Category Archives: Anime Review

The bonds we share….Why you need to see ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’

There is something special about walking out of a screening full of emotion and constantly thinking about the film three days later, but here we are. Brisbane anime fans got the unique opportunity to be the first in the country to see the brand new film ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’ when it was shown at Madman Anime Festival. Admittedly, I wasn’t too keen to see it but something inside me said that I need to check this out. So, grabbing the last few tickets that were available for my friends and I (absolute packed house) we waited to see what the fuss was all about. The hype and buzz that this film had is completely justified. This is the first film from acclaimed screenwriter Mari Okada making this her directorial debut with this fantasy feature. If you are wondering why that name sounds familiar, she was screenwriter of a certain anime ‘Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day’. Just knowing that little knowledge, we were going to be jumping on a feels train.  

The people of Iorph have a lifespan of hundreds of years and maintain their teenage appearances for life, but when the peace of this town is shattered by those who want the secret to their longevity for themselves, a young girl named Maquia is forced to escape. Wandering the land alone, upon finding an orphaned baby she chooses to raise him, but as this boy grows up so the difference in their lifespans is thrown into ever-sharper relief.

The film starts off slow, quickly establishing the differences between the people of Iorph and humans. We are introduced to this world and these mythical humans (the Iorph people) and how they maintained long lifespans and being able to spin essentially the fabric of life. The humans want to be able to have this longevity and have tried to bring the two sides together. The Kingdom (where the humans reside) kidnap one of the Iorph females to become the wife of the Prince. This results in the destruction of the land where the Iorph people lived and all around. Maquia is a very young Iorphian, who learns very early on that life is unpredictable. She comes across a newborn boy and decides to become the orphans guardian. I won’t spoil the rest of the film as I firmly believe that if the plot was given the magic of this film will be lost.

What makes this film stand out is the themes that it essentially covers. It is a love story of a mother loving her child, a child loving their mother. It is the bond that two people build between each other that is true and pure. It was a very unique way to explore bonds between people as it is something that is rather relatable with everyone. Another theme that was covered was the concept of life and death. It was chilling at times the way the story was portrayed, however was able to explore the importance of living your life and accepting that death is a factor of life as well. You could even argue that this film explore the concept of the ‘circle of life’ and that everyone has a place within it. There were so many theme weaved within this story that it blew my mind. It looked at family, first love, politics, parental relationship and of course age.

Although at times I felt that the animation was sloppy, there were just breathtaking moments that can only be truly appreciated on the big screen. The emotional factors within this story was built up slowly, leaving viewers right at the end grabbing tissues. It is definitely a film that will leave a lasting impression on you. I still think about the scene where Maquia and Ariel (the adopted son) establish their bond as being parent and child, it is so raw and filled with unintended emotions that it would make the strongest of hearts melt with the feels.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEWvRqZQ0RU[/embedyt]

I cannot wait to see this movie again. I do feel it will be one that you will need to see at least three times because there is so much in it, but each viewing you will be rewarded.

I rate this movie * * * * (four out of five stars).

Easily one of the best anime movies I have seen since ‘Your Name’ and ‘A Silent Voice’.

The film premiers Australia wide on June 7. Don’t miss the opportunity to see it on the big screen.

 

 

“Life is just a gamble” Review of ‘Kakegurui’

Normally I don’t drop a review until I have watched the whole series, however seven episodes deep I can honestly say that I love this show. This week Netflix dropped their latest anime ‘Kakegurui’ onto their streaming service and it has been one that has been most anticipated by anime fans since late last year.  For me personally every episode leaves you craving more and more and it is bound to give you an adrenaline rush.

First and foremost it is a dark school anime. If you were looking for a simple slice of life anime or hell even just a simple school anime you might as well back away from this one right now. This is a show that is bound to screw with you mentally and make you feel incredibly anxious every time you watch. We as the viewers enter the world where hierarchy of socialism plays an important role in deciding your fate. The story revolves around a group of elite private high schoolers who run an underground gambling ring where wining or losing plays an important factor on what your social standing in society will be. Enters our main character Yumeko who has a gift of being able to read the most ridiculous plays by the other players and gets her thrills by ruining the other players.

There is one absolute rule in gambling — at the end of the day, there is a winner and a loser. The winner gains riches and prestige, while the loser is branded a failure and left with nothing. In the silence leading up to the moment that separates winners and losers, instincts are sharpened and desires reach the point of ecstasy. This is a harsh microcosm of life in a capitalist society. Why are people captivated by a world filled with risk? What lies beyond the madness? As the class system of modern society crumbles, an unprecedented adrenaline-pumping anime sweeps the world.
~Netflix 2017

The strong points of this anime is that it does make you feel like you are experiencing a gambling rush and that you at times feel like you are in the game itself, it is a very tense show to watch. While there are many adult themes inserted within the show it is the gambling that is the driving factor. The animation is amazing. I don’t know what it is that I’m drawn to but it feels like it is also telling part of the story with its dark undertones and sharp characteristics. If I had to compare on similarities to another anime without a doubt it would be ‘Prison School’. What was a real selling point with this anime was the English dub and adaption. Erika Harlacher, Kira Buckland and Sarah Williams (Yumeko, Mary and Midari respectively) managed to capture the characters completely and give them the life that they deserve. If I had to be honest this show was probably the strongest performances to date from each. ‘Bang Zoom’ has to also be credited for producing such a quality dub.

I really, honestly truly love watching this show. I am so glad we are getting anime that is able to not only screw with your mind but also leave you craving more. I mentioned this earlier on social media that this show was legit ‘hell’ but fun, and that is honestly the best way to describe this show. Sinful at best. I rate this show 4/5.

“Kakegurui” is available right now on Netflix.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTlHQiRNVl0[/embedyt]

‘No going back!’ Review of “GATE Complete Series” DVD/Blu Ray release

This is a short review so apologies in advance but…

Have you ever watch an anime series and wonder why it got so much hate on the internet, this was me with GATE.

I went into this series blind. When I started to watch the series I thought ‘Well this is rather interesting’ and it managed to capture my interest. Everything about it was what an anime fan would like: Great characters, interesting plot, unique situation of a gate being the link between two worlds/universes, decent animation and a killer soundtrack. So when I went on my exploring on the anime sites it actually shocked me to see the amount of hate that this series received from many anime fans. I kept watching to find out what was the issue and frankly I couldn’t find one. The story was captivating and all I wanted to do was binge watch episodes all night (of course this was impossible).

When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defence Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side. Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.
-Madman Website 

 


The winning factor for me was the English dub. ‘Sentai filmworks’ took this show and gave it a decent translating that was fun and close enough to the Japanese translation. While there are certain scene in the show that are questionable, it was easily ignored because everything else over rides the awkwardness. Is this one to watch with the whole family, probably not. That said it is definitely one to give a shot. I know I was left craving more towards the end. If you are a fan of ‘Sword Art Online’ and all things fantasy, or even military then this is the one for you.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3rJqoqk4gQ[/embedyt]

4/5 for me. I really enjoyed it and all I wanted was more.

 

If you are interested you are able to stream (Japanese sub only) right now on AnimeLab otherwise streaming the dub is indeed available on HiDive. Otherwise if you are like me, why don’t you pick up a copy from Madman entertainment. Links available on the pictures below:

 

      

Better late than never! The Top Five Anime of 2017

Well, what a year it was for anime in 2017. Arguably a very simple year in regards to anime, there were a few stand outs that took our breath away. It’s always hard when you go back and reflect on the year that it was in regards to anime; the year where we had some unbelievable shows and some that were absolutely rubbish, fans were given many options and choices on shows. For me, there was a lot of good that easily could overtake the terrible. I found this decision of picking the top five a very hard one. Some shows in my original top ten could have easily taken the spot of number one, but in the end I had to stick to what was the draw factor for the shows for me originally that would place them in that top ten. I narrowed that top ten down, and picked the best five shows of 2017. So here we go with the top five Anime of 2017:

5. My Hero Academia Two

Now, I wasn’t a die hard fan after season one. Sure, I liked it and was one show I did enjoy watching as a simulcast originally, but I will admit that I wasn’t very impressed with season one. That all changed when season two came along. This show was so captivating week after week, and the dub as well was just perfect. The heart and strengths this show has in comparison to shows such as Attack on Titan made me want to watch week after week and not get bored. I felt connected with characters and I was just blown away with so many moments throughout the season. If left me craving more when we got to the end of season two. I love the message this show has, that you can be what you want to be if you try hard and work hard for it.

4. Ancient Magus Bride 

Tale as old as time….song as old as song…..Wait this isn’t Disney.
However, this is definitely a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ type of story with a very pure and meaningful love developing between two beings. This show is special. The animation and delivery of the story makes this one not to be missed. The story of a girl who is essentially bought to be the bride of a being who has no idea of the human conventions and trying to find their own place in our world as well as their own…whatever it is exactly. Every week I look forward to watching and it is just getting better and better as the story is continued to being explored.

3. Little Witch Academia 

If anyone knows me they will know full well that one of my favourite anime animation studios is Studio TRIGGER. This was one of the most anticipated series of 2017 and it did not fail to disappoint. Where the OVA/Movies allowed us to become apart of this magical world, the anime series just took it on another level. We learn the secrets that ultimately shock viewers but at the same time give the story a depth. I loved everything about this, from the witty plot, the animation and characters this one is my go to anime whenever I am feeling down. There is such a powerful message underlying the story that you can’t help but be swept away with it. This is one of those shows where I just want to remain a part of their world and learn more and more about them.

2. Scum’s Wish 

This was my personal favourite from last year. The drama we as anime fans did not deserve. It literally hit every note that needed to be hit. ‘Scum’s wish’ was that show where there was not one good person to support or back, yet you were drawn to their problems and situations. The characterisation was by far the best I have seen in recent years and has left me wanting more. It ended as it should, granted I wasn’t too thrilled but it made sense. This was not a light hearted anime, and it did make you question whether or not what these characters were doing was the right thing, but it was that show that made you look at your own personal life and relationships and see some sort of common trend. It was very real.

1.  Made in Abyss

This was the show to end all shows last year. Admittedly, I was turned off the show originally as the animation wasn’t what I was used to. When friends of mine told me I had to give this show a shot, I sat down over two days and binged watched it. I was completely blown away. I have never felt the way I did after watching this show. I was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted after watching. The characters and their stories were just the most beautiful, yet tragically heartbreaking that your own hearts would break. The strong points were the ethical and cultural reasoning being put to question. Death is also a major factor and what happens to someone when they just leave you for good. This show, with the depth of story, animation and the most incredible soundtrack is definitely the show I will recommend to everyone. It is not the easiest show to watch, but if you are an anime fan it is one you need to watch at least once in your life.

So there you have it, Like I said it was a very hard to come up with these choices but I feel justified that these are without question the best of what 2017 has to offer. We are always curious as to what made your top picks from last year, let us know! We cannot wait to see what 2018 has to offer, and judging with the recent season, we know we are in for a treat!

“GO! FIGHT! WIN!” DVD Review of “Cheer Boys-The Complete Series”

If you were to say a few year back “You are going to watch an anime about male cheerleaders and love it!” I probably would have laughed in your face. Fast forward to now and here I am smiling and just loving all these boys. “Cheer Boys” to me was an underrated hit in 2016. Granted this show came out at a time when there were some massive anime to compete with, this show flew under the radar.

The story is simple enough, a slice of life anime focusing on college boys who decide to start a cheer squad. Every episode is just so witty and charming with each boy having their own story to tell. Haruki, our main character was born into a family of Judo Martial artists who was expected to follow the footsteps of his family decides to join up with his best friend and start up a cheer squad. The squad grows progressively through the episodes.

What I love about this show is the heart warming moments. The show manages to deliver these moments in such a way that is not only captivating for the audience, but makes you connect on a personal level with these characters. The strength of this show is also the dub, Funimation had control over this dub, and while I’m somewhat skeptical of simuldubs (this was one of the 2016 shows that was simulcast dubbed) and the quality they produce, this series seemed to have nailed it. The English VAs are just as if not better than their Japanese counterparts.

If I was to compare this series with another, I am constantly reminded of Love Live/Love Live sunshine, only with very pretty boys. Their stories and troubles/triumphs are very similar to how Love Live told their story. The animation is also nice and clean and rather enjoyable to watch. Of course, even though this is considered a slice of life anime I can’t help but classify this one as a sports anime. You watch this show and all you want to do is get out there and train at a gym, get fit.

I can’t help but love this series. From when I first watched it in 2016, to now it’s one of those shows that has a lot of heart and makes you feel motivated; mentally, emotionally and physically *I love it when an anime can do that!*

I give this show a solid 4/5.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=994DagRJU7A[/embedyt]

“Cheer Boys” is available right now on DVD. For more information click the DVD image below! However you can’t wait and need to check out the show right now, you can stream it and watch it for free thanks to the good folk at AnimeLab by clicking the AL picture link below as well!

                                    

‘All in the family’ DVD Review of “The Testament of Sister New Devil Season One”

So I honestly don’t know what I was actually thinking when I said ‘I would like to review this one for the site’. When I got this copy thank to our friends from Madman Entertainment I looked at the rating and said to myself I just need to be open minded and give it a go.

Oh boy….

‘The Testament of Sister New Devil’ is that show you can only watch on your own, late at night. It isn’t your regular fan service series, however it is an intriguing series no less. The plot *as dumb as it sounds* of Basara, an adolescent guy who has been wanting to be a brother to a sister has his wish granted when his father remarries and he ends up with two step sisters, Mio and Maria. The ‘sisters’ of course are not what they seem, one being a newly formed demon and the other a succumbus. Of course this leads to Basara revealing his true self, however this also leads to him becoming Mio’s master, leading the characters to over the top Ecchi situations.  Wild, I know.

Now, I am really open minded when it comes to series like these and I generally try to find the positives. What I will say is that the animation is really well done, and the dub is very cleaver, but this series is just not my cup of tea. Sometimes the ecchi moments just got too extreme and unnecessary at times, and the whole ‘sister’ thing was just not good. Surprisingly there is a moderately decent plot but this is that series that is clearly in for the over the top fan service and ecchi.

Did I love it? no, did I hate it? no, I am in that fine line where I could have loved it if it wasn’t so over the top with certain moments, but I am definitely wondering the mind frame of the original creators of this particular story. If you are a fan of fan service and ecchi than this is the one for you.

Personally, I rate it 2/5.

Wasn’t really my cup of tea.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkN8as4dNgo[/embedyt]

The Testament of Sister New Devil Complete Season One is out now! For more information click the DVD image below.

Review: Erased Volume 2 (Blu Ray)

Erased Volume 2 is the latest release from Madman of the time travelling adventure and it deftly picks up where Volume 1 left off and if you missed that one, then I suggest you click here to bring yourself up to speed. This release features episodes 7 through to the stunning climax in episode 12. I won’t go into much detail as I don’t want to reveal any spoilers and the gist of it was covered in our Volume 1 review.

If you recall, episode 6 finished on a MASSIVE cliffhanger which is where episode 7 picks up. As in the first half of this anime, the second half doesn’t let up and continues with the tension as we see Satoru try and escape from his current predicament. There’s time travel a plenty in this half with quite a few episodes taking place in the past as Satoru tries to prevent tragedies occurring from both the past and the future by creating time ripples by changing events in his past when he was still a young boy.

This one of the more exciting and engrossing anime’s I’ve watched in a while as you always want to think that everything will end up being ok but sometimes, when things are at their most darkest, you really don’t know how events will resolve themselves leaving Satoru and those he cares about in a good place.

The extras from Madman include audio commentaries, textless opening and closings and trailers.

*Thanks to Madman for the review copy*

Final score: 10/10

Review: Is This A Zombie? Season 1 & 2 (Blu Ray)

Is This A Zombie?, or Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka, from Studio Deen is one anime I’d always missed out on seeing but finally got around to and let me say, the wait was totally worth it!

For those new to the series, the main protagnist Ayumu Aikawa has the unfortunate luck of being a victim of the neighbourhood serial killer. Lucky for him though, necromancer Eucliwood Hellscythe, or Eu for short, brings him back to life as an undead zombie. Eu doesn’t speak a word and instead communicates with handwritten notes. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, she moves in with him where he takes up the mantle of her servant. Upon battling one of the monsters in the series known as Megalos, he encounters Haruna, a Magical Girl.

During the battle, he accidentally absorbs her powers resulting in him becoming a new Magical Girl complete with cute Lolita outfit. Haruna also decides to move in with him and Eu resulting in hilarious encounters. Thrown into the mix some other interesting characters as well as an encounter with the serial killer who murdered Ayumu in the first place and you have a fantastic series loaded with fun, action and beautiful animation thrown in.

I found the story a bit reminiscent of Bleach with the whole substitute Magical Girl angle but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Did I mention that it’s loaded full of fan service? If this is your thing, then this series has it in spades. Upskirts, panty shots, very busty females, there’s very little left to the imagination.

The packaging itself from Madman is really attractive though with a bright pink sleeve and attractive artwork, front and back. The discs themselves are beautiful as well although the only gripe I have is that they don’t mention Season 1 or Season 2 on them. The packs is a 4 disc set so if you mix the discs up, you really have no way of knowing which order they go in. If the season was printed on them, I couldn’t find them. I just had a quick look as I was typing this to double check and damn…the artwork on the discs is really exquisite!

Overall, this is a great package with a fun series that doesn’t take itself too seriously and audio/commentaries, trailers and textless openings/closings.

*Thanks to Madman for the review copy*

Final score: 7.5/10

Got an hour and forty minutes to kill? Review on Death Note (US) 2017…

The adaption that nobody asked for was finally released….

When I write a review about something I try to remain positive and optimistic. I try to see the good in a project and give it a fair go. I went into watching the new ‘Death Note’ film that has been released on Netflix on August 25th with an open mind. With that said my mind was blown as to how bad it was. It was just plain terrible.

Now, before I continue I must confess. Although I have seen a good majority of episodes, I have yet to complete ‘Death Note’ anime series. That said I know the characters and the general plot of the story where Light becomes the holder of the Death Note book and any name that is written in the book would face their untimely death.

Now this production was exactly what Netflix would produce, an over budget show filled with gore and sexual content. We start the film on such a confusing note, the main character Light Turner is an ‘edgy’ teen in a typical American high school that mysteriously ends up with a book that fell from the sky. I wish I was making that up but that is exactly what happens.

The pacing and general plot of the movie was so ridiculous when I was watching it I would be questioning my own sanity as to why I was still watching. The script was just bad. Some of the dialogue between the characters was just so ridiculous you felt as if you eyes would roll back so hard in your head. The characters in the film were just not what you would expect, particularly from the main leads, Light (Kira) and Mia. From what the film makes it out to be is that Light and Mia team up to use the Death Note to get rid of the scum, getting their thrills from doing this. It was just an odd development for the characters and completely unrealistic. It makes it even more insane towards the end of the movie. On note of the characters, the actor that plays Light/Kira was completely terrible. This movie could have had some sort of potential if they got an actor that could actually act. He was just bad. I can’t even be nice about it.

I want to rant and rant more about this movie, but it would be spoiling it for everyone. It is just not my cup of tea. It could have been a decent adaption for western audiences if they paid more attention to the script, plot devices, the main actor and general delivery of scenes. I was one of those people that crave more adaptions of anime to western screens, but if this is what they are putting out into the universe, just keep it. Was there anything redeeming in this film? Sure Willem Dafoe, the dude is damn scary and brilliant, only perfect casting choice in this film. Also the soundtrack was interesting. It took on a strange 80’s vibe which actually strangely fit the darkness that this film was trying to portray.

If you are a Death Note fan I strongly suggest you stay with the anime. If you are a casual fan what the hell give it a shot, but don’t go into watching this film thinking it will win any awards. It is a teen angst drama filled with sex and gore. It would be like if Twilight was given a budget.

I rate this 1/5.