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Dec 17, 2012
A natural disaster is a frightening phenomenon. Even with modern society's advanced technology mankind has not yet been able to truly prevent them. When they do strike, cushioning the blow is the best we can hope for, and survival and recovery is a lengthy, arduous process. Such a shame then,, that disaster stories tend to neglect the human element in favor of shallow entertainment, degrading the disaster into little more than a glorified horror-movie monster.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a disaster story with a mission. It mostly abandons the spectacle and sensationalism in favor of being a slower-paced story, focusing on human drama and emergency procedures. read more
Jun 3, 2012
In 2003, Gonzo made “Last Exile”: a neat adventure story with gorgeous visuals set in a fascinating world inhabited with some intriguing characters and, most importantly, a genuine sense of adventure and wonder. That said, it had its problems: the main characters were bland, the story pace was uneven and the ending was a rushed mess.

Fast forward to 2011, Gonzo is diving into the world of Last Exile yet again with “Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam” (TL: Fam, the Silver Wing). A sequel that's only loosely tied to the original, both in story and, sadly, in quality.

Set an unspecified number of years after the original, read more
Feb 16, 2012
An unfortunate truth about the anime industry is that movies of long-running shounen manga are always trite and unremarkable: uninspired scenarios and forgettable guest characters being among the main reasons why. Though it's not surprising. Why bother thinking up an interesting plot when you know people will be drawn to the popular brand it's based on anyhow?

''Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos'' – based on the acclaimed manga - is no exception. It's a forgettable if somewhat serviceable adventure flick with some exciting action sequences and a lacking story. No different from the dozens of other films of this type.

It's read more
Jan 12, 2012
Fate/Zero had some big shoes to fill. Based on a series of light novels that serve as a prequel to one of the most beloved visual novels of all time, animated by Studio ufotable – which has proven itself deft at adapting Type-Moon material with their fine work on Kara no Kyoukai – and with a soundtrack composed by none other than Yuki Kajiura; it's no surprise that fans were ecstatic in their anticipation. Hype is of course a dangerous thing, known to backlash horribly when it spins out of control.

Which makes it a relief that Fate/Zero is quite good. Great, even.

For the uninitiated: Fate/Zero read more
Jan 10, 2012
When someone on the Internet describes a work of fiction as 'visionary', it's usually meant as a form of praise, referring to a willingness to defy convention in favor of something more thought-provoking and enticing. As defined by a dictionary, 'visionary' refers to embracing fanciful and often impractical ideas.

Mawaru Penguindrum falls under both definitions.

What Kunihiko Ikuhara of Utena-fame has created here is a show that takes philosophical musings on themes such as fate, love and death; and combines them with slapstick antics involving ghost penguins and ping-pong balls that erase people's memories.

If that sounds difficult to take seriously to you, don't bother watching this show. read more
Dec 24, 2011
UN-GO (Anime) add (All reviews)
Comforting lies or a bitter truth. Which is better?

The above dichotomy is perhaps one of the most enduring through all of fiction. Many stories that tackle it end up siding with the truth, only to end up cushioning the blow through all sorts of contrivances; making the bitterness of the truth not as bad as initially thought.

Enter UN-GO: an 11-episode anime series by Studio BONES which tackles this theme by pouring it in the format of a buddy-detective show, following cynical detective Shinjuurou Yuuki and his quirky assistant Inga as they tackle cases in a Japan that's recovering in the aftermath of a devastating read more
Oct 22, 2011
Moderator Edit: This review contains spoilers.

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''Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai'' (We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) is a series that sets lofty goals for itself. It is, in essence, a ghost story that aspires to be a poignant drama about (unrequited) love, loss, adolescence and self (re-)discovery. Heavy themes that require a delicate touch.

That last part is where things go wrong, but more on that later.

As the show begins, we see a boy sitting at home while his female friend is pestering him. The boy's father is remarkably unfazed by what read more
Sep 5, 2011
The last couple of years have spawned some anime series that ditched the usual 20-minute episode format in favor of longer episodes. ‘Break Blade’, ‘Kara no Kyokai’ and ‘Katanagatari’ all released new installments that were (at least) double the length of a typical anime episode up to and including feature length films. Upsides to this approach are that the production values tend to be much higher and that the longer format allows for more deliberate pacing. The downside is that viewers who follow these series end up waiting a long time between the release of new installments.

‘Towa no Quon’ (TnQ) is a superhero story read more
Aug 20, 2011
Redline (Anime) add (All reviews)
Redline is excellent proof that you can have too much of a good thing. Especially when you neglect everything else in the process.

The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and sound. Storyline and character development are of the lowest priority.

It’s no surprise, then, that Redline sticks closely to read more
Jul 23, 2011
Baccano! is a series with a huge fanbase who see in it as a wonderful ensemble of colorful characters, complex web of interwoven plots and wonderfully jazzy soundtrack.

If nothing else, they’re right about that last part.

To the series’ credit. It’s certainly ambitious and refreshing. A story taking place in America during the Prohibition Era and juggling the stories of around a dozen different characters spread across no less than 3 separate time periods, spiced up with alchemy, magic, urban legends and immortal gangsters. Definitely something you don’t see every day.

Ultimately though, the greatest concept still needs to stellar execution to really shine. It read more