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review

REVIEW: Paranoia Agent

What is the most important thing to remember about Paranoia Agent is that it is a mystery story where the answers to the mysteries are not as important as the questions they raise. ― It's been years since Paranoia Agent has been legally available to watch or own in the West, what with Geneon's original DVD release being out of print since the mid-2000s. Given that this is the one and only television...
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REVIEW: Tsugumomo Blu-ray

I can now say that that the series isn't a major stand-out but is more deserving of attention than it got at the time it debuted. ― The debut of this 12 episode manga adaptation did not make much of an impression on me (or any of the other reviewers) during the Spring 2017 Preview Guide, and it did not receive enough support at that time to earn weekly episode reviews. However, it ultimately proved e...
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REVIEW: Drifting Dragons

Take the technical aspects of Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick, apply them to the anime series Last Exile, and mix in a generous dose of your favorite anime foodie show and you have something akin to Drifting Dragons. ― Take the technical aspects of Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick, apply them to the anime series Last Exile, and mix in a generous dose of your favorite anime foodie show and you ...
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One Piece Stampede Film Review

If you missed the film in theaters, Funimation is now streaming One Piece Stampede for the next two months -- check out ANN's review of the film featuring the "who's who" of the pirate world. ― We may have zoomed passed the One Piece manga's twentieth anniversary a few years ago, but now it's the anime's turn to relish in celebration. One Piece Stampede is not a part of the One Piece "Film" series—mo...
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Cagaster of an Insect Cage

Get past the visuals and the story is mostly a standard post-apocalyptic yarn flavored with elements of classic giant bug movies. ― This 12 episode ONA series is a Netflix exclusive which debuted worldwide on that service on February 6th of this year. It is based on a manga of the same name which originally was posted online from 2005 to 2013 before being released in print form in 2016; an English la...
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REVIEW: Sorcerous Stabber Orphen

The world's greatest sorcerer is back after two decades but is there any new ground to cover? James explains why this fantasy adventure is the right kind of comfort food. ― I checked out a DVD of ADV's release of the original Orphen anime back in the mid-2000s, though all I could remember of it was that the dub was pretty corny and everyone had goofy names. Now, a decade-and-a-half later, I went into...
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Nori GN

Nori is a quiet, warm book about the magic of how small children see the world and the comforts of a loving grandma. ― The year is 1986, and Noriko, better known as Nori, is three-going-on-four-years-old. Her parents work fulltime, which means that her maternal grandmother is in charge of the rambunctious child for most of the day. It's a story we've seen iterations of in the past and perhaps lived a...
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Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun

As far as set ups go, this is a good one, and it definitely fulfills its comedic promise. ― Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun is more or less what you'd get if you crossed Hayate the Combat Butler with the Disgaea games. Fourteen-year-old Iruma Suzuki is a truly unfortunate person, constantly at the mercy of his terrible parents who sign him up for dangerous jobs so that they can live off his salari...
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Pet

James Beckett goes on a mental deep-dive into the insidious world of organized crime and the psychic enforcers that work for the enigmatic Company in Pet. ― When the Winter 2020 anime season began, Pet was one of the series that I was the most eager to dive into. The basic concept is a winner, for one, as it basically takes the fundamental ideas presented in the movie Inception — Criminals manipulate...
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High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even In Another World

On the whole, this show has some legitimate entertainment value and a few interesting aspects, especially if you can just turn your mind off and roll with the premise. ― Isekai series have to do something special to distinguish themselves in a very crowded field, and this Fall 2019 adaptation of a light novel series does make at least some effort on that front. It is one of the rare isekai series whe...
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Kaiju Girl Caramelise GN 3

It's a series with a great big, slightly scaly heart, and if you're looking for something a little different in your shoujo romance, this is the place to start. ― After some stumbles in the sophomore volume, Kaiju Girl Caramelise is back in form with this third volume, which brings us one of the best kiss scenes in shoujo manga: a hot guy smooching a giant monster. Obviously there's a lot of backstor...
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Outburst Dreamer Boys Episodes 1 - 11 and OVA

It's a comedy that pulls it off without being unnecessarily mean about how silly its characters are, and there's definitely something to be said for that. ― Reverse harems can take on all kinds of flavors depending on the personalities of the guys making it up, but rarely is it as weird as poor Mizuki's. Almost as soon as she transfers to a new high school she finds herself tagged as the “missing” me...
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Isekai

Isekai stories typically involve ordinary people being transported to another world, but who's to say that authors can't also have such world-hopping experiences? ― This work has an unusual pedigree: it is principally the product of the writer's circle Sakka Keihan, with three guest authors also contributing, for seven in all. Among these are leading figures in the isekai publishing like Carlo Zen (S...
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Umineko When They Cry Episode 8: Twilight of the Golden Witch GN 2

Well played, Ryukishi07, well played. ― Well played, Ryukishi07, well played. If there's one thing in a mystery as satisfying as having been able to solve the puzzle(s) on your own, it's realizing how the author out-witted you, and while there's a certain amount of the former in this penultimate volume of Twilight of the Golden Witch, the latter is one of the best features. Previous to this point, th...
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My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Novel 5

Despite this volume's issues, no matter what's going on, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom is just a delightful story. ― Every story is at risk of leaving things out, because the advice that the author has to know 80% more about their world and characters than the readers do doesn't tell you which 20% to share. That isn't often an issue in Satoru Yamaguchi's My Next Life as a Vill...
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86 novel 4

It takes a while to get going, but the second half is handled very well. Overall it remains an engaging continuation of the story. ― With the fourth volume, author Asato Asato finally pushes the story beyond where the first volume ended, in the process entering a new stage: one where Lena and the 86s (most especially Shin) have been reunited and are now working closely together in a literal as well a...
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number24 1 - 12 streaming

If you only sort-of find rugby interesting but really enjoy watching attractive college-age men interact with each other in a variety of vaguely homoerotic ways, then do we have the show for you. ― If you only sort-of find rugby interesting but really enjoy watching attractive young college-age men interact with each other in a variety of vaguely homoerotic ways, then do I have the show for you. numb...
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Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

All things considered, this 3DCG series is easily the weakest entry in this famous sci-fi franchise so far. ― This Netflix exclusive series is a direct sequel of the 2002-3 TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, its 2004 sequel Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, and the 2006 follow-up movie Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society. Hence it has no connect...
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My Hero Academia - Season 3 Part 2 [BLURAY + DVD]

The tail end of My Hero Academia’s third season sees the franchise struggling with growing pains, as it works to move out from under the shadow of All Might. ― In retrospect, the first two and a half seasons of My Hero Academia could very reasonably be considered the “Era of All Might,” and grouped together as a sort of meta-arc connoting the first act of this story. All Might is this portion's begin...
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The Swamp GN

Readers who are just looking for pure entertainment in their manga may have a difficult time getting into this book, but if you're a fan of older works or Garo in general The Swamp is more than worth picking up. ― Although mangaka Yoshiharu Tsuge is considered one of the great creators to have come out of the mid-twentieth century, translations of his works have been few and far between. Previous to ...
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Beyond the Clouds GN 1

With gorgeous watercolor opening pages and this isn't as immediately engrossing as Witch Hat Atelier or Made in Abyss, but it's still a bedtime story you want to keep your eyes open for. ― Beyond the Clouds is reminiscent of a lot of things while still managing to be its own series. It has elements of Juana and the Dragonewt's Seven Kingdoms in the relationship between Theo and Mia, some thematic and...
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Hi Score Girl II

It isn't ambitious or emotionally rich enough to be considered any great masterpiece, the series has earned a well-deserved spot in the annals of cute and heartwarming anime rom-coms. ― Hi Score Girl II has arrived on Netflix a little over a year after the first series, though when you factor in the three OVAs that were dropped in the meantime, it feels like no time at all has passed since we checke...
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My Roommate is a Cat BD + Digital

It's definitely a cat person show, but it's also one for anybody who's anxious or understands the comfort of having an animal to make the world less scary. ― On the surface, My Roommate is a Cat (based on the manga of the same name) is a story about a shy young man adopting a stray cat who needs him as much as he needs her. That's absolutely true, but also just the window dressing for a series that's...
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Umma's Table GN

To say that this book can be upsetting may be understating the matter, but, if this makes sense, it's a good kind of upsetting. ― Umma's Table, from Yeon-sik Hong, the creator of Uncomfortably Happily, is one of those works that will likely affect you differently at various times in your life. The story follows Madang, a forty-year-old man who has just had his first child and at the same time is deal...
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Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- Part 2 BD

The second half of Kakuriyo really comes into its own as it goes on, leading to a strong - if open-ended - finale. ― At first glance, it looks very much like the second half of Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- is simply taking the easy way out and rehashing the same story of human Aoi being plunked down in an ayakashi inn in the Hidden Realm. When she gets herself kidnapped by the heads of riva...
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Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector

The third season of this smash hit thriller ended with a ton of unanswered questions - does this follow-up answer them all? Richard Eisenbeis investigates. ― The Psycho-Pass franchise is set in a future where your mental state--and, more importantly, your capacity to commit crimes--can be ascertained simply by scanning you in real-time. Should your mental state be compromised, you are rounded up for ...
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GeGeGe no Kitarō Episodes 87 - 97 Streaming

Ultimately, the message of the show is that hatred and pride bring us nothing but war, and that can only ever be a bad thing ― It is no secret that the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro, Shigeru Mizuki, was not a fan of war. Drafted into the army during World War Two, he saw first-hand the atrocities that war brings, as well as his older brother executed as a war criminal. While he's written several histor...
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BanG Dream! 3rd Season

This season isn't just easily the best BanG Dream anime, but a generally solid show in its own right. ― The BanG Dream franchise has had its ups and downs, with the anime elements seemingly being the rockiest. Last year's second season wasn't all bad, especially compared to the tepid Season 1, but it still came off as an overstuffed obvious mobile-game advert still seemingly struggling with its own s...
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Hanebado! BR

As sports series go, this unexpected and well-written badminton show is a grade above. ― Although I didn't end up following it at the time, I had a positive initial impression of this series when it debuted in the Summer 2018 season. That's no small feat given that I usually have little interest in sports-focused titles. I always intended to give the whole series a try at some point, so I took the oc...
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My Hero Academia - Volume 22

My Hero Academia’s interclass scrimmages demonstrate shonen battling at its best, as both 1-A and 1-B work to demonstrate their heroic potential. ― There are a variety of ways storytellers can work to make audiences feel invested in the outcome of a given fight scene. They can imbue that fight scene with clear dramatic stakes; emphasize either the emotional or physical results of victory, thereby giv...
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My Room Is a Dungeon Rest Stop GN 1

There isn't quite enough material in the first volume of this rather thin premise available yet to determine whether or not this is going to be a worthwhile title to follow. ― The manga version of My Room is a Dungeon Rest Stop is an adaptation of a web novel of the same name; I can find no indication that it has ever been published in print, however, and the web novel does not seem to be legally ava...
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SCP Foundation: Iris of the Mirror World

This sci-fi novel's strength is in its relatively smooth melding together of a lot of strange stuff and one substantial (yet also sensical) twist towards the end. ― A lot of light novels are either directly derivative of, or at least borrow ideas from, other works in either the same medium or related ones. However, I'm not sure that I have ever previously come across a light novel with a pedigree lik...
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Bibliophile Princess Novel 1

An engaging story with a good heroine, and if you're looking for something a little different in the genre, this is a good place to turn. ― Like many another shoujo light novel heroine, Lady Elianna Bernstein can't figure out why the handsome and charming crown prince of her kingdom would want to marry her. The difference between Eli and, for example, the heroine of Can Someone Please Explain What's ...
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Im: Great Priest Imhotep GN 1

It isn't perfect or completely devoid of genre tropes, but it is a good story with an interesting use of Ancient Egyptian mythology as its base. ― If there's one edge Im: Great Priest Imhotep has over its fellow supernatural action series, it's that it bases its story in Ancient Egyptian mythology. That's certainly not unheard of in manga, but the glee with which creator Makoto Morishita uses it and ...
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BEASTARS Season 1

What we have here is a technological powerhouse that never forgets the achingly human emotions in the hearts of its characters, using 3D animation in a manner than respects and complements its 2D source-material. ― Two things have had Netflix's adaptation of Beastars on my radar for a long time now. For one, I'm already a huge fan of Paru Itagaki's weird, wild, genre-defying manga, so I coming at thi...
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My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero's GN 1

If you're a fan of isekai, this is definitely worth picking up. If you're more ambivalent on it, this is still one of the better examples of what the genre is capable of. ― If you read the title of this manga and immediately had the dual thoughts “this is based on a light novel” and “this is boilerplate isekai,” you'd basically be right on both counts. My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the H...
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A Condition Called Love GN 1

Based on solely this volume, this reads like a terrible warning about toxic relationships rather than the sweet love story it's advertised as. ― Romance for teens has had a problem for a long time, probably since even before Cathy and Heathcliff began their tumultuous romance back in 1847. (Not that Wuthering Heights was YA, strictly speaking, but it's been embraced by that reading community.) What i...
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Sweat and Soap GN 1

Technically speaking, this is a seinen romance rather than a josei, but fans of either demographic can very easily find plenty to enjoy in its pages. ― Technically speaking, Kintetsu Yamada's Sweat and Soap is a seinen romance rather than a josei, but fans of either demographic can very easily find plenty to enjoy in its pages. It's the rare romance story that doesn't really feel designed for any one...
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Tearmoon Empire Novel 1

While not precisely a breath of fresh air, it certainly is one worth taking. Mixing absurdity with satire, it capitalizes on current light novel trends while still managing to be its own story. ― Despite sharing some surface similarities with many of J-Novel Club's other shoujo novels (at least such as have been released as of this writing), Tearmoon Empire takes a fairly different approach to its re...
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Moonlight Moratorium GN 1 (ebook)

The central theme won't sit comfortably with many readers and is hanging over the rest of the volume like a storm cloud at a picnic, ruining the day. ― Gender-bender manga does not always require a whole lot of sensitivity. Series like Hana-Kimi or Girl Got Game use the device as a means of getting characters into a romantic situation, while other titles like Tomo-chan is a Girl or some BL series tre...
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Transformers: The Manga GN 1

Mostly an exercise in nostalgia for long-ago Saturday mornings, rooted in the 1980s in the way it carries out its themes and stories. ― Transformers the Manga is a title best appreciated either by nostalgic adults who remember watching the original run of the First Generation Transformers cartoon in the mid-1980s or by children in the 7 – 10 age range who really enjoy motor vehicles and robots. Since...
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Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru GN 1

Cyborg samurai – in space! Talking cats – who are also samurai! A mysterious galaxy-saving artifact named after Greek mythology! Yes, Samurai 8 has all this and more! ― Cyborg samurai – in space! Talking cats – who are also samurai! A mysterious galaxy-saving artifact named after Greek mythology! Yes, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru has all of this and more (a tank that looks like a cake!), making i...
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Carole & Tuesday - Episodes 13-24 Streaming

Is it ridiculous to believe that a bunch of well-intentioned musicians can sing a song and end intolerance and injustice once and for all? ― The question that loomed over the first half of Carole and Tuesday's run was whether the girls would really be able to live up to the “7 Minute Miracle” that the pre-credits narration foreshadows in every single one of the show's twenty-four episodes. When it co...
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Castlevania Season 3

"I really wanted to love Castlevania's bold new direction, but the show is hellbent on making it as hard as possible." ― It's been over a year since I reviewed the surprisingly well-crafted and action-packed first two seasons of Netflix's Castlevania. At the time, one of my chief complaints was that the best of the show's characterization and storytelling was buried beneath an overbearing emphasis on...
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Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel II. lost butterfly BD

It's dark, shows a character slowly twisting into darkness as her only possible recourse, and it's got some upsetting imagery. But it is a good story, with beautiful animation. ― If ever there was a movie that felt cinematic, Lost Butterfly would be it. The second of three films based on the Sakura Route of the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel, the camera work and animation combine to present us...
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Granblue Fantasy Versus

GBVS is an excellent fighter with a middling RPG-like mode tacked on. Like many fighting games, what you get out of it will be heavily determined by how much effort you put into it. ― It might be hard for people who don't dabble in mobile gaming to understand how big of a deal Granblue Fantasy is, but believe me when I say that it is HUGE. Millions of accounts, tons of merchandise and media, even a y...
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Shirobako Movie

The unexpected theatrical return of our favorite characters from P.A. Works' beloved "anime about anime" might not feel completely necessary - but it sure is nice to have them back. ― The Shirobako movie is the unexpected sequel to P.A. Works' beloved TV anime about creating anime. The original show had one of the most perfect, cathartic endings you'll ever see in a TV anime, and although fans have b...
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My Hero Academia - Volume 21

My Hero Academia embraces new structural changes while also returning to its roots in its action-packed twenty-first volume. ― Endeavor's succession of All Might has led to some interesting complications of My Hero Academia's moral calculus. Outside of his frequent willingness to push Midoriya too far, All Might is pretty close to a perfect person; strong and yet kind, aspirational yet approachable, ...
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Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King BR

Calling this 12-episode series a true adaptation of the game may be a stretch, as the plot here has only a thin connection to the game setting and mechanics. ― The anime Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King is connected to a series of popular Japanese arcade CCGs originating with Lord of Vermilion in 2008. However, calling this 12-episode series a true adaptation of the game may be a stretch, as the p...
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Conditions of Paradise GN

This anthology of yuri stories isn't quite as captivating as Morishima's full-length stories, but it is a very nice read nonetheless. ― While it's a shame that Akiko Morishima's best-known work, the two-volume Hanjuku-Joshi, hasn't yet seen an English language release (at least as of this writing), there's still something to be said for the fact that we're getting any of her work. It certainly speaks...
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My Androgynous Boyfriend GN 1

Perhaps the best way to think of this wispy, sweet little romantic story is as a light diversion. ― In terms of plot, My Androgynous Boyfriend doesn't have much. It's firmly in the slice-of-life category, following happy couple Wako and her boyfriend Meguru about their day-to-day lives in Tokyo. Wako is a manga editor working long, panicky hours while Meguru is both a model and a clerk in a clothing ...
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I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! Novel 1

I Refuse to be Your Enemy's first volume is one of those books that gets better as you go on, but getting to that point can take a little willpower. ― In some ways, I Refuse to Be Your Enemy feels a bit like a poor man's My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom. Mostly this is due to the fact that the beginning of this introductory novel is very, very rushed – we barely know Kiara as a c...
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Eccentric Master and the Fake Lover Novel 2

It's always a treat when the second volume of a novel series surpasses its debut volume, and that's definitely the case with The Eccentric Master and the Fake Lover. ― It's always a treat when the second volume of a novel series surpasses its debut volume, and that's definitely the case with The Eccentric Master and the Fake Lover. While the first book of Roka Sayuki's isekai fantasy series felt more...
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Sailor Moon Sailor Stars DVD & BD Part 2

With a nice balance of humor and danger, Sailor Moon's final season does pull through as a good finale to the show. ― The second half of the long-awaited final season of Sailor Moon Classic, Sailor Stars, is certainly worth the wait in many ways. Picking up the threads from the first half, this finale improves on them in terms of the humor and the emotional content, and if the ending is perhaps not w...
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Infini-T Force BD

Classic heroes team up in this CG series - if you're familiar with the original hero shows, there's a good chance that you'll get more out of Infini-T Force. ― Nostalgia productions like Infini-T Force have a very fine line to tread. They need to appeal to the people who will get all starry-eyed at the thought of seeing their childhood staples walk and talk again, but the story and characters also ha...
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My Hero Academia the Movie -Heroes: Rising- English Dub

The smashing, action-packed new My Hero Academia movie, featuring an all-new villain, is in theaters tonight! But how's the dub? We've got the details. ― Going purely by the synopsis, one could be forgiven for expecting Heroes: Rising to be a carbon copy of the preceding MHA movie, Two Heroes. Both are wholly isolated adventures predicated on putting the cast on an anime-original island, and pitting ...
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Magical Girl Raising Project BR

Although this dark magical girl series does a lot of other things at least relatively well, it is ultimately limited by problems with its tone. ― Although this 2016 series is listed primarily as a magical girl series (which it unquestionably is), a more accurate way to describe it might be as a hybrid of magical girl and survival game series, as it has nearly as much in common with a King's Game or D...
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Love Me, Love Me Not GN 1

Yuna first had a crush on the prince from Sleeping Beauty - and still has an idealized view of love. Her friend Akari, however, doesn't get why Yuna could still be dreaming of princes on white horses. ― It is an inescapable truth that Io Sakisaka cannot get through even one volume of her shoujo romances without introducing Major Angst. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course – she's very, very ...
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Sword Art Online novel 18

"None of the story beats here feel all that original, and some of the franchise's worst quirks linger nearly to the end." ― In terms of both volume count and total page count, the Alicization arc is longer than all previous SAO core novels combined, so it's only fitting that its final volume, at 281 pages, is both the longest of the arc and the third-longest to date. (Only novels 6 and 8 exceeded it ...
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Ride Your Wave

Masaaki Yuasa and the team behind Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!'s latest film is in select US theaters tomorrow - Richard Eisenbeis explains why you absolutely shouldn't miss it. ― Ride Your Wave is the newest work from acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa, the man behind The Tatami Galaxy, Lu over the Wall, and most recently, Devilman Crybaby. Imbued with his unique visual style, this film is an examina...
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Fire in his Fingertips: A Flirty Fireman Ravishes Me with his Smoldering Gaze GN 1

It's exactly what it sounds like - just pure, silly romance escapism. If that's what you're looking for, you're in luck with this volume. ― In recent years, English-language manga publishers seem to have come to a realization: all of those little girls who grew up asking their parents to buy them Cardcaptor Sakura and Tokyo Mew Mew books have grown up. That means that not only do they have their own ...
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Misfortune Devouring Witch is Actually a Vampire Novel

With its attention to detail, unique vampire mythology, and characters who have a reason to act as they do, it's worth picking up if you like a little blood and history with your romance. ― Although Kiiro Himawari's standalone novel The Misfortune Devouring Witch is Actually a Vampire is fantasy, it feels very much like historical fiction set in the late 19th century. In large part this is due to som...
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A Certain Magical Index III part 1 BR/DVD

Given the quality of Railgun, these episodes show why the core Index series isn't the standard-bearer of the animated side of the franchise. ― I did episode reviews for this series when it originally streamed during the Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 seasons, so if you want to see a more detailed episode-by-episode breakdown, look here. I decide to revisit the series with the advent of Funimation's releas...
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Haikyu!! LAND VS. AIR and THE PATH OF THE BALL

The volleyball boys return again, and there are good moments for both characters and animation, but the story is too condensed to make them truly enjoyable. ― These two OVAs, the third and fourth respectively, have an unenviable task: not only must they cram the contents of two entire action-packed volumes into fifty minutes, but they also have to cover characters that viewers don't know as well and ...
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Given GN 1

Whether animated or in its original manga form, Given is a story worth experiencing - even if BL isn't your usual genre, this one is worth giving a try. ― Even if you've already seen the portions of the anime adaptation that correspond to this volume, it's worth reading Given. Yes, part of that statement comes from the belief that it's always worth reading the source material, but in this case there ...
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Golden Kamuy Season One [Limited Edition]

Visual frustrations aside, Golden Kamuy is a just plain excellent piece of fascinating historical fiction. ― The Golden Kamuy anime arrived on a wave of buzz and anticipation, courtesy of its popular original manga. Though Kamuy is generous in its fight scenes and propulsive in its plotting, its distinctive setting and dramatic priorities set it apart from its genre contemporaries. Far more grounded ...
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Living-Room Matsunaga-san GN 1

As a slightly more mature take on the typical boarding house story it hits all the right notes, giving its characters time to think and react while not dragging the plot down. ― The boarding house story is to manga what the boarding school is to western YA fiction: a chance for people to be forced into proximity with each other without parental hand-holding. Unlike a few of the other boarding house s...
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Goblin Slayer: Goblin's Crown

This theatrically-released Goblin Slayer OVA "feels like a middle-of-the-road arc for the TV series, but compressed to the point where none of its emotional moments carried much weight." ― I can't say that I was disappointed by this OVA because frankly I wasn't expecting much from it in the first place. Condensing an entire book of content into 60 minutes of footage is bound to result in wonky pacing...
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Persona 5 GN 1

Adapting the role-playing game of the same name (which also has an anime version and two spin-off games in different genres), Persona 5's first volume is remarkably accessible. ― Adapting the role-playing game of the same name (which also has an anime version and two spin-off games in different genres), Persona 5's first volume is remarkably accessible. Yes, it helps if you know the basic way that Pe...
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Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt Novel 2

"It isn't hugely innovative, but it's different enough from other similar works to give it a bit of an edge." ― The first volume of The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (covered in our Fall 2019 light novel guide) introduced a story with surface similarities to a few other light novels currently on the market, most notably How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom and The Economics ...
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Our Dining Table GN

"Although it's relatively light on the romance – at least in terms of explicitness and tropes – it's a charming volume about feeding the heart along with the stomach." ― If your heart is in need of warming this winter (or at any time, really), Mita Ori's Our Dining Table is an excellent bet. Another entry into the subgenre of manga best termed “family dining,” and into the even more sub genre of that...
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Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai BR

Theron Martin reflects on the themes of this hit supernatural romantic drama - and Aniplex's recent deluxe release. ― I did episode reviews for this series during is initial run in the Fall 2018 season, so if you want to see a more detailed running commentary about the series, check those out. This review will instead focus more on overall impressions and the particulars of the Blu-Ray release by Ani...
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Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul

This direct sequel to smash hit dark fantasy series Made in Abyss goes even darker than ever before - will you be able to handle it? Kim Morrissy has the details. ― If you've seen the Made in Abyss TV anime or the trailer for this film, then you'll know that this series is definitely Not For Kids. The TV series started off innocently enough, but with each layer of the abyss that our heroes descend, t...
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My Father is a Unicorn GN

It's all right there in the title - his dad is a unicorn. But is this thin sitcom premise worth reading? Rebecca Silverman has the details. ― If, like me, you grew up watching old mid-century sitcoms because your parents thought they were safer than modern TV (or that's just what was on to watch), there's a good chance that you'll find a certain familiarity to the way that Monaka Suzuki's My Father i...
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Goblin Slayer Novel 8

"The eighth entry into the light novel series proves that it can hold its own even when the focus isn't solely on killing goblins." ― As the Goblin Slayer light novels have gone on, the characters have grown in a variety of subtle ways. There haven't been any earth-shattering revelations or changes for them, but that actually works in the series' favor, keeping the characters grounded in their fears,...
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The Legends of Luke Skywalker: The Manga

Who was Luke Skywalker? This new manga anthology explores the question in great detail, with gorgeous art and storytelling. ― So – listen. My name is Zac Bertschy, and throughout my life there have been three constants: anime, manga and Star Wars. I am an enormous lifelong fan of everyone's favorite completely oversaturated and inescapable sci-fi media franchise, created by George Lucas back in the l...
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Which Hana? GN 1

"Which Hana isn't anything particularly special, but it does offer its own distinct twists on the body-swap romance story we've seen before." ― Mizue Odawara is one of a handful of shoujo authors never before published in English who is getting a double digital release. Which Hana and A Devotion that Changes Worlds have both been licensed and translated by Futabasha, much in the same way that Chieko ...
review

Downfall

Downfall isn't an easy book. It's not something you pick up to read for pleasure - but if you're looking for a different take on industry manga, this is worth picking up. ― There's always something about Inio Asano's manga that feels like it might be personal. Whether that's true or not, it certainly speaks to one reason why his works are so popular and well-regarded – many readers like to feel like ...
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I Became the Secretary of a Hero! Novel 2

The cover of the second volume of immediately lets you know that things are not going to be as happy and sweet in this isekai fantasy as they were in volume one. ― The cover of the second volume of Tsukasa Yamazaki's I Became the Secretary of a Hero immediately lets you know that things are not going to be as happy and sweet in this isekai fantasy as they were in volume one. Where the first book's co...
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Jujutsu Kaisen GN 1

"Jujutsu Kaisen is a good enough book, but not one with a lot of staying power in your memory. It's fun while you're reading, but ultimately a bit forgettable in this debut volume." ― On the surface, there really isn't all that much about Jujutsu Kaisen that stands out as unique. Like many of its brethren Shounen Jump series, the story features a naïve but well-meaning protagonist with more muscles a...
review

Hinamatsuri Complete Series BD & Digital

Hinamatsuri is nominally a comedy, but if you're looking for just laughs, it may not quite deliver - but when it is funny, it works really well. ― Hinamatsuri, which takes its name from a pun on the words for the main character's name and “festival” as well as the fact that “hinamatsuri” is a specific holiday also known as “girls' day,” is a bit of an unbalanced show. It ranges between being very fun...
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Lupin III THE FIRST

Breathtaking 3D animation that brilliantly mirrors the classic 2D look of Lupin is the hallmark of this latest film - but does the story hold up? Kim Morrissy has the details. ― There's a reason they keep bringing in Takashi Yamazaki to write and direct 3D re-imaginings of beloved Japanese franchises. From Stand By Me Doraemon to Dragon Quest Your Story, Yamazaki's work isn't content with merely appe...
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Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth 1-12 Streaming

"We don't often get series about fully-grown professional women in jobs like “narcotics investigator,” and to see it fall into a series of writing pitfalls is disappointing." ― There are many ways to adapt a game with multiple routes, with some working better than others. The major trap that many anime versions fall into is that of trying to include parts of all of the routes in an effort not to leav...
review

Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun GN 1

Legend has it that if you knock three times on the third stall in the girls' third floor bathroom in the old school building, a spirit named Hanako-san will appear and grant you a wish…for a price. ― The Seven School Mysteries are enough of a staple of anime and manga that most readers have likely encountered them at this point. The human-faced dog, the walking anatomical model, the haunted classroom...
review

Weathering With You

On the heels of the unprecedented global success of his last film, Makoto Shinkai's new drama opens in theaters in the US this week - Kim Morrissy has our full review!. ― I feel for Makoto Shinkai—the pressure on his shoulders must be immense. In 2016, he went from a director of niche films to a mainstream name in Japanese households within the span of several months. Your Name found international su...
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Island of Giant Insects

"A movie is so awful that I almost have to wonder if it was meant to be entertainingly bad." ― This 76 minute offering, which premiered in Japan and simultaneously on Crunchyroll in January 2020, is an adaptation of the first nine chapters (of 44) of the completed manga of the same name. Crunchyroll has also simultaneously posted a 22 OVA version which was released in Japan in June 2019; a premiere r...
review

Space Battleship Tiramisu Season 1 and 2 Blu-Ray

This absurdist parody of Gundam and Yamato is not the shiniest production - but its unique humor is dead on. ― The proliferation of five to 15 minute anime has opened doors to ideas that would otherwise struggle to fill a full-length time slot with gags. It's kinda like cruising the sample aisles at Costco; sure you could go to the deli and buy a full sandwich or you can get bites of salsa and chips,...
review

Granblue Fantasy the Animation 2 Streaming

It is a shame that Granblue Fantasy the Animation's second season never quite manages to get itself off the ground in terms of being a rollicking good adventure. ― It is a shame that Granblue Fantasy the Animation's second season never quite manages to get itself off the ground in terms of being a rollicking good adventure. That was true of the first season as well, maintaining a sense of being okay ...
review

Record of Grancrest War Part 2

"It doesn't aim higher or allow any deeper meaning on anything, really; it just delivers a run-of-the-mill epic fantasy story in competent fashion and with usually-solid technical merits." ― The second Aniplex of America release for Record of Grancrest War covers the second half of the series, which consists of episodes 13-24. In the process it accomplishes a feat somewhat unusual for epic anime fant...
review

Vinland Saga

Occasional hiccups of production do little to dampen the emotional power and thematic ambition of Makoto Yukimura’s viking masterpiece. ― Ever since I watched the sun first dawn over the earth in the adaptation of his spellbinding Planetes, I have been entranced by the works of Makoto Yukimura. One of the great mangaka of the art form, Yukimura crafts works of great thematic ambition, telling stories...
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Black Clover Season 1 Part 5 + Season 2 Part 1

All the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middles are showcased in the latest Black Clover bluray releases. ― Through the first season of Black Clover (which Funimation classifies as the first year), the release schedule for the Blu-Ray/DVD combo packs coincided almost exactly with the story arcs that were the primary focus of each volume. While that practiced continued through the ...
review

Black Butler Complete Collection Blu-Ray

If this gothy classic holds a certain level of nostalgia for you, Aniplex's release includes enough style and extra goodies to earn a place on your shelf. ― Revisiting Black Butler in the Year of Our Lord 2019 introduces an interesting conundrum. After a decade and an entourage of Ciel-in-a-Dress cosplays at conventions around the U.S., fans have moved on to the next goth kid favorite. The series wil...
review

GeGeGe no Kitarō Episodes 76-86 Streaming

This is another strong set of episodes. GeGeGe no Kitaro continually pushes the boundaries of family media, particularly according to many Western cultures. ― If there's any one thing folklorists can agree on about the yokai known as Nurarihyon, it's that early literature doesn't say much about him. Theories based on images, hearsay, and pop culture make up most of the lore at this point, with only h...
review

Cells at Work! Blu-ray

Although Aniplex's release is expensive, Cells at Work is a series that excels at finding a good balance between being fun and educational. ― Animations depicting the inner workings of the human body – sometimes in very fanciful fashion – have been around nearly as long as animation itself has, and the anthropomorphizing of cells is probably not new to this 13 episode series and its source manga. How...
review

In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World

In This Corner (and Other Corners) of the World is a good excuse to rewatch a great film, even if its additions don't dramatically change the story. ― In This Corner of the World is a modern classic, having received accolades and awards since it first debuted in 2016. Even without the release of an expanded version, it's definitely the kind of film that you'd want to watch more than once in order to ...
review

Ace Attorney Season 2 DVD/BD Parts 1 & 2

Phoenix Wright is back for more baffling cases in a second season that goes back to the days before he was a lawyer - with some decidedly mixed results. ― The second season of Ace Attorney, based on the games of the same name, is just as full of ludicrous conjectures, suspicious law practice, and inanity as the first season – and let's face it, that's more than half the fun. While it may not be an ac...

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