Archive for the Yuri Anime Category


Yuri Anime: Riddle Story of a Devil, Disk 1 (English)

June 18th, 2017

Riddle Story of a Devil: Akuma no Riddle is the story of “Class Black” a super-secret class at absurdly elite Myoujo Academy. All of the members of Class Black are assassins with one exception – and that exception will be their target. (Apparently) normal girl Ichinose Haru is the target and the others will vie to kill her in order to gain their greatest desire. But, as one might expect, nothing is as it seems.

One of the assassins, Azuma Tokaku, defects to Haru’s side and pits herself against the class as Haru’s bodyguard.

The story, which has a fair amount of service, is definitely meant for an audience that likes that kind of thing, but the writing is slightly less exclusive. In the anime Haru is harmless, but not entirely helpless. And there is a kind of redemption in the assassin’s attempts and their outcomes.

Kadokawa is absolute genius at cranking out moderately entertaining, formulaic anime that can be marketed within an inch of it’s life. Every once in a they have a massive break-out hit, like the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, that can pay for many dozens of other series for years. Those dozens of others are generally good, often involve some big names in conception or production, and are both profitable and entertaining enough to pay for themselves. Riddle Story of a Devil: Akuma no Riddle was one of these.

Based on the manga drawn by Kouga Yun, the story feels, from beginning to end, like something built by committee. As I rewatched it, I was constantly put in mind of Seraphim Call, a mediocre anime of the late 20th century that, upon rewatch, was better than I gave it credit for. Especially Volume 2. In the sense that every episode is effectively a character piece that only tangentially affects the main story, Riddle Story of a Devil reminded me of this earlier series of pastiches.

The animation is very much of this time and place, but for all that, not terrible. Characters are variable, as they are meant to be, but watching it, I was motivated yet again, to promise to not come up with convoluted plots to kill people, or explain anything. Or speak in some weird, annoying way. If I were to become an assassin, the rule would be get in, get out, move on. No talking. I’d also like the committee to explain why the character of Kaiba exists at all. Useless doesn’t come close to describing his role. If they cut everything of him out of the story it would affect exactly one scene.

The one thing I genuinely liked throughout the series was the music. The end-of-episode themes were all sung by the assassin who was the focus of that particular episode and both music and lyrics were suited nicely to their story. Those were really quite good.

The Yuri. Well….the Yuri is here more by reputation than anything. We can see that Kirigaya and Chitaru are together-ish and we can kind of see that Tokaku has no idea why she wants to help Haru (and, frankly, at first, neither can I. It’s not until Haru shows some spine, that I was convinced.) The opening credits kind of imply a thing between them but in Disk 1, it’s really not there.

Ratings:

Art – 7 Not bad, not zOMG good. Random bits of CGI
Story – 7 Not bad, not zOMG good. Random bits of plot
Characters – 7 Types, rather than people, with backstories to make them human
Service – 6 Nudity, lascivious gaze of the camera, and a sexually deviant serial killer
Yuri – 2 At halfway, barely there and only because we’re looking for it.

Overall – 7

So, yeah, this isn’t high art, it’s low entertainment, but for solid, slightly service-y, slightly violent entertainment, it was pretty good. I like the fight scenes well enough, and the gimmicky assassins are just silly.

My sincere thanks to Okazu Superhero Dan P for sponsoring this review! It’s right in your wheelhouse and mine.
Good weekend entertainment, with the lightest glaze of Yuri.

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Yuri Animation: Asagao to Kase-san Clip on Youtube

May 8th, 2017

Via YNN Special Correspondent Verso S., the animation clip being developed for Takashima Hiromi’s Asagao to Kase-san series has gone up on Youtube. Check out this “Kimi ni Hikari” starring Yamada-san and Kase-san, accompanied by, “Kimi no Egao” sung by Oku Hanako.

If you like the clip, please consider giving it a “like” and a comment on Youtube.

And then we all sit back and wonder, is this a teaser for something more? Is this testing the waters? Whiat, we have to wonder, is this clip for?

Well…

We didn’t have to wonder long, though because on Sunday the Asagao_Anime official twitter account sent out a post asking people what they thought of the clip…and asked for feed back….And commented that maybe full series might be in the works if they got enough response.

 

The official account has shown themselves fluent in English so, if you’re on Twitter, feel free to let them know what you think there, as well.

In all honesty, I thought this to be a genuinely beautiful animation of Takashima-sensei’s art. I’ll admit to grinning through the whole clip. ^_^

Here’s hoping that we’ll get a Kase-san anime!

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Yuri Anime: Mikagura School Suite, Guest Review by Mariko S

March 29th, 2017

Out in the wider world, Wednesday may be known as “hump day” but here on Okazu, it is always a good day when it’s Guest Review Wednesday! And today we have a lovely guest review by returning Guest Reviewer an all around extremely nice person, Mariko S. (Seriously,  I honestly think our Guest Reviewers are swell.) It’s so much fun for me to read other people’s experiences and perspectives. Definitely one of my favorite things.

And even better, Mariko is going to talk to us about a series I know nothing at all about, which is awesome. So, take it away, Mariko!

Mikagura School Suite. (Streaming on Funimation.com and Viewster, with subtitles in various languages: English,German, French, Italian and Dutch.)

What a weird little show. On the surface, it seems like a series tailor-made to sell toys and cards to kids: a girl enters an unusual high school where everyone develops super powers related to their club activity and battles in video game-like contests for school ranking. The gem battles, the colorful characters and unique powers all spell kiddie fare… but…

First off, the heroine, Eruna, is an unabashed pervert who lusts after all the girls on campus. Not in an “Oh, she’s so impressive” Class-S way, but like, horny nosebleed let-me-kiss-you stuff. (Forced to start her own club, she creates the “Surround Ichinomiya Eruna With Cute Girls Club”). The main reason she chooses this crazy school is because a girl she thinks is cute goes there. There’s no “What are these confusing feelings?” here: she’s blatant about her desire for girls and matter-of-fact in shutting down the interest of boys.

Second, the show isn’t particularly interested in those battles that in any similar series would be the focus of every episode. Eruna is strong, but not the strongest, and is beaten a few times. When this happens, she more or less doesn’t care and just wants to make friends with her opponents. A lot of the battles take place off camera – she will just show up and say “Oh, I won my last two matches!” or, “Oh, I lost!” and then the show will move on to other stuff. The battles that get shown tend to happen fast.

Eruna is an unusual/interesting heroine aside from her girl-lusting as well. She is that rare anime heroine who has absolutely no lack of self-confidence. She always thinks she can handle whatever happens, and when she loses or someone is nasty to her she fights back with jokes and smiles and energy. She doesn’t mope or cry once. These character traits are a surefire way to raise a show’s esteem for me; much like Marika from Mouretsu Pirates, you can’t help but love Eruna.

The last thing I’d like to mention is the show’s weird and manic sense of humor, based largely around how bullishly oblivious Eruna is, and her purposefully misconstruing things other people say (or just outright steamrolling over them verbally). I actually laughed a lot, surprisingly.

If you can get past the fact that there has probably never, ever been a teenage girl this confident and blatant about her sexual attraction to women, it’s a fun and breezy watch and a welcome change of pace from Yuri tropes.

Ratings:

Art – 5
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 5

Overall – 7

Erica here: Well, that does sound…refreshing. Based on a light novel series, it’s pretty obvious that it’s going with the less-common, but still common enough, “predatory lesbian” trope. It’s just that they so rarely get to be fun, too, which really makes it sound interesting. Thanks very much for the review! I’ll keep an eye out for it. ^_^

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Where to Watch Yuri in English Online, Free and Legally

March 12th, 2017

Last year I did a round-up of free legal anime streaming services where you could watch Yuri anime. Recently I was name-checked on Twitter when someone discovered an older legit channel for the first time. And, since this happens regularly and old services close down and new services pop up, it seemed apropos to go through some of the free, legitimate anime streaming services available to you on which to watch Yuri anime.

Caveats: I’m focusing on US-based services, because while I am dedicated to you, my readers, my dedication does not extend to working with proxies or VPNs in every major market to see if these services work in your hometown. Assume there are regional restrictions in place for some or all of these services. But feel free to use proxies or VPNs on your own. ^_^ And, if you use a regionally legal, free streaming site in a non-US country, by all means, please let folks know in comments!

I’m also not focusing on paid services like The Anime Network or Amazon’s Strike. Today we’re focusing on services that are free and legitimate. 

 ALL these services have shifting catalogs. That’s just the nature of the beast, the beast being video licensing. Just because a series is on one service now, does not mean it will always be.  Another good reason to update this list periodically.

 

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is doing a pretty good job of licensing anime as broadly as possible. They have been very Yuri-positive and often, when they lose a license, circle back around and get it again – for instance, they have Aoi Hana/Sweet Blue Flowers  once again after viewers complained when the IP holder pulled the show after a limited time. Crunchyroll is my go-to, because their catalog is one of the most comprehensive, from Bodacious Space Pirates to Riddle Story of a Devil to Yuru Yuri to Sakura Trick to Cardcaptor Sakura. 

Rating: A- They’ve really kept up the commitment to Yuri. It’s not an all-in-one-place-go-to-stop for everything, but it’s damned close. The biggest issue is the region-blocking, which is not Crunchyroll’s fault, but does have an impact.

 

Viewster is a trove of forgotten Yuri treasures. Their library includes Strawberry Panic!, Maria Watches Over Us, Aria and some other random things I’ve liked over the years, like Murder Princess. ^_^ Viewster claims to be available worldwide. 

Rating: B-  The catalog is hit or miss, but they often have stuff you can’t find anywhere else.

 

Hulu

This time last year, Hulu had a ton of anime but they purged most of it, including a large pile of interesting western animation. However, it’s the only place you can go for the original Sailor Moon. How fun, huh? Where Toei licensed Sailor Moon Crystal to everyone and their cousin (finally!), Viz obviously has an exclusive agreement with Hulu for streaming the original series. 

Rating: B- There’s nothing else here, the adverts are annoying and for the cost of subscribing (which doesn’t get rid the ads,) I might as well get the DVDs.

 

Tubi TV

Tubi a newish service that includes a random smattering of anime, but has a surprisingly strong showing in Yuri, on account of Nozomi’s titles. So they have Revolutionary Girl Utena, Season 3 and 4 (? No idea why only those two seasons)  of Maria Watches Us and Bodacious Space Pirates. They’ve also got a few other notable series, like Moribito, and Sound of the Sky. It’s worth a look, if only to boggle you with the vagaries of anime licensing.

Rating: B- It’s worth looking at, but I probably wouldn’t subscribe.

 

Nozomi Entertainment on Youtube

The Official Nozomi channel currently has all of Revolutionary Girl Utena and Rose of Versailles in full on Youtube, but this may be ephemeral.

Rating: C It’s cool as long as it lasts, but there’s no way to know how long it will last. And Youtube.

 


Daisuki

Speaking of services no one remembers, Daisuki was launched by the Japanese government with “Cool Japan” money a few years ago in order to create a better streaming service to overseas watchers. Unfortunately it fell into the exact same pit as all the other “Cool Japan” endeavors – it was random, inconsistent and had no long-term planning. So you can still watch, say, Jubei-chan on Daisuki, but only Season 2, not 1. I will give them credit for excellent genre break down, “sci-fi” “robots/mechanic” “heartful” “novels” “games” “sports/race”. You actually have an idea what a series is about/from with descriptions like those.

Rating: D 

 

Funimation

Auuuughhghghghghghgh. Funimation, you have the worst website. Always. Ever. There has never been a single day I have visited the Funimation website and not wanted to put my fist through the screen. Sure, they have Riddle Story of a Devil, and Yurikuma Arashi, but so does Crunchyroll without committing every single website design failure in the world.

Ratings: D Go anywhere else. It’s never worth the agita.

 

If Media Blasters and Nozomi licensed their catalogs to Crunchyroll, they’d be the all-in-one-place, but even so, they come closer to anywhere else. The biggest problem is the inconsistency and ephemerality of the licenses. And the region-blocking, which is a relic of another age that is slowly disintegrating, but still exists, for now.

If you are using a legitimate streaming site for your country and want to share, please add it to the comments!

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Sailor Moon S Anime , Part 1, Disk 3 (English)

January 11th, 2017

Today’s review begins with my very heartfelt gratitude to Okazu Superhero Ivan L. Upon reading in an earlier review that my computer had crashed and taken my Blu-ray player with it, Ivan generously donated one to Okazu. And so, because of Ivan’s kindness, I am able to report on Sailor Moon S, Part 1, Disk 3 on BD.

Sailor Moon S looks and sounds fantastic on Blu-ray. ^_^ As a quick test, I rewatched an episode in DVD. It looks great, but damn, that Blu-ray is smokin’. There’s no going back now. ^_^

The episodes of Disk 2 and 3 are arguably the reasons that so many fans love this series. These episodes are where we spend so much time with each individual Senshi, learning about their hopes and dreams and the self-doubts that hold them back. It gives them time to be people, rather than just archetypes.

On Disk 3, we also have the second-best episode* of the entire season, Uranus’ origin episode, Episode 106. By this point, the animation has really settled in. 20 years ago, Michiru’s drawing of Uranus was pretty and a little sexy. 20 years later it looks as good as – perhaps better than – new, as our screen resolution can finally really capture the movement and light in it.

For this episode, I also watched the dub. You may not appreciate the leap of faith that took for me, but trust me – this is my second-favorite episode of  all 200.* I had to believe that Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa were going to voice Haruka and Michiru in a way that wouldn’t make me cringe. So when I tell you that I thought they did a fantastic job, it has meaning and weight. My sincere thanks to both of them. It meant a lot to me to see Uranus and Neptune voiced “right.” The script isn’t exact to the Japanese, but it works beautifully and I have no major complaints. (Of course I have minor ones…I’m an otaku. ^_^)  The rest of the cast is also excellent – it was an actual pleasure to watch a dub. I don’t think I have ever said that before in my life. 

20 years later, I’m watching Haruka being mean to Michiru on a ship that inexplicably has a painting of the entire city being destroyed by a giant tidal wave and the painting is so vivid and so extraordinary a thing that I had to comment, “What a thing to have on a ship!” And then be sucked back into a story I have watched dozens, perhaps, hundreds of times.  Haruka, Michiru, two 15 year olds torn between their own dreams of the future and the past, and between desire for each other and to save the world. It’s a pretty intense episode, in a series that is about to take a turn into intensity.

However, before we do that, we have Eudial and her terrible driving, the ongoing gag of her parking tickets and her terrible Daimons, and a discussion of a rosy future. There’s one last gasp of humor to come, before this all goes dark, but we’ll have to wait for it in the second set. I cannot wait for the second set!

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 9 Haruka and Michiru
Characters – 10 Haruka and Michiru
Yuri- 7 Haruka and Michiru 
Service – 4 

Overall – 9 Did I mention Haruka and Michiru?

I’ve written about this before, but the line “I won’t let you go home tonight” was a well-known pickup line in the 90s, when Sailor Moon S came out. It is suggestive to a Japanese audience in a way that an American audience might miss. And by “suggestive” I mean it wasn’t suggestive of driving all night long, it was a blatant come-on. Which is why Michiru says “ara” in that pleased/slightly scandalized tone. I’m sorry they changed it in English, but I’ll give them a bye on it. I can’t expect too many folks at Viz to know ancient pickup lines….although they could just ask me. ^_^ 

Thanks once again to Viz Media for the review copy, special thanks to Erica Mendez and Lauren Landa for their excellent jobs voicing roles that are so foundational to so many of us. And many, many thanks to Ivan. You all made me cry, in a good way. (T_T)

* If you can’t guess which episode is the favorite, then you’ll just have to wait. There’s really only one possible candidate. ^_^

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