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J.C. Staff

First Impressions: Heavy Object

Oct 07 // Josh Tolentino
The first five minutes of Heavy Object's opening episode are enough to hang out the "military otaku only" sign, with a barrage of exposition about how, even though it's the future, people just can't stop fighting. This is backgrounded by fancy sci-fi imagery of laser-propelled space shuttles getting blown out of the sky by missiles, and warships and planes launching explosive strikes.  All of that gets eclipsed by the arrival of the first "Object", a giant ball-shaped war machine that gets nuked on its very first day in combat, and still comes out swinging, annihilating the attacking army. From then on, war changes into an Object-oriented arms race, with the world's power blocs competing to get their own Objects, and using the invincible weapons as the centerpiece of all future battlefield action. Virtually all other materiel becomes obsolete, with entire battles decided by a duel between two Objects, with few casualties on either side. Wars become "clean" thanks to the dominance of a single category of weapon. This new battlefield dynamic affects every up and down the chain, which is where the lead characters - the hilariously named Qwenthur and Havia - come in. They're just two grunts, relegated to shoveling snow in Alaska, maintaining an airbase no one will use while Objects are in play. Qwenthur wants to become an Object engineer, and seems to have struck up a friendship of sorts with their local Object's pilot, a blonde loli referred to only as "The Princess". Havia's serving thanks to pressure from his noble family. Both are at the bottom of the totem pole, as ground troops are obsolete in the face of Object-based warfare. It's an interesting premise to start from, not least because the Objects themselves are about as far as possible as one can get from the stereotypical image of Japanese mecha. They're literally giant balls of armor covered in guns, like some demented fan of Gundam's RB-79 Ball took control of the boardroom at J.C. Staff when the time came to decide which shows to animate. It's also got a somewhat interesting angle going for it. After all, it's a rare war story that focuses on the characters who get "left behind" at the rear line. Then again, any military otaku worth his MREs would know that the very notion of war being "clean" and things as fundamental as infantry being outmoded by what is essentially a gigantic tank is preposterous, even for anime. Knowing that, the most likely scenario is our seeing Heavy Object's plot aim to poke holes in its own presumptions, that war can be just as hellish from the cockpit of a 50-meter death ball as it is in the trenches. Well, that's the hope at least. If nothing else, the episode ends on something of a down note, with Qwenthur staring at the shattered remains of The Princess' Object, dreading the prospect of having to fight the enemy Object without backup. That's no picnic, and seeing how he and his deal with the challenge should set the tone for the rest of the show. [Check out Heavy Object's simulcast on FUNimation!]    
A Weighty Topic
Stop me if you've heard this before, but this show is about a piece of military hardware, invented at some undetermined time in the future, that changes the very nature of warfare forever. Practically invincible on the battle...

Selector Infected WIXOSS photo
Selector Infected WIXOSS

Funimation acquires spring anime Selector Infected WIXOSS

Cute girls play card game from hell.
Apr 03
// Dae Lee
FUNimation is starting to show their licensing cards, and among them is the upcoming spring series Selector Infected WIXOSS. An original show, the series composition will be done by Mari Okada (Tora Dora!, Nagi no Asukara) an...
Anime photo

Rejoice?! A Certain Magical Index to get a big announcement on 4/10

Gee wiz, I wonder what this could be
Mar 28
// Elliot Gay
I have a huge soft spot for A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun. I realize that both franchises tend to dip into mind fields of tropes and deus ex machina, but I really do love the world and characters. I...

First Impressions: Witch Craft Works

Jan 10 // Josh Totman
OK, I guess I should use more than those three words. Let’s start with the slightly confusing storyline. We start out with Takamiya Honoka, just a normal high school student like everyone else...ever. But Takamiya is something more than just a high school student; He's apparently... royalty? I say that as a question because we don’t really know who he is yet. All we know is that Takamiya is an important person to the witches in this story because they're all out to get him except one: the fire witch, Kagari Ayaka. Kagari Ayaka is the “Princess” of the school. Everyone is in love with her and treats her like a goddess, yet she could really care less about any of that. Her job, apparently, is to protect Takamiya for some unknown reason. What makes it even weirder is that she calls him “Princess”. Wait, what? A guy is the princess? Well, thankfully later she says that he is her master which would make more sense...I think. Anyways, this all comes out after Takamiya is attacked in the schoolyard by another witch and her killer robot bunnies. The action that ensues is quite good with lots of fire animation and CG. It was actually fun to watch killer robot bunnies of all sizes try and fight Kagari to no avail; I call it adorable violence. One of the things that I liked in this first episode was the pacing; it was always enjoyable and never dragged along. We have the basic introductions of the two main characters, some action, explanation, more action, and finally the rest of the cast shows up at the end. This was a great set- up for the series to get you interested in how all of this is going to end up. However, character designs are not really blowing the wind up my skirt so far. [Editor's Note: That's an expression now??] They're decent, but there's just something unattractive about them that I can't quite put my finger on. I don’t want to use the words “cookie-cutter”, but that's close to what I mean. Another way to put it is that I would not want to own a figure from this series. As for the opening and ending themes, I am more in love with the ending theme and animation then the opening. The opening is pretty basic for the music and animation; it's a "seen it once, seen it a million times" sort of thing. In contrast, the ending theme is very catchy, featuring the voice actresses singing together with chibi animation. Personally, I always enjoy it when they let the voice actresses sing songs in an anime; it always makes it seem more personal. Overall I'm excited for the series and believe we have another J.C. Staff hit on our hands. I’m interested in hearing more about what's up with Takamiya , where he comes from and why he is so valuable. Also, I'm wondering if this is going to be a one-on-one romcom, or if it will be turning into a harem at some point. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to it each week.
Witch Craft Works photo
Do you like to play with fire?
J.C. Staff is my drug of choice when it comes to romantic comedies as of late. From the stories, to the quality of the animation, character design, and so on, it’s no wonder that I was excited for their new show Witch C...

Friday Night Fights: Shana vs Ayano

Aug 09 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Things are about to get hot around here.
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! The Dangaioh team may have the psychic moves and number to overwhelm Sanger, but The Sword That Cleaves Evil still manages to come up on top. While the Dangaioh team aren't villains, their skills...

Review: Shakugan No Shana S

Aug 05 // Salvador G Rodiles
Shakugan No Shana S (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Studio: J.C. Staff Licensed by: FUNimation Release Date:  1/22/2013 MSRP: $34.98 [Buy] Instead of focusing on a major battle against the Crimson Denizens, Shakugan No Shana S's premise is about a series of random events that occur during the everyday life of Shana’s cast, with the first episode involving a body swap between Shana and Yuji. Personally, the first episode was the best one out of the four, since the idea of having Yuji in Shana’s body set up for some of the best comedic segments in the entire series. To an extent, it was almost on the same level of the humor from the Shana-tan series. Also, the part where Shana was paranoid of how Yuji was treating her body was very priceless indeed. Too bad it only lasted one episode, since I would’ve wanted to see a short arc dedicated to that fiasco. But alas, the body swapping only happened once. Unfortunately, the other episodes lack the same amount of comedy from the first one; though the Willhemia episode was still enjoyable, due to the way how she was exaggerating the whole situation. The final two episodes focus on a previous Denizen battle before Shana ended up in Misaki City. Compare to the previous two episodes, the final two had a more serious tone, because Shana was a more ruthless Flame Haze back then. Honestly, I didn't think that Shana's previous mission added to her character, since the scenario didn't add anything to Shana's established personality. Hell, I thought that the backstories from the series already gave us a good understanding of Shana's beliefs and motives. If there was one thing that came out of the final arc; it’s that it left us with an important hint that sets up for the show’s final season. While it’s not a necessary piece for viewers, the scene itself will add a neat touch that sets up for Shana III (Final)’s main conflict. With the exception of the last episode, the first three didn’t have any major action scenes, since they the situations were contained within the gang’s everyday life. Nevertheless, it’s doesn’t stop J.C. Staff from putting effort into the colors, artwork, and backgrounds for each scene. In comparison to the previous installments, it’s obvious that the show’s staff has improved. In a way, the animation quality offers a nice taste of what’s to come during the final installment of the Shana series. Despite my preference of picking Shana original voice track over the dub, the cast’s performance was a bit better in this installment. Cherami Leigh’s ‘shut ups’ were better this time around, and her more subtle take on Yuji in Shana’s body was quite entertaining. Since the body swapping episode was still enjoyable with FUNimation's dub, I think that this is a good sign that Shana’s English cast has improved over their performance in Shana: The Movie. Once again, the ultimate extra has returned with a vengeance! That’s right, Shakugan no Shana-tan is back in not one but four installments that will bring ultimate laughter to your joyful existence. Honestly, the Shana-tan episodes that come with Shana S are actually more entertaining than episodes two through four of Shana S. As always, Yoshida continues her winning streak with her devious monologue about winning Yuji over. We even get a skit with pompadours and manly high school brawls as well. At this point in the game, I think I’m going to nominate Shana-tan as the best feature to hit the Shana series. In terms of story, Shakugan No Shana S doesn't add any major plot elements to the Shana series; however, the balance between its humor and backstories can add some extra depth to the relationships between the characters in the series. Even if the serious arc was average, the two comedic ones and the Shana-tan shorts are enough to make Shana S a fun installment for the Shana series. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about this installment is that we’ll never get to see tsundere Yuji again. With that being said, the whole thing was a decent side story for folks that can’t get enough of the Flamed-Haired Hunter.  7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.
Shakugan No Shana S photo
Less 'shut ups' than usual.
No matter where I go, I just can’t get that Flamed Haired girl off my back! Thankfully, she’s here for a short time, so the ‘shut ups’ won’t be as frequent. Compare to the movie and the TV series...

Review: Shakugan No Shana: The Movie

Jun 24 // Salvador G Rodiles
Shakugan No Shana: The Movie (Blu-Ray/DVD Combo) Studio: J.C. Staff Licensed by: FUNimation Release Date: 1/22/2013 MSRP: $34.98 [Buy] Following in the footsteps of the First Season and the original light novel, Shana: The Movie starts off with the event that setup towards Yuji’s fated encounter with the Flame Haired Burning Eyed Hunter. When Yuji finds out that he has a sacred treasure inside of him, the Flame Haze known as Shana ends up becoming his protector throughout the rest of the story. On top of that, the original Yuji was already dead, and the current Yuji is a temporary replacement, aka a Torch. Whenever a movie that’s supposed to retell a certain part of a series comes out, viewers are expected to relive the same scenes in a slightly higher quality than the preceding material. In most cases, this can be seen as a great privilege, since it gives animators the chance to utilize new techniques that couldn’t be pulled off in the original show. However, there are a few situations where they add a nicer coat of paint to the same shots from the TV series. As for Shana: The Movie’s case, the latter is applied to most of the scenes that occur during the film’s first half. Sure, this can be a bit of a letdown for most viewers, but Shana: The Movie makes it up to its fans by cutting out the side material that went on during the first arc of Shakugan No Shana. In fact, we receive the prime course that delivers the character driven drama and interactions between Yuji and Shana, as they have to work together to overcome Friagne’s evil scheme. While I haven't read the original light novels, the dramatic aspects of Shana: The Movie are around the same level as the ones found in Shakugan No Shana III (Final), which leads me to believe that the tone of the Friagne arc in the film is more faithful to the source material than the TV series’s first season. Once the major battles kick in, Shana: The Movie’s quality takes things up a notch. Shana’s flaming hair lights up the scene and Margery’s attacks in her fox form continue to show us that her ability can do more than look silly. While you don’t see any one get punched in Shana: The Movie’s fight scenes, the cutting animations and magic sequences deliver a nice coat of shininess to the battles inside of the restriction spells. One of the nice treats was how the movie made Friagne more threatening, since he went down very easily in the TV series. Thanks to the power of Blu-ray quality, the action sequences are brighter and crisper than the DVD version. To an extent, it does make up for the early scenes that I felt were unacceptable in terms of movie standards (Such as the weird zoom out shots). For a movie that’s seven years old, Shana: The Movie still holds up decently. Between Funimation’s dub and the original Japanese voice audio, I would have to go with the latter, due to Rie Kugimiya’s (Taiga from Toradora, Koto from Kyousogiga) specialty in putting the ‘tsun’ in tsundere with her role as Shana. Now don’t get me wrong, Cherami Leigh’s (Lucy from Fairy Tail, Kneesocks from Panty and Stocking) work as Shana wasn’t terrible, but she lacks that special tone that brings out Shana’s true character. Honestly, it was the ‘shut up’ line that sealed the deal, since it lacked that right amount of rage and cuteness. Though J. Michael Tatum’s performance as Friagne (Isaac from Bacanno!, Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood) was great with the way how he depicted the Crimson Lord’s weird fascination with dolls. Overall, the cast for FUNi’s dub didn’t do a bad job, it’s that the tone and emotion delivered Shana’s original cast fits better with the story. Of course, the extra to end all extras is included with the movie, since Shakugan No Shana-tan arrives to make fun of the movie’s stories. In case you have never seen Shana-tan, the series basically pokes fun at the story for each installment of the Shana. As always, the Shana-tan version of Yoshida is the best, due to her devious schemes to make sure that Yuji loses interest in Shana. In fact, she is way better than the original Yoshida, who tends to be more reserved. If you liked Rie Kugimiya’s acting, then you’ll laugh at her performance that suits Shana’s chibier form. There are also a few previews for the movie when it was first being advertised, along with a segment where Shana and Yuji talk about the film's terminology. In all honesty, Shana-tan is the supreme extra that thrashes everything on the disk. Even though Shana: The Movie feels a little dated, the story took a great direction that J.C. Staff could’ve taken with the TV series. If there was one huge setback, it’s that they didn’t make any more movies based off of Shana’s other arcs. That said, it's not like the movie leaves you in a cliffhanger, since the rest of the story continues in the TV series. Whether you’re a newcomer or veteran to the Flamed Haired Burning Eyed Hunter’s work, Shana: The Movie is an enjoyable adventure for those who don’t mind Shana’s tsundere attitude.  7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.
Shana: The Movie  photo
Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up!
The moment of truth has arrived, people! It looks like I have crossed path with a certain flame haired hunter that’s been mentioned around these parts in the past. Compare to her previous appearances, she has decided to...

Review: A Certain Magical Index Season 1

Apr 18 // Salvador G Rodiles
A Certain Magical Index Season 1: Part 1 and Part 2 (DVD)Studio: J.C. StaffLicensed by: FUNimationRelease Date: December 11, 2012 MSRP: Part 1: $64.98 [$38.99], Part 2: $59.98 [$35.99]  Welcome to Academy City, a metropolis where people are free to develop their abilities as espers. Based on your level of power each person is given a ranking, with zero being the lowest and five being the highest. In this series based on a light novel by Kazuma Kamachi, we follow the adventures of an unlucky teenage boy that goes by the name of Toma. During his usual routine, he runs into a girl dressed in a nun’s outfit that’s in position that looks like she fell from the sky.  With sorcerers chasing after Toma’s new found hindrance...err friend, his new encounter will put him in a greater heap of trouble than before. Despite Toma’s meeting sounding like the setup to a generic story, Index has the right ingredients in creating a fun filled adventure. In regards to our special nun character known as Index, she’s equipped with the ability to memorize something permanently, which plays an important role in the burden that Toma must shoulder. While her ability sounds very convenient, the higher ups in her group made her memorize 103,000 books that contain every spell in existence. Thus making her the target of every evil sorcerer that wishes to extract her knowledge. Even when you think that Index’s story is going to be a game of cat and mouse, the truth behind Necassarius (The group Index is part of) and our first set of adversaries help cook up some new ways to keep viewers hooked on the recent happenings in Academy City. In fact, Index dives into other strange happenings and events that go beyond Index’s situation (Such as a mysterious experiment to create the strongest epsers and a sorceress that wishes to create a war between Necassarius and the residents of Academy City), which acts as a means to set us up for the next season. And acting as the trump card in each segment is our hero Toma, since his power known as the Imagine Breaker allows him to cancel special abilities with his right hand. Besides his special right hand, Toma is also equipped with the ultimate lecture punch. In all seriousness, the punch may not be a special technique, but there’s something about the timing of it that somehow leaves me at the edge of my seat each time. That said, each arc in the series does a great job in building up towards Toma’s climatic dialogue. However, the real draw to Toma's finisher is the sheer delight that comes from seeing him figure out his opponent's weakness. Other than that, we are also exposed to his everyday antics with Index, which tend to be rather silly. From my experience with J.C. Staff’s works, I rarely have an issue with their animation, since they have a balanced style that can range from decent to good looking. For a show that came out in 2008, Index’s visuals have aged pretty well, thanks to J.C. Staff’s choice with blending their colors and lighting in a decent manner. While the visuals didn't give me the same feeling that I got from watching Waiting in the Summer, Index mostly shines in the timing and effects used for the esper and sorcerer abilities, which manage to show off the sheer effectiveness of each move thrown into battle. I will admit that one of J.C. Staff’s biggest flaws with the animation and artwork is that the animators forgot to erase the eyelashes that are suppose to be covered up by the person's hair. Silly enough, this is a thing that happens frequently throughout the series. All in all, this is only a minor issue that can be overlooked by a good number of viewers.  In regards to the show’s audio, the original Japanese track and FUNimation’s dub are tied in the battle of preferences this time around. Atsushi Abe (Moritaka from Bakuman) and Yuka Iguchi (Tsukihi from Bakemonogatari) both do a good job in fleshing out the relationship between Toma and Index; however, my first impression of Micah Solusod's (Hiraga from Baka and Test) voice work as Toma drove me towards sticking with the show's English dub. Other than Micah’s work, Monica Rial’s (Shiro from Deadman Wonderland) voice is a perfect match for Index’s playful and curious personality. On top of that, Brittney Karbowski’s (Black Star from Soul Eater) work as Misaka won me over when she made the railgun line to Toma during their first encounter. Before I ramble on about my other favorite roles, I felt that FUNimation did a great job with Index's dub, since I was still at the edge of my seat during the show's major moments. As a person that gets emotional over certain pieces of fiction, I think that Index’s dub covers those important grounds. And speaking of which, both sets come with a series of commentary tracks where Micah, Monica, Brittney, Jad Saxton (Komoe Tsukuyomi), Zach Bolton (Index’s English Voice Director), Robert McCollum (Stiyl Magnus), Cole Brown (Heaven Canceller aka Dr. Frog), Austin Tindle (Accelerator), Alexis Tipdon (Hyoka Kazakiri), and Stephanie Young (Sherry Cromwell) talk about their experience with the project. Since that’s one heck of a huge cast for an extra, the commentary tracks are split into four segments – two per set, with each track containing two or more commentators. If you like to hear the show’s team talk about cats, make fun of their own roles, and/or converse about how their fans predicted their roles, then you will have loads of fun with the random conversations shown in the tracks. A Certain Magical Index opens up to a world that features both comedic and dramatic moments in a well written manner. As long as you can roll with the complex terms tossed throughout most episodes, there is a huge chance that you will enjoy Toma's misadventures where his luck gets worse with each passing day. While the story acts as a setup for things to come, Index’s ending still leaves you on a satisfying note, so that you can patiently wait for the next season (Aka the one that's supposed to be convoluted.).   8.0 – Great.  A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.
A Certain Magical Index photo
When a problem comes along, you must punch it in the face
Before I took on the task of watching A Certain Magical Index, I was told that the series evolves into one giant convoluted mess. With the exception of a few terms, the show’s first season doesn't feature anyt...

Friday Night Fights: Mikoto vs Storm

Apr 12 // Salvador G Rodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Can the Zapper out-shock the Weather Witch?
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Well folks, it looks like we encountered an unexpected turn of events in the J-tor Arena. Despite Zoro's victory over Masamune, Masamune refused to accept his defeat. Since Zoro was having troubl...


A Certain Scientific Railgun season 2 starts in April

Jan 24
// Elliot Gay
We've known for some time now that A Certain Scientific Railgun would be getting a second season soon. Now it looks like we finally know when to expect Misaka and company's return. Rejoice! A Certain Scientific Railgun S...

Review: Aria: The Scarlet Ammo

Jan 15 // Elliot Gay
Aria: The Scarlet Ammo [DVD/BD]Studio: J.C. StaffLicensed by: FunimationRelease Date: 10/13/2012MSRP: $64.98 In the near future, armed mercenary-like figures called Butei help the law enforcement keep the peace. Butei schools are established all across the world, designed to train young students in various fields such as weapons proficiency and stealth. Kinji Toyama is one such student, though he'd rather not be. For reasons he keeps close to himself, Kinji does his best to maintain a low profile, hoping to one day part from the ways of the Butei. One morning on the way to school, he comes under attack by a gun attached to a segway (what) and is subsequently saved by a small girl who drops out of the sky. It looks like leaving his Butei career just got a whole lot harder! What the above synopsis doesn't tell you, is that Aria is not content with just being a show about girls with guns. No. Instead, original light novel scribe Chugaku Akamatsu decided that he wanted to write a Sherlock Holmes story. Literally. You see, the main female character, Aria, is actually a descendant of the great Holmes himself! As it turns out, every villain in the series is actually a famous character from literature, even if it doesn't make any sense within the world of the show. I would have been perfectly fine with watching an otherwise underwhelming action/romcom, but alas, we can't always get what we want. Aria is a mess of ideas and inconsistent world building that never comes together.  I realize that many of these TV anime series that are based on light novels rarely have conclusive endings, but Aria: The Scarlet Ammo doesn't even try to wrap things up. If I hadn't run out of discs to watch, I would have had no way of knowing that the series actually ended.  It's unfortunate, as the main character isn't all that bad. Kinji Toyama is initially pretty likable, and he's not completely clueless when it comes to women. In fact, he spends most of the series actively (and successfully) rejecting the various girls' approaches, which was a nice breath of fresh air. His insistent whining about being a Butei does begin to grate fairly quickly however, especially because his reasons for wanting to quit fall apart halfway through the series.  The female cast fairs much worse, with Aria being the biggest offender. I understand that tsundere characters are popular, but if the series heroine is completely unlikable, there's a problem. She's mean, unreasonable, and lacks basic social qualities that would allow her to function in the real world. It's hard to believe Aria's supposed to be some S-rank Butei when she can't even talk to another coworker without threatening to shoot them dead. Shirayuki Hotogi, Kinji's childhood friend, is in some ways just as bad. She spends 90% of her screen time throwing herself at him and poorly masking her feelings. Anytime she and Aria share the screen, ridiculous fights over Kinji ensue. Sorry J.C. Staff, those were never funny. It's not all bad: the artwork and animation are generally pretty consistent. Action choreography is weak on the whole and there's nothing you haven't seen before, but there are some decent sequences that help make the whole thing go down a bit easier. Character designs on the other hand are weak, as it's pretty much a 'best of' list of anime tropes with a Rie Kugimiya voiced loli leading the charge. I actually preferred the English language dub in this case; Luci Christian clearly had a blast playing the sexually charged Riko, and it shines through in her performance. Considering the sea of quality anime releases in 2012, I see no reason why someone would want to spent nearly $65.00 on Aria: The Scarlet Ammo. If you're looking for an action/adventure series, there were plenty of great shows that hit DVD/BD last year. There is nothing exceptional about this show, and as a result I cannot in good faith recommend you spend your hard earned dollars on it.  Aria: The Scarlet Ammo hits with all the oomph of a firecracker. 4.0 – Subpar. Though not offensively bad, this one is just plainly poor. It’ll find dogged defenders, but just can’t appeal to anyone outside that deluded circle.  
She's dynamite! Except not.
Aria: The Scarlet Ammo is not what I was expecting it to be. At first glance, it looked as though Aria was going to be another anime series with a loli touting guns and a hopeless male protagonist. I was content with just shutting my brain off and enjoying the generic ride. Instead what I found was something else entirely. Something worse.


Shocker: Railgun gets a new season, Index gets movie

Don't destroy that illusion!
Oct 21
// Josh Tolentino
Here's some news I expected to hear somewhat earlier: New anime set in the absurd world of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun are on their way. Index is getting a new movie treatment, titled A ...

First Impressions: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Oct 16 // Josh Totman
Let’s start out with our main guy Kanda. A young man going to an art university just trying to live a normal life. I know we have never had an anime like that before right? He also has a weakness of sorts. That weakness is for abandoned cats. As shocking as that is that we have a hero with a fondness for helpless cats, it’s this weakness that lands him in the Sakura Hall dorm. This is where the troubles begin. You see the Sakura Hall is the place where all the problem people of the school go. Even a teacher lives there which should tell you something. The thing is that Kanda was in the normal dorms like everyone else, but one day he found a kitty abandoned. So he decided to take care of it no matter what. Well, the dorm that he was in does not allow pets. When the school found out about it, they gave him the choice of getting rid of the kitty and staying in the normal dorm or keeping the kitty and go to the abnormal dorm. Since Kanda has a heart of gold and will do anything to protect the kitty, he agrees to go to Sakura Hall. Thus the basis of our hero is born. But wait! That’s not the whole story here. We also have a lively bunch of standard characters here. We have Chihiro the teacher, who is looking for a man to marry. See sexy teacher type. Then we have Jin, the good looking playboy who loves women. See gigolo type. Next up we have Ryunosuke, the programmer that you never see and only communicate in emails by way of his program Maid-chan. See hikikomori type with a job. Moving along, we have Misaki, the animation girl with her own hit anime that likes to play things out in real life. See outgoing otaku type. Last but not least, we have our main girl of the series Mashiro the teacher’s cousin. She is coming from England to live in the Sakura Hall with the rest of them. Needless to say, there is something not quite right about this girl. See what the hell is wrong with you type. Now granted this sounds just like a lot of romantic comedy animes, but there are always that subtle twists here and there. This one, as far as I can tell from the first episode, will try and balance the comedy and romance equally. This could be a good balance or an uneven one. As always, I’m hoping for a good balance so that the show is still watchable by the end and I’m not yelling at my TV wanting something more. To keep this balance they need to stick with the formula of the first episode. Don’t drop the ball on me J.C. Staff. We have 23 more episodes to go! On to the confusing part for me. When I heard this was a pet anime about a girl in a dorm, I thought we might have some cross breading in a since that the girl would have animal tendencies. Well, come to find out, she doesn’t. What she has is no way of taking care of herself in day to day life.  Meaning that she has to have everything done for her. What to eat, how to dress, get her to school on time, that sort of thing. So Kanda now has to look after her because of Chihiro. Is it me or would it just be simpler just to say no to this? Besides the torture he would endure from the teacher, it would be child’s play to the day to day pain that he will have to endure. But then, we wouldn’t have a story right? It’s more fun to watch him suffer and fall in love. This series seems right up my ally of what I normally would be watching and I am glad I picked it. I like the character designs and the animation is decent. Story wise, it’s just another guy with a heart of gold helping someone that is helpless. This is nice, but standard. You better win me over with something to endure a 24 episode season. I’m guessing that all the people at the Sakura Hall will have some sort of side story to keep this one going. Can’t see them just focusing on the main two for the entirety of the show. Either way I am looking forward to seeing how this one will go. [Check out The Pet Girl of Sakurasou streaming on Crunchyroll!]  
The girl in not a pet
Why is it that I love romantic comedies so much? Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart. I think it’s more accurate to say that I am more of a hopeless perverted romantic at heart. Which is why Sakurasou no P...


Watch the trailer for the Little Busters! anime

Jul 30
// Bob Muir
Here's the trailer for J.C. Staff's next anime, Little Busters! It's an adaptation of the romance visual novel by Key about high schoolers and some other weird stuff. The anime will start airing in October 2012 and feature m...

First Impression: Joshiraku

Jul 18 // MARC
Right off the bat in the first episode, the fourth wall is broken as our main characters question why the audience would ever want to watch an anime of cute girls talking to other cute girls. The message is loud and clear: it's silly to watch an anime where all people ever do is sit in a room and talk. But here we are, watching precisely that with a dash of irony and facetiousness.  It's refresching to see a new take on the same formula, though it's not enough to hide that this show is trying way too hard to point out how funny it is. The first 15 minutes of episode one are dominated by forced cliches and wise-cracks about how you should be reading the manga instead of watching its shitty anime, which  frankly gets really old, really quick. Try imagining how self aware the Excel Saga anime was, but half as wacky and twice as full of itself. It's ironic how unfunny the constant beating of a dead horse is to the people who worked on this anime, yet Joshiraku just never knows when to give up with the self-awareness. Of course, whenever you accept that this is what the series is all about, then it's not so bad. The characters really like talking extensively about simple things to keep the episode interesting, like dressing casually or winning the lottery... though you can't help but notice how dryly it's all being told. Like I said, this is a dialogue-heavy series, so having our characters talking a lot without much moving really is asking a bit too much for people looking for a quick laugh. Though I suppose that's the whole point of Joshiraku being a satirical look at the slice-of-life show, so you can't really blame the truth for not being funny all the time. It's an odd impression I got from this show for sure, though I'm really excited to see the (sometimes more often than not) excellent JC Staff give comedy another shot this season. I'm sure it's tough for the studio to animate such, you know, unanimated subject matter... especially since they must feel more obligated to convince us otherwise. The characters are very energetic and fidget around a lot to help break up the long periods of sitting. Everything else about the show is light and fun, snagging a catchy OP and ED and cutaways to actual rakugo performances from our stars. And even when things start to feel a bit settled, there are plenty of cutaways to elaborate gags, so thankfully Joshiraku doesn't fall victim to its own joke too often. It may not be the broadest sense of humor-- or even one that resonates with foreigners very well-- but like real rakugo, the subtlety and pacing of Joshiraku is a kind of comedy with a very specific taste. Sometimes, I felt that some of the gags in this series were pretty bad and pandering, though there's always a motive and revealing punchline at the end sometimes makes the poor approach to mindless talking somewhat worth it. A bit odd, a bit grounded in realism, and a bit stupid fun, Joshiraku is an anime that certainly might turn a few heads this season.

Just like Chihayafuru before it, Joshiraku focuses on something to most foreigners. Basing its roots in mimicking a certain style of Japanese storytelling called rakugo, this show is already on a good start with its...


Get ready! Little Busters! to be animated by J.C. Staff

Apr 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
So Kyoto Animation or P.A. Works are not going to ride the waves on adapting the Little Busters! visual novel game by Key. Before you get upset about the news, J.C. Staff did do a fantastic job in animating Ano Natsu de Matte...

Final Impressions: Shakugan no Shana Final

Apr 02 // Elliot Gay
This week's entire episode was dedicated to saying goodbye to old friends and concluding the showdown between former-hero Yuji and Shana. The biggest surprise comes in the form of Yuji finally making the lengths of his plan clear to the remaining flame hazes and humans; he wanted to restore the city to the way it was before shit went down, including bringing back the girl who Shana replaced in the first episode of the original series. Yuji used the power that the Denizens left behind to fix what was broken, even if it meant no longer having a place to return to. He was willing to shoulder that burden even if it meant killing those who stood in his way.  Everything Yuji did, he did for the Denizens, humans and Flame Hazes. . Unsurprisingly, Shana is enraged by this and voices the one thing that was most certainly on everyone's mind; why the hell didn't he just talk to her about it from the start? If there's one problem I have with this last season, it's that a lot of the conflict could probably have been avoided had Yuji simply taken the time to talk to her. But I digress. There's no guarantee that he could have even gotten all the involved parties to sit down together without slaughtering one another in the first place. It was good to finally see Shana confront Yuji about his unwillingness to share his burden with her. In the end, all is right with the world and the two of them decide to walk side by side into the new world.  Shakugan no Shana gives nearly all its characters a happy ending. It's flowery and idealistic as all hell, but I find myself ok with it in this case. We see the cast go through hell and high water in Final and by the time you reach episode 24, you want to see them come out on top. Shana and Yuji have always been the heart of this franchise and I would have been disappointed and frustrated if the writers simply generated a tragic ending just for shits and giggles. I haven't taken a look at what the fan reaction to this has been, but I can't imagine seeing too many people pissed off about the outcome. I'm in no position to talk about the accuracy to the original novels, so if someone wants to point something out in the comments, please be my guest! The first season was a solid if slightly unremarkable fantasy that was interesting enough to bring me in for the long run. Its sequel took a huge dive for me by getting bogged down in the school life nonsense that in my opinion had no place and simply served as filler. The second season Shakugan no Shana pretty much ran in place for 16 or so episodes and very nearly lost me entirely. It also didn't help that so much time had passed between the second and final season that I wasn't convinced that J.C. Staff could recover from the hole they dug the franchise in. Probably the biggest surprise from this season was the consistency in production values. I wouldn't point to either of the previous Shakugan no Shana seasons as examples of quality action or animation. J.C. Staff really upped its game with Final though. There were some massive battles that had me pretty glued to my screen, against all odds. The last few episodes in particular were filled with explosions and general craziness. Do you like giant robots? You're good. Monsters getting blown into pieces? No problem. There's enough action in Shakugan no Shana Final for everyone.  This series still isn't for everyone. If you absolutely hated season one and two, there's no guarantee that you'll give a flying shit about Final. if you did however enjoy the first season and liked the characters but found the sequel series to be lacking in quality, definitely give Shakugan no Shana Final a shot. There's a pretty good chance you'll be surprised by how much you dig it. Easily the surprise of the season for me. 

If you had asked me two years ago whether I thought the third and final season of Shakugan no Shana would be anything more than average at best, I probably would have just laughed and walked away. The first season of the show...


Zero no Tsukaima F finally surfaces with 3 trailers

Dec 14
// Elliot Gay
I know there are a few of you out there who are fans of Zero no Tsukaima. Having made it through three seasons up until now, the series has certainly seen its ups and downs. A lot like a certain other anime featuring Rie Kugi...

Finally, Familiar of Zero is getting its final season

Aug 21
// Josh Tolentino
I didn't think it would happen, to be honest. I had assumed that J.C. Staff and the rest of the world had moved on to concentrate on planning out future episodes of Railgun or Index or working on something like Heav...

Licensing GET: Sentai Filmworks nabs Dream Eater Merry

Feb 10
// Josh Tolentino
Here's some good news for fans of midriffs and worship-worthy character design: Sentai Filmworks has grabbed the license to Yumekui Merry, and will be bringing it over as Dream Eater Merry. If you haven't been following my be...

First Impressions: Otome Yokai Zakuro

Oct 07 // Josh Tolentino
Otome Yokai Zakuro already scores some points with me on a conceptual level. As a fan of Sakura Wars, its setting of late-Meiji/early-Taisho period Japan - given a healthy dose of the supernatural - is appealing and all too often underexplored. The government has established a "Ministry of Spirit Affairs" designed to work with Japan's many folk creatures, which, with the country's rapid march towards industry, have begun to come out of the woodwork. Many are friendly, but more than a few aren't, which necessitates that the Army work with the friendly ones to perform the occasional exorcism.Selected as liaisons are lieutenants Kei Agemaki, Riken Yoshinokazura, and Ganryu Hanakiri, who are respectively paired off with half-spirit fighters Zakuro, Susukihotaru and the twins Hozuki and Bonbori. Already, I'm liking the the period-fantasy elaborateness of their names!Initially, it seems like something of a letdown that the half-spirits (don't call 'em demons, that's rude) to be paired with our young soldiers  are pretty much just catgirls, but admittedly it can be hard to structure a romance anime around full spirits, which make up the rest of the Ministry's staff, including Tanukis, or kids with squashes for faces, or an old man with the head of an elephant. The halfies were chosen exactly because they're about as human as a spirit can get. Which, of course, makes them just as vulnerable to human-style romantic archetypes, especially shoujo-style ones. Susukihotaru plays the shying violet (appropriately voiced by Kana Hanazawa) to Riken's deadpan sensitivity (unexpectedly delivered by Satoshi Hino, who played the otherwise hotblooded Saito Hiraga in Familiar of Zero). Bonbori and Hozuki - the flirty, giggling twins - are brought off perfectly by Aki Toyosaki (K-ON!!'s Yui) and Yui Horie (Love Hina's Naru) as they fawn over Ganryu (who last played Durarara!!'s Walker).And then there are the leads, of course. Kei (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai, once Code Geass' Spinzaku) is, in truth, deathly afraid of spirits (including the catgirls), turning on his full-scale, sparkling-roses bishounen charm as a defense mechanism. This, as you might imagine, has the opposite effect on Zakuro (Mai Nakahara, ne Clannad's Nagisa), who's too lovestruck to raise her tsundere shield.That is, until Kei begs her to accompany him to the outhouse, as he's too scared of the spirits going about their nightly business. From that point, she becomes a character more in the vein of Okami-san's Ryouko: sarcastic, taunting and ultimately embarrassed that she took this wimp seriously for even a second. It works out better than in Okami-san mainly because Kei's phobia isn't nearly as annoying as Ryoushi's was, and Zakuro is careful not to run the joke into the ground in the very first episode.  But that's enough about characters and their subjective cliches, and on to what threatens to make Zakuro something special.For one, it presents itself with impeccable skill. J.C. Staff wrung quite a lot of style and color out of the settings, and it all comes together in the flower-viewing scene that closes out the first episode, easily compensating for the loss in softness from Lily Hoshino's original manga stylings, which for their part resembled Honey and Clover's.The fighting is especially elegant, running counter to Kei's original fears of horrible demons chewing each other to death. Instead, the catgirls wield cherry blossom branches in bloom, dancing and singing to soothe an enraged thunder beast (oh, the lovely Sakura Wars similarities!).  If you can't tell yet, I like Otome Yokai Zakuro a bunch. Its novel setting, comely character designs and striking looks overcome the fact that it is, so far, a somewhat insubstantial romantic comedy romp. Not that there's anything wrong with that.J.C. Staff and director Chiaki Kon (who also handled When They Cry and Nodame Cantabile) might have a hit on their hands, especially if they can fully tap the wealth of Japanese folk creatures available for the offering. Don't stick with the catgirls alone or waste it ala Okami-san. I want to see the sorts of non-monstrous monsters that haunt the likes of GeGeGe no Kitaro.There's also the element of racial/social tension, as progress-minded modern Japanese leave the spirits behind in their devoted modernization, drinking milk, eating beef, and adopting the Gregorian calendar. Expanding on that would also be quite ideal for sophisticating the show. The singing yokai maidens seek to bewitch you into watching this show. Plus, it's available on Crunchyroll, so you can get it all legal-like.

Action, romance, cute character designs, a pleasantly weird setting, and stylish visuals. Otome Yokai Zakuro has all the qualities that make you want to point to it and say "That is what 'Anime' is like" when differ...

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