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game review

The Evil Within

It's hard to blame Shinji Mikami for going back to the well, especially when everything else, from Gears of War to The Last of Us, has spent the past ten years stripping Resident Evil 4 to its bones. ― The Evil Within introduces its first enemy in a perfect recreation of Resident Evil's iconic zombie reveal, as if it wants to be certain you know it is a Shinji Mikami game. This is a game with a lot o...
review

A Certain Scientific Railgun S DVD

A Certain Scientific Railgun S' first half is much more action-packed than its predecessor and focuses more on Misaka than on the girl group dynamic of the earlier season. ― How much you enjoy this second series (whose “S” subtitle is explained in episode three) may depend on whether you preferred the action-oriented moments of the first season or the humorous slice-of-life aspects. If you are a fan ...
review

Manga Dogs GN 1

Manga Dogs' first volume is, overall, a very funny look at those whose greatest desire/delusion is to be a mangaka. ― If Manga Dogs seems like a bit of a departure for Ema Toyama, that's because it is. Her fourth series to be published in English – TokyoPop published Pixie Pop and Del Rey/Kodansha brought us I am Here and Missions of Love – is a much funnier, more cynical story than her cute romances...
review

Attack on Titan Part II BD+DVD

From its understated politics and foreshadowing to its grandiose gore and hairpin twists, the second half of Attack on Titan is tough to process and tougher to discuss. ― The second half of Attack on Titan is a colossal step in a darker direction compared to the first. If there was any doubt in the viewer's mind about the depths of horror and cruelty this story is out to plunge, doubt no more as the ...
review

I Am Alice: Body Swap in Wonderland GN 1

If you haven't read other recent English language releases of Alice-based titles, you may find this book more enjoyable, but even if you aren't a collector of all things Alice, this volume is fairly mediocre. ― The arrival of this book on bookstore shelves (physical or virtual) might raise some reasonable questions: Is this part of the Alice in the Country of Hearts juggernaut? Is it related to, perh...
review

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order GN 19

A somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to the 14-year Last Order saga, but Alita's story isn't finished yet. ― When it comes to discussing the defining writers of cyborg-focused sci fi manga, two names invariably come up: Masamune Shirow and Yukito Kishiro. While Shirow took an “integrate them into the real world” approach with his Ghost in the Shell stories and emphasized the cybernetic aspects of what ...
review

Happy Marriage!? GN 1

It's funny, it's sexy, and it has potential. ― Chiwa Takanashi doesn't seem to have a lot in common with her office lady (OL) friends. Everyday at lunch they gab about this guy or that guy with a definite fixation on the highly attractive young president of their company, Hokuto Mamiya. Chiwa, however, couldn't care less. She not only has never seen him (she slept through his speech), but she's also ...
review

Helter Skelter GN

Helter Skelter is both the story of a descendant of Mary Shelley's monster and a biting commentary on the cult of beauty that pervades popular culture. It is not an easy read, but it is an important one. ― Helter Skelter, josei mangaka Kyoko Okazaki's English-language debut, is a hard book to read. It is the sort of book that you seriously consider putting down at least half a dozen times as the hero...
game review

Planetarian

Key's heartstring-tugging postapocalyptic kinetic novel finally comes to the US thanks to Sekai Project, and it just might make you cry. ― Yumemi is possibly the best employee anyone could ask for. She's cute, polite, and cares deeply for each and every customer that sets foot in the planetarium at the top of the giant Flowercrest department store. She's also exceptionally knowledgeable about the dis...
review

Uzumaki [3-in-1 Deluxe Edition] GN

Junji Ito's tale of a town possessed by a simple shape may have been written in the 1990s, but it has lost none of its impact. ― In the town of Kurouzo-cho, strange things are happening. One day on her way home, teenager Kirie Goshima comes across her boyfriend Shuichi's father, crouched down in the road staring intently at a snail. When she asks him what he's doing, he responds with something about ...
review

The Man of Tango GN

If you are tired of impossibly pretty feminine men living in scenes of perfection and beauty, The Man of Tango might be what you're looking for. ― The Man of Tango is a bit of an oddity in the BL genre as most Western readers have experienced it. The men are distinctly masculine - “manly” may actually be the better term – and one of the main characters is a woman. Many of the more sensual scenes are ...
review

Blood Lad BD+DVD

For all of its fun factor and attempts to be stylish, that's all it is for now unless an additional season or two gets animated to round out the existing story threads. ― Vampires are not commonly cast as heroic protagonists in anime because they tend to quickly be overpowered. Strike the Blood solved that problem last year by making its protagonist a fledgling who was still growing into the mighty l...
review

Honey Blood GN 1

Honey Blood is a one of those series that makes you understand the continued popularity of urban fantasy. Despite some issues, it is a quick, almost compulsive read. ― At this point in the literary game, if you're going to write a young adult vampire novel, you'd better have some new and interesting twist on the genre, or at least do the basics really, really well. Miko Mitsuki squeaks in under the w...
review

Gatchaman Crowds Blu-Ray

There are too many mature ideas without enough mature execution here, leaving only those firmly aligned with its point-of-view with much reason to care as the narrative spins out of control. ― As the plot summary above may indicate, Gatchaman CROWDS is a hard anime to describe plainly and even harder to approach critically. It leaves a sort of impossible impression: bizarre and yet conventional all a...
review

World Trigger GN 1

Right now this is definitely a series to keep an eye on: unique enough to pull you in and well-written with attractive art that will keep you reading. ― There's a real skill to explaining everything about a story's world without just having long, explanatory speeches or panels. Daisuke Ashihara has that down to a science in World Trigger's first volume. While the story itself is fascinating and a jus...
game review

Hatoful Boyfriend

For something so pointedly aware of its camp, for something predicated on silliness, Hatoful Boyfriend is remarkable in its sincerity. ― Since this game's absurd premise has seemingly been spread around and bird-punned to death there's no sense belaboring the description: Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim where your potential suitors are pigeons. As the only homo sapiens in the game, Hiyoko, your mis...
review

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Novel 1

For established fans this is a treat – well-written, engrossing, and with the feel of historical fiction rather than fantasy, showing how immersed in the world the author became. ― Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan manga has spawned an impressive juggernaut – as of this writing, there are multiple manga spin-offs, a successful anime series, and a variety of goods both serious and non. Ryo Suzukaze, a ...
review

Noragami: Stray God GN 1

Noragami's first volume feels like set up, but it's good set up. ― Some first volumes have the definite air of a prologue to the story to come. This is one of them. Noragami: Stray God, the first solo effort by artist duo Adachitoka (one does backgrounds while the other does the action) is clearly gearing up to be a more complex story than we see here, but it is very enjoyable despite that. At only t...
review

Aquarion Evol BD+DVD

Aquarion Evol's conclusion is largely satisfying, especially if you're familiar with the first series. While it has many cheesy elements, it also successfully delivers a resolution to past mistakes. ― How high is your tolerance for cheese? Because Aquarion Evol's second half, while beautiful to behold, is rife with enough cheese to make an omelet. While it also has far less of the awkward moaning and...
review

Fairy Tail BD+DVD - Part 11

The Tenrou Island arc ends with a series-altering twist, the kind that can easily feel desperate, like Viagra for shows who've lost their mojo. ― The Tenrou Island arc ends with a series-altering twist, the kind that can easily feel desperate, like Viagra for shows who've lost their mojo. When Hiro Mashima tries it, however, it feels less like panicked casting about for mojo-rejuvenation and more lik...
review

Alice in the Country of Clover: Nightmare GN

Overall, Nightmare is one of, if not the, weakest entry into the Alice manga franchise to date. ― With a series as long as the Alice in the Country of ________, there were bound to be some stinkers. Alice in the Country of Clover: Nightmare is one of them. With a main story that feels barely developed, art that renders the characters barely recognizable, and a quarter of the book given to another fra...
game review

Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Goodbye Despair, the second Dangan Ronpa, is exactly what you'd expect from the sequel to Trigger Happy Havoc. ― Goodbye Despair, the second Dangan Ronpa, is exactly what you'd expect from the sequel to Trigger Happy Havoc, a madcap series of murder mysteries constructed with the same pastel-spattered palette of goofy anime caricatures that belie its dark tone. A fresh crop of super geniuses arrives ...
review

The Moe Manifesto

As a wide-ranging examination of moe in the anime and manga industry, The Moe Manifesto may even sway the minds of some moe naysayers, as it more fully fleshes out the moe impulse. ― Everyone in anime and manga fandom seems to have an opinion about moe, and most folks aren't terribly subtle about it. Mentioning moe can often be a great way of devolving a conversation and it can provide a reliable spr...
review

Time Killers: Kazue Kato Short Story Collection GN 1

Whether you are looking to see where Blue Exorcist began, are interested in watching a mangaka's evolution across ten years, or just enjoy short stories, Time Killers is worth picking up. ― If you only know Kazue Kato from Blue Exorcist – and really, there's not much reason why that wouldn't be your one and only association – prepare to see the full breadth of her talent as a mangaka. Time Killers, a...
review

Oreimo 2 Sub.DVD

Entertaining, funny and often captivating until the final few episodes, where it trips up badly enough to stumble. ― Note: This review discusses one major late-series spoiler in detail, beginning with the fourth paragraph. Aniplex of America's release of Oreimo 2 includes all 13 broadcast episodes plus the set of three round-out OVAs originally released a bit more than five weeks after the broadcast ...
review

Ah My Buddha DVD

Ah My Buddha teases us with a decent premise, but ultimately does not deliver. ― If you like harem shows about a hapless guy who gets beaten up for little-to-no reason, lots of breasts and bottoms, and panty shots galore...you probably still won't like this show. Originally released by Media Blasters and now rescued and re-released by Right Stuf under their Lucky Penny label, Ah My Buddha is a slog t...
review

Millennium Snow Omnibus and GN 3

Even if Ouran High School Host Club was not your favorite, this is worth reading, because as it turns out, Bisco Hatori is anything but a one-note author. ― If you only know Bisco Hatori from her parody of the reverse harem genre Ouran High School Host Club, be prepared to be surprised. Millennium Snow, her first series, is a beautiful, melancholy romance about a vampire who will live for a thousand ...
review

Umineko When They Cry Episode 4: Alliance of the Golden Witch Volume 1 GN 7

Alliance of the Golden Witch, the fourth arc in Ryukishi07's Umineko: When They Cry mystery/horror series, is markedly different from its predecessors. ― Warning: If you haven't read the previous volume of Umineko, you will find a major spoiler in this review! Alliance of the Golden Witch, the fourth arc in Ryukishi07's Umineko: When They Cry mystery/horror series, is markedly different from its pred...
review

D-Frag! GN 1

Though reused, the jokes are funny, and the characters are all weird enough to make reading about them amusing. ― When we talk about “de-fragging” a computer, it is generally understood that we are clearing away the clutter of fragmented files in order to make the machine run more efficiently. That is not the case for this manga. D-Frag is the bizarre, tumultuous tale of Kenji Kazama, a spiky- haired...
review

Date A Live BD+DVD 1-4

A harem series that gets some credit for trying something at least a little different and has periods where it can be entertaining, but it is ultimately the victim of its own devices. ― In the mid-2000s the American TV series Heroes pitched its first season with the catchy tag line “Save The Cheerleader, Save The World,” which did, in fact, form an overly brief summary of the first season's main plot...
review

The Heroic Legend of Arslan GN 1

The storyline for this first volume is a strange combination of many things happening and very little happening at all. ― If you remember the six-part OAV adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka's original The Heroic Legend of Arslan novels, Hiromu Arakawa's manga version is likely to look a little strange to you. Her distinctive art style is a far cry from Sachiko Kamimura's early-90s designs (themselves adapt...
review

Kabukimonogatari Sub.Blu-Ray 2

This is Monogatari taking a little time off, setting aside the big changes and, really, consequences in general to just have a good old time. ― When Monogatari wants to play around a little, go on a lark and have some fun, you know it can't do it like a normal show. A normal show would pack everyone off to a hot spring or go to the beach for sun and bikinis. Monogatari plays around with time-travel a...
review

Fairy Tail BD+DVD Part 10

"Being the climactic half of the arc, this set is basically all action, but it's action with purpose." ― As seems to be the pattern with even-numbered Fairy Tail sets, set ten ends cleanly, bringing the Tenrou Island arc to a typically action clogged, satisfyingly villain-abusive conclusion. It even skips, or more accurately stops before, the arc's cliffhanger coda, leaving the series in a nice, happ...
review

The Devil Is A Part-Timer! BD+DVD

"The concept is nothing less than a brilliant reversal of the standard fantasy gimmick of transplanting ordinary individuals from a modern-day world into a fantasy realm, which results in a highly entertaining comedy/drama." ― The concept here is nothing less than a brilliant reversal of the standard gimmick of transplanting ordinary individuals from a modern-day world into a fantasy realm where they...
review

Cat's Eye Sub.DVD

The first season of Cat's Eye is so much a product of its time that the only way it could possibly be more 80s is if Cyndi Lauper had a guest appearance. ― Based on the manga by Tsukasa Hojo, the first season of Cat's Eye, which ran from 1983 – 1984, is so much a product of its time that the only way it could possibly be more 80s is if Cyndi Lauper had a guest appearance. Despite that (and that may n...
review

Ringing Bell DVD

A little lamb seeks vengeance for the death of his mother in this very atypical 1978 movie. Though technically meant to be family-friendly, it is a rare cautionary tale whose harsh lessons can leave an indelible impression. ― The 1978 movie version of Ringing Bell is based on the children's book Chirin no Suzu by Takashi Yanase, whose vastly more famous creation (at least in Japan) is Anpanman. It wa...
review

Devils and Realist GN 1

While this is certainly not a horrible book, it is a mediocre one, and sometimes that feels more like a crime than if it had been unabashedly awful. ― Despite appearances, Devils and Realist is not based on an otome game. It also is not BL, although you could be forgiven for thinking that it might be – not a single female character is included in the cast, and most of the men are awfully pretty. And ...
review

Red Data Girl DVD

Opens with a strong, short arc and then continues on as if surprised by its own longevity and uncertain what exactly to do about it. ― If all of Red Data Girl was as good as its opening three episodes it would be a serious contender. Those episodes form a mostly self-contained arc, a dreamlike supernatural mystery where magic and menace are insinuated rather than stated, where mood and atmosphere are...
review

Nekomonogatari White Sub.Blu-Ray

If you think of the Hanekawa stories as a Nekomonogatari trilogy, then this is the concluding installment. If you aren't a Hanekawa fan going in, you will be coming out. ― Nisioisin and Akiyuki Simbo dip once more into the life of unnaturally even-keeled Tsubasa Hanekawa, continuing the process of enriching and complicating her pointedly unnatural persona. Being the third time the series has put Hane...
game review

Muramasa: Rebirth / Genroku Legends

The main game doesn't have anything new to offer fans of the original, but veterans willing to double dip will get the best Muramasa's ever been. ― Muramasa always felt like a weekend sort of game: a 2D brawler with some light RPG bits, short and simple, and fun enough for a couple days. Compared to Vanillaware's previous game, Odin Sphere, everything in Muramasa is quick and fluid. Fighting is high ...
review

To Love Ru Darkness Sub.Blu-Ray

While partly offering more of the same, the third installment in this harem franchise also dramatically escalates its fan service content, shifts character focus, and takes on darker and more serious tones and character development. ― As the third TV series in the franchise, Darkness adapts the eponymous follow-up manga to the original saucy “alien girlfriend/harem” manga by manga-ka team Saki Hasemi...
review

Arpeggio of Blue Steel GN 1

Arpeggio of Blue Steel's first volume begins an interesting, exciting story of mysterious vessels and warfare on the high seas. ― Of all of the moe-fications of inanimate objects, Arpeggio of Blue Steel's use of female avatars, or “mental models,” for ships makes the most sense. The reason for this is that in several languages, boats are referred to by use of the feminine pronoun, so even if your boa...
review

Karneval BD+DVD 1-4

Karneval is a story with interest and potential that ends too soon. ― Fret not, clown phobic viewers – despite the circus theme and all the circus roles for its characters, Karneval is completely clown-free. (This apparently was a concern of the lead adaptive writer J. Michael Tatum, as revealed in the episode one commentary.) Rather than using the actual circus as we think of it, Karneval instead dr...
game review

Review: Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late

Under Night is an elegantly designed game by people who have been at fighting games for a long time, and who deeply understand what's truly important about them. ― Between the convoluted modern-fantasy setting, a magic-powered cast, and its quite amazing interpretation of the English language, one could not be blamed for mistaking Under Night In-Birth for some kind of Type-Moon knockoff. The truth is...
review

Terra Formars GN 1

While Terra Formars presents an interesting science fiction story that plays on our innate dislike of cockroaches (and long-standing jokes about how hard to kill they are), it doesn't present it as well as it might. ― In the summer of 2014, Viz Media is having a bug problem. First there were the vampiric mouth spiders of Black Rose Alice, and now, with Yu Sasuga and Ken-ichi Tachibana's Terra Formars...
review

anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day [Collector's Edition] BD+DVD

AnoHana is a story of high emotion. There's a lot of screaming, crying, laughing, and soppy emotional weltering of every flavor. It is tough to digest all of that in 100 minutes. In fact, it's not really recommended. ― The best part of AnoHana The Movie and the greatest thing it adds to its source TV series is the film's first fifteen minutes. It is fitting for a story so fixated on the past that its...
review

Cardfight!! Vanguard GN 1

Overall, Cardfight!! Vanguard is going to be best enjoyed by those who are familiar with the game or just enjoy card battle games in general. It does make a real effort to be generally appealing, though. ― Welcome to the manga series based on a show based on a card game! Cardfight!! Vanguard is the latest in multi-media franchise series (or at least one of them), and thus a somewhat surprising choice...
review

Baby Steps Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Baby Steps isn't big on thrilling sports action. It's interested in quieter, less immediate pleasures: the simple pleasures of good characters and good relationships moving slowly but surely in good directions. ― Truth be told, Baby Steps isn't big on thrills, or on being arrestingly cool. (With a name like that, how could it?) It's interested in quieter, less immediate pleasures: The pleasures of wa...
review

Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma GN 1

Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma is off to a somewhat uneven start, balancing scrumptious dishes with an obnoxious heroine and some unfortunate choices of fanservice. ― Everyone who's tried their hand at cooking has one of those failed recipes. (We will not speak of the Knife Cookie Incident of 1992.) For Soma Yukihira, squid legs and peanut butter are just one experiment gone awry in his quest to find n...
review

Dr. Slump: The Movies [Films 1-5] Sub.DVD

Random silly adventures, acted out by a silly cast of misfits who live in a silly misfit village and delivered with a lot of surreal nonsense humor and not a whiff of substance or seriousness. In short, Dr. Slump. At long last. ― There's a lot of Dr. Slump out there: TV shows, movies, video games, and, of course, Akira Toriyama's terminally silly manga. It was a bon-a-fide hit for the future DBZ crea...
review

Accel World Novel 1

Accel World's first novel has its moments of repetition and the definite feel of a middle grade novel in its characters and the basic level of its writing. But it is also an interesting science fiction story about the possibilities of technology and how it could effect people, serving as both escape and addiction. ― For those of you who were left with small, niggling questions after watching the Acce...
review

Hetalia: The Beautiful World DVD

Despite sporting a new director and advertising a "new Kira☆Kira style" for the series, Hetalia The Beautiful World is largely a return to form for the controversial fangirl favorite of yesteryear. There are differences in the updated version, but frankly, every single one is a positive change. ― Despite sporting a new director and advertising a "new Kira☆Kira style" for the series, Hetalia The Beaut...
review

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Comedy prevails more than action in the first franchise movie since 1996 (and the first canon franchise movie). While not a stellar achievement, it is at least moderately entertaining and has many nice tidbits for long-time fans. ― Battle of Gods is the 18th movie in the Dragon Ball franchise but the first new movie since 1996. It is also the first movie in the franchise whose content is considered c...
review

Comic Artist and His Assistants Episodes 1-12 Streaming

The hash that Comic Artist makes of itself is sad because, prior to opening its vulgar, vapid mouth, the show had potential. ― A dead comedy is a sad thing. Any kind of show with any kind of promise that dies is sad. But comedies are especially so. They're like euthanized kittens. They should be gamboling around, full of life and energy, bringing joy to all. Instead they just lay there, inert and kin...
review

Blade & Soul

While hardly a gem, in the end this fantasy MMORPG adaptation turns out to be a better and stronger series than it initially showed much potential for. ― Anime adaptations of fantasy RPGs and MMORPGs rarely come out smoothly because the producers are so intent on recreating the game world and mimicking its rules and structures that they neglect to actually tell a proper story, one that can function i...
review

Battle Royale: Angels' Border GN

Angels' Border, like Battle Royale itself, is a book that will stick with you, haunting you after the last page is turned. ― There are few things more horrible than a senseless tragedy. Koushun Takami's 1999 novel Battle Royale (recently reprinted with a new translation in English as Battle Royale Remastered) presented us with a dystopian version of Japan known as The Republic of Greater East Asia. E...
game review

Kamen Rider Battride War II

There is probably a good videogame waiting to burst forth out of Kamen Rider Battride War II. ― Of all the Japanese characters that have been used to make a Dynasty Warriors/Musou game (or just a ripoff of one, as this game is), the long-lived Kamen Rider superhero series is among the most appropriate. You see, beating up hordes of identical henchmen before finishing off their boss with a fancy move ...
review

Spell of Desire GN 1

If you're looking for a new romance about actual grown-up people and you enjoy magic as a plot conceit – or cute kitties and puppies with a little animal rescue thrown in – this is worth checking out. ― Tomu Ohmi has done vampires (Midnight Secretary). She's done werewolves (Kindan no Koi wo Shiyo), weretigers (Barairo My Honey), and she's done ghosts (Flowers for Seri). What's left in the supernatur...
review

No Game, No Life Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Has a way of blunting its worst instincts, of undercutting its bad turns with humor and, yes, honest-to-goodness feeling that makes even its bumpiest stretches surprisingly enjoyable. ― No Game begins with unpromise in its premise. The alternate-world aspect serves up tired savior fantasies. The game-made-real aspect offers the naked wish-fulfillment of virtual expertise that translates into real-wor...
review

Silver Spoon Sub.DVD

Silver Spoon is a "slice-of-life" with a distinct and deliberate narrative arc just under the surface, clearly a deeply personal work for its creator, and all around a pleasant and thoughtful time in the boonies. ― Right from the start, Silver Spoon offers anime fans a large dollop of acquired taste. Critter humor abounds, but not all of it is cute and fuzzy. The variety of animal feces, births, and ...
review

Ranma ½ Blu-Ray Set 2

Despite a few failed jokes, the second 23 episode set is still largely entertaining fare. With one exception, familiar faces are supplemented nicely by amusing newcomers, though that one exception is especially obnoxious. ― The second Blu-Ray set for Ranma ½ covers what Viz Media numbers as episodes 24-46, which equates to episodes 3-6 and 10-28 of Ranma ½ Nettōhen, which essentially means most of th...
review

Say I Love You. GN 1 & 2

Kanae Hazuki's story treads some ground we don't always see covered to give us a romance that is both a little unsettling and far from sickly sweet. ― If you think you know this story because you watched the anime, think again. Say I Love You's anime incarnation was much tamer than its original form, and the manga was originally published in the magazine Dessert, which is for a slightly older audienc...
game review

Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn

Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn does little more than its assigned duty as a playground for battle-mecha carnage. It's enjoyable in quick little brawls, never outright terrible but always a bit tedious. ― Gundam is often at war with itself. At its most meaningful, it's a revolving mythos of savage conflicts amid orbital colonies. It's a space-robot melodrama proving that technology and exploration do ...
review

One Week Friends Episodes 1-12 Streaming

What begins as an amnesia-seasoned sort-of romance eventually becomes something far richer: a gentle tale of connection and friendship, of evolving feelings and sweetly ordinary bonding. ― One Week Friends may have the preposterous premise of a Lifetime movie, but for the most part it isn't that interested in its own narrative hook. It's far more concerned with everyday happenings, with weekly rhythm...
review

Knights of Sidonia

While the plot and characters of this 3D CG mecha series may not be especially compelling or fresh, the action, visuals, and setting details are sharp enough to keep viewers coming back. ― The first season of Knights of Sidonia, an adaptation of a manga by Tsutomu Nihei (the creator of Blame! and Biomega), is something of a landmark in the anime market in the West, as it is the first anime series tha...
review

Kill la Kill [Limited Edition] BD+DVD 1

It's easy to understand what Kill La Kill wants to say in every moment because its ideas are simple, but conveyed in ways never quite seen before, and its healthy splashes of humor grow out of its thematic ideas rather than combating them. ― Kill La Kill's first episode begins with an invocation of Nazi imagery and ends with a vow of deadly vengeance from a mostly naked heroine. The minutes in-betwee...
review

Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara Complete Series Streaming

If Her Flag Breaks is giggle out loud (if not laugh) funny in places, enjoyably self-referential in others, and just generally an entertaining show to watch. It may not be top-notch, but it is enjoyable ― If one could sum up If Her Flag Breaks (Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara) in one sentence, it would probably be, “Well, that escalated quickly.” Part fluffy shounen harem, part intense tale of danger, if ...
review

The Battle Royale Slam Book Fanbook

If you have an interest in literary criticism or film studies, or if you're just really fascinated by the thought behind Battle Royale, The Battle Royale Slam Book is a very interesting read. ― You don't need to have read or watched Battle Royale to read this book, but it helps. Published and edited by Viz's Haikasoru prose imprint, The Battle Royale Slam Book is a collection of reflective and analyt...
review

Love Live! School Idol Project Season 2

Love Live! isn't a perfect show, but it is a lot of fun and one of the most enjoyable entries into the idol genre, a position it solidifies with this second season. ― In its first season, Love Live was a charming, peppy story about a group of girls trying to save their beloved school from closing. They did this by forming a pop idol group known as “μ's” and trying to win both attention and a school i...
review

Black Rose Alice GN 1

Despite not having a single character named “Alice” yet, Black Rose Alice is off to a promising start. ― Let us begin this review with a warning that is not mentioned on the back copy: if you are afraid of or made uncomfortable by spiders, you probably don't want to read this book. Setona Mizushiro, award-winning mangaka behind After School Nightmare and X-Day, has a very unique take on the vampire m...
review

School Days Sub.DVD

What starts out as a placid little romance gradually turn into an unsettling, more realistic examination of how a harem situation might actually play out in real life. Ultimately that leads to a finale which is as utterly unforgettable as it is justly infamous. ― The TV series version of School Days, which aired during the summer 2007 season, was actually the second anime adaptation of the 2005 adult...
game review

Mobile Suit Gundam Side Stories

For the duration of the time I played this game, I was thinking about other, better Gundam things I'd have rather been enjoying. ― To start with, this has been marketed as a collection of HD remakes of old games, which is a brazenly false statement As I write this, the game's Amazon.jp page is ravaged by justifiably angry one-star reviews, in part due to this. Rather than remaking six fairly differen...
review

Brynhildr in the Darkness

The most recent offering from the creator of Elfen Lied strives to capture its predecessor's bloody magic, but even its highly appealing cast cannot carry the series through its many rough parts. As a result, it largely disappoints. ― Brynhildr in the Darkness is based on a manga by Lynn Okamoto, the man who also created Elfen Lied. Even without knowing that up front, that pedigree should eventually ...
review

Mazinger Z Sub.DVD Part 1

Watch it if you want to know what Yoshiyuki Tomino was reacting against when he made Mobile Suit Gundam. Watch it if you want to see the mecha traditions that Hideaki Anno drew on for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Do not watch it if you want to be entertained. ― Give Mazinger Z its due. It's an epochal work, one of the defining series of anime's Super Robot era. If you want to understand the evolution of ...
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World Is Still Beautiful Episodes 7 - 12

In the end, The World is Still Beautiful is charming shoujo comfort food. ― After a first half filled with what were essentially stand-alone episodes – the notable exception being Nike's trials – The World is Still Beautiful picks up its pace in its latter half. While there is still a vaguely episodic feel to the beginning of it, these six episodes rely on each other more, with the result that the st...
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Chaika - The Coffin Princess season 1

Despite being steeped a little too much in current romcom humor and character relationship trends, this fantasy series from the creators of Scrapped Princess offers plenty enough merits to keeps its viewers coming back. ― Coffin Princess is based on the eponymous light novel series by Ichiro Sakaki, a prolific writer and manga-ka who has had several other works adapted into anime series since the ear...
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Nobunaga The Fool 13 - 24

Nobunaga the Fool began as a flashy, goofy reimagining of world history that ripped historical figures out of their contexts and played with them. Unfortunately in its second half it begins to take itself far too seriously, and all of the flashy battles and sparkly effects that Satelight throws in cannot make this ending a success. ― Back when CLAMP's X/1999 was first running in English, someone made...
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Riddle Story of Devil

One girl defends another against all comers in a class full of prospective female assassins? It is a concept full of lots of action and yuri romantic potential, but it never fully capitalizes on that potential despite telling a complete story. ― Riddle Story of Devil is based on a relatively recent manga (it only had two collected volumes in print by the time the series aired in the Spring 2014 seaso...
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Seraph of the End GN 1

Seraph of the End deals in vampires, mysterious prophecies, and wounded heroes, all things we've seen many times before. Despite that it really does work as an interesting story, one that it's easy to get into. ― Are you sick of vampires? Yuichiro is too, but he has a more compelling reason than market over-saturation. In the near future, a terrible virus wipes out all of adult (and teen) humanity, l...
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Lupin the 3rd: The Hemingway Papers Sub.DVD

Plunk your butt down, dial down the brain-noise, and get ready to have yourself a grand old time. ― Hemingway Papers is not trying to transcend the Lupin franchise the way Hayao Miyazaki's Castle of Cagliostro did. And it's not trying to deepen or darken it the way, say, Dead or Alive or, more recently, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine tried. No, Hemingway is standard Lupin: a feature-length caper in whi...
game review

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight's phenomenal passion for the old mixes perfectly with its drive to create something new. ― Shovel Knight is a retro-style platformer, mostly Mega Man in feel, about a knight who digs dirt and bashes bad guys with a shovel. Despite the silliness of the concept, his weapon being a shovel isn't an excuse to wink at the camera. This game plays it straight. Each level begins with a stoic phr...
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xxxHOLiC: Rei GN 1

xxxHoLic Rei's first volume has an otherworldly feel that contributes to the supernatural elements of the story without being too in-your-face about it. ― Yuko the Space-Time Witch's shop is open for business once again. As in the start of CLAMP's previous series about the mysterious Yuko and her semi-unwilling protege Watanuki, Yuko and her childlike helpers Maru and Moro live in an old-fashioned Ja...
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Nanana's Buried Treasure

This puzzle-solving, treasure-hunting series seems on the surface like it will be playful, simple-minded fun, but thanks to some surprising twists and an unexpected degree of character development it dramatically exceeds its potential. ― Anime series which focus on puzzle solving and/or treasure hunting are usually either inherently goofy or never far from it, and this Spring 2014 noitamina offering ...
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Eureka Seven Blu-Ray

It's the kind of show that's better in the moment than it is in retrospect, so it can't be the classic we want it to be. It just doesn't have the staying power. All it is, is solid entertainment. Which is nothing to sneer at. ― Begin with Gundam's ship-on-the-run outline. Retain the action orientation, periodic tragedy, and unforgiving portrayal of the costs of war. Replace the military setting with ...
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Monster Soul GN 1

Hiro Mashima tells us that this was only intended to be a three chapter serial for a younger audience and that heroine Mummy turned into the inspiration for Erza in his next, rather longer, series. In all honesty, those may be the most interesting things about this book. ― Before there was Fairy Tail, there was Monster Soul. In this first of two volumes, mangaka Hiro Mashima tells us that this was on...
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Whispered Words GN 1

Whispered Words' first omnibus has its slow moments, but is an enjoyable, sometimes compelling read nonetheless. ― Whispered Words is something of an anomaly in the world of English translated yuri titles. For one thing, it takes place in a co-ed high school, and for another, the characters fully accept that they are gay, not treating it as some sort of sweet and charming phase girls go through befor...
review

My Love Story!! GN 1

With its changes to the high school shoujo romance formula, this is a series for both fans of the genre and those who are sick of it. ― Shoujo manga often gets itself into a rut, especially the high school romances. Take one sweetly naive girl, add two dudes with different hair colors and opposite personalities, a wacky friend, mix, et voila! Eighty percent of the genre. While this can be plenty of f...
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Ghost in the Shell ARISE: Borders 1 & 2

Ultimately, a lot of your enjoyment of Ghost in the Shell ARISE is going to depend on your comfort with the rest of the franchise. ― The cyberpunk genre was incredibly vibrant in the late 1980s and 90s, with a plethora of artists, authors and filmmakers imagining a familiar but fascinatingly alien world populated by Orwellian governments, plucky computer hackers, and futuristic technology used to res...
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Maoyu Sub.Blu-Ray

A very unconventional premise takes this 2013 fantasy series in very unconventional directions. When it avoids cheap antics and fully plays to its strengths (ambition, intelligent writing, interesting characters and world), it can be outstanding. ― Although this 2013 fantasy series is yet another one based on a series of light novels, its origin is less ordinary than most. It actually began as a seri...
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Zero's Familiar: Chevalier GN 1

Zero's Familiar Chevalier's first volume, roughly equivalent to the beginning of the second season of the anime, isn't a great start, but fans of the franchise should still find things to enjoy ― Zero's Familiar Chevalier is less a sequel series and more a continuation of the previous seven volumes with a new artist. This time the images are handled by Yukari Higa, who has also done manga adaptations...
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Appleseed XIII: Tartaros & Ouranos BD+DVD

For all their sundry little writing and plot-condensation issues, nothing wounds these compilation films quite like their disastrous 3D artistry does. Avoidance recommended. ― The back of this two-movie set promises the Appleseed XIII TV series without any padding, compressed down to "bullets, explosions, and total mayhem!" That's not exactly a lie, but it is a bit disingenuous. Having never seen the...
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Eureka Seven: Good Night,​ Sleep Tight,​ Young Lovers BD+DVD

All of the film's delectable ingredients, when combined, somehow end up coalescing into a big, ephemerally entertaining shrug. ― Like the series that inspired it, Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers is a sprawling sci-fi epic with a soft romantic core. At the center, where their soaring, perpetually threatened love can do the most good, are Renton and Eureka—a determined boy and an achingly pure gi...
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Blessing of the Campanella Sub.DVD

Need a soporific for a restless night? The first few episodes of this fantasy ero game adaptation should do the trick quite nicely. ― Need a soporific for a restless night? Pop the first few episodes of this 12-episode 2010 series in and that should do the trick quite nicely. As snarky as that may sound, it is nonetheless a fair assessment. Fantasy series do not come more featherweight than this one,...
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Attack on Titan BD+DVD

Attack on Titan's pacing is unusual, but its time is never wasted. Time is just spent liberally on that special thing most important to the story: listening for a human heartbeat at the bottom of the food chain. It's not only a well-written, fun action show, but a phenomenon that deserves all the hearts it has captured. ― Attack on Titan has been the kind of success every writer, producer, and compan...
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Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero [Limited Edition] BD+DVD

Though this fan service-focused modern fantasy tale features an unusually strong male harem lead and has some interesting ideas, it wastes what potential it has and ultimately ends up excelling at nothing. ― Imagine a harem series where the male lead is a handsome stud who is not only quite capable but also quite cocky and quite adept at handling himself around the ladies and you more or less have th...
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Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress [Premium Edition] Sub.Blu-Ray

While not a masterpiece as anime movies go, this tale of a young woman tracking down shape-changers in 19th century Edo is a solid, entertaining, and well-animated work of historical fiction. ― Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntess is a 106 minute long late 2010 movie which is based on a novel which is somewhat of a spin-off of the epic Japanese novel Nanso Satomi Hakkenden. That point is not made clear until ...