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review

Box of Light GN 1

Box of Light's first volume isn't perfect, but it's also one of those series that looks like it will get better as it goes on, and it has a very interesting take on the liminal world between life and death. ― Although it's not an entirely fair statement to make, Seiko Erisawa's English-language debut, Box of Light, is better in concept than execution. Similar to titles like Phantom Tales of the Night...
game review

RPG TIME: The Legend of Wright

Every page is a new adventure, dripping with love and care from a child who is just bursting at the seams with how much he wants to share with his friends. ― I realize I might be a bit too biased to properly review RPG Time, the new RPG from studio DeskWorks and Aniplex. It's not because it's steeped in JRPG lore or because so much of its iconography brings Dragon Quest to mind—rather, I see way too ...
review

GAME: Between the Suits GN 1

If enemies-to-lovers is your preferred romance subgenre, or if you just want to read about a woman who's in charge of her own life and body, this is a safe bet. ― She's a workaholic. He's a jerk womanizer who can't understand why his lines aren't working on her. Is there actually any attraction between them, or is he just trying so hard because she's the one woman who tells him no? The answer is some...
review

Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop Novel

Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop is an easy book to recommend. It plays nicely with the tale type that influenced it, pays attention to the emotional pasts and needs of the characters, and has a good balance of dark and sugary content. ― Rapunzel of the Magic Item Shop might seem only tangentially a Rapunzel story – also known as “The Maiden in the Tower” – ATU310's main requirement is that a child is...
review

Beauty and the Feast GN 2 & 3

Even with a few missteps, these two volumes of Satomi U's gentle foodie manga continue to be a warm-hearted series about found family and the comforts of having someone to eat with. ― If home is where the heart is, the kitchen and dining table are where the heart beats. Even with a few missteps, these two volumes of Satomi U's gentle foodie manga continue to exemplify that, especially since volume th...
review

INU-OH

Now playing in theaters in the U.S., acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa presents a film where art and the political are perfectly intertwined. ― "Noh performers were the historical equivalent of rock stars" is the thought that sparked the genesis of this film, and boy does Masaaki Yuasa run with it here. More of an extended musical performance than a narrative film at times, Inu-Oh is a delightful audi...
review

I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss Novels 2 & 3

While the first volume was a complete story in and of itself, the following two entries prove that just because Aileen got the guy doesn't mean that her story's over. ― While the first volume of Sarasa Nagase's light novel series I'm the Villainess, So I'm Taming the Final Boss was a complete story in and of itself, the following two entries prove that just because Aileen got the guy doesn't mean tha...
review

My Love Mix-Up! GN 4

This is a solid entry into a story that reminds us that not only is cupid blind, he's wandering down a very rocky road as the characters stumble their way into love. ― People do stupid things when they're uncomfortable. If there's a theme to this volume of My Love Mix-Up!, that would be it: feeling awkward and on-the-spot can push people into doing some truly ill-advised things. While we've seen that...
review

The Wolf Never Sleeps GN 1

The Wolf Never Sleeps stands out among isekai in one interesting respect: hero Lacan doesn't come from our world, but another fantasy world, and one with rather more game-like elements than the one he journeys to. ― Isekai is certainly still in its dime-a-dozen phase of popularity, but that doesn't mean that there aren't attempts to do something new with the genre. Although Shienbishop's The Wolf Nev...
review

Lonely Castle in the Mirror Novel

At the risk of being too personal, I lived this story. I don't mean now; I mean that as a seventh grader I experienced many of the same things that protagonist Kokoro did, and from that perspective I can say that this book gets it absolutely right. ― At the risk of being too personal, I lived this story. I don't mean now; I mean that as a seventh grader I experienced many of the same things that prot...
review

I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! GN 1

Yes, it's another isekai title, but hear me out before you run screaming into the night – it's from a type of isekai that we don't get very often in print releases in English: raunchy for an intended female audience. ― Yes, I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess is another isekai title, but hear me out before you run screaming into the night – it's from a type of isekai that we don't get very often in pri...
review

Stalemate GN

Yes, you read the synopsis right: the main, five-chapter story in Toomi Aoyama's single-volume book Stalemate is a romance between a guy and his older uncle. ― Yes, you read the synopsis right: the main, five-chapter story in Toomi Aoyama's single-volume book Stalemate is a romance between a guy and his older uncle. That's going to be an immediate turn off for some readers, and while I wish I could s...
review

A Serenade for Pretend Lovers GN 1

Is it insta-love that he just doesn't understand or simply lust? If you think that's a deep philosophical question, A Serenade for Pretend Lovers may be the romance manga for you ― Is it insta-love that he just doesn't understand or simply lust? If you think that's a deep philosophical question, A Serenade for Pretend Lovers may be the romance manga for you. Taking the "fake couple" romance trope and...
review

I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World Novel 1

Yuuya is at the absolute bottom of the world's hierarchy when he stumbles into amazing powers that rewrite his life. Can his story rise above the basic OP fantasy fare? ― This is not a revenge story. That's important to mention because it very easily could have been – like the protagonists of other similarly set-up titles, Yuuya is at the absolute bottom of the world's hierarchy when he stumbles into...
review

The Liminal Zone GN

It's latest collection visits the infamous Aokigahara and transforms it into an unsettling purgatory of people addicted to the strange powers that come from a mysterious cave within. ― Although he doesn't mention it in his afterword, the theme of this Junji Ito collection really feels like "folklore." The first story, "Weeping Woman Way," draws on the idea of professional mourners as well as myths of...
review

Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes: The Spirit Hunters of Tomoe Novel

It's likely that, upon reading the synopsis and looking at the cover, one of the first questions a potential reader of Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes may have is, “Is this BL?” The answer to that question is a resounding “…maybe?” ― It's likely that, upon reading the synopsis and looking at the cover, one of the first questions a potential reader of Onmyoji and Tengu Eyes may have is, “Is this BL?” The answe...
review

My Hero Academia Season 5 OVAs – “HLB”/”Laugh! As If You Are In Hell”

While these new extra episodes aren't essential viewing, they've got a lot more energy and character to them. They even work that good ol' anime magic and make the world's most boring sport into something fun to watch! ― The last time we got some between-season MHA OVAs, it was a pretty forgettable time. Not terrible, but a very obvious retread of ideas both the main series and previous OVAs had cove...
review

I Think Our Son Is Gay GN 3

Hiroki's mom finds reassurance after talking with a gay colleague but it's her own husband that is putting the biggest strain on the family, including their likely gay son. ― In volume two of Okura's gentle series I Think Our Son is Gay, mom Tomoko is present when a man comes to pick up her boss at Steamy Bento. Immediately her coworkers begin speculating on his sexuality, and that makes Tomoko uncom...
review

Shadows House GN 1

Anime viewers may get a lot more out of this introductory volume of the manga that inspired it, because if you're armed with a bit more knowledge, the foreshadowing is everywhere. ― Hindsight is, as the saying goes, 20/20. That means that if you're already familiar with the story of Shadows House from its anime adaptation, you may get a lot more out of this introductory volume of the manga that inspi...
review

Ragna Crimson Volume 5

Volume 5 shows that Ragna Crimson is a work that can cover a wider range of tones and speeds, while also letting Daiki Kobayashi flex creative muscles that previously haven't been at the forefront. ― This is perhaps the most restrained volume of Ragna Crimson thus far. Ragna and Crimson are in a situation unlike any they have been in previously, and it makes for a nice change of pace while allowing t...
review

Waccha PriMagi! Episodes 27-39

This third cour is full of episodes that showcase things that make Waccha PriMagi! stand out among other titles in the Pretty series and magical girl idol shows in general. ― There are plenty of things that make Waccha PriMagi stand out among other titles in the Pretty series and magical girl idol shows in general. This third cour is full of episodes that showcase that; it leans harder into coding an...
review

Summer Time Rendering GN 3

After learning the truth about the shadows and about what actually happened to his friend Ushio, Shinpei starts to gather allies and weapons to take the fight to the shadows. ― Volume 3 of Summertime Rendering picks up right after the series' breathtaking second volume; after learning the truth about the shadows and about what actually happened to his friend Ushio, Shinpei starts to gather allies and...
game review

Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium

Capcom Arcade Stadium returns with a mountain of arcade titles from the ‘80s and ‘90s. How many stand the test of time? ― Capcom was born in the arcades. Yes, they made a name with Mega Man,Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and other titles created for home consoles, but before any of that Capcom put themselves on the map with arcade games. So the Capcom Arcade Stadium series is a welcome roundup of thos...
review

Our Colors GN

From the creator of My Brother’s Husband comes a story of a high school artist struggling to be openly gay and the reassurance he finds at a local café. ― Sora is a gay high school student, afraid to come out for reasons he doesn't fully understand. He's perfected his façade of heteronormativity, which he pictures as an iron mask that slams into place every time conversations move over to his assumed...
review

Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts GN 1

There is a market for explicit romance aimed at an older female audience (although gender is no bar to enjoying this), because little girls grow up to be women with disposable income who'd like to read books written with them in mind, too. ― TL manga fans, your [steam]ship has docked. Not that there hasn't been TL manga available in English before, but with the exception of Seven Seas' release of Fir...
review

Fantasia Film Fest 2022: A Girl Meets a Boy and a Robot

Part of a bigger sci-fi anthology feature called TAISU, Watanabe's short brings together an international team to create a new post-apocalyptic world. ― Well, this is a nice surprise: arriving with basically no advance hype whatsoever, we got a new Shinichiro Watanabe short film! A Girl Meets a Boy and a Robot, which screened at the 2022 Fantasia Film Festival, is apparently the first part of a bigge...
review

Taisho Otome Fairy Tale Episodes 1-12

It lacks the character depth needed to sell its main couple, but there's still some shine here for those parched for shojo anime. ― There have been many shows over the years that I have felt deserved a bigger audience than they had, shows with interesting storytelling, challenging themes, and daring visual styles. Taisho Otome Fairy Tale… is not one of them. It's not so much an underappreciated gem a...
review

Laid-Back Camp Movie

Our camping girls are now adults, but that doesn't interfere with their love for the great outdoors. Read Kim Morrissy's review of the film! ― I wouldn't be exaggerating if I called Laid-Back Camp the best atmospheric slice-of-life TV anime, period. There's just something entrancing about the show and the way it portrays the quiet beauty of the outdoors. The film serves up an extra generous helping o...
game review

Klonoa: Phantasy Reverie Series

The Phantasy Reverie Series gives us two games that harken back to the time where these fun, thoughtful platformers where these fun, thoughtful platformers had more resources available to them. ― Poor, poor Klonoa. The waking world was hardly fair to Bandai Namco's Dream Traveler. The first Klonoa game came out just as the world was getting tired of platformers and 2D games, and the second one came o...
review

Orochi: The Perfect Edition GN 2

As Orochi once again drifts through the lives of humans, she encounters three separate tales of children caught in unimaginable circumstances. ― As Orochi once again drifts through the lives of humans, she encounters three separate tales of children caught in unimaginable circumstances. Two of them, Key and Prodigy, are somewhat hopeful, while Home is a grim story of how no place stays exactly the sa...
review

Netflix's Resident Evil

Netflix's Resident Evil tries to bring together all previous iterations even when that means explaining how Albert Wesker, a man who literally got punched into a volcano in the year 2009, now finds himself alive and well in the year 2022. ― Netflix's Resident Evil is a strange beast, indeed, so far as adaptations of the legendary video game franchise are concerned. Starting all the way back in 2004, ...
review

Fantasia Film Fest 2022: Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún

WIT Studio brings this intriguingly abstract world, about a man finding small joys with his ward, to life with resplendent animation. ― In The Ancient Magus Bride and Ranking of Kings, the animators at Wit Studio have shown themselves to be particularly adept at adapting fantasy manga that draw from classic fairy tales. Wit's latest fairy tale manga adaptation, The Girl from the Other Side, has eleme...
review

Nightfall Travelers: Leave Only Footprints GN 1

There's a certain kind of story that makes you slowly realize that you shouldn't be taking anything for granted. Nightfall Travelers: Leave Only Footprints is one of them. ― There's a certain kind of story that makes you slowly realize that you shouldn't be taking anything for granted. Nightfall Travelers: Leave Only Footprints is one of them. Even though it's specifically about debunking local ghost...
review

Apple Children of Aeon GN 1-3

Yukinojo was left as an infant on the porch of a temple, and he's never felt as if he truly belonged in his home. A story that spans decades, there's a folktale sensibility to its plotline, one that draws from Shinto legends ― Once upon a time, a baby was left outside a temple on a snowy night. The priest and his wife happily adopted the child, but he never felt like he belonged, all too aware of his...
review

Seaside Stranger: Harukaze no Étranger GN 3

Caught in the act, Mio's terrified that he's ruined the relationship he's been building with his boyfriend's brother. Shun hopes that his family will accept him for who he is, but he still may have a long way to go. ― When last we saw Shun and Mio, they were caught in flagrante delicto by Fumi, Shun's younger brother. We rejoin them now at that same moment, and while Fumi runs off immediately, Mio is...
review

MonsTABOO GN 1

Take a bit of social commentary on twisted, corrupt adults, add in schoolgirls who use monsters as transformed weapons to fight them, and then throw in a game where kids compete to kill the most baddies. ― Take a bit of social commentary on twisted, corrupt adults, add in schoolgirls who use monsters as transformed weapons to fight them, and then throw in a game where kids compete to kill the most ba...
review

Lost Lad London GN 1

Lost Lad London stands out on more than one level, and it wins the unofficial prize for “manga series most deserving of a live-action British TV series.” ― It isn't always easy to perfectly capture the tone, place, and time being written about, regardless of what culture the author is writing about or is from. Lost Lad London therefore stands out on more than one level, and it wins the unofficial pri...
review

Requiem of the Rose King Episodes 14-24

Requiem of the Rose King does play fast and loose with both history and Shakespeare. Can a good story overcome its lackluster animation? ― Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers As the wise Prospero once said, “Our revels now are ended. These our actors,/As I foretold you, were all spirits and/Are melted into air, into thin air.” It's fitting that so many Shakespearean quotations can be used to descr...
review

Aoashi Episodes 1-12

Welcome to Aoashi, the hot-blooded soccer story about what feels like forty boys who share five hairstyles between them. ― Welcome to Aoashi, the hot-blooded soccer story about what feels like forty boys who share five hairstyles between them. That is, of course, entirely too glib a way to describe this series, but it's also a defining piece of the character designs – with a few exceptions, there are...
review

Blue Reflection Ray Episodes 1-24

Blue Reflection Ray has some interesting ideas and likeable character moments if you can get past it's less than attractive visuals. ― I missed out on Blue Reflection Ray when it premiered last year, but I've become curious enough about the two video games in the franchise to give their anime companion piece another shot. Granted, I still haven't gotten around to playing the games yet, and according ...
game review

Capcom Fighting Collection

The Capcom Fighting Collection delivers a lineup of Darkstalkers games and lesser-known arcade titles! What holds up and what doesn’t? ― The arcades of the 1990s never wanted for fighting games. Capcom's Street Fighter II saw to that, striking gold with its 1991 debut and inspiring wave upon wave of imitators. Yet that proved a burden whenever Capcom created an arcade game that wasn't Street Fighter....
review

Teasing Master Takagi-san the Movie

This film satisfactorily caps off Nishikata and Takagi's story by being very light on the teasing and heavy on the warm fuzzies. ― With its pitch-perfect portrayal of an awkward middle school romance, Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san (or Teasing Master Takagi-san) was always one of the more charming anime romcoms. After three seasons of adorable flirting masked as teasing, there's absolutely no doubt that ...
review

Kotaro Lives Alone

I have to say, though, that I'm really glad that I went back and gave Kotaro Lives Alone another shot, because it turned out to be a surprisingly well-written and affecting dramedy that speaks to some important social issues. ― Kotaro Lives Alone had a lot going against it at the outset, which is maybe why I had such a hard time going back to it after giving it a shot during the season's Preview Guid...
review

The Deer King

Screening in U.S. theaters this month, director Ando shows his talent in creating emotional impact through subtle character animation, even within a dense story. ― Aptly timed, The Deer King's story around a mysterious infectious disease conjures up ideas of a found family and the uncomfortable debate between science and faith. Studio Ghibli alumni Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji have impressive res...
game review

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined

A shrine maiden and a tanuki take on monster hordes in this extensive remake of a classic Super NES shooter! Do Pocky and Rocky still have the magic? ― You don't need to know anything about Pocky or Rocky to enjoy their latest game, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined. You don't need to know how their series began with the Taito arcade game Kiki Kaikai or how it reached its greatest international popularity when...
review

Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell

This rewrite of the final act of Macross Frontier changes a lot, but are the adjustments in service a better story? ― If I had to describe this film's predecessor, The False Songstress, in a single word, it would be “functional.” The film did a decent job trimming down the first 60% of Macross Frontier's TV series and delivering a coherent storyline, but it was an obviously compromised production tha...
review

ESTAB LIFE: Great Escape

Sure, the anti-panty cults and commie penguin armies are…a lot, and don't think for one second that this anime isn't proud to get weird and stupid whenever it gets the chance. ― Estab-Life: Great Escape is an especially bizarre anime, and not just for the reasons you're probably already expecting. Sure, the anti-panty cults and commie penguin armies are…a lot, and don't think for one second that this...
review

Love All Play Episodes 1-13

Love All Play is the sort of show that's good enough to keep watching even as it doesn't blow you out of the water. ― If there's one thing Love All Play unquestionably has going for it, it's the facial expressions. That perhaps sounds like an odd thing to praise in a sports show, but it truly is one of the standout features of both art and animation; each fleeting emotion that the characters feel can...
review

She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man

She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is a forgettable show, so much so that I found myself struggling to recall what happened in the earlier episodes by the time I reached the end. She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is a forgettable show, so much so that I found myself struggling to recall what happened in the earlier episodes by the time I reached the end. But to its credit, it's r...
review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: the Movie Trilogy 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Box Set

Puella Magi Madoka Magica may not have reinvented the magical girl story, but it is an important step in the genre's evolution. ― Given that this is the tenth anniversary release of these films, I'm going to assume some familiarity with them in this review. When Puella Magi Madoka Magica initially came out as a TV series (which the first two films are a retelling of), it started a conversation about ...
review

Yuri Espoir GN 1

Yuri Espoir is an odd combination of froth and sadness. The way that the world seems hellbent on crushing Kokoro under the burden of false heteronormativity is undeniably tragic, but there is still hope. ― Kokoro's death is impending. That's how she puts it to her friend Amami, anyway – her father is forcing her into an arranged marriage as soon as she finishes high school. The man she's meant to wed...
review

Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash

Maybe it's the Stockholm-esque relationship I cultivated in consuming so much Dropkick in only a couple of weeks, but this opening stretch of the new season was the most fun I had with the series. ― So here we are with the second season of Dropkick on My Devil and immediately it feels like I'm in an even trickier critical position than I was with the first season. At least I could approach the origin...
review

Orient Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Based on the manga by Shinobu Ohtaka, Orient's first twelve episodes are both comfortably within shonen norms and just different enough to give it an edge. ― Based on the manga of the same name by Shinobu Ohtaka, creator of the Arabian Nights-inspired series Magi and the battle comedy Sumomomo, Momomo, Orient's first twelve episodes are both comfortably within shounen norms and just different enough ...
review

Hikaru in the Light! GN 1

Hikaru in the Light! is an idol competition tale, and while its initial description and unfolding feels a little like Blue Lock but for girl idols, it's actually a bit more grounded than it wants to let on in its opening chapters. ― Japan's idol industry has a problem. No, it's probably not the one you think it is; according to M. Hayama, a producer in Mai Matsuda's manga series Hikaru in the Light!,...
review

Island in a Puddle GN 1

From the creator of ERASED comes a new series about jumping through time when fifth grader Minato switches bodies with adult career criminal Tomohiro Takita – in the moment just after Takita committed murder. ― Kei Sanbe certainly has a way with stories about tormented little boys, doesn't he? But it's hard to complain that the protagonists of Erased, For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams, and now this seri...
review

Fruits Basket -prelude-

Before there was Kyo and Tohru, or even Kyo and Kyoko, there was Kyoko and Katsuya. Kyoko was a troubled teen; Katsuya a student teacher with no actual interest in education. Apart, they were a pair of misfits; together, they made Tohru. ― One thing I've seen bouncing around shojo-dominated spaces of the internet is anticipation for this movie. Specifically, people are excited about the all-new epilo...
review

The Town of Pigs GN

The first new release of Hideshi Hino's work in a decade, The Town of Pigs is a short allegory of war that starkly reflects the demons inside humanity. ― Spoiler warning: for the sake of discussing the context of this manga, the end twist is included in this review. The Town of Pigs marks a long-deserved return of Hideshi Hino, a central horror manga artist whose work hasn't been released stateside i...
review

Look Back GN

From the creator of Chainsaw Man comes a story about the passion of artists and the tragedies that shape our life. ― Growing up as a child, I've always found that there's never really a right or wrong reason to pursue a passion. Whether it's sports, academics, or even the creative arts, the reasons behind why one might decide to walk down those paths could range from the incredibly complex and selfle...
review

Dropkick on My Devil! Season 1

An anime filled with devilish dysfunctional weirdos engaging in wanton violence is a bit dated at this point, but its filling a niche for someone, if the crowdfunding numbers are to be believed. ― With the third season crowdfunded and poised to premiere this summer, it's well past time to formally take a look back at the original Dropkick on my Devil, to evaluate what brought us here. It's a unique p...
review

Macross Frontier: The False Songstress

Now screening in the U.S. for the first time, Macross Frontier: The False Songstress proves its larger-than-life idol, Sheryl, is still legendary for a reason. ― It still feels surreal to be covering this film, honestly. Sure, Macross Plus got an event screening not all that long ago, but that was a title that had at least temporarily escaped the licensing nightmare that has plagued Macross for decad...
review

Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love GN 2

The second volume is a step up from its debut but will a too-clingy younger sister put the brakes on Satomi and Yagyu's relationship? ― In a decided improvement from volume one, this second book in the shoujo romance series Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love features our hero and heroine slowly growing closer. This naturally means three of the major romance manga staples: the beach date, the zoo date, and the ...
review

The Strongest Hero With the Weakest Crest Episodes 1-12

More familiar than fresh, Grant tries out this anime entry in the "a curse is really a boon" trope to see if there's anything redeeming about it. ― You've already seen this show. You know every story beat, trope, and twist that The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest has to offer – whether you've watched it or not. It's been done, you've seen it done, and it was better that other time. See, The Str...
review

Run on Your New Legs GN 1

After losing a leg in an accident, Shouta Kikuzato's dreams of high school soccer with his best friend Take are shattered. A new prosthetic opens the world of sports to him again, as a track-and-field sprinter. ― It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that Run on Your New Legs is the second manga I've read about learning to run with a sports prosthetic. Blade Girl: Kataashi no Runner by Narumi Shigematsu (...
review

Crazy Food Truck GN 1

Violence, nudity, and some of best BLTs on the block! Gordon Goliath's food truck gets about as many customers as you could expect for one driving around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but it's a living. ― I have a healthy respect for works where the creator makes what they specifically would want from something. To hear Rokurou Ogaki tell it in the notes included at the end of this first volume, Craz...
review

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

The newest Dragon Ball film's promotional material highlighted Gohan but make no mistake, this is Piccolo's time to shine. ― Superheroes are not a new concept in Dragon Ball. Most notably Gohan himself spent his high school years as a masked hero. Yet, this film is not about him—well, at least not directly. In the years since the Tournament of Power, Gohan has unconsciously pushed his responsibilitie...
game review

Fault StP: Lightkravte

Lightkravte features gorgeous art and is interesting both as a prequel and as a game in its own right. ― The fourth game in Alice in Dissonance's fault series, Fault StP Lightkravte may raise a few eyebrows since it's being released ahead of Milestone Two: Side Below, meaning that series fans have to wait a bit longer to continue the main story. (On Steam, the developers have said that staffing issue...
review

Shaman King Episodes 26-52

As Shaman King enters into the back half of this reboot, the show enters into a seemingly hopeless battle on two fronts. Jairus Taylor questions if, following the show's missteps along the way, this reboot needed to happen at all. ― As Shaman King enters into the back half of this reboot, the show enters into a seemingly hopeless battle on two fronts. The first being Yoh trying to find a way to put a...
game review

Metal Max Xeno Reborn

Metal Max Xeno Reborn can be a lot of fun, but it does make you work for it. Its oblique objectives and wild difficulty curves can definitely be off-putting—and yet there's fun to be had in driving around the wasteland, scrounging for scrap metal, and blasting away mobs of cannon fodder. ― Fans of old PS2 JRPGs might remember the obscure Metal Saga; what you might not have known is that it's one in a...
review

Revue Starlight The Movie

Revue Starlight The Movie addresses and fixes nearly all my quibbles with the series by burning off the fat and violently compressing the remaining stylistic meat into a brilliant multi-faceted diamond. ― Revue Starlight The Movie is a sequel in the familiar sense of the word. It follows up on the conclusion of the television series, and gives its characters another chance to soak in the limelight be...
review

Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan's Island

Even if the status quo is maintained at the end of the film, Cucuruz Doan still tells a satisfying adventure that fits seamlessly within the larger narrative of Mobile Suit Gundam. ― The existence of this film is an oddity, being a retelling of the 15th episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Apparently, that episode had some issues on the visual production side, prompting its omission fro...
review

Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer! Novels 1-2

This novel series tries to mix things up a bit but ultimately is too devoted to the basic villainess story to truly achieve that, giving it that slightly stale feeling. ― Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer is, in its first two novels, a mix of checklist villainess isekai and something a bit more innovative. The story follows Serephione, daughter of the noble Granzeus family in a ...
review

Magical Star Magical Emi Streaming

This magical girl series is pushing towards its 40th birthday. Does it still have anything to offer to modern anime fans? ― Falling between Magical Fairy Persia and Magical Idol Pastel Yumi is Magical Emi, the third of Studio Pierrot's early magical girl titles, and while the former hasn't been released in English as of this writing, Magical Emi is notably stronger than either Creamy Mami or Pastel Y...
review

Tomorrow, Make Me Yours GN

If a simple love story is all you need, this manga has it in spades. ― There are a few things to like about Tomorrow, Make Me Yours. The story is simple and self-contained within one volume. It covers the major grounds of romantic progression from infatuation to confession to dating to sex. Its stylistic flourishes are heavily inspired by other light-hearted romance stories, with cute little lighting...
review

From the Red Fog GN 1

This edgy manga comes with a slew of content warnings, but is there anything to it beyond reveling in its own darkness? ― Not all books with disturbing content merit up-front content warnings; From the Red Fog is not one of them. Before you embark on this book, it's worth knowing that it features a slew of troubling material, most notably a mostly off-the-page rape of a child; torture and violence ma...
review

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Novel 1

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. See where the anime started in our review of the novel series. ― When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. A bit of a riff on supernatural battle stories, the first light novel in the series by Kota Nozomi (whose light novel se...
review

Quintessential Quintuplets the Movie

If you've somehow managed to remain unspoiled about the ending of The Quintessential Quintuplets, then this movie will finally resolve your burning questions...but it could have looked better while doing it. ― If you've somehow managed to remain unspoiled about the ending of The Quintessential Quintuplets, then this movie will finally resolve your burning questions. It does an impressive job with the...
review

Summer Time Rendering GN 2

The second volume of Summer Time Rendering is fantastic, and its 374 pages have enough twists to appeal to the most hard-core of suspense readers. ― In Volume 1, Shinpei learns about the suspicious circumstances surrounding Ushio's death. He then discovers that townspeople are being consumed and replaced by “shadows,” which appear to be connected to an island legend. While he can reset time by dying,...
review

New York, New York Omnibus 1

New York, New York tries to present a more realistic image of what it meant to be gay in the 1990s, with all the uncomfortable (and sometimes downright homophobic) baggage that comes with it. ― New York, New York is a bit difficult to fully quantify. Written between 1995 and 1998, the story, set in New York City with a jaunt to Newton, Massachusetts in this omnibus, is very much of its time. Marimo R...
review

Kageki Shojo!! GN 3-5

These side stories go a long way toward making the world of Kageki Shojo!! feel less like it's revolving around Sarasa, and more like she's just the member of a cohort full of driven young women with big personalities. ― Well, Kageki Shojo!! wouldn't be a true school manga if it didn't have some kind of a sports or cultural festival arc, would it? It's practically a prerequisite for these arcs to pop...
review

Vampire in the Garden Streaming

This tragedy-tinged romance clocks in at just five episodes. Is there enough meat on its bones to serve as a full story? ― Vampire in the Garden is a fascinating production that almost feels like an anime from another time, even as it simultaneously exists as a project that could only exist in the age of streaming. It's an original property that is being produced by the famous Studio Wit and helmed b...
review

Frieren: Beyond Journey's End GN 3-4

Honestly, the mixture of tragedy and hopeful beauty in this volume overall is enough to get me choked up even writing this. ― Volume 3: The first half of this volume of Frieren is the continuation of the big, interconnected story arc started in the previous volume with the forces of Aura the Guillotine attacking the gateway city to the human territories of the south. It's basically the big action cli...
game review

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix+

Hatsune Miku is back, with over 170 songs and customizable outfits. Does the Vocaloid gang still bring the charm in this PC game release? ― With how much a certain blue hedgehog and a would-be reformed Japanese gangster dominate Sega's limelight, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that Sega also plays host to the video game exploits of Hatsune Miku, the famed digital singing platform musicians have use...
review

Darkstalkers Blu-ray

The Darkstalkers OVA series gets a new Blu-Ray treatment, but beneath the polished look it’s much the same as it was in the 1990s: nicely animated but too darned serious for its own good. ― Adapting the Darkstalkers games into an animated series is harder than it seems. True, the games are largely plot-free cavalcades of marvelously animated monsters sparring with each other, but therein lies the cha...
review

Thermae Romae Novae Streaming

Part of the joy of this series is the realization that people are people no matter where and when they live. How does this second adaptation of Mari Yamazaki's manga bring Roman and Japanese bathing culture together? ― Japanese bathing culture, writes Garrett G. Fagan in his exhaustive 1999 text Bathing in Public in the Roman World, “bear[s] resemblance…to documented Ancient Roman practice.” Since th...
game review

Cotton Fantasy

Cotton Fantasy serves up a complete course of the “cute-‘em-up” flavor of 2-D shooting game, and it turns out light and breezy yet surprisingly filling. ― The Cotton series is nothing if not a survivor. First appearing in 1991, Cotton introduced the horizontal shooter genre to a cute little witch with a cuter, littler fairy sidekick, and it never wavered from that. The 1990s brought sequels and ports...
review

By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga

Noted yuri scholar Erica Friedman explores the origins of women loving women in Japanese media from its roots in literary girls' fiction to the acknowledgement of yuri as a genre. ― Whether you call it yuri or GL, the genre of women loving women in anime and manga hasn't always been understood or appreciated. Erica Friedman's new book By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga is a maj...
review

Shin Ultraman

Shin Ultraman is a perfectly watchable film—though far from a great one. It's clear that the exceptional amount of creative freedom was given to the creators which brings the film to its highest highs and lowest lows. ― Before we get into this review, I think I need to make one thing absolutely clear: I'm in no way a hardcore Ultraman fan (nor am I a hater). While I know the basics through cultural o...
review

Free! The Final Stroke 2nd Part

The dramatic side of Free has always been its weakest point, as the story once again draws on the same conflicts before racing to its predictable conclusion. ― Note that this review contains spoilers for the first Free! The Final Stroke film. The first Free! The Final Stroke film ended with Haru and Rin symbolically parting ways, as they struggled to reconcile their dreams of world-class swimming wit...
game review

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Suikoden was never an action game, and now that series creator Yoshitaka Murayama returned to it with Eiyuden Chronicle, what better form for its prequel to take than a side-scrolling action title with some RPG trappings? ― Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising makes a certain degree of sense. It's a prequel to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which is itself the spiritual revival of the Suikoden series that s...
review

My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders GN

My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders is a highly personal book that shines a light on how the neurodivergent navigate a world that isn't set-up for them. ― I was diagnosed with ADHD in my mid-20's. For my entire life, I struggled with things other people, including my twin sister, seemed to have no issue with. I had trouble turning in homework, even if I had alread...
review

Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis Movie

This CG film is probably the most accessible animated entry of the franchise in years, but decades of fandom in-jokes have warped this series into a bizarre, campy mess that barely resembles the sport action drama it once was. Prince of Tennis... What have you become? This CG film is probably the most accessible animated entry of the franchise in years, but decades of fandom in-jokes have warped th...
review

SPY×FAMILY GN 7

Everyone gets a turn to take center stage in this book, and that makes up for a slightly stalled main plot. ― One of the joys of Tatsuya Endo's Spy x Family is its varied cast of characters, most specifically the members of the Forger family. With only Anya (and to a degree Bond) fully aware of everything that's going on behind the façade of a perfectly normal upper-middle class home, misunderstandin...
review

Scarlet Nexus

Scarlet Nexus is both hard to fault and hard to praise, and in many ways its averageness makes it harder to recommend than if it were an outright dumpster fire – it lacks the spectacle that disasters often have. ― Scarlet Nexus is a perfectly serviceable show let down by pacing and length. It is a show that is both hard to fault and hard to praise, and in many ways its averageness makes it harder to ...
review

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2

This is still a very flawed series, and this second season of the show suffers from some unique issues compared to its first, but it sure isn't afraid to get weird. ― I enjoyed the first season of Pacific Rim: The Black, imperfect as it was, though some of its most interesting elements only arrived at the very tail end of its short seven-episode first season. The fairly generic “find our lost parents...
review

Ultraman Season 2

The new season on Netflix clearly has reverence to the tokusatsu series' origins, but also isn't afraid to cut what doesn't service the plot. ― The 2019 Ultraman anime is a funny thing, seeing as it is an easter-egg laden labor of love that is clearly made with reverence for the legendary Ultraman franchise…that also tosses out a lot of the classic elements that have made the series so popular over t...
review

Bungō Stray Dogs: Wan! GN 1

It's the characters you love in a brand-new way: going on mini-adventures in a chibi art style! ― In case you hadn't noticed, the main story, both in manga and novels, of Kafka Asagiri and Sango Harukawa's Bungo Stray Dogs is really very dark. It has its lighter moments, but everything tends to be in service of a greater, more serious theme, and that can weigh you down as a reader at times. That's wh...

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