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Jul 19, 2021
I forget how exactly Akudama Drive caught my eye, but in anime seasons filled with generic high school dramas and isekai adventures, it very rightly stands out. Set in a cyberpunk-flavored future, the show revolves around a ragtag group of outlaws and deviants roped into a conspiracy far greater than any of them could have imagined.

The opening arc of the show is one helluva hook, bringing together the core cast of characters (“Swindler”, “Courier”, “Brawler”, etc.) for two absolutely off-the-walls missions right off the bat. It feels like if Ghost in the Shell was reinterpreted through the funk/hip-hop lenses of Samurai Champloo and the read more
Jul 8, 2021
An interesting adaptation. It adds a somewhat tighter narrative and clearer character development to Ocarina of Time, though on the whole I can't say if all of these changes are unalloyed improvements. Some certainly are - Sheikh and Impa seem to have much clearer roles, Dark Link has a more thematic purpose, and Volvagia has a genuinely tragic arc, etc.

But something about the quiet beauty of OoT is lost. That strange sense of mystery of wandering around forests and through caves, the bittersweetness of stumbling through post-Ganondorf Hyrule and finding everything different.

While there is some inevitable abridgement, the finale is probably more narratively conclusive than read more
Jun 24, 2021
While Psycho-Pass 3 is by no means a bad anime, and certainly more bold and original than nine-tenths of other anime on the market, it comes up short compared to its predecessors. The tragedy is that, if anything, this is a consequence of soaring ambition.

PP3 takes the bold (if not foolhardy) step of sidelining almost the entire preexisting cast of the Psycho-Pass franchise, relegating fan favorites to the sidelines while introducing a whole new set of characters to become familiar with. I really don't want to fault them too much for this - there're few things worse than a storied franchise dragging out the same read more
Jun 16, 2021
I’m embarrassed to say that the first time I tried watching Psycho-Pass, I stopped before finishing the first episode. Something about the initial premise – the idea that society would evolve to a point where people are imprisoned, or even executed, based solely on their mental states – hit my suspension of disbelief the wrong way. But I gave it a second chance, and upon further reflection, can only conclude that it is one the best anime of the decade.

Set in 22nd-century Japan, Psycho-Pass can perhaps best be described as the fusion of the emotionally-modulated world of Equilibrium crossed with the PreCrime system of Minority read more
Jun 10, 2021
[this review doubles as a review for the entire six-movie miniseries]

I was caught off-guard by Broken Blade (a.k.a. Break Blade), a fantasy-mecha-war series based on the manga series by otherwise-unknown mangaka Yunosuke Yoshinaga. The series – watchable either as six hour-ish “movies” or the reedited twelve-episode miniseries – is probably one of the best original mecha shows in years, beautifully blending elements from Evangelion to Escaflowne to Full Metal Alchemist to Arslan. I’m shocked that this flew under my radar for so long.

The story is set in a fantasy world where all humans are quartzbenders, and the entire world has been designed around the telekinetic read more
Jun 7, 2021
This short film was apparently nominated for a bunch of awards back in 2001. If you can mentally adjust your standards for animation to what they were around the time "Shrek" was released, you might be able to enjoy it more.

The movie has the look and feel of a very early-gen Pixar production (specifically "Geri's Game"), told without a line of dialogue but lots of clever animations. For the time and resource constraints, this was probably quite impressive, and it an extremely concise production.

But at the end of the day, it's just... okay. As a technical demonstration it's laudable, as a story, it's... serviceable. A read more
Jun 6, 2021
This is a short series - basically an anthology of seven loosely-connected stories - which feel like what you'd get if you crossed Studio Ghibli with lo-fi beats to relax to.

Each story does an interesting job of capturing a slightly otherworldly feeling, with the sense of innocent wonder that comes from a Miyazaki work like Totoro. There's not really a greater meaning to any of it - the plots never go anywhere, the world never changes - but they're enjoyable and refreshing and leave the reader feeling like they're exploring Kokiri Forest for the first time.

I quite like the art, which is very clean, the read more
Apr 3, 2021
Record of Lodoss War, a 1990 swords & sorcery OVA, hit all the right notes for me - good story, good art, good characters. What’s funny about that is that it’s an almost aggressive generic magical adventure, a blended slurry of D&D/Conan/LOTR fantasy tropes and aesthetics that somehow works because of the sheer earnestness of it all.

Our story’s hero is a young man named Parn, a one-dimensional Level 5 Human Fighter, who gets roped into a series of quests about saying the world from ancient demonic/godlike forces. Along the way he joins forces with a cleric, a wizard, a dwarf, a rogue, and an elf read more
Apr 3, 2021
All My Daring Daughters, (Aisubeki Musumetachi / 愛すべき娘たち) first published in 2003, is a collection of five short stories by Fumi Yoshinaga, whose ongoing series Ōoku: The Inner Chambers I am currently hooked on (reviews of first two volumes here). AMDD is a rather different set of stories, set in modern-day Japan and starring salarywoman, her mother Mari, and a small ensemble cast. The stories are all loosely connected to one another, though they can be read episodically.

In contrast to the fantastical Ōoku, AMDD is borderline mundane, focusing on the interpersonal problems of very real-feeling people. Mari re-marries a man younger than her daughter; a read more
Dec 29, 2020
This is a silly action romp, redeemed by the fact that it knows it's a silly action romp.

If you're not familiar with "You're Under Arrest", all you really need to know is that it's a light-hearted police show, in the vein of "Patlabor" crossed with "Gunsmith Cats". This OVA is from 2002, but it very much carries the feel of anime of the 1990s, with their ecchi sense of risqué, otaku fascination with guns and cars, and marginally more adult narratives.

In this OVA, most of the cast of "You're Under Arrest" are (completely inexplicably) working in Los Angeles, where they get caught up in a read more