Deku from My Hero Academia

This past year, as part of my weekend anime viewings with my parents, we watched all of My Hero Academia over the course of a few months. As I watched the show, something struck me. Deku and his struggles with mastering One For All are a really good metaphor for my experiences with Autism.

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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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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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When I think of food porn in anime, I think of Food Wars – in part because of the risque reactions to the food, but more so because of the very involved dishes that are featured in the work – some of them are dishes that I feel I could make with some time and practice, but there are more than few others that I don’t think I could pull off, due to ingredients that aren’t available, or techniques that can be tricky to master (filleting a cut of meat, for example). Though there are a few other series that focus on food that is easier to pull off in the home, like Sweetness and Lightning.

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When I heard about the upcoming release of Gundam NT (or Gundam Narrative) the thought I had coming in was that the film was going to be the kickoff point for the next chapter of the saga of the Universal Century. That, after the conclusion of Gundam Unicorn set up something of a new status quo, this would start a series of films that would basically lay the groundwork for eventually reaching F91, Crossbone Gundam, and Victory Gundam.

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These past few years have been interesting for anime and manga re-imaginings of Tokusatsu series. There’s been the Netflix Godzilla anime series of films, there was the Ultraman short that was part of the Japan Animator Expo, and there’s the Ultraman reboot manga that is also getting adapted to an anime this year (2019). And there’s S.S.S.S. Gridman, from Studio Trigger in a co-production with Tsuburaya Productions, based on the live-action Gridman: The Hyper Agent from the ’90s (released in the US as Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad).

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Invoking the name of Sherlock Holmes sets a lot of expectations for a series. It sets the expectations that your series is going to be a mystery series, where the way the mysteries will be solved will be through the detective using deductive reasoning and through keen powers of observation – and also that the detective will have an audience-perspective sidekick who is intelligent and perceptive, but not as much as the detective. Holmes of Kyoto is, occasionally, that. However, just as much of the time, it’s a relationship drama, and not necessarily a well-executed relationship drama. (more…)

One of my favorite works of anime fantasy is Record of Lodoss War. It’s a show that I try to watch at least once a year, and due to my appreciation of that, I’ve sought out the various works by its creator, Ryo Mizuno, which have gotten a US release, from the Lodoss series onwards. In any case, when Record of Grancrest War was announced, and that even more it was related to a tabletop RPG that Mizuno had created, I was definitely onboard to check this out.

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Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed was an interesting RPG & brawler with something of a novel concept –  that it was set in a re-creation of Akihabara with a level of detail that was just short of being on par with the level of detail that the Yakuza series puts into not-Kabuki-cho – by which I mean that there were some loading screens dividing up areas of the game, not much in terms of real-world alcohol to drink (because your protagonist is underage), and sadly no playable arcade games. (more…)

Let’s make this clear from the beginning – if you’re looking for a gateway to the Fate universe – this isn’t it. While Fate/Apocrypha is set in an alternate timeline which would, in theory, free it from some of the baggage from the original work, this is not even remotely the case. I’ve discussed the first half of the series a few months ago, but now it’s time to talk about the series as a whole. There will be spoilers – so if you haven’t decided to watch the show yet, read that review first. (more…)

Cropped version of Gundam Unicorn Blu-Ray Art

For the past 30 years, the narrative and thematic conclusion of the One Year War arc of the Universal Century was Char’s Counterattack. The film is wonderfully animated, with intense action sequences, but in my view it felt less like a thematic conclusion of the themes of the first 3 Gundam series, and more of a return to the narrative of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. As I mentioned in my review of Gundam ZZ – that worked for me when what I knew of the Universal Century was just the original series, but it became less and less resonant as I made my way through the story. Gundam Unicorn, on the other hand, feels much more resonant, and fits as a conclusion to this part of the Universal Century. (more…)

The Anime Club from Anime-Gataris.

There have been numerous anime about anime and anime fandom – from Otaku no Video and Genshiken on the fandom side, and Shirobako and Animation Runner Kuromi on the production side. This last year had Anime-Gataris, an anime series spun-off from a series of shorts that aired in a specific movie theater in Tokyo, a series that does a little bit of both – and then some. (more…)

This time I take a look at an early Mind-F*** series from the 90s.

Key The Metal Idol property of Studio Pierrot.
Licensed by Discotek Media

Available on DVD from: Amazon.com and Rightstuf.com
(Clicking on these affiliate links and buying something helps support the show.)

Please support my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor
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In a few days (as of when this goes live) the second half of Fate/Apocrypha will come out on Netflix. This show was licensed as part of Netflix’s first really large anime licensing initiative, and was split into two chunks, one per “cour” (Japanese TV season) of the show. So, as we wait for the show’s second half, I might as well talk about the first half of the show. (more…)

This week I’m taking a look at a Gundam series that I think is a little underrated.

Footage Property of Sunrise and Namco-Bandai

Gundam ZZ is available for legal streaming on the Gundam Official Channel
Gundam ZZ is also available on DVD or Blu-Ray from these referral links:
Collection 1 DVD: Amazon, RightStuf
Collection 1 Blu-Ray: Amazon, RightStuf
Collection 2 DVD: Amazon, RightStuf
Collection 2 Blu-Ray: Amazon, RightStuf

Please support my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor
Member of The Console Xplosion Network: http://www.theconsolexplosion.com/
Watch my Live-Streams on http://twitch.tv/countzeroor/

I’ve previously reviewed the first two Fate anime. Now it’s time to review the third – Ufotable’s adaptation of the second route – Unlimited Blade Works.

Footage Property of Aniplex and the Unlimited Blade Works Production Committee – used under fair use for purposes of criticism.

Fate/Stay Night Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewDl1Eob1Ho
Fate/Zero Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-E84C2lFqk

Please support my Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor
Member of The Console Xplosion Network: http://www.theconsolexplosion.com/
Watch my Live-Streams on http://twitch.tv/countzeroor/

I really liked Season 1 of New Game, as a fan of seeing stories told about creative people being creative in their field or fields. When that review came up, I had already started watching the show’s second season, and I stuck with it throughout that season.

As with Season 1, New Game!! sticks with Eagle Jump games, with all of the previous season’s cast returning, along with a few new characters joining the cast. The story for season 2 follows the same pattern as Shirobako did. Season 1 of Shirobako started with an anime series already in the midst of production, and then went through the entire production process for an anime adaptation of an existing work. In the same way, season 1 of New Game had protagonist Aoba Suzukaze coming onboard with an existing game, season 2 takes us through the entire process of designing a game, writing it, and sending it out into the world.

As part of the shifts in this season, our protagonists have new responsibilities. Aoba’s childhood friend Nene Sakura has come onboard at Eagle Jump as a fledgling programmer, and almost terminally shy (but getting better) character designer Hifumi Takimoto has become the lead character designer on the new game and now has to manage and motivate the team, including new member Momiji Mochizuki (or Momo), who has decided to become Aoba’s rival.

Aside from the new explorations of the software development and marketing process, we also get much more exploration of the personalities of the supporting cast, including the new characters. This season also almost cuts out most of the fanservice from last season. Unfortunately, perhaps in anticipation of the reduced amount of shots Kou in her underwear, we end up getting a shot in the first episode of the season with Kou’s butt in the center of the frame as she gets comfortable again under the desk for approximately 5-6 seconds. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but considering that when you film something in animation you do it on purpose, and considering the posterior in question is not stationary, but moving, it’s a excessive.

Otherwise, it’s a great season, and if you watched season 1, it’s definitely worth moving on to season 2.

As of this writing – New Game!! Season 2 is not available for pre-order for a home DVD release, but is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll, and from Funimation with a dub.

Anime has an interesting relationship with the “Otaku” lifestyle. There’s an undeniable appeal to lounging around the house or apartment playing video games and/or watching TV (especially for an Otaku), but that’s not particularly a healthy way to live your life – so we get a variety of anime that romanticize the Otaku lifestyle in a manner both congratulating and self-depreciating, like Genshiken and Otaku no Video.

Himouto Umaru-Chan has an interesting take on this. The main character of the show is Umaru – a die-hard Otaku who is currently attending high school and who is also living with her brother Taihei, a salaryman who handles the cooking and cleaning. However, her public identity is not that of being an Otaku, but instead as one of the most popular girls in school, proficient in most sports, and who gets As in all her classes. On returning home, she undergoes a seemingly physical transformation into a chibi version of herself, with a radically different personality and wearing a hamster hood. The difference is dramatic enough that it’s something of a running joke that people who don’t already know can’t tell that Umaru’s public and private personas are the same person.

From there, the humor of the show comes from juggling the silliness of Umaru’s behavior (and with it the split between her public and private personas) and how Taihei responds to her behavior, along with other characters reactions to the two personas when encountered on their own. The writing for the humor here works very well. It’s helped by the fact that unlike far too many anime of late, this anime writes a brother-sister relationship that stays on the familial level, instead of stepping into the romantic level like like Oreimo and Eromanga-Sensei did. Nor does it get heavily into risque fanservice, keeping the show from getting skeevy.

It makes for a comedy series that isn’t particularly ambitious, and not particularly deep, but is fun and makes for good light viewing.

Himouto! Umaru-Chan is currently available from Amazon.com (Blu-Ray, DVD), and RightStuf.com (Blu-Ray, DVD).