anime

Anime Ima – A Hiawhat?

Posted by: |

Anime Ima – A Hiawhat?

One never wants to turn something they love into something they dread. Due to a host of things going on right now, I find taking time to review and post this Anime Ima column has been growing more strained. I could turn out crap work and dread the end of each week, but I don’t want this to become something I hate to do. I enjoy anime, I enjoy sharing it and I like getting to rant to my heart’s content. I will be taking an indeterminate hiatus in order to work some things out.

If you have any suggestions for series to pick up when I return, questions about previous posts, etc… drop me an email.

In the meantime, this upcoming season looks to be full of good possibilities in all sorts of genres. Of these, High School of the Dead has my pick to be a top performer… I’m a zombie nut, so it’s a pretty obvious pick:

[Anime Expo] Black Lagoon is Back!

Posted by: |

[Anime Expo] Black Lagoon is Back!

Please note: if you have not seen seasons one or two of Black Lagoon, there will be spoilers below.

Starting with a recap of seasons one and two, the Black Lagoon – Season 3 World Premiere snared the audience with 5 minutes of laughs and tragedies. Okajima “Rock” Rokuro’s joining the crew, the emergence of Roberta, the vampire twins and Yukio’s dramatic suicide.

Diego Jose San Fernando Lovelace has risen to some degree of political clout since we last saw him. He has started a working man’s political party and their grand gala is taking place in the town plaza. A few government turn-c oats and US soldiers have conspired to take him out. With a carefully constructed plan, the combined forces plant a terrorist styled bomb on the stage and destroy everyone in the entire plaza, sans Roberta. Roberta, the gun fighting maid of the Lovelace family, storms off looking for revenge.

We catch up with the Lagoon Company on the streets of Roanapur City. There are rumblings around town that someone is hiding out there, yet no one knows details. Eventually, like they always do, people get around to contacting the Lagoon Company. As their phone rings off the hook for contracts related to this mystery, Revy lets the guys know that Roberta may have been spotted in town. To confirm their suspicions, Rock and Revy make their way to the Yellow Flag. At the bar, we see group after group of the city’s crime organizations plying for intel on the situation.

To get the lowdown on that chaos that ensued, read on… Read On

Your Friday Fix 07/02/10: Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 07/02/10: Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

Genres: Comedy, Romance

Ratings Ratings
.

Seika High School, a traditionally boys only institution, has recently begun admitting girls. One of these girls, Ayuzawa Misaki, has pushed her hardest and became the student council president. Due to the unbalanced population at the school, 80% of the student body is still male. Misaki has decided she will protect the girls from the boys because they are rude, abusive, dirty, etc… she is labeled a man-hater.

Misaki’s family fell on hard times when her father, in serious debt, abandoned her mother, her little sister and herself. Her mother, Minako, works as a nurse as well as doing odd jobs like crafts. The sister, Suzuna, has a very blank personality but helps support the family by entering contests for food. Together they keep their dilapidated house on the brink of collapse and survive. Misaki’s biggest secret is that to earn enough money to keep her family afloat, she had to take a job in the neighboring town, in a maid cafe.

Misaki’s carefully kept secret falls apart when the most popular guy, a heartbreaker named Usui Takumi, passes her in the alley behind her work. He sticks around to confirm Misaki’s identity, then begins to return to patronize the establishment. He calls this his “secret entertainment” (but seems more like a ploy to stay close to her). Later on, three punks led by Shirakawa Naoya confront her in the same alleyway while she is resting. They threaten to expose her to the school, as well and make veiled threats about other deeds to be performed. Takumi steps in and defends her, while she passes out from a fever, and possibly from having Takumi call her cute.

During a school festival, which Misaki wants to use to draw more girls to the school, things go horribly awry. The boys in one class feel like she never gives them a chance at anything. In her own way she is doing the right thing, but when the boys walk out on her plans, she pleads with them for assistance. Takumi, again, steps in to smooth things out. At the post-festival bonfire, Takumi swiftly pins her to a tree and instead of an intimate moment, he uses it to taunt her about the maid job once more.

While many have called this series bland, it’s because of the lack of ecchi moments that I really find it entertaining. I was laughing many times during the first two episodes and I expect many more to come.

Overall Hook Rating: A

.

Your Friday Fix 06/25/10: Senkou no Night Raid

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 06/25/10: Senkou no Night Raid

Genres: Action, Supernatural

Ratings Ratings
.

A short series set in 1930’s Shanghai, Senkou no Night Raid tells the story of an elite military organization called the Sakurai Kikan. Members of this organization have abilities that set them apart for normal humans and greatly enhance their abilities as spies. Shinichirou Sakurai, the handler for the group, tasks his team with missions that are in the interest of the Japanese empire during this time of technological transition.

The team’s first mission is to rescue the president of a Japanese business empire. A Chinese military group has taken him captive and want weapons so that they can fight against the Japanese. As the situation progresses, their demands change to wanting money for the captive’s return. Suspicious of this turn of events, two agents of the Sakurai Kikan parachute in to the encampment. Iha Kazura, who has the ability to teleport, and Miyoshi Aoi, who can alter time in small increments, blend in with the guards and move toward the prisoner’s location. On the outside, two more agents wait to support them. Kagiya Natsume, who has eyes like a hawk, monitors their actions from afar while Sonogi Yukina, a telepath, coordinates their actions within their minds. It is learned that the company president sold out to the militants and agreed to sell them Japanese weapons in exchange for money and his freedom.

The second mission the team is sent on deals with a musician named Sergei Krainev who is believed to be a spy. Sergei, who has a Jewish-Russian ancestry, is attempting to secure his families safety from the growing German nationalist movement. Unable to secure the intelligence he is smuggling, the team must attempt to decipher his delivery method. It turns out that the song he is scheduled to play is a code destined for broadcast over the radio. The team cuts the power and Sergei plays on in the dark, now free to play his music for its own sake, not for petty human desires.

The mixture of cultures in the post WWI era, as well as the subtle powers used in this series, seem to create a rich platform for a solid story. The powers shown thus far are simple and not at all flashy, well in keeping with the secret group “history forgot.” If they were any more overstated, this would not hold true. The art style is clean and the use of multiple languages in the spoken dialogue show the effort put behind this series.

Overall Hook Rating: A

.

Your Friday Fix 06/18/10: Heroman

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 06/18/10: Heroman

Genres: Action, Science Fiction

Ratings Ratings
.

What would you get if you had Stan Lee of Marvel fame take a swing at authoring a manga which in turn leads to an anime? Well, you get Heroman, and Heroman gets the job done. Set in a generically named city Center City (based on LA) in the United States, this story follows a boy named Joey Jones. Joey is a pushover but is a hard worker and help support his grandmother. We are introduced to a local scientist, Matthew Denton, one of Joey’s teachers. He has been spending ages broadcasting a welcome message into space in hopes of a first contact.

While not working, studying or helping Professor Denton, Joey is pursued by Lina Davis. Lina comes from an affluent family and is on the school’s cheer team. Her older brother, a football player named Will Davis, in turn beats on Joey for being around his little sister. The circle of strife is complete. To make matters worse, one of Will’s friends has the hot new toy “Heybo.” This miniature robot responds to voice commands, dances, and keeps itself well out of Joey’s price range. While the rich kids mess around, the Heybo is broken and thrown away.

Joey scavenges it from the trash and sets to repairing its damage. it is around this time that Professor Denton’s message is picked up by a slash-and-burn alien race called the Skrugg. Their ship releases a wave of energy on its approach to Earth that stirs up an unnatural storm. A bolt of lightning from this storm strikes the reassembled Heybo in Joey’s house and transforms it into a 12+ foot tall robot. Joey calls him Heroman and soon learns that while Heroman is intelligent and capable, he cannot act without orders.

Using a hand-held control, Joey begins to issue orders. Heroman presents the options that steer Joey’s decisions toward an accident on the highway. Lina and her father, both unconscious, are saved from certain death by Heroman. Joey decides to keep this quiet. That quiet, however, only last until the first three Skrugg raiders land on Earth to begin collecting specimens. Well, only one thing left to do at that point… GO Heroman!

Overall Hook Rating: B

You can watch episode one after the break:

.

Read On

Your Friday Fix 06/11/10: Hipira-Kun

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 06/11/10: Hipira-Kun

Genres: Comedy, Supernatural

Ratings Ratings
.

Salta is quite unlike most cities you have known. This city exists outside the reach of the sun in eternal darkness. It is here that a sizable group of vampires have made their home. Like many cities, there are buildings, mass transit, a school and all sorts of oddities. It is at this school we find Hipira.

Hipira is pretty close to a typical young vampire in his world. He is a bit of a late bloomer and has not yet been able to transform in to a bat and fly. This causes bullies in his class to pick on him, and frequently makes him late for school. During class it is mentioned that the city elder hasn’t been seen for a while and a strang light has been seen at his place. Hipira decides to investigate.

When he arrives at the elder’s building he finds the elder winding a giant cyclone of light. He is told that this is a whirlpool of souls and that its purpose is to compress all of the souls the elder collected in his 1000 year life into a fairy. It is said that if you drink that fairy’s blood you will be transported to hell (heaven for a vampire).

While cranking this device, the elder breaks the handle and the fairy fails to fully manifest, instead becoming a blank soul that is lost and confused. This soul follows Hipira and the two become friends.

Short and to the point, these 4+ minute episodes made this series easy to watch. While two episodes just barely gets to the start of a story line, there is a rich world just waiting to be revealed. The original manga was created by Katsuhiro Otomo, who is well known for creating Akira.

Overall Hook Rating: B

.

Your Friday Fix 06/04/10: B Gata H Kei

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 06/04/10: B Gata H Kei

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance

Ratings Ratings
.

Yamada, last name withheld, has entered high school with only one goal: she wishes to have sex with 100 guys so that she can overcome her self-image issues. This is compounded by her complete lack of the basics of sex. But hey, don’t let that slow you down Yamada! Her master plan is to find herself a practice man to help her lose her virginity. That way her self-image, total lack of experience, and general lack of knowledge will not harm her chances.

Everyone is her school looks to her as a popular idol; guys want to be with her, girls want to be her. She thinks that anyone she chooses to be her first will be lucky to have her. This is where our hero Kosuda Takashi steps in. Well, not really, Yamada managed to tackle him to the floor in a book store. She scopes him out carefully and determines that he will be the one. He is above average looking, shy, and a virgin as well. When Yamada questions him about his virginity, loudly and in public, he runs away.

Yamada begins to pursue Takashi at school, leading him to think she wants a serious relationship. To him, however, her signs seem mixed. At one point she grabs him in to a closet and flashes her bra at him, then runs away because she hadn’t thought her approach through. Later she yells at him to touch her in the nurse’s office. When she does manage to get herself invited over to his place she runs off in fear when she gives Takashi an erection.

At the behest of her friend Takeshita Miharu, Yamada slows things down and invites Takashi to a water park on a double date. She is under strict rules to not try anything pervy. While riding waterslides, Yamada mistakes Takashi’s fearful grasps as something more. By the end of this, she finds herself developing feelings for Takashi. It is cute, funny and a little pervy in general (she IS a high school student after all). This series doesn’t deserve a total panning, but I can’t say it’s on my priority list either.

Overall Hook Rating: C+

.

Your Friday Fix 05/28/10: Rainbow – Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 05/28/10: Rainbow – Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin

Genres: Drama

Ratings Ratings
.

Ten years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, much of the country was still recovering from its post-war occupation by allied forces. Seven young men are incarcerated in the Shonan Special Disciplinary School near Tokyo. Prison would have been a better term for the Shonan as they are beaten by a sadistic guard, named Ishihara, on a regular basis. This series starts with the six newcomers being transported in and dropped in a cell with an 18 year old named Sakuragi “Bro” Rokurouta.

Thinking that they need to prove their dominance to Rokurouta, they engage him in a six-on-one brawl. This ends with the six of them on the floor, soundly beaten. The series provides a brief introduction to the characters as they begin to grow together as a group. Miankami “Mario” Mario who was imprisoned for defending a girl against an attack by her teacher, Maeda “Turtle” Noboru for theft and running cons, Matsuura “Cabbage” Mansaku for assaulting a man while drunk, Nomoto “Uncovered” Ryuji for theft and running cons, Tohyama “Soldier” Tadayoshi for kidnapping and assault, and Yokosuka “Joe” Jou for taking revenge on his adoptive father who sexually assaulted him.

In the first of two characters who we get to learn a bit about are Jou and Noboru. Jou’s mother abandoned him and his sister at an orphanage. The orphanage, run by a woman who also sexually assaulted Jou, ran as a front for pedophiles to adopt children to abuse. Jou escapes the prison school in an attempt to stop the same fate from befalling his sister Megumi. She was already adopted (sold to) a pervert of a man and told Jou that she had to live her own life, as to not be a burden on him anymore. Tearfully she turned away when the police captured him again, thanking him for his support until then.

Noboru’s father was a drunk and beat his mother and sister. Usually Noboru would take his sister over the nearby mountains when he knew his father would be drunk to spare her the abuse. One day, however, Noboru set out alone to get some time to himself. It was on this day an atomic bomb leveled the city and he was left alone in the world, blaming himself for his little sister’s death.

The other characters’ backgrounds are assumed to be fleshed out soon as we see a good deal of depth behind the first two “troubled youth” the system would rather discard. Thus far, some seem to be good kids who were punished for taking the right (yet violent) side in a dispute. We shall see if the rest are more than thugs as the series progresses. This series delves in to a dark place in Japan’s history and seems to be leading to a continuing story outside of the correctional facility.

Overall Hook Rating: B

.

Your Friday Fix 05/21/10: Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 05/21/10: Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem, Magical

Ratings Ratings
.

Sai Akuto is a young man with lofty goals in life. His life started rough, primarily because he was abandoned at a church as an infant. He took all he learned and bettered himself. His goal is to become a High Priest, one of the most respected and powerful magicians in their land. A person striving to meet this position must always maintain the highest standard in their actions. It is noted that littering once is enough to get you barred from contention for life.

Due to a misunderstanding, he clashes with a young swordswoman at the train depot because she thinks he is trying to steal her grandmothers bag. One the grandmother explains he was only trying to carry it for her does the girl apologize. Her name is Hattori Junko and she pledges to help Akuto with his dream. Together they ride to the Constant Academy for Magical Arts. One there Akuto is tested by a magical device that looks like a smoking crow. The device registers a person’s health and what they are destined to do for a career.

There is a panic when the device announces that Akuto will become the next Maou, destined to destroy the world. The nurse, Torii Mitsuko, is forced to clear the room and set additional protections in place with the school staff. Junko becomes furious that she has pledged herself to a demon, students avoid Akuto and generally start rumors of his powers behind his back. They range from false reports of personal attacks to silly school yard rumors (“you will get pregnant if he touches you”).

When there is another misunderstanding with Junko regarding her ability to be the class representative, Akuto managers to horribly embarrass her in front of the class. She then tries to duel him to regain her honor. Akuto is unable to control his power and nearly destroys the whole classroom. The government sends a Liladan to become Akuto’s observer and guardian due to the threat of violence against him, seeing that he cannot control the power level of response.

At this point in the series there are plots starting to encircle the fish-out-of-water starter story line. Various forces seem to want to guide this new demon king for their own purposes. This is done is a very successful comedic way and they keep the ecchi elements in check to some degree. As of episode two it has not gotten excessive or completely over the top. There is some promise as long as the story starts gaining some traction.

Overall Hook Rating: B

.

Your Friday Fix 05/14/10: Hakuouki

Posted by: |

Your Friday Fix 05/14/10: Hakuouki

Genres: Action, Historical, Martial Arts, Supernatural

Ratings Ratings
.

Yukimura Chizuru’s father left Edo to be a volunteer doctor in the city of Kyoto. He wrote her daily about his life in the city until one day the letter stopped arriving. After a month of silence Chizuru donned a man’s clothes, a sword, and headed to Kyoto in search of her father. For reasons unknown to her, a group of men begin chasing her around town. Before they can corner her, oni appear and slay her pursuers. The oni find her cowering behind a basket and attack, only to be stopped and slayed by young men of the Shinsengumi. She is taken captive by these men due to her seeing too much; they believe she is a boy.

Now a captive of the Shinsengumi, Chizuru is brought before its senior members in Kyoto. Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toshizo, Okita Souji, and the remainder of the primary cast discuss their situation. A few vote for her death as a witness, other yet recommend leniency is she behaves and forgets. They decide to leave her locked in a room under 24 hour guard. They continue to discuss the situation and agree that she will be allowed to live as long as she stay with them under the lead of Toshizo. Toshizo reluctantly agrees and when her gender is brought up half the men already knew, the rest are dumbfounded.

Over the next few months, Chizuru begins to gain the trust of the men around her. She is allowed to attend communal dinners and eventually is given the task of helping and injured warrior, Sannan Keisuke, recover from the malaise his wounds have brought on him. One day while a swordsman by the name of Saito Hajime is practicing, Chizuru asks if she would be allowed to join their patrols to search for her father. Hajime agrees on the terms that she prove her swordsmanship to him. In a fraction of a second her blade is on the ground and his sword is at her neck. However, he notes that she moved with purpose and allows her to join them. Souji lets her know that Hajime is their best swordsman and his words are the closest thing to praise she will hear from him.

Moving in to the city, they encounter a plot by the Bakumatsu group. They capture one of their agents when Chizuru stumbles into their restaurant and is attacked. Moving to stop the Bakumatsu from burning the city to the ground, the Shinsengumi are forced to split in two to check both possible meeting locations. The smaller team encounters them first and Chizuru is sent to warn the rest of the group of the impending battle.

The core of this series story has not yet been fully revealed and the action is having a bit of trouble holding on to my attention while I wait. I can see hints of depth under the surface of this series, but will probably only wait so long for it to be revealed.

Overall Hook Rating: C

.