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Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episodes 6 and 7

Nov 22 // Josh Tolentino
But first, an aside: Perhaps the most interesting news to come out of One Punch Man in the last couple of weeks has come from its production team. Chief Animation Director Chikashi Kubota recently revealed that, contrary to lay expectations (mine included), One Punch Man is animated using an "average-sized" budget, and is not the moneyed behemoth many thought it was judging by the high quality of its action scenes and prominence as a Shonen JUMP headliner. It just goes to show how "anime" One Punch Man is, and not merely in adhering to cultural quirks most folks associate with "anime-like" things, but also in a more classical sense. Japanese TV anime developed many of its stylistic and storytelling conventions from the need to make the most of very limited resources. Compared to the Hollywood-led productions of the time, the style of animation pioneered by Tezuka Productions and other postwar studios is filled with cost-saving techniques that directly influenced the way stories are told in the medium today. It's one of the reasons Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki famously disliked having their works lumped in with "anime", as to them, the term represented something defined by having been made on the cheap. Whatever the case, Kubota's tweet is a resounding affirmation on the talent at work with One Punch Man, that they can "hide the seams" so effectively that people think the show is much more expensive than it actually is. Moving on, the first "hit" of episode six is the one most everyone will be familiar with, regardless of punching strength. After all, few things have more of an impact on a person than a good ol' reality check. In this case, Saitama learns of the world of work, as he realizes that C-ranked heroes like himself need to stop crime on a regular basis to keep from being dropped from the roster. Given that he's always been far too powerful to consider stopping muggers and helping old ladies worth his while, this leads to a mad scramble across town in search of bad guy to take down.  The bad guy in question is Speed o' Sound Sonic, who opens his second appearance in the One Punch Man canon spoiling for a rematch. Needless to say, Saitama provides, absentmindedly filling his quota and inadvertently proving his superiority in one fell chop to the back of the head.  The real meat of the episode, though, is in seeing the Hero Association conduct more investigations into the origins of monster activity in Saitama's hometown, City Z. Besides a cool boardroom sequence featuring reports from various high-class heroes, the task falls to two A-rank ringers, the slingshot-toting Golden Ball and the mustachioed Spring Mustachio. Facial hair is his superpower, alongside a wicked sword thrust that recalls the likes of Bleach's Gin, but somehow cooler. After a cool action scene, the two heroes get plastered by a weird seaweed creature and learn little about the apparent mystery behind City Z (Hint: It's Saitama!), but we do get a further look into the inner workings of the Hero Association, including an early cameo by Tornado of Terror, a petulant, childlike telekinetic diva.  After the period of relative downtime in episode six, things pick up steam in episode seven. Then again, how could they not? A meteor's about to hit the city, after all. In case folks were wondering about our lead characters' lack of screentime, episode seven is mostly about Genos, who has many steps yet to go in his heroic journey. I've remarked before about how Genos could probably anchor a stereotypical action show all on his own. He's young, has a tragic backstory, and if not for his master, would probably be the star. That feeling's reinforced here, as he tries his damnedest to stop the meteor, despite a lack of aid from the apathetic Metal Knight and Bang, an aged martial-arts guru who's seen a lot of crap. Naturally, Saitama ends up stepping in to save the day, but there's never a doubt who the most heroic person was in this particular incident.   That doesn't mean our One-Punch wonder is completely without virtue, though. He may be oblivious, and kind of a dick, but he's the hero we deserve, especially compared to some of his peers. An incident with a pair of tank top-wearing jerks seems to impress that, with few exceptions, most of the heroes in the Hero Association are hardly heroic at all. Instead, the ranks are filled with preening, status-obsessed d-bags who care more for their place in the rankings than doing the right thing. By comparison, the only decent people are relative outsiders, like Saitama, Genos, and Bang, or the downtrodden, like the powerless Mumen Rider. One can't help but wonder if that's some kind of meta-commentary on how turning passion into work can lead ideals astray, but suffice it to say that being bad isn't exclusive to villains.  [Watch more of One Punch Man on Daisuki and Crunchyroll!]     chief animation director Chikashi Kubota
One Punch Man photo
That Feel When No One Knows You
The last couple of weeks of One Punch Man have delivered a couple of big hits, and neither courtesy of the titular "man" himself, Saitama. One hit is more psychological/philosophical than anything else, and the second is literal in a way that befits a show as straightforward as to have a title like One Punch Man.

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One Punch Man

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 3

Get Fit with Saitama
Oct 19
// Josh Tolentino
One Punch Man? More like One Punch Per Week Man, am I right? The Fall season's prettiest show continues into its third week, as Saitama and Genos head out to confront their first real enemy, the House of Evolution. Will this be the week that Saitama needs more than a single blow to fell his foes? Spoiler Alert: Nope!

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 2

Oct 15 // Josh Tolentino
Earlier on I mentioned that the main problem I could forsee with this adaptation of One Punch Man would be that Madhouse would be unable to sustain production at the level needed to deliver the kind of visual, well...punch needed to do the source justice. As much as I do like One Punch Man, its joys are more presentational than narrative in nature. Yusuke Murata's excellent grasp of space and eye for detail make ONE's simple (but effective) story stand out.  We enlightened souls of the 21st century tend to privilege "the writing" above any other yardstick in pop media, but presentation matters, especially in visual media like anime and manga. That's why it's important to read things like Kevin Cirugeda's excellent article on appreciating good animation, even if you yourself don't plan to become a "sakuga otaku" yourself.  The short-wordcount version of what I just said is that as of this week, One Punch Man still looks 'effin gorgeous, with particular flair in today's fight scenes. This is a good thing because looks matter, and One Punch Man as a manga is great partly because it looks so good. This is where I'm also reminded that a very faithful adaptation of a manga isn't always a good thing, particularly in shows where detailed plotting is not the primary draw. Long story short? One Punch Man's pace is p-l-o-d-d-i-n-g. The stretching of time isn't as obvious or blatant as the kind of padding out that goes on in the likes of the Naruto anime or anything like that, but it's clear that Madhouse are being fairly deliberate in their choices of how much content to cover in each episode. The result is, for folks that look for more substantial narratives, feels stretched a bit thin. One unfortunate side effect of this necessity is that the ways in which One Punch Man evolves past its original schtick aren't as obvious here. People can read manga faster than they can watch a TV show, and the advantage is that the initial, simple jokes are over with quickly. Even if Saitama's struggle to find a worthy fight is gone over again and again, it passes by without a chance to grow truly irritating. That's not quite the case here, and some more impatient viewers are more than likely already going "Look, I get it, he's invincible and can't lose, alright? Let's move on." Thankfully, the second episode does move on, by introducing none other than Genos, the blond cyborg who is pretty damn awesome. In many ways, he'd be the kind of character to anchor his own damn show if Saitama weren't the star. He's the archetypal badass anime/manga protagonist, and the show has a lot of fun with his overly elaborate (and repetitious) backstory, his shtick in the episode recalling shades of Yuki Nagato's famous "I'm an alien" monologue from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  It would be one thing if Genos were merely a gag character, a one-off encounter solely meant to poke fun at the tropes of fight manga. But such things are for lesser series. In fact, thanks to a great fight against animal-hybrid villains from "The House of Evolution", Genos looks to be a continuing presence in One Punch Man, and to good effect. At the risk of spoiling anime-only viewers, it's on his robotic shoulders - as well as the shoulders of other characters coming later - that much of One Punch Man's enduring qualities rests on. They provide what Saitama alone cannot, and it's in that style of fully utilizing the potential of the genre even as it mocks it mercilessly - that the source has garnered as much appeal as it has. [Get mosquitos to bug out on Daisuki!]
One Punch Man photo
Convenient Signage in the Aftermath
Welcome to the latest recap of One Punch Man, the only anime series that probably doesn't need a recap, for so obvious is the plot, am I right? As it turns out, not quite. A fair bit goes on in today's installment, and while deviations from the source are few, newer viewers may find the latest developments engaging.  

First Impressions: One Punch Man episode 1

Oct 04 // Josh Tolentino
Just in case the title isn't explanatory enough for you, One Punch Man follows the exploits of Saitama, a hero who's trained so hard he's gone bald, and as a result, he's become too powerful; any fight he gets into is ended as soon as he takes a swing, his enemy left as nothing more than a stain on his gloves. To prove the point, this first episode lines up a parade of epic villain knockoffs for Saitama to knock off, from a blue Piccolo to an off-brand Colossal Titan. Fans familiar with the manga will see the first chapter recreated almost to the panel, which given how well-regarded the art is, is generally a good thing. I might be understating things here, because the show looks really, really good. Some might not be too fond of some of the more loose-looking characters in a couple of scenes, with Gainax-esque deformation most apparent during the not-Titan fight, but it's clear that MADHOUSE has spent a lot of time and care making both the static frames and the movement as splendid-looking as possible.  Another thing I may be understating is the quality of the storytelling in general. Though the premise is as simple as they come, and the central conceit/problem of a "guy that's too powerful" is about as old as Superman himself, the story excels in evoking the emotions behind it all. The episode (and the source it's based on) really manages to capture Saitama's boredom at being invincible, and you actually feel sorry for him when the one thing he wants in the world - a worthy challenge - comes to him only in dreams.  The anime also finds time to elaborate on it slightly, with some original scenes and effective visual gags. One that stuck with me, in particular, was seeing Saitama fumbling with change in line at the grocery while a monster stepped nearby, taking off the roof and turning darkness into daylight. It's an effective way of showing the scale of the monster while taking advantage of the animated medium. If there's a true point of concern here, it's that the show may not be able to keep this kind of work up for the whole run. But that's a worry for next week. [Watch One Punch Man on and!]    
One Punch Man photo
Done In One...Punch
One Punch Man is easily the most anticipated anime series of this Fall, and for good reason. ONE and Yusuke Murata's manga is a heavy hitter in the pages of Shonen Jump, and its lead character, Saitama, is the heaviest h...

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...
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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...
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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!
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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...

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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.  ...
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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
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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...

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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...

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