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review

Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 DVD

I hope you like the '90s not only because this show is the most '90s thing ever, but also because it just doesn't have a whole lot else going for it. ― Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 definitely has an aesthetic. Now, whether it has a good aesthetic or not, that's the question. I hope you like the '90s. Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 is intensely, aggressively '90s, from its tone to its overall aesthetic to...
review

Aldnoah.Zero Blu-Ray Vol. 1

Earth and Mars go to war in the first volume of creator Gen Urobuchi's sci-fi action hit, now in English and loaded with extras, but is this 6-episode single release worth the investment? ― What sets people apart from each other? That's a question that gets asked almost everyday, with various answers like “color,” “religion,” or “country of origin” all getting tossed around. In the world of Aldnoah Z...
review

Tokyo Ghoul GN 2

Tokyo Ghoul's second volume slows down the pace a little to examine what happens when the line between "monster" and "human" gets a little blurry. ― One of the greatest tropes in horror literature is the fear that the monsters might look just like us. I call it a trope due to its widespread use, but it remains an effective one, and in the second volume of Tokyo Ghoul, Sui Ishida takes that device and...
review

Ultraman GN 1

Straight to you from 1966, it's Ultraman! Luckily you don't have to have seen the original TV show to enjoy this surprisingly non-campy sequel to the famous fighter's adventures. ― There's a good chance that readers outside of Asia aren't as familiar with Ultraman as those within it. While the 1966 show is available on DVD in English, it doesn't have the widespread recognition of, say, The Mighty Mor...
review

Noragami BD+DVD

The story of a typical high school girl who falls in with an obscure god dealing with troublesome spirits. You know, normal high school stuff. ― The title of this 2014 adaptation of a shonen manga literally translates as “stray god,” which is a fitting description for its male protagonist and central character. (That “nora” means “stray” also becomes important in reference to another character who fi...
review

Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine

The second season of Netflix's exclusive CG anime continues the sci-fi drama you've come to expect, but the ending may leave something to be desired. ― The second season of Knights of Sidonia picks up almost exactly where the first season left off, with no recap whatsoever. Hence at least reviewing the events of the first season before beginning this one is strongly recommended, or else the first epi...
review

Denki-Gai Collector's Edition Blu-Ray Vol. 3

The adventures of the Umanohone bookstore crew come to a conclusion (or maybe they just stop) in the final volume of PONYCAN's limited edition release. ― Denki-Gai has never really followed a set pattern for its storylines or episodes, sort of flowing freely from one weird scenario to the next, picking characters to spotlight at random, and generally just running with it. This third and final set of ...
review

Persona 4 the Golden Animation Blu-Ray Vol. 1

All that extra material in Persona 4: The Golden gets animated, but it's for diehard Persona fans only; newcomers to the franchise need not apply. Gabriella Ekens takes a look. ― Persona 4 came out in 2008 and has been printing money ever since. Persona 4: The Golden Animation is an animated collection of scenes exclusive to the game's enhanced re-release, Persona 4: The Golden. It's meant to be inse...
review

Twin Star Exorcists GN 1

Two kids with great talent as onmyoji are told that they must marry and have a child; needless to say they aren't thrilled with the idea in the first volume of this action romance from the creator of Good Luck Girl. ― Raise your hand if you've heard the name “Abe no Seimei.” Chances are good that if you've ever read or watched something based in the Heian period or involving exorcists or onmyoji, you...
review

Demon from Afar GN 1 - 3

Kaori Yuki of Angel Sanctuary fame spins a yarn that draws from the macabre origins of children's rhymes, while still showing off the kind of sexy angels and demons she's famous for. ― Children's tales are deceptive. Many people know that “Ring Around the Rosy” is about the bubonic plague, that “Rock-a-Bye Baby” involves the death of an infant, or that “Little Red Riding Hood” is thought to be a rape...
review

Soul Eater Not! BD+DVD

Somehow both a prequel and a spinoff of the original series, Soul Eater Not! is decidedly more low-key and goofy than its parent series, but is it worth your hard-earned cash? ― This 12-episode 2014 series is both a spin-off and veritable prequel for the shonen action series Soul Eater, and indeed, numerous characters who have prominent roles in that series have either cameos or recurring appearances...
review

Turn A Gundam Sub.DVD

Yoshiyuki Tomino's long-unlicensed eccentric darling Turn A Gundam is finally out on DVD in the US, and Nick Creamer was tasked with making sense of it all. ― Turn A Gundam is certainly a strange one. Set on a unique and compelling parallel earth, it stands somewhat apart from the convoluted chronology of Gundam's usual universes, giving it a very specific personality. And beyond its setting, its sty...
review

Review: Attack on Titan: Part I (Live-Action Movie)

Attack on Titan makes the leap to live-action, and in doing so also makes the leap from shonen action to straight-up nightmare-inducing gruesome psychological horror. Hope Chapman survived to tell you all about it. ― There's a colossal problem in the way for any live-action version of a larger-than-life comic book. What works as a drawing doesn't always work in the flesh, and few premises make a bett...
review

The Irregular at Magic High School Blu-Ray 1

Tatsuya is the most gifted and extraordinary guy around, but the phonies at his magic school won't realize it until he shows 'em. Rebecca Silverman investigates. ― The Irregular at Magic High School is not a series best judged by its first episode alone. Adapted from the popular light novels by Tsutomu Sato, the story is a strange mix of science fiction and fantasy, taking a basic staple of the fanta...
review

The Isolator: Realization of Absolute Solitude Novel 1

Reki Kawahara has improved in both writing and storytelling in his latest novel series, the story of a traumatized young man and the strange alien powers he gains. ― Few light novel authors have gotten the Western exposure that Reki Kawahara enjoys. With the publication of his latest novel series, The Isolator: Realization of Absolute Solitude, all of his novels are now available in English, he has f...
review

Review: Sword Art Online II Blu-Ray 1

Kirito and Asuna return in the first installment of Aniplex's sequel to one of the biggest hits in recent memory. This time they have guns! And Kirito is a girl, sort of! ― Like it or hate it (and my, did it evoke passionate responses both ways!), the first Sword Art Online anime series was a major hit on both sides of the Pacific. Between that and a wealth of already-existing additional material to ...
review

Chaika: The Coffin Princess GN 1

An encounter with a mysterious girl carrying a coffin on her back stands to change the life of Toru Acura, a young soldier lost without a war to fight in the manga version of Ichirou Sakaki's original novels. ― Some readers may already be familiar with Chaika: The Coffin Princess from the anime version. While the manga is not the original form of the story – it began as a light novel series – it does...
review

Please Teacher! DVD

Once upon a time, this romantic comedy about a student in love with his (alien) teacher was an enormous hit. Has time been kind to it? ― The series still commonly-known under its original Japanese name Onegai Teacher is an original anime production from director Yasunori Ide and scenario writer Yousuke Kuroda (Hellsing Ultimate and Mobile Suit Gundam 00, among many other prominent titles). It first a...
review

Nisekoi: False Love Sub.Blu-Ray 4

The final volume of Nisekoi starts dabbling in drama amdist all the comedy, but is it enough for a satisfying finale? ― The fourth Blu-Ray release for Nisekoi covers episodes 15-20, which constitutes the final quarter of the first series. Unlike the ending of the second season, it actually makes one key progression in the relationship dynamics – i.e., getting Chitoge to admit that she may actually be...
review

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer GN 5-6

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer continues to pick up speed, challenging its characters and upgrading its execution in its triumphant third collection. ― From the first collection to the second, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer ramped up significantly in storytelling ambition and execution. A narrow story unfolded into an ambitious ensemble one, and compelling themes regarding family, adulthood, and the ...
review

Monster Musume GN 6

Kimihito is already living with a harpy, a mermaid, a spider woman, a centaur, a slime girl, and a lamia. Could he possibly have room for a dullahan too? And what could possibly go wrong with a grim reaper in the house...? ― If there's one thing that Okayado's Monster Musume is, it's unashamed. There are bare breasts (and nipples) in proliferation, orgasms induced by a variety of thoughts and things,...
review

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! [Limited Edition] BD+DVD

Take it as a paean to joshi puroresu and Wanna Be the Strongest in the World fares pretty well. Take it any other way and, well... you'll see. ― Female pro wrestling in Japan (referred to as joshi puroresu) has existed to some degree since 1948, most typically as an independent promotion from male pro wrestling. Like pro wrestling in the States, Japanese pro wrestling is typically scripted, although ...
review

Magi DVD 2

With Magnoshutatt on the brink of war, can Aladdin convince its leader that non-magicians are human too? ― There is a style of literature known as “Naturalism,” which, in its simplest form, expresses the belief that it is impossible to overcome or rise above the situation you are born into. It isn't always seen in anime, and it certainly wasn't part of the first season of Magi, The Labyrinth of Magic...
review

Nobunagun BD+DVD

Oda Nobunaga, Jack the Ripper, Isaac Newtwon, and other historical greats pass on their talents to E-Gene holders to fight aliens. Wait, where are you going? ― There is something to be said for owning your concept. Nobunagun is essentially about giving descendants of mankind's greats access to their progenitors' abilities so that they can fight off aliens who have an uncanny knack for evolving, and h...
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...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
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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...
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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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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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