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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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

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 ...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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...
review

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,...
review

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...
review

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 ...
review

One Piece Season 5 Part 6 DVD

While technically this adds very little to the main story, it is still enjoyable in that good old One Piece way – crazy villains, a good central team of characters, and really weird wildlife. It's not perfect, but it doesn't feel like a waste of time to watch, and for a filler arc, that's not so bad. ― Set sail for Filler Island with Luffy and the gang! Within this set of twelve episodes is one that ...
game review

Murdered: Soul Suspect

Murdered: Soul Suspect turns out something "good enough" just because games like it are so thin on the ground we'll take anything that doesn't fall flat on its face. ― Based on its concept, and its Japanese/American co-pro heritage, Murdered: Soul Suspect conjures hopes of Ghost Trick-meets-La Noire-meets Phoenix Wright. Like in Phoenix Wright, much of the game is pixel hunting for hidden clues, but ...
review

Servant × Service Sub.DVD

Servant x Service is a bubble bath filled with smiles, warm-fuzzies, and maybe at most half a giggle. Often, it doesn't even take twenty minutes for that bubble bath to start putting you to sleep, though. ― One of the nicest things about Servant x Service is the opening theme song, a bouncy tune set to manic visuals that combine character art with live-action photos and candy-colored CG office fixtur...
review

Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess BD+DVD

A compact, 85-minute action confection with all the heart and humor one associates with Hiro Mashima's manga and none of the bloat and apathy one associates with its TV adaptation. ― The cinematic off-shoots of ongoing TV properties are traditionally pretty dull affairs. Not so Phoenix Priestess. Priestess is the rare film that roundly trounces its television parent. It's a delightful little bon-bon,...
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Ikki Tousen: Xtreme Xecutor DVD

There're no good reasons to like Xtreme Xecutor; only bad ones. Lots of 'em. ― This is the fourth of Ikki Tousen's violent, habitually topless seasons, and the third on which the franchise's now-customary director, the ever-seedy Koichi Ohata, has worked. The experience is not wasted on him, or his team. Xecutor combines Dragon Destiny's convoluted ongoing conflicts (both inherited and fresh-made), g...
review

Princess Nine DVD Complete Series

This overwhelmingly sweet show comes with a bitter aftertaste at the bottom of the 9th, but for its all its little missteps and dissuasive age, Princess Nine deserves to be seen and remembered. ― Few anime seem like a harder sell than Princess Nine, a full-frame show from the hand-painted, pre-digital 90s about a team sport with an all-female cast but no fanservice. That said, Rightstuf's announcemen...
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Umineko When They Cry Episode 3: Banquet of the Golden Witch Volume 2 GN 6

This volume is really where Umineko hits its stride, and readers who were on the fence about it before may find that they are suddenly hooked. ― Are you a good witch or a bad witch? That might be the question on readers' minds as they progress through the end of the third arc of Umineko: When They Cry. The previous tome – this one is also over 600 pages – introduced us to a new iteration of the titul...
review

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic DVD 2

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic comes to an exciting, satisfying end that primes us for the second season. ― Based on the manga of the same name by Shinobu Ohtaka, which is loosely based in turn on the medieval Persian collection of tales known as The Arabian Nights (among other things), Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic's second half plays with your emotions and the early texts themselves as it brings old c...
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Koe de Oshigoto! Sub.DVD

Despite being explicit enough to be for adults only, this OVA series about a high school girl learning to voice act for ero games comes out as a surprisingly sweet and remarkably funny sex comedy. ― This two episode OVA series from 2010 and 2011 is a partial adaptation of a 2008-2013 manga originally serialized in Comic Gum, a seinen magazine which has also hosted the source titles for franchises lik...
game review

Transistor

It's hard to fault passion like this, even when it blinds creators to the flaws of their work ― Transistor's style is bursting at the seams, its Art Deco influence apparent in its geometric landscape and the Transistor's rigid circuitry, its Art Nouveau leanings in the organic, snaking curlicues at the corners of Red's promo posters. Red is a recently-mute singer, who along with her gabby greatsword,...
review

Space Adventure Cobra Sub.DVD

A hero with a gun for a left arm gets involved in all sorts of hair-raising exploits in this sci fi action series from the early '80s. It stands up pretty well as high-spirited, fun-loving action fare accessible to adults as well as children. ― When original manga-ka Buichi Terasawa was pressed about his favorite movie, he named Star Wars. He also admitted to taking distinct influence from James Bond...
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Fairy Tail BD+DVD Parts 7-8

Enough of the Edolas arc's fun factor survives to justify Fairy Tail's continued existence...but only just. And given what could have been, that's a real shame. ― Like most of mangaka Hiro Mashima's arcs, the Edolas arc starts out kind of silly and clichéd and then builds up a head of emotional and narrative steam that blows away all reservations. Or it would, if director Shinji Ishihara and his anim...
review

March Story GN 5

In some ways it is too bad that March Story only made it to five volumes, because there is still a lot of its world to be explored. On the other hand, this final book wraps things up nicely. ― If there is one thing March Story unequivocally has going for it, it's the art. Yang Kyung-Il's linework is reminiscent of Takeshi Obata's work on Ral Ω Grad, with lush yet relatively believable female figures,...
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Skip Beat! GN 32

Skip Beat is an addictively good series that not only keeps getting better, but more impressively manages to maintain its interest and energy even after thirty-two volumes. ― This latest story arc in Yoshiki Nakamura's utterly addicting shoujo manga Skip Beat has been pretty hard on series hero Ren Tsuruga. We know by now that he has a very troubled past, one which he has tried his best to either rep...
game review

Drakengard 3

Drakengard 3 is a sick joke. It might not even be a good one. But it's one that sticks with you, one that makes you rethink your entire sense of humor, and one that you'll repeat to other people despite yourself. ― Drakengard 3 is a sick joke. But that's what everyone expected. The original Drakengard made a mockery of itself, heaping unspeakable horrors upon its characters until the whole thing beca...
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Aquarion Evol BD+DVD

While you could make an omelet with the amount of cheese in this show, it still is an interesting watch and the story gets progressively more engaging over the course of these thirteen episodes. ― Perhaps Funimation's commentary for episode one said it best – Aquarion EVOL feels like it was written by a group of very enthusiastic children. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not really, no: the first th...
review

Nekomonogatari Black Sub.Blu-Ray

If you're a Hanekawa fan, this is your poison. Actually, that's true if you're a Monogatari fan, period. ― Nekomonogatari Black is a short, transitionary OVA produced between Nisemonogatari and Monogatari Series Second Season that is, properly speaking, a prequel to both. In fact, chronologically it is the earliest of all the Monogatari series, taking place between the long-promised, yet-to-be-produc...
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World Is Still Beautiful Episodes 1 - 6 Streaming

World is Still Beautiful's first six episodes ultimately come off as a feel good show, a little something to look forward to once a week. ― You may be familiar with this story: a terrible, cruel, and cold ruler summons a princess to be his bride. The princess is reluctant but will do her duty no matter what. Slowly, the terrible king and the determined princess see good in each other and begin to fal...
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The Seven Deadly Sins GN 1

Despite some issues, The Seven Deadly Sins' first volume is a pretty interesting, fun book. ― In a fantasy England, the land is ruled by the good King Liones...or so everyone assumes. What they don't know is that the king has been deposed by his trusted Holy Knights, the supposed great protectors of the realm. His third daughter Elizabeth (no mention has been made thus far of the older children beyon...
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Nobunaga The Fool 7 - 12 Streaming

Nobunaga the Fool continues to be entertaining, and it has also managed to settle into itself quite nicely. ― By this point, officially half-way through the series, we have become accustomed to the historical malpractice carried out by Nobunaga the Fool. While there has always been an amusing aspect to it, with increased comfort comes more small, snide opportunities for grim humor, such as when Caesa...
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Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III Blu-Ray

Even with its excoriating power diminished, Berserk's Eclipse still hits hard. Hard enough, in fact, that it can disguise what a clunker of a movie this really is. ― The Eclipse. Those two words can send a shiver through the souls of certain fans. The ones who came unwittingly upon the Eclipse, either while riding the red-blooded ferocity of Naohito Takahashi's television adaptation or while heedless...
review

Recently, my sister is unusual.

While this Winter 2014 series is not a total disaster, poor artistry and abusive treatment of the female lead help stack the deck strongly enough against it that it stands in the lower echelon of otaku-oriented fan service titles. ― If the premise alone does not make you gag then you have passed the single biggest barrier to appreciating this 12 episode series from the Winter 2014 season. Other negat...
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Strobe Edge GN 10

Strobe Edge's final volume confirms that this is a winner of a series. ― Warning: Minor Spoilers for Volume 9 What is it about a good shoujo manga that can make you forget that you're years past high school (or that high school is inevitably less jolly/full of hot guys than they make it look) and make you utterly invested in the romance? We can tell ourselves that school love stories rarely last, tha...
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Hamatora Episodes 1-12 Streaming

The surprise ending's promise of a sequel isn't a promise really. It's a threat. ― Psychic powers—the sci-fi answer to magic—haven't been much in vogue these days. So there's a chance that anyone who lived through anime's psychic-powers epoch might have an acute nostalgic reaction to Seiji Kishi and NAZ's psychic-detective adventure. Really, it's the show's only hope. Nostalgia is all the show has to...
review

Robotics;Notes Complete Series (BLURAY+DVD)

Robotics;Notes has trouble holding even lightweight ideas up on its shaky little plastic legs, much less its more complex aspirations. There are good characters in this show, good moments, and strong episodes. It's just too bad that they're islands floating in a placid sea of boredom punctuated by typhoons of stupidity. ― Robotics;Notes is not a show of extremes, but the places where it succeeds and ...
review

Nobunagun

The premise may be utterly generic, but a great cast of characters, striking visuals, strong musical score and voice acting, and a high-spirited sense of fun help establish the title as a worthy entry in the action genre. ― Aside from some odd stylistic choices in it artistry (more on this later), the first episode of Nobunagun starts off inauspiciously. A misfit girl discovers that she has a heritag...
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Magi - The Kingdom of Magic Episodes 13-25 Streaming

We are used to shonen shows giving us room to decompress with flashbacks and training and whatnot. Kingdom allows no such luxury. Crisis builds on crisis, stakes rise steeply, and each triumph is but the prelude to a more awful threat. ― Apparently it's Magi's way to begin a series slowly, a little meanderingly, and then run roaring to the finish in its final half. And apparently the show's learning ...
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Turning Point: 1997-2008

Turning Point: 1997 – 2008 is both a difficult book and an interesting one. It has a lot of repetition in its content, and at times can be very uncomfortable. But it is also an insight into the creator of a variety of wonderful works. ― There is always a danger when reading about one's idols. What if the man who created the films of your childhood is not, in fact, the kind individual you had always i...
game review

Child of Light

Child of Light is about overcoming, and growing, and having things taken from you, but also about recognizing that you have something to give, even when it feels like you have nothing left. ― Child of Light is the story of Aurora, a fairytale girl with all the things the average fairytale girl needs: an evil stepmother, a wicked queen, a plucky sidekick, and a cursed sleep. At first, this is every bi...
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What Did You Eat Yesterday? GN 1

If you're already a fan of Fumi Yoshinaga, you're already planning to pick up this book. If you haven't discovered her yet this is an excellent moment to discover why she is so highly regarded. ― Warning: do not read this book if you are hungry. In fact, you may not want to read it if you don't have access to an Asian grocery, because among other remarkable features, What Did You Eat Yesterday excels...
review

Higurashi: When They Cry GN 25

Higurashi: When They Cry has been a wild ride, but this volume does make it worth it. ― Usual spoiler warnings apply – it's best to read this review when you're caught up with the previous volume! It's been a long time coming, but at last we have reached the final volume in Ryukishi07's Higurashi: When They Cry cycle. The final volume of the Festival Accompanying Arc, once again presented in a two vo...
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Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story GN 1

This “what if?” story, the first of a three-parter, takes an alternative perspective and relationship pairing to the original story. The result is an ironic but hardly necessary work likely intended to be a further deconstruction of the magical girl genre. ― The Different Story is the first of three manga volumes by Magica Quartet and Hanokage (the same team which created the Madoka Magica manga), a ...
game review

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV won't satisfying the craving for a mainline game, but it does have all the trappings of some really good fanservice. ― The Final Fantasy XIV that debuted in 2010 was so tragically bad Square Enix felt compelled to waive the subscription fee for over a year as an apology. The game relaunched as A Realm Reborn almost three years later and was praised by fans and critics alike for bein...
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Golden Time Episodes 13-24 Streaming

Golden Time's first half was a battle between the series' emotional writing and its perfunctory direction. Its second half is where the writing tears through the direction like a tank through infantry lines. ― Golden Time's first half was a battle between the series' deeply emotional writing and its perfunctory direction. Its second half is where the writing tears through the direction like a tank th...