Astra: Lost In Space – Anime Video Review

This week I’m taking a look at another SF anime from last year, that, like Bodacious Space Pirates, borrows thematic notes from 50s Juvenile SF novels – but without the shitty racism, misogyny, or other crap.

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Special 7: Anime Review

The members of Special 7

Special 7 is the last of the big anime series I’d watched in the Fall 2019 season that finished that season – Azur Lane was delayed, Blade of the Immortal, Fate/Grand Order, and My Hero Academia were two-cour series, and I dropped Babylon. It’s an interesting anime series that takes the concept of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and applies it in an urban fantasy context, but doesn’t quite have as much to say.

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We Never Learn Season 2: Anime Review

The main cast of We Never Learn - Yuuki and his romantic interests.

The first season of We Never Learn ended with an announcement for a second season. With the manga being based around college preparation and studying for that, I did definitely have a sense that whether or not the manga was actually done at this point, whatever the second season ended on was going to have some degree of finality – with how the anime was paced, I couldn’t really see a way to wrap here without getting into graduation. Without too many spoilers before the cut, it does get to graduation, and in hindsight, I think the ending kind of works well.

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No Guns Life Season 1: Anime Review

Juzo from "No Guns Life"

It’s kind of been a while since we got a major cyberpunk anime that was outside of the general orbit of Masamune Shirow. Season 2 of SAO, from the description of the arc, was something that I might describe as cyberpunk adjacent – but otherwise, I generally didn’t see much that didn’t have a connection to Shirow or one of the series he created in the listings. So, when No Guns Life came up in the Anime Chart, I figured it was worth checking out.

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My 10 Favorite Anime of the 2010s

Well, we have come to the end of the 2010s, a decade where I actually was much more on top of watching new anime each season – more or less – in part because the rise of streaming made it possible to actually do that in an affordable manner. This past decade also saw me get my Bachelor’s degree, and go to Worldcon for the first time, in a semi-vain attempt to get lit-SF fans to give anime the time of day.

So, I’m going to do a run-down of my favorite Anime of the 2010s that I’ve seen. I will be doing one series per year – and again, this is show’s I’ve seen. Just because a show is not included doesn’t mean that I didn’t watch it or didn’t like it. Additionally, I have a massive List of Shame, so just because a show didn’t make the list doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested.

I’m choosing one show per year, that I watched, and that I generally enjoyed. Each show will have links to where you can watch the series, and affiliate links to where you can buy it – buying anything through those links helps to support the site.

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Penguin Highway: Anime Review

At Kumoricon 2019, I had the good fortune of getting into a screening of the anime film Penguin Highway. It is an anime film of a variety that doesn’t come out in the US very much – an anime film that is a straight-up family adventure film, and a film that also plays into some of the Kids on Bikes concepts that came up in a few works I’ve reviewed recently (The Gate and Tales from the Loop).

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What the Hell Are You Doing Here, Teacher?: Anime Review

Key Art banner for season one of "What the Hell Are You Doing Here, Teacher?"

When it comes to concepts related to fanservice in anime, there are some that are very hard to do well. One of them, probably the biggest one of them, is what I call “Sexual Slapstick.” It’s someone walking into a room and seeing someone undressing, or tripping and falling and copping a feel (or seeing something they shouldn’t. They’re all based around acts that are gross, which means it can be hard to make funny. Season one of We Never Learn did it and What the Hell Are You Doing Here, Teacher? also manages to actually pull it off.

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Cop Craft: Anime Review

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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Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Anime Review

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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Lupin the Third Part IV: Anime Review

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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O Maidens in Your Savage Season – Anime Review

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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Fruits Basket Season 1 (2019): Anime Review

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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Astra: Lost in Space – Anime Review

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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RobiHachi: Anime Review

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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