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Feb 15, 2024
I love a good mystery, and Kubikiri Cycle does at least somewhat deliver on that, so it's hard to entirely dislike it. While it does get a little too convoluted at the end, the actual murder mystery portion of the series is the most sound and enjoyable part of it. It's the other parts of the series that are a letdown.

In particular, there are two elements that stand out above the others as critical issues: the characters and the dialogue writing. These problems are distinct, but related of course. The characters are insufferable virtually without exception, and a big part of that is the pretentious ...
Feb 13, 2024
At the risk of being overly dismissive, this is a blatant attempt to capitalize on the success of the original Space Battleship Yamato, without any understanding of what made it work. The story and the central conflict between humans and an alien race called "the gods" is paper thin and unengaging. The aliens are a faceless menace, you only ever see their UFOs or humans being mind controlled by them, and it makes them seem unthreatening. The film makes no attempt to explain their goals or why this war is being fought, other than a vague sense that humanity became too technologically advanced. The setting ...
Feb 3, 2024
This is a series that I desperately wanted to like, and it does have the occasional good moment, but generally speaking, this is a story with interesting ideas that is constantly failed by poor writing.

The core ideas here - a story about a group of boys that bond while being abused at a reformatory school in 1950s Japan, and which follows them after their release and into adulthood - are loaded with potential, and that brotherly bond between the characters is easily the strongest part of the series. The storytelling ambition to progress through its story and the lives of its characters rather than muddling ...
Jan 18, 2024
Mixed Feelings
I wanted to like this series a lot more than I actually did. I am a sucker for stories about dads taking care of cute little kids, and this show did give me enough of that that I still felt mildly positive about it in the end, but this is a case of wasted potential more than anything else.

The central problem here is a lack of conflict, which is a surprise given the premise. Instead of a fish out of water comedy about a thug that's wholly unsuited to take care of a child, Kirishima (the main character) easily adapts, and he and Yaeka (the ...
Jan 8, 2024
A lesser known work from Kazunori Ito, more popularly known for his work on Ghost in the Shell, among many others, this is a straightforward crime thriller about an average Joe getting caught up in a criminal conspiracy. Personally, I love these kinds of movies, so
I was already inclined to be generous, but this is just a really nice little movie. It moves along at a brisk pace, the animation is solid, the soundtrack is filled with bitchin' 80s guitar solos, and the action scenes are appropriately ridiculous and fun for the genre.

There are certainly some bits and pieces here that you can nitpick. ...
Jan 5, 2024
Juuni Kokuki (Anime) add
12 Kingdoms is an antidote for the current wave of generic and uninspired isekai anime. The kind of series that shows that the narrative potential of this genre greatly exceeds what we're getting from anime with paragraph-long light novel titles about an "S-Rank cheat skill" or whatever.

It's not a perfect series of course, there are some fairly significant issues with pace, and an unfortunate early cancellation that leaves several storylines unresolved. However, if you can power through some of those difficulties, you'll find a richly rewarding story; a unique and fully-realized low-magic fantasy world to explore; and deep, satisfying character arcs. The series also looks ...
Dec 19, 2023
Helck (Anime) add
Sometimes when you have a complete dud of a series, it can be hard to know where things went wrong. Not so in the case of Helck, where there is one simple, glaringly obvious problem lit up in neon lights that makes the rest of it unsalvageable. Namely, it looks ugly as sin.

Modern Satelight is depressing for many reasons, but this effort on Helck has to stand as one of the studio's lowlights in its 20 some years of production. The character designs are poor, the animation is stiff in the best of times, but rarely deviates from its baseline level of "hideous". The action ...
Dec 19, 2023
Toriko (Anime) add
Toriko is one of those shows where there's nothing too deep going on, but it's just a blast to watch. The story largely revolves around the eponymous Toriko, a "Gourmet Hunter" that battles monsters and a chef named Komatsu that cooks the monsters Toriko defeats into delicious food, which then makes Toriko even stronger. It's a very action-forward series, as one might expect from a WSJ adaptation. Most episodes feature at least one battle and most problems are solved with fists.

A key to why the series remains mostly entertaining throughout in spite of that frankly braindead approach to things is frequent action combined with strong ...
Oct 23, 2023
Mixed Feelings
Shouwa Monogatari is a sedate slice of life story about a multigenerational family living in 1960s Tokyo. Your enjoyment is largely going to depend on whether you can connect with the specific sense of nostalgia that it's trying to cultivate. While there are some bits that are culturally specific to Japan and not easy for westerners to relate to, I think it does a good job overall of building a general atmosphere of "the good days gone by" that most will connect with, the vibe of your gruff dad sending you to the corner store to buy a pack of smokes for him, playing baseball ...
Oct 6, 2023
Reideen (Anime) add
Mixed Feelings
Reideen is the epitome of a slow starter. Though it does find its footing a bit towards the end of its run, it's a show that requires patience in the early going, because the first 10 episodes or so are a real slog to get through.

One reason for that is the uninspired setup. If you've seen one "high school student is chosen by an ancient artifact to pilot a mech and defend Earth from an alien invasion" show, you've seen em all, and Reideen certainly does nothing to distinguish itself from that crowded field early on. Another factor is that the big mech action setpieces ...

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