From Left - Tilarna and Kei

With the Summer 2019 anime season, while I enjoyed El Melloi II Case Files, I found it somewhat lacking as a mystery or detective series and had hoped that Cop Craft would make up for that. Cop Craft executes its Urban Fantasy Buddy-Cop story well from a narrative standpoint, but less so from an animation standpoint.

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Waver Velvet (Lord El-Melloi) reacting in shock and pain

Lord El-Melloi II is a mystery series that breaks from the conventions of the genre. Specifically, the convention of using the question of “Howdunit” to determine “Whodunit”. When urban fantasy normally sets into this territory, you see writers structure out their magic system to fit within this magical structure. Lord El-Melloi II, on the other hand, tosses convention out on its head and decides to play Calvinball instead.

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Promotional art for Lupin the Third Part IV

Lupin the Third is a character who refuses to be tied down. Like Tom Servo, he’s like the wind, baby. His various earlier anime series and films have set him up as a consummate flirt and womanizer, and his adventures have spanned the globe. Lupin the Third Part IV upends that status quo immediately in both respects. In the second, Lupin’s adventures in this series are generally limited to Italy. In the first case, the series opens with Lupin getting married, and not to Fujiko Mine.

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Still from the first episode of O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Occasionally, I watch an anime series that I feel utterly unqualified to review. Sometimes it’s something like Angel’s Egg, where I can clearly feel the concepts flying over my head and ruffling my hair – where I can tell what I’m seeing is art, but I lack the vocabulary to properly expand on the concept. In the case of O Maidens in Your Savage Season, it’s life experiences.

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When I was in High School, Fruits Basket came out in the US and it was a phenomenon. the manga was the flagship of Tokyopop’s unflipped manga (or “100% Authentic Manga”) initiative, and its success led to the majority of manga in the US being published unflipped, and also cemented a longstanding partnership between Tokyopop and Borders which lasted until both went bankrupt – all of that fueled as well by the success of the anime. Now, about 18 years later, long enough for the high school kids who grew up on FuruBa to have kids of their own, there is a new anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, with the first season airing this year.

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A while back, when I had started my fanzine with the intent of getting established science fiction fans, in particular, those who read fanzines (a demographic that is generally more likely to vote and nominate in the Hugos), to watch and nominate speculative fiction anime – I started with a list.  I gave a list of anime series that had come out since the turn of the millennium which I thought literary speculative fiction fans would enjoy. Among them was Bodacious Space Pirates, a science fiction anime which I felt took the sense of adventure and wonder that was a fixture of ‘50s and ’60s YA Space Adventure science fiction, kept that, and dropped the obsolete political and social views that fill so many works of that period. Astra: Lost in Space is the next anime that tries this and pulls it off spectacularly.

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From Left, Hachi and Robby.

RobiHachi is a very different show than most of the anime series I’ve seen – particularly those about travel. Most anime series that are about travel and tourism that I’ve seen tend to be chill slice of life comedies, like Laid Back Camp. RobiHachi, on the other hand, is a very silly, wacky, over-the-top comedy – though one with some thematic elements in common with those other series.

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The three female leads of We Never Learn

A lot of fanservice anime tends to be gross. Maybe it’s because the fanservice comes through sexual slapstick of the “Whoops I fell and groped you or looked up your skirt” variety. Or it comes through battle damage of the “Female character gets their top shredded in combat and now their boobs are hanging out” variety. Or it’s of the “Male lead openly sexually harasses female characters variety.” Perhaps that’s why the fanservice that comes up in We Never Learn feels like a breath of fresh air.

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Well, you’ve just finished watching Evangelion on Netflix, and you’re wondering what to watch after this. I have a few recommendations here for you. The video is fairly spoiler-light so if you’re making your way through the show now, you should be fine.

Lists of all the works I recommend below the cut/further down, with affiliate links for Amazon and RighStuf (through ShareASale), and streaming links, where available. Buying anything through affiliate links helps to support the show.

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There are works of anime and manga which view feudal Japan with a less than critical eye. Dororo is not one of those works. The original manga by Osamu Tezuka was a work that, while more than a little cartoonish (as this was ’60s Tezuka), looked on the realities of Japan leading into the Warring States period with a critical eye. The 2019 anime adaptation of the work keeps a similar appraisal of the period.

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