Posted on 3 March 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews

All the heroes in one shot. Sword, Luke, Gina, Sophie and talking motorcycle (? really can I call it that?) Zaruza

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai Golden Knight, Luke and Gina, two Makai alchemists, and an intrepid young girl, Sophie, to unravel the mystery behind the mythic city of El Dorado, and the King who rules it.

What is it really about: A touching story about bonding between an adult and child amid a setting characterized by body horror and schlock violence. No this is not Dororo or Berserk. The very nature of Horrors guarantees that most of this show is about our heroes killing truly disgusting creatures that devour humans in disgusting ways. There are some attempts to provide some gravitas about who and why becomes consumed by Horrors in the first episodes, but this is quickly dropped for sheer B movie horror action. Most of the secondary characters and all of the major antagonists are just boring. Battles are mostly CG and ok rather cool, but not something mind-blowing. Actually the non-CG action was much better. Horror battles have got it all! Ranging from fistfights to even Mad Max inspired car wars. While all of our heroes do get some development, generally I found Gina and Luke rather boring. Instead the real soul of the show is Sword and Sophie and their relationship.

Booby-man in action!

Why you should watch it: And it is that which makes this show worth watching. Sword is in many ways a walking anime stereotype. All muscle, a voracious eater, and a worshiper of female bosoms, which is why I called him booby-man to my wife and called the show booby-man. And yet, there is depth and maturity to Sword that belies his act. He hits the sweet spot between silliness and maturity that makes the show work. It also means that he can be both a friend and father figure to Sophie. Their relationship and its development is what keep this show together.

It also helps that the animation and drawing style is pretty pleasing to me (it also produces quite a bit fanservice keep in mind). The penultimate episode has some really interesting visual art. I have to say that at times the show is willing to try something new.

Why is it mediocre: Because ultimately this is a schlock B movie violence action show and it gets in the way of character development. Indeed the last episode spends too much time on boring URRGGHH!! battle between booby-man and the most boring of the big bads, rather than driving forward the Sophie and Booby-man relationship. The music is ok. It is rock and roll and hard electronic guitars, and sometimes it works great and others not at all. The plot is boring, and the sub-plots mostly boring, with a few exceptions.

In a final analysis, this is a good mindless action series if that is what you want (which is what I wanted from it). Sword (aka Booby-man) is different enough than the usual stereotype protagonists of these types of shows to give it that extra thing that makes it stand out, but the general character of the show sacrifices the promise. If you want just some pure, silly fun, go for it. But don’t expect more. Interesting, I would say it felt like a very USA animation show (the more adult DC kind). So keep that in mind.

Posted on 16 January 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Planetes, Throwback Thursday

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. Before Moe and Sis-con took over the seasons. Back when a series was allowed to take things at its own pace, and actually finish its story rather than languishing in sequel hell. Of course, what else can you expect from the first work of Makoto Yukimura, the author of currently published Vinland Saga.

Lets jump in!

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Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Goblin Slayer

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a good thing) this story could at least be something more closer to a fantasy adventure series. In truth Goblin Slayer is more a love letter to low level Dungeons and Dragons so for those who happen to have a nostalgia for such a thing, this series could have a big appeal. However for the average anime watcher I can say this, this show is called Goblin Slayer and you can bet that’s exactly what you are gonna get.

Goblin Slayer slays goblins. It’s what he does in the first episode and you can bet it’s what he does in the last. This is essentially a series where you watch the equivalent of goblin slaying Batman go about his business of killing as many goblins as humanly possible. For some watching him do this is enough and I admit that his single minded obsession can be a source of some pretty good comedy. However if you find that isn’t enough and are looking for this series to maybe provide something deeper in regards to world building or characterisation then you will be sorely disappointed. The Goblin Slayers party of adventures are staple D&D archetypes with little in the way of interesting traits of backstory. The worldbuilding pretty much borrows a lot of it’s lore from other more notable works and not much is really expanded upon besides the small detail of goblins being the worst despite being regarded as a minor pest by adventurers. There is quite of number of light novel tropes such as Goblin Slayer having a whole harem of girls after him despite never taking off his helmet and never talking about anything other than killing goblins.

This is essentially a anime with a limited appeal and a simple objective which can be entertaining but not something you would hold in high regard. White Fox did an excellent job in adapting it for the most part in how they toned down the less unsavory aspects but there are times where the animation for action scenes is on the unimpressive side. The plot doesn’t really move beyond killing Goblins and Goblin Slayer slowly warming up to other people. Some moments have fanservice that is just ridiculously inappropriate and unnecessary. But get past that and the rather grimdark first episode and you have a show that makes for a decent watch for some.

Posted on 15 January 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Zombieland Saga

Zombieland Saga was a show that came out of the gate guns blazing, no one expected it nor did anyone predict it but it left a strong impression when it first aired it’s starting episodes. Originally considered to be another zombie apocalypse anime, it overthrew expectations by turning out to be a zombie idol anime. Outlandish though it may be this actually worked as the idol shows ranged from death metal to Rap and the comedy hit all the right notes with special mention to the manager who is equal parts ridiculous and bombastic. It looked like this was the series to take a look at the idol anime genre and poke fun at it’s ever so tiresome tropes.

But ultimately the greatest failing of Zombieland Saga was becoming that which it originally parodied. The end result isn’t something that I would consider a trainwreck like Kado as while Zombieland becomes something lesser, it’s still at least a decently enjoyable watch. The problem is that it’s opening episodes promised something greater and could have potentially been the anime to point out and mock the very nature of idol anime itself for it is something that has been long overdue such a scathing. Sadly the case is that once episode three hits the story gears more towards traditional idol anime and the fact that the idols are in themselves zombies becomes less and less relevant. What at once was a great surprising anime just became another idol anime.

There is fun to be had with the show and sometimes it can bump up from being alright to pretty good. The opening is quite excellent and the comedy has some great highlights with Yugiri’s mistimed slaps and Yamada Tae just being the legendary Yamada Tae. Though when the series aims to hit a more emotional tone this often contrasts far too greatly with the general slapstick nature of the show itself, often not making its mind up on whether it wants to make you cry or laugh. Episodes become more formulaic as well with each often starting that a pep talk session with the manager so he can ham it up for comedic effect. Coupled with an ending which acts more as a midpoint finish rather than a finale and you have a show that’s rather half baked in nature. Overall this show can be a fun watch but it once held the potential to be greater but then went for something more more marketable but more generic as a result.

Posted on 2 January 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, SSSS.GRIDMAN

Let it be known that I’ve never been a fan of Trigger. For me, they’re one of the most style-with-no-substance studio on Earth with a tendency for god-awful fanservice, and total nonsense in terms of story and characters. Yet GRIDMAN completely caught me off guard in the first two episodes, and from there, there was never a dull moment. On the surface, it shares many of the studio’s (good) trademarks: an unconventional storytelling, bombastic action sequences and and eye for arresting visual. Yet its approach is completely different that the visual approach becomes a character of the show itself. On the next surface, GRIDMAN is a love letter to those tokusatsu shows, the Gridman franchise and even Transformers franchise that we see the sheer love from the staffs to all these homages. While you don’t need any of prior knowledge in order to follow this show, the ones who do know about these homages might enjoy the show more wholly. For my money, along with Revue Starlight, GRIDMAN is one of the best visual directed anime this year 2018 has to offer. A visual where not only it’s striking to look at, but also support its themes and laid out many small details about its world-building.

The main vibe GRIDMAN offers in the first few episodes lie in how offbeat everything happens on screen is. Character waking up with an amnesia; there are kaiju monsters standing motionless in the background. The school appears to be normal a day after its destruction. This offbeat sense could very well turn many viewers off, but not until later do we find out about the truth of this world and its characters that everything starts to fall into place and its visual choice starts to make a whole lot sense. If I have to point out another quality of GRIDMAN, that would be there’s a clear line between “minimalistic” and “going all out”.Usually, the battle scenes go is bathed with its bright color, dynamic CG sequences and epic feeling, but in its quieter moments (which usually happening ⅔ of the episode), it goes for saving-energy mode: minimal music, repetition shots, realistic dialogues, “camera” is in static mode. This is a bold choice since clearly dividing its segments like that would cause a tonal inconsistency or even not holding audience’s attention at all, but it’s a rewarding one because GRIDMAN creates a real sense of its mysterious world that feel wholly unique and unforgettable.

Some could argue that because of these clear dividend, GRIDMAN is a show of two halves: its mundane slice-of-life half through the point of view of Rikka, and its Gridman vs Kaiju monsters origins narrated by Yuuta. In fact, part of the claim is true. Looking back, GRIDMAN doesn’t seem to have a clear protagonist, as we were introduced to this world through Yuuta’s eyes, himself is a blank state, then all the emotional core is progressed through Rikka as she goes through her normal life and then the show leaves its climax arc to Akane, her God-like status and her existential crisis. Not all of these work well (Yuuta’s part is clearly GRIDMAN’s weakest part), but I’m surprised that this show brings another level of complexity to Rikka and while I’m a bit let down by the ending, the dream episode remains the best episode I’ve seen in 2018, and the single sequence of Akane jumping off the crane remains one of my favorite scene of the whole year.

GRIDMAN is also one of these shows where it embraces “show, don’t tell” school the the fullest. The visual style always give the sense of scale between the characters and how huge the kaiji monsters are. It features many distorted lenses, further informs us visually that the world these characters inhibit in are not necessary real. Most impressive of all, in my humble opinions, is how the show uses the distance between its characters to signify their chemistry. The best examples of this approach is Akane and Anti’s relationship, where you can see the clear distance, most of the time Akane is in higher position, looking down at Anti. In addition, My favorite one is in episode 3 that details Rikka and Shou’s getting sucked into their own misery. The visual framing, which frames these two looking different ways through mirror is the textbook example of how to inform character’s inner struggle purely through visual alone.

This show is also in love with putting as many details in its world-building, a bit obsessively like the way Wes Anderson usually spend to his worlds – mostly through the objects that surround the characters. While these details might not necessary relevant to the main plot, uncover these Easter eggs might prove rewarding and might open up to more interpretation this show aims to be. This is the show that the more you dig into it, the deeper the Rabbit hole goes, but damn I really do prefer if the show confirms some of its theory. The live-action sequence at the very end of show, for example, nicely sum up this show thematically, at the same time raising a hell lot of ambiguity to the table.

And for me, that is exactly the kind of anime I’m yearning for. It might not be perfect, it might be for an acquired taste (although I heard that it sells surprisingly well in Japan), it might not wrap up the best way it can, but it never afraid to take risk and ultimately it comes off as its own thing. I sure hold Akira Amemiya in high regard now.

Posted on 31 December 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Thunderbolt Fantasy

If anyone has been familiar with the first season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, you’d find yourself a lot to enjoy in this second installment. Served as a sequel, but not a direct continuation to the first, viewers don’t need the knowledge of the original in order to enjoy this ride. Thunderbolt 2 carries many trademarks that make this show such an install success since it came out: the puppetry technique makes it an unique viewing experience amongst anime fandom; the larger the life characters whose characters are the central protagonist in their own stories; the camp value of cheesy lines and back-and-forth conversations; and the somewhat unpredictableness of the plot. It serves as an entertaining and engaging ride on its own right, but to be fair, it’s pale compare to the freshness of the first season.

In this second season, we have a whole new supporting cast aside from our hero Shang Bu Huan and Gui Niao the Enigmatic Gale. The cast includes Lang Wu Yao – the ginger singer with his talking pipa, the Princess of Cruelty Xie Yinglou, the Dirty Cop Xiao Kuang Juan and the amoral monk Di Kong. While Thunderbolt proves once again it more than has its chops when it comes to make these characters as stand out as possible, for this season it falls more into straightforward side.There’s a clear line between the good guys and the bad guys, which makes a lesser impact compare to the ambiguity of good/evil in the original series. Princess Cruelty, for example, has haer redemption arc that, while still good, is the most conventional arc Thunderbolt has done so far.

The main storyline is another straightforward aspect of this season. It has a clear set of goals and well planned-out (too well indeed) goals: Shang Bu Huan wanted to get rid of his Index of Swords, unfortunately the plan fails and the enemy gets a hold of two evil swords. One thing that this season does improve is that we get a chance to see more legendary swords and their dangerous powers. These two new swords, Seven Blashphemous Deaths and the Night of Mourning, have a distinct designs and formidable powers. The former especially has quite a character for her deadly charming voice and her femme fatale personality. My favorite addition, however, is the one-wing Dragon who spits fire and talks human language.  

Speaking of characters, I’m glad to say that all the main players this season fit into this universe like a T. They’re over the top, but not simple. They’re all too proud of themselves and they bounce off with each other extremely well. Normally it’s an one-on-one conversations where these different personas clash, and most of the time it’s a treat to watch. Di Kong and Lang Wu Xao serve to be an excellent cast on its own, the former on how he’s dangerous purely because he has no evil temptation, and the latter because of his strict sense of justice. The Dirty Cop’s character is your love-to-hate type and his corruption is a bit to extreme to leave any ambiguity, and it’s a shame his character is the least relevant to the main plotline.

The visual has gotten much more flashy too. Characters doing their own “remarks” while speaking, the special effect, namely the spitfire and the blood-gushing are still something to behold. Even the way these characters run have a quirk of its own, making Thunderbolt a product that never fail to be anything less than spectacular. I think we’re in good chance for the final season that closes everything here. Witty, refreshing, never take itself seriously and always have the right amount of campiness and flashiness, puppets are here to stay.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara

In the last few years, it’s great to see P.A Works has slowly created their own studio identity, putting more original works with consistent production values. Just in 2018, they produced 4 shows (quite a good number if you ask me), 3 of them were original: Maquia, Sirius the Jaeger and Irozuku. As I said, it’s a encouraging sign to see a studio that has control of its titles, but at the moment they still haven’t reached their full potential yet. The same pitfalls between Irozuku and Sirius the Jaeger, in particular, lies in its writing. They’re unremarkable and in Irozuku’s case, drags on for too long. Irozuku is a show that has a well-realized settings, a solid theme of finding love and gorgeous production, but it’s one of the case where it has no real plot, as a result in the middle chunk it feels as if the cast just wanders around in search for the plot.

You can see that aimlessness from our main lead, Hitomi, who is colorblind, afraid to use magic and shut off her own feeling. When she’s transported back to her Grandma’s timeline, she doesn’t know what her purpose is, or what she should do. Comes the supporting cast from the Art/ Photography Club who has different personality traits, but “surprisingly” always in sync when it comes to group decision. I take it as lazy-writing since at the end of the day, none of the cast raise above their established traits. The addition of energetic Kohaku moves the show forward a bit, but she’s also bogged down by the same approach.

I normally avoid to criticize a show for “nothing happens”, but it’s exactly the case here for Irozuku. The middle portion consists mostly of the cast hang out doing their club activities that both feel random in nature and nothing has progressed whatsoever. Although they spend majority of time together, the chemistry of the cast isn’t necessary strengthened, because they repeat the same atmosphere all over again. Not all of these relationships are one-note, however. Aoi and Hitomi has some neat moments together, as they settle down their own feeling for each other. Kohaku has some solid developments too on how she takes the responsibility of bringing Hitomi safe and sound.

Irozuku is the show that mixes between magic and the normal day lives; and it’s the magic parts that are the highlights of the show. Whenever it comes to these scenes, the visual never fails to impress. Whether they’re colorful fireworks, the magic train or drawing-styles paintings or the sparks of the magic spell, everything looks gorgeous and it’s the visual alone that carries the message more than the narrative. It takes a trip to Aio’s painting with the black figure hopelessly chase the dead golden fish that tells much more about Aio’s artistic struggle than any word can convey. The same goes for Hitomi’s monochrome vision, every time it switches between color to black and white world, we see the world in her point of view and there’s always a hint of sadness carries across.

Thematically speaking, Irozuku centrals on finding your own happiness and love yourself as part of embracing and living the world. Throughout its run, Hitomi progresses from a shy little sad sack to someone who knows what she likes, from a girl who is afraid of her own magic to someone who finds the beauty in magic and the colors in her life. As it stands, I still believe Irozuku would be much stronger if it only had half of its runtime, or had a more solid middle arc. It remains a show that has clear starting and ending point, but don’t know the road the get there efficiently.

Posted on 30 December 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews

In the wake of many a school based light novel show this may be the small bits of fresh air was can savor out of this overdone setting. Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl(Or by its japanese title above) is a series not about rascals or bunny girls but instead about contextualising common high school student problems with a supernatural twist. The story mainly follows a guy called Sakuto who encounters various girls afflicted by some supernatural disorder ranging from invisibility to body switching. Generally caused by some mental problem or trauma the girl is dealing with which the supernatural disorder is forcing her to face. There is some rather weak attempts to explain said phenomena with quantum physics but believe me when I say you really shouldn’t take that into account as this show basically gives up on that idea as it continues.

The series works in an arc format with each ranging from three to four episodes dealing with a certain girls story arc. However while each arc does deal with Sakuto helping girls, this does not lead to the typical situation of Sakuto building up a harem of girls infatuated with him as he helps them. Instead there is more of a focus on Sakuto building a relationship with one girl as he helps others which really does progress well as the two have fantastic chemistry. Indeed the strongest aspect of the show itself is the interactions between the characters which do have fine comedic banter but also feel more grounded and real than most shows.

The opening theme song is a massive earworm set to have you repeating it throughout the day and the ending works well as it changes based on who is the focus of that particular arc. There are some negatives in that some arcs are weaker than others and with each arc(Aka Light novel Volume) being covered in three/four episodes instead of a standard six which results in the pacing speeding up at times and lots of time jumps. As it is by the author of Sakuraso it also has a tendency to delve a little too deeply into overdramatic territory which can ruin some moments. Other than that it is a highly solid show bound to keep anyone watching with it’s episodic cliffhangers and engaging narrative. For those whom have watched the likes of Haruhi, Snafu or likewise then this would make for a good show to put next on your list.

Posted on 23 December 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Banana Fish, Finished Series: Slice of Life/Drama

Some days, I wonder what it is with America and anime about organized crime. Baccano!, 91 Days, Blood Blockade Battlefront, all set in America, all involving criminal underworlds. Today, I get to add another to that list in the form of Banana Fish. Much more grounded than the others, it’s story dates all the way back to the 80’s. The Vietnam war has recently come to a close, and Organized Crime is being forced to adapt to new times. Banana Fish takes this story and adapts it for the modern age, with smartphones and the Middle East. It attempts to touch on all these weighty subjects and conflicts, but in the end, can only manage a story about two young men, in over their heads.

Welcome to Banana Fish. Lets jump in.

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Posted on 30 October 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction

According to much of the Western Anime community, this series wouldn’t be relevant for a site like this. Being made in the West by Americans, and English being its first language, many would disqualify it from the start. However I name them all fools for Castlevania, Directed by Sam Deats and Ryoichi Uchikoshi is clearly inspired by and modeled after Anime. Just like Avatar: The Last Airbender or the currently airing RWBY, let Castlevania stand as a testament that Anime can be produced beyond the borders of Japan. A damn good one at that.

Lets jump in, and beware of spoilers!

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Yakusoku no Neverland – 11[140146]

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Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – 11

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Paranoia Agent – 9 [Etc.] – Throwback Thursday

Hello all, and welcome to a very… odd episode of Paranoia Agent. Which, knowing this show, is saying something. This week we tackle public gossip, the inconsistencies that come with it and if there is any truth to it. Lets go! Starting off, let’s talk about the execution. Normally here, I talk about animation and […]

Kemurikusa – 11

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Winter 2019 Summary – Week 9-10

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Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru – 22 [Embrace Your Loneliness]

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Kemurikusa – 08/09/10

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Latest Reviews

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]

Planetes Anime Review – 89/100

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. […]

Goblin Slayer Anime Review – 60/100

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]

Zombieland Saga Anime Review – 60/100

Zombieland Saga was a show that came out of the gate guns blazing, no one expected it nor did anyone predict it but it left a strong impression when it first aired it’s starting episodes. Originally considered to be another zombie apocalypse anime, it overthrew expectations by turning out to be a zombie idol anime. […]

SSSS.GRIDMAN (Fall 2018) Anime Review – 87/100

Let it be known that I’ve never been a fan of Trigger. For me, they’re one of the most style-with-no-substance studio on Earth with a tendency for god-awful fanservice, and total nonsense in terms of story and characters. Yet GRIDMAN completely caught me off guard in the first two episodes, and from there, there was […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 (Fall 2018) Anime Review – 86/100

If anyone has been familiar with the first season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, you’d find yourself a lot to enjoy in this second installment. Served as a sequel, but not a direct continuation to the first, viewers don’t need the knowledge of the original in order to enjoy this ride. Thunderbolt 2 carries many trademarks that […]

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (2018 Fall) Anime Review – 73/100

In the last few years, it’s great to see P.A Works has slowly created their own studio identity, putting more original works with consistent production values. Just in 2018, they produced 4 shows (quite a good number if you ask me), 3 of them were original: Maquia, Sirius the Jaeger and Irozuku. As I said, […]

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai Anime Review – 82/100

In the wake of many a school based light novel show this may be the small bits of fresh air was can savor out of this overdone setting. Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl(Or by its japanese title above) is a series not about rascals or bunny girls but instead about contextualising common high […]

Banana Fish Anime Review – 72/100

Some days, I wonder what it is with America and anime about organized crime. Baccano!, 91 Days, Blood Blockade Battlefront, all set in America, all involving criminal underworlds. Today, I get to add another to that list in the form of Banana Fish. Much more grounded than the others, it’s story dates all the way […]