Story time. Redline, 2009. Takeshi Koike and his team spent 7 arduous years at Studio Madhouse to produce one of the most adrenaline-fueled, well-animated films in all of anime. It bombed hard to the point where almost no film production has gone down this path since. It may go down as a cult classic a decade later, but at the turn of the decade, it was a miserable flop. Keijo, 2016. Hideya Takahashi noticed a ridiculous sports manga about bodacious babes bumping boobs and buts off of water balconies. He and his team at Xebec took that fun action comedy romp and made it one of the biggest meme titles of... See full review
"It's just fiction, after all. Some people say it's just for fun. But it can make someone happy, or even end up helping someone." -Osamu Kuuga The Gundam Build series has been on a decline ever since the first installment came out in Fall 2013. Gundam Build Fighters was a fun shounen-like battle series with tons of fanservice towards the franchise as a whole. The strength of its fights as well as some of the characters were at least partially a result of Kenji Nagasaki, who would direct one of anime’s latest juggernaut series, My Hero Academia. This was followed-up not even 1 year later... See full review
"You're kidding!" -A main character mere seconds before succumbing to one of the stupidest anime deaths this year, Japan Sinks 2020 Hope, while often necessary, can be a ruinous thing to have in the midst of a disaster. Despite the catastrophically negative reception among friends and the similarly dismal scores the show has, I still had hope that it could be at least entertaining in some regard. Even an Inuyashiki tier “so bad it’s good” title would’ve been enough to be satisfying, if still ultimately bizarre given how this is treated as a Yuasa work...more on that later... See full review
The first season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War was a breakout success. With its over the top direction and comedy along with its cast of well-rounded characters with amazing chemistry, the show became easily one of A-1 Pictures’ best works. On top of that, it was helmed by an acclaimed director of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Shinichi Omata. Not only did he return for a second season, but the show would be adapting material manga fans consider to generally be better than what the first 12 episodes covered. With such lofty expectations, it’s difficult to see how a show would really top itself, at... See full review
There is a sense of wonder and grandeur that hit upon witnessing the first episode of Hibike Euphonium. Perhaps it was due to the outstanding score or the sheer glow the characters had. Perhaps it was how its main character, Kumiko, was immediately presented. It’s hard to quantify such a feeling, but it’s an undoubtedly great feeling as you discover that you’re going to fall in love with a show that is confident in its own greatness.
Perhaps the most immediate aspect to hit me was the soundtrack composed by Akito Matsuda. Several of the show’s background pieces convey a sense... See full review
The silver blade cleaves the skin, ripping, tearing through broken flesh. A sea of scarlet spews, transforming into rain dancing amidst the blade that released it. The body broken in two, now covered by a cascade of carmine droplets as numerous as the lives cut short by the sword and its wielder. The loud eruption is followed by silence as the chaos settles into tranquility. It’s a scene characterized by its duality.
There’s a strange sense of serenity to Blade of the Immortal 2019. For all of the vile horrors it presents as rape and death are littered across the show’s 24 episode... See full review
Animation is a wonderful medium, isn’t it? The way drawings get put into a consecutive illusion of motion, combining all sorts of aspects of art and color to create spectacles that inspire others to do the same. That’s the power of visual media: creative inspiration. You can look at all sorts of auteurs and visionaries such as Quentin Tarantino and Hideaki Anno, and they’ll tell you their inspirations: anime, movies, tokusatsu productions, etc. It’s the origin story of most in all creative industries. Creativity begets creativity, so it’s all the more wonderful to see works... See full review
It's taken quite a while to sit down and write my thoughts on Mob Psycho 100 II. For the longest time, I've been trapped in this limbo of not wanting to write but never finding anything remotely close to my perspective being represented. It's as if no one has any of the same problems I have with this season, therefore I’ve yet to find someone disappointed in it for any of the same reasons as me. As such, this review is born more out of a place to satisfy myself and bring peace to my perspective than anything I’ve written thus far. Keeping a measured and somewhat informed perspective is still... See full review
Satoshi Kon is widely considered an auteur of bizarre masterpieces. Perfect Blue, Paprika, and Millennium Actress are all strange, high-concept films to varying degrees. However, Tokyo Godfathers might somehow be his oddest film. This isn't due to the film taking the concepts of blurring reality and fiction to insane new levels while incorporating even crazier ideas. The film barely even touches the idea, and it barely even mentions the concept of film in any way. These are two of the greatest hallmarks of a Satoshi Kon movie, and they're largely absent. Therefore, this film is the biggest risk the late... See full review
*Prologue* Approaching this show is a difficult task. This isn’t because the show tackles harsh subject matter involving the likes of suicide as one of its fundamental talking points. It’s not because the show isn’t exactly good at doing so, either. It’s because I’m still coming to terms with what an absolute shitshow this series has become. There’s this immense swirl of emotions that come about from watching a show crumble before your very eyes, keenly aware that there were signs of trouble from the beginning. Babylon showed promise of being a fascinating police... See full review
The dark horse enters the scarlet stage, illuminated by the crimson moon. With mask in hand, he embraces the carmine spotlight. Tied down to two stigmas, he was limited in his audience, but his performance made him shine like few others. The drama, the passion, the presentation, all marvelously shown as he proudly rose beyond almost everything else this year. This struggle and scenario somewhat mirrors that of Louis, one of Beastars’ greatest characters. He’s a prideful, somewhat prejudicial deer who has put the world on his back. He refuses to be seen as weaker than carnivores simply because... See full review
The first arc of Vinland Saga has been touted as one of manga’s greatest prologues. As such, many were curious about how well the anime would fare. While it may seem like a mere revenge story at first, this 24-episode series acts as a GAR infused yet slow-burning meditation on vengeance and war, as well as the thrills and horrors that await. Moreover, it's a character study revolving around the arc's main protagonists: Thorfinn and Askeladd. They make up the tragic backbone of the show, and that backbone is powerful enough to cement this show as one of the best of the year.
Visually, this... See full review
*This review covers both seasons of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works and contains spoilers*
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is an aggravating piece of work. Laborious and cyclical to the core, this show manages to stumble its way through 25 episodes of monotonous monologues, caricatures, and dialogues filled to the brim with repetition and wheel spinning. No amount of dazzling light shows or cute interactions can salvage this production, even if they do make the experience less insufferable than it could have been.
Let’s start with the positives before things get too dicey... See full review
Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan is one of the strangest series I have ever covered, both in 2019 and in general. It's an interesting anthology anime where each episode can be divided up into 3 sections. The first is a 3-minute animated short. Each director is allowed to go in whatever stylistic direction they want and this results in most of the episodes taking a completely different visual approach from one another. The second and far longer section is a 20-minute interview with the episode director and the seiyuu of the main protagonist for said episode as they talk about the manga and the production of the episode... See full review
Have you ever been excited to watch a dumpster fire? You know, that special kind of train wreck that reaches so bad it’s good territory, or the legendary "schlock" status”? It’s rare to find such titles in the current anime market, as Big Order and Inuyashiki are some of the last ones out there at the time of writing. Most bad anime are just frustrating or boring, especially when it comes to the prevalence of bad isekai anime. With episode 1 at least, Arifureta seemed to have done the impossible. It had become something so legendarily awful that it would be remembered as the best... See full review
*potentially vague and mild spoilers for a show I don’t recommend*
Carole and Tuesday is a strange disappointment. It’s not a terrible anime, but it’s a mediocre show and an empty shell. It’s fundamentally at odds with itself as well, given the narrative of the show and the contemporary feel it oozes in every direction. You can smell the corporate in the air here, which is probably the most bizarre thing to say given that this is a Shinichiro Watanabe anime. The man responsible for stylish classics such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo is one of the main people who crafted... See full review
Given is 2019’s dark horse. It’s a title that has been slept on for its subject matter instead of appreciated for its prowess. Unlike Bloom Into You which received a major backing over the course of its run, Given seems to have received little fanfare within the community despite the praise most viewers have for it. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it certainly does resonate, much like a good tune.
The tunes in this show are very solid. There are several fun jam sessions where the main band of the show plays some delicious math rock, and there are several background tracks that also... See full review
Ping Pong: The Animation is one of the most astonishing anime I’ve ever seen. It’s something that could only come out of passion and devotion from an eccentric auteur who prides himself in the unique and extraordinary. Only masters and madmen could produce works as tight and uniquely crafted as this. It’s easy to see why this show is regarded as a masterpiece. Frankly, this anime deserves all the praise it gets. That’s not to say it will appeal to everyone. The art style is rough. There’s no denying that. It’s so rough that some may call it ugly, ignoring the stellar... See full review
*some spoilers ahead* Inuyashiki is a gloriously strange beast. It’s as tactless as it is hopeful, and about as schlocky as it is earnest. It’s this strange series trying to embody the best, worst, and moral greys of humanity while only working some of the time and falling gloriously on its face more often. It has commentaries on people and media, and so much more as well which it can only barely pull off sensibly at the best of times. Often contrived, stupid, and downright extra about everything, Inuyashiki has become the schlock beast I had hoped for while shooting for something more. This... See full review
Lost Butterfly is a nightmare. A violent, corrosive nightmare. Gone is the dread that Presage Flower bathed in, as terror strikes in its place. The Holy Grail War is no longer just contaminated, it's corrupted. All that's left to do is watch the fireworks as everything goes to hell.
Once the first scene of the movie finishes giving Shirou a nightmare reminiscent of the penultimate scene of Presage Flower, we start off on a delicate scene. This scene sets off Sakura and Shirou's tenuous character arcs for this movie, and these arcs allow these two characters to shine brighter than ever before... See full review
*Spoilers ahead. TL;DR with the bottom two paragraphs*
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is one of my favorite anime of the decade. It is a prequel done exceptionally well, and it is easily one of the best installments in the franchise. While it did have some stumbles, its growth as an OVA series over the course of its three-year run is one of the most rewarding experiences I've had with an anime in years. It is one of the most compelling space operas and political anime I’ve seen, and it exemplifies a sense of wonder and charm that few in this franchise can match. As such, you can imagine my... See full review
Millennium Actress is a spellbinding film. Satoshi Kon’s second cinematic masterpiece is a harrowing drama that plays with reality and fiction to tell an intricate tale full of powerful twists and turns. In many ways, it’s like a novel, sucking us into their world and forcing us to observe. More than that, it gives us the power to interact with the story in some way, as our interactions both suck us in further and become our only link to reality.
The film features a former star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, and her two interviewers, Genya Tachibana and Kyouji Ida. As they sit... See full review
*Mild Spoilers for One Punch Man Second Season*
The second season of One Punch Man is a miserable fall from grace, with a quadruple whammy of circumstances contextualizing the gravity of the show’s failures. It’s a sequel to one of the most well-animated mainstream anime of all time, released over 3 years later. On top of that, this franchise’s counterpart, Mob Psycho 100, got adapted for a second season that practically pushed the boundaries of current TV anime 3 months before this season came out. Combined with the awful feel and presentation of this new season, that set of... See full review
*Given the nature of the series itself, it’s hard for me to discuss it without at least mentioning mild spoilers. Also, there’s a RWBY spoiler in here. Proceed with caution.* With the exception of One Punch Man Season 2, Dororo is probably the most deflating anime I’ve seen so far in 2019. That’s honestly a real shame cuz on top of being a popular retelling of an anime from the ’60s, it's a 2000s samurai anime displaced in time. Furthermore, one of the main protagonists fights demons and samurai with swords for limbs! That sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Then halfway... See full review
“Jesus Butt-fucking Christ, what the hell is this?!” Art… kero. It’s no secret that Kunihiko Ikuhara is one of the most out-there anime directors, conjuring up several queer-focused, high-concept mystery box anime on whatever themes he feels like exploring. This fact has only become more apparent over time as Sarazanmai becomes his third anime in a row this decade to focus on this type of narrative. In 2011, Mawaru Penguindrum focused on themes of changing one’s fate, with a compelling cast of characters and marvelous setpieces across a tight, binge-worthy 24-episode plot... See full review
“What am I doing, really?”
The second season of Aggretsuko seeks to delve into this question. It’s a question I ask myself a lot, as I know many here do. After all, it’s a question even more relatable than the struggles of the workplace and having to work with people who make your job harder. While I’m not sure this second season succeeds at tackling either quite as well as the first did with the former, it’s still a charming and relatable season of one of 2018’s greatest shows.
One of the best things about both characters is how fleshed-out the... See full review
*spoilers for Code Geass R2 and Geass Movie 3, and minor spoilers for this movie* And there I was, terrified. “There’s no way this could work,” I said knowing of Zero’s past oversights and inability to come up with decent contingencies and rewrites. I’ve witnessed imbeciles foolishly latch themselves onto his name and provide nothing of value, unless you count unnecessary complications as valuable. I’ve seen him redo ideas to mixed results, and tamper with the inexplicable. As the moment of truth came, I cast my fears aside and prayed for a miracle, as a fellow Black... See full review
“It at once is the antithesis of creativity and a testament to everything that can go wrong with ambition in art; it is the enemy of creativity itself! Let’s give one final farewell to Hand Shakers, the show that broke my spirit 10 times over; see you in hell!” -An idiot who thought this shit would end.
In an ideal world, something as broken Hand Shakers would have never been made. Unfortunately, we live in a society, where something like this can get popular as a punching bag, garner a prequel OVA, a sequel series, and several stage plays despite flopping both critically and... See full review
“See, this show's what having a good director can do for your fuckin' show. You can make A-1 Pictures look like a competent studio. That's fucked up!” -DEEsidia from REVEL HOUSE, 2019
Pride is cruel and ignorance is bliss, and when love is war, feelings are the casualties. Kaguya-sama is this concept taken to a hilarious extreme, with two teenage egotists trying to manipulate each other into confessing their feelings as every idea they ever had gets trampled on. This show thrives off its comedic timing, with tons of audiovisual flair, character chemistry, and wild ideas for our main... See full review
When was the last time a light novel adaptation or isekai tried to be straightforward? Nothing fancy, nothing repetitive or self-indulgent, just simple. With the likes of Re:Zero, Akashic Records, Overlord, and Mahouka, it’s become harder and harder to find an LN or isekai show that just wants to entertain (parodies like Konosuba don't count cuz fuck you). Even many of the “simpler”, “safer” anime like The Asterisk War and Isekai wa Smartphone fail to realize that we just want something simple and satisfying. That’s probably why Slime is as popular as it is. It just wants... See full review