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Nov 18, 2018
Hanebado is an anime about tennis' decidedly less popular cousin that gets some things very right and other things very wrong.

STORY

It's been pointed out elsewhere so I won't belabor the point, but the pacing of Hanebado - the speed at which the story is told- is so fast you'd think it was strapped to the front of a Bullet Train. A lot of the traditional plot points of a sports anime are rapid-fired at you, just to point out one example, by the halfway point of this 13 episode series we already have major characters playing their final high school badminton matches- it's portrayed as read more
Oct 14, 2018
A political thriller that's long on glamor but short on substance.

STORY

ACCA-13 seems to have all the pieces of a good political thriller: a multitude of secretive factions, individuals with murky allegiances, back channel maneuvering, and high stakes. Except there's one critical problem, none of it adds up. They have all the game pieces but forgot to include the board. A good political thriller partly relies on the audience knowing how the political system works: 'House of Cards' depends on its audience having a basic understanding of how the US Congress operates, and 'Valkyrie' made sure to explain how the coup masterminds planned to kill Hitler read more
Oct 13, 2018
Shortly after watching the mediocrity that is 'Angolmois' I see 'Hidamari No Ki'- and find just what I was looking for in a historical fiction anime.

STORY

Adapted from a manga written in the early 80's by the 'God of Manga' Osamu Tezuka, 'Hidamari No Ki' takes place during the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, when Japan rapidly transitioned both politically and culturally from the medieval to the modern world. For an American example, you'd have to compare this era to the Civil War in the way it both defined and fundamentally changed the nation, and in the amount of weight it carries in the national read more
Sep 26, 2018
An episodic sports anime with frankly C-grade animation shouldn't have gotten a second look from me, but I actually found myself enjoying it well enough as a once a week diversion.

STORY

There is no glory in being a middle relief pitcher in professional baseball. These guys are the sports equivalent of a plumber, necessary but nobody would call it glamorous work. They're typically called into bail out starting pitchers when the situation starts going south, deal with one specific batter, or simply eat up innings in lopsided games. Main character Bonda Natsunoske is a middle reliever for the Tokyo Spiders (a thinly disguised version of the read more
Sep 26, 2018
"Tada-Kun Never Falls In Love" has no business being good. It borrows some of the oldest tropes in the book, its 'plot twists' can be seen a mile away, and calling much of anything about it original would lead me to think you REALLY don't watch much romance in any medium. And yet... you end up enjoying it. It can be strangely charming, perhaps simply because it has no pretensions of being anything other than what it is and plays it straight.

She's a bubbly, naive princess trying to get outside of her sheltered royal life, he's a jaded, more mature guy, they meet and both read more
Sep 26, 2018
Golden Kamuy is the first time I've ever seen a Western anime. No, not an animated work from the Western world with distinct Japanese influences, an honest-to-goodness Clint Eastwood Western. Just one that happens to take place in northern Japan rather than the western USA. What's that? Your weeaboo blood is boiling than I would dare to compare the glorious animation of Nippon to some old American genre films? (or perhaps you simply don't 100% buy the comparison and would like further clarification) Well, I'll explain...

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a man battle-scarred by a terrible war is out on the frontier read more
Sep 25, 2018
File this show under 'pleasant surprises'. An anime drama I tried out mostly tried on a lark turned out to an unexpectedly interesting look at one of Japan's major domestic issues, carried by good production values and decent writing.

STORY

A cutesy anime girl takes a job in a small Japanese farm town due to mistaken identity, finds four other anime girls to be her teammates at the local Tourism Department, and... has to contend with Japan's growing problem of rural depopulation as the combination of the country's infamously low birthrate and increasing urbanization leaves many areas with uncertain futures? OK, I didn't see that coming. read more
Feb 10, 2018
I'm a sucker for all things related to the samurai, but this manga left me with a decidedly "meh" impression.

You may have read that the samurai came to an end in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, but in truth they many 'deaths' and 'rebirths' before that. The samurai class served many different roles throughout Japanese history, ranging from tax collectors, to bureaucrats, to soldiers, to military aristocrats. These two stories deal with samurai caught in the culture shift as the Sengoku period became the Edo period.

The first 'Snow Ridge' is the more interesting of the two. It deals with a clan forced to relocate read more
Jan 27, 2018
Preliminary
This is only a preliminary review, as just two volumes have been released in English at the time of writing, but 'Drifting Dragons' is my favorite new manga released in 2017.

STORY
It's too early to make a judgement call on the story, as so far it's been largely episodic and it's a bit early to tell if Drifting Dragons will stay on that path or it's just setting up the story world before diving into a major, central narrative. The story world itself is quite creative, a fantastical version of the 19th century where airship crews hunt dragons in the same way Nantucket sailors used to read more
Dec 5, 2017
STORY

NHK is a story centering around various social dysfunctions and anxieties and how people cope with them. It handles these issues with surprising delicacy, walking a narrow line between fanboy pandering ("This is totally OK behavior!") and knee-jerk condemnation ("You must be a freak!"), trying to get to the heart of why a person might go to unhealthy extremes of behavior.

To get an idea of the show's writing, in an early episode Sato and Misaki are having a conversation where Misaki implies she thinks Sato has no clue of who Sigmund Freud was, so he trolls her by playing dumb and asking her to read more