Anime Review: “Cardfight!! Vanguard”

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The Card Game anime genre has it’s crazy characters and gravity-defying hairstyles – it’s naturally just part of the genre. That’s not something that Cardfight!! Vanguard has forgotten. Having watched quite a few of the genre including Yu-gi-oh!, Beyblade, and even a bit of B-daman, it’s actually nice to come across a member of the genre that’s not a complete 23-minute commercial for the namesake. Besides the logo looking like someone is trying to find the square root of ANGUA times RD, it has it’s good and bad points.

The story starts off with a young, blue-haired, boy named Aichi Sendou is shy and reserved. It’s not made clear, but he may have just transferred to his school. He’s easily embarassed and soft-spoken, always taking a sort of retreat route when asked a question. This is made quickly clear when one of his teachers asks him how he would survive in the Sengoku (Warring States, or feudal) period of Japan. He simply replies that he’s always make sure there’s a clear retreat route when going into battle.

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It’s quickly revealed that he’s had an interest in a popular card game called Cardfight Vanguard, a game that is popular is real life Japan as well. He’s never played but it’s revealed that a boy he used to know name Toshiki Kai gave him a Vanguard card one day after rescuing him from a bully. A classmate, named Katsumi Morikawa, spots this card one day as Aichi is peeking at it. Katsumi swipes it, realizing it’s a rare card, and races outside after school.

Aichi gives chase, and they both end up at a card shop. Kai happens to be there, but it appears neither of them recognize each other, until Katsumi demands a game using Aichi’s card. Kai recognizes it instantly, but says nothing, winning the card from Katsumi. Aichi explains the situation, but Kai says “What’s won in a Vanguard fight must be regained in a Vanguard fight.” So Aichi challenges him and loses, but recognizing his potential and the kid he gave the card to, gives it back.

maxresdefaultAnd thus, Aichi is hooked on Vanguard. He challenges numerous people, slowly coming out of his shell. He joins a shop tournament where he and three others, including Kai, all place top. The other two are the reluctant Misaki Tokura, and the excitable and young Kamui Katsuragi.

They enter the regional Vanguard tournament and make it all the way to nationals where they meet Team Caesar and Team Foo Fighters AL4. The latter is made of the three time national champions including the powerful Ren Suzugamori, who seems to have a special power called Psyqualia.

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After losing to the powerful AL4, the train over the summer with Team Caesar, who they’ve become good friends with. But Aichi is summoned by the mysterious Ren, who offers him a new deck. This seems to awaken Aichi’s own Psqualia powers and changes him for the worse. He never loses a game, but his attitude toward his own teammates is rough, and he pushes himself much too hard, fainting after every battle. Kai sees this and challenges him to a Cardfight, causing Aichi to realize what’s happening. He quickly rejects the power and gives Ren back the deck.

But, the final battle calls on Aichi to accept both parts of himself – the good and bad parts. It’s revealed, too, that this final battle between the dark and the light would apparently influence a battle far away on the planet Cray, where Vanguard was born. Unbeknownst to the two fighters, they were actually fighting for the fate of another world.

evil_anime_aichi_you_die_face_by_aspiringemperor-d4nq4vkIt’s hard to say I liked this anime. As with all Card Game type animes, each episode is literally a game. That’s all that happens. There is obviously some character development, with Aichi coming out of his shell and having to make difficult choices, but this was 65 episodes, and I had to force myself through them.

The characters are predictable, don’t change all that much, and full of common tropes. Kamui has an obsession with Aichi’s sister Emi, but the younger sister of another player is obsessed with Kamui, creating a sort of love triangle that I could have lived without. The only character I really thought was any kind of decent was Misaki, who actually has a complex background which causes her to avoid Vanguard altogether. She’s very reluctant in the beginning, but then is able to use the game as a way to heal her trauma.

Final Words

Even if it’s a lot nicer and more realistic than other Card Game animes, it’s still a Card Game anime. It’s predictable and there’s not really a plot except “let’s go to nationals and be the best.” Though it is a very Japanese plot, it’s still not very original. It’s even got the “strange power transforms main character” cliche from Yu-gi-oh! we all know and love.

I would give this anime…6/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Phi Brain, Rozen Maiden, Haikyu!!

What do you think? Do you like Card Game anime? Tell me in the comments below!

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Visual Novel Review: “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair”

11If I could describe the Danganronpa franchise in just a few words, they would probably be “disturbingly addicting.” This is no different with Spike Chunsoft’s second installment in the visual novel series “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.”

Like the first game, a group of students finds themselves in a strange place with their memory completely gone of their time in the prestigious academy called Hope’s Peak. They somehow have arrived on a tropical island where a strange plush rabbit named Usami says they must get along and gather “hope fragments” in order to graduate.

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Things quickly turn bad when another strange character, also a plushie, named Monokuma (a visitor from the first game) shows up and forces the students to participate in a “Killing Game,” where if a student gets away with a murder of another, they can leave the island. The students must now use their detective skills to solve each case and punish the murderer.

I fell in love with this morbid deconstruction-genre series with the first anime was released back in 2014. It’s one of the most violent things I’ve ever watched, but this second installment was captivating. The characters were relatable and complex, and each “free time” activity revealed more of their complex personalities. Despite some of their strange quirks, I found quite a few favorites in the mix.

d1Just like it’s previous installment, there’s a twist ending. This sequel, however, reveals to be a much bigger twist with a lot of surprises, not only in the actual trials and cases, but also at the finale. The ending was slightly disappointing at the final villain reveal, but it was very fitting.

There’s a huge running theme of despair in this game, as everything relates to saving everyone. One character, Nagito Komaeda, actually becomes obsessed with it to the point of insanity with the idea of preventing despair. He even nearly begs to be a “stepping-stone” to this great hope he wants everyone to achieve. The idea of hope against despair becomes very important to everyone, acting as the catalyst for those left to escape the deadly game.

One final note that I noticed. The actual translation of “Danganronpa” is “to win an argument using a bullet.” That’s not to say that you win an argument by shooting someone. It’s referencing the use of Truth Bullets as pieces of evidence. I think this would have been a much better translated name for the franchise than the first game’s choice of “Trigger Happy Havoc.”

Final Words

Oh god, I just can’t get enough of this morbid franchise. It’s so well made, and always keeps me guessing. This installment is no different, with clue gathering and side stories enough to keep you busy for days. After you finish the main story, a bunch of goodies becomes unlocked, including a special alternate story where Usami beats Monokuma and the students actually are able to gather the hope fragments. I can’t wait to check out the third visual novel, and there’s another “bonus game” that was just released along with two more anime series.

I would give this anime…10/10 (rating scale)

If you like this visual novel, you might also like: Assassination Classroom, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Deadman Wonderland

Eight new anime for the fall season! A roundup of Crunchyroll’s anime passport.

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image (c) Crunchyroll.com 2017

Every otaku’s dream is going to Japan. I’ve wanted to go for many years. Now Crunchyroll.com is giving anime fans a chance to enter a drawing for one. What’s better, is all you have to do is watch the first episode of eight different anime. These anime are all brand new for the fall season, so here are my first impressions.

Urahara

Starting off strong, this anime has a very cute style of animation. The entire first few minutes were a little overwhelming because the scenes were very visually loud: bright colors, stylized, and blob-like in some cases. Even when the first characters were introduced, I found it hard to follow since the art style uses so many bright colors. Once the plot began, however, I had started to get used to the loud visuals.

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It’s clear this series is meant to be as cute as possible, where evil aliens stealing national monuments are even designed to be cute. It turns out these aliens are trying to create their own culture by stealing Earth culture, and they literally have no imagination. A new character is introduced and her sidekick is an oversized fried shrimp (who is some kind of pet to the aliens). This character helps the girls fight back against the aliens using a sort of magical-girl type item.

The plot seems a little thin, but it seems like it might be a very cute anime, especially if it delves into the relationship between the girls. This series could go one of two ways: it could do just that, or it could turn into a parody of the magical girl genre. I’m hoping for either one, since I’d enjoy both. I’m really liking the art style a lot, too, even if it took a bit to get used to.

Black Clover

The episode starts out with two babies that seem to have been abandoned. A priest has decided to raise them and they grow up basically attached. However, fifteen years later, it’s come time for all the children that have come of age to receive their magical grimoires. Every child in the world is able to do some kind of magic by the time they are able to speak, but Asta just seems to not be able to.

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Asta thinks that when he receives his grimoire, he might be able to do magic. When the children gather to receive their grimoires, they all float towards those waiting, except for Asta. Yuno, of course, recieves the most powerful grimoire – the four-leaf clover. But, the celebration is cut short when a strange wizard visits the village and begins to cause havoc. Asta tries to stop the wizard, but he is defeated quickly. When Yuno comes to the rescue, a strange event begins to take place. A shadowy grimoire appears in front of Asta – the five-leaf black clover. It appears to be shaped like a weapon (a sword and shield?). The episode ends with a line explaining that the five-leaf clover “contains a demon.”

I was a bit wary at first, thinking this would be a very cliched anime. I don’t like Asta’s voice actor very much – he seems very annoying and almost young-naruto-like. I do like the concept of a non-magical human in a magical world, and it could be interpretted as a statement about disabilities. While that may not have been intended, it could be a factor. I’m excited to see more, even if I have to suffer Asta’s voice.

Juni Taisen – Zodiac War

The episode starts out introducing Inonoshishi, the daughter of the “Boar” warrior. She has been training her entire life to participate in the “Juni Taisen,” a contest between the twelve clans every twelve years. Her father won the last contest, and she is determined to follow in his footsteps and be the next winner.

Juni-Taisen-Zodiac-War-2However, come time to chose the fighter, her father chooses her sister instead. So angry with this decision, Inono decides to destroy her sister by forcing her to commit various murders in the name of their clan. Eventually, her sister goes crazy and kills herself, leaving Inono to take on the contest.

The day of the fight, the coordinator instructs the warriors they must swallow a strange gem to participate, and of course they accept. They have twelve hours to collect all eleven othergems from the other warriors stomachs. Inono is confident in her abilities, but a strange rabbit warrior catches her off-guard. It turns out he’s actually a “necromatic,” or someone that turns those he kills into his best friends.

This first episode is very fast-paced, so I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. However, it does seem like it could turn out to be a very good story. It’s certainly starts out with a bang, and it quite quickly reveals how twisted the main character is and how far she will go to achieve her ambitions.

Food Wars! Third Plate

The only continuation anime in this lineup, Food Wars! comes out with a season three, picking up very quickly with Soma entering a high-class school for the culinary arts. There are ten of the top students aptly named the “Elite Ten,” who are masters at theirFood-Wars-Shokugeki-no-Soma-Season-3-Release-Date-Confirmed-Third-Plate-Anime-Premiere-In-October-2017 cuisine. Wanting to be the best, Soma challenges one of them for a position in the group.

Kuga, the 8th seat in the elite ten that Soma challenges, is a master of Sichuan cuisine. Soma visits his practice area to get an idea of what he will be facing and is astounded to see a huge group of trainees cooking extremely efficiently. Any other person might be too intimidated to continue with the challenge, but Soma promises to reserve the booth right across from his rival at the Moon Festival. He plans to even outsell him with a challenge to his own dish!

If you’re a fan of the previous seasons, I’m sure you’d love to see where Soma’s going. For new viewers, it may be confusing, but I’m already hooked. Soma’s personality is pretty typical of anime protagonists, but I think the concept of the anime itself is probably the best part.

Dies Irae

This cryptic anime starts out with a man that can supposedly predict the future having a vision of another man standing above a city. It seems the second man has accomplished some kind of goal and is now very powerful. This second man is some kind of general diesiraeand it appears that it is set in Germany, during WWII.

The problem with this anime is basically that I had no idea what the heck was going on, even at the end, where they supposedly explain everything. At some point, three women join him on his mission, but it isn’t clear what the mission is. There are a lot of crazy-type people running around and causing problems, it seems.

The only way I was able to even get a grasp of what was going on was to read the episode description. “At the start of a great war, an important leader in the German security bureau takes on a mission to fight supernatural mutants himself.” Okay, so I guess those crazy people are mutants. This is not explained at all. Basically, I’m not sure what to make of this series. It’s so cryptic that I’ve concluded that it’s not the first anime in the franchise, but I see no other related shows.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Morioka is a NEET and hikkikomori in the extreme, spending her days playing games on the computer. She finds a new MMO that she thinks she might like, and immediately sets into the world, making friends quickly. There’s one thing she doesn’t tell her new friends: she’s actually a woman, not a man like her character.

The first thing I noticed was the blatant Recover-of-an-MMO-Addictname change. The Japanese version is called “Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life,” which has a much better connotation than treating the main character as some kind of addict. While I’m not denying she may be an addict, I think the original title shows a more positive side to the story.

That aside, it seems like a pretty cute anime. Morioka, on her “hot guy character,” quickly makes friends with adorable Lily and it’s apparent there might be something else there. It’s also hinted early on that Lily might actually be a man in real life, and they may have even bumped into each other at the convenient store. I’m interested to see where this goes.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride

This has been a three-part OVA for a while, but it was just recently adapted into an anime. I had learned a bit about the movies previously, and loved the story, so needless to say, I was excited when I saw this on the fall lineup. The story starts out with a young ancient-magus-bride-chise-and-eliasgirl names Chise who can see spirits, but everyone thinks she’s insane. From what I gathered, her parents passed away and she’s been sent from one relative to another for many years. She’s thought of as some sort of pariah, and has no place she feels safe or loved.

As a sort of last resort, she decides to sell herself in a supernatural slave market hoping something might come of it. She states that she just wants a place where she’s wanted. People begin to bid on her, but before long, a strange creature appears before her. The room goes silent as he approaches the stage, placing a big much higher than anyone else. She’s confused by he gentle treatment, and though he’s purchased her, he treats her like a great treasure. He dresses her and feeds her and bathes her, and even protects her when mysterious fairies try to take her away. He explains why he cares so much, besdies wanting to make her his apprentice. He also would hopefully like to make her his wife someday.

This one is completely adorable, but in a hugely endearing way. The animation is beautiful, and the magus is both wise, protective, and a little bit comedic. I did think it was funny that when the magus speaks, they decided to not animate his mouth, but that’s pretty common with non-human characters (see “Guin Saga” with his non-synced opening and closing mouth). I’m really excited to see more, even if I was upset the fairies turned out to be bad guys!

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series

I did find out that this is a redux of an older anime made in 2003 of the same name. It appears this series is a collection of completely new stories not related to the older series. From what I understand, this new anime will also be similar, detailing tales of a girl35756-kino_header named Kino and her talking motorcycle named Hermes. This episode was interesting, and slightly strange as well.

This first episode starts out with Kino and Hermes meeting another traveler on the side of the road. He explains he’s going to a nearby town where murder is not illegal and he wants to live and kill freely. However, the town seems a little different than Kino might have imagined. It’s actually a very safe town, and the strange traveler she’d met gets himself into trouble by demanding Kino hand over all her supplies. An old man explains that even though murder is not prohibited, it doesn’t mean it’s permitted. The episode ends with another traveler asking Kino if the town she just visited is safe, and he just wants peace. She nods and happily explains that it’s the safest place around.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this series. It wasn’t confusing, just unnerving. While it might just be this episode that’s weird, I’m not sure if I’ll be checking out more. On a side note, I’m pretty good at picking out character genders in anime, but I had no idea that Kino was a girl until I checked out information about the 2003 series. The animation is really good, but Kino seems to almost have no personality. She’s a road-hardened traveler who seems nice enough, but I suppose I’ll wait for more to come to learn more about her.

Anime Review: “One Punch Man”

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“That’s the last time you make fun of my chosen hairstyle.”

I’ve been a passive fan of the anime for a while, but I just never got around to seeing it. That is, until now.

I recieved a copy of the first volume of the manga from my LootCrate Anime a while back, and it explained that it used to be a web comic. I thought that was awesome, considering I have been working on my own web comic for a while. I already had a bit of the plot in mind going into this series. I knew it was a parody and it was supposedly hilarious.

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“Okay, I killed it. What now?”

That information was 300% accurate. This anime is a complete riot. It starts out with a man named Saitama living in a city that apparently is infested with really bad villains – there’s a man that turned into Lobster Man because he ate too much lobster – and he finds himself facing this exact villain on the way home from a job interview. He’s so depressed and jaded he didn’t get the job that he doesn’t care if the lobster guy kills him. But, as soon as he sees the creature heading towards a child, he jumps into action and fights him.

From that day on, he decided to become as strong as possible. He trains every day, so much that his hair falls out, and now he’s so strong that he can defeat any foe in one punch. But, now that he’s really strong, he’s easily bored and goes around one-punching all the bad guys.

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“Okay, now put the egg right on my palm and it will cook in precisely 3.49 seconds.”

One day, though, he meets a robot-man named Genos. This cyborg is so impressed with Saitama’s powers that he asks to become his disciple. While Saitama isn’t one to really want a student, he accepts anyway, not really knowing what to teach the boy. Soon the pair gets words of a special organization that registers and rates heroes in the city. They go to join just for the heck of it and Genos gets S rank, while Saitama (who smashes all the physical records) only gets a C rank.

These ranks are very important, though. Higher ranks get more donations and poularity, so of course Saitama is pissed. He knows he’s strong, and proves it over and over again, but people think he’s a cheat because he’s only rank C. This only expands on the hilarity of the series, with Saitama actually trying to help people, but ending up scaring them instead.

The key to a great parody anime is to have as little exposition as possible, while still making sure the audience knows what’s going on. I saw it in “Neo Yokio,” and I saw it once more in “One Punch Man.” It leaves the door open for much more ridiculous things to happen. In fact, this anime actually makes fun of excessively long expositions by Genos backstory expanding about thirty seconds of one episode.

Final Words:

Having just finished a really nice parody anime, this was another gem in my belt. I’m a big fan of this style, having seen so many animes over the years. It just pokes fun at all of the fighting ones, namely “Dragonball Z.” The character development is top notch, too, where Saitama goes from basically a NEET to genuinely caring about people, and his new friend, despite the boy’s misplaced enthusiasm.

I would give this anime…8.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Blue Exorcist, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Excel Saga

“K” Review

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“Did you eat my last tamagomaki?”

I actually saw this anime subbed last year, I believe, but I watched it again dubbed with my best friend and roommate last week. It’s definitely a different experience, and I’m pretty sure Funimation specializes in added a pound and a half of sass whenever they dub something. But this is for sure a somewhat complex anime, and I suppose I didn’t fully understand it the first time I saw it, so a rewatch was kind of nice.

The setting is that of a somewhat futuristic Japan, with advanced technology and a sort of clan system that mimics something of the warring states period (or feudalistic Japan, if you’re familiar). There are seven clans, each with an assigned color, though only two are featured, and the four others only touched on. The red clan, also called HOMRA, appears as a sort of gang with fiercely loyal members, and the blue clan, also called Scepter 4, appears as a police force and more connected to the government.

Each king has a special power, which he is able to give to his clansmen when they join

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“You told him to wear that?”

the clan. The red clan can create and manipulate fire, while the blue clan can freeze and destroy matter. The king of each clan is the most powerful, however, there is a limit. Their power is represented by a giant Sword of Damocles, which appears in the sky when a king begins to fight.

If the king uses too much power, the sword falls and causes physical destruction. This is shown in the prologue, as it has happened before. In the first episode, the leader of the red clan, known as Mikoto Suoh (or the Red King), is captured by the blue clan leader (Reisi Munakata) and put in a special jail. He actually remains there for a majority of the anime in order to prevent him from causing another incident with his sword.

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“I swear I don’t know where her nipples went!”

Now, besides all of this, there is a boy named Yashiro Isana who appears to be a normal high school student. He seems forgetful, as he is known for forgetting his lunch, and often runs around during lunch hour asking for donations, which people gladly give him. He doesn’t seem to care about school, and almost never has his PDA, which is required to enter the school grounds.

However, one day, he’s making his way into town for some errands for the school festival, and a strange man chases him and calls him “The Colorless King.” The man, Kuroh Yotogami, says Yashiro has murdered someone, and he must die. Kuroh’s master, who was the previous Colorless King, instructed him to kill the new Colorless King if that new king is evil. He seems very loyal to his late master, even carrying a recording device with his master words saved on it.

Yashiro insists he has no idea what Kuroh is talking about, and is innocent. With a bit of

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“Alright, slowly, slowly…and drop the giant cake…now!”

trickery, the boy manages to escape, but Kuroh catches up with him, only to be stopped by a strange girl, nude mind you, that apparently was disguised all this time as Yashiro’s pet cat Neko. With a bit of convincing, Kuroh decides to let Yashiro try and prove his innocence. But there’s a bit more to Neko than meets the eye. In fact, there’s more to Yashiro than meets the eye.

In the world of “K,” there are people that possess powers, but are not part of a clan. As it turns out, Neko is one of these – known as a Strain – and she can manipulate peoples senses, and even create false memories. Without revealing too much, we soon find out that Yashiro might not be who he says he is after all, and the Colorless King is not who he says he is either.

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They seem to be overcompensating.

Despite it being quite a complicated setting, “K” manages to pull together an interesting story of friendship, sacrifice, and loyalty. While I feel Neko was a bit of a token character in the beginning, it turns out she simply wants to protect Yashiro and make sure he’s happy. I really enjoyed Kuroh as a character, being a very loyal person myself, and the twist ending I’d forgotten about had me hooked. I also liked the unabashed sass that Yashiro displays early on, even blushing fiercely when Kuroh carries him to safety a few times.

The members of HOMRA were also very endearing. Yata and his fierce loyalty and youth, jumping at the chance to defend his kings honor with a baseball bat or a skateboard was just as attractive as Kamamoto’s dorkiness and short attention span. The characters were very real, even if you only got a short glimpse of them, like the total of twenty minutes the Mikoto gets. There’s also a member of the Scepter 4 that was once part of HOMRA, and this is even explained in somewhat detail.

Final Words:

Man, I really didn’t realize how convoluted this setting was until I started writing this review, but don’t let it scare you off. Despite being somewhat confusing, it’s very well done, with close attention to characters and their interactions. It’s beautifully animated with each battle scene animated as if a wide angle camera was used. A lot of animes avoid long extended scenes because they cost more and require much more work, but “K” spares no expense. You can see it from episode one how much care went into each part. This is probably very close to a perfect anime as one might get. The only thing that brought it down was how confusing the plot was in some parts. But everything does come together in the end.

I would give this anime…9/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji), Magi, Tokyo Ravens

 

“Neo Yokio” Review

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“Only this giant Toblerone can fill the void in my heart.”

I was really excited when I saw the voice cast for this anime advertised. There was a lot of hype about it, and it was a Netflix original dub. I was dissappointed when the various rating sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB gave it such a bad rating. But, I had seen the bad ratings for the new Netflix “Death Note” movie, and ended up liking it, so me and my roommate decided to give it a try. I mean, the cast is all-star, including Jaden Smith, Jude Law, and Susan Sarandon, so it couldn’t be all that bad.

The basic premise is that the world has flooded due to the ice caps melting, and strange creatures referred to as demons have appeared which can possess valuable objects and people. These demons have no physical bodies, so possessing these things is easy for them. There are people within the city of Neo Yokio (formerly New York City) that can fight them called exorcists (of course) that have special powers. As the demons continued

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“Now with extra sparkles.”

to plague Neo Yokio, these exorcist became more and more needed, thus began being paid more and more, and thus became known as magistocrats.

One such exorcist, known as Kaz Kaan, is a neo-riche magistocrat, and a proper slave to fashion. He lives the high life, going to Gatsby-style parties and keeping an eye on the “bachelor board,” which is a public display of the city’s most eligible bachelors in bright lights in Times Square. The series starts after a recent break up, and he is mourning his lost love Cathy by indulging in all rich fancy things, and trying to avoid his arch-rival Arcangelo

However, his Aunt Agatha won’t give him time to do so. She keeps him busy with various exorcism tasks, from making sure there are no demons in the Guggenheim, to standard

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“I told you not to leave the stove on!”

security tasks of looking after a Russian race car driver. He even exorcises the dress of a major fashion icon, who he later becomes friends with. All of this while being as Extra™ as possible.

The problem with this anime is that you have to start it with the fact in mind that it is meant to be rediculous. I mean, rediculous. I don’t think a lot of reviewers actually thought of this when sitting down to watch it. This anime is 3000% a satire, none of which should be looked at with a serious eye. After I realized this, it became the most hilarious anime I have ever seen. From fashion icon Helena St. Tessero’s statement against her own interests and deciding to wear a hospital gown the entire series, to Kaz’s best friends Lexy and Gottlieb inventing the “Caprese Cocktail,” it’s all a parody. Think of how Tamaki from “Ouran High School Host Club” acted, multiply it by ten, and make an entire anime about that one character. That’s “Neo Yokio.”

Final Words:

Really, I encourage you to not take IMDB’s word for it, and really, serious, watch this anime. It’s not a perfect anime by any means, but it sure a dang good one. There are so many ridiculously great things that had me laughing my rear off quite a few times. Another review I read called it a “mesmerizing train wreck,” and I agree with that, taking into consideration that “train wreck” in this sense, is a very, very good thing.

I would give this anime…8.5/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Ouran High School Host Club, Kill la Kill,  Hayate the Combat Butler

“Sakura Trick” Review

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“If we act cute, they’ll give us treats.”

It’s been a week of firsts for me. First hentai, first actually 300% cliche anime, and now first shoujo-ai series. That’s not to say I’m unfamiliar with the genre. Far from it – I was introduced to yuri type anime way back in the day just like everyone else, but most yuri I’d experienced was fandom-related. I’d never actually seen an anime that puts it right in there.

Just a bit of a warning, this may contain a few spoilers!

I have to say, I like it. Sakura Trick was adorable as can be, and it’s very unlike most romance stories I’ve encountered. Most of the time, the romance is like a big reveal at the end. Yuu and Haruka are already the best of friends, and the quickly realize it might be more than just friendship they want. The big kiss is just about the middle of the first

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“While she’s asleep, I can steal her hair clip!”

episode (as these episodes are sometimes two separate stores in one) and the big reveal at the end is actually (spoilers!) whether or not they love each other.

The entire series is also a kind of slice of life story where Yuu and Haruka are just starting high school and become friends with four other girls. Two of them, Kotone and Shizuku, room together, and it’s revealed early on they also have a thing for each other. They, too, are childhood friends, and they are almost completely opposite. I really love how open they are – they hold hands and snuggle while just walking to school. At first Shizuku is frustrated about the attention, but she comes around to the outgoing Kotone.

Yuu and Haruka, however, feel the need to hide their relationship. At first, they are unsure how others will react, but later on, they hide it from Yuu’s sister Mitsuki. The

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“Did I leave the stove on?!”

problem is, Mitsuki has never actually met Haruka, and the second she does, she falls in love. But she doesn’t realize this until the last episode, because she’s been getting jealous the whole time without realizing it.

This anime is so wonderfully done. It does have a few annoying fan-service bits, but nothing besides a few waggling skirts and bouncy boobs. Sadly, not even these were necessary and kind of detracted from the entire point of the anime. I found myself thinking “I just want to see a cute love story about two girls, not watch a pair of boobs, okay?” It wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the others I have seen, however.

Final Words:

Despite it’s minor flaws, it’s a very good anime. It’s got cute, snuggly, and real life issues high school girls might deal with. Though, it’s a bit sugar-coated, as most of the genre might tend to be. Overall, an excellent presentation with minimal unnecessary fan-service and complex characters.

I would give this anime…8.5/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like Servant x Service, Azumanga Daioh!, Inu x Boku

Pictures from opening of anime, (x), and episode 3

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