Category Archives: Anime Breakdown

The T.A.P. Tag – Unleashing the poet within me, and those I tag!

A long long time ago, in the distant past of yesterday. Doing my usual activities of plotting my next plan for world domination. Something suddenly came over me, but I ignored it training my subjects of evil penguins. Once I went home, I was unable to enter my domain. Locked under a spell, I was given a great challenge. Something I only heard about in myths. These things called tags, and I got tagged by none other than Jenn from Welcome to Hell Zone. I got no idea what voodoo, or pop idol magic she used on my house, but I’m going to break it! So Jenn, thanks for the tag, and I accept your challenge! (epic violin plays me out)

So firstly, the rules of the tag!

Rules of the tag:

  1. Headline your post with “The T.A.P. Tag!” and put “tanka” as one of your tags.
  2. Make sure to link back to the original post that started the tag (this post!).
  3. Make sure to mention the person who forced introduced the tag to you!
  4. Pick 1-3 of your favorite anime.
  5. Write your tanka about the anime you’ve chosen. It’s fine if you decide to do only one or two if the schedule is tight.
  6. Tag at least 3 or more bloggers you know, and get their creative muscles flowing.

So what are tankas? I don’t know. I never heard of them before, but lets pretend I do, and let’s also pretend I didn’t copy, and paste this explanation from The Luminous Mongoose blog post on this tag either.

Tanka (短歌 tan-kah) poems are short poems that originated in Japan in the 13th century. They are five lines long and often convey deep feelings about nature, love, or desire. They usually have a structure of syllables that starts similar to haiku (5-7-5), but ends with two more 7-syllable lines, making it 5-7-5-7-7, for a total of 31 syllables.

I followed this quick guide that explained the core concepts of it, but for a TL;DR, here’s the structure of a tanka.

  • Setting up the scene (two lines that describe a moment)
  • The “pivot” line (middle line that links the top and bottom lines together)
  • The payoff (last two lines that describe your feelings toward said moment)

I gotta reach deep inside myself…I ain’t got no soul right now. One moment, gotta find me a penguin’s soul. Okay, now I got me a soul. Reach deep inside myself, and get poetic. This should be easy I said to myself a day ago, and here I am just now posting this. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Didn’t help that Jenn’s, and The Luminous Mongoose tankas were so good. I chosen three of my favorite animes to do my tankas on, and hopefully they’re good enough to break the spell. I really need my coffee!


Death Note

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Shaping the world, taking names

A silver line crossed

Trying to find myself

Becoming further from myself

I am, the light outside


Fullmetal Alchemist

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The past I won’t forgive

Memories fading

Form a link between our hearts

Hold your hands out to me

We push on together


Cardcaptor Sakura

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On a desk, a bear sits

Alone, but filled with love

In the distance, another soul

Returning those precious words

“I love you”


What tripped me up on these tankas were the syllables of all things. I wanted to keep in spirit, and so I tirelessly edited them all until they were all within 31 syllables. The hardest to work around was Cardcaptor Sakura. It was too good to give up on, but in the end I found a way to make it work. Also, I wanted something sweet, and simple to end my series of tankas on.

Now time for my targets. I would have tagged another user, but according to him on Twitter. He’s currently on the path to reaching godhood building his harem. So these three will do nonetheless.

Nenha senpaiHere’s a guy who puts in serious work into his reviews. What I like most his blog is the variety of thing he covers, and all with the same amount of effort. Also, this will help you remove some of those spider webs you mentioned in your Akira review.

TPABHere’s a guy I haven’t seen in my feed for a while. I’m very jealous of what I’ve read of his body of work. The man knows to analyze, and critique anime. Just do what you typically do TPAB; takes the pants off, and get those creative juices flowing!

Yomu I recently started reading his stuff, and quite enjoy the posts I’ve read so far. Also, having read a bit of his collab commentary on Divine Gate (as of the moment of this writing) he’ll be bursting with inspiration from such a well written anime as that one.

Now that I have completed the tag, now time to back get into my house, and it’s still locked. Who did it this time? Huh, a note from Ai Enma? “I know who you were with!”. Oh well, until the next tag folks.

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Feed me tankas!

Some Thoughts On: Devils Line (2018)

I’ve been telling myself where I should begin with Devils Line because no matter where I start I reach the same conclusion. I cannot think of a single thing in Devils Line I could give some kind of praise towards. Just about everything in Devils Line is either not to my liking, or mediocre to the point of being forgettable. Making a collection of scattershot thoughts even harder to make into a coherent post.

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Would you believe me if I told you the girl on the right isn’t a vampire? Of course you wouldn’t.

I guess the first episode is a good place to start. It did itself no favors, and left me with a negative impression. The animation, the writing, the sound design, just about everything about it felt sub par, or worse. It also committed the grave sin of doing exactly what I expected of it. If something falls into my expectation in terms of writing I’ll accept it so long the execution is good, but that didn’t happen here either. So trying to figure out what exactly Devils Line is about simple, and dumbfounded at the same time. Being a romance story about the human Tsukasa, and the half human, half vampire, half edgelord Anzai trying to make their relationship work in the backdrop of Japan to tackle social issues with vampires potentially playing a larger role in society…I mean devils. 

Before I continue I have to stress it got on my nerve that within Devils Line that the terminology for vampires is changed to devils. Something I would accept if within the first two episodes they didn’t refer to devils as vampires. If there’s already an existing word to describe these vampires that gets straight to the point why not just stick to calling them vampires. I don’t know, maybe the mangaka was too lazy to write out vampire so he instead called them devils to save time. That’s something I want to know, but likely going to be left hanging like with everything else in this anime.

Continuing on, in the first episode Tsukasa gets the shocking revelation that a good friend of her, Shouta Akimura, turned to be a vampire who murdered three women. You want to know how Akimura got caught? It’s because his semen was left on each of the dead women bodies which apparently was a match with Akimura DNA. I would come up with a joke for that, but my creative juices are dry right now.

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♪Am I not edgy enough?♪ ♪Is my heart still beating?♪

Akimura is quickly forgotten about two episodes into the season. Tsukasa quickly gets over him so the first episode setting up Tsukasa, and Shouta Akimura being good friends felt pointless. One way the writing could have worked around this pointless character is mentioning Tsukasa incident with Akimura being the motivator for why Tsukasa wants to help Anzai to control his blood lust later on in the season. I would have found that more believable than what anime went with.

Another way I would have fixed this is simply have Tsukasa get attacked by a random vampire so the meeting with Anzai would still happen. Making the writing less eye rolling, and not drawing attention that Tsukasa was quick to forget someone close to her so easily. If the anime didn’t have the pretense that Akimura was important I wouldn’t even have batted an eye at this. I knew this was going to happen in the first episode when our woe is me edgelord Anzai kisses Tsukasa by the end of episode one. When the credits finally rolled up I notice the ending song had an effect on me. It was attempting to put me to sleep, and it almost worked once. Just the first episode of Devils Line is enough to convince your average viewer to drop the series. I ain’t one of those viewers as I’m here today sharing my thoughts on it.

My issues with the story can be easily generalize; awkwardly written romance, an attempt to tackle social issues get push to the background, a messy story structure that goes for too much too quickly, and throwing in some other evil organization to give the appearance the story is more complex than it actually is. Another issue is setting plot points, and subplots that aren’t resolved in this season. So you’re left with dozens of unanswered questions, and unresolved storylines. Studio Platinum Vision couldn’t conceive of a way to take the manga, and find a way to work 12 episodes worth of material to adapt in a self contain manner. Believing it would get around to eventually resolving all its loose ends with a second season. Dozen of animes adapting ongoing manga know have done this. Two example that come to mind are Noragami to even My Hero Academia which I hate a lot. Both anime first seasons told a self contain story within their first season where a continuation is possible, but if not guaranteed than made sure to leave as little loose ends as possible.

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Why breaking into the apartment of the woman you like, and sniffing her hair while she’s sleeping isn’t creepy at all!

Giving details about the world like the many times characters mention a bill/law being pass approving sex between devils, and human. Exploring something like that would be interesting, but unfortunately it means exploring the topic of sex has to be done with a horny college girl who immediately fell in love with the first guy who kissed who she knew nothing about, and a edgelord devil who fell love with that same woman when he also knew nothing about her. Tsukasa in particular dreams about having some steaming hot sex in blood with Anzai the first day after they meet. She obviously has some carnal desires she needs to get pounded out of her. Getting me to think about the first two episodes having Tsukasa almost being rape/killed by the only other human males she talks too. Implying to the viewer that Tsukasa think all men she know for possibly years are all bad, but an edgelord who’ll sneak into her apartment, sniff her hair while she’s sleeping is okay to consider starting a relationship with. This gives me a headache thinking about it.

The only aspect I felt could have worked are Anzai parents. I forgive the fact that I find it laughable that Anzai in his current age only now thinks about how shocking his existence is being a mixture of half devil, and human. Anzai parents were characters I wanted to learn more about. Seeing Anzai father cuffed up behind a glass wall got my attention. I wanted to know how both of Anzai parents got to the situation they did, how they met, and why they aren’t raising their son together. Questions that intrigued which sadly didn’t get answered. Just like in episode one how I expected Anzai, and Tsukasa to have an romance I also sadly expected for Anzai parents to not be explored.

Another interesting idea that doesn’t get explored is the existence of devils becoming know to the public. I can only speculate what the anime was going for because it was seriously messy in this regard. First thing that comes to is devils simply seeing the sight of blood on television is enough to make them blood lust. Something I can’t phantom because A.) Does it mean even the sight of fake blood gets them excited, B.) Do non liquid representation of blood like drawings, or pixelated blood also cause their blood lust, C.) Does reading the description of blood turns on their blood lust, D.) Is there a requirement to how realistic, or fake looking the blood has to appear to start this blood lust………Z.) If there’s a devil emo, when he cuts himself, and sees his own blood does that also trigger the blood lust?

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Only one of dozen times Anzai want to devour Tsukasa.

Usually how it works with vampires is if they see blood, or smell it directly in front, or around them than it could trigger a carnal blood desire. However, in this story devil’s simply seeing blood regardless of how close, fuzzy the image is, or the lack of smell can also trigger them. Given the terminology was needlessly change to refer to these vampires as devils I ain’t doubting more about them were needlessly change by the mangaka.

Back on topic, seeing the how the society would react to devils, and see if they would try to integrate together in a public sense could have made up for everything else. However, you get the point. It’s hardly focus on. As soon as devil’s existence become public knowledge the story shifts focus to Anzai attempting to control his blood lust, and uncovering the members of a organization attempting to eradicate all devils. Both plotlines are left unresolved making me feel like it was a complete waste of time to even allude to any social issues since it just swept them under the rug. Maybe it wanted to be metaphorical, and proclaim the acceptance of different people, but everyone simply jumped to conclusion immediately disliking the devils. There is a good argument in favor of their existence since the public is shocked Devils existed at all, though if the anime isn’t going bother making a good argument for Devils I won’t either.

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Oh no, this scene!

Let’s get to easily the worst scene of the series for me. In episode 8, after Anzai, and Tsukasa try some blood lust control training. Basically meaning Anzai, and Tsukasa get as close as possible to performing sex. Seeing this scene was cringe worthy because the couple don’t have much chemistry with each other. Making the almost sex scene very awkward to watch, and painful to view because it comes off as a badly written sexual fantasy of whoever wrote this series. When the exercise is over Anzai goes outside the exercise room, and thinks about how he was turned on. He tells the audience how he got excited almost banging Tsukasa. How getting her wet made him very excited. Spelling it out to the viewer he wanted to move in her all the while he masturbates. Thankfully it is not explicit, but this is the easily one of the worst moment in any anime I’ve seen.

I will give the English dub of Devils Line one credit though, it’s only the second anime I’ve watched an anime that made me laugh at the mention of rape. It was during episode 4 when Nanako Tenjo, whose English voice is provided by Kira Vincent-Davis, yells about how a devil drank her dead mom blood. There’s brief pause before Kira Vincent-Davis continues shouting AS HE RAPED HER! Her delivery of that line had me laughing because Tenjo shouting about her mother being deceived, and see a devil suck her blood was already enough to get the point across on why she hates devils so much. So the inclusion of the “AS HE RAPED HER!” line felt so tacky. I don’t blame Kira Vincent-Davis shouting the line as seriously as she did, but the writing, and her delivery made me laugh unintentionally at rape. The things anime does to me sometimes.

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BLINK! JUST BLINK YOU FREAK OF NATURE!

I don’t know how, but I can’t believe I almost forgot to write about Miwako Toda. It wasn’t until I was drawing over a still of her that it slipped my mind to write about she would not blink. Firstly, what the fuck is wrong with her eyes! She looks like a crack addict who needs a dose right now. I thought her eyes were going to pop out at one point in the series. I have no clue how, she managed to look like the most terrifying thing in a about about vampires. Her face, and her eyes unwillingness to want to blink made me think the anime would reveal she’s a devil. That doesn’t happen as far the anime is concern. Her odd character design made fascinating to me. She looked other worldly. Oddly enough, she was the most sensible character in the anime. Questioning Tsukasa on her moving way to fast relationship. Out all of the characters, this freak of nature was one I didn’t mind. As you would guess, she’s not in the anime that much either! You know, Devils Line has a talent for making things disappear.

I wasn’t expecting much out of Devils Line after I finished the first episode, and when I got to the end it became a drag to watch. It had the occasional moments of doing something eye rolling that would make me laugh, but after a while the overly serious edgelord tone killed that fun. There was so much it wanted to do, and it all felt disconnected moving from one uninteresting plot point to the other. I didn’t even bother going into the animation especially the lighting in scenes either being too dark or too bright, and the poor sound design that made natural action like hearing footsteps be muffled. The last two episode just took whatever enthusiasm I had for watching anime, and crushed it. Unfortunately for it, I’m good anime at the moment so its effort went to vain. Almost forgot, the post credit sequence doesn’t fix anything at all because I don’t give a flying Van Damme about about Anzai, or Tsukasa as a couple.

Oh yeah the maybe rating thing I do at the end. If  I were to rate Devils Line I would give it a 1 out of 10. I can’t think anything of thing I liked in this anime, or felt was competently done. If you want a vampire anime, go watch Vampire Princess Miyu. It doesn’t matter if it’s the OVA, or anime series, both will provide you a much better experience than Devils Line.

 

Giving into “The Build A Harem Tag” peer pressure post

I’ve decided to do this on a whim. I hardly deviate from doing reviews, or giving general thoughts on series/OVA so this would be something quick, and fun for me to do. You gotta give in, and join in on the fun sometimes. I also found plenty of other bloggers post on building their harems. Have to admit, it was a good way to find to new bloggers to follow, and learn about what their harem choices. Alongside that, it’ll be a good short break from researching what book I should read next after I recently finished a novel called Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which I highly recommend if you enjoy a good family drama. So yeah, the rules I was too lazy to retype.

The ‘Build A Harem’ Tag Rules:

  1. Link back to the original post on Anime QandA so they can check out everyone’s picks!
  2. Use the ‘Build A Harem’ logo somewhere in the post.
  3. Make sure to mention the person who nominated you too!
  4. Pick 5 Anime Characters (any show & any gender) that would be in your ideal harem if you were the main character of a harem anime, explain a little bit as to why they are your picks (if you want).
  5. Make sure each character you pick falls into some of the following harem character types: Childhood friend, tom boy/girl, genki girl/boy, loli/shota, trap, tsundere, yandere, kuudere, dandere, etc. (If there’s a character you’ve picked that doesn’t specifically fall into one of these types or falls into multiple types that’s fine too!)
  6. Nominate 5 people to participate in this tag!

Okay, I can follow most of these rules. As for who nominated me, no one. He has good blog. I recommend it, especially his post on cross dimensional selfcest where he gets philosophical not only using the Bipolar Magnetic Reversal Theory, but the Theory of Relativity to explain its appeal. I also didn’t choose my harem picks by archetypes. I just simply chose who I wanted the most if I was the protagonist of a harem! The last rule I’m not sure I can oblige with. A lot of online friends that I know who do make content do it YouTube instead, and only one of them I know actually has a wordpress account. So I’ll just tag Miasama on here, and on Twitter whenever this goes up. So future me, don’t forget to tag on Twitter! I command thee!

My last pick is technically cheating since I skimmed through my completed anime list, and couldn’t think of another anime character I would like put in my Harem. I did consider Edward Aleric since I could simply seduce him to transmutate himself in my liking. It would work, temporarily XD

Last thing before I post this so the man himself Bobsamurai, and his Discord server could mock me in a secretive, cult like meeting. I put the picks in alphabetical order. It’s easier to organize them like that. As sang in a One Ok Rock song, lets do this Taka! (and I don’t know anyone name Taka)

Ai Enma – Hell Girl Seriestumblr_oip0vivswk1vzeppko1_500Starting off this list is Hell Girl herself. This one, I’m not sure honestly what I see in her. Could be the mysterious aura that surrounds, her stoici expression as she judges anyone who crosses path with her, or it could just simply be her red eyes she’ll stare right straight into your soul whenever speaking with her. I don’t know about you, but Ai Enma comes across as someone who I can have a deep discussion on humanity, and how evil it can be at times. Cause you know, I like casually deep philosophical discussion on the nature of man. No matter how terrible a date with her can end up, or how badly I mess up on anything I can rest assured knowing she has seen far worse in her than me. In her eyes, that’s a Hell of a lot better than Hell.

Artoria Pendragon (Saber) – Fate FranchisegiphyThe first animated character in anything that made me think “Hey, that’s a good looking animated character”. So aside from her beauty which honestly I considered unmatch any other anime character I’ve seen. Her strength, her courteousness (that’s a word right?), chivalrous, and a kind soul underneath her rough exterior. These traits is what always kept her in my mind, and made her unforgettable. Now out of the dozen, or so Fate series which one do I like the most? Obviously the Fate/Zero version wins it out for me. It what made me like Saber a lot more than I actually thought I would.

Ayaka Kisaragi – Phantom Quest Corp

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I guarantee you this is the last character whose name starts with the letter A in this harem. One aspect that makes Ayaka Kisaragi appealing to me is obviously her character design. She’s a nice looking lady all around, especially her long red hair. She’s the kind of person who knows how to have fun drinking sake, singing karaoke, and fighting against vampires with her lipstick lightsaber. Despite being in debt by the end of every episode there’s a lot of charm to her, especially off duty antics which makes her my kind person I would like to take to a bar, and drink the night away. Also like her, I hate getting out of bed early, and have like a dozen or alarms to wake me up. Even when she wakes up out of bed looking like a mess, I still think she looks good.

Miyu Yamano – Vampire Princess Miyu0a025edcb3Yep, another stoic, supernatural lady get thrown into this mix. This time it’s a vampire with fire power! However, unlike Ai Enma who simply answers the call of those seeking vengeance. Miyu Yamano actively goes out into the world, and kill demons causing harm to human. What draws me to her is something even I’m unsure about. Could be the fact that despite her hardly showing much in the way of emotion she deeply cares about her friends, and the victims who are unfortunate enough to get killed by demons. It’s that kind empathy that she can still muster up after who knows how many decades of killing demons that I like about her. Always caring to help other in need in her own ways. Well, minus a couple exceptions of course she should have intervene sooner. Back to positives! She never takes her duty lightly, and strong beliefs she sticks with, but she also takes time to have fun whenever possible. Whenever she actually does smile, she’s pretty cute. She’s like much more mature version Ayaka Kisaragi with the added bonus of if Miyu ever does eventually call off the relationship. She has the ability to put me under a spell, and put in a dream state making me think we’ll together forever as she sucks my blood…and presumably something else if you catch my drift 😉

Kanna Endo – 20Th Century Boys4dd4094ad710cc2ced917901654ee00a164744ec_hq

So what makes Kanna stands out among the rest here? To be honest she’s actually the most normal pick out of my harem. By normal, I of course mean she has advance ESP, and is capable of predicting the future to a small extent, she can bend spoons with her mind, and even once strangled a woman without touching her. They don’t call her the Ice Queen for nothing. What obviously draws me to her compare to the rest of my picks is she’s easily the most down earth with her personality. Family is very important to her, she loves rock n roll music (high five Kanna), she likes to eat ramen, and is one fearless woman. You know a badass character when you see her actively going up against a terrorist group, and stopping a war between two large gangs for the greater good. Most importantly though, I have the best chances with her than anyone else I chose.

 

Well those were my picks, and I actually surprised myself with who I ended up putting into my harem. As for nominations. Huh, I’m not sure, but I’ll try to think of something.

1. Miasama of Grye Media; cool dude with cooler beard. I nominated thee by the power of Bob!

2 Gaurav of Random BlogI know you just started your blog, but like the famous saying goes; Pikachu! I choose you!

3.  Z

4.  Archernar of Just The Howling of The Wind

5. I don’t know, but if you’re reading this Miasama, tell J-Chip Show (•_•) , (•_•)>⌐■-■,  (⌐■_■) He’s Tagged!

So that’s all folks. You got to the end. A plus. You winner. What else do people say? Ni hao, and see ya later.

Anime-Breakdown: In This Corner of the World (2017)

In This Corner of the World is a coming of age drama set in Hiroshima during World War II. Following Suzu Urano, an artistic, kind, supportive young woman who moves to Kure, a small town just outside Hiroshima as she struggles with the daily loss of life’s amenities she still has to maintain the will to live. What separates In This Corner of the World from other movies set within the same time frame like The Glass Rabbit (2005), and Struck By Black Rain (1984) is the depiction is broader in capturing the emotional state of its country, and its people. Unlike the two films I mentioned earlier, In This Corner of the World shows the happier times as well as the hardship of its characters eventually befalls. Detailing the lifestyle Japan once had before it permanently change through the course of world war 2. Providing an almost episodic structure for half of it run time to live through the wonderful times Suzu had early in her life. It’s during this portion of the movie the viewer will see Suzu adapting to new a home over the span of a couple of months, and eventually years. You get to witness the free spirit, and dreamer side of Suzu during her out of the blue marriage proposal.

With the realistic backdrop set during a turbulent time in Japan the film isn’t solely serious. Understanding in order to properly get across what eventually gets lost some fun is meant to be have. Injecting humor into the film before eventually cutting it off during a certain point in the story. Besides using the humor to loosen some tension. Humor is also used to characterize Suzu. Showing the audience how her mindset contrast against reality, and family members at certain points in the story. It’s also through humor that many of the character dynamics shine through displaying the strength this family has. The family interaction with each other feels natural, and certain family members develop makes them much more sympathetic, even a character who gives Suzu a hard time through a good chunk of the story. What this balance also avoids is the pitfall of tonal whiplash. It does so by ensuring the humor isn’t taking the spotlight away from the story, nor drawing too much attention to itself. Making the eventual absent feel subtle as a narrative device instead of a issue in balancing tone.

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Besides being a nice looking movie. There’s plenty of good bonding moments like this throughout

When the second half kicks in, you know the drill if you’re familiar with these type of movies. Instead of putting you in the middle of the chaotic nation during war time, the film takes it time to slowly establish the new normality of this new lifestyle. Empathizing the difficulty in obtaining simple rations, bombing drill being more common, learning about explosives, and everything surrounding the war finding it difficult to remain calm in hectic times. Just like in the first half, the film chooses to wisely not over dramatize this portion of the story. Keeping it subtle touches that help make the second half as great as it becomes. Getting across the essence of struggle, and lost in a way that feels true to life. It is through this second half where it attempts to get viewers in the heart strings; showing hardship, after hardship, after hardship, and its characters struggling to keep it together. Suzu being the focal point of the movie greatly shows the impact living during war times had on Suzu herself, and the strain it puts on her family.

What movies of this nature usually forget is no one wants to be see force a message about the horror of wars, or the fake enthusiasm about a brighter future that awaits beyond harsh times. In This Corner of the World knows it doesn’t have to tell any of this to the viewer. Sure, the film is positive about moving forward without sugarcoating the harsh realities the characters face. Hearing Suzu speak about how she would have preferred to die as a dreamer one point in the movie carries a more impact to itself when Suzu, along with several other characters, are so nicely fleshed out, and grounded in its depiction of its events. Without being created for the sole purpose to deliver a specific message it’s able to tackle many themes leaving a stronger impression.

While they are present, the shortcomings don’t take away from the overall narrative. From a writing perspective, Suzu isn’t shown interacting much with her own family. Suzu does form bonds with her husband family, and that is shown throughout the movie, but when it comes to her own family they don’t get the same luxury. It’s not bothersome at first, but overtime it becomes more noticeable when certain characters are not given enough screen time given the impact of they have. One of this includes an abrupt revelation of the death of a family member from Suzu side who wasn’t on screen for much time. It would be less noticeable if there weren’t a funeral scene, and another scene dedicated to that character. There’s also a few other non-family related characters who appear in the movie without much importance. Thankfully, the movie keeps those type of characters down to a minimum.

Director Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon, Princess Arete) helms the project, and the animation is handled by studio MAPPA (Terror In Resonance, Yuri!!! On Ice). In the hands of Sunao Katabuchi the story is told with minimal usage of music. A wise choice that served this movie well allowing the strength of the visual themselves convey the mood of a scene instead of the music. Katabuchi grounded approach to storytelling is what the movie needed; without resorting to over dramatizing anything the film plays out better. Same with his handling of characters which never feel to out of place within the story.  Another welcome departure is he doesn’t demonize the US during this time not because he doesn’t harbor any ill will, but because he’s more concern in the characters we see rather than the enemy you don’t.

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Despite being a drama, the film offers some unique visuals like these

The artstyle is reminiscences of water color drawing that Suzu is seen drawing many times in the movie. Studio MAPPA is able to capture Suzu’s personal art style, and apply it to the entire film. Perfectly getting across how she sees the world as it unfold. Backgrounds generally are colorful while being pleasant to the eyes. Character designs are surprisingly in the moe category. However, not to a point where the simplistic designs clashes with the tone of the story. If anything, in its own way, it continues the notion of Suzu being able to see beautiful things around her despite how ugly the world can be to her. Aesthetically, it’s one nice movie to look at, especially it’s extensive recreation of Hiroshima, and Kure. In movement, there’s nothing special about it since virtually everything is kept mundane, but given what type of movie it is the animation is fine the way it is.

When it come to voice acting you can’t go wrong with either. The Japanese cast are more expressive in a way when delivering their dialogue while the English dub cast is more subdue in their performances. Both approach work in favor of the movie. If you had to choose, probably go with the subs since you’ll get the Japanese songs translated, but that’s honestly the only factor. I would say the Japanese audio is more historically accurate. However, it’s fictional story based around some true events so the language you watch it in won’t matter. Performance wise, Japan gets that win for Rena Nounen who voices Suzu. Much like actor Koji Yakusho in The Boy, and the Beast, Rena Nounen primarily acts in live action films, and television series. Her experience in those field helped be able to carry the movie with ease. Delivering a powerful performance. Laura Post in the English dub voice Suzu, and he’s not as good. Her lack of experience in the leading role shows a bit in some of her inability to express Suzu emotion. Sometime coming off distill in her portrayal. Aside from that small complaint, Laura Post does a good job still.

In This Corner of the World is a captivating drama being both optimistic through it’s perseverance while never hiding from the harsher side of reality. It’s a coming of age drama whose subtlety in its storytelling leads to a dramatically rich experience. All without the any of the usual tricks films of this sort would rely on. The slow pacing, and uneventful structure of the movie will make it a tough watch for some viewers. Harsh as the world presented may be to the Suzu, and her family, you’ll come out of the movie with a positive experience.

Rating: 9/10

Anime-Breakdown: Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (2014)

Korean animation, much like India animation industry, are things I know almost nothing about. They usually get overshadowed either by Hollywood, Japan, and heck even the French in that area. While South Korea do have their success story like The King of Pigs which is a generally well received movie. Anime fans on the other hand know South Korea for their work on trashy knockoffs like Super Kid, Diatron 5, and Blue Seagull. All three which are infamous for their bad quality, and in the case of Diatron 5 a classic among the so bad it’s good anime. The general public on the other hand is unlikely to clearly name you a Korean animated movie, or TV series they like from the top of their head. Would you believe me that AKOM, a South Korean animation studio actually animated over 200 episodes of The Simpsons, and also worked on Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, Bob’s Burger, and several other series. Shocking I know South Korea animation industry contributes a lot more than what the average person probably think they do. Today’s movie likely won’t cause that huge wave of exposure Korean animation desires to match Hollywood, or Japan, but the strange, and charming movie might get you more interested in checking out their stuff.

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Wizard toilet paper, not the strangest thing you’ll see in the movie

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow tells the everyday story of KITSAT-1, a satellite, who wants to learn about human emotions, and crash lands on Earth. After crash landing on Earth, she is transforms into a girl, and tries to help Kyung-chun who has been transformed into a milk cow. As unusual as the premise sounds, don’t worry this is only the setup to a strange, but charming love story. Offering a strange cast of leading characters to follow; you have a satellite who falls in love with a musician after hearing one of his songs, you have a musician who turns into a milk because he’s broken hearted, and magical wizard named Merlin who got turned into toilet paper. Once you accept the strange story the character themselves are a lot fun to be around. KITSAT-1 is trying experiencing human emotion for the first time, and Kyung-chun is trying to sort out of his life, and his love life. The film does a good job exploring both of these characters conflicts. Giving both characters a fair amount of screen time tackling their issues together, and on their own to reflect what they’re looking for in life. Providing a full understanding where each is coming from, and taking the time to slowly show how they change.

A consequence of the film’s runtime is parts of the film are rushed, and in some cases lead to some head scratching moments. One of these happens late in the movie where a woman calls the police on Kyung-chun in his Milk Cow form suspecting him of attempting to abduct a child. During the scene, Kyung-chun acts out of character, and instead of sorting out the situation he goes to eat grass letting KITSAT-1 calm the angry citizens. Parts of the story aren’t properly explained like the organization the villain works. A minor complaint about the writing is aspects the world aren’t clearly explained. You’ll be left wondering where in the world did the Incinerator come from, and how widespread is the problem of broken hearted human being turned into animals is. Part of it remedied by keeping the conflict confined, and the villain’s motivation simple. Yes, it’s all about money. However, a lot of it charm seeps through the weaker aspects of its writing. Everything about the film feels sincere in its efforts to have fun while touching on the theme of love in its unique way. Not shying away from taking advantage from the strange world it created, even if the results is all over the place.

As individual characters both KITSAT-1, and Kyung-chun have satisfactory arcs, but in the romance department the bonding moments are rushed at times. One moment it’s all lovey dovey, and the next moment it’s the sorrowful we can’t be together. It still works since the story puts effort into ensuring they have plenty of bonding moments, but if allowed to play out more naturally it would have end up feeling more meaningful than it did.  Lastly, wizard toilet paper Merlin appears in frequently in the movie. For the first act he’s on screen, but after that his appearance is random. Given he has magical abilities some of the film conflicts could have been resolved easier if he was present his is made more noteworthy because of it. Although, Merlin is given some great, over the top dialogue which makes him a pleasant whenever to see on screen.

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Ah, the magic of toilet paper

The studio behind this is Now OR Never Studio, with animator/director Chang Hyung-yun handling of the project initially looking rough. When you do see 2D digital animation for the first time it is rough looking. Seeing a 2D cow running away from a mechanical Incinerator with jenky 3D movements, and obvious 3D background. The animation is consistent in quality. In particular when it comes to framing, and moving the camera in certain shots eliminating any semblance of perspective. The rotation of the camera in points inadvertently makes the 2D part look really bad.

Thankfully, a good chunk of the movie looks just fine. While it pales in comparison to 2D from other countries it works fine here. Generally the movie is colorful, and the backgrounds are decently detail in 2D. Always trying keep what’s on screen in motion. Offering some nice visual gags along the way, as well as some strange sights like Merlin the wizard toilet paper having arms, and legs. It’s strange to witness, but overall charming.

When it comes to voice acting both the Korean, and English tracks are pretty good. Thankfully, the English dub actually dubs the Korean songs in English. So you won’t get taken out of the moment when viewing the movie. I personally prefer the English dub because Kirk Thornton who voices Merlin is the highlight. He delivers such goofy sounding dialogue with plenty of charisma its infectious. I also like Daniel J Edwards (assuming he sang it) of the few songs that get played. However, there’s the consequence of the voice not matching the lip flaps of the characters on several occasions. It’s very distracting, though didn’t ruin the experience for me.

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow is jenky in its animation, and wonky in its writing at times, but a lot of its charm seep through despite these issues. The production team is clearly trying to create a good film, and it shows through in the final product. It’ll a take a while to get over it shortcomings on all front, and you’re willing to a give it a chance despite that you might just find a good underneath the rough, and strange front to enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Anime-Breakdown: The Boy and the Beast (2015)

Out of all genres when it comes to storytelling fantasy is easily my least favorite. It’s for the sole reason almost anyone who writes a fantasy story in general lacks the creativity to depart from being a Lord of the Ring copycat, or don’t bother putting their own spin on tired formulas. Among these tired formula is the young child being transported into another world, and growing up after their journey is completed. A simple setup like this allows the writer to come up with anything fantastical they want. In this case, the writer is Mamoru Hosoda who also directed the movie, and it shows his incompetence as a lone storyteller. Quite the bold statement to make, until you realize screenwriter Satoko Okudera who shared screen writing credits on Hosoda previous films from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009), and Wolf Children (2012) is absent from screenwriting duty this time. You would think working with someone like Satoko Okudera (an experience screenwriter in TV, and films) during his career that Hosoda would learn how to craft a compelling story with fully realize themes on his own. Apparently not since The Boy, and the Beast comes off embarrassingly amateur on every front.

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You’re not the best, around! Everything’s gonna keep you down!

The Boy, and the Beast tries to be a coming of story following Ren, a pre-teen with a bad attitude who runs away from home after the death of his mother. This eventually leads Ren to discover a portal to Jutengai: The Beast Kingdom where anthropomorphic creatures roam free. Inadvertently, he become entangled in a feud between two powerful warriors vying for Lord of Jutengai. Detailing more about the little snippets of story this film has to offer would be spoiling it. Simultaneously accomplishing the impossible task of meandering, and being rushed in its writing. Meandering in the way it takes longer than necessary to establish, or get across simple plot points. Taking it sweet before introducing any sort of an overarching story thirty minutes into the movie. This late start dampens the experience since the introduction sequence tells you about the world of Jutengai, and the conflict between two powerful warriors vying to be the lord of Jutengai. So minutes when characters are explaining this to Ren it makes the introductory narration pointless.

The biggest issue this introduction brings up is the fact this is one pointless usage of a fantasy world. For starter, it hardly bothers to explain much about Jutsengai being more akin to duplicating the human world in how it function. There’s so little effort to make Jutengai its own distinct entity apart from the human world that if one removed the fantasy setting hardly anything in the story would change. There’s one scene where Ren, and his temperamental master Kumatetsu go traveling to learn what true strength is from eight different gods across the land of Jutengai. I presume it’s eight since eight letter of introduction is given to Kumatetsu, and it’s establish they’re just letter of introduction. Showing the audience only half of the lords in the land. This half explored idea rein true for the entire movie; concepts are half baked, and dropped as a moment instance despite the fact they could provide the much needed substance the movie needs.

The dramatic focus of the story is Ren tackling several inner turmoils that the movie poorly handles. For starter, in the second half of the movie Ren becomes confuse if he’s human, or beast. This simple idea of uncertainty where Ren belongs has the foundation to be a compelling character arc, but instead glosses over it since Hosoda doesn’t know how to show Ren conflicted being a part of two worlds. Another issue is Ren coming to terms with his father, and learning to forgive him for leaving him at a young age. Instead of showing the steps to that character arc it’s resolve in three exchange; the reintroduction, the fight, and the resolution. That’s all! Being it very bothersome because his father absent is one of the main motivation for Ren running away in the first place.

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This is about as imaginative this movie gets with it setting

Bringing me to my biggest problem of Ren writing which is he has no consequences for running away from his problems. Ren doesn’t learn from Kumatetsu to suck it up, smell the roses, and endure the worst temporary aspects of one’s life. No, Ren turns out well for himself. I’m left to presume this since the movie skips over a decade to him being an adult. During that time I’m left to presume that Ren never felt alone as the only human in Jutengai, out of place, or any kind of conflict during this time. It’s now when he’s an adult returning to the real world for the first he has any spontaneous issue living in Jutengai. If you think the movie would wisely show Ren attempting to adapt again into the human world you’re wrong. Anything regarding his education is brushed aside since he has a friend who helps him study, and presumably quickly since the passage of time isn’t properly established. Fixing up his relationship with his estranged father is done in a haphazard manner. Ren sees his father just whenever the story feels like it. Ren is a simply a tool that goes through the various motion without having much to take in, even on a surface level. On top of this, Ren even has a home to return to in the human world so even less conflict to overcome.

We then  come to the characters of Tatara, and Hyakushubo who only purpose in the movie is explaining to the audience the moral of the story, and the significance of scenes. Being very insulting to the audience intelligence since the film tells a very simplistic story. They explain the growth of Ren when in the hospital looking after Kumatetsu, explain what Ren is doing when imitating Kumatetsu movements, and sometimes other characters do the spoon feeding when Tatara, and Haykushubo are absent on screen. Like two important figures commenting both Kumatetsu, and Ren learning from each other, even though the visuals clearly got that across. There’s also the time Kaede explains to Ren that metaphor in the novel Moby Dick, which in turn is actually meant to tell the audience Kumatetsu is an extension of Ren. Something that is obvious to interpret from the simplistic writing. Instead of trusting its viewer to connect the dots it dedicated the creation of two characters to spoon feed you the events you’re seeing on screen.

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The movie lost me before the Whale appeared, but it certainly helped in lowering my interest.

This wouldn’t be needed in the first place if Hosoda actually fleshed out his themes, and characters. For the first half, the story attempts to have Ren, and his master Kumatetsu learn about finding strength, and learning to cooperate with each other to achieve their individual goal. When the time skip occurs the characters haven’t changed much. Being one dimensional prevents meaningful growth, especially when the movie has it characters telling the viewer things they could pick up on easily.

The climax is simply a clusterfuck. Introducing a villain that was poorly foreshadowed leading to a battle of ideology. It’s at this point the poor world building comes into effect. So, when the villain is causing havoc in the human world there suddenly some explosions in Jutengai. The world building is virtually absent that this only in this point in the movie is it even mentioned in throwaway dialogue that chaos in the human world also means chaos in Jutengai. No, I don’t know if the same applies in reverse since this is the first time anything of the sort is brought up. The only other mentioned of this is when Kumatetsu is warned that if a human is consumed by darkness it could affect more than him. A warning so vague it could translate to anything. By the time I saw the sight of a CG whale brought to life by the fact that Ren dropped a book called Moby Dick I knew I was already in too deep, and might as well finish it. Leading to a very cheesy resolution in the climax, and a callback makes it hilarious to consider that Hosoda idea of foreshadowing is just briefly mention something once, and have it be absent for a long time.

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Smooth animation!

Animation is handle by Studio Chizu, and it’s fine. The movement is smooth regardless of how many characters are on screen. Character expressions are very exaggerated same with body movement. Where the animation falls short is the visual design; it’s mundane. Studio Chizu applies as much real world function to Jutengai as possible making it barely look any different than the human world. When it comes to designs the background are very detailed, and vibrant. Unfortunately, the characters in them lack creative design. This is mostly due to the baffling decision to have all of its fantasy creatures where Japanese clothing retroactively homogenizing every beast visually. Hardly deviating from the anthropomorphic animals designs not creating anything unique of their own. The few action sequences are fluid, but not exciting to watch since there’s hardly any dynamic camera angles. The few usage of CG blends in well with 2D animation preventing things from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Voice acting is the only aspect of the movie I consider to be fine. If you ask me, I would say the Japanese audio is better simply for the fact Kumatetsu is voiced by Japanese award winning film actor Koji Yakusho. Providing a welcome change in the reluctant master role in his more relax portrayal. Typically, a voice actor would play temperamental characters by simply shouting, screaming, or yelling their lines into the mic. For example, Josh Swasey who voices Kumatetsu does exactly that for the entire film. Preventing there being any wiggle room for him to get across a softer side of Kumatetsu. Koji Yakusho on the other hand simply plays him like he would any other character. He puts himself into the mind of Kumatetsu, brings out his temperamental side without purely relying on shouting, and lay on some charm through a rough, charismatic voice. Unlike Josh Swasey portrayal of Kumatetsu, Koji Yakusho makes an unlikable character likable. As for the rest of the cast they’re fine in both languages. However, with one actor portraying Kumatetsu properly, and the other one doing it badly. The Japanese audio is the recommended choice if everything I wrote doesn’t dissuade you from watching it. Music is easily forgettable while I’m at it.

The Boy, and the Beast is terrible movie that made me feel every minute of its two hour runtime passed by. Checking multiple time when the movie would be over since it provided nothing of value, even on a surface level the animation isn’t enough to enjoy. It’s a simple story about finding one self, conquering the darkness, and growing up stretched to a at time unbearable length. If you removed 75% of the film content, you would have a stronger movie which is the saddest part of all. So clumsy in its exploration of ideas, and so little to grasp on in everything else ensures this is (currently) Mamoru Hosoda weakest movie. He needs to learn in order for his ideas to work they need to be properly fleshed out, clearly defined by how his characters face these ordeals, and most importantly don’t spoon feed the audience the meaning of your story simplistic story.

Rating: 2/10

Some Thoughts On: Wounded Man (1986) OVA

Sometime you look at a mirror, stare at your own reflection, with Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror” track playing in the background, and contemplate the meaning of existence itself. Very few anime will ever make you think on a deep, and philosophical level. Encouraging a change in your that you might have never expected. Wounded Man, is not that anime. It’s from the glorious era of the 80s which seems to be littered with endless amount of bonker OVAs. As usual, much like the coherency of Wounded Man, it’s all just a scattershot post of thoughts.

Before I continue, I should establish one of my two (the other is Ashita no Joe if you’re curious) favorite manga of all time is Lone Wolf & Cub by writer Kazuo Koike. The man who also wrote the Lady Snowblood manga, and wrote the film adaptation which inspired Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill series. With these two manga alone, Kazuo Koike could have simply retired, and be widely remembered as one of the great storytellers in manga. Obviously he continued given his success, especially from the world wide acclaim for Lone Wolf & Cub. Yet, somewhere in his career he found a fascination with American culture, and created some idiotic manga which eventually got made into OVAs. One of these is the schlocky, and very, very dumb Mad Bull 34 enjoyable for all the wrong reasons, and also today’s OVA is just as dumb. Just with the entertainment factor, and a giant guy flipping over a tank missing from its insane plot. Oh yeah, it’s manga also got licensed by Comicone, and yes, you can officially buy the manga in English. Baffling considering, from the images I quickly looked over online of the Japanese version, seems to be a faithful adaptation of the same terrible content. With less sex presumably because one of the random volume I clicked on had just panels, after panels of what I could only interpret as tragic sex. Sometimes the world doesn’t make any sense.

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The most realistic thing in Wounded Man

Wounded Man attempts to tell the classic tale of the Vanguard of Soccer (who actually plays football), Rio Baraki, seeking vengeance on a porno company that took the life of his girlfriend. If that sounds too ridiculous to take seriously, don’t worry because the anime will make sure you take it seriously in all the wrong the ways. For starter, the first appearance of our Vanguard of Soccer is during his random encounter with news reporter Yuko Kusaka who goes to Brazil for a news story about gold in a village. Now how would one go about introducing our lead character in the first episode? By obviously attacking the news reporter, raping her, and later claiming after he’s done raping her that he did it for her own good! To paraphrase, the rape he gave her is only a small fraction of the dangers she could experience in the amazon of Brazil. This happened in the first six minutes of episode 1, which might actually be the quickest an anime I’ve seen getting to a rape scene.

Once it introduces Rio Baraki in this manner it’s impossible to eliminate the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. This wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t the main character! Not only that, but the story clearly wants you to root for Rio Baraki as he conquers many challenges until the day he finally gets vengeance. Providing a sob story about how the woman he loved got killed after a series of stupid events. One of them including in episode 1, Rio swimming in Piranha infested water as a form of apology for raping the news reporter. He comes out unscathe, and the news reporter forgives him! Revenge is solid motivation for the story, except for the fact Rio Baraki rapes another woman in episode 4, and in the span of five episodes falls in love with three other women. So he’s unable to differentiate love, and lust much in the same way he’s incapable of keeping his dick in his pants. How am I supposed to sympathize with Rio when every time he fucks a woman he later falls in love with them. Everytime! I’m suppose to feel sorry for this guy? Yeah, that ain’t happening.

What story Wounded Man does offer is purely nonsensical going from point A, skipping a couple of steps, and finally end up at the ending credits. It’s simply one stupid event after another. One moment you’ll Rio self inserting himself into a young woman who he tied up to a wooden boat steering wheel in order to get her on his side (don’t ask), and next thing you know you have a hysterical woman laughing while the boat is on fire. My mere description of this moment does it no justice. It’s something else entirely to witness it, and just be in awe someone thought this was something that should have been animated.

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Fat guy here, great shot! Should have be the MC

Would you believe me in episode 5 there’s a random tangent about Helicopters leading in to a pointless fight between two war veteran because one of them shot down a Helicopter. Aside from being completely stupid, it’s also lacking in a sense of fun. It’s takes itself way too seriously despite the fact it’s filled to the brim with stupid writing. For example, in episode 2 Rio is able to pick up an entire tree with ease, and throw it as Indian tribe! Not convince it’s stupid enough? Well, the news reporter Rio raped in episode 1 falls in love with him despite her stating she hates his guts for what he did, and will be apart from him until she gets revenge before confessing her love for him! In episode 4, he thinks the way to get Misty, a young assassin, on his side is by tying her up on a boat wooden steering wheel, and yes, self insert himself into Misty. In case you’re wondering, yes Misty too also falls in love with Rio!

Now before the plot twist in episode 5 which makes the whole series feels utterly pointless in viewing because everything beforehand has to be taken at face value. Think about it, before the plot twist you’re meant to believe there’s a evil porno company going around kidnapping famous people, and forcing them to into porn for large amount of profits. Watching episode, after episode thinking about the fact we have former football player going up against evil porno company for killing his girlfriend. This is the kind of stuff you wouldn’t expect a sane person to come up with, except for the fact someone did, and nutcase at Comicone thought it was perfect to license, translate the manga, and officially sell it! Once there’s more revealed about the porno company it gets dumber since it eventually takes Rio to the good old US, and by the last episode has a quick word with the president of the US. After you get the plot twist, it doesn’t make any sense since it just opens a bigger can of worms.

The twist is worthless since there’s so little to Rio as a character, and wholly unlikable through his action that nothing felt gained in his journey. He’s a single minded character with no depth. If that was the point of Wounded Man that would be one thing, except for the fact it was not. This could have been remedied with interesting characters, except for the fact there aren’t much to the other characters besides the bizarre assortment of situations they get into.

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Where do I even begin.

With everything I’ve described you would also be misled into thinking this is an entertaining series to watch. When the bonker events aren’t happening there’s plenty of more dead air to fill the space. Most of it feels pointless. Talking about things I’ve already forgot about. Except for the odd insert of possibly moving away from revenge who you know could lead to some kind of development, but doesn’t since Rio is single minded, and there’s no insight provided into his mind. Well scratch that, he does love to fuck a lot, regardless if the woman wants it, or not. What a man!

One thing that would have improved the experience, though not by much, would have been watching this with better English subtitles. At the time I chose to watch Wounded Man I saw it terrible fansubs. Allegedly, the version I saw was from a Chinese knock off DVD, and simply use Google translate to for the subtitles. They are of poor quality. Not poor enough to prevent you from the gritty details of the story, but poor enough where it’ll feel like it’s different langue to you. On the rare occasion, the bad subtitles add some fun to the OVA for how confusing it is. My favorite example is Rio saying “There’s a Japanese saying. Shower, or woman. It doesn’t matter”. What is that suppose to mean! There’s also another moment where bullets clearly hit Rio multiple times, you’ll get shown the doctors removing the bullets from Rio body, and the doctor comes out to say “It’s okay. Bullets always miss the target”. No, I have idea what the people, person were smoking when translating this, because I’m pretty sure they weren’t smart enough to know how to smoke.

To further add insult to injury, after I finished the OVA I quickly discovered on YouTube someone provided better subtitles for Wounded Man. So naturally I went back to see what the Japanese saying in episode 1 was, and again, I still have no clue what the heck it means. This time, the saying is “Rain in buckets, or a woman. Neither one, or the other, doesn’t matter”. At this point, the only way to truly find out what Rio meant is either I learn Japanese, or buy the manga. Obviously, I would prefer the former because ain’t no way I’m obtaining the Wounded Man manga…at least this moment. It can easily be found on YouTube, and with a better comprehensible translation than the version I saw. However, I recommend going with the worse subtitles since you’ll get some unintentional laughs.

Now with everything I’ve said about Wounded Man, you’ll be wrong to assume I’ll tell you to skip this. No, quite the opposite because I suffered through this trash of an OVA, and I might as well encourage you to seek this out to share in my suffering. See everything it has to offer from cheap animation, overly dramatic music, and over the top voice acting. Experience it in Wounded Man!

If I were to give this a rating I would say a 1 out of 10, which still seems to high!

Some Thoughts On: Anime-Gataris (2017)

….Oh man, this one I gotta say was annoying in the amount time the word anime was said. You might be wondering why I chose to watch an anime that literally translates too Anime-Chat in English out of the hundreds of anime I have on my plan to watch list. I asked myself the same question every night for the past six days, but then I remember someone on a Discord server I sometime visit. We’ll just call that individual Rob, who had a passionate hatred for Anime-Gataris. Hearing about it the anime from him for the first time, and his immense hatred for the anime was fascinating. I did a quick image search as a result of that discussion. It looked harmless, and nothing I would see from just a quick image search. However, he compared his passionate dislike for Anime-Gataris to my passionate hatred of My Hero Academia season 1 (man, do I hate that anime so much), and that kept it in the back of my mind. Of course, I gotta point out I this anime June 6, of 2018. Why still put in the date of when I completed something in these blog entries? In case I ever go crazy, I can blame it on one of these animes.

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I would watch an anime about a DJ cat. To bad I ain’t.

Someone strong negative opinion on Anime-Gataris got me interested in seeing it instead of passing up on it. During this time, I was around 5 episodes away from finishing up Little Witch Academia so why not replace something I had a blast watching with something I wasn’t enjoying. Great logic I know, but I gave it a shot, and to be fair, it still sucked. The whole idea of Anime-Gataris is average high school student Minoa Asagaya becoming entrance into the world of anime, and its fanbase. Okay, that is an idea I can go along with fine. The problem immediately start to pop up since if you know about anything about anime, and its community you will still have to go through explanation after explanations about various things pertaining to anime. Be it genres of anime, anime production itself, the appeal of certain animes, and what not. You get the problem, if you’re well verse into the anime community these explanations are boring to sit through. It doesn’t help either Anime-Gataris loves to use the word anime so much in its dialogue to the point I wanted the character to stop talking about anime! For newcomers, it simply paints every aspect of anime in a positive manner in broad strokes coming across more like an advert to join the anime community than something informative.

When the characters aren’t talking about anime, I kid. That’s generally all the series focuses on. It’s in the title, but at the same time probably seeing the characters have an interest in something else would be nice. Mino Asagaya starts out a normal high school student who doesn’t anything about anime, and once she reopen her school’s anime club with her rich otaku friend in episode 1 that’s all Minoa attention diverts too. Much like how it portrays the anime community, and fandom it doesn’t bother to even mention the possible addiction one can have to anime. Minoa begins to ignore her one friend on the track team who isn’t into anime as the series goes on, and there’s no repercussion. The setup is right there to bring up Minoa sudden obsession with consuming anime to be discussed, and gladly ignores it. This anime doesn’t like conflict.

In terms of a story it’s a slice of life with no overarching story until the last two episodes. Almost the entire series is just Minoa learning everything surrounding anime, and trying to not get her club shut down by the student councils. In terms of conflict, that’s about it. The whole over the top evil student councils act gets old quickly. There would be some more conflict between the anime club members, but after episode 2 where there is some bickering. Also, the line “You’ll make anime cry” caused me to pause the episode, and reflect on life choices. Not long enough since I still continued. There was one interesting plotline where Minoa talks to an anime director whose effort received harsh feedback, and how it soured him to anime. This conflict gets resolved unsatisfactory, but at least it displays some kind of negative aspect around anime.

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Unfunny reference number 65

When the “humor” isn’t all about making anime references it got some laughs out of me. There was one unexpected joke that made me laugh in episode 6. It was when Minoa, and her friends go to a shrine, and while holding up the good luck charms a bird poops on one of the charms Minoa is holding. It’s simple, but it got a laugh out of me since it came out of nowhere. Every other time it’s referencing some random anime. Simply referencing something does not equate to a joke, something this Anime-Gataris doesn’t grasp. The biggest drawback is having a mostly eccentric cast of characters so constantly seeing them do over the top things just becomes par for the course. Like one of the member believing one of her male member confess to another male member.

The last two episodes were the most entertaining since that’s when anime becomes one with the real world. Why it happens is convoluted, but at the same time this is a series that has a talking cat that on one pays attention too for most of the season. So anything is fair play in this series world. It actually starts taking shape in episode 9 when people ask for recommendation from the anime club, and the students replicate what they see from anime. You know, like building a working prototypes of working mecha legs, and building a Pyramid for a duel. This would be hilarious if the anime didn’t introduce a talking cat in the first episode. You know, kinda gives away something fishy is going to happen. Minoa talks to this cat who she refers to as Mr. Kitty, and Mr. Kitty is largely unimportant in the grand of schemes until the last two episode when he’s need to revert reality back to how it was.

I would talk about the characters, but you have the super eccentric fan in Kai Musashisakai, Arisu Kamiigusa the rich otaku, Nakano Mitsuteru the popular guy & the school’s prince charming, Erika Aoyama the closeted otaku, Miko Koenji who likes light novel, and Minoa Asagaya the outsider converted into an anime fan. Only half of these character receive any kind of development, and the ones that do don’t have much going for them either, Erika Aoyama is the most interesting since it’s implies she drifted from her former best friend due to how engage in anime. One let go of it while growing up thinking it’s for children, while Erika still enjoys anime, but doesn’t express it openly. Sadly, what could have been a intriguing subplot gets thrown to the way in favor of comedic antics. There’s Kai Musashisakai particular who loves doing over the top movements, roleplay as shounen characters, and believing he has magical powers. When he likes another club member you think the anime would do something with this, except for the fact…yep you guessed it. Nothing much happens with that.

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I made a similar face while watching this anime

The only character in this series I’m conflicted about is Minoa Asagaya. She isn’t any different from the rest either since I don’t care about her, especially when English dub actress Dawn M. Bennett tried to hard to make Minoa sounds cutesy. Minoa cutesy voice became grating to me, in particular when you know what word already is constantly brought up by her. Yet, I still can’t help liking her a bit for superficial reasons despite my annoyance. One of them being I like the silly facial reaction she gave sometimes. It’s one of the few things that actually made me laugh consistently. There’s also the many points she overthinks stuff, but I sorta liked that. Showed she cared a lot about her friends, and wanting to get closer to them through a common thing they liked. It’s the closest this series gets to fully developing a character. Some of her lines like “You’ll make anime cry” made me cringe, but at the same time Dawn M. Bennett delivery of these cringey lines made it memorable. I should hate this character because she’s one dimensional, but I just can’t despite my better judgement. As for her character design, I don’t know. Minoa looks exactly like her sister, but with pink hair. Actually, let’s stop talking about her now before I get into a internal philosophical debate on whether, or not I think she’s cute.

On the technical side from the English voice acting, animation, and music it’s subpar. The animation never gets a chance to shine since you just have characters talking about anime nearly all the time. The only chance it breaks away from the mundane are during the last four episodes where the animation gets a bit more silly. On the other hand, WAO World (the animation studio) are lazy in this department too. The most evident being episode 8 where the studio reuses the terrible looking 3D dancing animation in the ending credit within the episode in its entirety. That’s pretty lazy. Episode 8 also deliberately has some crummy animation, but it makes sense context as to why that is.

As I’ve re-read this I notice this, I notice this scattershot post seriously over the place! More so than usual. I should have expected that since as an idea I like what Anime-Gataris could have been, but I don’t like what it actually is. Flat character, annoying anime references, and just coming across as pandering to its viewer with how much it showers anime with praise after praise. On one hand, I did like seeing Minoa attempting to make friends within the anime community, and getting attached to anime like her friend. It’s just all happened to quickly feeling lackluster overall. The only thing I took away from this series is I got no clue if I like Minoa, or not.

Anime-Gataris had some good intentions to show the appeal of anime, and its community from the perspective of someone not well verse in the medium, but it’s a one sided affair. Much like any other communities, the anime community also has its fair share of drawbacks none of which Anime-Gataris ever brings up. That’s just a simple part of reality, but as an introduction to anime it doesn’t work either. Simply generalizing anime fans as people who live, sleep, and breath anime 24/7. I won’t doubt there’s people like this, but it doesn’t show different type of fans in the community. For anyone whose well verse in anime, and its community will find it many scenes explaining basic things boring to sit through. While newcomers to anime will simply be bored by the lack of any interesting development the story story takes. It’s lighthearted slice of anime that in the end of the day is harmless, but doesn’t know what makes a good series in its genre.

If I were to rate this anime, I guess a 4 out 10.

Anime-Breakdown: Blue Sonnet (1989) OVA

The first thing I think about when the word shojo comes up in the description of anything is Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s one of my favorite anime so the association is natural. To be more specific, I usually associate a shojo for stories that place more emphasis on romance than a shonen, or seinen manga from what little shojo manga I’ve read. The vague definition of what is considered shojo versus its origin can muddles what is properly label a shojo, and what is mislabeled that. Although, I ain’t here to discuss that, but I am here to write about a shojo anime OVA from the late 80s that contains heads exploding, spider robots, huge amount of gushing blood, and eventually disposal unit filled with dead fetuses. Yep, these things that can be found in violent shlock can be found in the five episode OVA Blue Sonnet.

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What exactly is Hot Dog Express about? I’m curious.

Storytelling in Blue Sonnet is as straightforwards as they come; good guys live ordinary lives, supernatural intervention occurs on heroes average life, and bad guys attempting to capture heroes. On one corner you have Lan Komatsuzaki, a quiet teenage girl who is thought to be controlled by the rage of the esper Akai Kiba (Crimson Fang), and the cyborg/esper Sonnet tasked to capture her. Both of these leading characters are decently developed in the five episode OVA. Sonnet character arc is the standard human recently turned cyborg rediscovery her humanity. There’s nothing here to spice things up besides the fact that Sonnet is also an esper. I might be someone who constantly harp on a story’s writing on a number of things, but I personally feel execution is more important than the ideas themselves. In Blue Sonnet, the character of Sonnet is handle well having each episode slowly questioning what she’s doing. Her rare interaction with other people also help in getting across these plot points.

Lan Komatsuzaki, as the OVA puts it, is just recently becoming a woman. The OVA partially tackle the matter of Lan growing up, but is mostly focus on her trying to control her powers, and learning about herself. She isn’t as developed as Sonnet since it feels like part of her character arc is incomplete. Only getting some answers to her mysterious background. Other characters in the series get minor development making events in the story slightly more engaging as two dimensional characters. Making the odd sight of seeing a human size cyborg battling spider robots, or a seeing a little kid holding a room filled with adults at gunpoint feel a bit more eventful.

It might be a shojo, but it also offers blood, and gore which it saves up for the final two episodes. Using it’s first three to develop the cast of characters to the best of it ability. Working for the most part to give out details on it cast, including some minor characters who don’t influence the story much. These three episodes also prepare the viewer for the insanity that occurs in the final two episodes which is basically a long rescue mission. These last two episodes is where it combines schlocky entertainment, and shojo convention in a surprisingly good mix. Taking a dark turn in what the villains intend to do with Lan, and eventually getting to a point where she ends up in a disposal unit filled with dead fetuses. It isn’t afraid to contrast the more realistic interaction in earlier episodes with dark moments like these. While nothing else is able to top the dead fetuses bit of grisly writing. What does it a good job at is structuring a buildup in first developing characters in the story earning it’s violent turned in the last two episodes.

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Hm, can’t say I disagree young lady.

Now the negatives of Blue Sonnet writing are easy to recognize. Suffering from talking a lot, and saying very little at the same time. Despite it having good pacing it feels like the writing linger on scenes longer than it should. Taking several minutes to establish information the viewer could easily pick up on. There’s also the character of Bird having a unearned importance in the story. Granted, Lan, and Sonnet developing convoluted romantic feelings for Bird is part of its Shojo DNA it in no way comes up naturally. It just appears, and you’re just meant to accept. Unlike the violent turn it takes, the romance aspect isn’t hinted at, or buildup too. There’s also the out of nowhere inclusion of humor after long stretches of being serious. Then there’s Dr. Merikus who is the villain, and the worst written character in the OVA. His motivation to capture Lan is poorly define resulting in him simply doing evil things for world domination. There’s hints in his dialogue he has a greater desire than simply capturing Lan, but that part of the story is poorly gotten across to the viewer.

The biggest downfall of the OVA is the incomplete state it feel it ends on. Being based on a manga that’s 19 volumes long ending it run in 1987. It’s unlikely that the five episode OVA which was released between 1989, and 1990 covered everything from its source material. This is strongly evident in the ending implying there’s between Bird, and Sonnet bond that was meant to build upon, and never did. Another instance of this is Lan herself suddenly being fond of Bird despite them hardly sharing any scenes together. Only in one episode do they share a scene together which is not romantic in the least. While the OVA is structure well it doesn’t use up all of its screen time wisely resulting in something that could have been than it ended up from a story perspective.zkg2m5

When it comes to the voice acting it was simply adequate. Only Hiromi Tsuru who voices Sonnet got a chance to stand out in her performance. The rest of the cast do fine, but only Hiromi stands out because she’s able to hit her dramatic parts successfully. Everyone else don’t add much to their characters in their performances. Also, it has some wonderful Engrish in the first episode which last briefly. The OVA is director by Takeyuki Kanda (director of the first six episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08Th MS Team) doesn’t impress in handling of the material. For the most part, the story plays out fine, but his inability to transition between tone is awkward. It explains the lack of balance in humor which is why Kanda hardly uses it because when he does it sticks out against the mostly serious tone.

Character designs look something from the early 80s, in particular Sonnet skin tight suit, and grasshopper inspired helmet is very cheesy looking in practice. The animation is done by Tatsunoko Production, and it’s dated. When moving, the animation lacks detail in the background art, and character movements are limited to being blocky. Visually resulting in a boring looking anime half the time. Only time the animation picks up are during the sequences, and the last two episodes where everything results in bloodshed. The same with the music being okay. No tracks stand out besides the opening song “What Is Love” by the band GO!. The music is easily the most forgettable part of the OVA.

Blue Sonnet is enjoyably schlocky entertainment. It might carry the label of shojo, but offers decently developed characters, a well structure story, and a little bit of blood & gore to satisfy an average viewer looking for something outside of what they expect from a shojo. The sums of it parts is better than the bigger picture itself, although it’s those parts that makes it stand out against shojo.


Rating: 6/10

Some Quick Thoughts On: Yagami Family Affairs (1990) OVA

If you have seen anime long enough you’re bound to find those bizzare titles that make you question everything logical. First one that usually comes to my mind is how that did I get to a point where I watched a anime that tackles incest, terrorism, essentialism, and with penguins involve in a anime series called Mawaru Penguindrum (2011). I don’t know, but it what an interesting experience. That’s the kind thing you gotta expect, especially when you go out of your way to check out obscure anime on a whim. Most of the time, I simply don’t bat an eye at an anime I watch. However, this is one of those certain anime titles that make me question what in the world I’m watching, and it’s a thought that never leaves my mind.

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This isn’t even the strangest thing she does in the OVA.

I’m going to write about one such anime called Yagami Family Affairs. The OVA is based on a manga called Yagami-kun Katei no Jijo which ran from March 1986 to May 1990. I was unable to look up any sales figure to see gauge how popular it was at the time, but apparently it was popular enough to get an 11 episode, live action tv adaptation which I can’t find any information on either. So, without any interesting facts about it to share lets move forward. I should give out a warning that yes, I’m going to partially spoil this OVA, but in the long run the overarching story really doesn’t matter much. If you so desire to watch a incest comedy OVA animated by Production IG (I’m not kidding, they actually did it) completely blind stop reading here. If you don’t care about minor spoilers, I shall continue to ramble on.

Yagami Family Affairs premise is on the ever so classic setup of a teenage boy named Yuji Yagami who loves his mother, and in a incestual kind of way. I would say Japan in particular has some kind of fascination with this type of taboo subject matter, but at the same time Game of Thrones made incest mainstream in the US, there’s also a US book from author V.C. Andrews called Flowers In the Attic which has a incestual plotline selling over 40 millions books world wide, and even my favorite horror movie, the original 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre US movie couldn’t escape having incest on some level in its story. So simply saying Japan has a fascination with it is a bit misleading when I also live in a place that is just as fascinated by it as Japan. However, from what I’ve encounter, incest is typically a sign that whatever piece of media you’re going to consume is likely going to turn out bad since it’s hardly used in quality works.

Moving on, the 3 episode OVA initially makes such a baffling premise for a comedy somewhat watchable for two minutes before derailing itself immediately. The biggest problem is everyone non-chuntantly accepts that Yuji Yagami has a sexual drive for his mother, even his father, and mother seems to be cool with it laughing it off later on in episode 1. I mean, just how am I supposed to make fun of that. There’s a moment in the first episode where several male students talk about how their mothers looks, and how their mothers are unattractive compare to Yuji’s mother. These um, mother fuckers/friends are envious, and rightfully tease Yuji for having a crush on his mother. I mean, how am I supposed to take a scene where a group of teenage boys compare how attractive their mothers are to a particular student. Just, so questionable on so many level. Yuji also ends up sleeping with his mother during episode 1, and no they don’t have sex. Get your mind out of the gutter!

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Hmm, I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

If you think I’m simply overexaggerating Yuji’s affection for his mother, well in episode 2 Yuji teams up with one of his teacher who also has a crush on his mother. Both call a truce because, you know, Yuji’s father is married to her, and both Yuji, and his teacher decide to resume their competition once they get her divorced. There is just so much wrong to untangle from that last sentence, and even more so from Yuji stupidity since how in the world do you forget your own mother is married to you know, your father! Oh man, Yuji Yagami, you’re really stupid. In episode 3, he teams up with a woman named Mitsuko Nanase (image below), whom I gotta admit I do find pretty hot.

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Yes, it’s an excuse to post picture of an anime character I like in this OVA for shallow reasons.

More importantly though, Yuji teams up Mtsuko to help her capture the heart of his father. While people are deep in thought wondering what the meaning to life is, here I am wondering what in the world compel the creators of this project to come up with these kind situations. Everything that Yuji does in the service of him potentially hooking up with his mother, and no, no amount of light hearted music is going make cheer Yuji on for that.

The anime OVA exaggerates the humor, and the characters reaction in order to get a laugh out of the viewer. I did laugh somewhat at some of the jokes when they weren’t related to Yuji wanting to bang his mother, or around sex. It eventually gets repetitive when the jokes basically center around Yuji wanting to bang his mother, and the crazy lengths he’ll go just pound his own mother. One of the jokes is Yuji mother getting the measurement of her son’s penis in secret. Yep, that a thing that happened here. There’s also the moment where Yuji imagined his mother naked, and also briefly think about how many times he showered with his mother. If these things don’t have you laughing then maybe the moment Yuji confesses to a girl he likes that he’s in love with his mother, and the girl he likes also seems to be cool with it. The scene doesn’t end there either, he brags about kissing his mother everyday to this girl he likes. I’m in awe in the anime ability to just constantly keep me watching because of how questionable everything it does is.

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This moment actually made me laugh.

By this point in this post, if you’re expecting anything resembling normal human behavior from the characters in this OVA just don’t. This is a comedy where Yuji gets hit by a car, and motorcycle at some point, and just brushes them off like he got hit by a spitball. Further adding to the insanity is that it actually has an overarching story with a central message about unrequited love. Granted, the setup is perfect for that because mother/son incest is just plain wrong. However, the overly lighthearted nature, Yuji attempt to want to fuck his mother by any length, and his strong sexual desire towards her makes the whole unrequited love lesson not work at all. It ends with Yuji setting a goal for himself to get over his mother complex, and the viewer doesn’t get to see that in progress. With everything I’ve seen in the OVA I would honestly not like think about what happens afterwards.

Also in episode 2, Yuji comically blows up his classroom with a rocket launcher when they him to make it a threesome with his mother. Seconds later, a character says Yuji can’t take a joke. Yeah, because Yuji who gets constantly teased for having a mother complex would laugh at people telling him to make sex with his mother into a threesome. I should probably do the same kind of teasing with one my friends, and see how he reacts to it. On second thought, probably shouldn’t considering what one of them did, and that will probably be a story for another time. The anime is filled to the brim with odd moments like this that one joke is at least bound to make you laugh.

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Context: Son sees teacher cock blocking him for his mother. Obviously you assault him with a tank.

Only other thing to mention is the studio responsible for making this is none other than Production IG. Yes, the same Production IG responsible for Eden of East, Ghost In the Shell, and Psycho-Pass. The animation is actually decent for the comedy; movements are exaggerated, characters are very expressive, and typically filled energy. It’s weird complementing this OVA when I just spend the last couple of paragraphs questioning it story. I have no clue if the entire studio was blackmailed into making this, or the even crazier idea if the studio thought this project would sell well. Going down in anime history as one of its greatest unanswered mystery.

Would I recommend Yagami Family Affairs? Yes to be honest because it’s such a bizarre comedy with no semblance of logic you have to witness for yourself. It especially makes for a good viewing in a group where you can share the odd experience together. It’s such a questionable piece of animation that I couldn’t help, but finish it. If the premise isn’t something to your liking it’s understandable because incest is also something that makes me want throw up my soul, and enter into another worldly realm. For those who are okay with watching anything, no matter how questionable, I recommend checking this out, and revel in complete lunacy that is Yagami Family Affairs.

If I were to rate this anime I would give a 1 out of 10.