Anime Reviews Other Articles Reviews

Spring Anime Misadventures!

After a fairly lackluster Winter season, the new Spring anime is finally upon us!  And since most of what I’m watching just ended, I find that I’m looking for a couple new shows to pick up.  So here’s what I’m gonna do for you!

I’m going to grab any first episode that comes out in the next week or two and then tell you all what I think!  I’ve had a look at the schedule, but there won’t be any refreshers for me!  Nope, if I see a new show, I’m watching it right then and there.  And I have to sit through the whole thing, no matter how poorly drawn it might be!  So watch as I suffer through god-knows-how-many terrible anime shows about basketball, cats, fishing, and whatever other brilliant ideas managed to make it to production.

P.S. Basketball and fishing are actually the topics for shows this season…

So, let’s get this started!

Anime Reviews CJAS Reviews

Mid-Semester Showing Survey

Shockingly, the semester is already at its halfway point, so it’s about time to talk about what’s been going on in showing.  For each show we’re watching, I’ll be summarizing the premise, discussing the plot up to this point, and then adding my own thoughts about the series.  As always, plot can and does equal spoilers, so make sure to skip over plot sections where you don’t want to know just yet.  We’re watching a lot of great shows this semester, so many of these come with strong recommendations.

Anime Reviews Manga Reviews Reviews

Review: Kuroshitsuji (“Black Butler”)

Welcome and good evening again, ladies and gentlemen!  Our series this time Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), originally released as a manga in Square Enix’s Monthly G Fantasy in 2006 by Toboso Yana.  It has since proven popular enough to warrant a two-season anime adaptation, a spin-off video game, two well-scored stage musicals, and an impressive doujin community.  For this review, however, I’d prefer to focus on the manga and anime.

Sebastian Displaying his Contract
Clearly, this will not be a objectionable program.

Although the two differ in execution, the basic premise remains the same between them:  In manor house outside of London, the demon Sebastian Michaelis serves as Earl Ciel Phantomhive’s loyal butler.  The two have a contract: In exchange for Ciel’s soul, Sebastian serves as his retainer until the Young Master kills those who slew his parents and sold him on the black market.  The Earl, though only twelve when the series opens, is already a captain of industry and a favored subject of Queen Victoria.  He lives a double life: By day, he works as the head of the Funtom Toy Company; by night, he serves the Queen as her agent in the London underworld, assisted at all times by Sebastian, who performs his duties with impeccable skill.

What’s the overall result? Well, for me that’s a bit of a tricky question.  As of this writing, Black Butler is my “fanboy” series; it’s the kind of thing I like for far fewer reasons than I should because the series happens to hit enough of my favorite story and character elements (Ciel, for example) it its execution.  So, bear in mind that my view on things is likely more forgiving of Black Butler than I would normally be.  That said…

Anime Reviews Other Articles Reviews

Mid-Semester Anime Roundup

It’s Fall Break now, which means that this semester’s Showing is already halfway over.  So I’ve put together this handy little article for those of you who might have missed the first half of Showing, who think they might forget what’s going on over Fall Break, or who want to waste a few minutes on the internet.  For each of the shows we’ve watched thus far, I’ve assembled a description of the series, a summary of the plot, and a quick review of what I’ve thought about it so far.  Plot summaries will almost certainly contain spoilers, so if you want to watch the series for yourself, you may want to skip these.

Anime Reviews CJAS Reviews

Fall 2009: In Review

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  Good to see you all again! Although I can’t really speak much from experience, I must stay that I was thoroughly impressed by the lineup this past semester.  Showing was a real event this time around, and I’d like to take a few moments to take a quick look back on it.

Series Reviews:


Our starter for this semester was one I had not seen since I was in high school.  At the time, I was rather amused with it, but after re-watching the first season, I found that the series hasn’t held up as well as I had thought.  Let me be clear:  It’s not a bad series; I don’t think so, anyway.  But whenever Genshiken’s not poking a good-natured elbow in the ribs of hardcore anime fans, the overall result is disappointing.  The humor tends to be awkwardly spaced; whole episodes can go by with scarcely a slice of wit to hold interest, relying instead on the (mostly bland) antics of local basket-case Madarame to keep the whole thing from grinding to a halt.  Add to that rather generic BGM and character design, and what’s left is a series So Okay, It’s Average.  You could do worse than this dull little piece of work, but you could do much better as well.

Wolf’s Rain

Aint he pretty?
Ain't he pretty?

I must admit, I was pretty skeptical about this series.  Just looking at the character designs made me shudder; I like bishounen as much as the next fan, but I didn’t walk in expecting much in the way of, well, anything else.  Thankfully, Wolf’s Rain does not disappoint.  It has its issues, mind you; the plot moves at the pace of cheap pancake syrup and the dialogue can sometimes suffer as a result.  But thus far, it’s been nothing short of a treat to watch.  The backgrounds and character animation are, as expected, fantastic, with real eye for detail and cohesion.  And the music! Man, Kanno-sensei should really go make an album or something.  If she does stuff like this for a show… Ah, I digress.  Anyway, if this series can overcome its pacing problems and deliver its already unique story already, then it’s well on its way to becoming a favorite of mine.

Anime Reviews

Anime Review: Zero no Tsukaima

Last semester, CJAS screened the first season of one of the more popular shounen-harem series in recent years: Zero no Tsukaima, a.k.a. The Familiar of Zero.  Originally a series of light novels from Japan, the series (still in serialization as of this writing) proved popular enough to warrant an anime adaptation and an additional retelling as a manga.

It is the story of a student-mage of noble background, Louise, who unintentionally summons a teenage boy from Japan named Saito into her world of magic, mystery, and fan service to act as her familiar.  All is not sunshine and roses for our hero Saito, however, as his new mistress treats him no better than a dog, and only softens as time goes on.  As he struggles to make a living for himself under the furious eye of Louise, there is action, adventure, and even the budding of romance for our happy couple-to-be!

Sounds like a fun anime if I ever heard one, no?  Well, I hate to disappoint you all, but I beg to differ.  Zero left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth, that special flavor that only comes from good, old-fashioned bad writing and an unhealthy abundance of wasted potential.  Be afraid, ladies and gentlemen.  Be very afraid.

Anime Reviews

OVA Review: Hellsing Ultimate, vol. 4

September 23, 2008 saw the release of the newest volume of Hellsing Ultimate on DVD, and this episode does not disappoint Hellsing fans. While volume 3 introduced the Millennium organization and the character of the Major, the viewer learns in volume 4 just why Millennium exists and just how insane the Major’s reasoning for attacking actually is.

If you know about the Hellsing Ultimate series, then you should know that this has nothing to do with the original anime post-Valentine brothers. So, no crappy overpowered Incognito villain to almost kill Alucard. Instead, the servant of the Hellsing Organization must battle against the Third Reich’s last battalion, a thousand-vampire army with the goal of creating war. And, indeed, war is what they get.

Instead of giving you, the reader, a long synopsis of the episode and giving away everything that happens in the fifty-minute OVA, I’ll just briefly summarize the important plot points. The OVA starts directly after Ultimate III, with Alucard having just recently killed Alhambra and learning about Millennium’s plans for full-scale war. While this is going on in Brazil, Enrico Maxwell and the Iscariot Organization learn about Millennium through an old priest who corroborated with them during the experimentation process to create a vampire army. The organizations (Hellsing and Iscariot) meet, and eventually, the Queen of England gives Hellsing the green light to wage war against Millennium. However, Millennium has already declared war on England and launched two squads to attack England. Most of the army is launched as a primary fighting battalion set to land in London, while a small group is launched to provoke an attack. Leading the second group is this volume’s main villain, First Lieutenant Rip van Winkle, the huntress.

Using her power to control a magic bullet to continuously weave through the enemy and rip through metal, Rip and a fraction of the Millennium vampires kill the crew of a British naval vessel and claim it as their own. Of course, England will not tolerate this attack and asks the Hellsing Organization to deal with this problem. After tons of one-sided fighting (i.e., Alucard ripping the nameless vampires to shreds), it is time for the climactic battle between Rip and Alucard. Unfortunately, this battle lacks the same amount of adrenaline-pumping action the previous three volumes had in their respective climactic battles. Alucard, though, does still revel in his “bad-assery” during the fight.

While the whole OVA is an enjoyable watch, Geneon saved the best for last. The very last scene of the OVA features the Major delivering his famous “I Love War” monologue to the Millennium battalion just before landing in England. As he continued to ramble on about why he loves war so much, I became enthralled by his passion and wanted to hear everything. This is definitely one of the highlights of the OVA. And, if you think just watching the speech is good, then you are in for a treat. The Limited Edition OVA set’s second special-feature disc holds, in my mind, the best extra to ever be put on an anime DVD: a six-minute version of the Major’s speech… karaoke style.

If you are a major fan of the Hellsing series, you’ve probably already seen the OVA, and are awaiting the next episode to be released. If you are a fan of the dub, one of the best because of the use of English (and now German-English) accents, then you will most likely purchase the OVA as well. However, if you are not yet a Hellsing fan and you like copious amounts of blood, gore, vampires and guns, then this is definitely the series for you.