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review

Maria the Virgin Witch Episodes 1-12 Streaming

An underappreciated adventure series that explores the life of a witch during the Hundred Years War who has a decidedly complicated relationship with her virginity. ― What do you get when combine magical girls, medieval history, a thesis on religion and female sexuality, penis jokes and dancing owls? You get Maria the Virgin Witch, the sleeper hit of the winter 2015 anime season. This show came out o...
review

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro Blu-Ray

Miyazaki’s thrilling first film arrives in a special edition worthy of the title. ― Before Studio Ghibli, before Nausicaa, before Oscar honors and western fame and general anime elder statesman-dom, Hayao Miyazaki worked on the very first Lupin III series at A Pro, along with his longtime Ghibli partner Isao Takahata. Though he'd shift from this work to the renowned Heidi, Girl of the Alps and then F...
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Naruto Shippuden Uncut Set Volume 22

The Fourth Great Shinobi War is just getting heated up in this collection of episodes. ― Naruto Shippuden's 22nd DVD set (episodes 271-283) is a mixed bag, but it rarely disappoints. With the Fourth Great Shinobi War finally off the ground, there are countless battles to showcase and many, many stories to tell. While a number of the mini arcs featured in this volume do a commendable job of showcasing...
review

Kamisama Kiss GN 18

Nanami is back from the past and off to Okinawa in this volume of Julietta Suzuki's story about an ordinary girl who becomes a goddess. ― For many book series, manga or otherwise, the fulfillment of the romance plot or subplot marks the end of the story. In Julietta Suzuki's Kamisama Kiss, that does not appear to be the case – volume seventeen got Tomoe to finally admit his feelings while Nanami lear...
review

Dream Fossil: The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon GN

This collection of early short stories by the late great Satoshi Kon offers a rare glimpse into the creative mind that would go on to create some of anime's most memorable films. ― Paprika. Tokyo Godfathers. Millenium Actress. Memories. Whatever you know Satoshi Kon's work from, chances are you know his films, and while that was his primary creative medium, he also penned manga which shares the same ...
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Review: Ping Pong the Animation BD+DVD

Ping Pong the Animation brings together Masaki Yuasa’s stunning visual language and Taiyo Matsumoto’s focused, insightful storytelling in a triumph of a production. ― Masaaki Yuasa is an animator's animator. Whether it's through contributing evocative slices to the shows of others in Space Dandy or Adventure Time, staking his own creative territory in originals like Mind Game or Kaiba, or crafting on...
review

Hyperdimension Neptunia [Limited Edition] BD+DVD

If you've ever dreamed of an anime where your favorite game consoles came to life in the form of adorable anime girls, this is it. Just don't think about it too hard. ― The anime version of Hyperdimension Neptunia is based on a series of video games of the same name, which were released in Japan beginning in 2010. (PC versions of them have started to become available in the U.S. as 2015 has progresse...
review

Yuki Yuna is a Hero [Collector's Edition + CD] BD+DVD 2

The saga of Yuki Yuna continues in volume 2 of Pony Canyon's limited edition release. The show remains strong, but is that price point worth it? ― The middle third of the series, which covers episodes 5-8, is a study in dramatic contrasts. Its content varies from intense battles to placid, occasionally comedic slice-of-life and back again before ending with (comparatively speaking) grim revelations. ...
review

Yakitate!! Japan Sub.DVD

Things go international in the second part of Yakitate!! Japan as Azuma heads to Monaco for a competition. Can Pantasia rise above its rivals? ― Bread may seem an unlikely topic for a shounen tournament show, given that it's a multi-hour process to prepare and bake it and that battles need to be fast-paced and exciting. And yet somehow Yakitate Japan manages to pull it off in a second set of twenty-s...
review

.hack//Legend of the Twilight DVD

This chibi-sized comedy followup to the smash hit .hack//sign seemed like a good time to one unsuspecting Nick Creamer. That all changed the minute he started watching... ― It was quite a shock, jumping from .hack//SIGN to this one. SIGN was a compelling series with a variety of debilitating flaws; it was creative and impassioned, but held down by serious failings of structure and storytelling. The s...
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Review: Spirited Away BD+DVD

Studio Ghibli's most decorated and internationally renowned film finally comes to bluray in the US. Does it still hold up after all these years? ― Let's get this out of the way first: Spirited Away won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film back in 2002. As of this writing it's the only animated film from Japan to have ever won that honor, which means that among people who pay attention to a...
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Review: The Cat Returns BD+DVD

Bamboo is whisked away to a fantasy kingdom by the Baron in one of the last remaining Studio Ghibli films to finally get the bluray treatment. ― It's difficult to talk about Studio Ghibli films without comparing them to one another. Whether they're directed by Hayao Miyazaki or not, everything is perpetually compared and contrasted. In that regard, for those who are keeping score, The Cat Returns is ...
review

The Devil is a Part-Timer! Novel 1

The novel that spawned the hit comedy series about the devil himself working in fast food finally hits shelves. Theron Martin investigates. ― The anime adaptation of this light novel series by Satoshi Wagahara was one of the best and funniest series of 2013, with a concept well-suited to American audiences, so its source material eventually making its way to the States is no surprise. And while the h...
review

Amagi Brilliant Park

Kyoani's until-now-unlicensed series about a self-centered teen who winds up saving a theme park with the help of a few lovely ladies is finally on Crunchyroll, and Theron Martin takes a look. ― In one episode of the anime version of The Twelve Kingdoms, heroine Youko pretended to be an actor portraying an evil visitor from another world to hide the fact that she actually was the “evil” visitor that ...
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So Cute It Hurts!! GN 1

Fraternal twins swap places and find love in this new shoujo title that's both goofy and sweet. ― Go Ikeyamada has been writing shoujo manga since 2002, but So Cute it Hurts marks her English-language debut. The story, her latest, follows semi-identical twins (technically they'd be classified as fraternal twins, but they look alike) Megumu and Mitsuru who switch places with each other when Mitsuru fa...
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World Conquest Zvezda Plot Sub.DVD

Theron tries to understand this bizarre comic oddity about a secret organization with its sights on world domination. ― Anime is often accused (and not without some validity) of being heavily derivative and cliché-laden, but every so often it produces something truly and uniquely bizarre, something which does not easily fit into any normal anime classification system. In 2014 that title was World Con...
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No Game, No Life Novel 1

Shut-in siblings are summoned to a game-based world in order to fight for humanity in the first volume of this different take on the trapped-in-a-game story. ― The plotline pioneered by Vivian Vande Velde in the early 1990s – of people being pulled into a real-life videogame either virtually or in the flesh – has definitely taken Japan by storm, and Yuu Kamiya's original novel for No Game No Life is ...
game review

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

Dave Riley straps himself in for a trip through Swery65's crime-solving, episodic murder mystery, now on PC. ― A giant man in a surgical mask and crisp white suit steps out of the airplane bathroom, scraping his cutlery while the sounds of a smoky saxophone tootle through the air, and you can't help but think, "we're still doing the David Lynch thing, huh?" Swery65's crime-solving, episodic murder my...
review

The Ancient Magus' Bride GN 1

The Ancient Magus’ Bride spins a strange and captivating tale out of a very weird premise. ― The Ancient Magus' Bride is a strange little story, and all of its most divisive strangeness is frontloaded in the very first chapter. The manga opens with a teenage girl up for auction, about as strong a statement of “things are different here” as you could imagine. The girl for sale is our protagonist, Chis...
review

Haikyu!! Sub.Blu-Ray

A pint-sized player and a volleyball king join a struggling high school team in this smash hit sports anime that took the fujoshi world by storm. ― Shoyo Hinata is a shounen hero in the typical mold – a go-getter, talented beyond expectations, but still charmingly innocent in the ways of his chosen world. In his case, that world is volleyball, and despite his lack of height, Sho has the raw talent an...
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Wolfsmund GN 6

Wolfsmund has never been a series that holds back, and this volume is no exception. ― Spoiler Warning: In order to fully review this book, a fairly major spoiler must be discussed. Proceed at your own risk. Vertical isn't a publisher known for lengthy back cover copy describing the story, and in the case of the sixth volume of Mitsuhisa Kuji's grim historic tale Wolfsmund, they both outdo themselves ...
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Tokyo Ghoul GN 1

The anticipated release of the original Tokyo Ghoul manga is here! Read on to see how Sui Ishida's story of a young man straddling the worlds of predator and prey plays out. ― Mangaka Sui Ishida deserves praise for several things in this first volume of his series Tokyo Ghoul, but one of the most obvious is his choice of man-eating monsters. Ghouls are very similar to another, more overused threat to...
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Sword Art Online: Girls' Ops GN 1

Supporting characters given short shrift in the main storyline get feature treatment in this expansion of the SAO franchise, but does it scratch the SAO itch? ― Given the immense success of the Sword Art Online franchise, it should not be a surprise that it would eventually spawn some manga spin-offs. (Madoka Magica, anyone?) That the first such manga would feature Silica, Lizbeth, and Leafa is also ...
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Ranma ½ Blu-Ray Set 5

Theron makes it through another 23 episodes of Ranma 1/2, but boredom begins to set in; is the series' charm enough to counter the repetition? ― Set 5 covers episodes 93-115 under the Viz Media numbering system (75-97 of the original Ranma ½ Nettohen numbering), which includes most of what was originally released as Season 5 of the series and the first three episodes of Season 6. It spans the time pe...
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Review: Expelled from Paradise Blu-ray

Aniplex's Bluray of Seiji Mizushima and Gen Urobuchi's CG sci-fi action adventure is out this week; Hope Chapman investigates the English dub and the limited edition extras. ― It's rare to see an anime movie released with such a strong, yet entirely mysterious pedigree behind it. Seiji Mizushima and Gen Urobuchi are both well-established voices in their industry, but they've never worked on a project...
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Gingitsune Sub.Blu-Ray

Gingitsune is a gentle story about a girl who can see her family shrine's spirits and their everyday lives. Is it worth your time? ― Based on the manga of the same name by Sayori Ochiai, Gingitsune is the anime equivalent of snuggling under a favorite blanket in front of the fire – a soft, warm experience that doesn't try to be anything more than it is. Slice of life with a supernatural twist, the st...
review

Evergreen GN 1

A boy with a weak heart and a girl with a big one find each other in this charming romance from the author of Toradora. ― It isn't surprising that Evergreen comes from the pen of the woman who wrote both Toradora and Golden Time. There's an underlying layer of humanity to the story that goes beyond its stock characters in the same way her other works do, infusing a little something extra into what is...
review

Sword Art Online: Progressive Novel 1

Return to Aincrad's early days as Reki Kawahara writes about the start of Sword Art Online, the game of death. ― Reki Kawahara says in his afterward to this first volume of the Sword Art Online Progressive (SAOP) novel series that he was conflicted about bringing Kirito and Asuna together so early in the game. He fears that it will confuse readers and play fast and loose with the mythology establishe...
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Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Novel 2

When an infant survives being ingested by a Titan, you know his life isn't going to be an easy one. ― How well do you know Attack on Titan? How much do you like adventure novels with a slight science fiction bent? If the answer to the first is “not very” and the second “a lot,” then you're in luck – Vertical's translation of Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Novel 2: Kuklo Unbound is an exciting read ...
review

Denki-Gai [Collector's Edition + CD] Sub.Blu-Ray 2+DVD

Denki-Gai isn't quite as clever or as funny as it wants to be in this second high-priced release...though it really does try. ― The second four episodes of Denki-Gai, one of Ponycan's debut US releases, is somewhat less than the first in terms of content. Where the first box set of this slice-of-weird-life show trod some unusual ground in terms of female-oriented fanservice and over the top kookiness...
review

Freezing Vibration BD+DVD

This edgy, dark fanservice sequel may have gone a little too far into "edgy and dark", but the series' other qualities might just make up for that. ― At its core, the Freezing franchise is essentially a sci-fi version of Claymore flavored with elements from a handful of other franchises and loaded up with fan service on the level of the most explicit titles of the past few years. That impression only...
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Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer GN 3-4

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer finds its footing in a pair of volumes full of new characters and new adventures. ― I couldn't really figure out Biscuit Hammer within its first couple volumes. The plot was fairly simple - the Mage is planning to destroy the earth with the titular hammer, and the Princess and her twelve Beast Knights are meant to stand against him. To this you add the cynical personali...
review

Black Lagoon GN 10

Warning: Black Lagoon may contain violence, law breaking, running with scissors, adult situations, parallel narratives, government spies, and just about everything else you've been warned against. And it's totally worth it. ― It's been a long wait for the crew of the Black Lagoon last sailed into our bookstores, but it looks like it was worth the wait. Volume ten of the violent (yet human) action ser...
review

Nisekoi: False Love Sub.Blu-Ray 3

Another love interest gets added to the Nisekoi pile, but is it enough to inject some life into this standard harem comedy? ― Anime romantic comedies commonly depend heavily on regular infusions of new characters to sustain and periodically revitalize themselves, and so far the first Nisekoi series has been pretty good about pacing itself on this. In its second quarter the addition of Seishiro shook ...
review

REVIEW: .hack//SIGN DVD

Before Sword Art Online, before Log Horizon, there was .hack//SIGN. Is the original MMO adventure worth revisiting? Nick Creamer investigates. ― In a time when Sword Art Online and Log Horizon have both become relative titans of the “genre,” it's interesting to return to the grandfather of MMO anime. .hack//SIGN is different from those shows - in contrast to Log Horizon's focus on worldbuilding and S...
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D-Frag! BD+DVD

There's rarely a dull moment in this tale of a rogue Game Development Club and the hapless wannabe thug they rope into joining their ranks. ― Some people take their games more seriously than others, be they boardgames, video games, or old-fashioned role-playing. The girls in this particular Game Development Club take it a step further – they live their games, and not just in a LARPing sense. All of t...
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Fantastic Detective Labyrinth Sub.DVD

Fantastic Detective Labyrinth combines a lot of genres in a bid to be an interesting mash-up of mystery and fantasy, but someone during production got lost along the way. ― There are times when the title of the series is just too ambitious for what it turns out to be. Fantastic Detective Labyrinth is one of them. Based on the manga of the same title by Meito Manjo and Seiji Wakayama, the plot limps a...
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Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club Sub.DVD

Are you ready for the swim boys? They're ready for you. At least, they're ready in sub-only, bare-bones DVD form. Rose Bridges spends a few hours with everyone's favorite wet lads. ― In politics, there are two broad types of successfully candidates: those who appeal to a wide variety of voters in different ways, and those who pander heavily to a passionate "base." The same is true of popular anime, a...
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Whispered Words GN 3

Will Sumika and Ushio be able to find lasting love in a world that doesn't always accept them? ― There are plenty of books, manga, prose, and poetry alike, which deal with the troubles that come with adolescence, not the least of which is the issue of being “different.” That word can mean many things in the harsh land of high school, and Takashi Ikeda's Whispered Words has consistently handled its ta...
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Sankarea: Undying Love GN 11

Can there be a happy ending for a zombie who is entering her terminal eater phase and the boy who created her? ― Somewhere in the back of our minds whenever we read a romance is the question, “Will this have a happy ending?” With some stories we know the answer immediately; others, like Mitsuru Hattori's Sankarea, make us question that answer constantly. The truth lies somewhere in-between in this ca...
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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Novel 2

It's the second light novel in the series that spawned the popular anime. Do Bell's RPG adventures deliver, or do they just... string you along? ― The first novel of Fujino Omori's series offered Western readers an unprecedented opportunity to actually read an official English release of the source content for an anime series before it even made it on air. The second novel offers the unprecedented op...
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Hanamonogatari Sub.Blu-Ray

Monogatari returns for a neatly self-contained arc that reveals new sides of an old friend. ― Monogatari has nothing left to prove. In the wake of Hitagi End, the show's central themes have been established, articulated, and hammered home. All of us deceive ourselves to make better, kinder worlds, all of us externalize our flaws and see demons outside ourselves, and none of us can be “rescued” from t...
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Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! Episodes 1-12 Streaming

It's a magical girl parody show starring magical boys! Maybe, just maybe, it's a little more inspired than that suggests. ― There are two reasons this show was already hotly anticipated before it came out. One, with the rise in popularity of bishonen shows aimed at fujoshi, it was basically inevitable that somebody someday was going to riff on the magical girl genre but with boys. The only surprise w...
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The Garden of Sinners -recalled-out summer- Blu-Ray

After seven films, there's another Garden of Sinners movie, this time exploring some side-stories from the series. Gabriella Ekens is on the case, but the film may leave more than a few things desired. ― Seven films into the Garden of Sinners experience, do we even need to spend any more time with the characters? Shiki and Mikiya's love story has seen fruition, Shiki isn't the killer that her origin ...
game review

Review: Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains

Attack on Titan comes to the Nintendo 3DS, and Dave Riley straps on his 3D maneuver gear to take down some titans. Whether or not he's still having fun after the first one is up for debate, though. ― Trapped behind giant stone walls of their own making, the final remnants of humanity huddle in fear of the unexplained threat of giant, gleefully stupid titans who saunter in every now and then to chow d...
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Let's Dance a Waltz GN 1

What if you found your perfect dance partner and he wanted nothing more to do with either ballroom dance or you? ― In some ways, this is a very familiar story. Natsumi Ando, whose Arisa, Kitchen Princess, Wild@Heart, and Zodiac P.I. Have all previously been released in English, is a skilled enough writer that she depicts middle schoolers for the petty creatures they can be while still making them lik...
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The World's Greatest First Love: The Case of Ritsu Onodera GN 1

When two former sweethearts, both with their own bitter version of their break-up, reunite at a shoujo manga magazine, life begins to imitate the art they work with. ― In the world of manga about manga, most titles focus on the creators themselves, giving us a picture of what it's like to work on a deadline and the pressure that creators face. In Shungiku Nakamura's The World's Greatest First Love, w...
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Magi - The Kingdom of Magic DVD 1

The second season of Magi arrives on DVD with a good plot, some quality issues with the pacing and the English dub. So how does it still manage to be so much fun? ― Magi, be it the Labyrinth of Magic, as the first season was subtitled, or the Kingdom of Magic, the subject of this review, is one of those series where you're never quite certain where it's going. This season begins in the relatively cal...
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Yakitate!! Japan Sub.DVD

You wouldn’t think bread-making would be a believable topic for a shounen competition anime. Maybe it isn't. Nick Creamer still hasn't decided. ― Yakitate!! Japan is a show about youth, and friendship, and hard work, and triumph. It's also a show about bread. It takes all those classic shounen tournament staples - harsh teachers, fierce rivals, harrowing training and last-minute reveals and dramatic ...
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Love Stage!! GN 1

The original manga of Eiki Eiki's Love Stage has arrived in English! Has it been worth the wait? ― There's an established trope in the romance genre, whether the story is about a gay couple or a straight one: at the outset of the relationship, one or the other of the prospective partners will announce that they hate the other one. Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou's Love Stage does do that, but in an unusual...
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One Piece Season 6 Part 3 DVD

We're almost at the end of the Thriller Bark arc, but the animation is starting to fall apart. ― Thriller Bark is One Piece by way of Tim Burton, and as far as story arcs in the shounen series go, it's one of the more interesting. Gecko Moria, one of the Seven Warlords, is both ridiculous and frightening with his ability to steal shadows and use them to animate zombies, and while we are reasonably su...
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You're Being Summoned, Azazel Sub.DVD

Demons abound in this hard-edged short-form comedy series, but does its wildly hit-or-miss nature mean it isn't quite worth the asking price? ― “Nothing good ever comes from calling on demons to solve your problems.” This line is never explicitly said anywhere in this franchise, which consists of two series of 13 13-minute-long episodes (the original from 2011 and the sequel from 2013). However, it c...
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Karneval [Omnibus] GN 1-2

This is an interesting, complicated fantasy adventure that has some unfortunate printing issues. ― The words “carnival” and “circus” have dual connotations. On the one hand, they are places of entertainment, words which make us think of swirling music and fantastic feats, glittering costumes and trained animals. On the other hand, the words can refer to a place where the rules of everyday life have b...
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Genshiken: Second Season GN 6

The gang heads back to Comic Fest in another volume full of doujins, drama, and all the characters you love to wince for. ― The tension is kept at a comfortable simmer for most of this sixth volume. Having spent several volumes stressing over his shifting feelings for Madarame, Hato finally reaches the breaking point when confronted by Sue. In a great scene that demonstrates both more relatable perso...
review

Looking Up at the Half-Moon Sub.DVD

Looking Up at the Half-Moon promises romance and tragedy. As it turns out, it only provides one of those things, and not in the intended way. ― I wish I had something positive to say about this show. I'd even accept “it fails, but at least it tries” - but I honestly don't think Looking Up at the Half-Moon even really tries. It's lazy and tired and clumsily manipulative, lacking the personality or exe...
review

Denki-Gai [Collector's Edition + CD] Sub.Blu-Ray 1+DVD

An otaku slice-of-life show set in a manga shop comprises PONYCAN's other premium release. Find out if it's worth what they're asking. ― The second of Ponycan USA's forays into physical releases for the North American market, Denki-Gai at first seems an unlikely choice. The story takes place in Umanohone, a barely-veiled reference to a popular Japanese doujinshi retailer, something that most certainl...
review

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 GN 2

How can JoJo possibly win against a Dio who has had his evil enhanced by the mysterious stone mask? Possibly by learning some new powers of his own... ― There is something appealing in a mad, manic way about Hirohiko Araki's Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Even if you aren't a fan of over-the-top shounen/seinen action manga, it's hard to resist this series, and its introductory arc, Phantom Blood, just get...
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Kill la Kill [Limited Edition] BD+DVD 5

Find out if the final volume of Studio Trigger's controversial hit nails the landing, or if it's just out naked in the cold. ― Here at the end of Kill La Kill, viewers are forced to confront its most serious question: "What's butts got to do with it?" The show's blatant themes of "exposure" were couched in comedy for most of its run, but this accelerated shift to drama in the second half seems determ...
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Yuki Yuna is a Hero [Collector's Edition + CD] BD+DVD 1

Get the lowdown on PONYCAN's first physical release in the US, a fancy box with the first 4 episodes of the magical girl show Yuki Yuna is a Hero. Is it worth what they're asking? ― In some respects this 2014 production followed a similar path to the one Kyousogiga tread exactly a year before: it was an original anime project which debuted in the Winter season without much buzz, and yet its heavily c...
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12 Beast GN 1

Seven Seas brings us another monster girl manga by the author of Monster Musume! ― From the pen and mind of Okayado, who brought you Monster Musume (also released by Seven Seas) comes the much more generic 12 Beast, a story about an ordinary guy who has to go to another world and save the day, as well as the busty ladies. Eita Touga is a second year in high school, is embarrassed to be a virgin, and ...
review

Fairy Tail Part 15 BD+DVD

The Grand Magic Games heat up as unscrupulous contenders make the fights more dangerous while ominous powers move behind the scenes. Can Fairy Tail still come out on top? ― Fairy Tail has successfully made the standard shounen tournament arc into something that, if not precisely new, is still interesting even as it maintains the genre standards of increasingly powerful battles and hidden powers. Inde...
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She, The Ultimate Weapon DVD

Rising from the dusty wastes of 2002, the grim embodiment of tragedy porn known as Saikano has returned to DVD. Run for your lives. ― In television writing there's an old adage about manipulating the emotions of your audience; there are various permutations on it, but the most common one is known as “kicking the puppy”. This refers to a hypothetical situation in which a writer, desperate to wring som...
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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past GN

Straight from your childhood and the pages of Nintendo Power, Manga great Shotaro Ishinomori puts his own spin on the classic Nintendo game. ― Link, that pantsless elven hero of many a video game, is back from the dead pages of Nintendo Power Magazine! For fans of the Nintendo franchise The Legend of Zelda who were either not subscribing to the Nintendo Power Magazine in 1992 or are not familiar with...
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When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Trigger's chuuni-drenched follow-up to Kill la Kill struggles to get out of that hit show's long shadow. ― When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is many things. Firstly, it's a light novel adaptation, as its lengthy title might indicate. It has the familiar marks of the genre: chuunibiyou characters with insights into how they tick, goofy school antics and a harem for the main male chuuni. Yet...
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Tokyo Ravens BD+DVD part 1

It's an anime series involving magic teenagers at a magic school for magic people! Theron Martin investigates to find out what makes this one stand out. ― When Tokyo Ravens debuted in the Fall 2013 TV season, its adaptation of the eponymous light novel series failed to impress me with its first episode, and that does not change much on a repeat view. Indeed, the first episode is arguably the weakest ...
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Dengeki Daisy GN 16

Dengeki Daisy's final volume arrives, but does it provide a sufficiently happy ending for those we care about? ― Few series, shoujo or otherwise, have consistently retained the air of excitement, tension, and romance that Kyousuke Motomi's Dengeki Daisy has over its sixteen volume run. While the story shifted from high school romance to technological thriller, essentially settling on a “romantic susp...
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Yatterman Night Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Yatterman Night turns a classic children’s show into a story of dystopian struggle, but a lack of consistency threatens to bring the show to its knees. ― Yatterman Night's a strange one. Technically a “sequel” to the 70s cartoon Yatterman, it's akin to 2013's Gatchaman Crowds - an anime that takes a classic children's show and reenvisions it as a heavier piece for a new audience. In Crowds' case, thi...
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Genshiken: Second Season GN 5

Genshiken takes a turn for the absurd in a volume stuffed with farces both intentional and not so much. ― Honestly, it can sometimes be kinda hard to review Genshiken. The manga's just too consistent! The art is always crisp, character work always thoughtful, dialogue always grounded and natural. It can be tricky to find new things to highlight every volume, because the volumes all tend to be roughly...
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My Love Story!! GN 4

My Love Story!! is the shoujo romance for people sick of shoujo romances. ― The central conceit of this collaboration between High School Debut's Kazune Kawahara and Aruko for the first three volumes was that Takeo was such a big, muscular, unattractive guy that no one but Yamato could possibly want to date him. Even Takeo bought into this idea – for most of his dating life, girls were attracted to h...
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Death Parade Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Death Parade spins out a simple death-game premise into a story full of surprises. Does this morbid drama rise to the occasion or collapse entirely? ― Released as part of the 2013 crop of the Anime Mirai young animator project, Death Billiards had a very simple premise. Two men find themselves in a strange bar, Quindecim, where they are told they must play a game of pool before they can leave. Eventu...
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Unbreakable Machine-Doll [Limited Edition] BD+DVD

Advanced dolls controlled by magic are the focus of this light novel-based series that maybe feels a little incomplete. ― This entry from the Fall 2013 TV season is a 12-episode series which really should have been 24 episodes long instead. This is not a case of the production trying to cram too much into one series, however; based on the episode naming conventions, the animation probably covers the ...
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Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches GN 1

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches may not be flying along, but it features a take on the gender swapping genre that we don't get to see as often. ― As far as gender-bending body-swapping stories go, Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches is one of the nicest. I don't mean that in the sense that it's sweet and happy or conflict free, but rather in that there is a lack of the inherent meanness that seems to h...
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Yona of the Dawn Episodes 1-24 Streaming

This shojo adventure has been heralded as one of the most satisfying examples of the genre in ages, but does it live up to the hype? ― There are more than enough anime out there about medieval princesses with reverse harems. It was a big enough genre in the 1990s and early 2000s to spawn multiple parodies. So, a decade and a half late to the party, what Yona of the Dawn offers to set itself apart is ...
review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 3: Rebellion Blu-Ray

Our original Madoka Rebellion review has been updated to discuss today's limited bluray release, with an English dub and a hefty price tag. Did they make it worth the expense? ― In case the title itself wasn't a tipoff, Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie Part 3: Rebellion is a conditional experience. Appreciating the film at all is conditional on having seen either the first two movies, or the origi...
review

Isuca Episodes 1-10 streaming

Theron Martin tackles one of winter 2015's overlooked shows, involving a youma-sealing archer girl and her reluctant housekeeper. ― Make a harem series that is roughly equal parts action, comedy, drama, and horror and you have this 10-episode, seinen manga-based Winter 2015 series (at least initially, anyway, as the horror element that is very prominent early on gradually fades in favor of the other ...
review

Requiem of the Rose King GN 1

Kanno's interpretation of history and Shakespeare is interesting, but it does get bogged down at times, particularly for readers who know the plays she's using as a basis for the series. ― Literature and Shakespeare lovers, beware – you may not be able to read Requiem of the Rose King's first volume without compulsively checking your copies of Henry the Sixth parts one through three and Richard the T...
review

Kill la Kill [Limited Edition] BD+DVD 4

Kill la Kill hits a few speedbumps on the way to its apocalyptic ending in this penultimate volume. ― The high-flying cartoon antics of Kill La Kill reached their zenith in the show's Raid Trip episodes, which means it's time for that missile's nose to curve back down as it comes crashing to earth for an explosive nine-episode final act. While the series tries to maintain its good-natured glee, it's ...
game review

Review: Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart

The latest entry in Idea Factory's consoles-turned-moe-girls series takes the form of a PS Vita strategy game. Heidi Kemps puts it through the paces. ― My experience with the Neptunia franchise hasn't been the greatest: I played the first and second games in their original releases on the PS3 and would choose to describe them as “aggressively mediocre.” Even as someone who nerds out over all manner o...
game review

Review: Bloodborne

Dave Riley eagerly gnaws on From Software's latest grim and visceral action RPG for the PS4, but does it live up to the legacy established by the Dark Souls series? ― Some hours into Bloodborne you'll find your first shield, a rotten wooden board, whose item description comments on its poor construction and immediately insults you for considering using it. "Shields are nice, but not if they engender ...
review

Review: Outbreak Company Blu-Ray

An otaku gets more than he bargained for while applying for his dream job in this 2013 comedy; Theron Martin investigates. ― Clever, witty writing and thoughtful execution can turn even a silly concept into something good, and that is exactly what happens with this 12 episode series from the Fall 2013 season. In fact, it turns out so much better than originally expected that its streaming run was my ...
review

Sailor Moon BD+DVD Part Two

The second part of the first season of Sailor Moon is out, but did they manage to fix all those video problems? ― Well, they tried. It is apparent that the video quality has risen from the first disastrous release of Sailor Moon put out by Viz, and the untrained eye will mostly notice that in the Blu-Ray images are a bit clearer and the ghosting is less noticeable with the exceptions of the second an...
review

Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma GN 5

Food Wars! continues being chock-a-block with cliffhangers and competitions guaranteed to make you reluctant to put the book down once you've started reading. ― KFC and IHOP are not going to cut it when you've finished reading this volume of Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma. From breakfasts to tempt even the least enthusiastic morning eater to fried chicken that will make you wish you could pull it out o...
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Your Lie in April Episodes 1-22 Streaming

Your Lie in April paints adolescent love and musical performance in exuberant colors, and almost gets away with it, too. ― Your Lie in April is a beautiful show. That should be stated first, both because it's true, and because that's where the show itself begins. The first episode opens with a gorgeous, nearly wordless sequence of a girl chasing a cat through blooming spring flowers. Light piano sets...
review

Log Horizon GN 1

Fans of the Log Horizon anime might find story questions answered more quickly in the first volume of this manga adaptation of the light novel. ― Log Horizon, like many a recent franchise, began its life as a series of light novels, in this case by Mamare Touno, before being adapted into both anime and manga. As might reasonably be expected, the difference in the adaptive mediums make each version a ...
review

Review: The Anime Encyclopedia Third Revised Edition

The Anime Encyclopedia's third revision is an impressive achievement, steadfastly chronicling anime shorts, films, and series from 1917 through 2014. ― There is one thing that we can all agree on, hands down – The Anime Encyclopedia is one impressive piece of work. Co-written by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, this tome attempts to chronicle and catalog a century's worth of Japanese animation w...
review

Bleach DVD 24

Theron marathons the second half of a Bleach filler arc, but maybe it isn't all that bad. ― Volume 24 covers episodes 330-342, which constitutes the second half of the series' final filler arc: the Nozomi/Kageroza/Reigai story. It also marks Ichigo's last gasp as a Soul Reaper before being completely depowered; in fact, the arc actually resolves in episode 341, allowing for the entirety of 342 to be ...
review

Review: Rage of Bahamut: Genesis Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Based on the smash card game, Rage of Bahamut brings Hollywood style to the fantasy genre, but can it make it to the end on energy alone? ― MAPPA have been making quite a name for themselves recently. Founded in 2011 by Madhouse founder Masao Murayama, the studio has collaborated on two impressive Shinichiro Watanabe productions, Kids on the Slope and Terror in Resonance, as well as assisted Madhouse...
game review

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Capcom's horror sequel attempts to bring Resident Evil into the episodic age. Dave Riley, superfan of the original Revelations, investigates. ― For fans, Revelations 2 justifies its existence through its protagonists alone, Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, neither of whom have had more than a minigame cameo or light gun spinoff in a decade. Trapped on an abandoned island, Claire and Barry are paired...
review

From the New World GN 7

From the New World's final volume suffers from some jumbled presentation of events and a mixed-up timeline at the very end, but is it a fitting conclusion? ― Endings are not easy. From the perspective of the reader, endings mean that it is time to say good-bye to a story and that it is now up to us to process the events of a tale and what, if anything, they might mean. For authors, endings are a chal...
review

Umineko When They Cry Episode 4: Alliance of the Golden Witch Volume 3 GN 9

Umineko: When They Cry has been getting better with every arc, and with the end of episode four, it has really become difficult to put down. ― What is the difference between magic and imagination? How much belief does it take to make something real? As children many of us had imaginary friends, not unlike Maria's Sakutarou, and most of us probably had rituals that we believed would make things better...
review

Coppelion Complete Series BD+DVD

The controversial adaptation of the hit manga shows up on bluray, but is it worth your time investment? ― What happens when you attempt to condense two distinct story arcs covering eight volumes of manga into thirteen twenty-four minute episodes? Those of you who answered “nothing good” would not be far off, although this adaptation of Tomonori Inoue's manga of the same name is in no way a total loss...
review

Koimonogatari Blu-Ray 5

Monogatari's second season concludes with a tremendous arc that pits the great deceiver Kaiki against an angry god. ― As I've said before, Monogatari isn't just one consistent show - it is several very different shows, all of them awkwardly wound into a single production. Normally, that multiplicity reveals itself through the show's “brokenness” - an arc will be two thirds genius, one third garbage, ...
review

Nisekoi: False Love Blu-Ray 2

The harem series trundles into its second set of 5 episodes, but has it broken out of the standard harem hijinks? ― Want to see the evidence of the impact that early Rumiko Takahashi romantic comedies like Urusei Yatsura and Ranma ½ are still having on anime today? Look no further than Nisekoi. While those two franchises may be utterly different stylistically than this one, the same basic formula is ...
review

Maria the Virgin Witch GN 1

The anime is a hit, but is the first volume of the Maria the Virgin Witch manga just as good? ― Archangels. Valkyries. A succubus named after a virgin goddess and a witch named after the Virgin Mary. Welcome to the mythologically confused world of Masayuki Ishikawa's Maria the Virgin Witch, one of two manga set during Medieval European wars to come out in English in the early spring of 2015. (The oth...
review

Fairy Tail Part 14 BD+DVD

The Grand Magic Games arc of Fairy Tail is just getting underway, and there's an obvious, ominous sub-plot being carried out beneath the merriment. ― Tournament arcs, if not the staple of shounen action stories, are certainly a staple. Fairy Tail has traded in plenty of “X vs Y” battles before, but never actually delved into a formal tournament...until now. While it was mentioned and led up to in pre...
review

Genshiken: Second Season GN 3

With Comic-Fest over, Genshiken slows down for a volume that demonstrates the series doing what it does best. ― With less of a strict central event like Comic-Fest to lend structure to these chapters, Second Season's third volume generally assumes a format closer to the rambling slice of life of the first “season,” with a few notable changes based on the comic's evolving priorities. Obviously the fac...

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