Anime Review

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Anime Review #015 – One Piece Special 12: Episode of East Blue

Published September 5, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Review:

If you go into this expecting something new, don’t.  This is a recap of everything the crew goes through in the East Blue (sans Loguetown) before entering the Grand Line.

The special begins with the crew breaking the barrel, stating their goals for their journey: Luffy, to be King of the Pirates; Zoro, to be the world’s greatest swordsman; Nami, to chart the world’s oceans; Usopp, to be a brave warrior of the sea; Sanji, to find the All Blue.

We start with the Episode of Luffy, recounting Luffy’s interactions with Shanks, the attainment of his devil fruit powers, and end with his setting out to sea, following in the steps of his brother Ace and his idol Shanks.

We then move to Zoro, tied up at the hands of Navy Captain Axe-Hand Morgan.  Without even detailing why Zoro is being detained, we go through the motions; Luffy saves Zoro, demonstrating his devil fruit powers, and convinces him to join his crew.  We are treated to a brief flashback of Zoro’s promise to childhood friend Kuina, to become the world’s greatest swordsman so that his “name may reach the heavens.”  We then cut to the Baratie, where Zoro faces “Hawkeye” Mihawk for the first time.  After his defeat, Zoro vows to never lose again until he can attain the title of the world’s greatest swordsman, a title that Mihawk says that he will patiently hold until Zoro is able to take it from him.

Then comes Usopp.  The Episode of Usopp . . . sure is.  It’s a weird mishmash, not really doing a good job of explaining that he has a tendency to lie, or explaining why he has the relationship he does with townspeople.  We get a weird shortened version of the fight with Captain Kuro before straight to Usopp joining The Strawhat Pirates.

Next is the Episode of Sanji, back at the Baratie.  His backstory with Zeff is kept intact, and we move straight into Luffy defeating Don Krieg, along with Sanji coming to the realization that living and attaining his goals would be the best thing he could do for Zeff to repay him for his life.

Last, is the Episode of Nami.  Every time we have the story of Nami and Cocoyashi Village retold, I cry.  No expense was spared on this, and it showed.  Nami’s sad life gets retold, her bond with the people of Cocoyashi Village re-explained, Bellemere and Nojiko’s family ties with Nami re-affirmed, all of it happens again and it’s sad as hell.  It ends with a VERY condensed version of the fight at Arlong Park.

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At the end of the special, we move back to the ship, moving closer and closer to Reverse Mountain.  As the crew busts the barrel, a special version of “We Are!” begins to play, followed by glimpses of the then-current activities of family and future allies, Chopper, Robin, Franky, Brook, Ace, etc.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 7/10
  • Animation: 9/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Information:

Title: One Piece Special 12: Episode of East Blue

Released: August 2017

Director: Takashi Otsuka

Written By: Tomohiro Nakayama

Studio: Toei Animation

Licensed By: Funimation

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Anime Review #014 – One Piece The Movie 04: Dead End Adventure

Published September 5, 2017 by GravediggerNALK
The most un-representative screenshot possible of this movie

The most un-representative screenshot possible of this movie

Review:

The first thing to be said, is that this movie is definitely a step above the first three One Piece movies, and that goes for its writing, animation, and everything else.

It’s a fun adventure film that brings in an emotional subplot and some good action, meaning that it’s about as “One Piece-y” as it can get.  Everything people like about One Piece is thinned down and fitted rather nicely into 90 minutes.  The town/island that the story begins on is barely fleshed out, but you still get that “adventurous pirate” vibe from it, and that’s definitely a plus for this movie.  The use of Robin’s traveled past as a means of developing the setting was neat, and I wish that things like that occurred more often in the manga and anime instead of the repetitive, “name? Oh no, they’re dangerous!,” that she’s so often used for.

The animation is, as to be expected, an upgrade from the weekly anime, but the digital shots were a little off-putting.  They were neat, and probably would’ve looked better if someone other than Toei was in charge of it, but the digital stuff was only used in relatively non-important parts of the movie, so it didn’t really hurt anything.

I definitely recommend this movie to anyone that is a fan of the series (and has made it past the Alabasta arc).  If Funimation would ever license the remainder of the One Piece movies, this is definitely one to make sure to get.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 8/10
  • Animation: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Information:

Title: One Piece Movie 04: Dead End Adventure

Released: March 2003

Director: Kōnosuke Uda

Written By: Yoshiyuki Suga

Studio: Toei Animation

Licensed By: Unlicensed

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Anime Review #013 – Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special

Published May 31, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Review:

This special is boring from start to finish.  It features the animated debut of Kiyone and Pretty Sammy, and that is about the extent of its worth.  It starts with a weird intro focusing on Mihoshi, the character of little value shoe-horned into the first set of Ryo-Ohki OVAs with little consequence, and then the actual story starts.  Everyone calls out Mihoshi for being a worthless character, so she begins telling the the story of her most infamous case as a detective.  Despite them having no connection to it, she replaces all of the characters in her story with the characters of the series.  Mihoshi tells a tale of generic space criminals trying to destroy everything.  Towards the end, Sasami transforms into Pretty Sammy, a magical girl.  The in-between is mediocre harem in-fighting between Ryoko and Ayeka.

Unless you just really want to see Kiyone’s animated debut or you REALLY love Pretty Sammy, I cannot recommend watching this to anyone.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 4/10
  • Animation: 7/10
  • English Voice Acting: 7/10
  • Overall: 5/10

Information:

Title: Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special (Galaxy Police Mihoshi’s Space Adventure)

Released: March 1994 (1 OVA)

Director: Kazuhiro Ozawa

Written By: Ryoe Tsukimura

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Pioneer (Former)

External Links:

ANN Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

MyAnimeList

Anime Review #012 – Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (Series 1)

Published May 30, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Prologue:

This review covers the first set of OVAs for the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki series (6 episodes) and the special, The Night Before the Carnival.

Review:

The first thing that struck me when I started was the quality. Everything was detailed, the colors deep, and almost none of the animation looked rushed.  I will say that some of the digital effects do not look the best, but I have only watched this on BD, so it may be a fault with the remastering process and could very well look fine on the original release.  Even so, the digital effects are very well done for what they are; they do not stick out too much.

The plot is not as good as the animation, unfortunately.  It starts out as a standard adventure-supernatural fantasy story, unlocking demons, etc… and quickly devolves into a harem with little buildup.  The story arc resolves itself rather uneventfully.  The special brings the series’ harem elements to the forefront, and is one of the first examples of blatant harem “fighting-for-first” scenarios that have become commonplace in most harem anime produced in the past 10 – 20 years.

The English dub is . . . there.  This was Pioneer’s first outing, so I can understand any slips, but it is still hard to listen to sometimes.  It is not so much that the sound quality (I doubt Pioneer would produce anything with low-quality audio) or script is bad, but that the acting and some of the voices themselves just do not work well.  From what I have been told, many of the voices remain the same throughout the most of the metaseries, some changing every now and then, which gives me hope for an improved experience the more of it that I watch.

This first set is pretty standard (animation quality aside), but my feelings on that are most likely tainted by having seen 24 years worth of anime that came afterwards imitating and (attempting to) polish its formula.  I can definitely recommend this to watch.  Even if it sounds like it will not be worth it, it is only 6 episodes and a special. There is no reason to not spend 4 hours watching all of it; I know you have spent more time on worse things.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 7/10
  • Animation: 9/10
  • English Voice Acting: 7/10
  • Overall: 7/10

Information:

Title: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (First Series)

Released: September 1992 – March 1993 (Special: September 1993) – 6 OVAs + 1 Special

Director: Hiroki Hayashi

Creators: Hiroki Hayashi, Masaki Kajishima

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Funimation (Former: Pioneer)

External Links:

ANN Encylopedia  (Special)

Wikipedia

MyAnimeList (Special)

Anime Review #011 – Nyan Koi!

Published May 23, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

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Review:

If you were expecting anything exceptional from Nyan Koi!, I am sorry.  As far as comedic ecchi harem anime go, it’s definitely above average, but anything more than that would be an overstatement.  The story centers around Jyunpei Kousaka, a 2nd-year high school student in love.  He accidentally breaks a cat statue and now he’s cursed, doomed to serve a set number of wishes to cats before the curse will be lifted.  Unfortunately for him, he is allergic to cats.  Oh, and most of the females in the show want him, but he wants the one that is trying the least (initially) to be with him. Standard harem shenanigans ensue.

The show does a good job of defining each other the protagonist’s potential suitors, but they are, for the most part, just as generic as the next.

  • Kaede Mizuno: Jyunpei’s love interest.  They met before the opening ceremony on their first day of high school.  She is (initially) oblivious to his feelings, and he spends the entire series trying to find his chance to tell her how he feels.
  • Kanako Sumiyoshi: Jyunpei’s childhood friend. Kaede’s friend.  Loud. Aggressive.  Tsundere.  The oppai character.
  • Nagi Ichinose: Jyunpei’s senior. Kaede’s track captain.  Heir of a powerful Kyoto Yakuza family.  Eccentric.
  • Kotone Kirishima: Jyunpei’s junior. Daughter of monk in charge of the shrine hosting the cat statue Jyunpei broke.  Sadistic. Has a fetish for misfortune.
  • Akari Kirishima: Jyunpei’s junior, Kotone’s twin sister.  100% Tsun.
  • Chizuru Mochizuki: Local mail carrier and 3rd-year university student.  The “older than main character to point that relationship is obviously not going to happen, but sexual tension exists and it’s a reason for larger breasts on a character than ones that already exists (Sumiyoshi in this case)” character.

While Jyunpei is trying to ward off approaches from Sumiyoshi and the others in order to spend alone time with Kaede, he is bombarded with requests from local cats.  Some of the cats get time to develop their characters too, but most of that stops at a point as a sacrifice to the development of the human characters.  The thought put into the cats was more than expected, to say the least.  Each cat’s personality definitely fits its role.

To fit all of these characters in, given them all some decent character development, and not drop the cat-quests plotline, all in 12 episodes, the series did much better than expected.  Some parts, especially towards the end, felt more rushed than others, but everything went over pretty well.   The ending was left open to continue with the manga into a season two (that the ending repeatedly mentions), but one has not materialized in the subsequent eight years.

For an ecchi harem series that wasn’t breaking records or getting incredible reviews for the manga, it is surprising to see the quality of the anime’s animation.  There isn’t really anything outstanding about it, but the quality is consistent.  It is definitely above-average in the quality department, and the fact that it did not drop was impressive.

For every cheap, unoriginal, low-quality harem anime I have seen get sequel after sequel, season after season, I am surprised that one “above-the-bar” like Nyan Koi! has not gotten its second season.  Shame.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 7/10
  • Animation: 8/10
  • English Voice Acting: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Information:

Title: Nyan Koi! ANN MAL Wikipedia

Released: Autumn 2009 – TV Series (12 Episodes)

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi

Original Story: Sato Fujiwara

Studio: AIC

Licensed By: Sentai Filmworks

Anime Review #010 – The Empire of Corpses

Published February 22, 2017 by GravediggerNALK

Characters:

1. John Watson – “corpse engineer” and medical student.  Name referencing the character from Sherlock Holmes

2. Friday (Noble Savage 007) – Watson’s re-animated companion. Name referencing the character from Robinson Crusoe with the codename referring to James Bond.

3. Hadaly (Later, Irene Adler) – President Grant’s personal secretary.  Name change refers to the character from Sherlock Holmes, original name refers character from The Future Eve.

4. Burnaby – The soldier assigned to accompany Watson. Name referencing a real British Army officer of the time.

 

Review:

The first thing I should say: Yes, all of the main characters are named after famous people both real and fictional. Do not spend too much time worrying about that, it is almost completely irrelevant.

The Empire of Corpses takes place in an alternate version of the late 19th century, where, apparently, Frankenstein is real . . . and so is his research and experiments.  The first part of the movie revolves around the advancement of “corpse technology,” the use of re-animated corpses as laborers, and the main character’s (John Watson) quest of defining what exactly is the human soul.  The latter part of the film deals with the ethics behind the use of human remains for tools, whether or not a human even contains a soul, and the “People can’t be sad if they aren’t people anymore” ideology.

The changing focus of the movie resulted in some “jumps.”  After the cast reaches their first goal, the movie almost comes to a standstill, before the reveal that sets up the setup for the rest of the movie. After reaching their second goal, ANOTHER reveal happens, and the cast sets out again.  After reaching Hadaly’s safehouse, the plot becomes eerily similar to the ending scenario for Shrek 2, and that is uncomfortable to think about.  There is an after-credits scene, so make sure to watch through the credits for it.

The animation quality is high.  I expected the quality be slipshod and drop greatly outside of key action scenes, like Attack on Titan, but Wit Studio really did a great job on this one.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 7/10
  • Animation: 9/10
  • English Voice Acting: 9/10
  • Overall: 8/10

Information:

Title: The Empire of Corpses  ANN Wikipedia

Released: October 2015 – Movie

Director: Ryoutarou Makihara

Original Story: Project Itoh and Toh EnJoe

Studio: Wit Studio

Licensed By: Funimation

Anime Review #009 – Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Published December 24, 2016 by GravediggerNALK

Preface: This is a review of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG. This is not of the same continuity as the original manga series by Masamune Shirow, the movie series by Mamoru Oshii, the Arise canon, the 1997 PlayStation One video game (that I still haven’t finished), or the 2017 American live action movie.

Review:

The characters in Stand Alone Complex are, in my opinion, the best iteration of the metaseries.  Using Major Kusanagi as the prime example, she is the perfect mix of her childish and mischievous manga counterpart and the stoic and cold Oshii version.  The characters act like you would expect them to, given their backgrounds.  It is unfortunate that some characters aren’t given much background until 2nd GIG, namely Saito and Pazu, but you really get to know the characters as the series progresses. Even the Tachikomas develop distinct personalities (which is a plot point), that you can follow through the series.  As far as character focus goes, the series still centers on Major Kusanagi following the antagonist, with secondary jumps to Togusa, with the occasional episode or two dedicated to one of the other members of Section 9.

The first season’s overarching focus is The Laughing Man case, which ultimately ends in the titular Stand Alone Complex2nd GIG centers on the Individual Eleven case. Throughout the series, Section 9 is forced to deal with the unfortunate day-to-day immorality of politics which eventually leads them to begin questioning their own reasons for joining Section 9.  As with previous Ghost in the Shell works, the series is permeated by themes of existentialism, humanity, self-worth, and morality.  Episodically, the series follows the day-to-day operations of the main team at Section 9.  Some episodes are stand-alone (no pun intended), while others are part of the links feeding directly in to the main plot.

From about 9 minutes into the last episode to the half-way commercial break, I cried the first time I saw it.  Not from sadness or grief, but from feeling characters love each other. Characters that I had never thought that would be important to me, brought forth tears.

The music is, as to be expected from something with Yoko Kanno attached to it, immaculate.  It all fits.  Every track fits and melds with the vibes from the show.

The animation quality was variable.  Some of it was movie quality animation that I whole-heartily believe that the series deserves, and then there are scenes where faces are nothing more than a couple of dots on a skin-colored circle.  I understand that it is a television series, but it would have been nice to see those scenes fixed on the home video release.  It does not really detract from the series, but it is noticeable.  Astonishingly, the series’ use of CGI, mainly for the Tachikomas, looks good.  There are episodes, especially in 2nd GIG, that have weather effects (mainly snow) that did not look as good as I had hoped when the series was re-released on bluray, but a little blur never hurt anyone.

It is truly an anime classic.  Almost nothing would please me more than for Kamiyama’s constant teasing to finally result in a 3rd GIG.  If Shirow’s Appleseed ever got half of the love that was put into Stand Alone Complex for Ghost in the Shell, I would never ask for anything ever again . . . maybe for Ishikawa to become my very own live-in grandpa, but that’s clearly impossible.

Scoring:

  • Plot: 10/10
  • Animation: 8/10
  • Japanese Voice Acting: 10/10
  • English Voice Acting: 10/10
  • Overall: 9.5/10

Information:

Title: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Released: October 2002 – January 2005  – 52 Episodes – TV series

Director: Kenji Kamiyama

Original Story: Masamune Shirow

Music: Yoko Kanno

Studio: Production I.G.

Licensed by: Bandai Entertainment, Manga Entertainment

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

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