Posted on 19 March 2015 with categories: OVAs and Movies:

Out of the Shin Megami Tenshi series, Persona is the one I have had the most experience with. I played persona 1,2 and 3. And most likely 4 when I manage to get my hands on it. They are very strange and unique games, quite different from your average RPG. The first game had a basic story of evil corporation screws with little girl with powers for profit, hell ensues. The second game had a more strange and interesting plot of rumors coming true no matter how ridiculous they are. Personal highlight of that game was when a rumor went around that Hitler wasn’t dead and is preparing a new army for war. And yes, you do fight Hitler. They were flawed but decent games. Persona 3 is what defined the series with its social links and simplified gameplay.

I am not here to talk about the game of course though in this case it would be hard to avoid bringing it up. This is essentially the game stripped of its gameplay and length so it does suffer from it. This story was not meant to stand on its own and you can see that clearly. The pacing is breakneck, the plot jumps forward days at a time and the characters get bare bones screen time.  But truthfully while the game was great the story did have its flaws. I for one have always found the stories in the persona series to be a bit preachy. Usually using supernatural elements as metaphors for problems possibly encountered in adolescence. For example in this movie we have a character who is suppressing his persona with a drug with grievous side effects. The way his friend addresses the matter is similar to how one who approach someone with a drug problem. Same goes with apathy syndrome, aka people who go through school life without caring to make the most of it. I even really love the symbolism of firing a gun at your head to summon a persona. A nice way of “killing” who you were to become something new.

Really the story of persona 3 is something I would label as alright. What really made it special is an element that anime can’t replicate. Its difficult to pin down but I suppose I would call it camaraderie. You spend a long time with these characters with you in the seat of an avatar and in that time you come to care for them. In doing so the story has much more impact to you. This is also something Visual novels have over anime as well. So what can I say about this movie? Well first off the animation is rather limited. During Action scenes it becomes excellent but the daily antics seem lacking in movement. I would give this a break if this was a tv series but for a hour and a half movie such a thing is inexcusable. However despite the breakneck pacing and constant time jumping the movie is quite watchable. The art is fairly pretty but it really looks like someone is a bit too fond of messing with hue with high saturation settings. Especially with the daytime scenes where the colour can just be blaring with intense brightness. Overall the whole film just looks to have too many gradient and bloom effects that it didn’t need. If they held off on the light and colour effects and just let the art speak for itself this would be a far better looking movie. Also this is a pet peeve of mine but I hate the way they removed the gunshot from the guns. It just is so disappointing in to see a character put a gun to their head and fire some pixie dust with a weak off putting clang sound. Overall If you want to know the story of Persona 3 but don’t want to spend 70 hours of your time playing it then this is probably the best condensed experience of the story of persona 3. Or if you are a fan and want to see your favourite characters and moments animated then this will deliver.

Posted on 12 August 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Nearly everyone here is probably familiar with the workoholic trope: a father works a lot, neglecting his child, and some drama is created from that. If it’s told from the perspective of the father, the main theme is guilt, if it’s told from the perspective of the child, the main theme is loneliness. Dudu the floatee is entirely dedicated to this trope, but it actually manages to be different from the norm.

What really surprised me was how much heart this short has. I mean, this was told from the perspective of the child, and it does go on with the theme of loneliness for a while…. and then her floatee comes alive, takes her into a strange world full of floatees who kidnap her father and this turns into a quest for her to save her father. Instead of the usual conclusion in which the father realizes his errors, both of them actually come to an understanding with each other: the girl understands that her father is both afraid of water and that he sometimes needs to be at work, and the father realizes that he can’t keep using his fear of water as an excuse to ignore his family life. This two-sided development is what especially impressed me here, and it turned this into a very heart-warming little episode.

Anyway, this is the entry to the Young Animator Training Project by the Answer Studio. They’re a small studio that I really like, because they don’t release often, but when they do they always go for the really imaginative anime like Flag, Otona Joshi no Anime Time and Votoms’ Pailsen Files. Dudu the floatee gives me a lot of confidence to their junior division, because it was again really well animated. This episode also was directed by the director of Otona Joshi no Anime Time by the way, and it shows: it again has this really down to earth relationship between a parent and a young child.

So, to summarize the second iteration of the Young Animator Training Project: skip Buta, but definitely check out the rest, because these are some very well done animated shorts for every age: they’re aimed at children but have enough depth for adults to enjoy. Buta was probably the only one who didn’t get this and instead is just a bit of fun for children.

Posted on 29 July 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Shiranpuri is a short with its very own artistic vision: it’s got very distinctive character-designs, rather than going with the same thing over and over again. This is the entry for the Young Animator Training Project by Shirogumi. You know, the people who are currently animating Moyashimon, and they also did Antique Bakery. These are people who definitely go for interesting and unusual premises, but Shiranpuri is very different from their usual stuff.

Here, we get a story about bullying, and more particular: about being a witness to bullying without doing anything about it. And it really was quite good. On one hand it was indeed a bit preachy, but on the other it was very realistic in how the bullied kid ended up transferring schools, in the hopes of building up a completely new life. There was some really good character-development in just 20 minutes for the three central characters, and the use of adults as bystanders was well-balanced.

What’s interesting is that this shows that Shirogumi is nowhere near dead: they’re still producing things, but at their own pace, but this short shows that they’ve acquired a couple of very good animators. There were a few scenes in which the movement was really dynamic and even the backgrounds (albeit simplistic) moved seamlessly, and they were able to draw the models right from many different angles.

Posted on 16 June 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

I apologize for the lateness of this entry. But especially after seeing another batch of the Young Animator Training Project being announced for 2013, I do want to keep up with this project, because the initiators really seem to want to make this a long-term project. And unlike Buta, Wasurenagumo is really good.

In fact, after Ojii-San no Lamp it has the best storyline, it has the best animation, and it has the best characters of all the projects so far. the animation in particular is really impressive, especially considering how this comes from young animators. These people really were able to show off their skills in this episode, because the fluidity really is amazing. And not just at a few money shots, but there really are a lot of scenes that have that.

This really shows that Production IG has recruited many talented animators and inbetweeners. Now what would be really great is if they were going to make series with interesting concepts again, instead of Kuroko no Basuke, Shining Hearts and Guilty Crown. Now don’t get me wrong, my main issue is that this is Production IG we’re talking about. They are the people who once boasted some of the most original series out there, and were the people behind gems as RD, Ghost Hound, Chevalier, Seirei no Moribito, Patlabor, Otogizoshi and Ghost in the Shell. There is a big difference here, but at the very least they are still experimenting with their one-shots and movies, not to mention the balls they had with Blood-C.

In any case, about Wasurenagumo (that is a very annoying title to keep typing over and over), this episode definitely stood out in its characters. It helped that they were really well animated and brought to life, but also the writing and acting was very good. At the same time though, it was strangely creepy and disturbing in the end. Make that very disturbing.

The thing with Wasurenagumo is that at heart, it is a horror story. It just doesn’t show that until right at the end, with a completely baffling plot twist. Just… wow.

By the way, next year’s Young Animator Training Project should definitely be fun, because I am really curious to see what the junior division of the four studios that signed up looks like and what they can do. First there is the obvious Gonzo: how did they survive? Who did they recruit? Then there is Studio Trigger’s first official project (Studio Trigger is the studio founded by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and I’m really curious to see who he managed to attract). Then there is Madhouse; with so many of their best people going freelance, it’s definitely going to be interesting who will replace them. And then there is Studio Pierrot, a studio that had some of the top animators out there… ten years ago. Are their new people simply there for Naruto and Bleach, or will their new division be a breath of fresh air after how deeply that company has fallen lately.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.25/10

Posted on 9 April 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

This year we too get an installment of the Young Animator Training Project. Again, four studios have been granted a decent budget with the assignment to create a TV-special. Buta is Telecom Animation Film’s entry. They were the ones who last year delivered the best short for the Young Animator Training Project with Ojiisan no Lap. Buta is clearly inferior, and mostly suited for children, however. Kids will be kept busy for these 20 minutes, though.

This episode is a traditional ronin story, only really childish. The characters here are all animals, and aside from the titular pig, every single character is an idiot, the same type as the standard generic Saturday morning cartoon. The story also isn’t anything noteworthy either, and the only drama revolves around “stealing is bad”.

But what about the animation, the thing that this entire project was about? Well, the simple character designs allows for easier animation, and the characters indeed move around a bit. In that way it’s a good way to get rookies to actually animate things. The art looks pretty good and crisp as well, but there are some shortcuts taken compared to the fighting episode of last year’s Young Animator Training Project (Kizuna Ichigeki). I wouldn’t recommend this episode overall: none of its areas are the worst, but it also doesn’t stand out in any way compared to the other YATP-series.
OVA Episode Rating: 7.5/10

Posted on 21 March 2012 with categories: Black Jack Final

Well, Rest in Peace, Osamu Dezaki. This very likely was the last episode you ever worked on, and what a great episode it was. This was the last time where his unique sense of storytelling could be exhibited. The subject for this episode is wars. Black Jack has dabbled in this area before, but with a setting that so closely resembles Northern Korea (remember that this originally was written at a time when Kim Jong Il wasn’t even leader yet) does give it a slightly different load than usual.

Once again though, this episode captures what makes the Black Jack OVAs so incredibly good. It makes optimal use of its 45 minutes of airtime to play out and come with twists and turns, plus as usual it also puts in a lot of time into its characterizations. The lead character in this episode didn’t just have one issue, but instead she had a wide range of issues, who at the same time were all related to each other.

Also, I didn’t expect to see this at this point, but Black Jack actually regretted saving someone’s life. In all of the stories of him I’ve seen so far, he has always been very passionate about saving lives as soon as he set his mind to it, but this really pushed that boundary here.

In terms of the visuals, it’s a shame that the budget of this episode left some things to be desired, because things were a bit sloppy in that era. The cinematography still was wonderful, though. This episode still managed to pull off a ton of visual effects that are so typical of Osamu Dezaki, in which he really tries to get the biggest emotional reaction while using minimal methods. Even in this episode, these scenes still are full of energy.

I personally love it when a director, writer or artists manages to put a lot of his own style and ideas into his (or her) work, and there are very few series directors whose style is as immediately recognizable as Osamu Dezaki. I really hope that a lot more young directors pick this up and start to let their own styles flow into their works more freely. That’s what provides variety and diversity.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,75/10

Posted on 26 February 2012 with categories: Black Jack Final, OVA Impressions

In case you haven’t noticed: the final Black Jack OVAs have finally been subbed. Yes, two episodes of 50 minutes, which were the final things that Osamu Dezaki worked on before his death. I’ve been waiting more than a month for these to come out, because even though I sometimes watch raws, there is no way in which I’m going to try that with a series that’s so chock full of medical terms as this one.

And holy crap, this first episode was worth the wait! I was a bit weary at first when the episode immediately started by promising that it would center around Pinoko, but seriously: her background is amazing. This episode seriously gave me a totally different perspective of her. This is much, much more than just another nostalgia remake.

The whole concept of having her be a Zyst who for more than 20 years lived inside this actress’ body, which was afterwards taken out and reassembled by Black Jack. Holy crap, now that’s something else. At this point I thought that I couldn’t be surprised by Osamu Tezuka anymore, but this episode did it.

And yes, this episode was 50 minutes long, and told in the same style as the other OVAs. Because of this we got a long and detailed look at the actress in question and who she is, and what the impact of her illness was on her life. This lead to an amazing ending and I loved the bond between her and Pinoko.

And yes! This really still has Osamu Dezaki’s influence all over it. The graphics and especially the multiple drawing son one screen are really typical of his, and I’m really glad that we can see them for one last time. He was by far one of the directors with one of the most unique styles out there. It’s something that I’m missing with a lot of debuting directors nowadays: they seem too afraid to put a bit of their own style in. This really shows that you can very faithfully adapt a story, while putting plenty of your own style in it as well.
OVA Episode Rating: 9/10

Posted on 29 January 2012 with categories: OVA Impressions, Tales of Symphonia

Apologies for the lateness. I thought that this was one of the earlier OVAs.

In any case, with this we’re continuing with the Tales of Symphonia Story again, and this definitely was an interesting episode here. Again it had things that it did better than the game, things that it did worse, and things that are completely different.

The big difference really is that the creators cut out the entire storyline for the second half of the games. Seriously, from what I remember the games had this epic storyline that involved firing this giant mana cannon and an out of control world tree. All of that was cut out here in favor of the characters. An interesting decision here.

This episode was about the half-elves of the story: Genis, Raine and Yggdrassil. This however is one point where previous design decisions come back to bite this series, because from out of nowhere it suddenly introduces the themes of racism that were prevalent through the entire game. So yeah, the creators had to catch up to a lot of building up here in just forty minutes. And speaking of build-up: with all of the hints at Zelos’ betrayal, I thought that he’d get much more airtime in this episode, but he showed up just at the end of this episode. My guess is that the final episode will focus a lot of time on him.

Zelos’ betrayal was really well done by the way. And with this, the creators also neatly avoided the single biggest face-palm of the game (seriously, there were two paths in the games: one where he betrays the party, and one where he doesn’t; the latter reveals that with one heck of a Deus ex Machina). In the game, the small version of Mithos was also acting really weird. I mean, he’s acting really weird here, but there he did the strangest stuff, and nobody really questioned this. Here, his actions make much more sense. This episode was a tad too angsty for my tastes, but they did flesh out this guy pretty neatly and explained why he ended up as the main villain for this series.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.25/10

Posted on 23 November 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Yozakura Quartet - Hoshi no Umi




I have no idea who found it a good idea to give Ryousuke Sawa an opportunity as a main director. But what an awesome idea it turned out to be. This guy is absolutely brilliant, and this was one of the most entertaining action episodes that I’ve seen in a long, long while.

I mean, hell. This was the climax of the arc that the previous two episodes had been building up for. Arguably it was even better than the previous two episodes because of how it constantly kept going. The previous episode may have been much more epic, with the barrage of planes that were thrown at the enemy monsters, but this episode kept things much more personal. But that caused the characters to stand out even more. Just about every scene was animated with such a force that not even a second was wasted here.

It may not be the deepest story or anything, but this still is animation at its finest with a simple, yet very engagingly told storyline. This show doesn’t just have great animation, it also uses this brilliantly. Even if other series may have a bigger budget, few actually manage to bring so much life into their characters. Last time I complained that the dialogue was perhaps a bit uninspired, but this simplicity also has its charms. And simple as the dialogue was, it definitely wasn’t uninspired, and got some good stuff out of the characters.

Unfortunately, this looks like it’ll be the end of this little OVA. In a way it is a bloody shame that this OVA can’t be a full fledged TV-series with more time, but this shortness also has its charm: this way you have about 70 minutes of awesomeness. And that’s the thing with these OVAs: they can take more risks than regular TV-series, and I’d wish that more producers would realize this. And in the meantime, I’m just hoping that with this, Ryousuke Sawa will get even more opportunities to direct.
OVA Episode Rating: 9/10

Posted on 9 August 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail



Apologies for this late impression. I just didn’t have the time to check it out. I’ glad that I did, though, because this is an awesome conclusion. It was far from the all out war that I expected: because of the first Roberta arc, I really thought that this OVA would try to trump that. Instead we got something much more character-centric, dialogue focused and horror-like. It worked really well: the build-up paid off wonderfully with this episode.

There were pretty much two major things going on in this story: first of all there is Garcia trying to get Roberta back, and then there is Rock. Their conclusions were very different, but very satisfying, and in a way bitter-sweet. Garcia did a great job in maturing and getting Roberta back to her senses, while Rock’s story ended with a great anti-climax, after just one phone call of Balalaika threw his plans in the water. This is what I consider to be a great pay-off after a lot of build-up.

I do wonder why there were no repercussions for Roberta: I mean, she killed a ton of the soldier’s comrades, but after the fight ended none of them seemed angry about it, and they just let her go. I know that they were in the wrong and all, and that they acknowledged their responsibility, but to me they felt a bit too cold towards Roberta. In the same way Rock went a bit out of character during the first half with his scary faces (his voice was like… totally different from usual). Those are mere details though: the continuation of Black Lagoon was really excellent from beginning to end.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.5/10

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • topgavin
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 12:02 PM)
    Ep4 for Illya was… interesting…. Don’t know if I’m now more or less interested in the MC’s
  • SuperMario
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 09:02 AM)
    @Bam: sounds good to me really. The more the merrier. Let see if Mr. Aidan is alright with that.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 08:57 AM)
    Not really necessary to make an account or give me the WordPress pass. I’ll just email the review to Mario or Aidan.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 08:55 AM)
    I’m willing to cover Berserk if nobody else is up for it.
  • afgm
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 08:35 AM)
    nobody’s reviewing Berserk? A SIN!!
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 07:17 AM)
    @Bam Read the Mob Psycho entry.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 06:27 AM)
    Where’s Berserk 04 review btw?
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:33 AM)
    Also in regards to the bat scene. I just thought of Evangelion. I suppose that’s what the director was going on. Since you’re reviewing that, I’ll leave at that.
  • Vonter
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:22 AM)
    I agree to a certain level the padding at the beginning. I suppose I didn’t mind since it at least was like a standard Batman episode (of the latter seasons). I think what bugs me is that the portrayal of Batman wasn’t very good, I think he’s emotionless for the most part. And like I’ve said, on the technical side it isn’t as striking as the novel. It’s like when Gyo was adapted (to be fair that’s also because like Berserk it had a lot of CGI).
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 04:20 AM)
    Basically just seeing the story put on screen I was grateful for.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Mob Psycho 100 – 02/03

This may be a surprise to some so I better start this with an explanation. As you know I originally planned to cover Berserk this season and have put up reviews of the last two episodes. However due to Berserks rather disappointing quality, my desire to cover it has vanished. I doubt anyone wants to […]

orange 04c

orange – 04

Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 03d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 03

With this episode we basically get an idea where the show will head for the rest of the series and I pretty much enjoy the direction they taking so far. Of course it makes sense that in order to get past those obstacles, the band needs to ally with others who are most suitable for […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 03 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 03

Plenty of action this week as we have faceoffs between Beatrice and Illya with Gil and Angelica firing legendary weapons back and forth. I wish there was a bit more fight animation here as while it was the same in the manga, it’s still a shame to have the scene cut away just when the […]

91 Days - 03 4

91 Days – 03

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 17 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 17

While I did enjoy this episode and think that some interesting things have been brought up, I must admit that even my patience is starting to run out. I blame this mostly on the fact that I am watching this weekly instead of binge watching it all as the progression in these episodes has slowed […]

EVA 01b

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 01

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that […]

Berserk - 03 2

Berserk(2016) – 03

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. […]

Orange 03d

Orange – 03

So this week we finally encounter a love rival. Of course with a romance drama show like Orange there had to be someone who would stand on their way right? Except there’s not much of a rival really since Naho never stands a chance against the new girl Ueda. As she learns hard and clear […]

Latest Reviews

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice a

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice (2015) Movie Review – 85/100

Welcome to the third installment of World Animation section, but this time we head back to Japan for my favorite anime movie out of last year. If anything, I have always wanted those reviews to be a recommendation if you want to look for something different. So if there is anyone who would check out […]

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]