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review

Wish Upon the Pleiades Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Wish Upon the Pleiades is a classically styled magical girl story sponsored by Subaru. Don't worry - it's actually quite good. ― There have been some strange production team-ups in entertainment history, and Wish Upon the Pleiades is one of the latest: a magical girl show co-produced by famed anime studio Gainax and Subaru. That's “subaru” as in the car company, and no, the show is not about magical ...
review

Assassination Classroom Episodes 1-22 Streaming

A bunch of students try to kill their teacher, an alien who blew a hole in the moon, while learning important life lessons. You know, pretty typical for an anime. ― Of the two series to air in 2015 which focus on unconventional teachers helping troubled students (the other being Ultimate Otaku Teacher), this manga adaptation from the winter and spring seasons is the superior one based on nearly any m...
review

Tokyo Ravens BD+DVD part 2

This sometimes overly-complicated fantasy action series draws to a close, and it's packed with more magical duels and potentially confusing plot turns than you might think. ― Are you a fan of elaborate magical duels, ones where casters constantly have to throw out their best gimmicks to counter and attack their opponents? Then the second half of this 2013/2014 anime series is worth checking out even ...
review

Kaze Hikaru GN 23

Emotions are heating up in the 23rd volume of Kaze Hikaru, even if we're not at a fascinating point in history. ― To speak in very generalized terms, there are two basic approaches to writing historical fiction: to loosely base around a famous event or time period or to go into much more detail about that event or era. Taeko Watanabe takes the latter route in her shoujo historical Kaze Hikaru, and as...
review

Core Scramble GN 1

Core Scramble's first volume offers an interesting BL story in a world that blends science fiction and fantasy. ― We don't see nearly the level of manhwa translated into English as manga, which is a shame. Now that NetComics is back in the physical publishing game, however, there are some new titles appearing on the market, and whether you're a fan of manhwa in general or just looking for a series th...
review

Senki Zesshō Symphogear

Once you give in to the absurd, over-the-top ridiculousness of Symphogear, you'll never look back. ― Symphogear isn't a “traditionally good” show. Its dialogue is ridiculous, storytelling somehow simultaneously cliche and incoherent, and drama laid out with the subtlety of a writer who has literal hams for hands. It is a very silly show based on a very silly idea, and yet, in spite of its absurdity, ...
review

A Silent Voice GN 1

A Silent Voice examines childhood bullying with uncommon frankness, telling an engaging story of cruelty and responsibility. ― A Silent Voice's first volume is not a comfortable read. It's slow and mean, full of small violences that make you wince and characters you just want to shake. That's not necessarily a bad thing though; in fact, it's often the best stories that make you uncomfortable, that ma...
review

Terra Formars GN 7

Terra Formars shifts gears to expose its heroes to a new threat...from back on Earth. ― Spoiler Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers for Volume 7 There's a good possibility that this volume of Terra Formars, which really does up the plot factor to the point where our heroes are no longer just fighting increasingly powerful roachmen but actually dealing with some of the other repercussions of being ...
game review

Review: Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

Ultra Despair Girls takes Danganronpa into the third person shooter genre, with decidedly mixed results. Some of the things you love about Danganronpa are still here, but there's something amiss... ― Taking place between the first and second Danganronpa games, Ultra Despair Girls is a sidequel starring ultra-generic series lead Makoto Naegi's ultra-generic sister Komaru Naegi. Komaru, kept as a hosta...
review

Gugure! Kokkuri-san Episodes 1-12 Streaming

This raunchy comedy that draws from Shinto folklore may not be for everyone, but if it winds up being for you, you might have a great time. ― Between Gugure! Kokkuri-san and Hozuki's Coolheadedness, 2014 was a good year for shows rooted in Japanese mythology. These series can do decently in Japan, but often struggle to find an audience stateside because of the knowledge base required to get the jokes...
review

Spell of Desire GN 5

Spell of Desire finishes on a stronger note than it started on, with Kaoruko finally doing something of her own volition. It's pretty romantic, too. ― A complaint about Tomu Ohmi's previous series to get an English-language release, Midnight Secretary, is that her heroine went from being strong to just another heroine under the romantic sway of a powerful hero. Whether or not you agree with that sent...
review

Kagerou Daze Novel 1

Kagerou Daze isn't off to the strongest start with this dense novel. Is it still worth reading? ― The term “light novel” can be misleading. While it is generally accepted as the term for the Japanese equivalent of Young Adult fiction (and as anyone who's read any English-language YA can attest, they're often very heavy), it's also hard not to just assume that the books themselves will be “light:” the...
review

Blood Blockade Battlefront GN 1-4

It was one of the biggest hits of the spring season, but the manga's been around for years. Gabriella Ekens catches up and discovers what you might've been missing. ― Dark Horse licensed Blood Blockade Battlefront – the second series by famed Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow – way back in 2011. It was an obscure property, however, until this year, when Studio Bones released an anime adaptation (direct...
review

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Limited Edition Bluray Box 1

Nick Creamer's original review of the first 12 episodes of Fate/stay night is updated with an in-depth look at the new bluray box set, a review of the English dub and some new insight from included interviews. ― Unlimited Blade Works is a tricky one to approach, both structurally and due to its place in a broader, creakier canon. The show technically adapts the second of three routes included in the ...
review

Ultimate Otaku Teacher - episodes 1-12

He's a hardcore otaku who claims he can only do what he burns with passion for, but when he becomes a teacher, all bets are off. It's a sitcom with a painfully unlikable main character - strap in! ― The unconventional teacher who finds ways to reach out to and motivate troubled students has been a recurring story element for decades in live-action movies and TV shows, and anime has certainly had its ...
review

What Did You Eat Yesterday? GN 9

Shiro's emotional and comfort level progress are made more apparent as he faces new trials like familial illness, standing up for Kenji, and, worst of all, the impending closure of his favorite grocery store in this latest volume of Fumi Yoshinaga's slice-of-life series. ― Time has been passing slowly over the course of Fumi Yoshinaga's quiet slice-of-life series What Did You Eat Yesterday, something...
review

Yuki Yuna is a Hero Bluray 3

Yuki Yuna wraps up with a conclusion that might not satisfy everyone, but Ponycan's release includes some insightful commentary. ― The non-fighting parts of the first two-thirds of Yuki Yuna is a Hero establish each of the five members of the Hero Club and build strong bonds of love and friendship between them. Although that development was quite satisfying on its own, the final four episodes show ex...
review

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! Blu-Ray 1

This lighthearted confection about a team of magical boys comes to bluray with a bevy of extras and an oversize case, but is it worth the price? ― From the director who brought you Daily Lives of High School Boys comes another comedy about high school boys...who have to dress up in frilly outfits to save the world. Cute High Earth Defense Club Love, winner of winter 2014's unwieldiest title, is a str...
review

Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto GN 1

Are you ready to meet Sakamoto? He's an incredibly charismatic, amazingly skilled new kid at school, and he's got a solution for everything in this very funny spoof of high school manga. ― Who is Sakamoto? No one seems to know, but they can all agree on one thing – he is preternaturally awesome. Recently transferring to an average, everyday high school from someplace known as “Innocence,” Sakamoto is...
review

Demon Prince of Momochi House GN 1

It may feel like a reiteration of several other supernatural shoujo series at first, but by the end of the volume, Aya Shouoto's latest series is well on its way to standing on its own two metaphorical feet. ― Aya Shouoto has officially Made It in the English manga market: The Demon Prince of Momochi House marks her third series licensed and released in under a year. Falling somewhere in-between Kiss...
review

.hack//Roots DVD

We have enough high quality "stuck in an online game" shows now where maybe we don't need to rely on ol' .hack//Roots anymore. ― In this third series in the overarching .hack franchise, which is comprised of anime, manga, light novels, and games, you have to wonder if it's worth going back into Cyber-Connect's MMORPG “The World.” At least in part this is because, based on the events of the show, it a...
review

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

This meta-riffic harem show demonstrates a writer who seems to be holding themselves back, which is a very specific and aggravating kind of disappointment. ― There's been a bit of a trend towards self-awareness and meta gags in anime these last few years, particularly among shows based on a certain kind of light novel. Shows like Outbreak Company or My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute don't just fill...
review

Plastic Memories Episodes 1-13 Streaming

This sci-fi romantic dramedy about a society dealing with the implications of realistic human androids begins with a whole lot of promise. It's what happens next that drags it all down. ― Plastic Memories starts out very promising. The first episode boasted of an intriguing sci-fi premise, with robots built purely for companionship, but only lasting for a small amount of time. It's like having a cat ...
review

Atelier, Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky Blu-Ray

"The Atelier game franchise gets its first anime...and they chose the middle game of a trilogy? That and some poor pacing choices make this a less than stellar viewing experience, although it is awfully pretty." ― Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky marks the first time a game in the Atelier franchise of incredibly pretty RPGs has gotten an anime adaptation, and I must say that it feels ...
review

Fragments of Horror GN 1

Junji Ito’s new horror collection has its ups and downs, but always reflects Ito’s singular vision of the weird. ― Horror can be about fear of the unknown, but it can also be about turning the mundane into the unknown. About taking an everyday truth you rely on and making it something unsteady, something you can no longer trust. We trust our bodies, we trust the houses we live in and the people we lo...
review

Maid Sama! [Omnibus] GN 1

Back from the land of the unfinished, it's Hiro Fujiwara's shoujo tale of a girl leading a double life: as a hard-hitting student council president and a...maid? ― If you just look at it on the surface, Maid Sama!, the chosen abbreviated title of Hiro Fujiwara's shoujo manga Kaicho wa Maid-sama, is an odd choice to get a license rescue. The story follows Misaki Ayuzawa, a girl who hates men because o...
review

First Love Monster GN 1

First Love Monster wants to be a comedy, but this romance between a fifth grader and a high school first year doesn't quite pull it off. ― There are crushes, and there are crushes – some you're more likely to act on than others, and some you know are just secret emotions that are better kept to yourself. That last distinction is a little difficult for the heroine of First Love Monster, fifteen-year-o...
review

Umineko When They Cry Episode 5: End of the Golden Witch Volume 1 GN 10

Beatrice is down for the count but the game goes on. Can Lambdadelta and Bernkastel help Battler see the mysteries of Rokkenjima in a different light? ― Episode five in Ryukishi07's Umineko: When They Cry mystery series (or perhaps “serial” would be the better term) is the first to truly move the story solidly into the realm of mysteries, specifically those written during the so-called “Golden Age” o...
review

A Bride's Story GN 4

A Bride's Story takes a break from the drama for a little levity, and the story is none the weaker for it. ― A Bride's Story has always been a manga heavy on vignettes and digressions, but Smith's exit from Amir and Karluk's family back at the end of volume two has expanded its scope without really heightening the drama. In fact, with him on the road, the story has become a bit of a genre-shifting tr...
review

Review: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'

The latest Dragon Ball Z movie brings back an old villain to once again test Goku's strength, but maybe they should've dug up a more credible threat to everyone's favorite Saiyan god and his grumpy partner. ― Dragon Ball Z is in an interesting place right now. For many fans, the story had been functionally over for a long time. Akira Toriyama's manga had concluded and we were content to believe that ...
review

Gyo [2-in-1 Deluxe Edition] GN

Junji Ito's death-stench horror gets the deluxe treatment with a new hardcover omnibus, but the subject matter might not work for everyone. ― Junji Ito is inarguably one of the masters of horror manga, utilizing both horror (physical revulsion) and terror (psychological reaction) to create gut-churning tales of the world gone mad. To a degree, he carries this out in his two-volume series Gyo from 200...
review

Noir Blu-Ray

Bee-Train's 2001 girls-with-guns classic returns on Blu-Ray, and holds up surprisingly well, despite some mediocre animation. ― Not all older series deserve the Blu-Ray treatment. For some it is because the show just isn't as iconic as people might like to think, while for others it's because the quality was never BD worthy in the first place. Noir, fortunately, does hold up well enough that its tran...
review

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc [Episodes 1-24 Streaming]

Egypt Arc is JoJo in peak condition, as memorable and engaging an adventure as you could hope for. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is back. ― When we last left our heroes, they'd just arrived on the shores of Egypt, escaping the literal jaws of defeat in order to finally save Jotaro's mother. The journey there had been a lengthy and sometimes inconsistent one, with their various adventures indeed being plen...
review

Sword Art Online: Progressive Novel 2

Kirito's adventures continue in Reki Kawahara's second Progressive novel, which delves into the mechanics of the game much more than the show ever did. ― The second volume of Reki Kawahara's ambitious reimagining of Sword Art Online offers plenty of intriguing content, but perhaps none more so than its Afterword. In the Afterword for the first volume, he mentioned an intent to average about two floor...
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...
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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...
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Naruto Shippuden Uncut Set Volume 22

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

Kamisama Kiss GN 18

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

Dream Fossil: The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon GN

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

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

Hyperdimension Neptunia [Limited Edition] BD+DVD

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

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

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

Yakitate!! Japan Sub.DVD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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...
review

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...

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