Lupin the 3rd, series 3


Lupin is at it again with his usual gang of thieves and Zenigata always trailing close behind. Whether it's looking for meteorite made of gold, getting involved with a young sick heiress to her dad's priceless artwork or tangling with some lady pirate looking for old Spanish treasure, Lupin never stops until he gets what he wants.


80's anime.



Ladies Versus Butlers


Tomoya Aki is an otaku, loving anime, dating games and other related fandoms. One day walking down a street, he finds a white hat flying in the wind. He manages to get the hat and give back to its owner--a pretty girl his age. He is stunned by her beauty, and just then he has an epiphany to create a dating sim game to his likeing featuring that girl. But he has to find some local talent who'd be willing to help him. His search leads to Eriri, a half Japanese American who is the best art student in school and also a dojinshi creator. Tomoya has the inspiration for the game but can't remember what the girl looked like, which doesn't impress Eriri nor does it seem to be something to be taken seriously. He also finds the smartest girl in the school Utaha who is also already a popular novelist. listening to Tomoya's idea, she doesn't find it all too original and also balks at the idea of helping him. Tomoya is desperate but finally runs into the girl who's hat he returned, Megumi. She doesn't seem to enthusiastic about the idea as she doesn't know anything about anime, games or otakudom, plus she doesn't have sifinificant traits that would make her stand out. Eriri and Utaha begin a conflicting rivalry and both agree to help Tomoya design the game to try to outdo each other. They are unimpressed with Tomoya's drafts and are losing interest in the idea. They give him a deadline, though he may not make it in time. Eriri and Utaha both try to talk him out of it, but then later Megumi says the 2 girls helped her in trying to become the girl Tomoyo envisions in the game. All agree to help create the game, with Tomoya shooting for a debut at Winter Comiket...


This is another anime about an otaku, in this case a dating sims game fan who wants to make his own game. It's interesting how the creators of this series depict Tomoyo the otaku as not very likeable, obssessive (like a otaku can be), obnoxious and even a little creepy. He knows what he wants for the game and when others tell him otherwise he strongly and loudly disagrees and tells them how it should be and why. As the series goes along though, we can see how devoted and hopeful he is to get to his goal, even taking several jobs to raise the funds for the game project. So it's completely understandable that the 2 talented girls don't want anything to do with him at first, while the inspiration for the game, Megumi, is completely clueless about his world of otakudom. Fortunately for the 2 girls, they don't want to be outdone by each other and are touched by Megumi who says they helped her. Eriri is a loudmouth and irritable, while Utaha is calm cool and will point out your faults and flaws to you. It may not sound like the ideal team to make a game, but in the anime world it's perfect. Like I said it took a little while to warm up to Tomoyo, but once they decide to go with the project, I'm eager to see how it will unfold and if they can make their goal. It could have been all laughs but the character interaction, the conflicting personalities and devotion make for some interesting interaction I think. Besides the character designs are pretty cute and animation is smooth. I look forward to the conclusion, not just to see if they can make the game, but also to see if they will learn something from each other and even like, get along...?! Thumbs up.


Yuki Yuna is a Hero


Yuna, Mimori, Fu and Itsuki all attend Sanshu middle school and are members of the "Hero Club." The club's specialty is to help out anyone who needs it and in any way, be it fellow students, clubs, local events and anything else. One day there is a strange occurrence: all 4 are caught in a bright explosion of light, then find themseleves in a bizarre forest where strange and deadly monsters attack them. Fu and Itsuki then explain that they know what's going on--the creatures called Vertex and they aim to destroy something called Shinju which protects humanity. Fu tells the other 2 to explain, while they use a special app on their phones to transform into warriors with special powers and weapons to fight the Vertex. Yuna is about to leave when she sees the 2 in peril, and soon the Vertex are attacking them too. She summons up the courage and bravery to also transform into a warrior. The 3 band together to destroy the core of the Vertex, and everyone returns to the real world. Fu explains they've been tasked by an organization called Taisha to defeat the Vertex which number up to 12. Mimori feels bad that she can't help because she is wheelchair bound and is upset that Fu has kept everything a secret. When the Vertex attack again and go after Yuna, Mimori summons up her courage and transforms into a warrior, with the ribbons of her outfit acting as stilt-like leg replacements, and all succeeding to defeat the Vertex. Later on they receiver help from another warrior named Karin, who can defeat the monsters singlehandedly and deems the other 4 unsuitable for the job at hand, but doesn't get along with the others, at first. Soon though Fu receives messages from Taisha that things could get worse for the Hero Club...


Oh I definitely got a very heavy Magica Modoka vibe from this series, with magical girl warriors with awesome weapons, a strange netherworld with bizarre creatures out to destroy you. Also the serious tone of the battles and dangers also stem from that series, including the story heading towards more serious peril for the characters or even worse. So why not just watch that series again? I think what sets apart this series from something else is probably it's characters, but I think the one important character to make note of is Mimori, whom I believe is the first heroine I've seen in a japanese anime that is wheelchair bound. This is a great idea to include a character confined to wheelchair who overcomes that hindrance to become a hero just like her friends who have the luxury to still use their legs. This could inspire hope for real kids in wheelchairs who watch this series: never give up on your dreams, you can still do what you want to do in life even with a handicap, nothing is impossible. I thought at first her warrior powers would heal her legs, but no that doesn't happen which is more realistic. Her warrior outfit becomes a substitute for her legs, which I thought was really clever. Of course the focus is on Yuna who is cute and brave and has a pretty cool costume and weapon to use. And I like the 2 sisters who protect each other, with one still learning the ropes. As for Karin, she is unlikable at first but then learns that's okay to be friends with her "inexperienced" warrior friends. She's actually a typical character in anime nowadays, the one who "changes," but she still works and provides a bit of balance to the characters. I also like the fact they use a phone app to transform, as opposed to a magic pen or wand like other magical girls. Yes you've seen this all before, but there is some originality to it. Marginal thumbs up.


Gourment Girl Graffiti

Ryo has been living by herself since her grandmother died, who taught her how to cook for herself and make wonderful dishes. Whenever she eats them though, they taste bland to her.  Her second cousin Kirin, comes to the city--against her mother's protests--to study at cram school. Ryo offers her to stay with her, and this gives her an opportunity for more cooking practices. To her delightful surprise, Kirin loves her cooking, and when she tries it herself, it IS delicious. After eating more of her cooking, Kirin theorizes that food tastes better when it's shared with others. Ryo now looks forward for more cooking for Kirin and herself. Kirin becomes closer to Ryo like a real family member, though she gets jealous when Ryo's school friend Shiina visits or hangs out with them, who is more chummy with Ryo. The 3 together eventually hang out more at Ryo's place, making wonderful dishes to sample and try. On her own one day, Ryo also realizes her food tastes better when thinking of loved ones, particularly her late grandmother. And so she looks forward to Kirin and others to return and share food with them... 


This 4 panel manga inspired anime is pretty straight forward, wholesome entertainment for anime fans that like Japanese food, and what anime fan doesn't (well most of them anyway)? There's no fan service, panty shots, no things bouncing around--you could call it "decent?" Well, I mean that a family could watch it together. It is always more pleasant to have a meal with a friend or family, so perhaps--though I can't confirm it--that it tastes better when in company with others.  Good times call for good food, right? Mostly I think of special occasions when it comes to eating together.  But anyway the series is pretty harmless with really no questionable content. We do get extreme closeups of the characters putting food into their mouths, licking their lips and so on. I'm not sure what they intended with that, but I gather it's about savoring the moment of ingesting the food into your mouth, when you taste it and get pleasure out of it, and nothing really else. This is mostly about friends and family enjoying food together because it's a way to connect and getting to know each other. I guess it could be also an escape from the "real world," when things don't go right, like when Ryo doesn't do well on one of her tests, that she can retreat to food. All that aside the animation is standard above average quality for a tv series, cute character designs and there are some touching and humorous moments besides all that food stuff. Maybe it could have had some more humor here and there. It's great to watch though I thought it was slightly static. I still recommend it of course. Thumbs up.


Uta no Prince-sama


This anime series, based on a hit visual novel/game, tells the tale of student Haruka who dreams of becoming a great song composer, maybe composing a song for her favorite idol--the chipper and friendly Hayato. She enrolls into the prestigious Saotome academy where all great wannabe composers learn the tricks of the trade. She meets and befriends two handsome students on enrollment day, the friendly Otoya and the seductive Jinguji. After successfully passing the entrance exam, she begins to make herself at home at the academy. A stray black cat leads her to a meeting with someone who resembles Hayato, though he is not very friendly to Haruka. It turns out it's Ichinose, Hayto's twin brother. Haruka faces an early problem as she realizes even though she can play piano, she can't read music. This motivates her to learn to read music in a short amount of time, and rumors spread as how she was able to get into the academy without that musical knowlege. The students pair up as instructed to write a song together, and it's through the comfort and motivation of friendly Otoya that helps her come up with a song for the class. However she freezes up when trying to play piano because of the constant rumors being spread. The serious Masato understands her pain and comes to her aid with his own song. Soon Haruka is touched and moved by several of the male students, which brings out the best in her as well as them...


The "otome" visual novel games the anime is based on is similar to like a dating sim game but geared for girls. Remember the Sakura Wars game where the player interacts with the female warriors and based on what you do or say to them the gameplay is different, even getting one to fall in love with you? Uta is similar but the character you play is Haruka, the only lady of the story. But it's less of a game and more of a story that you can change, thus the name visual novel. Anyway the anime adaptation is pretty straightforward as Haruka interacts with most of the guys (and there's a lot of them!) in the series, all with different personalities. Add to that the wild founder of the academy "Shining" who shows up on opening day in costume, bouncing around, to the dismay of some of the veteran students.There's also Haruka's teacher Ringo who always crossdresses and acts female, and very well I must say. Of course there is a lot music as well as songs performed by the characters. This was my main interest in the series as I always like an anime with a music angle. The story itself is nothing to rave about, but works if you understand the origin of the series. Every character has a secret or back story, which is standard in anime like this. No doubt this kind of series will appeal to ladies, guys...maybe or maybe not. I think they would probably go for Love Live or Idolmaster instead! Not that this is a bad series--I think it would be good to sit through once, and it will be enjoyable. ARE YOU READY? Moderate thumbs up from me.


In the future, the Earth's resources have been depleted and therefore a mining colony has been established on the moon so the Earth inhabitants can survive and flourish.  But all is not perfect on the moon. The colonists complain of being treated unfairly with low pay and feeling as if they are of a lesser race than Earthlings because of being colonist. As such they resort to terrorism in retaliation and to make their cause known to everyone. Of course the Earth leaders who are charge of them are under fire by the higher ups, and so they appoint Alex, head of the defense to get rid of the protestors and "terrorists." A young man named Shun gets mixed up with the the colony workers uprising, as his deceased brother was part of the movement. His best friend also gets caught in the crossfire and the workers do their best to resist the forces. They protect and hide around their stronghold Dallos, a mysterious advanced form of ancient technology whom no one knows what is it's purpose. Eventually Shun joins the resistance after the seeing the crimes the Earth defense has lied about and committed. When the earth forces try to destroy Dallos as a last resort, it actually rebuilds itself, but they are not prepared for what will happen next.


This was an interesting watch, mostly because of the fact it was the first OVA or Original Video Animation, and also the first straight to video anime. It's a 4 parter with each episode running 25 minutes or so, so about a movie length if you wanted to watch it in one day. Knowing 80's titles, I thought it would be more light hearted, and yet I was pleasantly surprised how serious it's content and message was. It's a futuristic setting, and yet a lot of the issues: equal rights for workers, discrimination, authority abuse and government cover ups, all were and still are timely subjects of current situations. The animation is very good for being from the 80's, and set the standard for later OVA series that look high quality, compared to TV series where there is a tighter budget. The characters are good though not totally memorable. I like how Alex goes from being stern with his guidlines and his job to actually learning a lesson from everything in the aftermath. I expected Shun to actually support the colonists cause, though I didn't expect his girlfriend would do a 180, after pleading with shun not to but then seeing the horrors of what is happening. As for Dallos, I'm still not sure what it's full purpose was and perhaps that's the point. I mean they have an idea what it can do when people "misbehave" if you will, so I think it's one of those "leave well enough alone" kind of things. For historical purposes, Dallos is a great watch after all, and probabaly one to have in your classic collection. Maybe not the most memorable OVA, but all future video series owe a lot to this one. Thumbs up.


Sound Euphonium


The Kitauji High School band club usually performed very well at concerts and were good enough to make it to the nationals. But one year they only made it as runners-up, which was devastating to some band members such as devoted trumeter Reina. Kumiko is a member of the band, playing a Euphonium in the bass section. When the new year comes around, she and her two new friends Hazuki and Sapphire reluctantly decide to join the band club again. Kumiko wants to play a different instrument than euphonium while Hazuki wants to play the trumpet. But the enthusiastic vp of the club Haruka is determined to get new recruits for the bass section. It's leaked that Kumiko plays euphonium, but she decides to try it agian. Hazuki is seduced into playing a tuba and gives it a nickname to boot. Sapphire sticks with her personal favorite: the contrabass. Mr. Taki is the new music teacher and advisor for the club, and decides to have the club vote whether or not to try to make it to nationals, while others hope just to play at the Sunrise Festival. The vote goes in favor of the nationals and so Taki warns them he will very strict in getting them to practice to get to a concert level of playing. Some ensembles practice, while others neglect to do so. At their first practice together with Mr. Taki, they play very badly, so he says they can't expect to play at the festival let alone the nationals if they play like they did. Some students don't like how Taki is running the show, and lose interest in the band. A practice is cancelled, and the heads of the club have to figure out what to do. Reina is frustrated and snaps at Kumiko after hearing criticism about Mr. Taki. Taki runs some vigourous and unusual drills to get everyone to practice better and get to a level he wants. The band later gets together for practice so Taki can hear them. They have much improved, and to the delight of everyone, Taki says they can aim for the festival as well as the nationals now...


I always like a series that has something to do with music, but I never had the privilege of being in a band during school. I guess it was just too intimidating and too time consuming--having to either blow into an instrument constantly or use a bow to play something. I guess I was destined to play a guitar. But seeing a series like this gives me an idea what it was like to be in a symphonic band. It's interesting to see a Japanese series centering around western instruments, and that even the cute school girls in anime can use trumpets, tubas and euphoniums (and I never knew that's what they were called). It's also interesting to see that the students devotion to band varies: some are just in it for fun, some probably just doing it for their mom or dad or some are striving to be the best. When faced with a challenging teacher/advisor, we see where their devotion lies. We start with a typical anime school setting, but it became more interesting when Kumiko and friends start talking about band and instruments and soon it becomes a great character study and not just an appreciation of band. Kumiko's relationship with Reina is rather cold after the failure of the previous year of getting to the nationals--Reina was heartbroken and couldn't believe Kumiko didn't feel the same. Now Kumiko has to start from scratch from her, though she's so afraid to approach her. She's also trying to restart a friendship with childhood friend Shuichi, after a falling out a few years earlier. Her two classmates Hazuki and Sapphire are very charming and are great more relaxed counterparts to the rather serious Kumiko. I also like the entusiasm of Haruka the VP of the band club, who's a bit overzealous and overexcited about getting new recruits for the bass section, and she's also very cute. Anime series where they aim for a goal keep me hyped to see the conclusion, so I hope they make it to the nationals--of course I hear there's a second season too. For something a little different in a school anime, and if happen to be a band otaku, you many want to check this one out. Thumbs up.


Triage X


There are several young recruits who work as nurses and such at Mochizuki General Hospital, but it is all a charade. The hospital is home base to an organization known as Black Label, a vigilante group who takes the law into their own hands and execute criminals, undesirables and other "cancers" of society--a cancer they want to stop the spread of infection.  Arashi, the only male member of the team, takes his job very seriously and wears a helmet on during his jobs--a metaphor for wanting to hide his expressions or his feelings, feeling no emotion or sympathy with the criminals he executes. He even gives a gun to a target in hoping he would shoot himself. The main female member Mikoto questions his dangerous tactics, until he sees scars on Arashi's body. The targets quickly become more dangerous and wild, putting everything on the line and thinking they can win against Black Label, even using a hostage against them. Of course the team are one step ahead of them but realize that all these insane criminals are part of the same group. The police meanwhile try and catch up with BL, as their actions are not part of the department and of course illegal. On top of that officers are getting injured dealing with the wild criminals. Mikoto remembers that Arashi was badly injured in a terrorist attack which killed her brother, and Arashi was saved using her brother's organs. Now things get more complicated when a lone vigilante starts stepping on BL's toes, burning criminals to death...


I wasn't sure what to expect from this title, and the plot synopsis I thought was interesting enough. But from the first episode this series was pretty engaging and the action is fantastic. The character designs are great even though there are tons of fan service going on here. The swordswoman can barely fit in her bikini if not all of her clothes, and of course the main group of female characters are all curvy and either have cleavage-a-plenty or wear less down below. A lot of the situations involve ladies in peril by some rather sick men too, so this definitely not a title for kids. I'm not sure why it had to be so extreme, for the villains to treat the women the way they do. In the end they do get their come uppance, boy do they! I do like the main characters such as Arashi, who feels like some sort of creation, like a Terminator who wants to kill without remorse, because of what he's been through. And Mikoto, who's basically his partner and who's brother was Arashi's best friend, killed in an attack and now whose organs Arashi has in his body. How is she supposed to interact with him normally knowing all of this? There are some other fan characters, like the teenage idol of the group who's all bubbly and yet is a demolitions expert. And the fire loving vigilante is another layer to add to this adventure. She meets Mikoto in school and becomes overly friendly with her, insinuating some sort of yuri relationship. But this is THAT kind of series, adult themes, fan service to bring in the guys, violent action and some humor too. On that basis, I like this series. Thumbs up.


 Space Adventure Cobra


In future we meet a guy named Johnson, and has a boring office job like everyone else. His robot servant named Ben suggest he try to have some and go try a "trip," a virtual reality kind of dream mechanism that seems very real when experienced. His Trip changes though from what it was supposed to be programmed for. In it, he becomes a super cool adventurer named Cobra, exploring space and has a female android named Lady Armaroid. He battles with a man named Valken, head of the pirate guild--a crime syndicate--and reveals his powerful Psycho Gun, where his fake left hand covers it up. After waking up and driving home he comes across a man who looks a lot like Valken the Guild leader. A confrontation leads to the truth that the man really is Valken, who asks where Cobra is. In the heated argument. Johnson points his left hand at Valken, and he is blasted. Johnson sees the Psycho gun on the end of his left arm, and realizes he is Cobra. Returning home Cobra starts to remember and finds a hidden room. Suddenly armed assailants storm in and attack. Ben reveals itself to be Armaroid and she and now Cobra make quick disposal of the bad guys. Cobra remembers he altered his looks to hide from the Guild and live a peaceful life, and the Trip unlocked his previously forgotten memories. Their adventures resume with more Guild bad guys to pursue and plenty of dangerous space babes...!


This is another title I didn't know what would be like, but since it's a classic series I wanted to give it a go. I was NOT disappointed. I guess this week is like "fan service week" for the 2 titles I viewed. Cobra is no exception, though the service is more muted since we are in the 80's. That doesn't mean the space ladies are featured in various forms of undress, or skimpy outfits. That aside: this is an action packed series, with plenty of twists and turns, violence, humor and good pacing of everything. The setup of the story--with Cobra apparently losing his memory and it being revived by a futuristic dream device, reminds me a lot of Total Recall (Arnold's movie), and I seriously wonder if that movie basically ripped off Cobra rather than come from Phillip K. Dick's sci-fi stories. And both movies have lots of action and violence and sexy women to boot. The animation is again pretty fluid for an 80's series, and it's interesting to have cigar chomping hero--something you never see nowadays. I hope there is more backstory to Cobra, like what he did before he lost his memory and if there is more to him than meets the eye. There's lots of opportunity, and I'm pretty sure I won't be disappointed. I'm not so far. Thumbs up!



Valvrave the Liberator

In the 71st year of the True era, most of the human have moved from Earth to other planets and other artificial space bases, such as a Dyson Sphere. There are two superpowers: Dorssia, who are a powerful military and European based empire and ARUS with a North American basis. There is another country known as JIOR which consists of Japan and other Asian countries and are neutral peaceful and prosperous. Dorssia has a sent a group of teenage military trained team of boys to infiltrate JIOR and find a secret weapon they are working on. Meanwhile Haruto and friends live a peaceful and typical teenage life, with Haruto and his childhood friend and crush Shoko, who is the daughter of the JIOR prime minister. Without warning Dorssia forces attack the Dyson Sphere in hoping to take control and expand their territory. The secret team led by L'elf succeed in finding a powerul robot called Valvrave, but at the last second the dying engineer manages to eject the robot to the surface where Haruto just happens to be. Haruto has witnessed the violence and death caused by Dorssia and even seeing Shoko get caught in an explosion. He snaps and takes off in the robot to easily destroy the enemy. Returning back to land L'elf stabs and shoots Haruto, who falls dead. As L'elf starts to walk away, Haruto rises again and bites L'elf on the neck, and both fall to the ground. As L'elf's teammates arrive, he turns on them and wounds his colleague. He, Haruto and friends escape, while his teammates wonder why the loyal L'elf has returned. The Valvrave robot has made Haruto immortal and he has the ability to transfer his soul to another being and now is the only capable of operating the robot. L'elf is captured by JIOR forces after switching back, but escapes and single handedly destroys an entire troupe of soldiers. JIOR goes back on their word to evacuate all of the high school students. Realizing they have to rely on themselves, Shoko and Haruto lead the school in independence from JIOR and anyone else, actually separating their colony from the rest of the Dyson Sphere, with Valvrave at hand to defend them and L'elf in tow...


I thought this was going to be another Gundam clone and in fact it starts out that way. It's all set up with a young teenage guy stumbling across a super robot that's more powerful than the enemy's mecha. But the story set up and plot take a somewhat different turn which makes it very watchable. The robot is a little different as it makes the user immortal and gives the ability for the user to transfer his soul to another person with a direct bite to the skin. But it's a very kick ass robot in the tradition of a Gundam that can take on a fleet by itself. It also leaves the person who was used without any memory of what the person inside him did: did you get that? The best part comes when JIOR is willing to sacrifice it's people to protect themselves, the school declares independence from them and takes Valvrave with them!That's a nice spin on the story and it takes the anime to a different and interesting level. The characters are interesting from the unsure Haruto to the more confident Shoko who turn out to make a good team. Then there's L'elf who is stemmed from Dorssian military training and believes conflict is important and the only option. Obviously he has a past that we are eager to learn about. As for Valvrave, it definitely doesn't look like a Gundam--it has it's own original design. The best part is the interface which is a cute teenage blonde girl that pops up on the screen and tells you everything is okay. If anyone but Haruto is in the cockpit seat, she will let you know that it's NOT okay. But it's way powerful and I bet it has more tricks up it's sleeve. This is a nice spin on the genre and I look forward to the conclusion. thumbs up.



Brave Beats


On a distant planet, A "Dancerian" named Breakin challenges the king of dance, showing off his fantastic Breaking moves. But the king says he doesn't stands a chance against him and so he fails. His punishment is to have his dance stones taken from him and sent to another planet. His objective is to go and find the scattered stones. And wouldn't you know that the planet happens to be Earth?! Breakin is reduced to a cute little robot form and so must resort to having someone help him restore his energy and help him find the stones. He comes across a kid named Hibiki who reluctantly takes him into his home, and does not believe in Breakin's plight. The stones begin to appear, and be used by classmates or others who can't control the power of the stone, making things go awry and destructive. Hibiki ends up having to fuse with Breakin to create a powerful new dance being named Flash Beat. Using Breakin's power, his dance moves can counter the uncontrollable stones and in doing so gives them more powerful. Meanwhile some villains make their appearance: a duo who love to steal for fun and who work for a mysterious man named Kamiya who seems to be looking for the stones as well. Hibiki's friend Kotone has become infatuated with Flash Beat the moment he saw him and hopes to meet him up close and personal. Another alien appears on earth, taking the form of a cute bunny like creature name Adeline who befriends to Kotone. When Flash Beat has trouble with his moves (due to Hibiki's lack of practice), Adeline decideds to fuse with Kotone and create another new dance being called Wink Beat. Both dancers can take down the villainous duo and conquer the dance stones, but Kamiya is about to make himself known...


This is sort of a mix of elements of stuff like Dragon Ball, Pokemon and DDR maybe!With the simplistic animation style it's definitely geared for kids, but I do like the dance aspect of the series, especially since the aptly named Breakin is expertise in, well, breakin'! It's also interesting that the Dancerian and the human character can fuse together to make a powerful dance warrior (and a good looking one to boot!), although fusing is nothing new. But there's the catch that the human has to practice dancing so he can keep up in his warrior mode moves. We then throw in a couple henchman: a beautifully annoying lady (can you say Jessie?) and her simple minded muscle man cohort who can only say "yeah!" who are straight out of something like the pokemon anime. Even more nods to pokemon or even Dragon Ball, where they have to go and find the dance stones to complete his quest. So it's a pretty simple anime with a standard story line--nothing fantastic about it. I liked the dancing and the opening theme song, plus the fused dance warriors are cute, but there's not much else to give it a rave review. But kids are going to love it, and why not? It's got everything to please them in this show, but even they've seen it before. I'll give a minor thumbs up.

Cat's Eye

Hitomi is a young woman who runs the popular Cat Cafe with her two sisters Rui and Ai. They also have secret lives as a trio of art thieves known as Cat's Eye, as it says on their calling card they leave. The purpose of their thefts is to collect the art pieces left behind by their father who has been missing for some time, and hope the art will provide some clues to either his whereabouts or his fate. Hitomi's love interest is police officer Toshio, who is obssessed with catching Cat's Eye. Not only does he not know Hitomi is Cat's Eye, but also his discussions with her about museum security gives the trio opportunity to bypass it when they strike. The only clue Toshio has so far about them is that they are women, which he found out when he bumped into Hitomi during a chase (and touched her breast). Time and time again though Cat's eye slips through his fingers, gaining the ire of his frustrated police chief. Special investigator Mitsuko is brought in to try and solve the case, and using her intellgence and fighting skills nearly unmasks them, but thanks to Ai's high tech savvyness she fails. Cat's Eye's rival is a blonde known as "lupin's bride" who nearly beats them to their act, but decides to help them when she finds out who they are. Does she know something about their father....?


I always loved City Hunter the anime, and then I heard of Cat's Eye and I caught some of it at a convention several years ago. I didn't appreciate as much until just recently, as I've always loved watching classic anime. It definitely has that 80's vibe, and you get that feeling with the opening titles. As the for the anime itself, it's a very engaging caper comedy/action/drama. It's difficult to limit it to one category as one moment there's plenty of intrigue and action, and then there's schoolgirl antics, Toshio being scolded by his boss or him being slapped by Hitomi for being "ecchi" again. There's also added intrigue with the plotline concerning the trio's father, and brings up a lot of questions: who was he, how did his art get scattered all over the place and why is he not in the picture (so to speak)? This adds a layer of interest to the series and makes you want to tune in to find the answers. As for the anime design, it definitely takes from Tsukasa Hojo's manga pretty well. He has a knack for drawing body types well from the muscular broad shouldered guys to the curvy and leggy ladies. The animation is pretty fluid for an 80's show and doesn't really look cheap like other series do of the time. I always get a kick out of the end song which have the girls in leotards doing aerobic exercises, which was the mainstay back then (I remember we had to do aerobics in Junior High), in fact their thief outfits are like leotard body suits. It's a fun nostalgic romper, and on top of that you have a story where the thieves are the heroes, or rather the heroines which is another plus, and I like that. Thumbs up.


Yuri on Ice!!!


Yuri Katsuki is talented figure skater and hopes to be as great as his longtime idol, Russian champion Victor Nikiforov. He is Japan's best, and soon he is competing against his idol at a championship. Yuri though succumbs to pressure frequently and during his skate he fails several jumps, and can only watch his idol win another championship. Victor's fellow countryman, a talented upstart also named Yuri, is disgusted with Yuri K's performance and says he could do much better. The miserable Yuri waves off an chance to take a photo with Victor, which leaves the champ concerned. Yuri K returns home seeing himself as a failure though people still acknowlege him. He returns home to his familys hot spring inn, and has gained weight from eating his favorite pork cutlet bowl a lot. He still shows greatness at the local skating rink, perfectly imitating Victor's skating routine, but he feels his career has ended. He returns to the inn and finds Victor relaxing in the hot spring, apparently waiting for him. Victor has gone against his coaches wishes and retired from skating to come to Japan and be Yuri's coach, as he feels he has the potential to be the next greatest skater. Yuri P has heard of this, and also rushes to Japan, but to get Victor to come back to Russia and be his coach. Victor decides to hold a skate-off, to the public, and decide what he should do and who he should coach. He selects music for the two, music that is contradictory to the skaters strength. It's only when Yuri gets tips from a female dancer does he know what to do. The result: Yuri P returns home by himself and gets a different coach, while Victor stays in Japan and coaches Yuri K. Victor puts Yuri through his paces to make him the best he can be, and to be ready to skate in the national circuit, the international circuit and then the Grand Prix...


Some fans may be disappointed to learn that this anime series is NOT about "yuri" that is "girls love!" In fact there's hardly any girls in sight! Yuri in this case refers to the main Japanese character's name as well as one of young Russian skaters. When I heard that it was about all guys, I immediately said "Yaoi on ice." But turns out I was wrong, as this a very thoughtful, though also humorous anime about figure skaters striving to be the best in the world. What I liked the best is the research that went into all of the background information about ice skating: the jumps, the skating contests, the music and so forth. The creators certainly know their stuff, and I felt right at home after all of ice skating championships I watched on TV, particularly the Winter Olympic skates. And just like watching the real contests, I got nervous watching the characters perform, getting nervous wondering whether or not they will land their jumps. The main characters are great: the somewhat flamboyant world champ Victor, his Russian hot head upstart Yuri P and the star of the show the talented but flawed Yuri K. Victor sees something special in Yuri and we can see it, and he wants Yuri himself to know it which is something he has difficulty with. The humor of the show derives mostly from Victor's antics which borderline on Yaoiistic tendencies, such as him standing up in the hot spring nude to introduce himself to Yuri, or how he gets real close to Yuri and touches his chin as if trying to seduce him or something, scaring Yuri.  Of course there are plenty other skaters that they will meet during the competition which vary from super cute, obsessive and downright sexual, which all are pretty funny. I'm not sure how this series will end, but I'm hoping we will see Yuri K stand at the top podium at least at some point in the story, because it's been built up well. Anyway I give this one an enthusiastic thumbs up!


Dramatical Murder

Aoba tries to live a peaceful life on the futuristic island of Midorijima, running a junk shop with his little pet dog, who can speak. Gangs are about and soon one gang is harassing Aoba, but is saved by a friend who's in another gang, Dry Juice. Soon, mysterious disappearances of gang members of Ribsteiz occur and it's possibly connected to Rhyme, a virtual battle game where two opponents battle using special attacks, but the user in the real world can sustain actual injuries from the attacks. Aoba downloads a strange email at home and discovers an old school game which makes no sense. The next day Aoba is tricked into a Rhyme with the opponent seemingly knowing Aoba, though he has no idea who it is, nor does he remember every playing Rhyme. Aoba gets badly injured along with his cohort Ren, and when it looks like he will lose, Aoba suddenly changes, becomes confident and begins to attack his opponent easily and eventually win. Still confused, Aoba continues to run into interesting characters, such as a man in a mask who calls him master, and a guy who kisses him and later challenges him to a battle. Still more gang members are disappearing, and gang tags are being painted over with Morphine group tag, who many think are responsible. Aoba's spunky grandmother Tae, seems to know something about what's happening, and secretly speaks with men in suits in a car ride...


This anime is based on a visual novel, and actually based on the sequel video game. This means the anime puts you right smack in the middle of the story, so you're left asking a lot of questions of who is who and where you are. The setup is interesting though, and as the world unfolds you can be amazed by all of the advanced technology, not to mention laugh at Aoba's "antiques" he sells at his junk shop. The show is essentially a mystery, from what I can tell, but there is also the concept of the Rhyme battles that give the story some much needed action. This kind of show it seems you would have to watch more of to get really engaged into it and judge it, so 4 episodes hasn't cut it for me yet. There are some interesting characters such as the guy who wears the gas mask all of the time, and seems to be permanent since he eats with it on. Aoba's grandma Tae is pretty awesome: scrappy and doesn't take any crap from him or his friends. Her characterization hints at her being involved somehow, so that is something to tune in for. Lots of guys in this show, so this will appeal to girls and fans who like to pair up guys for fun. In fact the only girl character is a young girl hanging out with 2 boys. I feel an anime intrigues me more if there is a better balance of male and female characters, but this anime and its game is specifically all guys, so if you don't like that then maybe this anime isn't for you. All in all there's nothing wrong with the anime but nothing's really jumped out at me yet, but there is theoretically a lot to enjoy from your usual anime interests. Marginal thumbs up.



In the near future, A UFO lands on Earth containing an infant boy. That boy grows into a short tempered teen Takeru who joins the Earth Defense Squad which protects the Earth from Alien invasions and such. He becomes a part of the Crusher Squad, a force in charge in case of a UFO attack. During his sleep he has a rather realistic dream of the Emperor of Gishin telling him Takeru is his alien son and his job is to destroy the Earth with something called Gaia. Takeru refuses and so the Emperor condemns him to death. The head of the EDF confirms to Takeru he is from Gishin, and the Emperor contacted him via psychic connection as all Gishins have psychic powers, some of which destructive. Soon a Gishin warrior arrives to kill Takeru, but he fights back and during the chaos uncovers a giant robot in a mountain. This is Gaia, and Takeru easily adapts to using it to fight and destroy the assassin. But during the activation of the robot, he discovers Gaia IS the device that's supposed to be used to destroy the Earth as it has a powerful detonator aboard. Takeru is successful at fighting off Gishin warriors, then when it looks like Takeru is finished, 5 other unknown robots suddenly arrive to form together as one with Gaia to create a super poweful robot. Meanwhile his team is very suspicious of Takeru's strange powers and when they discover the truth, some don't want to work with him. But there's more: the EDF chief says if Takeru is killed, the psychic connection between him and Gaia will be severed, and the robot will detonate. So now the EDF must protect Takeru at all costs, but they must also let him fight in the battles with Gishin...


Love the classic series, and this one is no exception. I love those series where the head villain sends out a lackey to kill the good guy, (rather than do it himself) but he gets killed so what do they do? Keep sending more lackeys which meet the same fate! But this is a super robot anime as well, and one of many that made a name for the genre back in the day. 6 count'em 6 robots combine to form GodMars as if Gaia by itself wasn't awesome enough. You get lots of action not just from the robots, but also Takeru and the villains who both possess psychic powers (I guess kind of like Bison from Street Fighter), so they can emit energy bolts from their fingers or release a whole ton of energy blast from their entire body. There's also dramatic moments such as when Takeru's father explains the truth to him, and as he talks a lightning storm occurs outside--good timing! Godmars is also unique in that the hero is actually an alien and not human, though he sees himself as one since he was raised that way. It reminds me of DBZ where Goku is revealed as an alien but considers himself an earthling. Godmars also teaches about prejudice believe it or not, as some of the Crusher squad refuse to work with Takeru because he is a member of the enemy alien race, can't be trusted, and so on. Of course the gang will understand that not only can he can be trusted that they need him and his abilities on his side. So not only is this a classic anime, an action packed fun anime but thoughtful as well. It's probably not as popular as it should be in North America. Thumbs up.



Tomoko Kuroki is hoping to become a popular girl in high school, after having only one good friend in middle school. The problem is she is incredibly socially awkward, barely speaking to anyone and at an audible level too. What's worse is that thinking she talked to boys before, like 6 times, she thinks she is popular and that she is on her way to become popular. But even the little hint at doing something she hasn't done before is seen as a improvement and that she is progressing, only to blow the next opportunity to socialize with someone, making her regress even more. She does realize that perhaps she's not the popular go she thought she was, so she makes attempts to rectify the matter. She tries to converse with popular brother, but he just finds her annoying yet she tries to humor her in her predicament. Her attempts to make conversation with boys at a rainy bus stop, hang out at a popular burger joint or having to work with a fellow boy student doesn't really help with her social skills. Her middle school friend does encourage her to keep doing her best, though something always seems to ruin her chances, be it an embarassing situation or even more awkward moments in her life...


This is a very funny show, but it's also sometimes painful to watch. Being a painfully shy guy myself, more so when I was younger, I always yearned for more social acceptance (but sometimes wanted to be alone), and yet I was able to establish some longlasting friendships not to mention actually get a girlfriend/wife in the end. Seeing Tomoko's attempts to try to fit in, to be more accepted are sometimes hillarious in their results. She even hopes to be molested on one of those tightly packed Japan trains so she could "fit in" with the other girls who have experienced it, and yet is of course horrified when she thinks it has happened to her (but in the end she wasn't after all). Trying different hairstyles, try to "change" her facial expressions and her inner monologues of jealousy and "plans" make you chuckle. You can't help though but feel for her when she tries to speak to someone--you can sense the awkwardness of the moment and kind of want to urge her on or go into the anime and try to help her. I'm glad this issue is being addressed in an anime series. Not every anime schoolgirl is all perky and outgoing, tough, a genius or can make friends from the get-go. This is a more realistic depiction of a person trying to fit in to their new surroundings, but of course in anime style so ideas and thoughts can be expressed in extreme and exaggerated ways. Besides being a humorous show, it has a decent insight as well as being an unshallow anime with a message. Thumbs up.





5 school friends consisting of Aoi, Ema, Shizuka, Misa and Midori are members of the animation club and their big project was to create an animation short. With their work and experience, all of them hope to work in the anime industry to work on an actual series in some capacity. 4 of the gang graduate while Midori, a year younger than the others, stays in the club. They succeed in getting a job in the industry, with the story focussing on Aoi. She becomes the production asisstant of Musashino animation, while Ema is the key animator of the company. Aoi's job has her driving back and forth, distributing cels that need to be colored and bringing finished ones back. She's also on hand on solving problems, such as if someone on staff gets sick and they have a deadline. She's also a mediator to solve arguments, and even comes up with ideas for the series they are working on: Exodus. Not only do they have a dilemma with the deadline, but one of the staff heads has an agreement over the director of an already completed scene, and requests it to be redone. There's a long discussion and Aoi states the staff must believe in the series, the characters, and that they are there with them in the studio. Suddenly they see a vision of the characters of Exodus floating above the meeting table, looking and smiling at them.


I was always fond of Animation Runner Kuromi by Akitaro Daichi. That was a hillarious take on what happens at an animation studio, featuring a new employee. Shirobako is similar in that vein, though with less exaggerated moments. I find Shirobako a more realistic take on the story featuring a young woman trying to get into the anime business. The setup is something we've seen before: a group of friends in high school with the same interest, run a club, then plan to use their skills to start a career (K-On! comes to mind). We have an extensive collection of characters running the studio: veterans, newbies, shy, outgoing, serious, silly, confrontational and friendly. They even have the elderly boss that makes food for everyone (reminding me of Hayao Miyazaki a little). We get to see their progress in all the aspects of production: working on the animation itself, and even see the voice actors doing their jobs. The challenges of bringing everything together is clearly seen. The animation director of the series had problems with his previous work and doesn't want to create another flop, while the director is not satisfied with a scene and the performance of the VA, suggesting to redo the scene, even this would set back the production. It's great to see scenes like this, and gives you a better idea of what happens during the creation of an anime--that it's no so easy and not everything is the fantastic final product that we see on TV like we do. The story gets you interested into seeing whether or not the company can pull it off, and on time. The whole idea itself is post modern, which I find intriguing: an anime series about people making an anime series. It makes for intriguing viewing and I look forward to more. Thumbs up.

Golden Time

Banri Tada hopes to start fresh, succeeding in joining a private law school in Tokyo. On the opening ceremony day, he befriends the handsome Mitsuo, also starting his first at the same school. When Banri asks if he has a girlfriend, Mitsuo has a confused expression of anger and fear on his face. As they approach the school on the street, a young beautiful woman approaches Mitsuo, congratulates him and hits him in the face with a bouquet of roses. This turns out to be the girl in question, named Koko Kaga, a girl he has known since they were kids. Koko believes since they were kids, they were destined to be together and married, and so she has dedicated her life to go in the direction with him, no matter what she has to do to make it happen. Mitsuo thought he escaped her when he applied for the law school, but Koko tracked him down with her connections. Mitsuo desperately ignores her, doesn't answere his phone and runs when she sees her. Caught up in the fracas is Banri, who gets to know her a little and sees she's a lonely person since people don't want to befriend such an intimidatingly beautiful girl. Banri tries to get her to like to take down her devotion a few notches, but when she tries, she doesn't do it until after she's made a scene with him in public. Koko tries to explain to him all her plans and devotion to him throughout the years and that she truly loves him. The problem is, he doesn't love her and the the promise he made when he was kid, was..well.. a kid thing and not to be taken seriously. Mitsuo is rather harsh saying all this devotion means nothing to him, and so she finally understands painfully. Banri sees all this and tries to comfort her because he has an idea of her true self. In the aftermath while looking for a school club to join, Banri starts to fall for her and expresses it so, opening up to Koko about his past...that he can't remember...


I loved this anime! I had flashbacks from other 2 romantic comedy anime that I also thought were top notched: Kare Kano, and Marmalade Boy. I know an anime of this genre is very good when I get drawn into it emotionally. It also delivers laughs and adventure as well, such as when an aggressive club gets Koko and Banri to join only to reveal themselves as a religious cult that chase after them when they escape. I admit that I did NOT like Koko in the first few episodes, but when her bubble is burst by Mitsuo and she has to face reality, is the moment I felt for her. And we already had a hint of her real side, alone with no friends, and so the sensitive Banri steps in to get her past the breakup and look forward to good things. One of the funnier moments is when she realizes she cannot dance, and everyone knows it! As I said there is some great humorous moments, but there is a lot of drama with Koko coming to grips that her fairy tale is not going to come true, and her battle with lonelinesss. More drama unfolds with Banri falling for Koko, but also the mystery of his loss of memory from a previous accident, trying to piece together what he can remember or rather trying to connect the original Banri with the current Banri--which is rather touching. The animation is great quality, and Koko is absolutely stunning in her anime form. The theme songs are very catchy, particularly the ending song in my book "Sweet and Sweet Cherry." There is definitely going to be lots of ups and downs with the characters, and it's something to look forward to. If you like this genre as much as I do, you should check out. Enthusiastic thumbs up.


Dusk Maiden of Amnesia


At the Paranormal Investigations Club at school, member Momoe excitingly does her work, and thinks she sees objects floating around and starts to get nervous. Teiichi Niiya comes in to join her and the way he talks it seems he can read Momoe's mind. A 3rd member comes in, Kirie, acting strangely annoyed by something. Leaving the club room into the school hallway, and suddenly Teiichi is flung head first into a dumb waiter type shaft. We see the same scenes again, but this time we see the truth: there is a ghost of a beautiful schoolgirl teasing Momoe, then talking with Teiichi who can see her and then annoying Kirie who can also see her. the ghost named Yuuko, kicked Teiichi into the shaft. She is the lonely and friendly spirit who hangs around the school, and also one of the old school buildings. Teiichi started the club to investigate why she is hanging the school and figure out her plight. Yuuko becomes comfortable with Teiichi, even so much becoming jealous of the other girls, but she sort of becomes the "Ghost" president of the club. Kirie is cautious of her, as her grandma is Yuuko's sister, and warns Teiichi to stay away, as her true form is not being revealed. However Teiichi is trustworthy of Yuuko, and vice versa. Actually what Kirie has sensed about her, there may be much more to it than meets the eye...


I was impressed with the first episode, which show the first scene without Yuuko being seen, and then the same scene with her, to explain everything. That was a nice artistic presentation, and in fact I was pleased with the other episodes as well. There's a good combination of humor, drama and suspense from this anime and like that they focus on just a small group of characters so we can learn more about them as the series continues. The most interesting is of course Yuuko herself. She seems really nice, but is it a facade or charade? Or is there something even more mysterious lurking? That's what I get from watching, and I expect there to be more spooky elements to appear and evolve as the series goes on. I like the relationship with Yuuko and Teiichi, as Yuuko tends to want to take a step further as perhaps boyfriend and girlfriend, or even lovers. It's funny because she's not embarrassed or shy to undress in front of Teiichi, but when he finds her "exposed" skeletion bones, she is incredibly embarrassed and even calls him a pervert for looking at her "naked bones!" It's a nice balance with these two and the energetic fraidy cat Momoe and the more serious Kirie who has a connection with Yuuko. I look forward to seeing where the series goes, and I recommend it to fans of the genre, which is actually a mix of genres--so that's a plus. Thumbs up.