Fragglepuss Anime Review 293: Sarazanmai

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Sarazanmai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural, Kappas

First Aired: Spring 2019, 11 episodes

Summary: Let’s start at the beginning:

Kappa are amphibious demons found in Japanese folklore. They look like a frog, but possess human-like characteristics and personalities. They have shrines dedicated to them since their mythology runs deep in Japan. They are a mischievous yokai, often accused of assaulting humans and removing a mythical organ called the “shirikodama” from the victim’s anus. Now that we have explained the background of the yokai, onto the anime…

Three middle school students: Kazuki, Toi, and Enta, accidentally break a kappa statue in Asakusa, which happens to be the guardian god of the entire district. This results in the three being transformed into kappas by the prince of the Kappa Kingdom. They must assist the Kappa prince, Keppi, in collecting Dishes of Hope that fulfill the wish of whomever possesses them. The Dishes of Hope are acquired by collecting the shirikodama (see above) from the intended individual. This is the description of the show, and it is exactly what it sounds like.

Even by anime standards, Sarazanmai is bizarre. I understand the cultural differences and everything that goes along with it, but Sarazanmai does not shy away from leaning into the strange yokai culture of Kappas. That being said, it is genuinely entertaining to watch an anime that leaves you astonished at the end of every episode. It is a fun watch with quality animation, great characters, and an enjoyable “monster-of-the-week” vibe.

You might enjoy this if: You have been watching anime for years and have become numb to the unusual nature of the medium. Maybe you want to feel something stir inside you like back in the old days, back when you would watch an anime and think about how different it is.

You might not like it if: You tend to watch anime while others are around and they already think it is strange enough without the crystal clear depiction of shirikodama being removed.

Similar Anime: Flip Flappers, FLCL, Cute High Earth Defense Club Love, Hoozuki no Reitetsu, Humanity has Declined, Noucome, Nichijou, Plastic Nee San

Note to the Viewer: As if the Sarazanmai anime wasn’t enough, the creators went all-in and created a “medley of strange” alongside the show. In addition to the manga, there are light novels, a dramatized Twitter account, a radio series, and even a stage play.

Sarazanmai Opening – Massara

 

Sarazanmai AMV by Michelle Matsuoka

(This AMV showcases the truly bizarre nature of this anime)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 292: Persona 5: The Animation

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Persona 5: The Animation

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Fantasy, Video Game

First Aired: Spring 2018, 28 episodes and some OVAs

Summary: Ren Amamiya is not the typical transfer student. He enters the Shujin Academy in Tokyo due to an incident that got him expelled from his previous school. He had to transfer schools and move in with a new guardian that will keep a watchful eye over him, ensuring he stays out of trouble. Trouble seems to follow Ren as he teams up with unlikely friends to battle corruption and distorted desire as the “Phantom Thieves”. It’s up to this group of fighters to change people’s heart and save our way of life.

As you can imagine, this Persona anime follows the story of the game of the same name. The animation is practically identical to the cut scenes in the game and the story progresses in nearly the same manner. It is a fun series to watch if you have completed the game and want a refresher of all those hours of hard work you went through. I watched it as a friend of mine was playing through the game, and it helped me remember the series of events so that I didn’t spoil anything for them.

You might enjoy this if: You played the Persona 5 video game and want to hear Ren finally say something. The anime is not like the game, in the series you actually hear his voice!

You might not like it if: You are familiar with the Persona universe and it is not your style.

Similar Anime: Durarara, Psycho-Pass, Death Note, Kill La Kill, Terror in Resonance, Baccano,

Note to the Viewer: Persona is a large franchise with many releases across several platforms. The original “Persona” was a video game titled “Revelations: Persona” for Playstation, released in 1996. Since then, Persona has been released as video games, anime, manga, novelizations, stage plays, radio dramas, and musical concerts.

Persona 5: The Animation Opening: Break In To Break Out

 

AMV – Nothing Ever Changes by [/NeverKnow\]AMV

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 291: The Place Promised in Our Early Days / Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho

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The Place Promised in Our Early Days / Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Military, Romance, Sci-Fi, Towers

First Released: November 2004, 90-minute film

Summary: Set in an alternate history with the Soviet Union occupying half of Japan, Hiroki Fujisawa and Takuya Shirakawa share two interests, an infatuation with a common classmate and an interest in the mysterious tower built by the Soviet Union. The two use their curiosity of the tower to focus on building an airplane that will reach the top of the tower. In the meantime their classmate, Sayuri Sawatari, goes missing. They find out years later that she has been comatose and is strangly linked to the mysterious tower.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days is the feature film debut of director Makoto Shinkai, famed director responsible for Your Name and Weathering With You. It is interesting to see the style of Shinkai shine through in his directorial feature film debut. All of the elements are there that continue to be shown for his future films, such as the use of a fantastical reality that exhibits a fusion of reality with fiction. Shinkai’s style also shows with the intense attention to background detail in the art. The scenes are beautifully animated and look like they are plucked from the real world. The soundtrack of Shinkai films always adds to the emotion and intensity of the story, and Early Days is no exception.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a character-driven story with a dash of fantasy.

You might not like it if: You prefer a story to be either grounded in reality or completely fiction without a trace of the real world.

Similar Anime: Other Shinkai works (5 Centimeters per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, The Garden of Words, Your Name, Weathering With You)

Note to the Viewer: On September 12, 2001 an asteroid was named after Makoto Shinkai, the aptly named “55222 Makotoshinkai”.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days Trailer

 

Kimi no Koe (Your Voice) by Kawashima Ai from The Place Promised in Our Early Days

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 290: Kandagawa Jet Girls

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Kandagawa Jet Girls

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sports, Ecchi, Jet Ski Race Battles

First Aired: Fall 2019, 12 episodes

Summary: Jet racing is a popular sport consisting of two girls riding a modified jet ski in a race battle royale, mono-e-mono. One of the girls is the driver, also known as the “Jetter”, while the other is the Shooter. The driver focuses on navigating the tight waterway while the shooter focuses on gunning down the opposing jet ski. Shots are limited and different parts of the watercraft are weaker than others, so each shot must be taken with the utmost concentration. Rin Namiki leaves her home in the countryside to move to Tokyo and become a Jetter like her mother before her. She teams up with the reluctant Misa Aoi to become an inexperienced an unlikely jet racing team!

Kandagawa Jet Girls wastes no time in showing its true colors. It is an anime that uses sports as an excuse to be as Ecchi as possible. The racing aspect is actually entertaining to watch, and the series provides all the usual sports anime staples, like the announcers that shamelessly explain the rules of the race to the uneducated fans and viewers. However, as intense as the races are, they are quick to bring you out of the moment with explicit moments of fan-service that are so obvious it’s laughable.  The best part of this anime has to be the characters. If you can get past the blatant fan-service, the characters are reminiscent of any other sports anime, where you sometimes end up rooting for both teams after you learn their back story.

You might enjoy this if: You watched Initial D and thought, “This would be great if there were more gratuitous panty shots”.

You might not like it if: You want a sports anime more along the lines of Haikyu, with all the heartfelt moments and none of the sexy stuff.

Similar Anime: Two Car, Initial D, Keijo!, Harakana Receive, Free, Food Wars, Ikki Tousen, Yuri! On Ice

Note to the Viewer: As you can imagine, there is a Kandagawa Jet Girls video game. It was released on January 16, 2020 for the Playstation 4. It is exactly what you think it is.

AMV – Best of Me by Rochinha.R

(Warning, there is a significant amount of scantily glad girls and fan service in the AMV. It’s pretty indicative of the series as a whole)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 289: Lu Over the Wall / Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta

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Lu Over the Wall / Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Music, Supernatural, Fantasy, Water

First Released: May 2017, 117-minute film

Summary: Kai is a middle school kid living in Hinashi Town, a small fishing village. His father and grandfather want him to continue in the family business of umbrella making, but Kai has other intentions. Kai gets dragged to Merfolk island with two of his classmates because they are trying to force him to join their band, “SEIREN”. At the island Kai discovers Lu, a carefree mermaid girl that loves to dance! Everything changes as Kai befriends Lu and the two turn the village upside down.

Lu over the Wall is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, and his style is all over this film. If you have seen other Yuasa works, you will immediately notice the signature animation. The storytelling is also similar to other works, with the quick transitions in tone that seem dreamlike. When you watch the big dance scenes, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The overall story is all over the place at times, but comes together nicely at the climax of the film. The beautiful animation more than makes up for it and keeps the show interesting.

You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a kid-friendly Masaaki Yuasa anime. Lu Over the Wall is significantly more family-friendly than some of his other shows, like Mind Game and Devilman Crybaby.

You might not like it if: You are in the mood for a more traditional anime in terms of animation style and story.

Similar Anime: Other Yuasa works (Mind Game, Ping Pong: The Animation, Devilman Crybaby), Ponyo, Weathering With You, Mirai, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Your Name, Spirited Away

Note to the Viewer: Yuasa admitted influence from Hayao Miyazaki for Lu Over the Wall. The influence came from Miyazaki’s 2008 film, Ponyo.

Lu Over the Wall Official Trailer

 

AMV – Bad Liar by Vincze Lizett AMV

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers, but nothing too crazy)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 288: Spice and Wolf / Ookami to Koushinryou + The Six-Year Anniversary of Fragglepuss Anime Reviews!

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What a ride it’s been these last six years! It’s bizarre to think I’ve reviewed almost 300 unique anime over the years. I must admit, this year has presented its difficulties in continuing the reviews. It seems the whole world is shut down due to COVID-19, and even though it feels like this would be the perfect opportunity to crush through anime, life has other plans. I am going to continue posting anime reviews, and hopefully I will be able to return to the regular weekly posting once the world returns to normal. I always like to thank everyone who is supportive of the website, and this year is no exception. I have certainly learned to be grateful for the good things in life lately. Thanks to all the family and friends that support Fragglepuss.com through reading the posts. Thanks to everyone that attends our panels at the various nerd conventions we attend. Thanks to everyone that reads and posts on the anime reviews. A special thanks to Breanne for always being supportive of the Fragglepuss way. Enough about me though, on to what everyone really came here for, nerd talk on anime things!

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Spice and Wolf / Ookami to Koushinryou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Bartering

First Aired: Winter 2008, 13 episodes

Summary: Kraft Lawrence is a mid-20s, low-level traveling merchant. He makes enough through wheeling and dealing to get by, but by no means is he rich. While traveling through the town of Pasloe he comes across Holo, a 600-year-old wolf goddess with the appearance of a young girl with ears and a tail. She claims to be the town’s goddess of harvest, but the farmers have become less reliant on her over the years. The two strike a deal that Kraft will take Holo to her northern home, Yoitsu. In exchange, Holo will partner with Kraft while traveling, attempting to broker better merchant deals along the way.

Spice and Wolf throws an anime spin at “The Odd Couple” situation. An unlikely pair end up together and must learn to focus on their similarities and strengths, rather than their differences and weaknesses. The contrasting personalities of the two protagonists are fun to watch unfold. The careful and calculating Kraft must learn to accept the wild and charismatic Holo, which is a risky maneuver. Sometimes Holo’s outgoing personality pays off with excellent deals, while other times it is a hindrance. I am surprised I enjoyed this series as much as I did. I read the synopsis about a traveling merchant making deals and thought they just threw in a fox girl to “spice” it up, but that was not the case. The episodes remain interesting throughout the series and the medieval-style trade deals are fun to watch.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a bunch of medieval-style deals go down. It’s a fictional world reminiscent of medieval Europe, but of course with the anime flavoring added to spice it up.

You might not like it if: You want a fox girl centered story. While Holo is a main part of the show, her fox-like characteristics are secondary for the most part. She does have a luxurious tail though, if I do say so myself.

Similar Anime: Kamisama Kiss, Log Horizon, Eden of the East, Wolf Children, Claymore, Silver Spoon, Ascendance of a Bookworm

Note to the Viewer: Spice and Wolf is based on a light novel series, not a manga like most anime. The series consists of 21 volumes and counting and is written by Isuna Hasekura.

AMV – Thousand Years by Daniel Smith

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 287: Sturgill Simpson presents Sound & Fury

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Sturgill Simpson presents Sound & Fury

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Music

First Released: September 2019, 41-minute film

Summary: Set to the music of Sturgill Simpson’s latest album, Sound & Fury, this psychedelic anime adventure follows a lone swordsman on their defense against post-apocalyptic goons. That’s about all I can say, it’s bizarre and way out there.

The anime is directed by Jumpei Mizusaki of Kamikaze Douga animation, but each album track is directed by a different director, which is apparent from the widely varied styles. It’s incredible the story they can tell with the only sound being from the Sturgill Simpson album. The artwork makes the show worth watching. It’s nice to see the different directors styles and if you are not keen on one, it will change after a few minutes. You can tell the Afro Samurai influence that Takashi Okazaki brought to the project. The soundtrack is clearly another strong point to the film, being that the anime was created based on the sound.

You might enjoy this if: You like to watch AMVs and are ready for a short film in that vein.

You might not like it if: You are averse to violence, gore, and light nudity. There’s a fair amount of all that in this.

Similar Anime: Basilisk, Berserk, Castlevania, Cowboy Bebop, Detroit Metal City, Junji Ito Collection, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Mind Game

Note to the Viewer: The team of directors for individual tracks include: Koji Morimoto, Michael Arias, Masaru Matsumoto, Henry Thurlow and Arthell Isom.

Sound & Fury Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 286: Ascendance of a Bookworm / Honzuki no Gekokujou

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Ascendance of a Bookworm / Honzuki no Gekokujou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Fantasy, Isekai, Fish-Out-Of-Water, Book Drought

First Aired: Fall 2019, 14 episodes

Summary: Motosu Urano loves books more than anything in the world. Life is good for Motosu as she is surrounded by books as a college student. To top it off, she just received her Librarian certification and is looking to land her dream job. Unfortunately for Motosu,  her life comes to a crushing end when an earthquake causes her to be buried under a pile of her own books. Her dying wish to be reincarnated comes true in an unusual way when she wakes up as a young girl named Main in a different world. This new reality has a low literacy and a surprisingly scarce availability for everything she loves. Books are only for the wealthy and paper is impossible to find. If Main wants to read again, she’s has to come up with new ways to do so. Otherwise she will live out her days without another book to love.

Ascendance of a Bookworm uses the Isekai genre as a simple way to enter a Medieval world with a single fish-out-of-water character. That being said, it is nice to have the new character use the knowledge of their former life to their advantage and the benefit of the new world. Main uses a mix of her know-how from her former life and the tools in her current state to better the world. I love the world-building in this series better than some of the other Isekai anime out there. Characters are good, animation is bright and vibrant, and the ending song/animation is spellbinding. It’s a chill series to watch when you have some spare time and you are stuck in your house for one reason or another.

You might enjoy this if: You are a bookworm with a hankering to know what life would be like without libraries, paper, and literacy. This series is a crash course in learning about paper.

You might not like it if: You want a Medieval-style world with action and adventure. This world draws inspiration from the old times but solely focused on culture, trade, and merchant-esque hijinks.

Similar Anime: Konosuba, Amagi Brilliant Park, Gamers, Re: Zero, Spirited Away, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime,

Note to the Viewer: There is a lot of Bookworm media to consume. There are several manga volumes, light novels, the anime series, a second season of the anime coming soon, and two OVAs.

Ascendance of a Bookworm Official Trailer

 

Ascendance of a Bookworm Opening – Mashiro by Sumire Morohoshi

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 285: Fire Force / Enen no Shouboutai

Fire Force / Enen no Shouboutai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Smoking Hot!

First Aired: Summer 2019, 24 episodes

Summary: The “Fire Force” are special fire brigades that deal with instances of spontaneous human combustion, where humans turn into insatiable Infernals. The Fire Forces are comprised of second and third generation humans with fire producing abilities. Each special person possesses a different form of pyrokinesis, and the later the generation, the more powerful they typically become. It is year 198 in the Solar Era in Tokyo, and Shinra Kusakabe is a third generation pyrotechnic that is able to produce feet flames at will. He joins Fire Force Company 8 and is going to have to learn to check his attitude at the door if he wants to be a part of the team.

Fire Force starts off with a lot of similarities to other action anime, especially the sub-genre of action with multiple characters all possessing different and unique abilities. The world building is unique in the world being mainly fire. It’s fun to see the abilities each character possesses and how they utilize them. It is also interesting to see learn about the different Fire Force companies and what they are all about. All they all good or have some of them been corrupted? Maybe some of them use unconventional methods to solve their fire problems.

You might enjoy this if: You are all about that smoking hot action!

You might not like it if: You despise the sharp teeth. Shinra, the protagonist, is 100% sharp teeth and you see his pearly whites all the time.

Similar Anime: D.Grayman, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul

Note to the Viewer: No worries about source material here. There are currently 21 volumes of Fire Force manga, and the creator has stated the series will likely end up with anywhere from 30-50 volumes when all is said and done.

Fire Force Opening – Inferno by Mrs. GREEN APPLE

 

AMV – I’m Dangerous by Onii Chaaa

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 284: Weathering With You / Tenki no Ko

Weathering With You / Tenki no Ko

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Slice of Life, Rain Showers

First Released: July 2019, 114-minute film

Summary: Hodaka Morishima runs away from home at age 16 to go to Tokyo. He quickly discovers how difficult it is to start a new life in the big city as a high school dropout. Luckily for him he meets Keisuke and Natsumi, two unusual small-time publishers that take him in like a stray animal. One day Hodaka encounters Hina Amano and their lives become intertwined in a way they will never forget. It turns out Hina is a “Sunshine Girl”, a fabled individual that can control the weather. Maybe Hina can do something about the record-breaking amount of rain that has been falling for the past several months.

There is a lot to appreciate in Weathering With You. It is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also created Your Name (the highest grossing anime film of all time). The first thing I noticed was the beautiful animation, especially during the fantasy-heavy portions of the film. The fish rain was stunning and everything down to the raindrops splashing on the ground was perfect. I appreciate when the little details of anime are covered, such as in the Ghibli films, and Weathering is a perfect example of not being lazy with animation. The next thing I noticed was the soundtrack, which added so much to the film. Shinkai films always seem to have a wonderful soundtrack that builds the mood at the right time, and Weathering does exactly that. The climactic finale is all-the-more significant and emotional because of the song being played at just the right time.

The film itself is amazing. Great protagonists and supporting staff that develop as time passes. The minor characters add so much to the film, even down to the alley cat “Rain”. The story moves at a nice pace and keeps you guessing. The start of the movie feels like it is biting off more than it can chew in terms of the message it wants to get across, but it delivers at the end and leaves no doubt what it is trying to say.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a slice of life show mixed with some fantastical elements and a dash of romance.

You might not like it if: You are a fair-weather person who only enjoys the sunshine.

Similar Anime: Any of the other Shinkai-directed films (Your Name, The Garden of Words, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, 5 Centimeters per Second, The Place Promised in our Early Days), When Marnie Was There, Spirited Away, Fireworks, Mirai, Whisper of the Heart

Note to the Viewer: You are not crazy if it sounds like the Weathering With You soundtrack is eerily similar to Your Name. Both films soundtracks are headlined by music from Radwimps.

Weathering With You Trailer

 

Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do by Radwimps

(I love this ending song)

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