Archive for the English Anime Category


All 70 episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura on Crunchyroll

August 12th, 2014

ccs Tonight, at about 9PM EST US time, all 70 episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura are going live on Crunchyroll.

This series has so much going for it – it’s a classic CLAMP creation (a number of the voice actresses from the original Sailor Moon anime went on to work on this (and most of the others snagged an appearance or two) and generlly has one of the most bent and colorful stories in 90s shoujo anime. It’s my favorite CLAMP work.

I know what I’m doing tonight. ^_^





Saki – Episode of Side A Anime (English)

August 10th, 2014

sideaI know, I know, the Saki anime is from a million years ago.

I finally had the motivation and chance to sit down and plow through the last few unwatched episodes of Saki – Episode of Side A, which I will refer to as Achiga-hen, because the English translation hurts. The original season of Saki, Achiga-hen, and the Nationals arc are streaming free and legally on Crunchyroll (with regional restrictions). I have previously reviewed some of the Saki anime and a few random volumes of the manga.

The set-up is a terrific bit of propganda – Mah Jong is, /handwave/ an incredibly popular game with millions of players not, as it is in our reality, a game notable mostly for it being played by housewives and old men. Nope, in this, much cuter, world, even adorable high school girls compete in televised competitions.

What makes Saki enjoyable to me mostly, is that I know nothing about Mah Jong. So the overblown drama of “tsumo” and “ron” might as well be  in Martian for all I know. I love the hilariously melodramatic flaming eyes and elemental power analogies, and the occasional allegorical wings spreading and magic keys. If only Mah Jong was half that interesting, probably lots of young people would play it.

Achiga-hen followed the players  from Achiga Girls’ School, an institution with a tarnished reputation and a general distaste for Mah Jong, after a brutal loss a decade ago. The team is reanimated and, despite everything,  competes to make the Nationals.

There is, as there was with the first Saki, a fair amount of service – specifically of the thigh/skirt edge-staring sort. Let me just remind you, my dear readers, it really is not okay to stare at girls the way this anime does. It’s creepy and unpleasant. But, as occasionally creepy and unpleasant as this was, it was actually less creepy and unpleasant than the original series.

To add to our already full list of rather decent Yuri couples, from an increasingly large cast,  we now must add Toki and Ryuuka, and Himeko and Mairu.

But the real strength of this series is a simple thing – there aren’t any bad guys. Not really. We knew Achiga was going to win – the arc isn’t called “Shiratodai-hen” after all, but it was kind of sad to meet more interesting new characters with stories and relationships of their own, then have to watch them lose. T_T I’m going to have check out the manga past Volume 8, which is where it had gotten up to last time I picked up a bunch of volumes in Nakano.

Ratings:

Art – 9 As ever, absurd
Story- 5 Girls playing Mah Jong. Seriously, that’s it.
Characters – 9 This series’ strength, absolutely
Service – 6 Nothing actionable, but nothing you should brag about liking, either
Yuri – 4

Overall – 8

If you hated Saki, or found it uninteresting or lacking I won’t try and convince you to watch Achiga-hen. But if you didn’t hate it, just haven’t gotten around to watching this arc, there ought to be enough over-animated Mah Jong and Yuri to keep you watching.





Yuri Anime: Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san End Of Season (English)

July 1st, 2014

InutoNekoThe Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san anime has come to an end, which brings this season’s Yuri anime to a close. I gave this series a first look at the beginning of the month, and I find that there are few things left I want to say about it.

First, the quality of the animation dropped off pretty sharply toward the end, but the style really never looked anything like the manga art. I expect Kuzushiro-sensei’s scratchy, loose style would actually be too difficult to animate as is.

The Yuri is actually upped a notch for the anime, in that what gets stretched out over 3+ volumes of manga is condensed for the anime. So we’re getting selected moments where Nejoyama-san is forced to recognize her actual feelings, and she and Inugami-san argue about how much they love each other.

The very last episode hints at the later plot complication of Ushiwaka’s continued attempts at seducing Inugami – something that’s easy to overlook, since Ushiwaka is presented at first as a bit of a doofus, but as the story goes on, it is becoming increasingly obvious that she’s not at all unaware of her looks or how she uses them. As the anime ends, I’m finding myself wanting to revisit the manga and watch more closely Ushiwaka and Nezu’s relationship. It initially appeared that Nezu was the more worldly of the two, but I’m rethinking that now. ^_^ In fact, they may well be the best couple in the series.

My last thought was that I actually really liked the hyper-peppy, goofy, catchy little end theme.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 6
Character – 8
FanService – 6
Yuri – 8 I’m going to call this an 8, despite there being so little overt love-love, for the two implied couples made more obvious.

Overall – 8

I genuinely found the Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san anime to be non-taxing and quite entertaining, with more Yuri, both actual and service, than Riddle Story of a Devil. And, after the trials I went through dealing with Funimation’s maze, Crunchyroll has become a veritable haven for just clicking and being able to watch anime. Thumbs up, Crunchyroll.





Yuri Anime: Riddle Story of a Devil (English) End of Season Review

June 29th, 2014

akumaRiddle Story of a Devil, the anime based on Kouga Yun’s Akuma no Riddle manga has come to an end, and I think it’s worth a follow-up review to Eric P’s first look at it.

I watched Riddle Story of a Devil streaming on the Funimation site, which is always fraught with unnecessary frustration. (And I attempted their app, which was laughably, horribly, terrible and deserves a post of its own eviscerating its design  and lack of utility.) For non-North Americans in the audience, you can watch it streaming on Crunchyroll.

We are introduced to the mysterious “Class Black” at a very elite school, and told that 12 of the 13 class members are assassins, all of whom are targeting the 13th member, an apparently ditzy girl named Haru, in return for a reward.  Unexpectedly, one of the class members, the top star no less, chooses to defend Haru rather than buy into the game.

The engagement we’re forced to have with each character – and a few exceptionally well-written scenes early on – kept me interested in the outcome. The main reason I was interested in this story was that it was created by Kouga Yun and, like her other works, it is heavily dependent on the charactersto drive us forward, rather than the plot itself. In fact, it was strongly reminiscent of old Japanese game series, in which the characters were given their own CD singles, with short stories and songs that fleshes out the character without actually impinging upon the gameplay.

The heaviest service is laid out early on while the characters’ stories are building. The service is pretty significant, with not-very-veiled hints of horrible things throughout and a fair dollop of guro, without committing to being deeply emotionally scarring. Whether it will bother or entice you  is entirely personal. I was able to watch around it. ^_^

On the positive side, Haru is not what she appears to be at the beginning and neither is Tokaku. On the negative, neither of them ever really get a chance to embrace who they really are. We’re told flat out what their stories are, but they never really gel meaningfully and Haru – who could be a powerful and cool character – ends the series with the same lack of agency with which she began it.

As for Yuri…well, yay for the anime being marketed as such, but there’s damn little actually in it. Tokaku has feels for Haru, but they are tucked well away and Haru “daisuki”s Tokaku, but that could mean – especially in the context of the story – just about anything.  There is one other couple and they also are sort of presented to us as such, without any real feeling behind it. Here’s your Yuri couple, “kay? Enjoy. The Yuri equivalent of a small scoop of ice cream in a cup, presented without cherries, sprinkles or enthusiasm. ^_^ Had this series been not marketed as Yuri, the little bit that is there would have been a nice addition. As it was, I ended up feeling like an opportunity to develop at least one, and possible as many as three relationships, were wasted.

Ultimately, Riddle was a watchable 12 episodes, but lacked the depth of storytelling I’d hoped it would have. In effect, it felt exactly like what it is; a short, action- and empty emotion-filled formulaic Kadokawa series that was fine while it lasted, but is easily forgettable when it’s gone.

Ratings:

Art – 6 Fairly boilerplate
Story – 6 There are many holes, many things left unexplained, whole characters and scenes that served no purpose, but it’s not all that bothersome.
Characters – 7 The single strength of the series, everyone is appropriately sympathetic
Service – 7
Yuri – 5 Implied more than anything

Overall – 7

The riddles are not the only things that had no meaning. ^_^ I really hoped that Haru would embrace her unique qualities and she and Tokaku would take their rightful places at the head of the established hierarchy. Still, not a bad watch. I’ll see if I can pick up the manga used and give it a try.





Blade and Soul Anime, Guest Review by Grisznak (English)

June 25th, 2014

Blade and soulIt’s Guest Review Wednesday (yaaay!) and we once again have returning Guest Reviewer Grisznak with a heads-up on a series that may be of interest to you. Welcome back and take it away Grisznak!

If I said “fantasy series with female cast” you might think of  Queen’s Blade or Claymore. Well, when I saw trailers for Blade and Soul, (streaming on Crunchyroll) I had a feeling that it was gonna be another Queen’s Blade. When I saw first episode, I get a feeling that it actually might be quite good, maybe not as good as Claymore, but still… I’ve watched eight episodes now and my feelings are very, very mixed. I’d like to share them with you in this mini review.

The protagonist of the series is Alka. She has long, white hair and she is a very skilled assassin. There’s actually a prize for her head, because she’s accused of some serious crimes. Surprisingly, she is innocent, but who cares? There’s a generic very evil empire and a group of very, very evil (more evil than the empire itself) group of local SS, called “Flower Monks”, lead by the very, very, very evil (oh yeah, the evilness grows!) Jin Varrel. She is a one-man (or rather, one-woman) army and can use the very, very, very, very evil power known as Impurity. As you may probably guess, our Alka and Jin aren’t best friends at all… There’s also gang of good ruffians (in fantasy worlds all ruffians are good, aren’t they?) known as the “Pleasure Gang” – name that better suits a hentai anime. Their leader is a busty chick, too, and she has bad blood with Jin, like everyone else.

Alka travels over the world, helping people (although this sometimes ends totally wrong) and saying almost nothing. Like all female warriors in the generic fantasy worlds, her outfit is rather scanty – remember, girls, if you’ll ever have to go at war, a bikini or thong are your best friends. During her travels she meets some other girls who have some business with her. Hazuki is a head hunter with bouncing boobs and cool guns – her fights with Alka reminds me a bit those cool “knife versus gun” duels from “Noir” or “Madlax” a bit. Karen, owner of a well known inn, is a surprisingly conservatively dressed woman. She knows everything and appears wherever she should be. She’s probably most intriguing character in whole series.

“But hey, this a Yuri site!” someone may shout. Yeah, when I started watching Blade and Soul I had a feeling there should be some Yuri. Some episodes passed, nothing Yuri-like happened and I thought that I was wrong. Luckily, we have our lovely evildoers. As I mentioned, Jin Varrel uses some kind of dark something or other. She has her female sidekick and there’s definitely some kind of closeness between those two that moves further than simple friendship. We can see them naked, caressing each other in one of the episodes. Nothing more so far…

I have always said that it’s impossible or very hard at least to make good anime based upon video game. Blade and Soul is based upon MMORPG. And it’s not THAT bad. Graphics are surprisingly good, especially faces and animations. Also important, you don’t need to know that game itself to understand what’s going on. Plot… yeah, it’s somewhere there, but it has problems with some totally useless filler episodes in the middle of the series. Yes, 12 episodes series and it has fillers.  So, we have series that is not bad, but it’s not good either. What does that mean? Yes, just another, mediocre anime. We have lot of them every season.

If’ you’re looking for fantasy series with female cast, you’re better off with Claymore. If you’re looking for service based series, Queen’s Blade is your choice. If you want good Yuri anime, Akuma no Riddle might be good. What about Blade and Soul then? It’s just mediocre, with no highlights anywhere. I’m disappointed, because I really hoped it would be good fantasy anime. Well, maybe next time.

Ratings:
Art – 7 (nice design and animations, nothing stunning, but not disappointing)
Story –4 (generic + some fillers)
Characters – 5 (nothing new, nothing great, nothing terrible)
Yuri/Lesbian – 3 (Jin and her pal, no more)
Service – 6 (Hazuki’s bouncing boobs + some scanty clad warrior girls)
Overall – 4 (mediocre, just mediocre)

Christopher “Grisznak” Wojdyło is a Polish journalist and Sailor Mercury fanboy, he writes for “Otaku” magazine and Polish biggest and oldest manga and anime review site Tanuki.pl

Erica here: Thanks Grisznak. The art looks vaguely familiar. Mediocre anime with evil Yuri, I think I might even give this a try! ^_^