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.

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School: Future Arc

“It’s clear that a lot of thought and care went into the final adventure of Makoto Naegi and friends, and the results mostly speak to that effort. The story’s primary fault lies with the very nature of its new Killing Game, which doesn’t allow for the murder-mystery fun that the precious games delivered. Instead of participating in whodunit mysteries and gripping trials, the Future Foundation members end up in a battle of wits and deception that moves the plot along swiftly at the expense of the goofy mystery and bizarre intrigue that made the franchise famous. A couple of sub-plots end up petering out instead of resolving in a satisfying manner, but the main story moves along so briskly that those loose threads and dead ends are a bit easier to forgive.”

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

Series Reviews

Blu-Ray Review – Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School: Despair Arc

“While I personally admire this idiosyncratic method of execution, it also means that this Blu-Ray set only makes up half the story, and releasing the Future Arc separately makes experiencing Danganronpa 3 in its intended viewing order pretty inconvenient. But it wouldn’t be Danganronpa without this kind of wild ambition. Over the years, series writer Kazutaka Kodakahas crafted a complex storyline filled with some of the most bizarre-yet-weirdly-lovable characters around. In this final curtain call for the Hope’s Peak gang, the crew at Studio Lerche obviously had a lot of fun bringing this wacky world to life. What the Despair Arc such a treat is that we get to wind things back and finally see what set the world so topsy-turvy for the first time, without the obfuscation of Monokuma’s half-truths and the general confusion caused by gleaning scraps of information in the middle of a Killing Game. Just by offering to answer some long-standing questions about how Junko Enoshima got her master plan of despairful societal collapse rolling, the Despair Arc is an exciting proposition for any fan of Danganronpa.”

You can read the rest of my Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc review on Anime News Network.