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First Impressions: The Irregular at Magic High School photo
First Impressions: The Irregular at Magic High School
by LB Bryant

In the months leading up to April, I asked a lot of people what they were most looking forward to during the spring season. Without a doubt, the most common answer was The Irregular at Magic High School (AKA Mahouka). Currently one of the most popular light novel series in Japan, the anime adaptation of this series has been a hot topic of conversation among fans for months now; it was finally released just a few days ago. 

To which I say: Big deal.

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First Impressions: Kenzen Robo Daimidaler photo
First Impressions: Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
by Jeff Chuang

There are a few key pieces of information that would help one to further understand the idea behind Kenzen Robo Daimidaler anime. First, the word "midara" means lewd, and the phrase sounds just like the words they're singing during a portion of the main theme song. Second, the home page for this anime is worth a look, no matter if you're interested in this throwback giant robot cartoon or not. I mean, it's like Geocities, except it's Japan's take on Geocities, which if you have any idea of how the Japanese web looked like 20 years ago, well, you do now. [Editor's Note: it's TERRIFYING.]

Third, the premise of this story features a teenage kid who gets powered up by "Hi-ERO" particles. (TL note: I don't think you need one.) Now it's not clear at this point how he charges this power up, but the first manifestation of this power involves him fondling his recruiter's breasts. Yeah, it's that kind of a giant robot cartoon. Yeah, I don't know how it works either. No, I don't know why this is so much fun.

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1:00 PM on 04.08.2014

NIS America announces home video rights for Love Live Season 2

Last year NIS America surprised damn near everyone when they revealed that they had licensed the series Love Live for home video release. Now, a little more than a year later, they sent out a press release which falls in the ...

LB Bryant

Annotated Anime Roundup: Spring 2014 Week 1 photo
Annotated Anime Roundup: Spring 2014 Week 1
by Karen Mead

Since we're in the middle of that weird season-opener grace period where most of the previous season's shows have ended, but all the new shows are still in First Impressions territory, the only episodes eligible for the roundup this week are Yowapeda 25 and Tonari no Seki-kun 14. This means that this installment of Annotated Anime is all mine, a prospect which excites me so much that I actually bothered to look up how to spell the word "eligible."

In all seriousness, we're still working out behind the scenes which shows are destined for the roundup and which ones will be getting the solo treatment, so as of right now, no one knows what this feature will contain next week. It could be athletes, could be giant robots, could be schoolgirl assassins, it's all up for grabs; the future is, as of yet, unwritten. I'm getting chills.

And if you're looking to get our at the real new shows of Spring and the last word on winter's leavings, check out our First Impressions and Final Impressions, going up throughout the week!

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First Impressions: Akuma no Riddle photo
First Impressions: Akuma no Riddle
by LB Bryant

In this yuri action series, main character-gal Azuma Tokaku is a high school girl training to be an assassin. One day, she's given an assignment which involves transferring into a new school and taking out her target. When she arrives she realizes that she's not the only girl assassin who's after her target. What follows is 24 minutes of the girls circling around each other and feeling each other out before the attacks and action begin. 

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First Impressions: Captain Earth photo
First Impressions: Captain Earth
by Elliot Gay

I secretly loved Star Driver.

The ridiculously over-the-top posing, flashiness, strange imagery, and the beautiful animation; it all came together to make for an entertaining whirlwind of confusion and glee. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise when it had such a strong team working on it. With names like Yoji Enokido (writer of Revolutionary Girl Utena), Takuya Igarashi (Sailor Moon), and a host of others attached to the project, it was bound to at least be intriguing...even if incomprehensible.

Enter Bones' new project, Captain Earth.

Sporting a host of alumni from the Star Driver project, this new giant robot anime is Bones' latest attempt at striking gold.

Is the first episode any good? Are the robots appropriately robotic? Do things go boom?

The answer and so much more, after the break.

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First Impressions: One Week Friends  photo
First Impressions: One Week Friends
by Dae Lee

The premise and art is what drew me to One Week Friends. A girl (Kaori Fujiama) who suffers through a special amnesia where she forgets all personal relationships by the end of the week, and a boy (Yuuki Hase) who vows to befriend her -- no matter how many times he has to re-introduce himself into her life. A simple set up, but one that has the unique potential to capitalize specifically on the strengths of the weekly television show format.

I'm glad to report that the first episode of One Week Friends had me smiling the whole way through (aside from one or two unrelated moments where my eyes got uncharacteristically watery). The first episode leads Yuuki through one full week's time, from when he first greets Kaori, to where he finally realizes the tragic nature of her condition.

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Shoujo Showdown: Happiness Charge PreCure Episodes 5-6 photo
Shoujo Showdown: Happiness Charge PreCure Episodes 5-6
by Brittany Vincent

Helping others out is awesome, but getting caught up on PreCure is cool too. We're gonna get there yet. Here's another dose of Happiness Charge PreCure! I'm having a good time covering it. How's everyone else feeling about it?

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2:00 PM on 04.07.2014

Non Non Biyori Gets Second Season

I believe that I've mentioned before that 2013 was a good year for moe. We had series like GJ Club in the early part of the year, Kiniro Mosaic towards the middle of the year and then in the fall season we had a cute little m...

LB Bryant

Final Impressions: Sakura Trick  photo
Final Impressions: Sakura Trick
by Brittany Vincent

Too often, romance anime is relegated to tsundere girls and beautiful bishounen. Where's the yuri representation? True, we've got plenty of harems and beautiful boys, but there's a huge dearth of relationships between women in anime. It's either always played for laughs or touched on in the briefest of manners. I found Sakura Trick refreshing in several ways for this reason. Even though it was quick to rely on humor to weave its narrative, it was also cute, refreshing, and real in several ways. Now that it's over, I'm sorely missing my Yuri Fridays.

The final episode of Sakura Trick was one that provoked a few different feelings. While it was interesting to see Mitsuki finally coming to terms with her obvious crush on Haruka, and to see Yuu and Haruka still moving forward in their relationship, it still felt extremely bittersweet. Week after week, this series felt like a small beacon of hope for the Winter 2014 anime season, as something I actually enjoyed watching for multiple reasons. With no more Sakura Trick, I'm not sure where I'm going to get my next fix.

Sakura Trick was always so sweet, and though you could take its many panty shots and gratuitous kissing/somewhat lewd scenes as fanservice, it was done in such an innocent manner that contributed to the growth of the characters themselves. It never felt sleazy or strange, and I never felt as though I was watching something that used the girls as plot devices or objectified them in ways that were out of place or uncalled for.

I particularly enjoyed the reluctance of both parties at first, where even Haruka was a little hesitant to do something that would forever bond the two together. Then there was gradual growth that allowed two likable characters to become a "true" couple, with strengths and weaknesses that aren't normally touched upon in anime or manga -- especially with yuri leads. Not only that, but the whole cast seemed to be in on it. [Editor's Note: The whole cast was shipping them SO hard, it was great.]

I'm hoping there will be some additional episodes in the form of OVAs, or at least another season to get to know the girls more, because watching Sakura Trick was a lot like slipping into a warm blanket and snuggling up with a great, fluffy read. In many ways,  I wish we had more series like this one to curl up with. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check out the manga. 

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First Impressions: The Kawai Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior photo
First Impressions: The Kawai Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
by LB Bryant

In this comedy, the main character is a first-year high school student named Usa (and if you hear that name and picture him a pink bunny rabbit, you're not alone). His parents are being transferred to a new location, leaving Usa to live by himself in an apartment building. Well... sort of, at least. Sharing his room is a perverted masochist named Shiro and along the way we also meet a few other residents of the building including the manager Sumiko, the girl of Usa's dreams Ritsu and Mayumi, a working woman who enjoys getting hammered.

This is a series about their daily lives together and the mayhem that follows them from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep at night. 

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9:00 AM on 04.07.2014

Arpeggio ships transform into stuffed bears, comedy ensues

Remember Arpeggio of Blue Steel? That computer-generated anime about ship girls that's not Kancolle? The show is getting a TV rerun in Japan, and for the occasion, a clip to promote the rerun and home video release surfaced ...

Jeff Chuang