From the Archives: Jormungand Review

 85646 Title  Jormungand
Episodes  24
Released  April, 2012
Genre(s)  Action, Military, War
Studio  White Fox
Reviewer  Chris
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NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 11th April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

Ooh now we’re getting into the good stuff, lots of guns, lots of explosions, and one hell of a lead character, its time for a Jormungand review.

This show starts by introducing a boy called Jonah, he has been recruited into the bodyguard of a young Arms Dealer called Koko Hekmatyar. Everyone in this unit has had military or police experience, and that includes Jonah, he was orphaned and forced to fight in a war in Israel, and subjected to everything that goes with being a child soldier. That includes watching his friends sent away to probe for land mines, and never returning.

He has a heart of ice due to this upbringing, and hates everything to do with weapons and war, despite being  very skilled in combat himself. Ironic that he now travels with and protects an arms dealer.

The rest of Koko’s team consists of some great characters, all with unique skills and personalities, there was not a single one I did not like.

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Particularly Jonah, dont fuck with Jonah.

I want to talk about Koko herself, because she is the lead character I mentioned at the start. Koko is perhaps the best lead female I have seen in any anime. She is smart and methodical, and everything goes in the direction she wishes. When the situation requires it, she is cold and unyielding, other times she opens up to her colleagues (particularly Jonah) and shows her lighter, happier side.

She is brilliant from start to end.

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Pictured: Badass

As the show goes on you are shown a side of war that is rarely shown, the idea of war profiteering. Being an Arms Dealer, Koko and her team have the power to shift wars in one direction or another, not by choice however it is the bi-product of the business, like it or not the equipment they sell has one purpose – killing other people.

She is pursued by governments, as almost everything they do is illegal, and by other arms dealers, who see her as competition. The story really picks up through season 2, giving even more development to the already well established characters.

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And the darker side of people themselves.

This is one of the anime’s that falls into the “mature” category, it possesses some real world issues and does not mess around. It leaves you with a burning moral question, just how much are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good?

From the Archives: Angel Beats Review

 22062 Title  Angel Beats!
Episodes  13
Released  March, 2010
Genre(s) Action, Drama, School, Supernatural, Tragedy
Studio  P.A. Works
Reviewer  Chris
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Kitsu

NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 9th April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

This shows soundtrack is one of the best I have heard. Sadly the show is a bit of a roller-coaster with its ups and downs but I’ll get to that, I just wanted to point out the music because it is god damn amazing.

The show was created by the same guy (Maeda Jun is his name) that had a major hand in Clannad and Clannad After Story, the only anime to date that has made me feel genuinely sad, im talking crying sad, it was that moving. Now Angel beats on the other hand, the spark is there, but it just feels like it could have been so much more,especially considering the other works this studio has put out.

The story begins with the main character Yuzuru Otonashi waking up and realising that he has died and has passed onto the afterlife, a world that limbos between the world of the living and heaven. Essentially it is a place where people who have not accomplished everything they wanted to in life end up, and cannot move on without completing what their heart desires.

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For example, I desire the soundtrack.

There are other people here who do not wish to pass on to heaven, and will do everything in their power to remain in the afterlife. They formed a group called the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront), in order to defeat an angel sent by god to “erase” them. This angel is the antagonist of the series, however I use that word loosely, you will understand why later in the show.

One of the highlights of this show, as i have already pointed out twice now, is its soundtrack, another would have to be the visuals, while not amazing tier they are nice to watch, especially if you pick yourself up a 1080p version.

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There was an awesome song in the background here too, just FYI.

I don’t want to say any more on the story because it progresses very well and i don’t want to spoil it for anyone, take my word on it though the ending is worthwhile, it is reminiscent of clannad, at least in the emotions it invokes.

My complaint with this series is that beyond the really good start and amazing end, the middle is just.. meh. Don’t get me wrong it is still a great watch but im not going to give it any praise in the story department, except for the flashbacks to the main characters past, which show the events leading up to his death and passing to the afterlife. Oh and the last couple of episodes of course, which made the whole series worthwhile.

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And the soundtrack.

TLDR: Short, enjoyable, with a tragic twist, and amazing soundtrack.

From the Archives: Gin Tama Review

 10038l Title  Gin Tama
Episodes  201 + 51
Released  December, 2003
Genre(s) Action, Comedy, Parody, Historical, Sci-Fi
Studio  Sunrise
Reviewer  Daniel
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Kitsu

NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 7th April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

Before I begin reviewing this in earnest  I just wanted to say that this is one of the few anime’s that has had my crying in laughter, twice.

Gin Tama is one of those series that is really challenging to explain to anyone who hasn’t seen it. I usually end up trailing off, trying to explain that there’s a samurai, aliens and it’s all based on the Edo period. This is often followed by people giving me weird looks and occasionally the understanding pat on the back “must be tough to be you buddy.” It’s a bizarre mix of fantasy, scifi and comedy that frequently smashes down the fourth wall.

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I’m noticing a pattern with their behaviour…

The story focuses on Gintama (the main character), who’s a lazy, self centered, yorozuya (jack of all trades). He has two sidekicks, the nerdy otaku Shinpachi, who is a samurai in training and the loud, inhumanly strong Kagura, who is an alien from another planet. We follow this trio on their myriad of odd jobs and debacles. The story arcs are strangely compelling and the odd few serious episodes add to the overall effect the series has as an outstanding comedy.

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They just saw you naked!

The show is constantly referring back to it’s Manga roots, and Jump background. It feels like the writers know their audience well and they exploit it and I find it rare to be so invested in a comedy but with over 200 episodes, Gintama will not be finished within the week.

This is one of those oddly compelling watches that you just can’t stop eating up. The main director, Shinji Takamatsu has created one of the funniest oddball series in the last decade.

From the Archives: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman Review

 84371 Title Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
Episodes  105
Released  October, 1972
Genre(s)  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Studio  Tatsunoko Production
Reviewer  Danny
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Kitsu

NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 7th April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

Alright, here’s the first of my old school anime reviews! I grew up enjoying the Americanised edit of this show (known as Battle of the Planets) on ABC in the mornings before school. While I really enjoyed it, I later came to know of the original Japanese version which blew it away. As sometimes happens the English edit removed much of the fighting, violence and general darker themes of the show. The good news is that in more recent years subs and a good English dub of the original have become available and that original show is what I a reviewing here.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (translates to ‘birdman’ but that sounds ridiculous in English) centers around a group of 5 highly trained youths working for the International Science Organisation. Trained in a unique style of martial arts and employing a variety of technological weaponry and vehicles, the are tasked with opposing a group of technologically advanced terrorists known as Galactor from capturing or controlling Earth’s natural resources. While this show has some environmentalist concepts it is far from the tree hugging of later shows such as Captain Planet and these resources are mostly used for energy or manipulation of an area and are important plot points rather than trying to tell you to recycle.

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Each of the 5 team members has a particular bird motif that they can transmute into a super hero style outfit from their civilian ‘disguise’ as well their own preferred weapon. Additionally they each have a vehicle that also has a more mundane mode and can enter a more powerful battle mode. Four of these vehicles are able to dock with the fifth much larger air craft known as the God Phoenix which the team use to get around in most of the time. This craft is quite powerful with a large supply of missiles and is able to enter a ‘fire bird’ mode where it resembles the mythological phoenix, losing any resemblance  of a vehicle and becoming a mass of fire, at a cost to the occupants though.

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Their enemy, Galactor, is lead by Bergu Kattse who wears a mask resembling a lynx (a good enemy of birds I guess) and seems to have a few psychological issues at times. Kattse receives his orders from Sosai X, a disembodied head from another planet that appears mostly on a view screen. The bulk of Galactor consists of the masked and uniformed troops who fight on foot as well as manning a variety of massive and sometime improbably mecha such as a giant robotic terrapin that they terrorise the world with. While these mecha prove to be quite a formidable challenge for the team to overcome the troops generally don’t fare that well on foot and prove a good target for the Gatchaman team to demonstrate their fighting skills on.
The big draw for most people who watch Gatchaman is the fairly violent fighting, great variety of giant mecha, as well as many darker adult themes that include depression, suicide and death. Many of these subjects were deemed to ‘adult’ and didn’t make it into the 80s English re-edit and that’s why I feel that the original is much better. In fact so much content (including much of the fighting) was removed that they had to add in new (poorly animated scenes) involving a robot helper known as 7-Zark-7 (a rip-off of R2D2 from Star Wars).

Now a lot of this may remind you of a show called Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and for good reason. Power Rangers is a re-edit of the Japanese series Super Sentai (starting from it’s 16th season) which was heavily influenced by Gatchaman.

I rank this as one of my all time favourite animes and not only because I grew up with it. In fact it is often ranked among the best in opinion polls. So if you are looking for something which plenty of action that is a bit different from more recent offerings then this show should entertain you as well as introduce you to an important bit of anime history.

From the Archives: Binbougami ga! Review

 binbougami-ga-cover Title  Binbougami ga!
Episodes  13
Released  July, 2012
Genre(s)  Comedy, Parody, Supernatural
Studio  Sunrise
Reviewer  Chris
AniDB
MyAnimeList
Kitsu

NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 5th April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

Now here is an anime that went under the radar, unfortunately so, because it is actually a very enjoyable watch. The story begins with a young woman by the name of Sakura Ichiko, who just so happens to have un-natural levels of good fortune, so much so that it is upsetting the balance of fortune, and she is unintentionally sucking all the good fortune from people around her.

This brings me to the second character, the antagonist of the series, a god of misfortune called Binbada Momiji, she has been sent to earth to restore the balance of fortune, by forcibly withdrawing Sakura’s fortune. With a giant needle of all things. And so begins the fight to the death between Sakura and Binbada!

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MORTAAAL COMBAAAT!!!
Not really, but it might as well have been, they have the typical over the top brawls that would outright kill a normal person, but hey, anime.
Surprisingly enough this action and comedy is occasionally broken up by some pretty serious stuff, mostly for plot and character development, but it is very well done, unfortunately these scenes are few and far between, it could have really used more.

 

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Hang on, wasn’t this a comedy?
Luckily the series knows what it wants to be, it is a comedy at heart and it nails it. It introduces some extra characters pretty early on including a perverted holy man, and a masochistic dog god. The interactions between these two are great.
There are a lot of references and parodies of other anime, including some of the greats like Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and Naruto. I guarantee you the one piece one will at the very least put a giant grin on your face.

 

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Ah, there’s the comedy.

Being only 12 episodes, this is a perfect weekend show, the dedicated can get through it in one sitting. I definitely recommend giving it a shot, it was one of the ones that surprised me, I went into it with low expectations and even the first episode had me hooked, it is actually pretty damn good.

In summary, a very impressive and well done comedy, I enjoyed it greatly.

From the Archives: Samurai Champloo Review

 11855 Title  Samurai Champloo
Episodes  26
Released  May, 2004
Genre(s)  Action, Adventure, Comedy, Historical
Studio  Mangalobe
Reviewer  Daniel
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MyAnimeList
Kitsu

NB: This is a review that has been ported over from the old blog for posterity purposes. The original publish date of this review was 3rd April, 2013. The writing style and depth of detail may have changed a lot since this time, and a revisit is always possible.

Samurai Champloo is a fantastic blend of pop culture and the Edo period. The characters dynamics are very finely balanced and the writers did an excellent job at developing the relationships between them. The two leads are a unique take on a classic tale of the cold and calculating mixing with the hot headed and rash.

Samurai Champloo’s storyline is paced maturely and there’s only one or two fillers, but they liven it up so effectively that you tend to not mind. I found a really nice meld of humour and drama that’s topped off with a garnish of hip-hop/pop. There are lots of comparisons online between this and Cowboy Bebop for a reason.

I highly recommend this to everyone, especially those who want to see the second best English voice acting I’ve ever seen in an anime.