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First Impressions: The Comic Artist and His Assistants photo
First Impressions: The Comic Artist and His Assistants
by Karen Mead

I wanted to like this. Maybe it's just due to super-fond memories of Doujin Work, but I have a bias towards any anime that happens to be about making comic books. So even though I knew this was going to be a series about a pervy comic artist that was going to be all pervy jokes about boobs and panties, I was hoping there would be a little more to it; that the humor might somehow be universal enough that I could still enjoy it, even though I get nothing out of the fanservice. Well, the short answer is, there's nothing more to it; it's just fanservice and jokes that aren't very funny.

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The Bestsellers List: Top music, movies, and manga for April 11 photo
The Bestsellers List: Top music, movies, and manga for April 11
by Brad Rice

Welcome to The Bestsellers List, where we highlight the bestselling music and movies in Japan, along with the best of the American manga sales each week.

This week, Mobile Suit Gundam proves just how dominant of a force it can be, supplanting the perennial favorite Attack on Titan. It's taken people a while, but they're finally realizing just how great of a series Gundam: The Origin is. If you've never gotten into the Gundam franchise, this is the perfect way to get in. Plus, Vertical's gorgeous volumes make it a must-have.

On the film side, an interesting flick caught my eye: The Snow White Murder Case. Take a look at the trailer and see for yourself. It's about a murder at a cosmetics company, and a TV show starts investigating one the victim's co-workers to see if she was the wicked person to kill the poor office lady. I'd love to see how it turns out. 

Let's take a look at the top titles from each list:

Oricon's Top Three Songs

1. Kidsuitara Kataomoi by Nogizaka46
2. No Mercy by BAP
3. High Five by Yuma Nakayama

New York Times' Top Three Manga

1. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol. 5
2. Soul Eater Vol. 19
3. Attack on Titan Vol. 1

Japan's Top Three Box Office Films

1. Frozen
2. Doraemon: Shin Nobita no Daimakyo
3. Heisei Rider vs. Showa Rider

Check out the full lists after the jump!

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First Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit? photo
First Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit?
by Dae Lee

You know, I can enjoy some unapologetic fluff too. Sometimes these kinds of shows can be just the palate cleanser I need between heavier offerings.

It was for that very reason that I carefully curated Is the Order a Rabbit?, an adaptation of a 4-koma comedy manga by Koi. Since White Fox was announced to work on it (Super Sonico the Animation and the hilarious The Devil is a Part-Timer!), and Hiroyuki Hashimoto is directing it (episode director for notable shows like Bakuman and Angel Beats!), I felt that they could conjure up something cute and enjoyable for me to talk about, and I got pretty much exactly what I ordered.

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First Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS photo
First Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS
by Karen Mead

While taking in WIXOSS, I couldn't stop thinking to myself, "This show really, REALLY wants to be Madoka Magica," and you know what? That's probably really unfair. After all, Madoka was a groundbreaking show; there's nothing wrong with taking inspiration from it. And just because you can tell where the creators are gleaning some of their inspiration from, that doesn't mean they aren't bringing interesting ideas of their own to the table. But even so; if I had to describe this series in three words, as of right now I would say "Poor-man's Madoka."

But whether it's derivative or not, JC Staff must be doing something right with this psychic/card battle/magical girl anime, because I'm more than willing to come along for the ride.

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First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders photo
First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
by Josh Tolentino

Well, this is it. This...is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

Of course, I'm utterly wrong on this one, factually speaking. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure started with Phantom Blood, way back in 1987, after all, as a manga. 

Then again, I'm also utterly right, because for a goodly number of folks, Stardust Crusaders IS JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. There's a reason Jotaro is the biggest guy on the cover of All Star Battle, and not Jonathan, Joseph, Josuke, Jolyne, Giorno, or Other Josuke. 

This isn't to say that Stardust Crusaders is the best JoJo's arc, or even the most well-regarded, but there's no denying that this what quite a few fans have been waiting for since David Production first started with Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency.

And now, after a brief dabbling with Hyperdimension Neptunia, they're back and ready to get down to the real thing. Was it worth the wait?

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First Impressions: Haikyu!! photo
First Impressions: Haikyu!!
by Karen Mead

If we were ranking these new shows based on animation quality alone, Haikyu!! would be king of the mountain; out of everything I've seen so far this season, only the first episode Captain Earth has better animation...maybe. Possibly. These volleyball-loving kids spike, set and tumble into the scenery with a real sense of weight and inertia, and even the characters who don't move around much are animated with a lot of care. The character designs aren't quite my cup of tea, but still, everyone's facial expressions are invested with plenty of emotion.

The shows charms aren't strictly limited to its visuals either. While this is a standard sports anime in most regards, with stock character types you've seen before, it kicks off the story from a different angle than I'm used to, and even subverts a cliche or two at the same time. Really, Production I.G. couldn't have done much better with this first episode...but for whatever reason, I just don't feel hooked.

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First Impressions: No Game, No Life photo
First Impressions: No Game, No Life
by LB Bryant

Last year there was a series involving young geniuses being transported into a new world where they had to help people by playing various games. Fast forward to now and we have a new series that follows that same general premise titled No Game, No Life. Is it better? Worse? 

In this series, the main characters are a pair of siblings named Sora (age 18) and Shiro (age 11). They are both NEETs and very good at video games. As in they never lose: Ever. To anyone. Urban legends are being spread about them because they're so good. At one point, Sora even beats another group of players by controlling four characters by himself using his hands and feet. That's how good they are. 

One night though they receive a mysterious email asking them if they/ve ever felt like they had been born in the wrong world. After clicking a link (because who wouldn't click a mysterious link like that after getting a random email), they're taken to a game of chess. They win and are transported to a new world where all conflicts are decided through games, and thus starts their brand new life in a whole new world. 

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First Impressions: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara photo
First Impressions: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
by Brittany Vincent

Last season, I was pretty into Noucome, a series that forced the protagonist to randomly choose from three actions to take during daily life. They ranged from bizarre to extreme, and caused the lead a whole bunch of undue stress. The "Absolute Choice" scenario was an interesting premise, simply because of its obvious ties to dating sims. I wanted to check out Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara for the same reason, but it's not funny, touching, or even entertaining.

If it says anything about the quality of this series, I fell asleep within the first ten minutes and had to go back and rewatch the episode to remember even a sliver of what happened. These are the types of series that make me weary of modern anime. 

For one thing, it doesn't even begin to make sense. Hatate Souta can see "flags" on top of people's heads. He can prevent deaths, sadness, and other negative things by behaving in a manner that reverses the flag when he sees them, just like in a game. When princess Nanami Knight Braidfield witnesses him save a man before getting hit by a bus that day, she knows something's up and has to get to the bottom of it. Cue an insta-harem with an angsty teen at the center of it all who has a Dark Past so You Shouldn't Get Close to Him.

While at the very least Noucome made no attempt to hide its connection to dating sim tropes, Kanojo ga Flag doesn't even acknowledge there is one. When the whole "flag" idea stems from dating sims and visual novels to begin with, you'd think there'd be a bit more explanation or even a nod to the concept, but instead it's as if the characters simply live in a world where these things are happenstance.

After finding out what Souta's power is, Nanami is simply okay with it, which seemed weird to me. Also, the episode really seemed to go off the rails after Nanami's first accosting of Souta. For whatever reason, Mahogasawa Akane, a ditsy classmate of theirs, seems to be so into Souta at random that it couldn't be any more contrived. What's more, Nanami doesn't have any "flags," which throws Souta off, so of course you already have to know there's something special about her. They'll end up together by the end of the show. Done. Wrapping it up now.

I didn't know these characters and I certainly wasn't given any real reason to care, and the fact that I'm really racking my brain to come up with anything useful or helpful to say regarding this first episode should be a warning to those of you who are going into the show looking for a memorable bit of entertainment. Awful animation, bizarre clothing (how do those school uniform jackets go with those skirts?) and boring, by-the-numbers conventions had me super turned off before the credits ever rolled.

I won't be returning to this show...unless I have a cold and the NyQuil just isn't working. 

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First Impressions: The World Is Still Beautiful photo
First Impressions: The World Is Still Beautiful
by LB Bryant

I do love me some good shoujo, so I jumped on this one as soon as I could. Now that I've seen it I'm ready to declare that yes, this here is some good shoujo. 

In this particular fantasy series, the rain princess Nike has been sent to the Sun Kingdom in order to marry the king. When she arrives however, she's not given the warm greeting she was expecting. Instead she has to deal with thugs who trick her and steal her luggage and others who treat her like a poor country bumpkin. She does manage to make some friends however and finds that despite some bad apples, there is goodness within this kingdom. Finally she makes her way to the castle where she meets her future husband... who isn't at all what she expected.

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Releases of the Week: Get the first Madoka film today photo
Releases of the Week: Get the first Madoka film today
by Brad Rice

The first Puella Magi Madoka Magica film is out! So time to stop everything you're doing and buy eight copies of this to share with your friends. After all, what else will you buy this week? A Blu-ray release of Familiar of Zero, or the latest Naruto: Shippuden box set?

Probably not.

If you're not into the best magical girl show in as far as I can remember, there are a few manga titles worth your time. Most notably Afterschool Charisma, Deadman Wonderland, and Knights of Sidonia. All are great manga series that are worth sinking your teeth into, and would make manga fans visiting your pad swoon in envy.

Don't you want to make people swoon? Buy Knights of Sidonia.

Check out the full list of releases after the jump and let us know what you're getting.

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First Impressions: Dragonar Academy photo
First Impressions: Dragonar Academy
by LB Bryant

The hardest series to give your First Impressions on are those series which are purely middle-of- the-road: The series that have no strong redeeming qualities, but aren't so offensive as to be called bad either. Dragonar Academy is one of those series; it's just kind of there with no real qualities that you can consider good or bad and will probably be forgotten about before too long. 

In this fantasy series, the setting is a school where students learn to ride and control dragons...for whatever reason. One of the these students is Ash Blake, who has been labeled a problem child because of his short temper and ability to ride other people's dragons -- which, normally, you aren't supposed to be able to do. Unfortunately his own personal dragon has yet to make itself known to him, forcing him to borrow his best friend's dragon for a big race. During the race, Ash is attacked by unknown parties but it turns out to be destiny when his dragon finally makes itself known to him... in the form of a cute little loli girl. 

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Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara photo
Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara
by Karen Mead

Nagi no Asukara was a show featuring intriguing ideas and frequently beautiful imagery, but it never quite gelled into a cohesive experience for me. For the show's entire 26-episode run, I kept feeling like the story was just on the precipice of going somewhere very interesting, yet never quite went there. The final episode did offer a fair amount of emotional payoff regardless, yet by that point, I have to be honest and admit that the series had worn out its welcome.

I don't regret watching it, and some of the characters certainly grew on me -- particularly the secondary characters, who were much more interesting than our junior-high aged leads. But I am kind of saddened by it, because I'm not sure entirely what went wrong here.

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