Yozakura Quartet is Pretty, Quirky, and A Little Horny

Plenty of shows feel hard to get into, but some only have such a barrier to entry because it’s not clear where to start. Maybe there are a few different adaptations, alternate continuities, and stories told out of order. If you’re lucky, you’ll have friends to guide you, or maybe a handy watch order guide.

While 2022’s Winter season rages on with much-anticipated sequels, I’m stuck between the years 2010 and 2014 reflecting on a piece of ecchi action many forgot about. From Tatsunoko Productions and director ryo-timo, this is Yozakura Quartet.

Continue reading

Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is Fine

The original title for this review was going to be “The Right Soul For The Wrong Source.” My thinking was that Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, a 10-episode live-action series from Tomorrow Studios, had an enticing presentation and soul, but ill-fitting for the material it was adapting.

After all, Cowboy Bebop is a certified classic. I can’t really call it a cult classic because if you know anime, you know Bebop. It carries a cultural footprint and critical acclaim in the anime sphere akin to the likes of Breaking Bad or The Sopranoes.

In 24 episodes, Shinichiro Watanabe created an eclectic character study of some of the most lovable, deep, and iconic bounty hunters in fiction. They might suck at their job, but they’re good when it counts. How could anyone adapt this show and NOT come under fire?

And really, why adapt a series like Bebop when it itself is inspired by the cinema of the western and noir genres, with a healthy balance of martial arts for good measure. It’s the same reason that people are boggled by a game like Uncharted getting a movie adaptation. Why make a movie out of a game that’s literally Indiana Jones.

Regardless, I watched the live-action Bebop, even after early reviews damned it early on. I got spoiled on the Ed reveal that EVERYONE knew was coming (more on that later), and my Twitter feed was angry people pulling out the Voldemort tech and not even saying the show’s name.

But something fascinating happened after watching three episodes the day it was released.

I enjoyed it. I was having fun. But why though?

3, 2, 1, Let’S jam

An Informal Praise of My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia is the only long-running Shonen anime that I have watched since its beginning and that I’ve kept up with since. Most other shonen are too long for me to get past the barrier to entry, so getting in on the ground floor was a great feeling. It helped that Bones was producing it and that its premise was so appealing.

80% of the world’s population has superpowers except for our protagonist? And we’re promised that – somehow, despite that – he will become the world’s greatest hero? It’s a great premise with a classic long-term promise of what’s to come. Funnily enough, despite that premise not being entirely accurate, it captured people’s attention in no time. By 2017, it was one of the biggest anime in the world.

… And for some reason I’ve never formally reviewed it until now. And with each passing season, the prospect of rewatching previous seasons to go over them seemed rather ambitious given my already inconsistent binging capabilities. So I had resigned myself to never reviewing the series. But now, five seasons and two movies strong, with the third film in theaters at the time of writing, I find myself tempted to say “screw it” and do it anyway.

So here is my review of all of My Hero Academia before the new movie comes out!

Plus ultra

Disney is Licensing Anime Now; So What?

In a turn of events that will certainly rock the anime community, Disney+ is now jumping into the anime streaming market. Depending on who you are, this either results in feelings of utter despair or perhaps a simple “oh, cool.” I’m more in the latter camp.

I suppose it was only natural. Star Wars Visions was an anime anthology the likes of which we haven’t witnessed since Batman: Gotham Knights or The Animatrix. In my review on Whoa! Anime, I likened it to a rekindling of my passion for this franchise. It covered such a wide array of styles from some of the most notable studios in the world. Disney taking an interest in anime should have been obvious.

They’re already attached to Studio Ghibli, the films of which lit up my childhood with unmatched whimsy. Why shouldn’t I have predicted this? I honestly can’t say. All I know is that it’s happening now, and a lot of people I know are probably going to complain about it. And I’m not here to say they’ll be wrong. I just think it’s literally too early to tell.

So what shows are Disney bringing to their platform, and what do their choices indicate as to the kinds of tastes they wish to corner?

Continue reading

‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ is the Best Entry Since ‘Witcher 3’

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. A rich yet depressive fantasy epic spanning multiple nations plagued by monsters and war. It’s a story about prejudice and choosing between greater and lesser evils. Amidst all of that, it remains a world that players couldn’t help but get lost in.

After the release of the live-action Witcher series on Netflix, the game saw a resurgence in interest from fans new and old. I should know, I was replaying it too. It was a quirky and often epic show that had its highs and lows, but despite it all, I loved it. News of new spinoffs and films were only natural, but was the franchise biting off more than it could chew?

If I had any concerns, they were minor, because Nightmare of the Wolf, the first of these spinoffs, was a film I highly anticipated. It came from Studio Mir, the studio behind Legend of Korra. Everything looked in place for this to be an enjoyable prequel centered around Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor.

And somehow, this film surpassed every expectation I had.

Continue reading

Stranger By The Shore Was Great & I Wish It Was Longer

I’ve spoken about my thoughts on LGBT anime in the past. I’ve grappled with my thoughts on how homosexuality is portrayed in Japan and my feelings with shows that I’ve loved in the past that had queer-coded elements or queer-baiting. But in the last year especially, I’ve started to look on the brighter side of things. I’ve started to appreciate what my earliest exposures to queerness in anime gave me, regardless of any flaws.

Representation can only get better with time and with more diversity in the room when stories are being crafted. With studios like Blue Lynx producing higher quality gay cinema, gay representation in anime reaching new heights. And after delaying it for FAR too long, I’m happy to say that Studio Hibari’s The Stranger by the Shore is the best gay romance I’ve seen yet, but for very particular reasons…

Continue reading

Check Out My New Blog For Things That Aren’t Anime!

Hey everyone! This blog has seen huge growth over the last year and I couldn’t be happier to have people reading what I write. I’m so inspired by this growth that I’m branching out and writing about far more than just anime. I want to analyze film and television and even books when something interests me. And I don’t want to overhaul this whole blog, so instead I just made a new blog.

It’s called Sakura Shuffle!

And since visual novels are pretty tangential to anime, I figured my newest post would be a fine pitch to get y’all interested in my new site. Here is a review of the 2012 VN from Nitro+, Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas.

Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas is Everything I Wish I Could Write

And when you’re done with that, check out my film analysis posts such as…

I Like Birds of Prey and I Want You To Think About Why You Don’t

TENET and The Art of The Protagonist

If you like what you read, give my other blog a follow and be sure to tell your friends about it too! Thank you for reading and as always, I’ll see you next time!

Shukou Murase’s Visual Masterpiece | Gundam: Hathaway

Seldom is a movie so addicting that I find myself rewatching it within a day. Even most good films hit the spot just right that I can give it at least a while before a second watch. But some movies, whether they’re short or just incredibly well-paced, get me coming back almost instantly. The kind of film varies, but they have something in common: spectacles that I can’t get out of my head.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway is one such movie. Director Shukou Murase, the man behind Gangsta, Ergo Proxy, and Genocidal Organ – among others – brings this story to life, from novel to film. It’s the first of a planned trilogy from Studio Sunrise, and it might just be the most gorgeous film to look at in 2021.

Continue reading

Trigger’s Greatest Achievement Yet | SSSS.DYNAZENON

The more that time passes, the more that I look back fondly on 2018’s SSSS.GRIDMAN. At first, it was strange, but then again, a lot of the shows that I love are strange from the outset. Perhaps my threshold for weird is expanding but more likely, I just need something obtuse to keep me on my toes these days; something to truly surprise me.

Gridman was a show about Yuuta Hibiki, a boy with amnesia, finding himself embroiled in a mission to save his city from kaiju with the help of his friends. The catch was that every time the kaiju was defeated, the world was reset the next day. The buildings were rebuilt and anyone who died suddenly had their histories rewritten so that they died of unrelated causes. Only the main characters remembered anything.

There was a mystery. There was also a tangible sense of realism to the way characters talked, especially the high-school protagonists. In an interview with SakugaBlog, director Akira Amemiya confessed that schools were visited to collect data for the show’s production, yet there wasn’t much conscious thought put into making the dialogue more realistic. That almost makes it more impressive that it came off so natural.

CG robots and monsters were used to create a disparity between the character-driven story and the spectacle, similar to how miniature cities and actors in costumes are used in tokusatsu. The villain was complex and one of the best written I’ve seen in years. The reveals were shocking and the scale of the show ended up much larger than it first seemed. And little did we know all that would only be the beginning of a new universe.

From returning director Akira Amemiya and writer Keiichi Hasegawa comes the sequel to 2018’s SSSS.GRIDMAN, SSSS.DYNAZENON.

Continue reading

A Fate/Grand Order Movie With A Good Story? | A Review of Wandering; Agateram

The only thing more annoying than stupidly long light novel titles is unnecessarily wordy Fate titles. I bet it’s half the reason this franchise seems so alienating to newcomers. With so many spinoffs, the franchise never seems to have an easily identifiable starting point. Even the ones that are generally agreed to be the essentials are criticized for not being flawless adaptations of the original visual novels.

Nothing has quite been more perplexing in the series’ tenure than Fate/Grand Order, the mobile game which has spawned numerous animated adaptations of varying quality. I reviewed F/GO Babylonia last year, praising it as one of the most visually impressive shows in years, though its story had problems.

As I understand it, F/GO‘s story in the mobile game has been… iffy. Some early arcs are abysmal, the later ones get better, and there are some stories that flat-out retcon established lore of the universe. Needless to say, fans of Garden of Sinners or Tsukihime, which traditionally take place in Fate‘s universe, have been left wanting by the direction of the brand.

When it comes to animation, the producers of these adaptations seem to cherry-pick which arcs to animate, and different studios try their hand at bringing these stories to life. Babylonia, the first huge adaptation, skipped straight to the last “singularity” of Fate/Grand Order‘s first arc. This week’s review is of a film set before that TV series.

Fate/Grand Order THE MOVIE Divine Realm of the Round Table: Camelot – Wandering; Agateram… Over a full line for just the title… I’m not mad I’m just disappointed. BUT! As for the movie itself, I’m the furthest thing from disappointed. I really enjoyed this film, which is baffling because apparently some diehard fans of F/GO really don’t. Why?

Continue reading