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Caroline
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Joined: 22 Dec 2008
Posts: 2173

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Well all, it has been a while, so it is time for me to keep myself moving and post up another anime review. At some point, I’ll go back to doing these alphabetically. But, for now, I will review something considerably more recent. This time, we will go over, Persona 4: The Animation, Part 1. I’ll cover Part 2 in a future release.

First, if you ever plan on playing Persona 4 for the PS2, or Persona 4 Gold for the PSVita and have not played either game, STOP READING NOW! Again, if you ever plan on playing Persona 4 for the PS2 or Persona 4 Gold for the PSVita, STOP READING NOW! Persona 4: The Animation plays very closely to the game in story and presentation, and may ruin a lot of the enjoyment of the mystery sleuthing, if you watch the anime prior to playing the cRPG.

Persona 4: The Animation, Part 1, is a 13-episode OVA from Sentai Filmworks/Funimation based on the PS2 and PSVita game of the same name, about the group of supernatural-mysterious murders in Inaba, and the high-school students who get wrapped up in the events. Part 2 concludes the story, and I will review that at a later time. Anyway, I have the BluRay release. It is also available on DVD as well.

The BluRay has a one-sided, full color, eye-catching insert with a solid representation of the story on the back. The disks themselves have been silkscreened with illustrations of characters from the show. Extras for Part 1 include clean intro/ending credits, as well as trailers for other shows. As I have stated in other reviews, Funimation tends to be lean on the Extras, favoring, instead, having full, 13-episode seasons for around $50. As such, I am fine with the minimal extras.

The story is moderate drama, mystery, blended with supernatural-sci-fi, romance, and light comedy. The story centers on a group of high school friends who get wrapped up in a series of murder investigations going on in the sleepy town of Inaba. As the school-year progresses, they are pulled more and more into the mysterious events going on around town, forcing them to make decisions about who they are, what they mean to each other, and who they want to become.

I enjoyed Persona 4: The Animation very much. One of the things I liked about the animation is that you don’t have to have played the game to enjoy the OVA. There are things in the OVA that give distinct homage to the game; however, they are blended in so seamlessly as to not feel exclusionatory. Still, having played the PS2 game, it made me smile each time I noticed one of the homage, and the OVA is packed with them. For example, during part of the OVA, Yu is invited to join the basketball team. Seeing this made me smile. This is because, in the Persona 4 game, your character gets a choice, early on, to join the soccer club or basketball club. I picked the soccer club both times I played the game (who was represented by the other athlete who approaches Yu), so it was neat to see how the parallel story went. Point being, the OVA is full of these sorts of tributes to the cRPG; yet, the OVA blends them into the story so effortlessly that if you haven’t played the game, you will still enjoy them.

Another aspect I enjoyed about the show was the artstyle. The OVA takes the style of the game, and animates it. Each character is very unique, and has an established color palette. For example, Chie is yellow/green while Yukiko is Red. The color combinations also offer subtle insight into the characters personalities. Each character even has 3 or more “costumes”, such as winter/summer uniforms as well as “hanging out with friends” clothing. Backgrounds and set pieces are fleshed out, giving the town that “everytown” feel to it, where it doesn’t look like a particular city, but seems familiar to what you expect a town to look like.

A third aspect I enjoyed was the music. While much of the music was original to the show, they also sampled a lot of the songs and music from the game. It has a wide blend of JPop, rock, folksy, metal, country, and classical. The show also plays well with the timing and use of the music, using it to play upon the emotions of the audience.

One odd thing about the BluRay is that it is dubbed only. If you want to listen to the original, Japanese Seiyuu, you have to get the DVD. For me, since the PS2 game was only dubbed, I figured I would just get the BluRay, and listen to the dubbing. Almost the entire cast is back, to reprise their roles. The two exceptions are for Chie and Teddy. Teddy, while a different VA (Sam Reigel), I almost didn’t notice the change. Chie… sounds very different to me, and, while Erin Fitzgerald did a good performance, I enjoyed the original PS2 VA, Tracey Rooney, for Chie better. The entire cast did very well, giving realistic and sympathetic performances. One of the best comes from Karen Strassman, who plays Nanako. Overall, a very good dubbing cast.
While Persona 4 is a very good show, it does have some minor flaws. I didn’t care for the Restaurant-Aiya-Deliver-Anywhere running gag. It was amusing at first, but became stale. Sentai Filmworks / Funimation had un-needed subtitles. For example, I can understand potentially subtitling “Gas Station” the first time you see the building; however, after that it really isn’t needed, and distracts from the rest of the show. Some folks might not enjoy how much of Part 1 deals with getting the group together. While each addition of a student being affected by the mystery does advance the plot, some may think it seems unnecessarily long. Still, all-in-all, these are minor quibbles to an otherwise solid show.

On an Engineering sort of topic, Persona 4 has solid technical marks. The BluRay takes tremendous use of the 5.1 channel sound, giving you those spots of full immersion during action, group events, or creepy situations. I did not hear any static, fade outs, pops, or sound degradation. Colors were rich, animation was fluid, and I saw only one event of artificing, shimmering, or skipping. The one exception to artificing was during the “entering-the-TV” jump, where a white screen has twisting black boxes pass through it.

In summary, Persona 4: The Animation Part 1, is an excellent supernatural-mystery, and well worth picking up. This is definitely a show I will pick up and rewatch.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Persona 4: The Animation Part 1 OVA.

Grade: A ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Well I figured I’ll finish out this current anime, and then go back to doing these reviews alphabetically. As such here is the conclusion of, Persona 4: The Animation, Part 2. Anyway, I'm using my PS3 Slim with HDMI cable to a Panasonic Viera. The whole thing is run by a Yahmaha YHT-493BL Home Theater System.

As stated in the other Persona 4 review, if you ever plan on playing Persona 4 for the PS2, or Persona 4 Gold for the PSVita and have not played either game, STOP READING NOW! Again, if you ever plan on playing Persona 4 for the PS2 or Persona 4 Gold for the PSVita, STOP READING NOW! Persona 4: The Animation plays very closely to the game in story and presentation, and may ruin a lot of the enjoyment of the mystery sleuthing, if you watch the anime prior to playing the cRPG.

Persona 4: The Animation, Part 2, is a 13-episode OVA from Sentai Filmworks/Funimation based on the PS2 and PSVita game of the same name, about the group of supernatural-mysterious murders in Inaba, and the high-school students who get wrapped up in the events. Part 2 concludes the story, began in Part 1. Anyway, I have the BluRay release. It is also available on DVD as well.

The BluRay has a one-sided, full color, eye-catching insert with a solid representation of the story on the back. The disks themselves have been silkscreened with illustrations of characters from the show, this time Yukari and Kanji. Extras for Part 2 include clean intro/ending credits, as well as trailers for other shows. As I have stated in previous reviews, Funimation tends to be lean on the Extras, favoring, instead, having full, 13-episode seasons for around $50. As such, I am fine with the minimal extras. As an aside, together, the set does make for a pretty neat showcase on the display shelf.

The story continues to be a drama-mystery, with emphasis on personal relationships set during the school year. During this part of the school year, the last couple of players are added, the mystery deepens, and final resolutions are made. The protagonists are also shown just how much they’ll have to sacrifice, if they truly want to get to the core of this spiraling mystery.

As with Part 1, I greatly enjoyed Part 2. These thirteen episodes were a perfect blend of drama, tension, humor, comedy, mystery, romance, and adventure. One of the things I do enjoy about the show is the bitter-sweet ending. A number of anime stories are left “endless”. Persona 4, Part 2 concludes the story. The ending pulls at you, as you do get attached to the characters, yet it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and future. While I like following some of my favorite characters forever, it is a pretty strong writing when you have a chapter, and a tale, conclude. For me, it is on the same level as I like it when, even in a harem bishoujo story, the main character picks one of the girls. It’s heart-wrenching, sad, and emotional yet… it adds an heir of weight, strength, and realization as well. While, in many ways, it sucks knowing the story is over, it lets the audience decide via their own imagination what may happen in the future.

A second thing I enjoyed about Part 2 was the natural teenage feel to it. What I mean by this is that the cast often did youthful and childish things that were appropriate for their age. While a lot of the story was centered around solving the ghastly Inaba mystery, it wasn’t the only topic of the show. The cast also did stuff like have group parties, go to festivals, the boys tried to catch etchi shots of the girls, and they had confusing thoughts about their own relationships. It fit without feeling forced, scripted, or fake. In other words, while the cast had fantastic magical powers, the story played equal parts to the fact that they were also teenagers growing up.

I also enjoyed the more light-hearted episodes from Part 2. Part 2 has some very emotionally charged story-arcs that, for me, were gut wrenching. However, Part 2 also has some of the best, light-hearted silly episodes as well, to balance it. As such, I found them fun, playful, well-timed, and they give a solid bit of personality and development to many of the supporting characters.

The new intro and ending music scores were solid, though I did find myself skipping past the ending music after the first couple of episodes. I also like how you are greeted by the Velvet Room before each episode actually starts.
There were a couple of minor quibbles with Part 2. First, the “sign subtitling” was overdone an often un-necessary. All it ended up doing was cluttering the frame. One thing I noticed was the overall lack of parental or adult figures. You only really see the main character’s adoptive family, and a couple of scenes with Kanji’s mother. The rest of the characters will sometimes talk about their families, but you don’t see a lot of interaction with them. At times, this gives a weird… feel to story, when you think about it. It fits, in a lot of ways, as the story is about older teens… but it is also weird in a lot of ways too.

For technical marks, the BluRays did very well. Full use of the 5.1 digital sound. Awesome graphics with zero distortion or artificing. I did notice one skip on the BluRay, but when I went to rewatch the series, I could not get the error to repeat itself.

In summary, Persona 4: The Animation, Part 2, was a fantastic conclusion to the story, and a show I know I will re-watch.

Grade: A+ ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((I really hope I'm not the only one readings these.

Anyway, and now, for something back on track. A shot from the past, I’ll review Dual Parallel Trouble! next.


Dual is a 13 episode series with a 1 episode OVA extra. Dual is out-of-print, and I just happened to have lucked across the Geneon boxed set at Half-Price Books. It was in surprisingly good condition. Anyway, Dual was released back in 1999 from Pioneer Animation / Geneon. I'm using my PS3 with HDMI cable to a Panasonic Viera. The whole thing is run by a Yahmaha YHT-493BL Home Theater System.


The 4-pack, DVD case has a clear-plastic slip cover. The art-box has a splash-graphic of the entire show over it, leaving the DVDs to explain the basic plot of the show. Each DVD has its own full-color jacket, as well as a full-color insert that has recipes of foods that the main character enjoys. The DVDs are silk-screened in a purple-blue; however, I also have a 2nd copy of volume 2, where the silk-screening is different.

Dual is about parallel universes. Kazuki and Mitsuki, from one universe gets thrown into a parallel Earth where things are just slightly off. In this new dimension, he must choose between getting back to his dimension, or joining the Earth Defense Force and protecting his new city from the ravages of the Rara legions, both, of which, have drastic implications for the other.

Dual is a sci-fi harem bishoujo. I do not agree, but due to the fighting-robot, characters, and teen-drama of Dual, others have stated that Dual is a parody of sci-fi contemporaries as Neo Evangelion: Genesis. I find it more to be just a sci-fi harem bishoujo. Anyway Kazuki is your standard, 90s, character in that he’s not exceptional at anything, is usually a bit on the shy or awkward side, tends to get teased in class a lot, however has an intense heart and the ability to have attractive ladies enjoy his company. While that sort of staple is a bit overused now, since the show is over ten years old, I’ll give it a pass. And, being that I haven’t watched these sorts of characters in a while, the nostalgia of it made me smile.

Dual’s art-style is very Tenchi Muyo-esq, which I do enjoy, though, at times, the late-90s-ness of it does show in such things as hair styles and cell phones. I also enjoy the costume and robot-styles of the show… though it is kinda weird that the Earth Defense Force robots look feminine. I also liked the overall mecha designs. While they did seem... familiar, I do like giant robots that are robotech-esq.

Being an older anime, I watched the complete series with the original Japanese voice cast. I did watch the first DVD with the English voice cast. In short, the Japanese voice cast is better. The dubbing cast just doesn’t seem to fit the character’s well enough. As such, I would recommend using the original Japanese cast. I do feel Pioneer Animation / Geneon do very well with their subtitles. Right size, right font, right color, right translation, and they only translate what is necessary.

I do enjoy how, while the show does use the “more-impressive-robot” of the day, it does give a nod as to why the most powerful robots weren’t used first. That being, they couldn’t find pilots that could blend with them. It also does cover why, other than Kazuki the pilots are all girls too. To me, having comments like this does help to flesh out the world some, even if the comments are very vague or simple in their explanation.

One of the things I noticed was that since Dual! is from 1999, it has the 4:3 style ratio. Lately, the shows I’ve been watching have been the 16:9 movie ratio that fills the full TV. It’s just weird seeing the back bars on the left and ride sides of the picture.

Dual did have several issues for me. First, it tries too hard to incorporate itself into the Tenchi Muyo universe. If it was its own, stand-alone, story, it would have been fine. However, the show makes enough attempts to say that the show does have connections to Tenchi Muyo that it becomes distracting. Secondly, Dual contains a mild dues-ex-machina. While the show does suggest that one of the other characters has a special connection to the whole project, it isn’t fleshed out terrible well. And, as such, instead of an awakening of a character, it more came off as a dues-ex-machina.
Extras include character notes, clean intro/ending credits, other Geneon trailers.

On the technical side, the DVDs have held up well. I did experience one stutter on disk 4. When I reviewed the disk itself, it was in good condition, and I could not get the stutter to re-occur. Sound was clear, and the Japanese track made excellent use of the 2.1 channel sound.

Overall Dual is a good take at the problem with parallel universes and growing up.

Grade: B ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Geeze, I've been finally catching up with these. Four reviews in like the last, twenty-odd days.

Okay, based on seeing it advertised on Toonami, I figured I’d review another older show. This time, the Tenchi Muyo GXP OVA.

I used my PS3 Slim and HDMI cable to a Panasonic Viera. The whole thing is run by a Yahmaha YHT-493BL Home Theater System.

GXP is a 26 episode series. I am not 100% sure if it’s out-of-print or not. It is currently airing on Toonami at the 3:00AM time slot. I picked mine up a long time ago from Robert’s Anime Corner Store. It is seven DVDs contained in a slip-box. It was released by Funimation, but there is conflicting data about if the show was owned by Geoneon as well… as Funimation bought most of Geoneon’s licensed shows, and, for a while, both were credited. The disks themselves varied from 3 – 5 episodes per disk, with extras such as clean intro/endings, trailers, and mini-character bios. The boxed set does have some pretty good art on it, and each DVD had a set of full-color liner notes as well.

The series is a space-bishoujo harem comedy, from a heavily expanded Tenchi Muyo universe. In it Seina Yamada accidentally gets an invitation to join the Galaxy Police. Seina is a fairly thin character who’s only real ability is an incredible amount of fortune… mind you this “fortune” could be either good or bad depending on how you look at it. As such, his mixed blessing of luck is put to the test, while he and his crew are patrolling the galaxy for dastardly pirates.

I enjoyed most of the character models, but I am also fond of that style of art, for facial expressions, hairstyle, physical characteristics. Now… the costuming of their characters was mixed to me. I liked Ryoko’s Princess outfit, and the day clothes of the crew, but their uniforms were… non memorable. The spaceship and mecha designs were also a mixed bag to me, with none of the ships really standing out to me as eye-catching or interesting. GXP did alright with its blending of CG and more cell-style animation. During some of the scenes of spaceship action/adventure you could witness minor adjustments that gave away the CG vs Cel-style. It wasn’t as obvious as it was in Dual, but you definitely noticed it.

I enjoyed the intro music to the show. It was engaging, and very JPop. The ending music… I didn’t listen to after the first episode. I will give Funamation credit. They actually translated their intro and ending songs into the same 80s Pop music songs, and had the cast sing the songs in English. While these versions weren’t as good as the JPop originals, it is neat that Funamation made the effort to translate them. On a parallel note, I didn’t care for the American cast at all. As such, I used the original Japanese cast. I will say, it was fun hearing some of the English voice actors in some of their earlier roles.

The show uses a lot of old-style fan-service, which is more akin to cheesecake shots or antics, instead of more robust usage of nudity. For example, Sekirei had a lot of nudity in it, whereas the same sorts of scenes in GXP would have been fan-service panty shots, or etchi poses. So, that’s sort of mixed. If you like hinting, teasing, and vaudeville sort of ways to have randy comments you’d enjoy it; however, iffn you’re more of a nudity kinda audience, the antics might get old with you. I found it fun in seeing just how far colorful euphemisms were used. For example, GXP has a quick comment about how Amane knows how to use rope… if you know what I mean. Anyway, GXPs etchi-ness is scripted in just such a way that you’ll catch yourself doing double-takes at some of the double entendres. Though, later in the season, the sex-innuendo jokes go from more reserved to blatant.

A number of things about the show bothered me. The first set of episodes are so… over-the-top with its comedic way of showing Seina’s bad luck that it’s distracting. Not to mention that, in the same episodes, Seina has a very vacant look on his face. You almost have to endure your way to episode 5, where that sort of antics settle down, and actually starts the story. Another aspect of this was that the show often just seemed to let ideas or potential stories just vanish, which further annoyed me. However, a worse systemic issue is how often the show seems to forget where it wanted to go with the space opera.

The pacing was very uneven. As I just stated, there are several times where the show seems to forget where it’s going. Worse, there are times where you start to wonder if the show even knows where it is trying to go… as if the story-writers never bothered with determining their end-point, and just wander around trying to find something to latch onto. As an aside, a pretty standard writing practice is to have your ending already decided, before you start the actual story. That way, you literally can backwards plan to the end point, and… if you get stuck with writer’s block, you can remind yourself how the story is supposed to end. Anyway, in terms of GXP just not even knowing where it was supposed to be going, or if it even had a point, I had the same sorts of feelings with Trigun and Outlaw Star. GXP further exacerbates this problem by having filler episodes, including an episode where they had the GXP cast meet the Tenchi Muyo OVA cast. While the episode was cute, it really served zero purpose, and was a complete filler episode. I’m not a big fan of filler or recap episodes. I would have rather had the show be shorter a few episodes, so each episode would have had a larger budget per episode. Or, use those episodes for character growth, instead of filler.

Lastly, the characters were pretty much boiled down to sit-com level, meaning they were pretty much one dimensional. For example, Amane is the jealous-girl-next door, while Ryoko plays the Florence Nightingale Princess. While this can be fun in shorter series, or one-offs, in a full-series, it does get kinda disappointing that the characters only seem to grow very minutely, if they grow at all. There was some improvement, but… mostly they stayed one-dimensional throughout the entire series. This also further caused the pacing of the show to seem off, as mentioned above. It also muted the effects of the few episodes that were heavier and more serious in nature, causing any character development potential to fall to the wayside.

For technical marks, the show does well. With GXP being an older show, as well as having a lot of high color, or high contrast scenes, I did not see a lot of shimmering or pixilation. I did get a couple of skip events to occur, which I was able to repeat. Upon inspection of the disk, I did not see any errors in the disk, so I think my pressing may have been faulty. The show used the 5.1 (for English) and 2.0 (for Japanese) pretty well.

Overall Tenchi Muyo GXP is an average, space-harem-comedy series.

Grade: C ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Hey All,

Sorry about the lack of updates for this for over four months. I was conducting a lot of personal work at the time, and just kept putting off revewing stuff.

Anyway, I'm on vacation right now, but once I get back from vacation, I'll do my best to start putting up new reviews. I've picked up Fairy Tale recently, so I might review that... or maybe I'll finish off revewing Mahoromatic or Rozen Maiden. Soooo many choices.

Anyway, point being, I'll start getting back into the swing of things here shortly. I apologize for the dust and the delay. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Fate: Stay Night.

Okay, it's well past due for me to complete one of these, so here is my latest update. I'm going back a few years to review Fate: Stay Night.

I'm using my PS3 with HDMI cable to a Panasonic Viera. I actually have two copies of Fate: Stay Night. I have 5 of 6 of the original DVDs from Geoneon, as well as the slim-case DVD collection as well. Due to the fact I'm missing a DVD from the original series, I'll be switching back-and-forth between the two. If I notice any differences between the two, I'll note it in the review. The original collection had 6 DVDs in a collectable slip cover, while the slim-case collection has 3 DVDs in a collectable slip cover. There is also a BluRay version of the series available as well. I do not possess that version. There is also Fate: Stay Night Unlimited, a parallel one-shot OVA related to Fate: Stay Night. The slim-case DVD is still in print, and available at a competitive price, for the amount of anime contained within.

Fate: Stay Night is a 24-episode OVA based on the multi-path bishoujo PC game of the same name. The OVA tells the story of Shirou Emiya, who is unwillingly pulled into a secret mage-war for the Holy Grail. Being told that fallout of the war would injure and kill many others, he reluctantly decides to join, in order to stop the others and stop the war completely.

I watched Episodes 1 - 8 in the original collectable DVD, Episodes 9 - 12 slim-DVD, and then 13 - 24 original collectable DVD. It does look like Geoneon just repackaged the set, as I could not determine any other change. In comparison, the color in my Love Hina collection seems a bit washed out, when I compare it to the original-DVD I have.

I'm a large fan of fantasy-style stories, and Fate: Stay Night I enjoyed immensely. In some ways, it is in the same family as Dot-Hack, in terms of a swords-and-sorcery tale set in modern times. It also shares similar plot points as Magic Knight Rayearth in the protagonist trying to forge his own path outside the bounds of fate and destiny. Overall, with Fate: Stay Night being a multi-path bishoujo PC game, the Emiya-Saber path was selected to tell the story in the OVA. In this path the protagonist Emiya has to balance his desire to win the Holy Grail wars while also warming to the idea that he cares for Saber as more than just a tool or servant.

To me, the series was able to properly balance the serious dark overtures of the story with drama, star-crossed romance, and even scenes of comedic relief. Fate is also very good about leaving small, quiet hints and foreshadowing that allow for repeated watching. Fate knows what its story is, and tells it very well. In contrast, Fairy Tail spastically jumps back-and-forth between melancholy and comedy so much that it becomes distracting. The Fate story does start out a bit on the slow-burn side; however, by the end of the first DVD, it has you eager to put in the next DVD.

Another strong point of the show was how the cast was very well fleshed out, in terms of their own quirks, desires, goals, and motivations. There should be at least one character that you can relate to and enjoy. For example, Sakura, while the girl next door, harbors dangerous emotions for Emiya that will have to be dealt with. As a second example, Rin, one of the other competing mages, has to balance her desire to win the Holy Grail war with her growing friendship, admiration, and affections for Emiya. In addition, unlike a lot of shows where the characters seem a bit slow to pick up clues or question motivations, the cast of Fate: Stay Night actively hunt for information, and make logical deductions, as well as question the motivations and answers of others. For me, doing this makes the characters less passive and more active. While they sometimes hide answers from each other, or come to the wrong conclusion, the active seeking of knowledge adds to their credibility and danger to each other.

The character design and costuming were also solid. While Fate: Stay Night used the old habit of having one or two costumes per character in order to save animation costs, each costume was unique, and offered hints about a characters personality. I especially thought that Armored-Saber, Rider, and Emiya's were well done. Armored-Saber blended fashion with functional armor, while Rider mixed dangerous-beauty with athleticism. Emiya's character design had him as "the boy next door"; however, it also reflected that he regularly trained, and kept up with both his mental and physical training.

It was a neat, and subtle, way the OVA presented some of the games flag points, such as blood splatter covering the screen, or Emiya missing a lunch meeting with one of his schoolmates. Along these same lines, I enjoyed how each of the characters, and their Servants were competent and a threat to each other. None of them fell into the "Monster-of-the-day" category. I like it when antagonists and protagonists are both up to the task, as it adds to the risk involved, and helps sell the idea of the story being a deeper drama.

I enjoyed both sets of voice actors, often finding myself debating if I should switch back-and-forth between them. Equally importantly, the translation was spot on, and the subtitles only minimally interfered with the show. The intros and endings were hauntingly catchy. The first intro music felt like some bit of old Irish fairy-tale, while the ending gave a feeling of melancholy optimism for the future. The second intro-music was a curiously-odd jpop ballad. All of them were engaging and caught the attention of your ears. Music played a critical part in each episode enhancing the mood of the scene, such as mysterious overtures during investigation scenes, stoic instrumentals during times of personal reflection, and some quiet, light-hearted chamber music during periods of levity.

In other aspects, I enjoyed how each episode began with a bit of a teaser before the intro music started. Sometimes, it was a quick recap of previous events, but often it was a close-up interlude of current activities going on, usually from a different character's prospective. This little teaser kept you nibbling away at the plot.

Extras for the two sets are fairly expansive. Both sets offer character sketches, diary extras, clean intro/ending sequences, music videos, and the like. Both are contained within attractive, collectable slip covers, and the DVD jackets are full-color reversible. The original DVDs also contain an insert with additional art from the show, and, with there being more DVDs, the you get a bit more of the art due to the additional number of DVD jackets. The original DVDs also contain at least 2 pencil-boards of Saber. Full marks for the extras included.

Both sets utilize the full-field, 16:9 format, filling the entire TV screen with picture. It is very impressive, and has held up very well. There were instances of pixilation and shimmer; however, they were limited, brief, and were only noticeable if you were looking for them. Sound quality was solid. Both sets offered 2.0 English and 2.0 Japanese tracks. Menus were easy to navigate, quick to respond, and quick to load.

Overall, Fate: Stay Night is a very good adaptation of the multi-path bishoujo PC game. It blends fantasy with mysticism in a modern urban setting while telling a deep and engaging story.

Grade: A ))
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Mini-Review Time.

Okay, so I've watched 1 - 24 of Fairy Tail on my BluRay Vol 1 Collection... and... it's... disappointing. Not really sure if I wanted to do a full-review of it, as, technically, I have to watch 25 - 48 (I think) to finish season 1 or something. So... I just thought I'd post some quick thoughts.

BTW, I was so... unimpressed with this show that I'm going to have considerably more spoilers in this mini-review than I normally do.

Long-story-short, Fairy Tail just feels generic. Normal fantasy-world storyline... everyone meets at the bar, decides to join up, and go adventuring sorts of stuff. Compounding this issue is that I have several consternations with the show.

My hugest problem with Fairy Tail, is that the story does not seem to know if it wants to be light-comedy-drama or melancholy, and spastically jumps back-and-forth between them. This constant barrage of very different story-telling methods is distracting, and constantly waters down any message the writers are trying to get across. You can have drama in a light-comedy show. Take a look at Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, or Azumanga Diaoh, or Lucky Star, or Green Green, or Trigun. These shows were more on the comedic / parody side, yet blended in dramatic, character-building arcs very well. Or, for those of you who want to argue the point, Trigun slow burns from light-comedy into deep drama. Fairy Tail jumps back-and-forth so much it's dizzying. Compounding this issue is that everyone... and I mean EVERYONE in Fairy Tail has this Sarcasm Powers On painful, horrible, gut-wrenching back story Sarcasm Powers Off that you just don't care as an audience. Painful backstories are becoming overdone. Why not have some of the main cast actually just want to adventure for the sake of adventure? Nope. SPOILER!!! Blondy is a runaway. Red-Head lost his foster parents. And Ice Guy slew his own master due to his stupidity. SPOILER END!!!

While I'm on that topic, that's how uninspiring the characters of this show are. I can't remember a single one of the main trio's name, and I have zero inkling to actually go look them up.

The other main complaint I have is, for a show to emphasize the action-adventure side of the tale, the villains have been pathetic. All the enemies have been little better than monster-of-the-day. Yes, I got it. Fairy Tail wizards are all huge and awesome. Lets see them actually have to deal with a challenge. When "S" class wizards are regularly beaten by a bunch of hyper-active teens... it doesn't go anywhere. Challenges allow for drama and character growth to be blended into the story. Try this on for size.

In Rosario Vampire, the fights were caricatures and not really important to the story. As such, it was okay that Dark Moka dealt with every monster via a panty-flash kick. Moka's challenge was trying to fit in at School, and how to foster her relationship with Tsukune. In Fate: Stay Night, all of the classes of Epic Heroes pretty much fight to a draw... SPOILER!!! Even Heracles lost 5 - 6 of his lives to Archer in Fate: Stay Night... which to me makes the fight a draw. It's hard to kill an Epic Hero a dozen times. END SPOILER!!! As such, for Fairy Tail to be about action and adventure, it is disappointing that literally every fight goes "Red-Haired Guy Eats Enemy Magic, Then Blonde Hot Chick Summons Super Beast, Then Ice Wizard Freezes Stuff". Worse, as you should be able to see by the description, I can't remember a doggone one of the character's names... Why? Because they are all so over-the-top powerful you just don't care about what villain the team is going after.

Character designs were okay... nothing really memorable there either. They were just... bland.

I guess I did more of a review than I intended.

Anyway, point being, I cannot recommend it.

Overall... D+ / C-. ))
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((I figure I might as well put up another review. This one will be a bit short, as I'm getting back into the swing of doing these. For this review, we'll cover something newer. I'm going to cover Bodacious Space Pirates OVA 1. As a further something new, I'm using my PS3-Slim with HDMI cable to my new Panasonic PDP TV. The whole thing is run by a Yahmaha YHT-493BL Home Theater System.

Bodacious Space Pirates OVA 1 is a 13-episode OVA from Sentai Filmworks/Funimation, about Marika learning about her family history, and taking over the family business. That business being licensed pirate theatrics. I have the BluRay release. It is also available on DVD as well. As an oddity, the pre-show-FBI warning was definitely the same advertisement that Pioneer Animation / Geoneon used. It was… curious that I noticed that. Um… anyway.

The BluRay has an eye-catching pink-and-black cover. Both BluRays are silkscreened with characters from the show. The extras can be considered thin for the BluRay. The second BluRay has clean opening and ending credits as well as trailers for other Sentai Filmworks shows. Still while "thin" for extras, Sentai Filmworks does pack a lot of episodes at a competitive price. So, I think it is a fair trade-off.

The story beings with Marika finding out that she's the direct descendant of some very famous space pirates that helped with the initial independence of their planet. Now, she's given the opportunity to take up her families ship, and rekindle the family business of licensed space piracy. You see, in the future, cruise ships pay for pirates to "attack-and-raid" them, as intergalactic insurance companies pay for the dinner-and-a-show. So, Marika takes over the Space Sailing Club of her school (with its own group of characters.) Overall, I greatly enjoyed the story. It is an interesting take on jobs of the future. The adventure story reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones, Outlaw Star, and even Martian Successor Nandesico.

In short, I enjoyed the show. It was catchy. A fun change of pace that reminded me a lot of old adventure shows from the 80s. One of the biggest things I enjoyed in the show, was the main character Marika herself. I liked how she was very much the girl-next-door, and decided to become a space pirate for the adventure of it. It was a welcome change to the characterization. No mopeyness… no "I don't wannas" or "should I do this". Instead, she sits down, thinks about it, and is like, "HELL YEAH, let's do this!" It made me smile. Her adventurous spirit is pretty engaging. Id enjoyed how the show introduced the world and the whole idea of licensed space piracy. The music selection was catchy for the intro, ending, as well as the selections during the show. The music enhanced the moods, from high adventure, to drama, to dangerous hunting.

A mixed aspect of the show, was it's tech-savvy-ness. It made me smile that the show talked about electronic warfare, and not just standard "shoot our super-laser-guns". It added to the future feel of the show, without having to just rely up "oh-look-we-are-using-a-hologram-touch-screen-monitor." However, for me, they often overdid the explanation piece of it. I got it. You're going to try to hack into their system to turn off their engines, lets go. They definitely did the research; however, they then over-spoke it… which annoys me.

There is one thing that I think could have been improved upon. I didn't like the whole "Bodacious" thing in the title, and, by extension, the back cover description of the show. "Bodacious", and the flirty text on the back cover imply a lot of fan service sorts of things (such as in Cat Planet Cuties), which BSP doesn't have at all. Now, while bodacious does mean "outlandish", "outstanding", or "remarkable", it's current iteration is more akin to "sexy" or "voluptuous", neither term doing the show justice. A better word would be something such as "Brave", "Bold", "Daring", "Courageous", "Dashing", or something like that. It keeps with the theme and story-telling of the show, while not even touching on the negative aspects of the word "bodacious".

For some tech-specs, the show transfers very well on BluRay. Colors and animation are crisp, clean, and cover the gambit of daytime, nighttime, and a variety of shades such as red-lit-combat light, and power outages. Sound effects, music, and voice were all clear and distortion free, and took complete advantage of my 5.1 speakers and additional subwoffer. Full marks on the engineering aspect.

In summary, Bodacious Space Pirates is a fun, adventure anime that uses a unique twist on the whole romantic imagination of exploration sort of thing that makes you interested in seeing where they go with the adventure in OVA 2.

Overall: A-

P.S. I think for the next one, I'll review Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful.))
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Okay all, as promised from one of the original posts, I'm going to review some bishoujo (i.e. adult) anime as well. I think, so far, I've done all of one bishoujo anime, Angels in the Court. As such, it is time for me to do another one. This time, I'm going to review the OVA, Moonlight Lady.

Following along with something different, I used my Sony Viao laptop with Skullcandy headphones.

Released from 2001 - 2004, Moonlight Lady OVA, or Kao No Nai Tsuki (No Surface Moon), is a five-episode bishoujo anime based off the eroge novel of the same name. It was done by Pink Pineapple, and licensed for US release by Kitty Media. Suzuna Kuraki is a sheltered, young woman possessing tremendous mystical powers, who is training to be the priestess of her family Shinto shrine. However the shrine harbors a malevolent spirit who is attempting to bewitch everyone, and steal Suzuna's powers for its own, dark, purpose.

I do not have the associated eroge game, so I cannot comment on how closely the OVA follows the story-line. I do have similarly-themed, supernatural, eroge games, such as Divi-Dead, Deus Machina: Deamonbane, and Saya no Uta. In this regard, Moonlight Lady has a very, familiar feel to me, and Pink Pineapple does very well at translating eroge novels into bishoujo-anime. As such, I would be confident to stay that the bishoujo-anime is a faithful telling of Kao No Nai Tsuki.

I have the three-volume slip-case, boxed set. The slip-case is very stylish and eye-catching, offering a good blend of occult imagery with erotic themes. The DVDs are housed in three, clear cases. Each DVD has a full-color dust jacket, as well as a full-color insert, with case-3 being the only exception. The DVDs are all silk screened. Overall, full marks for the presentation. A good blend of dark, horror-type imagery with sensuality, all while only hinting and teasing at the story.

Sound and music are done in 2.1 channel stereo. Kitty did dub the show. It is also available in Japanese with and without English subtitles. The dubbing is poor, at best. My suggestion would be to watch with the original, Japanese soundtrack. The subtitles and timing are done well. Music is done very well. It enhances the story, offering its own creepiness and drama as needed. With Moonlight Lady being an older show, it is done in 4:3 ratio format.

For those of you who like a good, erotic, occult story, Moonlight Lady would be something you enjoy. Suzuna is very powerful but naïve priestess, getting ready to finish her training and take over the family shrine. However, there are a number of characters at the shrine who want to take her power, and use it for their own means. The means by which they plan on stealing this magic is manifested in sexual manipulation. Suzuna is soon caught up in this conspiracy, as are her handmaidens, her finance, and the house staff as well. Will she be able to unravel and survive the diabolical machinations, or will her powers be stolen from her is the main theme of the story.

I enjoyed the bishoujo-anime a lot. Horror and supernatural are themes I greatly enjoy, and Moonlight Lady uses them both well. The characters, while full of tropes, are all engaging, yet they all seem to harbor a dangerous side as well, making you wonder what is really going on, and who is really manipulating whom. The character design is fantastic. All of the characters are unique, and each one pulls at your vision in their own way. Pink Pineapple also puts in some serious, technical marks, making the animation, choreography, and costuming all come off as highly detailed, and fluid. It does not matter where or when the event is, Pink Pineapple makes the show come off beautifully.

The story does have some mixed aspects. For example, the moon, flowers, and water play heavily into the imagery, yet are only briefly highlighted upon. Now, I enjoy this, as the story is solid enough that it had me go look up additional information about these aspects of magic and mysticism. Others though might be turned off by the lack of in-story explanation. The arranged marriage fits with the story; however, others might find it forced, or Suzuna's reactions to consummating this relationship to be confusing.

The show is not without its flaws. It goes decently into Shinto, and the ideas of replenishing magical powers via physical contact; however, for those audiences not familiar with the idea of sexual-magic, it will come off as disconcerting. Oddly, though, European-story-themed witchcraft does mention the idea that witches should be virgins, as "matters-of-men" complicates things. Anyway, back on track. The implied ages of some of the characters may also upset some audience members.

Extras on the DVD are thin, only offering trailers for other, Kitty bishoujo.
On a technical side, I heard no distortion or fade-outs from the audio track. It was clear, crisp, and sounded well on my headphones. Colors were fully saturated, showing no signs of shimmering, pixilation, or artificing. Overall, full-marks on the technical side.

In summary, I enjoyed Moonlight lady. It had a solid blend of story, horror-occult, art-design, and sexuality that makes for an engaging show.

Grade: A- ))
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((In preparation of the upcoming 100th post, I figured I should do another review. With the Halloween season upon us, I'm going to review the anime DVD of "Blood: The Last Vampire", released by Manga Video. Be advised, there is a live-action "Blood: The Last Vampire" as well. BtLV was released in 2000, as a stand-alone movie between the Blood and Blood+ OVAs.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

Manga did a pretty good job for the packaging. The case has a stylized black dust jacket, that matches the dark nature of the show. The summary on the dust jacket is a bit off, as it alludes more do Blood+ than Blood. Inside the case is a full-color, double-sided insert, with a spot of in-movie art. The DVD itself is silkscreened in a dusk theme and splattered with blood. Other than the semi-mis-leading, back-cover summary a very stylish and eye-catching case.

"Blood: The Last Vampire" is about Saya and her team, and their hunt for chiropterans. And, there-in lies the problem. I do enjoy stories of vampires hunting their own kind, and trying to regain some semblance of humanity. Problem with BtLV is that I'm not sure if it wanted to be a stand-alone move with ties into the Blood-universe… or an extended Blood episode. It would do well as its own episode, as it has a running-time of 48 minutes; however, I think it was trying to be a movie.

As a movie, it feels rushed, with an emphasis only on the action. For a hunter-vs-hunted movie, there is little cat-and-mouse, no suspense, no character development, and no time getting the audience to attach to the characters. It basically was one fight scene after another, interspersed with explosions. And, that is why I think it should have just been the final episode of the Blood. It has all the requirements for a final episode where your audience has seen the universe and knows who the characters are, and want to see an epic, final duel. In its defense, part of my concern might also be that I am more familiar with Blood+ than I am with Blood. Lastly, the ending of BtLV does hint to the beginnings of Blood+, to include grainy movie footage played over the ending credits.

The dubbing is acceptable; yet, the original seyiuu did a much better job. I will give credit to Manga. They actually did not dub the entire move. In parts where it would fit to keep the Japanese (such as when the local escorts were talking to each other, or when the Japanese nurse was talking to Saya who is Japanese), Manga kept the audio in Japanese. That did add to the immersion. Sound and music was done well. BtLV used all five of my speakers as well as the subwoffer.

The art of the show was not a style I enjoy. It reminded me a lot of Ergo Proxy. Still, it fit for the show. The coloration was dark and red, fitting of a vampire movie, and the style gave a very otherworldly and horror theme. For example, the American Air Base looks old, decrepit, in disrepair and creepy; even though the base itself was only some fifteen years old. I also liked the attention-to-detail, that gave the show a 1960s feel. The costuming and props sold the date. Choreography and details were smooth and exacting.

For technical marks, Manga gets a full score. Good use of the 16:9 ratio, and the picture took up the entire TV screen. No pixilation or artificing was seen, and there were several times where bright yellows, reds, and oranges were next to blacks. The audio track was clear, and did not pop or hiss. The only technical oddity was that the menu-select screen was done in a 4:3 ratio, which had me momentarily concerned that the movie was Full Screen and not Anamorphic Wide Screen.

Manga did very well with the extras. Included on the DVD are additional trailers, a "Making of Blood" short, theatrical trailer, and an art gallery.

Overall, BtLV is worth a look, but could have been considerably more.

Overall: C+/B- ))
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Woot!!! 100 posts!!! If I were Homestarrunner.com, I'd have some awesome, flash animation thingy. Since I'm not… I'll just type it.

Being as it is still October, I feel like keeping to the horror theme. As such, I'm going to review the supernatural-thriller-horror BluRay of Another (which is based on a manga by the same name). Another was done by P.A. Works, and was licensed for release in the States by Sentai Filmworks.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system. As an aside, I'm listening to Disgaea 4: The Unforgotten Melody while I write this review.

Sentai Filmworks did well for the packaging. The dust-jacket is colored in very somber blacks, oranges, and reds, helping to emphasize the supernatural-horror theme of the show. The description on the back of the show is spot-on, giving you a good teaser without spoiling anything about the show. The BluRay disk themselves, it comes with two, are both silkscreened with the cast of the show. I did notice that the dust-jacket states that both the English and Japanese are in 2.0 sound… which is odd. More on that in a bit. Overall, pretty eye-catching .

Another is about the 9th Grade - Class 3 from Yomiyama North High School. Class 3 seems normal enough… except for the terrible curse that chases Class 3. Will Mei, Izumi, and Kouichi be able to stop the ghastly supernatural forces arrayed against them is the central theme of the anime. In some ways, the story plays out as a much darker Persona 4, which is saying a lot as Persona 4 was pretty solid on the heavy moments as well. It had this entire folie à deux feel too it, where the entire town shared in the madness and conspiracy. Each of the characters in Grade 9 Class 3 felt individual enough yet familiar enough at the same time. They are also developed in such a way that you do get attached to the characters, and understand their individual motivations. Finally the story played heavily into the themes of fate and appeasement.

Another's art style was beautiful. I enjoyed the creepy, uncomfortable way everything, and I mean everything, had this Poe-esq "Fixed-on-the-outside-but-rotting-on-the-inside" style to it. For example, railings and banisters were solid and well built; however, they were covered in rust, paint peeling, and chipped and dented. All the settings were done like in this manner. It helped keep the story on edge, as it gave the feeling that people were just burying their heads in the sand, and not really fixing anything, or dealing with the real issue.

Another had very good costumes for their cast. The characters, while semi-troped, are individual. I especially liked Mei, Nayoa, Izumi, Takako, and creepy-librarian Mr. Chibiki. Each character was also seen in several different outfits, helping to add to the immersion of daily-life in a rural town. The backgrounds were all well thought out, and offered a variety of town locations, time-of-day, and even different weather. Lastly, I liked the dolls of Stuido M… then again, I also have a soft-spot for gothic, dolls-of-awesome.

For the audio, I did enjoy the intro and ending themes… though the intro theme seemed a big rip-off of Rosen Maiden. More on that later. Also, I'm not sure why the disk is labeled as 2.0 for both the English and Japanese sound-tracks, as I could hear all 5.1 of my speakers being utilized. Good use was also made for sound effects and even music. Both were very good at being framing devices, adding to the chilling nature of the story, and keeping you feeling uncomfortable and nervous.

Another impressed me enough that I looked up a couple of things. For example, the town name, Yomiyama, seemed odd to me… as I know "Yomi" can mean "ghost" or "spirit". So, I looked up "yama". Turns out "yama" means "mountain." So… the town is literally called "Ghost Mountain". I also checked out the symbolism of pinwheels. In short, Another did very well with the visual and color symbolism. Anime is a visual art-form and story-telling media. I like shows that get me curious enough to look something up. So, full points there.

Full credit for Sentai Filmworks' casting and directing. The dubbing was good, as was the original Japanese. I watched half the show in English, and the other half in Japanese, and I liked both sets of voice actors. Sentai Filmworks did the timing, font, and placement of the subtitles very well. They were easily readable, without filling up the screen. So, full marks.

I really can't stand the "Anime Network" commercials. Ugh. Yeah… this is beginning to annoy me enough that I'm going to start commenting on it. Just put the stupid commercial in the trailers-section.

Now, I did have some issues with Another. Some of these could be qualified as "Nitpicking" more than real issues. First, I'm not a big fan of the "everyone-stand-around-and-panic" standard horror reaction. I understand that people panic… but simple things like "dial 9-1-1" are ingrained into us from kindergarten. Also, near the end of the show, the cast seems to take this leisurely, lackadaisical stroll pace that does not mesh at all with what is going on. The effect was jarring and frustrating. It made the characters, who did feel generally fleshed-out, all of the sudden seem 2-D and cardboard. As mentioned earlier, the intro theme reminded me of Rosen Maiden so much so that the tune and lyrics are almost identical. Next, there were times where the character actions felt forced by plot. For example, the tape-pull. It was like the writers had a good story, and just slipped on the old bucket-of-horror-staples… and it didn't mesh well with the rest of the tale.

Extras for Another are on the thin side; however, you trade extras for cost. The entire season (12 episodes) costs about $45 USD on BluRay. It does have clean intro and endings. It also has an oddly-adorable, 4-minute, music video with chibi-Mei. I don't really know how to describe it other than that.

For technical marks, good use of the entire screen. The 16:9, High Def, felt larger-than-life totally sucking me into the town of Yomiyama. Colors were saturated, animation crisp, movements fluid and well choreographed. Sound quality was high. I did not hear any distortion, popping, or fade-outs. So, full marks for technical quality.

Overall, Another did have me watch the entire season in one, marathon Sunday session. As such, a good supernatural thriller that I can see myself going back to watch again.

Grade: A

So... there you go, post 100 Smile And, yes, I actually typed in a smile. It's a weird sense of accomplishment.))
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((While I'm working my way through October, I feel like keeping to the horror theme; however, this time I'm going to jump ship completely. I'm going to review K-On! , Season 1 on DVD. There are two seasons of K-On! as well as a light manga by the same name.

Alright, now comes the tricky part. My K-On! Season 1, is the "Anime Legends" release from Bandai Entertainment. Closest I can figure, my disks are from 2003. K-On! has been picked up by Sentai Filmworks. If I get any additional K-On! , I'll be able to let you know how they did with the pick-up of the series. Anyway, please keep this in mind, if you notice that the Sentai Filmworks K-On! is different than how I describe / rate the Bandai Entertainment version. Anyway, my DVDs cover episodes 1 - 14 (the original 12 episodes, and two, full-length additional episodes).

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

Bandai did well for the packaging. The dust-jacket has a pretty cool band group-photo on the front, and the back is pastel and light, mirroring the story-telling of the show. The DVD-case contains the 4-DVDs on two "pages", which allow for rapid access of any particular disk, and stores all the disks securely. Each disk is silk-screened with an instrument from the band. Bandai Entertainment puts the show as a 13+ suggestion (in contrast, Sentai Filmworks lists the show as 16+). Anyway, a well put-together ensemble.

K-On! Season 1 is about the trials and tribulations of the Light Music Club at high school. Goofy, amusing, anecdotal adventures that allow the audience to smile and reminisce romantically about their own high-school antics. Yui, Mio, Ritsu, Mugi, and later Azusa are the focal point of the show. Each character joins the Light Music Club for their own reason, and throughout the show they all decide that their main goal with the club is to have fun. As Yui says, "Fun stuff is fun". That really does pretty much sum up the show. It's trippy, fanciful, amusing, romantic, comedic, and upbeat. In a number of ways K-On! is very similar to shows like Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star in its method at representing a positive high-school growing-up story. It isn't a very deep story, yet it doesn't need to be.

I enjoyed the art-style of K-On! . While simple, it gave a very pastel and semi-dreamy vibe, which fit the more upbeat feeling. Each character is unique, and has several facial expressions and costumes. I especially liked Mio and Azusa... yes, before anyone says anything, the goth-girl enjoys the Tsundere. Ahem. Anyway, it uses a variety of settings, from a classroom, to outside school, to the beach, to an actual club. K-On! also takes full advantage of various seasons and time-of-day shots.

Dubbing was good. I found myself switching back-and-forth from the Japanese to the English soundtracks, and enjoying both of them. Subtitles were also sized large enough to read without eating the screen, and timed appropriately.

Now, as the show is about the Light Music Club, the music was awesome. The intro, ending, and music used during the various concerts the Light Music Club performs at are all ear-catchy and full of energy. The style itself is mostly light J-Pop and some rock. The Light Music Club puts on quite a show. Now, Bandai did not dub the songs into English. (I do not know if Sentai Filmworks dubbed the music.) As such, as the performances are only in Japanese. And, this is a shame. Bandai tends to have very good directors and producers, and probably could have done some pretty good music translations. Another oddity is that the show is listed as 2.0 stereo for both Japanese and English soundtracks; yet, the show did use all 5.1 speakers in my setup. Anyway, the music and soundtrack is spot on for the show.

Technical marks, are overall positive. I did notice some artificing and shimmering, especially on disk 3. I did not see any errors on the disk, so I think the encoding might have been bad. However, it might also be due to the TV settings itself. When I played around with some of the settings on the Samsung (such as the refresh rate), it did improve the overall display. I also tend to set semi-close to the TV; only about 2 meters (6 feet and change), which does let me notice small things like that. If I sat back further, it might blend into the background more, and be less noticeable. Still, overall, colors were good, animation fluid, and the overall quality solid.

On a different technical note, the DVD menus were easy to navigate and select options from.

Bandai did put in some very good extras. Each disk has an interview with the American voice actors on the main cast, such as Stephanie Shea and Christina Valenzuela. Each disk also contained clean opening and ending credits, as well as trailers for other shows.

Overall, a fun, laid back, light-pop-rock, slice-of-life show that is worth a look-see, and one that I catch myself re-watching.

Grade: A- ))
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Continuing with my non-horror trend for anime, I have another review to put up... though, I guess you could sort-of call it a furry anime. I have Cat Planet Cuties (Asobi Ni Ikuyo!) on BluRay.

As far as I can tell, there has been only the one season of CPC put onto disk. And, as a bit of a tricky part, I have the non-S.A.V.E. edition. For example, mine is oddly listed as TV-MA. The S.A.V.E. edition is listed as 17+. So, anyway, I'll be reviewing my edition. Please keep this in mind if the S.A.V.E. edition has some variations or differences than what I mention. Anyway, CPC is a 12-episode OVA with a bonus 13th episode.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system. As my edition came with both the DVDs and BluRays, I'm going to review the BluRays.

Funimation did pretty good for the packaging. The dust-jacket has a flirty full-color, front cover, and is reversible. The teaser on the back, continues with the playful etchi-ness, fully letting you know that the show is going to be a light comedy harem. The BluRay-case contains the 2 DVDs and 2 BluRays on two "pages", which allow for rapid access of any particular disk, and stores all the disks securely. Each disk is silk-screened with an character from the show. Anyway, a well put-together ensemble.

Cat Planet Cuties is about Eris, an alien cat-girl from the planet Catia, who is sent to Earth as a forward diplomat. As a diplomat, she soon meets Kio, and that's where the sexy harem antics begin. Will the two of them be the cat's meow, or will inter-girl rivalries make Kio be a scratching post. Um… yeah. You really cannot get away from CPC and cat humor. Anyway, not a real deep plot line, for certain; however, when done right the alien-girl-earth-girl bishoujo harem story can be a fun one.

I enjoyed how the show does give shout-outs and hand-waves to other shows and series. Some of the overt, some subtle, yet all of them with an affectionate and appreciative nod. I especially liked the wave to Chou Yun Fat. The story itself kept you decently engaged, and moved along like a quick-reading novelette.

The intro was vivacious and glamorous with an ear-catching tune, though it did sound a lot like the intro music for season 1 of Card Captor Sakura. Full marks as well for the ending credits. CPC had not one, not two, but three different ending credits, each using a different main girl, and each with its own theme music.

One of the things I did not like is the sheer obliviousness of Kio. I'm going to explain this in a bit of a round about way. Okay, in Card Captor Sakura, Sakura does start as oblivious to a lot of things; however, she develops and grows in the show noticing her own changing feelings and growing friendships. She also starts the story with a love-interest of sorts in Yukito, which she then has to develop past. Kio never gets any of these sorts of character growth moments. He remains stupidly clueless through the series. Polite and kind, but clueless. And it irritates me. I don’t mind harem shows, where the main-male lead has to juggle the amorous affections of several potential suitors, or even when he starts out not noticing the feelings of others. I mind it when he's so oblivious to it that it feels like he is mockingly ignoring the advances of others, and when the character refuses to march on and notice stuff like that. Part of the enjoyment, for me, for romantic shows (even light-drama, comedy, harem-romances), is a character actually picking someone. CPC lacks this.

Another aspect of the show I did not like, was the deus ex machina. I get it that advanced tech can feel like magic… it can also feel like the wonderbox, and that irritates me as well. There were a number of times when the show tried to be dramatic or dangerous, only to have "poof" magical-future-space-cat-tech saves the day… again. It's fine the first time; yet, it gets to be grating after that. This is compounded when the story itself doesn't even seem to know what it wants to do. Speaking of which…

Overall, the biggest problem with CPC is I get the impression that they did not know what kind of show they wanted, beyond the harem aspect. At times CPC tries to be a drama, other times action-adventure, sometimes space drama, other times sexy comedy hijinks. Yet, CPC doesn't blend them or script them well. In comparison, Mahoromatic starts off suggesting that it is going to be a light, love-comedy, and then pulls the rug out of you. Mahoromatic then continues to build up the increasing danger, balancing it with the growing feelings between the main characters, and still maintaining many light-comedy-drama touches. CPC touches on scenes or story-arcs like this; yet, doesn't let any of them bake more than part of an episode or so. If CPC had stayed as just a light, harem, sexy-antics comedy, it probably would have been a better story. Or even if it had picked one drama-point, such as Aoi's past, and dealing with it, the show may have been better. I do have to give CPC credit for trying to give other flavors and tastes… just the final effect on the script and story feels hobnailed together… and ending on a deus-ex-machina.

As a mixed spot, the show plays up the cat-dog rivalry at every chance it gets. And, this means lots of cat and dog puns and cat and dog themed taunts and jokes. At times it is silly fun, and other times it is eye-rolling. Full credit goes for the sheer volume of cat-and-dog humor that is included.

A second mixed aspect of the show is the super-female cast. Now, I get it that harem shows are supposed to have a lot of different girls that are all attractive for their own reasons. But, it does weird me out a bit when the show only seems to have females in it. Even the Tenchi Muyo OVA had other main characters, who were male. Mahoromatic had several male characters, to include a male character villain. Card Captor Sakura had Sakura's brother and father. As such, the super-female cast might make some of the audience roll their eyes at the improbability of it. Some folks may enjoy it, some may not.

A last mixed spot on the show was the playful nudity. To me, the nudity in the show felt more vaudeville than anything. Zany accidents which, while super pervy, were more-or-less wrong-place-wrong-time sorts of vibes to it. For example, Eris playing up being nude in the bath. Well… you're in the bath, you're supposed to be nude, right? Anyway, I actually enjoyed this type of humor. It reminded me a lot of movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.

I found myself switching between both audio tracks throughout the show, and enjoying both. The dubbing was good. Funimation hired a solid cast for the characters, and gave them positive directing. Funimation also went the extra mile. On the sing-a-long episode, Funimation dubbed the music as well. Now, some of the English Voice Actors do not sign worth a spit; yet, I have to give Funimation and the cast full credit for including it in the show. The Japanese seiyuu were very well done as well. I did not recognize any of the voices; however, all of them were spot on with their character assignments. Subtitles were a mixed bag; and part of that was due to the assistdroids being non-speaking-but-talking-via-signs. It might have taken a spot more work, but a case could be made that Funimation should have fully translated the signs the assistdriods used, instead of subtitling them.

I enjoyed the art style for CPC. Several costumes, including flirt-i-fied space uniforms, that actually had a functional feel to them. Memorable characters were all designed uniquely. And, with such a large cast, there is certain to be someone for everyone The future feel of some of the tech, and the retro feel of other tech worked for the show.

Extra's on the show are pretty good. Funimation included clean opening and ending credits, as well as, commentary on each episode, all of the in-between episode teasers, and trailers for other Funimation shows.

Technical marks were solid. I did notice, though, a weird rainbowing effect on a couple of scenes from the final episodes. The crew of a spaceship was supposed to be caught in a zero-time trap, which I think was supposed to be shown by the black-white coloration and distortion. So, I'm not sure if the rainbowing was intended to be part how the trap was illustrated, or if it was just poor black-white contrast control.

Overall, not a bad show, but nothing that really makes it stand out or gel either.

Grade: C+ / B- ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Well all, I guess people read these, as I'm up to like... 100k+ views. If you have any questions, or have a particular anime you want me to review, just let me know. If I have it, I'll do my best.

Also, work is getting a new project in soon, so my reviews will probably go back to being about one-a-month.

Okay, now for something on the older end. Previously, I reviewed Mahoromatic. Now, I'm going to review, Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful, a 14-episode OVA.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

As far as I can tell, Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful, as I have it, is out-of-print. However, it looks like the series was picked up by Sentai Filmworks. If nothing else, you'll get both seasons 1 and 2 for the same price that I paid for one volume… so you guys get 720 minutes for what I was paying for 100 minutes. Anyway, please keep this in mind, if you pick up the Sentai Filmworks release, and you notice differences between them.

Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful is about the continuing relationship of titular character Mahoro and her evolving life with Sugaru. Elements from Mahoro's past continue to creep and then flood into her life. How she and Sugaru deal with them is how the story plays out.

Pioneer Animation / Geoneon did very well with the packaging. All of the DVD cases are white-plastic, making them stand out just from that. Each has a full-color, double-sided dust jacket that is highly eye catching. The dust jackets also give good summaries of the show without spoiling anything. Inside each case is a full-color, double-sided insert with additional art. Each DVD is silk-screened with characters from the show. Very well done presentation.

For me, the story is one of the strongest aspects of the show. The series starts out introducing a new character, and from there spins a tale of betrayal, backstabbing, determination, and bittersweet loss. M:SMB does very well mixing the comedic antics of the show, with drama and more serious topics, such as abandonment, and what it means to be human. And this is what I enjoy about M:SMB and what makes it re-watchable to me. It takes the time to develop the characters, and work very different story-telling techniques together so that the transition from silly adventures and awkward moments to its final conclusion. The writers even finished the story. There will be no Mahoromatic: Season 3. And, I like that. While it is depressing, as the show is well done, a book has a final page. I'm glad some writers, directors, and producers know when to end a saga.

I also enjoy how many of the supporting cast get their own time on the stage, with even a couple of secondary couples developing. It helped to absorb you as an audience into Mahoro's and Sugaru's world, and make it come alive. It also added to the real fears presented in the story, as it took you from a light start into a dramatic middle and then a bitter end, as all of the cast were being affected, not just the main characters. While many of them never fully pieced together what was going on, they knew something was up. The cast often can sell a show, and the supporting cast made M:SMB come alive.

Overall, though, it was the ending I enjoyed the most. Mahoramatic gives a very somber near melancholy almost nihilistic finish. The ending was a valid result of the story leading up to it, and the writers did not shy away from many of the dangerous themes that they presented during the two-season tale. As such, the ending highly impressed me since it did not cop out with a happy ending.

Even years later, I continue to enjoy the art-style of Mahoromatic. The characters are all unique, the settings and props well detailed, and costumes were all well thought out. It is a simple style that I haven't seen used anywhere else. This, in turn, gives the show a unique feel.

The music continues to impress. The intro and ending are ear-catching, and you catch yourself humming along... well, okay I caught myself humming along to the ending music, and trying to figure out the dance steps. Music and Sound effects took full advantage of the 5.1 channel sound. I did not hear any fades, pops, or hissing. So, top marks to the audio team. I still play favorites with the original Japanese Seyiuu. While the English VAs do a good job, the original cast is just better. They sound more like people growing up, better use voice inflections, and seemed to better understand when the show was being goofy and when it was being dramatic.

M:SMB is not perfect. The show still does play up the etchi-ness. which may be a detractor for some, as the cast are clearly in senior high school. In addition, one of the adult characters maintains an unhealthy fixation on shotacons… which can also bother some of the audience. Still, I found it to be appropriate. While racy at times, it's never really the focus of the show, or even what is going on. As a second detractor from M:SMB, there were times where the show skimped on the animation by doing "jumpy-stills", in where there are two still frames. One is "moved" to give the impression of animation in an effort to lower production costs of the show; however, in this case, it comes off as cheap, as M:SMB has some of the best choreography for all sorts of events. Lastly, some audience may not enjoy the ending, as it is not a happy ending. The possibility remains positive, yet it's up to the audience to come up with that future.

For technical marks animation was fluid, and well done. Lighting and scenes varied from day-to-night, locations, and slow-activities vs. high action. Picture was anamorphic, and fully utilized every pixel it could on the 16:9 screen, giving the show a movie-like feel. The subtitles were well timed and appropriate font sized; however, there were a couple of scenes where they did swallow the screen. I did see some pixelation; however, my system is now newer, and the DVDs themselves are some fifteen years old. The menus were also interactive, and stylized to look like the Vesper conference room. All-in-all, solid on the technical aspect of the show.

Pioneer Animation / Geoneon did very well for extras. Each disk has artwork from the show, as well as trailers, and clean opening / ending animations. I'm going to include the dust jacket and insert as well. Pioneer Animation / Geoneon did not have to include it, but they did.

Overall, a solid ending to the series that I catch myself watching over and over again. Well worth the price of admission.

Grade: A ))
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Ezra Lee Stewart
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure if it's your cup of tea, but have you ever given Code Geass a watch? The first season is especially good, and I loved the show a lot, you might like it.

BTW, love the reviews, they are very well thought out.
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Ezra,

You're not the first to recommend Geass. It is on my list to get... it just hasn't gotten to the next-purchase tier yet.

And thank you for the comment. I do my best to put out a product that readers would enjoy.

All,

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or counter-points, please feel free to post them. If I have the show you're wondering about, I will put it on the review list. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( It's been long enough.

Do forgive about the long delay between my last review and this one. Stupid holidays getting in the way. Anyhow, I've finally been able to sit myself down, and get one of these review-thingies completed. This time, I'm going to review something newer. Shiki.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300 High-Def TV, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

The Shiki I have is the dual DVD / BluRay collection set, and is available from Funimation. In the collection, you get the entire 300-minute series in one go.

It's going to be a long, hot, summer for the villagers of Sotoba. A mysterious disease is running rampant through town, baffling doctors and spiritualists both. Enigmatic, eccentric newcomers have moved in at the same time. Does this new family have something to do with the disease? Are they the cause of villagers dying in droves? Will the secluded town be able to solve the puzzle, before the disease takes everyone? The tenacious Dr. Ozaki and introspective Shinto Priest Muroi are determined to save their village. And thus begins the tale of Shiki.

First, the packaging does not work. I did like the creepy-picture of main character Sunako on the front cover. But… that's the only part that was done well. The dust jacket is full-color, dual sided; however, the color combination they used is very difficult to read. It is a black with a very-dark red-spooky font. So… I can tell there are words on the dust jacket, but I cannot read any of them. Overall, the effect actually screams "cheap", and even "pirated copy". Confounding this issue is the insistence for Funimation / Aniplex to put the "S.A.V.E." spine on the cover.

I guess the Japanese really enjoy a vampire story. I seem to have a goodly number of vampire-anime. Anyway, Shiki is two story-arcs, each about 12 episodes long. And, for me, this is where Shiki really just kept misfiring. For some positives, I do like how Shiki brought up some old vampire mythos, such as it takes a vampire two or three days to actually drain-kill someone. I also liked how Shiki tried to show multiple prospectives, both from the side of the monsters and the side of the villagers. Shiki even attempted to show the hypocrisy of the vampires as well as the demonization of the human villagers. One of the most ambitious parts of the story is telling a horror-tale from the point of the monsters. Problem being… Shiki will bring up some pretty good ideas, threads, and ideas that should get the audience to double-think its conceptions. And, then Shiki just lets those topics wilt on the vine. I really wanted to enjoy the story, and this constant failure of Shiki to really deliver this aspect that bothered me. And this is where Shiki fails itself. It brings up a lot of ideas that would make for good drama between monsters and humans and mirror-images… but… fails to execute on just about all of them.

For example, one of the minor characters is given a day-in-the-spotlight episode. In the episode, it fully explores the idea of why she was so eager to try to convert her family in Sotoba. Yet… the main cast isn't given this consideration at all. Shiki also fails to explore obvious avenues, such as rebellions within both factions. Dissenting voices are quickly quieted, leaving no room for drama and character growth. It was the similar problem I had with Dance in the Vampire Bund. Shiki had the bravery to bring up these topics, but then just glosses over them, in favor of taking a very tame, almost standard, story.

The art-style for Shiki is acceptable. The village feels and looks like a small, rural town. Frustratingly, the character models are a mixed bag. I like the fact that every villager looks different, giving the town a realistic feel. But, there are so many caricatures of hair and costumes that they become distracting more than unique. I do like how Megumi looks (yes, the goth-girl likes Megumi and her emo-punk costumes)… but the rest of the villagers, even the main characters are average-to-mixed-bag for me. Some of them even get stupid-looking costumes. Worse, of the main characters, I only really liked how two of them look. In order to draw in a show, your main cast has to be enthralling to the audience. When your viewers like the secondary-character appearance better, you need to go back to the drawing board.
I don't like the intro ending or ending. They're to full with freeze-frame bonuses and spoilers to a show that already struggles with its own tale. An intro and ending should make you want to watch a show, not give up all the story twists and turns within the first 60-seconds of the series.

Voice acting was done well by both teams. I watched half in Japanese, and half in English, and did enjoy both sets of actors. I did find it amusing hearing Eris from Cat Planet Cuties play the villainous Megumi. Overall, good marks for the actors and directors.

Music and sound-effects are good. I did like the intro and ending musics (even though I didn't like the opening and ending sequences), as well as the "drama-building" music used in the show. The music helped build tension and fit with the growing dangers surrounding the villagers.

Technical marks are solid. Choreography was good, and I saw no distortions, artificing, discoloration, or shimmering. Shiki has both day and night, as well as various times during the day. Music and sound fully used the 5.1 stereo (for English) and 2.1 (for Japanese). Subtitles were mostly good; however, there were times when they subtitled signs that didn't need it, after the first time the location was shown. The menus were creepy, interactive, and used a bass-noise when you moved between them giving a jarring, creepy feel. In summary, good technical marks.

Funimation did well for the extras. There are episodes where various cast members, writers, and directors discuss the show and the genre. Clean intro and ending credits. The disks also contained a number of trailers for other, PG13 and PG16 series. There are even all of the Shinto Priest's contemplations as one, mini-movie of sorts.

In summary, Shiki is one of those shows that I want to like… but it lacks that certain je ne se quois in order to do so. More to the point, Shiki brings up some topics that are definitely epic in nature, and then fumbles each time by not fully pressing forth with those ideas. Overall, it leads to a decent story that just feels like it could have been so much more.

Grade: C+ ))
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The Adept
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

have you checked out the animated short Me!Me!Me! yet caroline its aa 6 minutes animeted music video
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Okay, it's about time I get off my lazy self, and post up another one of these reviews. That way, I can still say I'm getting at least one a month. This time, I'm reviewing an older OVA; Le Portrait de Petite Cossette… or The Picture of Little Cossette.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300 High-Def TV, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

The DVD of Cossette I have is the older, Geoneon version from 2004. It's listed as 16 and Up on the back of the DVD case. As far as I can tell, it is still available… though it might be through Funimation / Aniplex now. Anyway, the OVA I have contains all three episodes.

Eiri Kurasashi is an artist and antiquarian. While working in his shop, he comes across a unique, Venetian-glass chalice that gives him disturbing, but evocative images that he can't duplicate or explain. When his Uncle, who owns the antique store, sends another crate of art to be cataloged and stored, Eiri stumbles upon a portrait of the girl in the visions. From here starts a gothic-supernatural tale of love and madness. Will Eiri be able to help Cossette, or will he succumb to the insanity.

I love the packaging! Geoneon pulled out all the stops. The dust-jacket is double-sided, featuring gothic-loli artwork of protagonist Cossette. The entire piece is dark, mysterious, romantic, and beautiful. Inside, the DVD is silk-screened with the same color palette of the movie (heavy on the dark blues, purples, violets, and blacks). The DVD also contains a small, double-sided poster measuring about 8.5" x 11"… though the poster is folded into quarters, meaning it'll have seams. Overall, very well done, Geoneon, on the packaging.

Cossette reminds me a lot of a Lovecraftian-supernatural-horror-romance. Its three episodes all offer a very high-end art-house feel, full of beautiful imagery, disturbing insanity, gorgeous horror, as well as the haunting duality of nature. It is a take on the tragic affair of Romeo and Juliet, if told by gothic authors. The story blends ideas such as malign spirits vs wrathful haunts. It teases about ideas of science, mysticism, blood-magic, art, wrath, and true love. Cossette leans heavy on the thematic-element button, using metaphoric visions to explore a number of different ideas, all of which are valid in this gothic romantic tale. For example, early in the show there seems to be a bit of a throw-away line about all objects have spirits. Later, we come to realize just how true the comment was. Cossette was also very good about blurring the lines between light and shadow, as well as tragedy and curses. Lastly, Petite Cossette uses a different style of magic, that of blood-magic or thaumaturgy. It was a pleasant change of pace to see another style used for a storytelling.

Being a story about an artist and a cursed portrait, the art is amazing. From the costuming, to the different styles touched upon, to the palette choices, to the framework, to the backgrounds, Cossette is packed full of eye-pleasing visual effects, and eye-catching artwork. Petite Cossette also used grainy-style horror footage and dream-frame-sequences to excellent effect. The characters and costuming are all unique, while having a creepy, familiar feel to them. Cossette herself is used to full extent. While all of the characters feel like they could be your neighbors, Cossette is so hauntingly gorgeous that you cannot help but want to see her. Her costuming further emphasizes her nature, and dangerous undertones. Well done.

Not everything about Petite Cossette was perfect. The initial clock-attack was on the corny side, but it did recover later, as Cossette and Eiri began to conduct another blood ritual to deal with the clock. Episode 3 also had two, oddly-positioned, musical interludes. The timing wasn't bad, as it matched the changing nature of Eiri's feelings and desires… just… it didn't seem the best spot for them. So… both of those were a bit of mixed bag.

Petite Cossette didn't really have an intro, but it did have an ending. The ending was simple; a still, portrait of Cossette while the theme played and the credits scrolled by. An interesting, and well executed idea. Be advised, if you do watch the show, make sure you watch the credits all the way through to the end.

I enjoyed both sets of casts, and found myself hearing some of my favorites, such as Wendee Lee, Johnny Young Bosch, Michelle Ruff, and Marina Inoue. Both sets of actors added to their characters, giving the entire show a well rounded performance.

Music and sound effects were ghostly and moody, fitting the gothic-love-story nature of the story. They even used odd instruments, such as a harpsichord and zither. Chanting and unaccompanied vocals added to the semi-dream-semi-madness of the story as it was being told. Glass and chain sounds added to the binding and fragility of the bond between Eiri and Cossette. Full marks for music and sound effects.

Technical marks held up well. Choreography was good, but I did notice some lines during a few frames, as well as a few, blurred edges. The show is from 2004 so… it is over 10 years old. It did take advantage of the full 16:9 picture, lending a movie-like feel to the OVA. Both the Japanese and English sound tracks used the 5.1 audio feature of the show. There were times where the voices were on the quiet side, but I think that was intentional and meant to show the personal nature of the thoughts or conversations. Subtitles were well timed, and used a font that was properly sized. Id est, large enough and correct color to read, without obscuring what was going on.

Geoneon did a solid for the extras. You have the standard clean ending credits and trailers for other Geoneon shows. They also threw in several, Cossette specific trailers. In addition to all that, Geoneon included a behind-the-scenes interview/short of the show, and a music video of the main theme song of the show. Full marks for extras.

In summary, Le Portrait de Petite Cossette is a well done, chilling, haunting, gothic romance tale that pulls you in and won't let you go.

Grade: A ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Adept,

Sorry about not seeing your post sooner. I have not seen Me!Me!Me! Once I get back from work, I'll give it a looksee. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Okay, so here goes my next review. I do apologize about the delay. I guess with 150k worth of hits, I should know that people actually read these.

Anyway, This time I'll be going back to an old powerhouse, Revolutionary Girl Utena. I'm using my PS3-slim with HDMI cable to a Panasonic Viera.

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a 39-episode anime with a manga of the same name. It also spawned a movie that is both in canon and out of it. Utena also has several spin-offs for vocal/radio dramas and video games.

Being as RGU is 39 episodes, I'm going to break them up into multiple-reviews. Partly, as I have the older-episode-grouping, DVDs, which break up the story a bit differently. The newer-DVDs group the episodes in a different manner. Also, I do not have the newer DVDs, so keep that in mind, if my observations come up differently.

For the purpose of this review, I'll be covering the first story arc, from Software Sculptors. I'm going to review Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Rose Collection: Volume 1, which covers episodes 1 - 7.

Utena is a teenage girl who wants to become worthy of and emulate a prince who saved her when she was very young. She has followed the trail of the Prince to the Ohtori Academy, and here is where our story beings.

Before I go any further, let me start of with this, when you watch RGU, you'll be split into one of two camps. Camp 1 says "Sometimes a Cigar, is just a Cigar". You'll enjoy the story, the art, the music, the character development; yet, you won't over-analyze the anime. While Camp 2 says, "Everything has Symbolism, to include the mirror-image of what that symbolism can be." Me? I fall into Camp 2. For me, RGU is a well crafted deconstructing of a fairy-tale myth. Or, to put it another way, it actually shows you what would happen (both good, bad, and neutral), if a fairy-tale myth were true.

Software Sculptors did very well on the packaging. The DVD case is translucent-clear-plastic, with a white dust jacket. They use a white-and-pink coloration theme, and have Utena clearly displayed front-and-center on the jacket. The back of the cover is pale-blue, and gives a very enticing tease about the story, making you curious to check it out. The jacket is also double-sided with episodes, cast… and a creepy, silhouette picture. The DVD is silk-screened with the same art on the cover. Full marks for creativity, attractiveness, and design.

Utena has come to Ohtori Academy. Her individuality is both the admiration of the other students, and the frustration of the faculty. She is here to make friends, and to become a Prince, like the one who saved her so, long, ago. However, there are cracks in the façade of the school, its students, the student council, and the academy's hidden past. Here, Utena will make a name for herself, as she tries to become a Prince, and find out about herself along the way. And find out what being a Prince at Ohtori Academy really means.

Utena is interesting in several ways. At its surface, you have a dream-like, surreal, fairy-tale type of story of princes and princesses. You have a tomboy, energetic, and positive girl who wants to be a prince. Why? Because when she was very young, a prince saved her. In doing so, she now wants to be worthy of being a prince herself. As such, she acts heroic, saunters to class, and does her best to be the idealized vision of a prince. She even goes so far as to win the school princess, Anthy. And, there is where the story really starts to slowly change. When you peel back the curtain, you see a somber, sometimes horrific, reminder of what it means to grow up, and the destructive nature of some "coming-of-age" sorts of "rights-of-passages". In fact, by episode 3, you see a chilling story of why Utena wants to become a Prince. It appears that there is more to the story, then a simple, fairy-tale.

The Devil is in the details. For me, much of Utena's first story-arc draw lies in the fact that, if you don't pay attention, you will miss clues, double-meanings, and symbolism that is threaded into the story. One of the biggest strengths of RGU is the very open-to-interpretation symbolism used during the anime. Often times, what can seem like a "head-in-the-clouds" sorts of comments or visuals, when looked at it again, are cruel, wicked, devilish details. These sorts of double-plays become more-and-more prevalent with each re-watch of the show. For example, what does a rose mean to you? What about the colors red, blue, or yellow? Something positive? Something negative? Adding to this, the creator has stated it is up to the audience to decide. For me, this adds a lot to the show, as each time I can get a different interpretation of the story, and, each time I watch it with friends, they might see things differently than I do, giving me something else to think about. Any time a show has me thinking about it, means it’s a good show.

The artstyle is very unique, and I cannot say I've seen anything like it since. Overall, the pastel tones and water-color feel too it, add to the illusion of it being just a surreal, dream-like, mystical, mysterious, romantic, fairy-tale drama. However, the color palette darkens, and lends itself very much into the fact that one color can have very dichotomous meanings. And that is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy this series so much. It reminds me a lot of the way in how CLAMP tells stories. For example, pink is equated with "girlish" or "feminine", and it is an easy way for an audience to get some background without a ton of exposition. However, pink can also mean naive, immature, or even barely ripe. For a second example, RGU uses a lot of "butterfly/moth" imagery. Butterflies are supposed to be pretty, innocent, magical creatures, while moths are the direct opposite. They are dark, unnatural and nocturnal. Now, take this to RGU, are you seeing butterflies, or moths? Are you sure it is a butterfly? Are you positive it is a moth? When you see a silhouette it is very difficult to tell. And, often times, you might even have to second-guess yourself, instead of letting the illusion catch you as well.

Music in RGU also works to tell the story. You'll catch yourself humming along, or being pulled by how the music is played. It varies from Jazz, to Pop, to classical, to ominous Latin chanting. All of the music helps frame the story, and pull you emotionally into Utena's charged tale.

Dubbing was mixed. You can hear some now-established English VAs do a decent job with one of the first rolls… but their inexperience shows. Subtitles were good; however, the song-lyric subtitles were hard-coded into the show. They can, at times, also fill the screen. Overall, I would recommend the original Japanese with Subtitles, though.

On the technical side the two DVDs hold up decently. They are over fifteen years old. I did see some fading and distortion, and a spot of pixelation during some of the fight scenes. The show was also done in the previous 4:3 ratio style. The audio also took full advantage of the 2.1 stereo-channel sound.

For extras, Software Sculptors included a solid amount. Songs, clean opening and closings, as well as DVD-ROM features, such as artwork and wallpapers.

This first-half of the first-story arc of Utena is more than the sum of its parts, allowing for multiple viewings. Each viewing will give you something you might not have noticed before. Utena wants to be a Prince; however, does she really know what being a prince means? The devil is in the details. Lastly, this first story arc successfully blends romantic naivety of growing up, with some very harsh undercurrents of what it really means to leave childhood.

Overall: A ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Hey all,

Okay... this is not a new review, but more of a teaser.

As I haven't watched it in forever, I figured I'd go back, and try Neon Genesis Evangellion... but I've already come across a roadblock.

I have Volume 1, from ADV... so... that's episodes 1 - 4 of 28 episodes. So... barely 1/7th of the show. Not sure where all of my other Evangellion escaped to.

Anyway, I guess I could start with the episodes I do have, and, hopefully, find some of the other DVDs used.

So... there you go. A teaser. Next week or so, I'll have a review on the beginning of NGE. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Hey all,

Okay... here is a second teaser. I, technically, found all seven of my volumes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Apparently I had two different sets of NGE...

--Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 1 (Episodes 1 - 4)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum: 02 (Episodes 6 - 10)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 3 (Episodes 9 - 11)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum: 04 (Episodes 15 - 17)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection: 5 (Episodes 15 - 17)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection: 6 (Episodes 18 - 20)
--Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum: 07 (Episodes 24A/B - 26)

So... as I said technically all seven volumes. 1/2 of the Collection... and 1/2 of Platinum.

As such, I'm currently missing the following episodes:

5, 12 - 14, and 21 - 23.

So... I'm going to delay NGE just a bit longer, to see if I can location the correct 1/2s I'm missing. In the meanwhile, I'll have a different review up this weekend.

I guess, if nothing else, if I can find the rest of Collection and Platinum, I could actually compare the two sets between each other, as well. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Okay in preparation of getting into some potentially dark and serious-heavy anime and eroge games (such as the rest of RGU and A Drug That Makes You Dream) I've decided to prep myself first by overdosing on positive stories. As such, I'm going to do a review of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, aka Gurren Lagann.

For the review, I'm using my PS3 Slim, a Samsung PDP Series 5+ 5300 High-Def TV, Monster-Brand HDMI and stereo cables, and Yamaha YHT 493BL home theater sound system.

The Gurren Lagann I have is the DVD Anime Legends set from Bandai rated 13 Up, which is now unavailable. There is a newer, collector's edition available from Aniplex, as well as five, BluRays. Each BluRay has approximately 5 episodes per disk. Be advised that the move from Bandai to Aniplex may change some of the show / translations / etc. Anyway, Gurren Lagann is a 27-episode, single-shot anime by studio Gainax.

Simon and Kamina are two humans living underground. Their job is to tunnel and dig to find new living areas for the community. When a chance encounter with buried treasure brings trouble to their underground city, it is up to Kamina and Simon to unlock the mysteries of Gurren Lagann, protect their city, and challenge the status quo. Thus begins the epic tale of two unlikely heroes. Heroes who will pierce the very fabric of the heavens with their drill.

First, the packaging is pretty good. The front cover is full-color, and reminds me of those old, action-adventure movies with the dramatic, point-at-the-sky pose. The back has a sweet teaser of the show, peaking your interest in checking it out. The DVD case itself has space for all 6, DVDs by using a central page. The DVDs do "stack", meaning that you have to pull out the one on top, to get to the one underneath. Each DVD has a full-color silk-screen of Kamina, Simon, Yoko, and Mia. Overall, full marks for the packaging, Bandai.

The story can be summed up like this: Take everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING that makes awesome shows awesome, dial them ALL up to 11, break off the knob, jam the power-cord into a nuclear reactor going meltdown, then replace the knob and dial the new knob up to SUPER-MEGA-UNIVERSE-BUSTING 11!!!!!!!!!!, then take all that, slam on a rocking soundtrack, make sure all the needles are buried and everything is off the charts, and then lastly let Chuck Norris give it an approving nod. That's Gurren Lagann. This… show… is… just… entertainingly fun!

Okay, a little more focused now. The show is a blast. The whole story can be summed up as "Fighting Spirit"… or… as the show calls it "Sprial Power." And, very amusingly, spiral-power is represented by drills. Lots, and lots of drills. Big drills… long drills… thick drills… drills sprouting more drills… drills combining into super-mega-buster drills… drills, drills, drills. The imagery is kinda funny about it. Anyway, Gurren Lagann firmly parks its story in the "Don't Give Up!" camp and stays there. There is nothing that Kamina and Simon cannot due. The effect made me smile. Constantly. We can do anything, as long as we believe in the me that believes in me! In a lot of ways, the theme of "Believe in the you that believes in you" is actually a pretty uplifting thought.

With a show all about Spiral Power and Believing in the you that believes in you, everyone (and I mean, EVERYONE!) is hot blooded. Well… not quite everyone… poor Rosseau. Still, even he goes from being pragmatic to being HOT BLOODED! Anyway, the story its character development and pacing are all well done and engaging.

(If you can't tell by now, this show is a lot of fun. You can't help but like it, and start to just EMPHASIZE stuff for no reason, other than EMPHASIZING STUFF SHOWS RAW, SPIRAL, POWER! And, yes, there is a lot of boisterous yelling. A LOT!)

Gurren Lagann's art style is pretty standard for studio-house Gainax. It's a good style that I like. Oddly, one of the character's swimsuits looks weirdly like a costume for Kill La Kill… which came out after Gurren Lagann, as far as I was aware. Anyway, all the characters are unique, and have color palettes that help add to their characterizations. Mecha, costumes, and weapons, while over-the-top, I also found well thought out.

With being twenty-seven episodes, Gurren Lagann sports two intros and endings. I enjoyed both of them. Both had ear-catching tunes, and eye-catching sights. I also liked the episode-bumps. They were just art based on the show, usually lampshading what was going on during that particular episode. I just wish that Bandai had included the episode-bumps as extras on the DVDs.

Both casts did a good job on Gurren Lagann. Both had that hammy-awesome-over-the-top-scenery-chewing that helped sell the story. I found myself swapping back and forth constantly, and not really favoring either team. I did enjoy Hynden Walsh doing the voice of Mia the best.

Gurren Lagann does Bandai proud for its technical marks. For it's age, Gurren Lagann holds up very well. Menus were quick and easy to navigate. The transfer is still smooth and flawless. There are a lot of graphics-heavy fight scenes, and they all look amazing. Subtitles were well timed, readable font, and accurately translated. Both soundtracks used the 5.1 channels very well.

Bandai did alright with the extras. Clean intros and endings, and trailers to other Bandai shows. They also included cast and staff interviews, extra footage, screen tests of certain scenes. All-in-all a good display of extras for the show.

In summary, if you enjoy hot-blooded, ragingly manly, boisterously proud, epic-ly fun, adventure stories where the heroes are heroic, the villains monstrously villainous, the friends brave, true and stalwart, the dangers dastardly and diabolical, the friendships born of fire and loyalty, the story nothing less than a 27-part trilogy, and just the sheer power of righteously awesome, the Gurren Lagann is a show for you. Let the spiral drill of this odyssey pierce your heart and fighting soul!

Who the HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE!?!?

Grade: A RAGING SPIRAL INFERNO OF A+ ))
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The Adept
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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so miss caroline are you looking foward tot he new dragon ball series that will be coming out ?
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2015 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Hey Adept,

That's a very good question.

Well... I'm not really looking forward to the new DBZ. Let me 'splain. Wait... there's too much. Let me sum up.

First, I'm not a big fan of the artstyle for any of the Dragonballs. If I don't enjoy the visuals, it'll keep me from wanting to watch the show. Even if a show is "meh" or worse, if I like the art, I'll keep watching it. For example, I finished Outlaw Star because I enjoyed how it looked.

But, more importantly, probably the biggest reason I enjoyed Gurren Lagann is that, while it is so over the top that a whole new top had to be built, just so Gurren Lagann could go over that top too, was that it was just fun. It reminds me more of Megas XLR, or Fifth Element, or just about any movie with Jackie Chan. The fight scenes aren't really even that important... other than to see how much more over-the-top they can become from the previous fight scene. Kinda-like the writers were going:

Writer 1: "Well... we used a super-big-mondo-delux-mecha-drill in the last fight, what can we do in this fight?"

Writer 2: *Snaps Fingers* "I KNOW! We can use TWO Super-Big-Mondo-Delux-Mecha-Drills, that he combines together into "Giga-Mega-Ultra-Delux-Drill-COMBO!" and then have them use that via a Flying-Jump-Kick-of-Mega-Damage!"

Writer 1: "That's AWESOME!" *totally starts drawing and writing new scene*

It's just a good show about believing in yourself.

In contrast, DBZ puts too much emphasis on the seriousness and dangerousness and destructive nature and violence of the fight itself. It's more like I'm watching the movie Crank or Fight Club... though I guess we can't talk about Fight Club. Sure, it is also filled with hot blooded characters who do overcome previous limitations and fears... but, to me, DBZ fouls itself with testosterone poisoning. The fights aren't fun... they're... an ugly, chaotic mess of graphic content. To me, DBZ is more about the fight, and not the character development, or the story, or the team, or the adventure.

So... I'm not really looking forward to the new DBZ.

What's your opinion, Adept? ))
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The Adept
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2015 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally i am looking foward to the new dragon ball series for a few reasons but primarily it was the second anime i ever saw and grew up with. The first being sailor moo. So it has the nostalgic factor playing a big part of it. While on the other hand with the overwhelming success of battle of gods and with Fukkaso no F(i dont know if i spelled that right) being planned for a us release sometime this summer and the realm of universes that were opend up with battle of gods it makes way for a ton of new story for a great series. and with the evolution in animation it will make the fights that much better compared to what they were 15 years ago. nd it will be cool to see super sayain god and super sayain god SS in a ainme setting and not a movie one
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DesertWolf
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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Adept: Fukkatsu no "F"
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( Hey all,

I should have the next review up shortly. I'm working my way through Pandora Hearts.

After Pandora Hearts, I'll start working on Neon Genesis Evangelion and Vicious.

I've also been considering putting up some thoughts on the eroge games I have, as well as my American animation (such as Batman: The Animated Serires). So... if you're interested in having me review some of those, let me know. Else, I'll just stick with the anime. ))
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Caroline
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Hey all,

Being as I'm an anime fan, I know how expensive the hobby can get.

Anyway, RACS (Robert's Anime Corner Store) is having a sale on select Sentai Filmworks, Section 23, and Maiden Japan anime series. Anywhere from 40 - 70% off.

http://www.animecornerstore.com/overload.html

You can pick up some of the titles I've reviewed (or are planning on reviewing), such as:

-- Another

-- Fate Stay Night

-- Flowers of Evil

-- High School of the Dead

There are others. Quite a few others.

So... get your anime on. ))
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