From beginning to end, this is a gentle story revolving around two mismatched friends who make their living assisting yokai, the Japanese spirits that populated myths, novels, video games, and anime since time immemorial. Some series, like GeGeGe no Kitarō, have used the supernatural beasties to fuel horror-tinged mysteries, while a franchise like Yōkai Watch has used them as capable Pokémonsubstitutes to market toys and games. Meanwhile, The Morose Mononokean eschews any pretense of horror or action to adopt an infinitely more chill approach, carving out a nice little niche for itself by way of its modest ambitions.”

You can find the rest of my review on Anime News Network.

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Keijo!!!!!!!!

“To determine whether or not to invest time and money in Keijo!!!!!!!!, you need only to ask yourself if you like:

  1. Exceedingly silly and completely over-the-top sports showdowns
  2. Animated boobs
  3. Animated butts

If you consider yourself a fan of all of the above, then rejoice, because Keijo!!!!!!!! has everything you’re looking for. This series delivers insane boob-jiggling and butt-bouncing action that is so mind-numbly stupid that it comes right back around to being tons of fun, albeit the kind that will make your loved ones ask some incredibly awkward questions if they happen to stumble into the room. Director Hideya Takahashi and the rest of the crew at Studio Xebec know that Daichi Sorayomi‘s source material could never in a million years be taken seriously, so instead they lean into the ridiculousness to produce a fun and memorable action series that wouldn’t know the word shame if it was tossed at them with incredible speed by a high-powered butt-cheek.”

You can find the rest of my review on on Anime News Network.

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Kiznaiver

Studio Trigger officially burst onto the TV anime scene with 2013’s popular and controversial hit, Kill la Kill. Over the past half-decade, Trigger has made a name for itself with its eclectic and energetic visual style. Compared to the company’s mainstay hits, however, Kiznaiver stands out from the pack in many ways. While the studio’s is often associated with blowing simple ideas up into stupendous visions, Kiznaiver offers a more complicated character drama that remains nuanced throughout the entirety of its twelve-episode run.

While the above plot summary might lead viewers to expect a series of escalating twists and exciting action sequences, the vast majority of Kiznaiver‘s storytelling remains rooted in its young cast’s social and romantic entanglements, less a heady science-fiction drama and more a teenage melodrama, with the Kizuna System functioning primarily as a very on the nose metaphor for the pain that comes from developing close relationships with other people. Trigger recruited the prolific Mari Okada to help compose the scenario for this series, and she brings along her style of high concept writing that has been hit-or-miss for me over the years.”

You can read the rest of my review on Anime News Network.