Flavors of Youth

This is a new anime anthology film out on Netflix, and it’s an absolute wonderful watch. It looks like it’s a co-production with China (the settings are Chinese as well, and of the three parts, two are directed by Chinese directors), but feels a lot like the films of Makoto Shinkai (Your Name), with hyper-realistic backdrops, and beautiful use of colors and soundtrack. I think the middle part (about the fashion model) is the weakest, but overall I enjoyed this immensely.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

I quite liked the first Godzilla anime film on Netflix, that marked the start of trilogy. The second part is now out, and I really enjoyed this one as well. Just like the first movie, it’s a hardcore sci-fi take on Godzilla, and this one features even cooler mech-on-Godzilla battles. Do make sure to stay for the after-credit tease, as it’s a big one, and makes me that much more excited for the next film.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

This Ghibli-like movie is made by an ex-Ghibli director (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who directed The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, the latter a film I really loved), within a new studio, Studio Ponoc, that is definitely trying to be the new Ghibli (now that Ghibli isn’t making a lot of movies anymore). I liked it, and it’s a beautifully animated film, but there’s something about that almost feels like it’s trying too hard to hit all the Ghibli notes — as my wife remarked, so many aspects of the film remind you of other Ghibli films. But despite all that, it’s really well done, and it makes me happy to see a studio like this that will continue the Ghibli legacy.

Summer 2018 Anime Season

Coming off a season where I ended up watching quite a few things that I liked — especially Lupin the III: Part V and Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but also Megalobox (which I haven’t finished), and to a lesser extent Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katori no Nazotoki File, that I watch with my wife — looks like it’s going to be a slow summer for me. But that’s fine, just gives me time to watch stuff from my backlog. Here’s what I will check out (taken from this list) — and to that you can include Lupin III and Layton, that are both still ongoing.

Banana Fish
I feel a lot of nostalgia for the original manga, which I remember reading in the old PULP magazine. I don’t really remember much about the story, so looking forward to watching this anime adaptation.

High Score Girl
The main reason I want to check this out is because in the trailer you see them play actual video games from the early 90s (which is the setting of the series), and that sounds like it could be fun.

Batman Ninja

This movie is insanely good, and by far the best animated Batman film I’ve seen. Created entirely by a Japanese staff, it’s a Japanese take on the Batman mythos, but with tongue lodged deeply in cheek, and with stunning visuals that although CG feel more like they were taken from traditional paintings (well, inspired by them at least). The whole story is batshit insane (you can quote me on that), and seriously fun — Batman and friends, and villains, are all transported to feudal Japan, and in the climax we have giant robot battles. We get Sengoku Batman even. This was just so much fun to watch, and a treat for the eyes.

Mazinger Z: Infinity

The Mazinger Z that I watched when I was a kid was in fact the Grendizer series (that I watched in French as Goldorak), and so although I’m not really familiar with the entire Mazinger series, I was pretty excited to watch this new movie. The main character ends up being Koji Kabuto, who was the pilot of Grendizer, so it did feel somewhat familiar — and it was fun seeing my wife sing along with the theme song at the start, as she was a big fan of the original series. The story here is pretty forgettable — and close to nonsensical — but I was in it just for the robot battles, and those at least were well done. I especially like how despite the modern look of the animation — with robots rendered in CG — all the evil robots still kept the crazy color patterns they had back in the original shows. Not a great movie, but it has its moments when the action happens.

Aggressive Retsuko

I didn’t think this would really be for me — I remember finding the premise of the character (an office lady who loves death metal) pretty funny, but didn’t think much of it beyond that — but I got curious when the animated series popped up on Netflix the other day, and I gotta say that I had a pretty fun time watching a few episodes (which are very binge-able, at like 10-15 minutes in length). Warning though, if you’ve worked in an office in Japan, this may trigger some PTSD.

Spring 2018 Anime Season

After a few disappointing anime seasons, I found myself enjoying most of what I wanted to watch during this past winter season — I really liked Junji Ito Collection, thought Kokkoku was pretty good, as well as Devilman Crybaby (although I haven’t finished watching it), and I watched the first episode of B: The Beginning and will watch more. When I started looking into the new spring season — which I always do on AniChart — I found quite a few things I was interested in watching. Below are those series, and I’ve already started watching all of them, so I’ll indicate what I think so far, after 1-2 episodes.

FLCL Progressive
I’m a huge fan of the original FLCL (as is most everyone who’s watched it), and when a sequel series was announced, my first reaction was that I didn’t think it was a good idea. I still tried to keep hope alive that it would be good — and the fact that the original creators are back was a good sign — but I’m just shocked at how much I disliked the first episode. I’m going to watch the second episode when it’s out, just to make sure, but wow, I was bored to tears with what I saw in episode 1. I even rewatched the original series last year, and still loved it, so it’s not a case of me not being into this series/world anymore.

The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
I didn’t really know what to expect with this series, but figured I’d check it out because I liked the idea of galactic battles as a setting (I don’t feel like we get a lot of series like that anymore), and that it’s produced by Production I.G. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes, and I’m really digging it so far. It really is all about the space battles and the tactics used, and the first episode ends on a great cliffhanger. I’m pleasantly surprised by this.

Lupin III: Part V
I love Lupin, and have watched a lot of his series and movies, and so was pretty happy when I saw they were launching a new series this season. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes, and so far it’s really fun. It’s an interestingly modern setup (people are following Lupin — and getting in his way — through social media), and yet it feels like classic Lupin. I’m pretty sure I’ll be enjoying the rest of this.

Megalo Box
Despite the name, this is actually an Ashita no Joe series set in the future, in celebration of the series’ 50th anniversary. I’ve never read or watched anything that has to do with Ashita no Joe, but the description sounded interesting — a world where cybernetically-enhanced boxing matches take place — and I liked the first episode. The world looks very Akira-esque (if not of that quality), and this is probably the way to get me to watch a sports-themed series (I don’t tend to like watching sports-related anime).

Fist of the Blue Sky
This is a prequel series to First of the North Star. I know the basic setup of First of the North Star — and I can’t wait to play the game by the developers of the Yakuza series — but I’ve never read or watched any. I thought the first episode was pretty neat — its CG cel-shaded, like Knights of Sidonia and Ajin, and produced by that same studio — and it’s funny to see these ridiculously muscled-up characters interacting with crazy kung-fu-inspired moves. But by the second episode I was already growing bored with the story — and lack of action — and so I’m not especially excited to continue watching it. I might give it another episode.

Winter 2018 Anime Season

After rekindling my enjoyment of watching anime on a regular basis in 2016, 2017 ended up being a huge bust for me — most seasons had little if nothing I wanted to watch, and the shows that did look interesting to me didn’t keep me watching for more than an episode or two. This last season sounded promising, and again, I was disappointed by everything, including Inuyashiki, which may be fine, but after one episode I didn’t really feel the urge to continue (even though I really enjoyed the manga series). But I haven’t given up yet, and although I’ll again say that I’m actually excited by a few series for the winter season, I’ve already watched the first episode for three of them, and it’s off to a good start. Here’s what I want to check out this season (as always, I get my info from AniChart).

Kokkoku
I watched the first episode of this today, and really loved where it ended. We’re presented with a family that is entangled in a kidnapping, and to address this, the grandfather manages to stop time — and that’s just the start of how interesting things get, when everything doesn’t go according to plan. I’m definitely looking forward to watching the second episode.

Ito Junji: Collection
I absolutely adore the horror manga of Junji Ito, and was so excited when they announced this anthology series — each episode is based on a short story by Ito. I watched the first episode, and it was fantastic. This was a safe bet for me, but I’m still glad it delivered.

Devilman Crybaby
This is a Netflix original that launched this past Friday. I’ve never watched any Devilman series (or read any of the manga), but as soon as I saw that Masaaki Yuasa was directing it, I got excited. I watched the first episode, and it definitely feels like something that is straight out of the mind of Yuasa (especially in style) — I’ll admit that it was quite a bit more sexualized than I was expecting. I’m looking forward to watching the rest.

B: The Beginning
This is another Netflix original, and it’s only set to come out in March. Sounds like a mystery/thriller — chasing a serial killer — in a high-tech setting. Definitely the sort of thing I might like, and it’s by Production I.G, so will check it out.

 

Napping Princess

As I mentioned a couple of times on my blog, I’ve been looking forward to watching this (the Japanese title is Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari). I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed, and found it to be a delight — definitely in the vein of Summer Wars and Your Name, if you’re looking to compare it to something (but not necessarily has good as those movies). It’s a tale told in parallel (mixing fairy tale and reality), and it all works beautifully. Very much recommended (my wife enjoyed it as well).