Fragglepuss Anime Review 186: Little Witch Academia (Series)

Little Witch Academia (Series)

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Magic, Fantasy, School, Fish out of Water, Witches

First Aired: Winter 2017, 25 episodes

Summary: Atsuko Kagari is a cheerful girl with high aspirations of becoming a witch and following the path of her idol, Shiny Chariot. Magic life begins with a series of mishaps and adventure on Kagari’s trip to the academy as she befriends Lotte Yanson and Sucy Manbavaran, who become roommates on campus. Atsuko quickly learns she must work harder than the other students to become a proper witch since she came from a non-magical family and has no history of spell casting. Lucky for her, Atsuko has an upbeat demeanor and a passionate attitude to do whatever it takes to accomplish her dream!

The homage to Harry Potter is strong in this one. The idea of traveling to an all magic school to learn nothing but spellcasting pretty much gives it away. There’s an episode on broom racing and the importance of respecting the broom. The initial trip to the academy is reminiscent of the constant trouble Harry would have getting to Hogwarts. Besides all that the series is a lot of fun to watch. The eccentric characters with unique personalities were enough to keep my interest throughout the season. The animation wasn’t the best I have ever seen, but I enjoyed the soft color choices. It is an easy watch, something you can sit down for a single episode or binge a dozen.

You might enjoy this if: You love Harry Potter and have always wanted to see an anime spin on it. It’s fun to see the anime spin they put on the witching world.

You might not like it if: You’re a Harry Potter fan that will critique Little Witch Academia the whole time because of the similarities.

Similar Series: Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Hero Academia, The Familiar of Zero, Nichijou – My Ordinary Life

Note to the Viewer: Keep an eye out for Little Witch Academia: The Magic of Time and the Seven Wonders, a Playstation 4 release coming at the end of the year. Bonus Note: Both Akko and Sucy from Little Witch Academia make an appearance in Space Patrol Luluco, Akko in episode 13 and Sucy in episode 8.

AMV – Stick Together by Koto

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 185: Castlevania

Castlevania

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Vampires

First Aired: Summer 2017, 4 episodes

Summary: Based on the video game franchise, Castlevania follows antihero Trevor Belmont, the youngest surviving son of his family, as he defends the nation of Wallachia from Vlad Dracula and his minions. If only it were that simple. Dracula only began his reign of terror in response to some terrible actions by the church and the townspeople. Who do you side with in this dark and gritty world?

Castlevania is produced by Adi Shankar, who has made the anime one of his passion projects. He told IGN, “This is going to be the best f****** video game adaptation we’ve had to date”. You gotta love his thirst to create a quality series. The unapologetic style shows that it has been created to be true to the franchise. While the violence is not constant, there are times when it is pretty gnarly. A couple of those whip moves, forget about it. The characters are building, the animation is quality, and the story is solid. It’s too bad the season is a measly four episodes. At least it’s already been picked up for a second season.

You might enjoy this if: Dark fantasy sounds appealing to you. Castlevania has it all with the Dracula, monster hunter, magic, and even monsters with the glowing eyes.

You might not like it if: Violence and gore deter you from a show.

Similar Series: Hellsing, Hellsing Ultimate, Berserk, Drifters, Claymore

Note to the Viewer: The original Castlevania is a video game by Konami released in September 1986. Dozens of Castlevania games have been released since then across multiple consoles.

Castlevania Teaser

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 184: Eromanga Sensei

Eromanga Sensei

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Manga Authors

First Aired: Spring 2017, 11 episodes

Summary: Like so many high schoolers in Japan, Masamune Izumi is a light novel author. Sagiri is Masamune’s younger sister, a shut-in hikikomori who hasn’t left her room for a year. Masamune wants his sister to leave her room since it’s just the two of them in the house. I think he gets bored, but that’s just my opinion. Also, the two of them are each other’s only family. Sagiri refuses to leave her room, but she is still able to boss her brother around. She even forces him to make and bring her meals when she stomps the floor. Masamune’s illustrator, Eromanga, is a reliable but somewhat perverted artist. Masamune had never met them and figures they are just a filthy, depraved otaku. Of course it comes to light that the one and only Eromanga-sensei is his own younger sister! IN case that wasn’t enough, a beautiful best-selling shoujo manga creator becomes their rival!

I don’t know about this one… I have no problem with strange, but Eromanga Sensei is next level. It’s funny at times, but the whole concept of Masamune writing questionable novels and his younger sister illustrating them, it’s bizarre. I realize it’s anime, and I never thought I would say this, but it’s a bit much. If you’re looking for a less creepy series about manga authors and creation, check out Bakuman. The rivalry between Masamune and the other manga authors was fun to watch.

You might enjoy this if: You’re looking for a quick laugh.

You might not like it if: I’ll say it again, if you’re looking for a less creepy series about manga authors and creation, check out Bakuman.

Similar Series: Saekano, Himouto Umaru-chan, New Game, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai

Note to the Viewer: Eromanga Sensei is produced by A-1 Pictures, producers of series like: ERASED, Your Lie in April, and Silver Spoon.

Eromanga Sensei Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 183: SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation

SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Music, Slice of Life, College, Vocaloid, Idol

First Aired: Winter 2014, 12 episodes

Summary: Super Sonico is your average 18-year-old college student with a few exceptions. In addition to classes and schoolwork she balances her budding career as a model, working at her grandmother’s restaurant, and performing as the lead guitarist in her band, First Astronomical Velocity. In case that wasn’t enough, she is a sucker for cats, adopting any stray that crosses her path. You’ll recognize Sonico by her long pink hair and signature headphones she never removes. Follow her exciting day-to-day life that could take her anywhere, from her grandmother’s restaurant to exotic Okinawa!

Super Sonico’s anime is fairly obvious to its purpose of promoting Sonico as a vocaloid, not that there’s anything wrong with that. From the first episode, you can see how they’re attempting to humanize her (ironic as that sounds). Despite that detail, it’s still a fun and easy series to watch. The episodes are light, with the best example being an entire episode dedicated to Sonico and her cats. Every episode’s end credits are unique, so be sure to watch all the way through. Not only are Super Sonico songs played through the credits, but the animation is different each episode, which sometimes borders on the bizarre.

You might enjoy this if: You’ve always wanted to get better acquainted with the daily life of a fictional Japanese singer.

You might not like it if: You are averse to fan-service. It goes without saying since this is a series starring a well-endowed vocaloid that models, but obviously, there is a fair amount of fan-service.

Similar Series: K-On!, Detroit Metal City, Fuuka, Sound Euphonium!, Sekko Boys

Note to the Viewer: Super Sonico’s character was created in 2006 for the annual Nitroplus music festival. Her popularity exploded in 2011 with the release of her first album, GALAXY ONE.

Superorbital by Super Sonico

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 182: Btooom!

Btooom!

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Game, Explosions!

First Aired: Fall 2012, 12 episodes

Summary: Ryouta Sakamoto is an unemployed NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) and lives with his mother. He spends the lion’s share of his time playing “Btooom!”, a popular online game of battling team vs team using bombs to defeat the enemies. He is a natural at the game and has just become the number one player in Japan and the first Japanese player to crack the top 10 worldwide leaderboard. All the sudden he wakes up stranded on an island and has no memory of how he got there. He is in for a rude awakening when he is attacked by an individual that is not looking to be his friend. It appears someone has recreated “Btooom!”, but for real with life or death consequences! Armed with a few bombs, known as “BIM”, and his knowledge of the video game, it’s time to follow Ryouta as he learns the rules of the high stakes world and see if he gives into the desire to hunt the most dangerous game.

Btooom is a fast-pace series that hardly allows the characters a chance to stop and take a breather. Every episode introduces a new character or two, resulting in constant bomb battles. I enjoyed how the battles were not only physical or based on firepower, but wit and strategy as well. Everyone has their own type of bomb and they are in limited supply. It’s important to not be wasteful and use your bomb type to your advantage. The mind games between combatants was one of my favorite parts of the series. The animation was bright and vibrant, which I appreciate, but fairly standard. The intro and ending songs were great. My only major qualm with the series is that it’s been five years and we don’t have a second season! They left it open with many questions unanswered and I want to know! I mean, what’s going on with this Btooom world? I know what you’re thinking, “Read the manga”. Fine, if you’re going to be pushy, maybe I will! All right, my rant’s over.

You might enjoy this if: You are into survival games. Think Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. There is a similar vibe to Btooom.

You might not like it if: You don’t like to see the darker side of humanity and what individuals are capable of when brought to their breaking point. Also, there is the occasional fan-service moment.

Similar Series: Future Diary, Sword Art Online, Danganronpa, Deadman Wonderland, Highschool of the Dead, No Game No Life

Note to the Viewer: If you’re like me, you’ll immediately want to know more about the Btooom game. Bombs are known as “BIMs” and several types exist: Cracker, Implosion, Timer, Flame, Blazing Gas, Homing, Barrier, and Remote Control.

Btooom! Opener – No Pain, No Game

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Quick stops

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Quick stops

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

I wish I could have spent more time in Japan. I would have stayed there for months if I was able. This list includes locations I was only able to make a quick stop at.

Tsukiji Fish Market

 

Takeshita Street

 

Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

 

 

Hachiko Statue

 

Shibuya Crossing

 

Joypolis

 

Gundam Statue

 

Statue of Liberty Odaiba

Maid Cafe

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 181: My Ordinary Life / Nichijou

My Ordinary Life / Nichijou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, School, Overall Silliness

First Aired: Spring 2011, 26 episodes

Summary: Naganohara, Yuuko Aioi and Mai Minakami are childhood friends that have been getting into trouble since they were little. Now they’re in high school and the shenanigans continue. Sometimes their stories cross paths with Hakase Shinonome, the child professor, and her human-like robot Nano with a wind up key protruding from of her back. Sakamoto, a talking cat, also lives with Hakase and Nano. Nobody knows what each day will bring. One day will be calm with little to remember except hanging out with friends, while the next involve the principal giving a deer a suplex.

I discovered Nichijou through an AMV contest at Anime Banzai. I was laughing and scratching my head thinking, “what is this anime and how come I’ve never seen it?”. It is over-the-top in the most anime of ways. The show reminds me of a “variety hour” type program with multiple short stories being told in a single episode. If you prefer you can watch the series in eight minute increments with the way the episodes are arranged. It’s fun to watch an episode here and there, especially when you need a break between episodes of a heavy drama like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. The animation is simple but that’s not why you would watch this anime. The characters are fun and unique. The way they freak out makes the show worth watching. It’s good.

You might enjoy this if: You have a short attention span. You should also check it out if you want a peek into Japanese humor, which is what Nichijou is all about.

You might not like it if: You want to watch something that has more of an “Anime of the Year” type feel. Nichijou alternates between mundane and strange while lacking a continual narrative, meaning it’s not winning awards anytime soon.

Similar Series: Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Plastic Nee San, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, Osomatsu-san

Note to the Viewer: The Nichijou anime series was written by Jukki Hanada, whose credits include shows such as: No Game No Life, Princess Jellyfish, Sound Euphonium, and Steins;Gate.

AMV – Safety Dance by Shin AMV

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Studio Ghibli Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Studio Ghibli Museum

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

Studio Ghibli Museum

If you fancy yourself a Ghiblihead…Nevermind, I hate that term. Let’s pretend I never wrote it. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli and are visiting Japan, you must go to the museum. Opened in 2001, the museum has expanded as the years pass. The museum includes:

  • Cat Bus Room for children age 12 and younger
  • The Reading Room Tri Hawks – Browse through recommended children’s literature and picture books
  • Museum Shop “MAMMA AIUTO!”
  • Where a Film is Born – Enter the world of animators, from initial inspiration through completion of a film
  • Special Exhibit Room – New exhibitions are shown here annually
  • Straw Hat Café and Café Deck Area
  • Screening Room Saturn Theater – Come see the Museum’s original short animation
  • The Beginning of Movement – Experience the fun of “moving images” through various slideshow-style displays

The Studio Ghibli Museum is a magical place to visit. “Where a Film is Born” recreates an animation workshop and has actual Ghibli film drawings on the wall. The screening room always shows a short film seen exclusively at the museum. The movement room is breathtaking. You can get a Ghibli beer at the café! The museum does not allow photos inside, but for good reason. They say they want it to be a special experience for everyone that visits, making sure you’re seeing things for the first time. However, outside and on the roof you can take photos, which include a Laputa robot, the café, some of the beautiful stain glass windows, and the Totoro ticket taker.

Buying tickets can be complicated due to the high demand. Tickets are not available for sale at the museum. I recommend buying them before you travel. The first place to check is the museum’s website: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ticket-information/. That will give you information on the two online locations to purchase tickets. They go on sale at different times so check a few months ahead if possible. Keep in mind that you must buy tickets for a specific date and time, so know when you can go before you buy.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Nakano Broadway

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Nakano Broadway

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

Nakano Broadway

A geek emporium, Nakano Broadway provides an endless supply of nerd collectibles with an even wider variety than Akihabara. While Akiba provides items related to manga, anime, and tech, Nakano provides goods for any type of fandom imaginable. There’s a store that sells cels and storyboards, vintage toys, cosplay, baseball memorabilia, dolls, American toys, and even an art gallery.

There are a lot of stores with clear cases for buying and selling collectibles. What happens is someone rents a case and places their stuff in it for sale. They choose the price and everything. There are hundreds of these cases in a store. Then anyone can walk through and purchase from any of the cases. Imagine a physical location of EBay. It makes it so the game is on if you are searching for a particular item. You’ll find it in a case but the price is too high, meaning you must continue the hunt. You keep finding the collectible that will be yours, but the price is still too high. Finally, you find it for the right price in the tenth shop you’ve visited in a corner case, a case looked over by others because of its poor location. You buy your figurine and could not be happier! Satisfaction as the search is complete! Either that, or after visiting 20 shops you realize it was the most inexpensive in the first store you checked so you go back and buy it there… Still satisfying.

Nakano Broadway is a giant mall with hundreds of small shops to browse. Some of the stores even specialize in reselling gatchapon prizes, so if you’re looking to complete a set and can’t get the last prize, check out those stores to complete your collection. Mandarake is a large chain of stores in Nakano, but check out each one since they all contain different goods. The used book Mandarake is amazing. Even if you don’t buy anything, at least go in. You might as well buy a manga or two while you’re there though, considering a manga volume is usually $4 or less!

When you’re hungry there is a great restaurant line as you enter, including some of the freshest rotator sushi you’ll find, and at a good price!

Nakano is a great stop because it provides a geek mecca in addition to Akihabara. If Akiba is a treasure hunt for geek goods, Nakano Broadway is the search for the Holy Grail. Who knows, that might be in there somewhere. There is seriously so much stuff.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shrines and Temples

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shrines and Temples

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

You will not have a difficult time locating religious locations in Japan. What might be difficult as an outsider is differentiating between a Shinto Shrine and a Buddhist Temple. Shintoism is the native religion of Japan. It is based on Japanese myths, has no sacred texts, and no official founder. Spirits and rituals play a significant role. Buddhism came to Japan by way of China in the 6th century but was not widespread initially due to its complex theories.

While you’re in Japan there will be religious locations of all shapes and sizes. You’ll pass them whether you are walking down a random street or a main road. Below is a list of some of my favorites I saw while out there.

Shrines

Shrines are Shinto locations distinguishable by the wooden guard frame, Torii, in front of them. The Torii acts as a gate between our world and the world of the gods. Water at the entrance as a means of purification is a Shinto tradition. It may seem silly to think of this, but a lack of Buddhist statues is another simple indicator that you are at a shrine rather than a temple.

 

Meiji-jingu shrine

This shrine is in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo, but you wouldn’t know it as you travel inside. It is a large shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Sake barrels are offered every year to the enshrined deities to show deep respect for the souls of the emperor and empress due to their influence on supporting technological advancement and encouraging industry. Wine barrels are consecrated every year to the spirit of world peace and amity. Votive tablets are found at the shrine.  After giving an offering, you write a wish on the wooden plaque then hang it at the shrine for the spirits to receive. If you are at the shrine at the right time, you may witness part of a traditional Japanese wedding.

 

Kanda meojin shrine

Kanda is a beautiful, peaceful shrine that dates back over 1,000 years. Due to its location in Akihabara, it now has several ties to anime culture. Not only is it close to Akiba, but “Love Live!” used it in their anime. The shrine administrators have recognized the anime relevance of the area and adopted the character Nozomi Tojo of “Love Live!” as their official mascot. When you visit take time to look at the votive tablets at this shrine. You’ll notice many of them contain beautiful artwork. Kanda also has O-mikuji, fortunes, that you get by giving an offering. If you receive a bad fortune, you tie it to the wire art with the hope that the back fortune will stay at the shrine, rather than follow you. If you receive a good fortune you can keep it for luck or you can tie it to the wire in hopes of greater effect.

 

Asakusa Shrine

This shrine is located adjacent to the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, making the distinction between the two slightly confusing if you are not familiar with the two religions. Look for the Torii as well as the other indicators of a shrine to differentiate between the two, which are interconnected in how Akakusa was built to worship the men that founded Senso-ji. Akakusa miraculously survived the air raids of 1945. The area of the shrine and temple is a must-see.

 

Temples

If you see statues of Buddha as well as gravestones, you are on temple grounds, a Buddhist location. Burning of incense at the entrance, using smoke as a method of purification, is another indicator of a temple.

Hasedera temple in Kamakura

Hasadera is known for containing one of the largest wooden statues in Japan, a 30-ft. tall likeness of Kannon. The temple grounds are expansive and include a cave. It is also home to hundreds of Jizo, small statues placed by parents mourning offspring lost to miscarriage. Hasadera is a beautiful and tranquil area. Despite the many visitors there was a calm and peaceful feeling the entire time I was there.

 

Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura

This temple is renowned for its 44-ft. tall Daibutsu, Great Buddha, which is an outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha. The statue possesses a long and trying history, beginning in 1243 when the original indoor wooden statue was completed. In 1248 a storm damaged the indoor Buddha and destroyed the structure surrounding it. The statue was recreated using bronze and the hall was rebuilt to contain it. The hall was destroyed by another storm in 1334, rebuilt, destroyed again in 1369, and once again rebuilt. A tsunami washed away the hall in 1498. Since then the Daibutsu has stood out in the open. An earthquake in 1923 destroyed the statue’s base, which had to be rebuilt. Kotoku-in temple is another peaceful and serene location to visit.

 

Senso-ji temple

Senso-ji is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, founded in 645 AD. The structures are remarkable, especially the main hall (Hondo). The pagoda was entirely covered due to construction when I visited, but it’s understandable. A sad fact is how Senso-ji was bombed and destroyed during World War II and had to be rebuilt. The temple is adjacent to the Asakusa Shinto Shrine.

 

Sengaku-ji temple

The temple made famous through the Ako incident involving the 47 Ronin in the 18th century. I have been intrigued by this piece of Japanese history for a long time, so visiting this location was unbelievable. I was amazed to see the spots I had read about with my own eyes, imagining how it must have been at the time of the incident. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is one of the ultimate stories of Japanese loyalty. It is not the most aesthetically pleasing of the Japanese temples, but the history speaks for itself. When you visit, you can watch a video explaining the story, followed by a walk through a gallery of Ronin history. You can then visit the graves, placing an incense on each of the 47. Lastly you can visit a gallery of wooden statues of all 47 Ronin, complete with an explanation as to who they were.

 

 

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