Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Anime Review: A Centaur's Life


Hey guys! Finally another anime review! 

Real life has been in the way of me being able to write these days. Between anxiety, moving my room all around, an an upcoming eye surgery, I've had to take a breather from writing reviews. But now I'm back with another one, and its for a series that is super adorable and fun. 

A Centaur's Life is yet another take on the "monster girl" genre combined with a high school setting. It heavily reminds me of Interviews with Monster Girls but with a bit more cuteness and comedy. The anime centers around a large cast of monster girls and boys that all attend the same high school. The main character of course is the adorable centaur, Himeno. 

 The episodes are fairly light and sweet, with most of them focusing on various slice-of-life topics like a school play, interactions with family, and the like. However there is also some interesting world building at play too. In the very first episode we are treated to a brief history of the monsters, and how they evolved. In their world, humans never evolved and thus monsters became the dominant race of the world in four distinct groups; Centaurs, Goat/Catfolk, Angelic/Draconic, and Merfolk. There are some other types scattered in as well but the majority of the cast fall within the four groups. 

The series itself is at 11 episodes so far, and appears to be yet another one of the brief twelve-episode anime series that I keep seeing as of late. As much as I love only twelve episodes to watch for a series, I would love to have a series that is longer... and of course as most series with monster girls seem to do lately, there is fanservice. While it isn't quite as blatant as most, it's still there and in a series meant to depict these monster girls as young students, it's kinda creepy to me. 


 

(Even the dang thumbnail is giving us centaur fanservice... and these are supposed to be young teenagers!) 

Awkward bits of monster girl fanservice aside, the animation in this series is very cute and crisp. I love the designs of the monster students, especially Himeno (she is so darn cute, seriously I never thought a centaur could be diabetes levels of cute but here we are...). I applaud this series for being different in that aspect from other monster girl series, in that while it does dip into the fansservice aspect that monster girls in anime tend to always have, it is for the most part a light and sweet anime series that I recommend for those looking for a cute take on the 'monster girls in high school' concept. 

I give A Centaur's Life 8/10.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Anime Review: SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST


Hey guys! I'm back with another anime review, and I have to say, this is probably one I've been the most excited to write. I used to read the original manga for this series repeatedly, and to this day it is one of my favorites. It's name is Saiyuki, and this incarnation of the series is SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST. 

As the name suggests, this is yet another arc in the story for the four renegades on their journey to the west, specifically to India to stop the spread of darkness, demons and whatever else is threatening the world. Our four bad boys are as follows - Sanzo the gun-toting, chain smoking, always irritable priest, Sha Gojyo the womanizing half-demon, Son Goku who is yet another version of the Monkey King in animated form, and Cho Hakkai who is somehow the only one of the four who actually has chill. No seriously, these guys have approximately zero chill and its freaking great. They are also prrobably the most unlikely group imaginable for a task like this, and yet they are the ones tasked with saving the world. Kind of reminds me a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy, with the whole group of oddballs stuck together on a mission whether they like it or not. If you want to see these guys in action, check out the trailer below!




And oh yeah, action is a heavy aspect of this series. If you like violence, snarky wisecracks, and more violence and bloodshed... this may be right up your alley. Fight scenes are pretty visceral, with parts flying and blood spraying eight ways to Sunday. Despite the intensity, it is fun to watch the four guys kick ass and work together as a team.

Needless to say, these four guys have quite literally been through hell and back, and this time around they are finally getting closer to the West, and the source of darkness that has been plaguing their world. The story itself actually has roots in the ancient past, based upon a real tale of a group of four travelers heading to the West.  This arc of the series is actually the fourth in the anime series overall. Yes, this is one of those anime that has multiple story arcs and can be a pain in the butt to follow. However you don't need to have watched the older series to enjoy this one. 

At the very least if you read the manga, you'll know everything necessary for this latest arc. However for those who are sticklers for a watching order (and if you really want to watch everything that Saiyuki has to offer...) I did a little digging and it seems unanimous that the proper watching order is Gensomaden Saiyuki, Saiyuki Reload, Saiyuki Reload Gunlock and finally this series. There are also a couple of OVAs that provide backstory and even a full-length movie (I have seen the movie and its pretty darn cool). 


 (The four bad boys of Saiyuki from top to bottom; Sanzo, Gojyo, Hakkai, and Son Goku)

I was actually surprised to see an older series like Saiyuki come back, since it has quite literally vanished off the face of the Earth it seems like. As an avid fan of the manga, I pretty much spazzed out upon reading that it was making a comeback as a new anime, and I couldn't be more pleased with it. The animation is crisp, the characters are super fun (and also ridiculously attractive (seriously check out the manga and the lovely shirtless illustrations of the guys in each volume. You can thank me later) and the action makes this series shine.

I give SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST a solid 8/10 gunshots. Ka-pow! I take off two points mainly for some of the pace that drags a bit, and admittedly because if I have to hear Goku complain about being hungry one more time, I may take a leaf from Sanzo's book and threaten to kill him too. Seriously, he is the most annoying little bugger in the entire series - though I think that was intentional for the most part.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU


Hey there everyone!

I want to apologize for being very late on blog posts recently. Real life has gotten in the way, and I had a bit of writer's block which definitely did not help things. But now I'm back and I plan to keep posting things! So, here is my latest post for one of my favorite new anime series thus far; Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU. 

Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU is a highly detailed, colorful, beautiful anime series by Ufotable, the same studio that created the "Fate" series among others. As per usual for Ufotable works, the animation is top notch, the action scenes are vivid, and overall it is exceptionally pretty to look at. But can looks alone make this anime any good?

As it turns out, yes it can. The anime's strength centers around its diverse cast of characters, all of them male, and each of them is a powerful "Sword Warrior" or to put it simply, a weapon that has a human form. The two primary warriors of the series are Horikawa Kunihiro and his companion Izuminokami Kanesada (holy moly that's a mouthful). The two of them are sent back in time to ancient Japan, to fight an enemy known as the Time Retrograde Army, a group that seeks to alter the course of history. Along the way, they encounter other Sword Warriors and battle the Retrograde Army in a series of epic looking fights. Below is a trailer for the series, which shows off some of the gorgeous animation work! Check it out!



The anime itself however is actually based on a game that also goes by the name of Touken Ranbu. As I have never played the game, I cannot say whether or not the anime follows the game's plotline, but so far it's been really fun to watch. The major draw for me was the character designs, which true to any series that features a male cast these days, most of them are gorgeous. My particular favorite is Izuminokami (again that name is such a mouthful, even writing it out feels awkward!) who sports long, flowing hair and has an almost effeminate look about him. Though he may look pretty, he's also quite powerful, and is the stronger of the two main characters. 

So far, the series is interesting. As Horikawa and Izuminokami travel through ancient Japan, other warriors are brought into play, and they have to learn to work together to fight the Retrograde Army. It's fun to see their interactions, both serious and comedic and how they play to each other's strengths to win almost impossible battles. Speaking of the battles, they are what truly shine in this series as Ufotable brings their incredible animation to the table for some of the most beautiful fight scenes I have ever seen. Their creature designs are great too, with many of the Retrograde Army appearing like skeletons, ghosts, and other Japanese mythical beasts. Very cool stuff to say the least. 

At 10 episodes, it's pretty easy to burn through the series, but for one that is this gorgeous, I recommend taking your time and really enjoying how things play out. Supposedly there is a previous Touken Ranbu series as well, called Touken Ranbu Hanamaru which takes place before this one. It could be a good idea to watch that if you are confused when going through this one, but for the most part I've read that both series don't actually have much to do with one another aside from being based upon the same video game. 

So what score can I give this series? I give Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU a solid 9/10. It has beautiful visuals (seriously the animation is insanely pretty), fun characters, and while the plot is a bit cut and dry, it's still one of the better action series I have had the pleasure of watching.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blog Updates and Upcoming Reviews!

Hey guys!

So it's been quite a while since I last posted - real life got in the way of blogging unfortunately, but that doesn't mean I've stopped watching anime. I've got a few series on my plate right now that I'm hoping to review once a few more episodes come around, and I am definitely working on a review for Season 2 of Attack on Titan so keep your eyes open for that~!

The series I am currently watching are:

Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU
SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST
A Centaur's Life
Restaurant to Another World 


I will likely be crafting reviews for these series once more episodes come out for them to allow me to better judge their quality and such. I'm definitely the most excited for Saiyuki, since I'm an avid fan of the manga and watched most of the original anime series plus the movie.

I hope you guys have been enjoying my anime reviews so far! I really like writing them. If you have suggestions for what I should watch and review, feel free to let me know in the comments! 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Anime Review: Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic


Today is a special day little dragons. We're taking a trip back to the Victorian era, to London to revisit Black Butler. This is one of my favorite anime series, and today I finally get to write about the film adaptation of the popular "Book of the Atlantic" arc of the manga. Below is the trailer for the film, which gives a taste of everything to come and shows off some aspects of the fantastic English dub.




Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic takes place right where the OVA series Book of Murder left off. We see the familiar faces of Ciel, Sebastian, and more as they take an adventure on the high seas. There's a new mystery afoot on the steamship Campania and it's up to Ciel and the gang to figure out why a mysterious group called the Aurora Society is bringing the dead back to life.

Of course not everything is at it seems on the high seas, and when the dead begin to roam the ship, causing mayhem in their wake - the Campania's maiden voyage turns into a horror show. Plenty of blood and gore abound in this movie, far more so than what has been shown in the series thus far. The action scenes in this film truly stand out as we get to see Sebastian's fighting prowess as he fights not only the walking corpses, but also the Grim Reapers who have come to collect the souls of the dead.

That's right. The infamous Grim Reapers make a return as well; and that means a certain flamboyant redhead makes a reappearance. Grell Sutcliff comes back into play and she is just as comedic as always, providing a lot of the humor throughout the film as she flirts with Sebastian and fumbles at her Reaper duties. We also meet a new Reaper named Ronald Knox. Just as Grell uses a chainsaw as her Death Scythe, so too does Ronald use a rather... unique shape for his own weapon, and it's the most unlikely one imaginable. A lawnmower. No, I am not joking, Ronald Knox uses a lawnmower as a Death Scythe, and brings a whole new meaning to 'mowing down your enemies'.
 

(Ronald Knox, the Grim Reaper with the lawnmower Death Scythe)

The Reapers also provide much of the comedic relief in the movie, particularly Grell and Ronald when paired together in combat or otherwise. One particular moment between them had me doubled over laughing as they parodied a familiar scene from another famous movie involving a ship. Can you guess which one?  And speaking of the Reapers... we learn that there happens to be one already in everyone's midst. I won't reveal who it is exactly, so as to avoid spoilers - but I will leave you a hint. He takes humor as payment for all the information he gives. ;)

We also see plenty of character development as well in regards to Elizabeth, the young lady promised to Ciel as his future wife. While she has always been depicted as childish and cute, this movie gives her a chance to show what she is really made of, and she does so with aplomb. Her scenes were one of my favorite in the entire film as they reveal her backstory beautifully and show off what is truly capable of. 

Overall the film is beautifully animated (despite a few odd placements of CGI), and the characters move smoothly and brightly across the screen. The action sequences are some of the best parts of the film, and the voice acting that goes along with them is top-notch as well. Many of the voice actors from the first three seasons of the anime return to voice their respective characters in the film, in both English and the Japanese adaptations. I will say however that I am more partial to the Japanese voices; but the English dub is very well done too.

I give this movie a solid 10/10. Beautiful animation, great voice acting, and a wonderful story combine to make a great anime film. Even if you aren't familiar with anime, you could easily watch this one and enjoy it. 



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anime Review: Interviews with Monster Girls


It's time for another anime review! 

I recently finished off this wonderful little series Interviews with Monster Girls. It's a pretty standard title featuring non-humans in the human world, but unlike those that came before, this one manages to be entertaining as well as super freaking cute. 

The main characters of the series are a group of 'demi humans', otherwise known as humans with supernatural creature traits that give them unique powers or appearances. They are summarily interviewed by their biology teacher (fitting right?) named Tetsuo. Tetsuo wants to learn more about his demi-human students and over the course of twelve episodes interviews them one by one, learning about their habits, customs, and special abilities - as well as forming unique bonds and getting a glimpse into what it means to not be fully human. 

Over the course of the series we learn about several unique demi-humans; vampire Hikari, dullahan Kyoko, snow woman Yuki, and another teacher who happens to be a succubus named Sakie. Many of the best moments of the series are when these characters interact with each other and their fellow humans both in and out of school.  All of them have great personalities and while they sometimes fall into the standard anime cliches, they manage to make them work in their favor. Sakie, the succubus (who is also the math teacher) provides many of the best moments as she has to work hard to avoid accidentally seducing her male students and Tetsuo as well. The other demi-humans also have to deal with their peers as well, which often results in handling bullies, learning how to control their abilities and other struggles of daily life as students. 

(The main cast of characters. From left to right: Sakie, Yuki, Kyoko, Hikari, Tetsuo, and I believe that is Hikari's sister on the far right, though feel free to correct me!)

With only twelve episodes to tell the story, it does end up kind of rushed at times, but the soft color palette and smooth animation more than make up for the somewhat fast pace. The art style is very cute, fitting for both slice of life and fantasy elements that make up this series. I definitely recommend this one if you are seeking something new to get into, or want an urban fantasy series that isn't quite as dark as other offerings this season. 

I give Interviews with Monster Girls a solid 8/10.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Colossalcon 2017 Review


Hey guys!

So it has been a while since my last post of any sort. I've been dealing with a lot of personal issues as of late, but the good news is I finally got to attend an anime convention this summer! After the sad cancellation of Midwest Media Expo, I wondered which convention I would be going to next. The answer came in the form of none other than Colossalcon!

Colossalcon is an anime convention that takes place in Sandusky, Ohio at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center during the first weekend in June (June 1-4 specifically). What makes Colossalcon so unique compared to other anime conventions is the fact that its host venue is a water park resort. You heard me right. An anime convention taking place at a water park. How cool is that?! There are quite literally no other conventions like this one, and when they say Colossalcon is a party con, they aren't kidding. Those of you who enjoy a drink or two will definitely find a place here as alcohol flows freely throughout the event. So be careful of drunk cosplayers running about, particularly late at night.


Because the convention takes place at a resort, everything was expensive. This was probably the biggest downside to staying at the Kalahari. Everything from food to water park passes cost upwards of $20 or more. If you plan on attending Colossalcon, having extra cash on hand is a must. Because our group had a room at the Kalahari we thankfully didn't have to pay extra for water park passes but for those who were not staying on-site, the price per day was roughly $35.

As far as conventions go, Colossalcon is definitely a large event. With upwards of 17,000 people in attendance, it has its place as one of the larger events in the Midwest area. However at times it did feel a bit too crowded, particularly in the convention center where crowds often gathered from wall to wall. The guest list was as diverse as its patrons, from popular anime voice actors to obscure television and sports stars. There was something here for everyone to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed meeting Vic Mignogna, the voice actor for Qrow in the web series RWBY and the voice of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. 

Aside from meeting voice actors and going to panels and the dealer's hall, Colossalcon offered some unique events as well. My favorite was the Otaku Flea Market, where attendees brought out their old anime merchandise and sold them to convention goers. I got some of my favorite mementos just from browsing through the market. Also unique to Colossalcon was the late-night water park access. Attendees who purchased a special wristband could get into the water park from 11pm onward. I did not attend this particular event but I heard it was a lot of fun this year!

The cosplay at Colossalcon was also top-notch and as expected of a convention taking place at a water park, swimsuit versions of all sorts of characters abounded. From Overwatch to Love Live! There was a swimsuit variant of just about everything you could imagine. It was quite fun to see how people interpreted their favorite characters into swimwear.

Overall, I had a great time at Colossalcon and would definitely recommend it to those looking for a fun and unique kickstart to their summer vacations. If you like water parks and anime, you will love this convention.