Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! Episodes 6-7

May 27 // Nicole Helmeid
When Ai and her brother confront Yamato about her secret, Yamato launches into a list of Takeo’s physical traits that get her heart racing. I was dying of laughter as her and Ai agreed on all of his good points while Makoto shrinks into the background. Yamato’s big problem was that she wanted to move forward on the physical side of her and Takeo’s relationship, but fears it would crush his “pure” vision of her. Ai is a little shocked but gives her the confidence to tell Takeo exactly what she wants. Ai is still struggling with her love for Takeo, I think she knows he is the happiest he has ever been. She is full of regret for not telling him how she felt sooner and is still incredibly jealous of Yamato. Yamato and Takeo finally clear up the misunderstanding and Yamato also confesses she lied about how she found his place in the beginning and also left her cell phone behind on purpose. I find it really cute that her big lies and “impure” thoughts are still so sweet and innocent. It’s really refreshing that a show of this typically-drama-filled genre can be so lighthearted. Takeo feels the pressure to be a good man for Yamato and is embarrassed to have messed up something as simple as hand-holding. He comes to Suna with a request- teach him how to kiss. Suna obviously refuses but Takeo cannot be stopped.  He traps Suna and puts saran wrap over his face because that makes it "OK" in Takeo's eyes. The episode cuts away and ends right as the kiss is happening, to the dismay of any fujoshi watching this series (myself included.)   In episode 7, Takeo is recruited by the Judo club to help with a tough match. He agrees without realizing it would cut-down on his time seeing Yamato. But in her usual sweet manner, she cheers him on and meets him after practice to deliver rice balls. There was a bit of filler in this episode with a training montage- but with the great animation, the overlay of text messages between Takeo and Yamato, and a few gags thrown in (like his mother using him as an ironing board) it was still very entertaining. Takeo told Yamato not to meet him after practice anymore since the area had warning signs for gropers. But since he isn’t the most eloquent man, he simply tells her not to come rather than explaining why. This worries Yamato so she goes to visit Sunakawa. Suna is now a master of interpreting Takeo and Yamato, so he calms her down and she realizes it must have been a misunderstanding. The day of the judo match arrives and Takeo’s opponent (who looks like a character out of Cromartie High School) declares Takeo has already lost since he has a girlfriend. Someone sounds jealous! When it is Takeo's turn to fight, the two school’s teams are tied. His opponent is pretty evenly matched and there are a few moments where Takeo falters. Usually Takeo has ridiculous superhuman strength so I’m glad he was paired up with a character that could produce an exciting match. Takeo eventually wins with a toss, to the amazement of everyone in the crowd. Even the stoic Suna is impressed.  The next episode is Titled "My Friend" so I'm hoping something good happens to Suna in return for his loyalty and devotion to Takeo.   
MY Love STORY!! Ep 6-7 photo
Communication is key
Yamato is still in turmoil over a secret she can’t tell. 

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episode 5

May 10 // Nicole Helmeid
He hands him off to Sunakawa who once again gets the praise for Takeo's actions. Takeo borrows Suna's comically-small gym clothes and the three eat cake in the park. Takeo thinks to himself how pure Yamato is- nothing like his former-wrestler mother which is a hilarious and perfect family background for his character. Later the couple takes a stroll to see the stars and when Yamato mentions how secluded they are in the park- seemingly hinting at the romantic situation. He interprets it as fear of being alone together and declares he won't lay a hand on her until she is "all grown up." Suddenly, a love rival appears?!   In an unexpected turn, Sunakawa's beautiful older sister Ai comes home for a visit and is distraught upon learning Takeo has gotten a girlfriend. Hey- it wouldn't be shoujo if there wasn't a love rival! Her brother had no idea she had feelings for Takeo and she proceeds to throw a tantrum. She demands to meet the new girlfriend to judge her character. Sunakawa and Takeo head to the park to meet Yamato while Ai secretly follows them. Ai senses something is bothering Yamato, who has mixed up sugar with salt in her latest batch of cookies and seems to be a bit on edge. Ai declares to her brother that Yamato is hiding a secret from Takeo and wonders whether she is cheating on him. Takeo finally notices something is up when Yamato tries to tell him something on their walk home but instead just says goodnight. In an attempt to understand her, Takeo turns to teen girl magazines at the convenience store. Ai comes across this scene, as passersbys take photos of an oblivious Takeo, and offers to help talk to Yamato for him. We'll have to see if she uses this as a chance to drive a wedge between the couple. [You can watch MY love STORY!! on Crunchyroll with new episodes every Wednesday.]
My Love STORY!! photo
A Rival Appears
After last week's explosive episode in which our seemingly super-human protagonist saved two of Yamato's friends from a burning building, we are back with Episode 5. With the title "I'm Dense" this episode deals with Takeo m...

First Impressions: MY Love STORY!!

Apr 30 // Nicole Helmeid
Makoto Sunakawa looks like the stereotypical shoujo protagonist, but is actually Gouda's best friend since childhood. Quiet, seemingly cold, and good-looking, he receives many confessions from girls but turns them all down. One day they are riding the train when Sunakawa spots a girl getting groped by a strange man.  Gouda steps in and saves the girl, named Rinko Yamato, who falls in love with Gouda at first sight.  She begins baking sweets for Gouda regularly to thank him.  Gouda has a crush on Yamato but since he is used to girls not liking him, he believes Yamato is in love with Sunakawa.  He vows to help them become a couple while being oblivious to Yamato’s advances. The anime is currently on episode 4, and it has proven it can skewer the stereotypes of the genre while still being funny and romantic.  One of the aspects of shoujo that drives me crazy is a character’s inability to realize their romantic interest likes them back.  The annoying “will they or won’t they” then drags on for the whole series. Thankfully My Love STORY!! doesn’t fall into this trap, even though Gouda is thickheaded enough for it to be a believable plot point.  Thanks to a trick pulled off by Sunakawa,  Yamato and Gouda confess to each other and are surrounded by sparkly shoujo bubble bliss.  Madhouse’s animation is another great characteristic of this series, and you will especially appreciate it if you are an avid manga reader.   Sunakawa’s written thoughts and the aforementioned shoujo backgrounds always give me a laugh.  Since this is still a shoujo series I’m excited to see what drama is in-store for this atypical couple.   [You can watch MY Love STORY!! at Crunchyroll with new episodes every Wednesday.]
MY Love STORY!! photo
Nice guys finish first
 MY Love Story!! (or Ore Monogatari!!) is an unconventional shoujo manga that’s received an anime adaptation this season.  The story follows unlikely protagonist Takeo Gouda, an extremely tall and strong high ...

One Punch Man photo
One Punch Man

Studio MADHOUSE winds up for One Punch Man anime

Fingers crossed!
Mar 21
// Josh Tolentino
[Update: Check out a hot cam promo for the show below, straight from the AnimeJapan 2015 show floor!] I must say that as hyped-up as I am about the prospect of a hot new anime adaptation of One Punch Man, the skeptic in ...

MAPPA photo

Masao Maruyama wants to make Pluto anime, doesn't have the cash

The producer from Madhouse and MAPPA speaks about upcoming projects.
Apr 30
// Ben Huber
You may know about FicZone 14, an otaku convention in Granada, Spain. It's a fairly recent event, but it's been nabbing some big-name guests pretty rapidly. Most recently, they featured Masao Maruyama, a producer and co-found...
Aniplex photo

Aniplex announces Mahouka and Mekaku City Actors simulcast info

Put ya simulcast on!
Apr 05
// Brad Rice
Aniplex just dropped some news announcing the simulcast dates of its shows: Mahouka, also known as The Irregular at Magic High School, and Mekaku City Actors. Mahouka will air starting from today, while Mekaku City Actor...
Marvel photo

New Marvel Avengers OVA to be released March 25th

Madhouse will be producing this one too!
Jan 24
// LB Bryant
In this apartment the Marvel vs. DC debate is still waged on a weekly basis. My girlfriend believes that DC is the superior brand while I, on the other hand, feel that Marvel is better. Part of my evidence for this is that Ma...
Anime photo

The Irregular at Magic High School anime slated for 2014

Madhouse bringing this light novel series to the screen
Dec 11
// Brad Rice
Mark your calendar for the Spring 2014 season, because Tsutomu Sato's light novel series The Irregular at Magic High School will be getting an anime adaptation courtesy of the folks at Madhouse. Saki's director Manabu On...

Japanator Arena: Dudley VS Ippo

Nov 03 // Salvador GRodiles
In the Red Corner: He may be a gentleman at heart, but in the ring, this chap is actually a very formidable opponent. Due to his beliefs in a clean and honorable fight, Dudley hopes to win this match in a fair manner! Of course, the man can’t help but to make a classy entrance in his Jaguar Luxury Car. In the Black Corner: His progress through the featherweight matches is quite impressive. In fact, this guy plans to become the world champion within his own weight class. Despite his short stature, Makunouchi Ippo refuses to back down from an opportunity like this. Then again, they don’t call him the Wind God for nothing, so there’s a chance that he might turn things around. Since both fighters specialize in the same sport, this week’s match is going to play out like a traditional boxing match, except that will be a crossover weight fight. In other words, no one is allowed to use any techniques that defy the rules of boxing. That being said, your votes and persuasions skilled will be bound by this important rule. Make sure that you add a +1 to the boxer that you side with, since it will let us keep track of the punches going around.  The fight will go on from today till Thursday, so do your best to vote on time. After the boxing match comes to an end, you can drop by during the beginning of the next match to see who wins! Since this is going to be a nice, clean battle, the seating section should be free of unexpected hazards-- heavy emphasis on the word "should." We think we cleaned out all the bats, ghouls and vampires from last month, but no promises. *ding, ding, ding* Fight!
Japanator Arena photo
Boxing at its finest
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! It's hard to believe that Soma's having trouble with this battle. The man is able to wield the souls of various creatures and entities. On top of that, a good number of his weapons contain holy a...

Japanator Arena: Blade VS Vampire Hunter D

Oct 13 // Salvador GRodiles
In the Red Corner: After his mother was killed by a vampire, Blade’s path towards hunting down the immortals was set in stone. He may be skilled with using swords and throwing knives, but his real power comes from being a Daywalker. In the Black Corner: During his lifetime, this man has saved countless lives from his brethren that torment them. Known as a legendary hunter in his world, D believes that his swordsman skills are enough to handle this match. If all else fails, his Left Hand has his back when things get tough. When you look at the fact that both contenders are half-vampire, we’re in for a clash of brutal strength and power here. Blade’s abilities will be based on his skills from the Blade anime, so you'll have to take that into account while you choose your side. In order to keep this fight organized, make sure that you add a +1 to the fighter that you vote for in this matchup. The two hunters will fight from today untill Thursday, so do your best to cast your vote on time. Once the showdown comes to a complete stop, you are welcomed to drop by during the beginning of the next match to see who wins! Unfortunately, my calculations on the sunset were off, which means that we’ll have to deal with some outside interference when the night engulfs us all. Hopefully, we'll survive to see the next battle take shape.  *ding, ding, ding* Hunters, Draw Your Weapons!
Japanator Arena photo
It's a terrible night to have a curse
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Seras and Grave are locked in an endless shootout. Both opponents are chock-full of lead, and their regenerative abilities continue to negate each blast. After Grave brings out the Demolition Sho...

Japanator Arena: Beyond the Grave vs Seras Victoria

Oct 05 // Salvador GRodiles
In this corner: This man served under Big Daddy before he became a Deadman, after being murdered by his best friend. While his battle to defeat those involved with Seed has come to a triumphant close, Beyond the Grave from the Gungrave series is waking up to do some target practice with his Cerberus guns! In this corner: Getting killed after witnessing the death of your comrades is not a great way to die. It’s a good thing that Seras allowed Alucard to drink her blood, as it allowed her to see her colleagues get avenged by the Hellsing Organization’s strongest member. Now that she has become a Draculina, Seras Victoria has the necessary skills to take home the crown! Our two contenders are able to pull off some ridiculous moves with their unique set of firearms, so I’m curious to see how their natural abilities will come into play. As always, your votes and persuasion skills will be the key to determining the winner in this fight. When you cast your vote, make sure that you give a +1 to the character that you think would triumph, since it will help us keep track of the all the Demolition Shots and vampiric powers flying around all over the place. Grave and Seras will fight from today until Thursday, so I recommend that you vote on time. After the battle comes to a close, you are welcomed to drop by during the beginning of the next match to see who wins. Now that the usual rules are out of the way, let’s head to our ringside seats before this undead mayhem gets underway. *ding, ding, ding* Begin The First Phase!
Japanator Arena photo
Vampires and Deadmen square off!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Gene Starwind fired off every Caster Shell in his arsenal, but Vash was able to see each one coming from a mile away. Since Vash can move at high speeds, Gene was depleting his ammo reserves tryi...

Japanator Arena photo
Can the Caster outgun the Angel Arm?
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Well, what can I say? You can't mess with Jack Frost, and Blaze the Cat's flames were not enough to melt the ice. Since this Jack Frost was fused to resist fire, our ‘Hee-Ho’ shouting...

Film photo

Wolf Children to be screened in LA this Friday

Yeah, it's a furry love story.
Sep 26
// Tim Sheehy
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, Mamoru Hosoda's animated feature Wolf Children will be making limited theatrical run at the Laemmle Town Center 5 on September 27th, courtesy of Tugg Inc. It should be noted tha...

Review: Black Lagoon Roberta's Blood Trail

Aug 12 // Tim Sheehy
Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail OVA (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Studio: MadhouseLicensed by: FUNimationRelease Date: 8/06/2013MSRP: $39.98 [Buy] Roberta's Blood Trail picks up at the end of season two and centers around -- you guessed it --Roberta, who after escaping a life of war, takes up service as a maid for the Lovelace family, a prominent family in Venezuela. The arc begins with a political assassination, which claims the life of her master, triggering Roberta's desire for retribution against the agents she holds responsible. Following the assassination, she makes way to Roanapur, setting the stage for events to come. Once there she begins a bloody trail of torture and revenge, one which quickly escalates, threatening to engulf the entire city. In an attempt to save her from herself, a young boy named Garcia, the heir to the Lovelace family and her only charge, follows Roberta to Roanapur, where he attempts to hire Rock to assist in stopping Roberta's lust for vengeance. In terms of what to expect, the series remains incredibly violent, with plenty of gun-play to around. The script is often hilarious, albeit vulgar and well-deserving of its mature rating. There's also plenty of fan service and a dash of nudity sprinkled throughout, usually coinciding with a steamy shower scene. Like the previous seasons, you can expect plenty of suggestive dialog and references to drugs, prostitution and pretty much everything else you could imagine taking place in such a den of inequity. One of the more common themes of the show has been the constantly-shifting alliances among the various criminal organizations and assassins who inhabit the cesspool known as Roanapur. True to form, the miniseries continues this dynamic, allowing for some interesting pairings. For example, fan favorites such as the psychotic Sawyer, and knife-toting Shenhua find themselves fighting along side members of the Lagoon company. This time around, they also spend a little more time developing characters like Mister Chang, who despite being a key player, has always remained sort of insular to the series. We're treated to a fair amount of growth between Rock and Revy, but not so much as far as Duke and Benny are concerned -- this is likely due to being relegated to the background for most of the arc. A shame considering they're part of the main cast, but as they're not exactly the most popular characters, I imagine most fans won't mind. Roberta herself comes off as slightly unhinged, which I suppose is par for the course as far as the series is concerned. I often found her penchant for needless exposition irritating, while her interactions with targets -- I hesitate to call any of them victims -- were far more entertaining in a twisted sort of way. You'll come understand more about her as the series progresses and by the end, you may find it easier to sympathize with her methods and actions, no matter how reprehensible they may seem. In regards to presentation, the animation is standard fare for a Madhouse series produced back in 2010, and looks great on both DVD and Blu-ray, although the high definition visuals are noticeably crisper. The English dub comes with a lovely 5.1 surround mix but the original Japanese audio is only available in 2.0 stereo. With the Blu-ray, there are no separate options for subtitles, which may seem confusing at first. Rather, the English subtitles automatically display when the Japanese audio is selected. This may prove inconvenient for some, but I imagine this has more to do with Japan wanting to discourage importation by Japanese consumers -- a serious matter as far as they're concerned. Extras include a text-less version of the new closing theme, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," the U.S. trailer for Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail, as well as a few trailers for other FUNimation. I've grown accustomed to expecting less, so there's really no surprises in that department. Roberta's Blood Trail is an excellent addition to the series. A brutal, yet exhilarating ride from beginning to end that'll leave you craving more. Fans have spent a long time waiting for the retail release, but it's been well worth it. This OVA is definitely not for the faint of heart, and despite the copious amounts of bloodshed, there is just enough depth to keep you hooked throughout. 8.5 – Great. A fine example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest. 
Black Lagoon OVA photo
Sweet, sweet vengeance.
Black Lagoon remains one of my guiltiest pleasures. The series shares so much in common with v-cinema, from its harsh take on the human condition, to its unapologetic depictions of violence, and buried beneath, stories worth ...

Hunter x Hunter movie 2 photo
Hunter x Hunter movie 2

Hunter x Hunter gets a second film this winter

Because you can never have enough HxH
Aug 08
// Elliot Gay
Hunter x Hunter is one of those manga series that I passed on for a long time due to its art style. At first glance, it appeared to be fairly typical shonen jump material, which meant I kept it in my backlog for years.  ...
Black Lagoon photo
Black Lagoon

Roberta is maid to kill

This clip needs more Revy
Jul 27
// Hiroko Yamamura
It's only a couple more week's until we revisit our favorite psychotic maid Roberta, but FUNimation has posted another clip of the upcoming Blu-Ray and DVD release of Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail. In the video we see ...

Friday Night Race: Captain Falcon vs JP

Jun 28 // Salvador GRodiles
Friday Night Race photo
Let's take a break from fighting by having a good old race!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Tylor's luck may have allowed him to gain victory over the Raalgon Empire many times, but the classic power of the Yamato allowed for its crew to resist the plot devises of Tylor's show. All it t...

Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Music: Old School Thursdays

It's Revy time
Jun 27
// Hiroko Yamamura
Remember how we were just talking about Black Lagoon yesterday? Yeah, me too. Of course I couldn't get the show out of my mind, especially the super catchy opening theme. So let's jump back to the not so far away sounds of 2...
Black Lagoon photo
Black Lagoon

You didn't forget about Revy did you?

Dual 9 mm FTW!
Jun 26
// Hiroko Yamamura
I'm sure the hyper violent, daisy duke wearing, dual wielding Revy is never far from your thoughts. We do deserve to pay her and the rest of Lagoon Company a visit once in a while though. Well, your patience is fin...
Di Gi Charat & Gatchaman  photo
Di Gi Charat & Gatchaman

License Reminder! Sentai gets Di Gi Charat and Gatchaman

Will Sentai's release of Gatchaman do good?
Jun 25
// Salvador GRodiles
Actually, Sentai has already talked about their plans for both shows already at their panel during Anime Boston 2013. However, they decided to make their announcement more official by reminding us in a more professional ...
Friday Night Fights photo
Mamoru Hosoda themed battle go!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Someone forgot to teach Charizard Dragon Claw, Dragon Rush, Dragon Pulse, Outrage, and/or Thunder Punch, since his attacks were not very effective on the Azure Rathalos. With Charizard entering t...

Friday Night Fights: Mikoto vs Storm

Apr 12 // Salvador GRodiles
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...

Review: Ninja Scroll Blu-ray

Jan 28 // Jeff Chuang
Ninja Scroll (Blu-ray)Studio: MadhouseLicensed by: Sentai Filmworks Release Date: December 4, 2012MSRP: $24.99 ($18.74) There are few anime that I feel poorly equipped to talk about. This is one of them. I think the weirdness is that this is one of those shows that made anime a thing to a crowd over in the English-speaking world, and I was never really comfortable with what that crowd watched: anime that were characterized by gratuitous sex and violence. Not that is really a problem; I always thought Ninja Scroll, one of the best out of that class, was particularly memorable because it is not only gorgeously animated, but the direction and choreography were bar none. There are few that can match it in how clever the various ninjas were designed, how these ninja powers played to create some thrilling and creative fights that hasn't been repeated yet since. But that's where the problem begins. What is there to talk about besides the really awesome fights? The plot to Ninja Scroll, while it does a good job moving things along, is ultimately just an action vehicle. Surprisingly it highlights some of the stark contrasts in the medium, such as being a female ninja in a male ninja world? I don't know if one could walk that path without some serious gear, and I mean it in terms of real balls to tackle a thorny problem about how women are portrayed in anime. And more over, why would we start there, at an ultra-violent and sexually gratuitous masterpiece? Nonetheless one must start somewhere. Ninja Scroll is the story about a vagabond ninja, Jubei, and how he runs afoul of a plot to steal a shipload of gold for the shadow shogunate, who wants to overthrow the current government by buying everyone off or otherwise threaten them. There are 8 super ninjas who work for the shadow shogunate, and Jubei (along with a local clanswoman ninja and a government spy) fights them in order to not only do what's right, but to face his own demons from his dark past. I could also begin talking about Ninja Scroll's seemingly vast mind share in the early days of anime fandom, where the only thing louder and more vibrant is love for Akira. Or on the wholly different end, things like Sailor Moon, DBZ or Robotech--all surprisingly equally thorny in terms of themes, character and substance as Ninja Scroll. At least in Ninja Scroll, there is no pretense. You know what you are going to get when bad boys fly among the trees, going after each other's necks (or other weak points, as the case it may be for many of these mutant-like ninjas). It's high time to invest in pressurized animated blood. At the same time, it just makes certain other scenes a little bit jarring, such as with the random sex scenes (as important to the plot or characterization it may be), or the oddly scripted love triangle among the villains.  Well, none of those are reasons why most own and love Ninja Scroll. Even when it comes to praising all the creative and moving action scenes, I don't know if I have all the words necessary to express how engaging and tireless they can be. I don't know how many times I've seen Jubei take down that rock dude over the years--it's just wholly captivating. There is a good reason why all those old AMVs used footage from Ninja Scroll. Sentai's Ninja Scroll on Blu-ray is generally competent. The dub track is just as you might have remembered it. The effects sound significantly more amplified on the dub track than the sub track, for some reason. Ryuzaburo's spinning blades, for instance, sounded like a whirlwind machine on the dub track, where as it sounded plain on the Japanese track. It's probably just added directionality in the rear sound stage in this case, but otherwise there's no discrepancy. The video is in 4:3 format, probably because it was the only format whose original copy is in good enough shape for a remaster. The video looks much better than the original release, rest assured. The Ninja Scroll Blu-ray also comes with a commentary track featuring one of the writers, plus director Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animation director Yutaka Minowa. It's quite informative for many of the behind-the-scenes thinking that went on, and definitely a must-watch for real fans of this piece. The packaging is as bare-bones as you might have come to expect from Sentai's typical handiwork. Among old school animated violence, Ninja Scroll occupies its own particular throne--it's definitely the most refined of them all. And with this remastered Blu-ray release, it's dressed for the 21st century.  9.0 – Exceptional (One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.)
Ninja Scroll photo
Ultraviolence, now in HD
No point beating around the bush: The mid-1990s action anime legend Ninja Scroll is now on Blu-ray in North America. It's the best it has looked on home video yet.  But it's been a long time--20 years now--that Ninja Scr...

Japanator Kind of Recommends: X-Men

Oct 02 // Salvador GRodiles
Marvel Anime: X-Men Complete Series (DVD)Studio: Madhouse Licensed by: Sony Pictures Home EntertainmentRelease Date: April 24, 2012MSRP: $19.99 [Buy] For a series that was suppose to give us a different take on an existing franchise, the X-Men anime takes us right into the middle of a battle between the X-Men and Phoenix, which results in Scott aka Cyclops losing the love of his life known as Jean Grey. Then the series focuses on the present as the team is sent to investigate a situation in Japan that is causing a spike Mutant growth, along with a mysterious interference that is keeping Professor X from scanning for any Mutants with the Cerebro. Along the way, the team encounters a new member and a former enemy known as Emma Frost that might have been connected with the death of Jean.  To those who are not familiar with franchise, in a certain point in the story Jean Grey ends up getting possessed by an entity known as the Phoenix. While in the versions that I have seen involved Jean returning to her normal self, the anime decides to make Scott go through a life changing ordeal. Unfortunately, Scott's lost tends to be more effective with people that are familiar with any of the stories that exist within the X-Men universe. As a series that was meant to bring in new fans, the series might have started off stronger if we were given the story that lead up to the battle against Phoenix. That way new fans would get a better establishment to the story.  During the current operation, the series decides to make Scott go through his own development as he must learn to keep his cool in the heat of danger. Veteran members such as Wolverine, Beast, and Storm come along for the ride as they each exhibit the traits that you know them for. While a good number of the cast is present, the main characters in the show are Scott and the new member of the team known as Hinako aka Armor, along with Emma Frost. Based on my experience with X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men Evolution, both shows tend to focus on the development of each character from episode to episode. For a series that spans 12 episodes, this sort of development would've played a great contribution to the series. Instead, we end up with episodes that drag on during certain points while a majority of the cast is only there to deliver small amounts of dialogue or contribute to the action sequences.  Since I haven't read any of the original comic books, it was interesting to see the anime take a darker route with the first set of villains known as the U-Men, since they specialize in performing unspeakable experiments on Mutants that they capture. From there, the story introduced former enemies, which ended up leading towards an unexpected twist that involved a secret that even surprised the great Professor X. Though it's unfortunate that most of the strong elements in the show end up getting overshadowed by the weaker elements, such as a slow pacing that fails to make any of the X-Men members stand out more.  Taking into account that Madhouse was in charge of this project, the animation lives up to their name as we see the team do their best to give the series a comic book-like feel with their choices in coloring and character lining. In fact, Marvel sent Madhouse artwork of the backgrounds and designs so that they can recapture part of that comic book feel in the series. While there were some instances where the designs suffered from a few off-model issues, it's not a major distraction from the rest of the action.  Being accustomed to the English voices in the previous installments, the English dub for the X-Men anime felt as good as any of the voice work depicted in X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men Evolution. Steve Blum's recent depiction of Wolverine returns with a vengeance, since he was also Wolverine in the Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon. Overall, each character did a great job in delivering their lines. If there was one voice that I had a minor problem with, it was Hinako's English voice, since her voice felt a bit exaggerated at times. As for the Japanese acting, the voices were not bad, which might be a surprise for most people. Fans of Fate/Zero and/or Nanoha will notice Rikiya Koyama's voice as Wolverine and Yukari Tamura's take on Hinako. While it felt a bit weird hearing the cast speaking in a different language other than English, the acting was good for what it was, which is a neat option to fulfill the curiosity of any X-Men fan. Despite Marvel and Madhouse's efforts in reintroducing the X-Men to a new audience, the series felt like it was meant for those that have read the comics or have watched any of the cartoons related to the franchise. Depending on how much you are a fan of Scott or Hinako, part of that aspect will affect the your reaction to the series. Perhaps if the first half of story would've started off with the arc that lead to Jean's death, the series might have had a more interesting story. For what it's worth, the series will cost you around $19.99 or less, so fans will at least have something to gain with 12 episodes and extra features that have the people of Marvel and Madhouse talk about their experience with the project. If that's not enough to suit your tastes, then you are probably better off with just revisiting your favorite X-Men stories. 6.0 - Okay. 6s are just okay. These series usually have many flaws, didn't try anything special, or were poorly executed. Some viewers will love 6s, but most prefer to just skip them. Read more reviews before you decide. 
Optic Blast!
You know, it has been a while since I have gotten the opportunity to experience anything related to the X-Men franchise. The last time that I got to watch something related to X-Men was when I saw X-Men: The First C...


Wolf Children doing great, showing at Hawaii next month

Seriously, everyone has got to see it
Sep 21
// Kristina Pino
According to a report by Mantan, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki has been rather successful so far, earning US$51 million and counting since its opening on July 21. ANN says that not only is Wolf Children already more successf...

Japanator Recommends: Boogiepop Phantom

Jul 28 // Pedro Cortes
Boogiepop Phantom Complete TV Series (DVD)Studio: Madhouse StudiosLicensed by Nozomi EntertainmentRelease Date: June 5, 2012MSRP: $29.99Right Stuf  The story thread of Boogiepop Phantom can be a bit difficult to follow, so stick with me. The show takes place in a Japanese town that is still reeling from a string of unsolved murders that occurred five years prior. A month before the story begins, a giant beam of light shot into the night sky, starting another set of strange occurrences. People are exhibiting strange abilities, random folk are disappearing, that sort of thing. Among this, the urban legend of Boogiepop, walking the streets starts to spread among the girls of Shinyo Academy. It's like Death incarnate. That's the basic thread of the show. Instead of following a single storyline, Boogiepop Phantom changes it's main character each episode. What you have then is a series of non-linear narratives that, by the end of the show, gives you the whole story on what the hell is going in this town. You'll have characters frequently cross paths across different episodes, filling in blanks that made no sense before. Considering how frequently these characters meet bad ends, it's a clever method of story-telling that shows you how dark things have gotten in this city. One of the few problems I had was the frequent disorientation and, in my case, frustration, with how the story is presented. Boogiepop likes to jump around in its time line, which sometimes left me confused on when a particular scene was occurring. Even when I do know what's going on, I feel like I can almost grasp the whole story, but I'm missing that last nugget of information. In that way, Boogiepop feels like a David Lynch production. It's purposefully disjointed and information is just out of your grasp, but you're OK with it. However, there's still some parts that didn't make sense to me. Since Boogiepop is based off of a light novel series, I'm pretty sure that the entire story wasn't represented in the series. I'm still not completely sure what lead up to the pillar of light that is referenced so often. Enough information was given so that the overall story makes sense, but there's definitely the feeling that something has been left out. I'm not quite sure if I like Boogiepop's visuals or not. A majority of the show has a desaturated, sepia-tinged color palette. This is an interesting and unique style, but it doesn't always lend itself to looking very good. In fact, I'd hazard to say that Boogiepop as a whole has not aged well. Its stiff and limited animation makes it look older than it actually is and the limited colors don't help. Then again, most of the show has a vignette effect tossed in, so it's possible that all of that was part of establishing that great mood I mentioned earlier. Just don't expect it to wow you with its animation quality. Right Stuf's re-release features has both Japanese and English vocal tracks, with the dub featuring both stereo and 5.1 sound options. What's interesting is that I found both versions to be lacking in quality acting. Neither vocal track is particularly good, but I found the dub to be the better of the two, if only for its kitsch value. It doesn't take away from the show as a whole, but there are some comically over- and under-acted scenes. Hey, it's just like a David Lynch flick! The soundtrack is also appropriately moody, with some great Silent Hill-esque sound distortion used to great effect.  Overall, I complete recommend Boogiepop Phantom. It's creepy at all the right times and it's told in a fairly unique way. Despite the lackluster vocal performances in both languages, the mood it establishes with its story, visuals and its soundtrack more than makes up for its deficiencies. Do note that it isn't a particularly nice looking show, but it definitely does not look like anything else. If you want a something to creep you out and unnerve you, pick up Right Stuf's re-release.   Score: 7.0 - Films or shows that get this score 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.  

I didn't start off as a fan of horror. When I was a kid, I was terrified of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. I hated monsters of just about any kind and stuck to safe and happy things. While my stan...


Trailer streamed for Madhouse's Ninja Scroll Burst

Jul 26
// Bob Muir
Woah, check this out! Madhouse has streamed a trailer for an in-development anime that resurrects a legendary property: the 1993 movie Ninja Scroll. Titled Ninja Scroll Burst, the "3-episode short animation" is a "challenge"...

The Wolf Children has a great opening weekend

Jul 24
// Elliot Gay
If you couldn't already tell, I really liked Mamoru Hosoda's latest film, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that it's my favorite movie of the year right now. Go check out our review if you haven't...

Japanator Recommends: The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Jul 23 // Elliot Gay
The Wolf Children Ame and YukiStudio: Studio Chizu, MadhouseRelease Date: July 21, 2012 (Theatrical release) Hana, a 19 year old college student, finds herself fascinated with a mysterious man in her class. Starting off as just friends, the two begin spending all their free time together. The man eventually works up the courage to confess to Hana that he's actually a wolf man. While initially stunned by her partner's ability to transform, Hana's feelings for him remain unchanged and the two make love that night. Time moves forward and the couple have a boy and a girl named Ame and Yuki. One rainy day, tragedy strikes and Hana makes the decision to move out to the mountains so that she can better raise her children. What follows is a story about growing up, making decisions and finding your own path. In some ways, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki tells an exceedingly simple story. Hana is a young mother trying to do everything in her power to give her children the choice to live their lives the way they want to. The film's two hour run time gives director Mamoru Hosoda ample time to focus on each character's main dilemma, also allowing the audience to feel as though they've watched this family grow up. You see, The Wolf Children actually takes place over the span of 13 years. Hosoda shows us every high and low point of the family as they try to find their place in the countryside.  While the name of the film certainly highlights the two wolf children, Hana is at the wheel of the story. The film starts with her tale of romance and it is her determination and affection for her family that drives the narrative along. When the wolf man passes away early on, there's an indescribable pain that we as the audience feel because just as Hana does, we realize that there is no time to grieve. The world won't stop moving simply because she's been left alone. There's a sequence mid-film in which Hana is struggling to get the crops growing and having self studied, she's unsure of how exactly she can prevent the crops from rotting. Hana finds herself on the verge of tears, only to pull it all together when she sees her daughter Yuki next to her. She knows she's facing near insurmountable odds, but she's unwilling to give up no matter what. The Wolf Children also does an impeccable job of fleshing out Ame and Yuki, creating a window that allows us to gaze on their growth from babies to young adults. There's one particular sequence in the second half of the film that utilizies montage in spectacular fashion to imitate the passage of time. The juxtaposition of these two children and the individual choices they find themselves having to make is nothing if not touching and sincere. We want to see both of them happy because we've spent so much time and invested so much into them emotionally. While he doesn't get nearly as much screen time as the rest of his family, there's no doubt that the unnamed wolf man makes his presence felt. The early scenes that he shares with Hana are among some of the most touching and gentle sequences in the entire film. Every small moment of joy and discovery is felt in his expressions, and most importantly his love for Hana feels real and true. While the advertising for The Wolf Children has made it clear that the wolf man passes away, the weight of his death is nonetheless felt strongly throughout the whole film. For what it's worth, I shed tears. While the rest of the cast isn't nearly as fleshed out as the main Hana and her children, they're all memorable and likable in their own ways. The old man who seems to care little for Hana's struggles, the young transfer student who wants to be friends with Yuki, the people of the neighborhood; The Wolf Children has a colorful and rich cast.  The countryside is as much a character in the film as the rest of the cast thanks to the stunning animation from Studio Chizu and Studio Madhouse. From the dilapidated houses to the lush forests and mountains, the whole film is filled with living and breathing locales. On top of that, characters move with a fluidity that often times causes one to forget that they're watching an animated film. One sequence that really stuck with me involves Ame, Yuki and their mother running through the snow in the winter. Both children seamlessly morph into wolves midrun while Hana trails behind, a huge smile on her face. As the family slides down a hill of snow, powder flies up into the air in spectacular fashion, making the whole scene feel a bit surreal. Despite being grounded in reality, The Wolf Children at times feels far more magical and fantastical than Hosoda's last film, Summer Wars.  Music is perhaps more important in The Wolf Children than it has been in any of Hosoda's previous works. Takagi Masakatsu's work here is tender and beautiful, oftentimes controlling entire sequences in the absence of dialogue or even sound effects. The main theme of the film is a somber, reflective piece that is repeated multiple times throughout the film in different arrangements. Even simply listening to certain tracks from the Official Soundtrack are enough to remind me of certain scenes and lines of dialogue. If you're at all a fan of instrumental music, I highly recommend finding a way to grab a copy of this OST.  In the pamphlet included with the soundtrack, director Mamoru Hosoda stated that this film was for the children who enjoy fairy tales, as well as the young adults who've yet to experience raising children of their own. Finally, he said that The Wolf Children was for the parents who watched their children grow up. Since The Girl Who Leapt Through Time hit Japanese theaters nearly seven years ago, critics have been hailing Hosoda as the next big name in Japanese animation. With his latest film, Hosoda's proven that he's here to stay. I can't wait to see what he does next. The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki is a brilliant film that never loses track of its heart and remains sincere to the very end. 10 – Legendary. As close to perfect as a production can get. 10’s are, to be frank, among best and most influential films or shows ever made.

Ever since The Girl Who Leapt Through Time hit Japanese theaters in 2006, the film world has kept their collective eyes on director Mamoru Hosoda. His follow up work, Summer Wars, garnered similar critical praise and fans fou...


The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki is looking gorgeous

Jun 11
// Elliot Gay
Two of my favorite films from the past decade of film are The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. What do these two movies share in common? A director named Mamoru Hosoda. It's been a little while since his last film...

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