Category Archives: Anime Reviews

Driven by ancient alien technology and love – a review of Eureka Seven (2005)

Back in August it was announced that AlltheAnime would be bringing the new film adaptations of the 2005 TV mecha classic, Eureka Seven every year from the start of 2018. Thinking this would be a good thing to do in dreary January, I set out to watch the original TV anime in preparation.

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Synopsis

Eureka Seven tells the story of Renton Thurston, the son of the hero of humanity as he joins the rebelling ‘Gekkostate’ befriending and falling in love with the mysterious pilot of the very first Light Finding Operation or LFO (mech), the Nirvage, Eureka.

Continue reading Driven by ancient alien technology and love – a review of Eureka Seven (2005)

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Building My Collection: Your Name Limited Collectors Edition

Few would dispute me if I said that the anime of 2016 was Makoto Shinkai’s gender-swapping, natural disaster romance, Your Name. Surely the biggest anime movie in foreign cinemas and the second biggest Japanese film in its own country the stats speak for themselves.

Fast forward a year and the home releases are making their way onto the shelves of the millions of fans that fell in love with the movie but there was a decision to make on exactly which edition of the film to buy. In the UK we had the option of a standard DVD, standard Blu-Ray, Steelbook edition Blu-ray or limited edition collectors set. Before I talk about the limited edition set, I’d just like to put on the record that I think it’s a great thing that more casual fans don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to get their hands on the movie – especially at the point of first release.

Now moving on I’d like to show you my copy of the limited collectors edition of the movie. It’s a pretty amazing set both on and off of the discs. So let’s get started!

The outer case is a chipboard box with art unique to this edition featuring the moment in the film Mitsuha and Taki meet face to face for the first time. There is the standard AllTheAnime information card lightly tacked onto the back of the box which can be removed without marking the box.

There are four elements to the set within the box: first up is the disc case itself which features the movie on both Blu-Ray and DVD as well as the soundtrack by RADWIMPS.

As well as the movie with both English and Japanese dubs (including Japanese or English editions of the soundtrack) both discs also contain a Japanese TV special featuring the director Makoto Shinkai and the voice actors of two main characters Mone Kamishiraishi and Ryunosuke Kamiki as well as the usual English and Japanese pre-release trailers and teasers.

This set earns it’s price tag by the extras though as next on the list is a set of 10 of high quality art cards showing scenes from the film, one of which is marked with a unique number of authenticity.

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There is also an A3 theatrical poster…

img_0527… but most impressive of all is surely the art/interviews book that as well as containing shots from the movie and interviews with the two lead voice actors contains a Q&A with director Makoto Shinkai and his original proposal for the film!

It is all in all a pretty impressive set, but there is still one little bonus that I’ve yet to show you. The so called ‘Red thread of fate’, popular in Asian folklore, is an important image within Your Name and AllTheAnime felt that it would be a nice gesture to include Mitsuha’s braid/Taki’s wristband.

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I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with that one – but it’s a nice extra to have.

There you have it then, the UK/ROI limited collectors edition of Your Name. At £49.99 it is a bit pricey, but it really is worth the extra and I’ve included the link to Zavvi (where it is exclusively available) below. I’ll also add some links for the other editions 🙂

Limited Edition

Steelbook Blu-Ray 

Standard Blu-Ray

Standard DVD

The tale of the mistaken prince and an evil egg – a review of the Anthem of the Heart

It is not an uncommon trope in anime for young children to be catastrophically affected by an unfortunate event up until a time, in their middle or high school life, when they are forced to confront it.

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This is the case for the young, carefree dreamer Jun Naruse who inadvertently reveals to her mother that her father has been spending time at a love hotel with another woman. The separation leads both parents to cursing Jun for speaking too much, and from the girl’s imagination an egg is born, preventing her from speaking more under threat of stomach pain.

Continue reading The tale of the mistaken prince and an evil egg – a review of the Anthem of the Heart

Episode Focus: Fate/Apocrypha 18, From Hell

The number of participants in the grail war took another hit in this episode, and it’s just as well that the two teams have disintegrated for the most part because otherwise black would be seriously struggling.

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This was one of the best episodes of the show so far mainly because it finally got around to some character development. We see how ‘Jack the Ripper’ was in fact a large group of children in London who murdered adults as payback for the lack of support they were given in life. Sieg is forced to face this dark reality while Atalanta (Archer of Red) is sent visions of her early life.

Continue reading Episode Focus: Fate/Apocrypha 18, From Hell

First Impressions: Hyouka

On Friday I was lucky enough to get up to London for the first day of the second MCM of the year. While I was there I made some additions to my anime collection, most notably was the first part of the 2012 series, Hyouka. 

The show follows Hotaro Oreki, a dedicated ‘energy conserver’, attempting to get through his high school life doing as a little as possible to get by. After a letter from his travelling sister, he joins begrudgingly joins the Classical Literature club where he meets the enthusiastic and overbearing Eru Chitanda.

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Oreki is usually indifferent to Chitanda’s curiosity.

Episode one doesn’t waste time in getting down to the pull of this story: mystery. Eru is ‘curious’ about the Hotaro’s ability to solve the everyday mundane mystery which in the opening episodes range from how Eru gets herself locked in the club room to why a specific book was taken out only to be returned later the same day on five consecutive Fridays.

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Episode Focus: Juuni Taisen episode 1, Even Boars may become Pigs after seven generations

It’s impossible to judge anything on it’s very first step as is the case with the first anime of a new season. For me, the first episode has to have something to grab you, or at the very least make it interesting.

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And Juuni Taisen certainly grabbed my attention.

Continue reading Episode Focus: Juuni Taisen episode 1, Even Boars may become Pigs after seven generations

Insert philosophical quote here. – a review of Classroom of the Elite

It’s been a somewhat underwhelming season of anime this summer both on a personal and more general level. Writing my dissertation meant that I didn’t get a chance to really get into most of the shows I started (New Game!! and Katsugeki Ranbu being the best examples). It was also the first season I’ve had a reason to get really angry with Netflix for their handling of anime release (Fate/Apocrypha this time). So I’m only up to date with two single cour shows from this season, one of which is Classroom of the Elite. 

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Overview

A show that could have been mistaken initially for a Oregairu clone, Classroom of the Elite is, like the former, a social commentary through intensely intelligent characters. Koudo Ikusei Senior High School is a school where everyone who graduates is guaranteed a sparkling career and great fortune. However, the show focuses on class D – the class used to ridicule the worst students in the school using a points based currency system. The two main characters are Ayanokouji and Horikita – two seemingly emotionless students who don’t share most of the characteristics of the rest of the class. The twelve episode season follows class D as they attempt to climb the school hierarchy.

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Plot

Whoever wrote Classroom of the Elite must be quite the cynic. Everyone has more than one side to them; everyone has something to hide, and usually it’s not something good. This cynicism actually leads the story down a strong route though, pitting members of class against one another in realistic scenarios whilst also introducing new characters with purpose into the story. The show also does well to show that the world does not revolve around class D, and the other three classes also have their own issues to deal with that in some instances can be just as concerning.

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All of that said, the plot is ultimately a let down. Despite the well timed character introductions alongside the well managed conflicts the events that surround these moments are badly thought up and seemed to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. For example, episode seven is set a the school pool. Of course, this is a common troupe in anime and doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Whatever constitutes a good pool/beach episodes was not passed on to the writers here though and episode displays the boys of class D’s attempt to set up a camera in the girls’ changing room, only to be foiled by Ayanokouji in the final moments.

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As I’ll come onto, I like Ayanokouji’s character but he does often seem to take the place of deus ex machina. If I was trying to be sympathetic to Classroom of the Elite, I would argue that for the most part the show goes for a mystery vibe – creating problems for Ayanokouji to solve. The problem is, there is never any suspense as we know that Ayanokouji will always fix the problem in favour of whoever’s side he is on, and if he doesn’t, it was because he couldn’t be bothered or had no interest. This is seen to it’s fullest in the final four episodes where the classes are tested in a desert island scenario. The writers go to great length to point how class D are falling apart and all the other classes have done so much better. This technique can work, but really, you have to give your protagonists something or it will become obvious that you’re setting up a big turn around – and then no one is surprised when it actually happens.

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Characters

I liked the characters in this a lot. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the characters in Classroom of the Elite are what makes the show watchable in the face over underwhelming writing. Perhaps though, the class system is the true strength here: although we see the story through the eyes of class D, Ayanokouji manages to interact with members of each of the other classes in some way and thus we are quickly given an insight into the way each class ethos. Sakayanagi, the leader of class A is cunning and full of planning; Ichinose in class B is probably as intelligent but would rather make alliances than go it alone and Ryuuen of class C is a thug, yet commands the respect of all of his classmates.

 

Let’s talk about Ayanokouji though. We’re not meant to be in any doubt that he is very intelligent, despite being in the bottom class. It also isn’t meant to surprise anyone that he is a troubled sort of person who suffered from a peculiar sort of upbringing. In this season he had all of the answers when the plot required them, and although this could sometimes feel frustrating it does go someway to building his character.

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Horikita could be brandished with the same brush – cold and emotionless, yet a strong intellect she is driven to get into class A. In truth though, she is manipulated by her class mate on many occasions which leads to the revelation that she is far less self centred than we assumed, instead having a bit of a brother complex (who also happens to be the student council president.

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The other character of note that should be mentioned is Kushida. The ‘Yui’ of the piece, she seemed as if she would be more important than she ended up being based on the opening couple of episodes. If the show does get a second season, I can see her coming to fore again as I would guess the author intended a lot for his favourite split personality.

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Art and Animation

I’m not really sure if this should go into the ‘art and animation’ section of a review, but Classroom of the Elite is guilty of being all of the things everyone who doesn’t like anime cites as a reason for not liking anime. Strong female characters are time and time again undermined for no other reason than being female – whether it being the ‘panty incident’ in episode ten and eleven or the consistent levels of fan service present through the show. Faces are unnaturally out of proportion (even for anime) with everyone’s eyes being too big and too bright.

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That said, the production values are exceptionally good. This show just looks like an anime should in terms of lines and movement – there is only so much you can do in a school anime but Classroom of the Elite, manages most of it.

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Conclusion

I didn’t dislike Classroom of the Elite. Sure, the plot was patchy and Ayanokouji is far too intelligent for any show, but it all comes together to work quite nicely. The problems mean I can’t rate it particularly highly and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve got a full plan to watch list, but Classroom of the Elite is certainly a form of entertainment for someone and will surely get better scores from other viewers.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


What did you think of Classroom of the Elite? Do deus ex machina characters like Ayanokouji bother you or is it just part of the shows appeal? Do you think/want Classroom of the Elite will get another season? Any thoughts on what might happen next (as long as you haven’t read the light novel!)?

Episode Focus: Gamers! 11, Gamers and Next Stage

The penultimate episode of Gamers! is thoroughly in the process of rapping things up. What’s best about this show though is that even though things are starting to work out for most of the characters, it still doesn’t take itself seriously.

 

As a final attempt to confirm that no one is cheating, Tasuku and Karen agree to organise a double date with Aguri and Keita. Meanwhile, Konoha eavesdropping gets Chiaki in on the day and the episode is all set to go.

Continue reading Episode Focus: Gamers! 11, Gamers and Next Stage

What I’ll be watching: Fall 2017

We get a lot of anime every season and each year Autumn is the one where we get the most, but wow, this year is taking thing to extremes. Fall 2017 has a strong showing in sequels, originals as well as the usual splattering of new manga and light novel adaptations. As is the way with these things, I thought it might be a good idea to run through some of the shows I’m considering watching before the season gets going.

The Ancient Magus Bride

The biggest new title of the season, produced by Wit Studio with a very popular manga as it’s source material, The Ancient Magus Bride is one to watch. Although this would be easy to dismiss as a fantastical magic fest, I’m anticipating lots of slice of life coming through in this show. The marriage element makes me a little uneasy, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t actually seem to be a prominent aspect of the show. Prepare for episode one’s airing on October 8th by watching the three prequel episodes.

Continue reading What I’ll be watching: Fall 2017