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…)

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
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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

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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

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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).

As I mentioned way back in my review of Shirobako, I’m a fan of works about the making of stuff, going all the way back to reading Aliki’s How A Book Is Made and Digging Up Dinosaurs when I was a little kid. Consequently, when I learned about the anime series New Game!, it went on my watch list. I’ve finished watching that, and while the second season is currently airing I figured I might as well give my thoughts on the first season. (more…)

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is one of the Universal Century Gundam series that had yet to receive a US release. Bandai Entertainment USA had announced a US release prior to them shutting their doors several years ago, but now that RightStuf has been working to bring out various Gundam series to the US, which means that fans here can finally take a look at the show legally.

As a head’s up, there are some spoilers for the show here, but I’m going to work to keep them to a minimum. There will be some heavy spoilers for Gundam Zeta, which are somewhat essential due to how the show starts. (more…)

Anime comedies, are absolutely willing to get self-referential, in some cases going full parody. Now, you can get a bad parody by shoving random jokes and references into the work because they can (the Seltzer & Friedberg films), or come from a place where you actively hate and dislike the genre they are satirizing, and in turn can end up creating works which are poor examples of that genre.

By comparison, the best parodies are those which are also good examples of the work in question, and such is the case with Ouran High School Host Club. (more…)

When it comes to manga about various real-world topics, there is an educational element to the work, but it’s usually ancillary to the main thrust of the story. Hajime No Ippo/Fighting Spirit is a boxing manga, and Hikaru No Go is a Go manga, and both use elements of their actual sports or games in the narrative of the story itself, but the sport and game in question are secondary to the actual thrust of the story from the very beginning.

There are a few manga which take the opposite tack – put the main thrust of the story on the thing they’re talking about, and then will bring in other plots to give additional structure of the story. On the seinen side there is Drops of God, which is primarily a manga about wine, but which incorporates side plots to keep things from getting monotonous – and there’s also the show I’m reviewing – Moyashimon. (more…)

Genius Party & Genius Party Beyond are a pair of anthology films from Studio 3°C. Anime anthology films often open up a lot of opportunities for experimentation and exploration of the craft, and Studio 3°C in particular is a studio who likes to nurture this degree of experimentation. I’ll be discussing both of the two films together, as the films were originally planned to be released together. (more…)

I’m something of a fan of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, and particularly the character of Captain Harlock. Harlock made his first appearance as a supporting character in Matsumoto’s other major series from the 1970s – Galaxy Express 999. However, he was popular enough to get his own series in its own separate continuity in 1978. I figured I might as well give my thoughts on the show. (more…)