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magical girls

Review: Little Witch Academia (Season 1)

Jul 05 // Nick Valdez
Little Witch Academia (Season 1)Director: Yoh YoshinariRating: TV-Y7Release Date: June 30, 2017 (Netflix) Akko's (Megumi Han/Erica Mendez) been dreaming of going to the Luna Nova Magical Academy ever since she was a child. Although she has no real magical abilities herself, she's been inspired by her idol Shiny Chariot, a famous witch entertainer who disappeared ten years ago, to become a great witch herself. The first season then follows Akko and her accidental friends, the studious Lotte (Fumiko Orikasa/Stephanie Sheh) and the poison lover Sucy (Michiyo Murase/Rachelle Heger), as they stumble and fumble through their first couple of weeks at the academy, unlock the mysteries of Shiny Chariot's Shiny Rod, and prove they're as good as everyone else.  You can't discuss a Studio Trigger series without getting passed the necessary praising of its animation. I was wondering how Trigger's fluid action animation would translate into a world with a tone completely offset from what they've done in the past, and it seems the choice was to embrace a more slapstick vibe. Drawing influence from everything from, uh, Pawn Stars to Looney Tunes (which was super noticeable when Akko accidentally gave herself rabbit ears), Little Witch Academia has tons of personality in every frame. It's slightly reflective of that art design philosophy where as long as you can recognize the character, they're on model. Trigger's most prominent squash and stretch techniques are used here primarily to emote. Akko is probably one of my favorite Trigger series characters because the team wasn't afraid to constantly make her look ridiculous. Giving her a true underdog charm that really helps elevate the standard formula most of episodes have.  As these first 13 episodes are about Akko's daily life in the school, most of the episodes share the same outline: Akko learns about a new thing, messes up the new thing, stumbles around until she fixes the new thing. It's super cute, yes, and doesn't devalue Akko as a character, but it really hammers home how standard of a hero's journey story the series is telling. Since the episodes tend to have a week-by-week pace (meaning most developments don't seem to carry over from episode to episode) rather than emphasize the greater story arc of the Shiny Rod and its seven super spells, some plot feels like filler. I'm sure some episodes are here for strictly character development, and it's great to see completely fantastical settings from time to time (such as "Akko's Adventures in Sucyland"), but I found myself not caring about whether or not Akko was going to pass her fish exam or whatever.  But even with a few weaker episodes, the strengths of smaller moments help give Little Witch Academia its own footprint. For a show about a magical school where crazy things are possible, at one point Akko chases a bee around a ballroom while "Flight of the Bumblebee" plays in the background. Rather than fuel utterly fantastical mayhem, the magic of the world is used to make situations more unworldly. This Looney Tunes-esque scene plays out in a natural fashion, oddly enough. This scene, goofy as it is, completely fits the series and Akko's character. Very few things are out of place. This grounded, yet otherworldly nature of the world eventually gives more weight to the more emotional beats toward the end of the season too.  Little Witch Academia, like its central character, has a ton of hidden potential. Since this first season was all about setting up the world-at-large, there's definitely something more interesting in its future. But as it stands, Academia is a fun, and light series that'll be worth watching for fans of great animation but light on plot you can truly invest in.  I can't quite recommend this series yet, but seeing as how it started as a short film, then a longer film adaptation, now a TV series, and even spreading to games, Little Witch Academia has an appeal not many other shows have. It's just so pure. 
LWA Review photo
My name is Akko and I love to get Wakko
I've been anticipating Little Witch Academia for quite some time. Studio Trigger, the studio behind Kill la Kill and Space Patrol Luloco, produced a series created by Yoh Yoshinari, who's worked on&nb...

Tokusatsu photo

TV Asahi's Super Hero Time block to get changed, families voice their concerns

Sounds like a new transformation
Jul 05
// Salvador G Rodiles
For a good while, the Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and Precure franchise have been airing every Sunday on Japan's TV Asahi network from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., with the two toku shows being part of the Super Hero Time bl...

Rejoice: Cardcaptor Sakura's new anime to premiere in January 2018

Nov 27 // Salvador G Rodiles
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc's returning cast Sakura Kinomoto: Sakura Tange Keroberos: Aya Hisakawa Tomoyo Daidoji: Junko Iwao Syaoran Li: Motoko Kumai Yukito Tsukishiro: Megumi Ogata Toya Kinomoto: Tomokazu Seki
Cardcaptor Sakura photo
Sounds like a dream come true
Well, folks. It turns out that the previously announced Cardcaptor Sakura sequel anime hits Japan's NHK channel in January 2018. To top off the icing on this exquisite cake, Madhouse and the original anime's di...

Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Let's end RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel's deadly winter

We're freezing over here
Nov 12
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.] In a miraculous turn of events, I was able to get through a good chunk of RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel. This was likely thanks to my decision to use most ...

Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Get left in the cold with RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel

Don't forget to bring a warm coat
Nov 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] It looks like things are going to get icy around here, as I attempt to go through RosenkreuzStilette's sequel, RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel. Compare to its pr...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: RosenkreuzStilette's final part is about to go poof

Can we pull off this disappearing act?
Oct 29
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] It looks like fate wasn't on my side last time since I wasn't able to get to the final boss in the Megaman-like doujin game known as RosenkreuzStilette. Part of this fa...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Let's shoot down magical girls in RosenkreuzStilette

We're about to go Megaman on people
Oct 22
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] With October being the month that Halloween takes place in, I felt that it was time to play something that fits with the season. The Doujin Game RosenkreuzStilette...
FI: Sailor Moon Crystal photo
FI: Sailor Moon Crystal

First Impressions: Sailor Moon Crystal

We are not helpless girls who need men's protection
Jul 05
// Brittany Vincent
I never thought I'd be on the verge of tears after watching Usagi Tsukino's very first transformation into the pretty soldier of love and justice for the umpteenth time, but here I sit wiping tears away and swallowing back th...
Magic Knight Rayearth photo
Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth Mokona prizes headed to Japanese Sega amusement centers

A cuddly plushie for your trouble
Apr 26
// Brittany Vincent
Magic Knight Rayearth is a classical magical girl series that should be on your radar if you haven't already taken the plunge, especially since Mokona plush prizes are hitting Sega amusement centers in Japan. The '90s series ...

Review: Vividred Operation

Jan 04 // Karen Mead
Vividred Operation DVD Complete SetStudio: A-1 PicturesLicensed by: Aniplex of AmericaRelease Date: December 17, 2013MSRP: $74.98 First, the good, and there is a fair amount of it. This is a pretty great-looking show, with fluid animation and some fun design work. I found the characters themselves to be pretty generic-looking, but the crisp artwork and vibrant color palette is consistently appealing. The scenes of the girls using their super-powered Palette Suits to fly over the ocean, both in combat and out, are filled with a sense of genuine exuberance that few anime are able to capture; at times, you almost feel like you're flying yourself. The show has more than cosmetic appeal too, since it has an intriguing setting. Instead of the typical current-day-Japan, our gals live in a near-future where all of the world's energy problems have been solved by a brilliant invention called the Manifestation Engine. Due to the abundance of clean energy, the people of Vividred are basically living in a utopia, and they know it. Of course, when the mysterious bio-machines only known as the Alone start to attack the Manifestation Engine, the utopian setting makes the sudden violence all the more striking. How ironic if, after humans had finally found the means to stop fighting among themselves over resources, the very machine that enabled true world peace led to destruction from without? All of that rather interesting stuff is secondary to what Vividred Operation is really about though, which is admiring middle-school girls from behind as closely and as often as possible: Think I'm exaggerating here? I took both these screenshots during the first minute of the show. The first MINUTE. I feel kind of like I'm beating a dead horse here just by mentioning the sexualization of young girls, since most fans know by now that shows featuring girls this age tend to feature fanservice to appeal to male otaku ("Constant butt shots? It must be Tuesday!") However, if I let it go unremarked, I feel like I'm just accepting it as the status quo, and I don't think that's right either. In the case of Vividred, the constant closeups of gleaming butts-- because yes, they gleam-- render the show inappropriate for younger viewers, whom the show is actually better suited for thematically than an adult audience. See, if the only problem with this show was the amount of fanservice, that would create an interesting little ethical dilemma for me over whether or not I could recommend it, but that's not the case. Vividred Operation has a lot of problems aside from the butts. All the interesting sci-fi stuff about the Manifestation Engine never really goes anywhere, the show doesn't really capitalize on its setting, the action is mostly predictable, and characters tend toward the bland and underdeveloped. I found the first few episodes downright tedious to watch due to their predictability, and while the show admittedly gets better as it goes along, it still never deals with any theme more complex than "The power of friendship can save the world!" Furthermore, the extent to which the show copies from other popular properties is striking. Like Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, it's a sci-fi magical girl show-- meaning, the girls' transformations are powered by tech rather than magic. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by Nanoha, however, the mascot character in Vividred ends up being a talking ferret- just like Nanoha. Rei Kuroki, the token "Dark magical girl" has a lot in common with Madoka's Homura Akemi; in fact, the whole show often feels like a kind of poor-man's Madoka. Add in the fact the Alone often seem like very literal copies of the Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Vividred rapidly starts to feel like a scrapbook, cataloging items from better shows. Go ahead, shoot that arrow Homura Rei! All this, I could probably forgive if the magical/tech fights were interesting, but they generally aren't. The girls immediately know how to use their new powers upon getting their Palette Suits, so there's no fun to be had by watching them learn the ropes. In every fight, the girls transform, and sometimes merge together to form a more powerful magical girl using a system called "Docking," which naturally involves getting into their panties and kissing each other. Every attack is called out with a name like "Naked Blade!" or "Naked Collider!" just in case the sexual overtones of all of this were somehow too subtle for us. I do think the advanced forms the girls attain by Docking, like Vivid Blue and Vivid Green, look pretty neat, but you can always just buy the inevitable figure and skip the anime. Vivid BLUUUUEEEEEE!!!!!! I really don't know who to recommend this show to; as I alluded above, the simplistic nature of the action and the plot lends itself to a younger audience, but a younger audience probably shouldn't be seeing the constant parade of butt and crotch shots. On the plus side, the show does have a proper ending instead of one of those "Keep your wallet ready for the sequel" deals, so if you're one of the few people this show legitimately appeals to, at least you won't be left hanging. You know, wanting to look at shapely butts doesn't make you a bad person; we all have our weaknesses. I mean, if they released an OVA that was just Shizuo from Durarara!! doing push-ups, I would totally watch that. But what's a shame about Vividred Operation is that it clearly had the potential to be more. 5.0 – Average. This one’s just “okay”. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.    
Vividred Operation photo
It sure is vivid
I knew basically nothing going into Vividred Operation. I wasn't watching much anime during the Winter 2013 season anyway, and Vividred kind of got blurred together with all those other shows in that broad category of "cute g...

Quiz photo

This Madoka Magica Quiz will turn you into a Puella Magi

Or a Kyubey
Nov 05
// Salvador G Rodiles
As the final chapter in the Madoka Magica movie trilogy continues to convert all of Japan into a massive army of Puella Magis, the people at OKWave have created a Madoka Magica Character Quiz that will compare your personalit...
Plush toys photo
Plush toys

Throw those hugging pillows away, Charlotte is here

Get another for awesome pillow fights
Oct 14
// Chris Walden
Even at a whopping four feet long, this Charlotte plush is but a fraction of her true size. Still, this is as good as you're going to get without finding the one from the Good Smile Café, and it's not a bad compromise....
Dubbing photo

Will Sailor Moon get a new English voice?

Rumor has it she will
Oct 05
// Karen Mead
I have to admit, as excited as I am for the new Sailor Moon anime we're supposedly getting one of these days, the question "Who's going to be handling the dub?" hasn't exactly been at the forefront of my mind. I'm more concer...
A new Madoka character  photo
A new Madoka character

More Contracts! A new character joins Madoka's third film

Kyubey is getting those papers ready.
Sep 03
// Salvador G Rodiles
It looks like I missed Kyubey's memo earlier during the day, but that doesn't mean that this is going to be huge! So what's this big event that's been getting me intrigued? Well, Madoka Magica the Movie III: Rebellion will be...
Wizard Barristers photo
Wizard Barristers

Wizard Barristers trailer is magical girl delicious

I'm sold
Aug 12
// Josh Totman
Yasuomi Umetsu, creator of such titles as Mezzo Forte and Kite, is working on a new anime for next year and the first trailer is above. As you can see, it's about magical girls and apparently the justice system. Not much else is really known about the series so far. Look for this to come out sometime in 2014 in Japan. [tipped by Kageryu]
Madoka Movie 3 showings photo
Madoka Movie 3 showings

YES! Madoka Movie 3 gets a US, CAN, and France showing

My prayers have been answered!
Jul 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
Kyubey has made his verdict at Japan Expo 2013, and Madoka Magica the Movie III: Rebellion will be shown in the United States, Canada, and France! In other words, you can thank good old Sal for offering his soul to Kyubey to ...
Madoka Movie 3 info  photo
Madoka Movie 3 info

Home Run! New details about Madoka's third movie surface

Homura's hitting those home runs in October!
Jul 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
The magical climax that we've been waiting for is transforming again, and Mezamashi Terebi has taken a step into Shaft's studio to scope out the latest stuff about Madoka Magica the Movie Part III: Rebellion! During the segm...

Final Impressions: Vividred Operation

Apr 07 // Jeff Chuang
With the final butt cheeks turned and the last enemy vanquished, what remains of Vividred Operation's hot-blooded magical-girl-armed-force finale is a tearful goodbye and a sweet reunion. Looking back, the journey is not just predictable, but scripted in such a way that you always know what will happen, even if you don't know how it will exactly happen. It wasn't the delight of seeing Rei and Akane reconcile that kept the show's emotions going. It was seeing how Akane suffers against seemingly impossible odds with pluck and Protagonist Powers that may be. It's like the Island Training episode (episode 6)--we know it was silly and basically a filler episode, but we didn't expect Akane's swimwear to turn out like that, or expect it to become the episode's climatic gag. As with every episode, I look forward to the eventual gorgeously animated fight scenes. Only if every time anime displays underage women's underwear with such aplomb and flair as Vividred Operation did? In the finale, Akane, Aoi, Wakaba and Himawari each combines to form Vivid Blue, Green and Yellow, in order to counter each layer of the final boss's attacks and defenses. In the end, Rei bestows Akane with that preordained kiss and transforms into Vivid Red, who yields flaming fists and vanquishes the Crow-turned-Eva-monster. There may be many things I can fault Vividred Operation, but its action choreography isn't one of them. As for this week's Vividred Operation, I think we can safely say that having the weird crow creature take proxy as the token bad guy is a clean way to sever Rei's suffering and let the Alone take care of business. Why did the Alone appoint the bird as their emissary? Why was it power hungry? Perhaps we shouldn't ask, but such are the chinks in Vividred Operation's magical setting/plot armor. We do know, in hindsight, that it gave the 1-cour series some room to breathe, since it only needs to wind up the final plot arc with just 3 episodes. Coming into the series, from the beginning, we know the technology of the Manifestation Engine and the Alone are the key to the plot and the story. We know more and more about Rei as the story went on. The rest of the time, we were served that delicious mayonaise-like moe elements. This is really where Vividred Operation is at its weakest; but perhaps that is by choice. Underneath of it, though, Vividred Operation's strength comes through in spite of the cute interruption, or the gratuitous butt shots, or the fact that Himawari looks cute wearing just about anything. The majorette costumes, the way they soar in the air, and simply how there's this gap between the science fiction and the lives of some plucky schoolchildren creates, for me, the most amusing combination in this show. It didn't have to do much; if anything, Vividred Operation may have done too much. Maybe the real mayo is all this forced drama with Rei? With all that said, like mayonaise, Vividred Operation is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. More relevantly, if you know about Vividred Operation, you probably already know if you will like it or not; this kind of otaku fodder is very much self-selecting. It's no way a spiritual successor to Strike Witches, but it might provide just as much enjoyment, albeit to a narrow group of otaku. If anything, just check out the gallery. Pictures speak a thousand words, they they don't lie in a show like this.
Vividred Operation photo
Good girls always win
With every cliche used and every pair of legs used to frame shots, Vividred Operation comes to an end. Was it exactly as you expected? Those who remained to left to follow Akane and her friends to the end probably had a good ...

Nanoha gets a new premise photo
Nanoha gets a new premise

Surprise: Nanoha's third movie summons an original story

Does that mean that we won't get to see older Nanoha and Fate?
Mar 25
// Salvador G Rodiles
I did not expect to see this magical finishing move coming, but it's been confirmed that the third Nanoha movie will have a premise that's different from the one found in StrikerS. It's worth pointing out that an or...
Nanoha gets a third movie photo
Nanoha gets a third movie

Remake complete: Nanoha to transform into a third movie

Older Nanoha enters the big screen at last.
Mar 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ever since Magical Lyrical Girl Nanoha was remade into a movie series, I was certain that they were going to remake the entire series into a movie trilogy. Lord and behold, it turns out that my magical girl senses were c...
Pleiades movie is a thing photo
Pleiades movie is a thing

Drive a Subaru: Gainax's Pleiades anime becomes a movie

Gainax really wants you to own a Subaru.
Mar 21
// Salvador G Rodiles
Honestly, I am confused right now. I could've sworn that Gainax and Subaru's Wish upon the Pleiades was suppose to be said and done. Never mind, I forgot to take one important thing into consideration. Seeing how Pl...

Prism Nana's sixth pilot promo focuses on cleavage shots

Magical girl fanservice galore!
Mar 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
Beach episodes are something that always pop up in most anime, and Prism Nana is ready to show viewers a broader sample of the beach segments from its first trailer. Overall, I find it silly that Red and Green's bo...

Error fixed: Madoka's third film to premiere in the fall

Even big magazines can make mistakes from time to time.
Mar 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well, that was a bit embarrassing (not on my behalf), because Smart, the magazine that revealed the summer premiere for Madoka Magica's third movie, has made a huge miscalculation in their post. Thanks to a report b...

It keeps on going: Sandy gets a taste of Madoka's magic

Will we see more showtimes in the US?
Feb 28
// Salvador G Rodiles
Oh snap, the contract express is still on course, and the people of Sandy, Utah are next on the list of places that will be showing the first two Madoka movies. Will this be the last that we hear from Kyubey's collaborat...

Witness the band unite in Prism Nana's fifth pilot promo

Could this be the birth of a magical girl anime music video series?
Feb 27
// Salvador G Rodiles
It looks like I was wrong about my two predictions for Prism Nana's pilot promos. First of all, the newest video has nothing to do with the project's villains, because the current video focuses on the three girls r...

Ending complete: Madoka's third film gets a premiere date

The Puella Magi movie trilogy comes to an end.
Feb 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
As Kyubey's massive contract spree comes to a close, a new listing appears in the form of the ultimate closure for becoming a Puella Magi. In accordance to this new piece of information, the final part of the Madoka Magica mo...

Kyubey is back: Madoka takes a right turn in Albuquerque

April has nowhere to run.
Feb 03
// Salvador G Rodiles
Making Puella Magis is some serious business, and Aniplex's contract has yet to diminish. Kyubey is lucky that he's not a gray rabbit, because his next destination is one that most underground travelers tend to miss. Thanks t...

Rock out with Prism Nana's fourth refreshing pilot promo

A bubbly head banging good time.
Dec 22
// Salvador G Rodiles
My prediction about the fourth promo was almost right on the mark, since the third girl uses her electric guitar to cool us down with some rock music. All in all, I am up for a magical girl that combines the power of water a...

Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tulsa receive Madoka's blessing

You are next, January.
Dec 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: Washington, DC is becoming the capital of contracts, because the Madoka movies are going to be shown there as well.] Watch out, January. You have nowhere to go, because Kyubey is eating up your days with his precious...

Cheers! Boston joins the Madoka Magica contract party

Now that's something that we can all drink to.
Dec 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
I am proud of you, Aniplex, because you guys are putting the effort in going all out for the Madoka Magica double feature. And best of all, you are exceeding my expectations for your deadly contract spree. ...

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