I’m a pretty tough anime customer. I like it best when a show gets me to think a bit (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), or shows me something I’ve never seen before (Mushi-shi). But every now and then, like anyone else, I just wanna see stuff get shredded and blowed up really good. Tokyo Majin does such a great job of delivering in that department, right in the first episode, that I was terrified the rest of the disc wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as good. How could they possibly keep up this level of manic energy?
Sometimes it’s just so nice to be proven wrong.Read more
I’ll start with the easy praise first: Venus Versus Virus is one of the best titles I’ve ever heard for an anime. VVV (see? it even abbreviates nicely!) is of course the animated adaptation of the manga series currently being offered in English courtesy of Seven Seas, which my colleague Adam Beck recently peeked at. I haven’t read the manga itself, but from what I can tell the show follows it fairly closely. It’s a catchy, frothy, Goth-y action confection with a lot more action and a few more twists than I thought it would have. The cuteness of the surface material conceals a much darker story, which I hope we get to see more of as time goes by.
VVV kicks off with a premise most people reading this should be able to recite with their eyes closed: A young person has their humdrum ordinary life turned upside down when they discover they’re in possession of a terrible power. Here the person in question is Sumire, a girl attending a private academy; she’s got the usual collection of female friends and at least one terminally shy male admirer. After class, she hustles on over to the “Venus Vanguard” antique shop nestled under the elevated railway tracks, where she helps out the Gothic-Lolita-wearing, eyepatch-laden (and emotionally clamped-down) Lucia.Read more
Shocked I was, to discover that the anime adaptation of Top Cow’s Witchblade was not junk at all (I was fearing the worst, honestly) — in fact, it was quite good. And I was pleased to see the second DVD of the series following up nicely in all the veins set up by the first one. It’s not just a bunch of super-powered chick-fights — it’s, at core, a compelling story about a woman who’ll do most anything to ensure that her daughter has a better life. The super-powered chick-fights are just a nice bonus on top of the character and drama. Usually it’s the other way around.Read more
The Wallflower is the Satanic speed metal of shojo anime. It’s an exercise in gleefully wretched audience-assaulting excess on every possible front, just like one of director Shinichiro Watanabe’s most infamous earlier productions,Excel Saga. Then again, Excel Saga was adapted from one of the three or four most deranged manga ever created (which is now a personal favorite of mine), so he was simply paying proper homage to the source material. Here, I haven’t read the source manga, so I’m not sure if our beloved Nabeshin is paying homage or simply taking the basic premise and going bananas with it like a college kid breaking in his first credit card. Maybe it doesn’t matter. It’s hilarious either way. Read more
The second volume of Hell Girl has started to correct, however tentatively, my biggest complaint about the series: they spent entirely too much time just running through the core premise of the show without expanding on it. Now that they’ve started to do something with the idea, I feel thatHell Girl is shaping up to be pretty worthwhile — just really slow in its payoffs. If you’re impatient, you’re liable to be squirming in your chair and growling “Get on with it!” before disc 1 is even over — never mind whether or not you make it to disc 2. Read more
How’s this for a shock? Witchblade may well be one of the better anime I’ve seen this year. It’s not just a cash-in on a name property, but a story that works entirely on its own terms, and works very well indeed. No prior experience with theWitchblade franchise in any form is needed: you can walk in and enjoy the whole thing pretty much cold, and I did. Read more