Fragglepuss Anime Review 302: BNA

BNA

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Super Power, Fantasy, Beast Utopia

First Aired: Spring 2020, 12 episodes

Summary: Throughout history, humans have been at odds with Beastmen, a species able to change shape at will due to their “Beast Factor”. The humans control the world and have forced the Beastmen into hiding. Anima City is a safe haven for the Beastmen to live without having to hide. Michiru Kagemori is unique because she was a human who suddenly turned into a tanuki. Upon discovering she is a Beastman, Michiru flees to Anima City during its 10th anniversary of becoming a city. She quickly realizes the city is the sanctuary she thought it was. She witnesses an explosion in the square and is confronted by Shirou Ogami, a the wolf protector of the Beastmen. Shirou helps her realize she is not an ordinary Beastman. She has to go on a journey of discovery to learn the secrets of her past and who she really is.

The first thing I noticed during BNA is the intriguing world-building. I like the idea of Anima City, a sanctuary for Beastmen. The Beastmen are also interesting, with their unique appearances and abilities. I enjoyed watching Michiru’s journey of discovery as she navigated through the unknown. The battle scenes are high energy and the animation is pleasing to the eye.

You might enjoy this if: You are ready for an anime version of X-Men. The description sounds like X-Men, and that is truly what it is. The Beastmen are persecuted because the humans are scared of their superior abilities.

You might not like it if: You are over anime with every character possessing some sort of special ability.

Similar Anime: Aggretsuko, Beastars, Dorohedoro, Elfen Lied, Land of the Lustrous, Tokyo Ghoul

Note to the Viewer: BNA stands for “Brand New Animal”. It is a fitting title for the series if you ask me.

BNA Official Trailer – English Dub

AMV – Animals by AMVs Studios

(Warning, this contains AMV-related spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 301: Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food From Another World

Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food From Another World

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Fantasy, Slice of Life, Food, Isekai

First Aired: Spring 2018, 24 episodes

Summary: Nobu Izakaya is a simple restaurant staffed by two people: chef Nobuyuki Yazawa and server Shinobu Senke. It appears to be a standard Japanese izakaya, but it is somehow mysteriously connected to a medieval city, “Aiteria”, from another world! Even from the other side, Nobu is an unassuming restaurant that does not appear to be anything special at first glance. However, once patrons from the medieval city come inside and taste the delectable cuisine, they are hooked. Nobu is Aiteria’s best kept secret, even though its food comes from modern Japan!

Isekai Izakaya is a perfect example of how anime can create the most appetizing dishes through animation. Watching each episode makes me salivate as I watch the cuisine being served alongside a perfect drink pairing. To top it off, they show a live action version of how to cook some of the dishes from the episode after the credits. If you are an aspiring chef, or a novice looking to learn more, you can learn how to make some of the most appetizing Japanese cuisine.

This series is great because each episode runs about half length of a standard series, which is a good length for the subject matter. The chef cooks delicious meals for the patrons from the medieval world, they fawn over the exquisite nature of it, an amusing side story unfolds, and then the episode ends. It is a formula that I could watch all day.

You might enjoy this if: You are a fan of live action cooking shows and want an anime version of it.

You might not like it if: You want a typical progressive anime story line with drama galore.

Similar Anime: Dagashi Kashi, Food Wars, Love is Like a Cocktail, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles, Restaurant to Another World, Takunomi, Wakako-zake

Note to the Viewer: I mentioned it above, but make sure to watch until the very end of each episode to see the post credits scenes.

Isekai Izakaya Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 300: A Whisker Away / Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu

Here we are, 300 anime reviews! It’s difficult to believe I have done that many or that I would stick with it long enough to do so. This past year has seen a decline in my frequency of posting reviews due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the effects of that craziness. Working in healthcare, I have been so busy that it is hard to find time to sit back and enjoy anime like in the “Before Times”. I’m sure we will get back to that point, and I look forward to it. Until then I will keep posting as much as I can, even if it is not as often as I would like. Thank you so much to everyone that reads these. I appreciate your support and the way you make this all worth it.

A Whisker Away / Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Drama, Romance, School, Neko Transformations

First Released: June 2020, 104-minute film

Summary: Miyo Sasaki is a seemingly normal high school girl with energy to spare! She doesn’t have the best home life and focuses her energy elsewhere. She has a crush on Kento, but does not know how to properly convey her love. This changes when she is given the opportunity to don a mask that turns her into a cat, which she can use to her advantage in secretly getting to know Kento. Of course, turning into a cat has its consequences and Miyo will have to make some unique life decisions. Is being a cat really all it’s cracked up to be?

A Whisker Away is one of the latest works of Director Junichi Sato. It jumps off to a quick start, with a quick understanding of how the “Cat Transformation” world works, leaving a full movie to enjoy, rather than questioning what’s going on the whole time (even though the climactic finale is fairly wild). The animation is bright and vibrant during the supernatural scenes and more subdued during the everyday, regular world scenes. I appreciate the variety of color, as it helped differentiate between the two worlds and accentuate the fantastical properties of “Cat World”.  

You might enjoy this if: You are a cat person with a deep-seeded desire to see what life would be like through the eyes of a feline.

You might not like it if: Being a humanoid is all you have ever cared about.

Similar Anime: The Cat Returns, Spirited Away, Your Name, Whisper of the Heart, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Ponyo, A Silent Voice

Note to the Viewer: Junichi Sato has been in the anime field for decades. One of his first works as a director is the 1992 Sailor Moon series, of which he directed the first two seasons.

A Whisker Away Official Netflix Trailer

Yorushika – Ghost in a Flower (Official Video from A Whisker Away)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 299: Land of the Lustrous / Houseki no Kuni

Land of the Lustrous / Houseki no Kuni

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sentient Gemstones

First Aired: Fall 2017, 12 episodes

Summary: A world has been all but destroyed by meteors. Fast forward to an unknown point in the future and this world is inhabited by humanlike gem organisms. Each one is made of a real gemstone and is assigned a role is protecting the world from the Lunarians, a mysterious species attempting to destroy the gems. Phosphophyllite (Phos), is a fragile gem with the dream of fighting alongside her companions. Unfortunately for Phos, her hardness level of 3.5 is too delicate to be considered for fighting. She is better suited for tasks like compiling an encyclopedia, tasks with little to no danger. Phos is not satisfied with homework and dedicates herself to finding out how she can join her friends on the battlefield.

There is a lot to love in Land of the Lustrous. I love the world they built. The gemstones are unique in their abilities and personalities. Real gems are used and the hardness levels are accurate. They even show different element characteristics during the commercial bumper every episode. It makes the series educational! The jobs the elements have and their relationships are intriguing enough to keep you watching. The mystery and intrigue of both the gems and the Lunarians is captivating in its own right. To add to it, the story itself is fascinating and keeps you locked in. I’m glad I could binge it, because the cliffhangers would be painful if I couldn’t just fire up another episode. It took me a few episodes to get used to the CG animation, but that’s just me.

You might enjoy this if: You tire of humans and want to imagine what another species would do with its own world.

You might not like it if: You cringe at CG animation and can’t focus on the story if you are watching the different animation style.

Similar Anime: ReLife, From the New World, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Claymore, Tokyo Ghoul

Note to the Viewer: The literal English translation of the Japanese title, “Houseki no Kuni”, is “Country of Jewels”, which is a spot-on description of the series.

Land of the Lustrous Trailer

AMV – Midas by Allegoriest AMVs

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 298: Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Horror, Comedy, Magic, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lizard People

First Aired: Winter 2020, 12 episodes

Summary: The Hole is a chaotic place free of law and order, dominated by magic users that visit to lord over the regular beings that inhabit the place. Residents of the Hole are taken advantage of by the magic users that use them for experimental magic. Most residents are powerless against the stronger magic users, but a few are utilizing their power to fight back. One fighter is Kaiman, a reptile-man with a mysterious past and an immunity to magic. His appearance is a curse and he is searching for a cure. His companions travel with him and share the same goal, returning life to normal.

Dorohedoro hits hard and fast with the violence. The opening scene gives a shocking realization of what kind of show you are getting into. The world is dark, scary, and full of horrors. The battles pull no punches when it comes to death and destruction. The world-building is superb with the mystery that comes with the magic and what it is capable of. The intrigue is top-notch with Kaiman and the curiosity of his reptilian form. The characters are well executed and the animation is reminiscent of some of the gritty anime of the past.

You might enjoy this if: You are ready for an action-packed mystery full of violence and terror.

You might not like it if: You are tired of the crushing grip of reality and want to escape with something simple and fun.

Similar Anime: Gangsta, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Konosuba, Deadman Wonderland, Devilman Crybaby, Assassination Classroom

Note to the Viewer: The Dorohedoro manga series is written and illustrated by Q Hayashida and ran from 2000-2018. It is compiled in 23 volumes.

Dorohedoro Opening – Welcome to Chaos by (K)Now_Name

(This opening song reminds me of the soundtrack from the Berserk series of the 90s, maybe that’s why I love it so much)

AMV – Castle by CRAIG

(Warning, the AMV is full of violence)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 297: Okko’s Inn / Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie

Okko’s Inn / Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, Supernatural, Junior Innkeeper

First Released: September 2018, 94-minute film

Summary: A car crash takes Okko’s parents from her at a young age. She has no choice but to move in with her grandmother at her traditional Japanese inn, which is built on top of an ancient spring with healing waters. Okko begins to train as a junior innkeeper to potentially take over the inn after her grandmother is unable to. Along the way she discovers ghosts that inhabit the inn, ones that only she can see. The ghosts help Okko with the painful loss of her parents and the difficult transition from child to innkeeper.

Studio Ghibli alumnus Kitaro Kosaka, the supervising animation director for many Ghibli films, directs Okko’s Inn. The film begins with a gut punch of emotion then wobbles back and forth between sad and sweet. It toes the line of drama and comedy well, but finally settles on a more comedic and light-hearted feel. Had the director gone a different route with the tone of the film and focused more on Okko’s loss, I would have been weeping throughout the film. Instead, the film utilizes several likable characters to produce a good time with a slice of life film with a positive message.

You might enjoy this if: You like the idea of serving others as a coping mechanism for dealing with difficult issues in your life.

You might not like it if: You are tired of the “Supernatural Spirits Living in a Japanese Countryside Inn” genre.

Similar Anime: In This Corner of the World, Mirai, Modest Heroes, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Lu Over the Wall, Flavors of Youth

Note to the Viewer: The direct translation of the Japanese title is: “The Young Innkeeper Is a Grade Schooler!”. I prefer the short and sweet English title of “Okko’s Inn”.

Okko’s Inn Official Gkids Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 296: Null & Peta

Null & Peta

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Robotic Frankenstein

First Aired: Fall 2019, 12 short-form episodes

Summary: Null is an inventor that has a sister named Peta. Peta dies in an accident and Null can’t stand losing her sister, so she makes “Peta Robo”, a robot with all the characteristics of her sister. Even though Null plans out everything, the new robot displays several personality differences than whaat her calculations intended.

Null & Peta is a simple anime with a complicated premise. It sounds confusing, but it is basically a show about a girl and her sister, which happens to be a robot. See, simple right? Each episode follows the sisters through their daily adventures. One day Peta is attempting to make breakfast, while another day has the two blasting off into space! This series is not anything groundbreaking and won’t be winning awards, but it is a cute anime with two loving characters that you can finish in less than an hour. To top it off, the opening is a lot of fun and has a lot of game parodies.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick series to bust through between two other anime.

You might not like it if: You are not captivated after the first episode. If you have five minutes to spare, watch episode one. If you are not interested after that, you can start watching something else.

Similar Anime: Nichijou, Himouto Umaru-chan, Aggretsuko, Cells at Work, Azumanga Daioh, Plastic Nee San, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, The Master of Killing Time, Survival Game Club, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Note to the Viewer: A Null & Peta video game was released on Steam in January 2020, just in case you’re interested.

AMV – Konnichiwa by Yukashi AMV

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 295: Ao-chan Can’t Study! / Midara no Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

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Ao-chan Can’t Study! / Midara no Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Ecchi, Slice of Life, School, Misunderstandings

First Aired: Spring 2019, 12 episodes

Summary: Ao Horie used to proudly proclaim her name in grade school, but upon learning the sensual nature of her name from her depraved father, she has worked tirelessly to change her image and cover up the first impressions that come with her unusual name. She only goes by Horie, tells no one her Ao name, studies endlessly, and works to ensure top grades in her class. Her end goal is to get into a good school, far away from her perverted father. By the way, her father is an esteemed erotic manga author, hence his dirty nature. The problem for Horie begins when her crush, Kijima, confesses that he likes her. From that point on, Horie is a mess of clumsiness and misunderstandings. She falls all over Kijima and shares way too much information. What a crazy situation!

Ao-chan Can’t Study is a lot to handle. There are constant cringe-worthy sexual mishaps between Horie and Kijima. One episode will have Kijima doing ridiculous things while another will have Horie blurting out the most inappropriate comments because of her nervousness around him. Horie’s father is completely absurd, from his tiny and comic-like appearance to his preposterous treatment of his daughter. The things he says to her are wildly inappropriate and should not be said under any circumstance.

You might enjoy this if: You are a depraved individual with some time to spare and no one else around to see what you are watching.

You might not like it if: You blush at the mere thought of inappropriate conversation.

Similar Anime: Magical Sempai, Akiba’s Trip: The Animation, How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno, Please Tell Me Galko-chan, Shimoneta, Seitokai Yakuindomo

Note to the Viewer: The Ao-chan Can’t Study manga is written by Ren Kawahara, their first original creation.

Ao-chan Can’t Study Dub Trailer

(Warning, the trailer is a clear indication of the inappropriate nature of the anime)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 294: K-On!

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K-On!

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Music, Slice of Life, Comedy, School, Band

First Aired: Spring 2009, 13 episodes

Summary: Yui Hirasawa is having a difficult time deciding which high school club to join. She stumbles across the Light Music Club, which three members will do anything to have her join, since they need at least four total students to keep the club from being disbanded. Yui reluctantly joins even though she does not play an instrument. She figures she can just mess around and slack off since the club only needs her there as an extra student to keep the club together. Little did Yui know she would fall in love with the club, pick up an instrument and change her life forever!

K-On is a simple and heartwarming slice of life anime about classmates bonding over their love of music. The series shines around the unique characters that keep you entertained. Yui is an airhead that must learn how to play an instrument, which requires a lot of discipline. Mio Akiyama is a shy girl that expresses herself through songwriting and being a vocalist. Ritsu Tainaka is the upbeat president of the club that is always brainstorming new ideas. Tsumugi Kotobuki is gentle and sweet. Despite being an excellent piano player, she has a near impossible time learning to play any other instrument. Azusa Nakano is a serious guitar player that has little interest in the extracurricular activities of the club. If she had her way, all they would do is practice. Overall, the music is great, the characters are fun, and the series is an easy watch.

You might enjoy this if: You hear the genres “Slice of Life” and “School” with anime and think, “That’s for me!”.

You might not like it if: You are one of the many that has grown weary of school-based anime. I don’t blame you, there has been plenty of them over the years.

Similar Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park, Lucky☆Star, Sound Euphonium, Azumanga Daioh, Free, Super Sonico the Animation, Clannad, Detroit Metal City, New Game

Note to the Viewer: The title of K-On comes from the Japanese word “keiongaku”, which means “popular music”. Bonus note: If you want more K-On, there is a spin-off manga titled K-On Shuffle that focuses on new girls at a new school.

K-On! Opening

 

AMV – 天使にふれたよ!by Sawako Yamanaka

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 293: Sarazanmai

sarazanmai01

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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