This week I’m starting my September Anime block with a very chill anime about camping in the off season – Laid Back Camp.

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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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Japanese box art for Space Runaway Ideon

Yoshiyuki Tomino has something of a reputation as an anime director, for multiple reasons. Tomino has a reputation for being full of himself. His interviews about Brainpowerd in Animerica magazine demonstrate this. Anyone who has gone to an anime con and asked a Japanese guest who worked with him for a “Tomino story” can attest to this. Tomino also has a reputation for his absolute ruthlessness for killing off characters in his work. The normal examples of this are Zeta Gundam, the last half of ZZ Gundam, and Char’s Counterattack. However, the work that started Tomino down this road was Space Runaway Ideon. (Pronounced E-day-on).

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Gameplay of Tamamo no Mai from Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star

One of my guilty pleasures is the Dynasty Warriors games. They’re fun, engaging, somewhat mindless hack-and-slash games. However, they are not without their faults. There comes a point where you’ve put the Yellow Turban Rebellion down enough times that you just can’t play through it anymore. Thus the appeal of the other takes on the concept from within Koei and without. Such is the case with Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star.

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Promotional art for The Magnificent Kotobuki featuring the members of the squadron.

If you’d read my review of Area 88, you may recall that I gushed over the gorgeously depicted dogfights in that show. Since then I’ve been looking for something that scratched that itch. Not necessarily with the amount of grit that Area 88 did – but still, something that had exciting, tense fighter dogfights. The Winter 2018 anime season brought me the thing that I’d been waiting for. Specifically, it brought me The Magnificent Kotobuki, from the writer and director of Shirobako and Girls Und Panzer. Now, the series had some difficulty taking off for some fans because of the stylistic choices the director made. However, once it got airborne, in my view The Magnificent Kotobuki became a fantastic action anime.

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Vertigo is probably one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most beloved films, from a director whose entire filmography is almost universally beloved. It’s also a film which has had the appraisal that it peaks a little too early, one that I tend to agree with. There will be spoilers in this review below the cut, because I need to talk about the last third of the film, so I need to lay out what came before.

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It feels like an unnecessary point to say, but it bears mentioning nonetheless – Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II. Lost Butterfly is very much the middle installment of a trilogy. While the first film in this route, Presage Flower, had a very dark ending, this film manages to go into darker places and ends in a dire place. While the first two routes had a degree of brightness to their endings, and I have no doubt that the Heaven’s Feel route will be no exception, it’s important to go in knowing that.

It also bears mentioning going in, and I’m mentioning this before the cut for those who don’t want to read further before seeing the film – even though I’m going to minimize spoilers, that I would give this film a content advisory for sexual assault and suicide. Neither is depicted explicitly on screen (sort of), but it comes up, so it’s important to know going in.

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