Fragglepuss Anime Review 255: Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Medieval, Goblins

First Aired: Fall 2018, 12 episodes

Summary: A young priestess is eager to become an adventurer, a task accomplished by signing up for a quest on the adventurer board. She joins up with a group on a quest to exterminate an underground goblin horde, a task easier said than done. Lucky for her a stronger adventurer comes into the cave to help the adventurers in peril. This stronger person, the “Goblin Slayer” has dedicated his life to exterminating goblins by any means necessary. The unlikely pairing of warrior and priestess will yield some interesting results.

Goblin Slayer is reminiscent of some of the older dark fantasy anime. It has some intense scenes full of mature content. It also has light bits of humor. The way the Goblin Slayer wants to only slay goblins is both admirable and slightly humorous, even though he doesn’t understand the joke. He is just passionate about killing goblins. I applaud the world-building in the series. As we learn more about the adventurers, the guild, the monsters, the dungeons, and the magic, I’m left with a fascination to learn even more. The characters are interesting and unique, the animation is good and reminiscent of anime from a few years back, the story is well told and progresses nicely, and each episode left me wanting to watch more. I will say that the content is mature and not for the children. There is an excessive amount of medieval violence and sexual content that is too much for some.

You might enjoy this if: You despise goblins and everything they stand for. You wish you could flush them out of their caves and kill them all. The Goblin Slayer will satisfy that bloodlust.

You might not like it if: You are a kid or sensitive to mature content. This series is full of violence and sexual content that will offend some people.

Similar Series: Berserk, Claymore, Highschool of the Dead, Attack on Titan, Akame ga Kill

Note to the Viewer: If you’re a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and his book, The Hobbit, pay attention to the scene with the mentor asking riddles. I’m sure you will notice a reference or two in there.

AMV – Superhero by WarLuxAMVs

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers and a lot of violence)

 

Goblin Slayer Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 254: Mirai

Mirai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Coming-of-Age

First Released: July 2018, 98-minute film

Summary: Kun is a four-year-old with his parents wrapped around his finger until his baby sister Mirai is born. Mirai, which means future, is the second-born in the family and immediately takes over all the parents attention. Kun’s play time and activities with his father have been replaced with watching Mirai get her diaper changed and being fed constantly. Mother returns to work leaving father to take care of the two children by himself during the day. Kun becomes increasingly jealous of the Mirai and begins to act out in various ways. Just when he thinks he can’t take anymore, Kun storms off to the garden and is greeted by mysterious guests of the past and future, including a teenage Mirai that knows everything about him. Kun goes on a journey through time and space, learning the history of his family.

Mirai is directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who you may know from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast. The story is fairly simple, there is a beautiful blend of fantasy and reality that provides a nice recipe for entertainment. I enjoyed watching Kun’s struggle of being a kid and going from being an only child to becoming the first-born of two. The emotions are spot on with all the characters, from the parents to the children. It’s not entertaining to watch the parents struggle with taking care of two kids, but it is so true to life that it makes perfect sense why they made the film the way they did. It’s apparent that the writers have experienced the family struggle firsthand. On top of the difficult reality in the film, the fantastical elements are beautifully presented and animated. Some of scenes are so breathtaking that it makes you want to watch them over and over again, especially during certain scenes near the end.

You might enjoy this if: You are passionate about family history in all its forms. You will also enjoy this if you have children and want to watch something you can relate to.

You might not like it if: You are not ready for all the feels.

Similar Shows: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, Fireworks, Spirited Away, The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Note to the Viewer: Mamoru Hosoda was commissioned by Studio Ghibli to direct Howl’s Moving Castle but left during the early production stages.

Mirai Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 253: Nyanbo!

Nyanbo!

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Short-Form, Box Cat

First Aired: Fall 2016, 26 short-form episodes

Summary: Nyanbo are creatures with a cat-like appearance with square bodies. Come to think of it, everything on them is square, from their head to their arms and legs. They came to Earth from outer space and need to repair their ship if they want to leave. Their only problem is how easily distracted they get. One day Mike will be proving he’s not lazy and another day they are hanging out with the Nyanbo Angels. The Nyanbo we know about are:

  • Tora – A tiger-striped Nyanbo attempting to gather the necessary pieces to repair their ship
  • Kotora – Tora’s younger sister that is also tiger-striped and the only child in the group
  • Shiro – The white-colored Nyanbo attempting to win Tora’s affection
  • Kuro – A black-colored Nyanbo that is kind and dependable
  • Mike – The calico-colored, carefree one of the group
  • There are also the Nyanbo Angels, Wild Black, and Mecha Nyanbos that appear throughout the series

Nyanbo is something else. The square cat-like creatures are adorable. They are the only animated part of the show. They travel around on a real background throughout the city and around the house.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch an anime with the kids.

You might not like it if: You want something with a little more substance than square cats.

Similar Series: Bananya, Bonobono, Dagashi Kashi, Donyatsu, Michiri Neko, Neko Ramen, Nyanko Days

Note to the Viewer: It’s easy to assume the anime was modeled after figurines. That was the case. The original figures were created in 2015, followed by different sizes in 2016 and 2017.

Nyanbo Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 252: Peeping Life

Peeping Life

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Sketch

First Aired: Spring 2009, 10 short-form episodes

Summary: Peeping Life is a collection of animated rotoscoped skits by popular Japanese comics. The voice actors are presented with the setting and ad lib the scene. Imagine the crazy conversation that’s bound to happen when two gals where the same outfit to a party!

Peeping Life gives insight to Japanese humor and what makes them laugh. Since each episode is a standalone scene with different voice actors, you get a variety of humor and hilarity. It’s not really the “haha” kind of funny, more the relatable situation type. It’s the kind of show where you’re watching and thinking, “I’ve been there. How awkward was that”. I especially like the Vending Machine episode and how it made me reminisce about the wonder machines in Japan. I absolutely love the variety of Japan’s vending machines and how easy they are to find. You can get a piping hot can of coffee to warm you up on a cool day or an ice-cold beer after a long day of exploration. Anyways, the animation in Peeping Life is the strange CG stuff that looks funny. The backgrounds are basic as can be. It works though, as the focus is clearly on the characters and their conversations.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick look into Japanese society, from their humor to how they handle daily situations.

You might not like it if: You don’t want to watch an anime that solely consists of two characters having a conversation in the same room.

Similar Series: Aggretsuko, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Love is Like a Cocktail, My Neighbors the Yamadas

Note to the Viewer: If you’re way into Peeping Life, a wackier version titled “Peeping Life TV: Season 1??” came out in 2015.

Peeping Life Episode One – Fiddle Faddle Couple

 

detune. / さとりのしょ PV    (Peeping Life AMV)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 251: Lychee Light Club / Litchi DE Hikari Club

Lychee Light Club / Litchi DE Hikari Club

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Psychological, Short-Form

First Aired: Fall 2012, 8 short-form episodes

Summary: The story follows the nine members of the Light Club and their robot, Lychee. The town of Kieko-cho is an old factory town, stained with the remains of exhaust and oil. The Light Club rules Keiko-cho and is not friendly towards newcomers. Despite living in a post-apocalyptic world filled with the remains of what used to be a bustling technological landscape, the Light Club is always up to some scheme. One day they might be catching an intruder while another day they are starting an idol band to increase their worldwide influence.

Lychee Light Club is a quick and easy watch that can be viewed from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. The episodes are brief with a single issue at their core. It’s fun to watch and see what the club is up to each week. The show is basic from the animation to the soundtrack, but its focus is on the characters and the humorous situations they get themselves into, not the elaborate animation style.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick series that can be seen in its entirety in a single sitting.

You might not like it if: You are scared of anything resembling Frankenstein’s monster. Lychee is a robot built by Zera and the club. It has a limited range of emotion and understanding, like Frankenstein’s monster. It is often misunderstood, like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s ugly and has a face only a mother could love, like Frankenstein’s monster.

Similar Series: Ao Oni: The Animation, Aggretsuko, Death Parade, Deadman Wonderland, Kaiju Girls, Pikotaro’s Lullaby

Note to the Viewer: The history of Lychee Light Club runs deep. The anime is based on the manga of the same name. The manga is loosely based on a 1985 play of the same name. The visual style of the series inspired the formation of a rock band. Three stage plays have been performed based on the series and a live-action film has been released.

Litchi Hikari Club Musical – Opening Dance Sequence

 

ライチ光クラ

(Here’s the band that was inspired by the series)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 250: My Neighbors the Yamadas / Tonari no Yamada-kun

My Neighbors the Yamadas / Tonari no Yamada-kun

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Comic Strip, Watercolor, Studio Ghibli

First Released: July 1999, 104-minute film

Summary: Meet the Yamada family:

  • Takashi, the loving father with a close relationship to his wife
  • Matsuko, the loving mother that loves her family despite their flaws
  • Shige, the wise grandmother full of proverbs and advice
  • Noboru, the 13-year-old son who wishes he had a cooler family
  • Nonoko, the loud-mouthed 5-year-old daughter
  • Pochi, the family dog

The Yamadas go through day-to-day life with relatable situations that affect all of us. One day they are arguing over who gets control of the TV remote and another day they are frustrated with daily tasks. Despite the arguments among the family, they love each other, and it shows. They all have their flaws, but they overlook the flaws when it matters most.

My Neighbors the Yamadas is directed by Isao Takahata, who you may know from such films as: Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. If you have seen any of Takahata’s other works, you know he often utilizes a unique animation style. That’s also the case in the Yamadas. The film is presented in a stylized comic strip aesthetic with simple animation and a lack of backgrounds. The English dub follows suit with other Ghiblis in how a stellar voice cast was brought on. The cast includes: James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy, Tress MacNeille, and David Ogden Stiers.

You might enjoy this if: You want a Ghibli film that’s like nothing else you have ever seen.

You might not like it if: The change in animation is too much for you. The film is simple and fun, but it’s not for everyone.

Similar Shows: Summer Wars, Azumanga Daioh, Nichijou, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Lucky Star

Note to the Viewer: Takahata wanted the film to use watercolor pictures rather than traditional cel pictures. To achieve that, digital technology was used, making My Neighbors the Yamadas the first Studio Ghibli film to have animation drawings painted entirely on computers.

My Neighbors the Yamadas Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 249: Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, Studio Ghibli, Country Roads

First Released: July 1995, 111-minute film

Summary: Shizuku is a 14-year-old on summer vacation who spends most of her time at the local library. She begins to notice how most the books she checks out have recently been checked out by someone named Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku follows a mystery cat off the train one day and ends up at an antique shop ran by Nishi, Seiji’s grandfather. On top of all this library mystery, Shizuku is writing a song about her city based on the tune of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Directed by Yoshifumi Kondou, Whisper of the Heart is the first Studio Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Isao Takahata, although Miyazaki was a producer and storyboard artist for the film. Kondou is successful in telling the story of a young girl that is unsure of herself and her future. It utilizes the slice of life genre in a captivating way where the storyline progresses at a perfect pace without feeling rushed. Sometimes slice of life shows drag on and get boring, but Whisper moves along well. It’s a refreshing change how the stakes are not high in this film. Most of the Ghibli films have crazy-high stakes that involve the world ending or being changed forever. I like those films as well, but it provides a relaxing change of pace with Whisper and how the story is simpler. It’s just about a girl trying to find her place in the world.

The art is amazing, but that should not come as a surprise for a Ghibli. The backgrounds are well done and full of detail. You can tell when the wind is blowing and which direction the sun is facing. The soundtrack is my favorite part of the film, especially with it being a central plot point. Shizuku is writing lyrics throughout the film and it’s fun to watch the lyrics and sound develop. I’m not one to judge on the subs vs dubs debate, but it’s fun to listen to all the singing in Japanese to hear how beautiful it sounds.

You might enjoy this if: You have watched the big-name Ghibli films like Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, and are looking for another show to fill your Ghibli need.

You might not like it if: You hate music in all its forms. This movie has it all: singing, violins, stand-up bass guitar, tambourine, etc.

Similar Films: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Garden of Words, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Cat Returns, Flavors of Youth, 5 Centimeters per Second, Fireworks

Note to the Viewer: Whisper of the Heart was the inspiration for the 2002 Studio Ghibli film, The Cat Returns, which focuses on The Baron and his life.

Whisper of the Heart Official Trailer

 

AMV –Hold On by Virginia Chan

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 248: Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Kids, Studio Ghibli

First Released: July 2008, 101-minute film

Summary: Sousuke lives with his mother, Risa, on a cliff by the sea. During the day his mother works at the assisted living center. The only interaction he has with his father is when he comes close to shore in his ship and flashes messages across the water. Sousuke and Risa get along well enough, but something is missing for both of them. Risa wants her husband to get off his ship once in a while and spend time with the family. Sousuke wants a friend. Everything changes one night when a storm comes in and Sousuke comes across Ponyo, a delightful little goldfish. Fantasy and reality clash as Ponyo begins to exhibit human-like traits and have a desire to become more like Sousuke.

Ponyo is directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki himself. The story is based on The Little Mermaid, but it’s nothing like the Disney version. It has an anime twist that makes it significantly more enjoyable if you ask me. The artwork is classic Ghibli with incredible attention to detail, from the characters to the bubbles in the water. The backgrounds are gorgeous and lifelike. The underwater scenes are magical and animated beautifully. The soundtrack is composed by Joe Hisaishi and it lives up to the expectation of adding to the film. The combination of storytelling, animation, and music provide an amazing Ghibli film that is geared towards children but can be enjoyed by all.

You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a light-hearted entry into the anime universe for you and the family, or just yourself. Ponyo does a terrific job making a kid’s film that is not just cheap laughs for kids. It tells a deep story while being able to keep the children interested.

You might not like it if: You are afraid of the ocean.

Similar Shows: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Secret World of Arrietty

Note to the Viewer: Miyazaki went back to his roots with Ponyo. Some of the previous Ghibli films had used computer animation, but Miyazaki insisted that Ponyo be entirely hand-drawn. The end result was 170,000 hand-drawn separate images to complete the film, a record high for a Miyazaki film.

Ponyo Official Trailer

 

AMV – Counting Stars by Ellipselris

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers. I figure if you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know what’s getting spoiled anyways, right?)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 247: My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life, Short-Form

First Aired: Spring 2018, 25 short-form episodes

Summary: Nontan is head-over-heels for Akkun. The two high school students are technically dating but their relationship is far from normal. While Nontan expresses an interest in Akkun and is always attempting to do cute things for him, Akkun acts like he doesn’t even like her when they are together. When Akkun is alone or with his close friends, his true feelings come out. He is deeply in love with Nontan and everything she does. He admires her actions and can’t get enough of the delightful things she says.

My Sweet Tyrant begins with a relationship that appears problematic on the surface but ends up being deeper than that. It is always clear that Nontan cares for Akkun. On the surface it seems like Akkun is a verbally abuse boyfriend that doesn’t even like Nontan. As the episodes progress we see that Akkun is truly in love with Nontan and he just has a difficult time expressing his true feelings when he is with her. We get to know a few other couple throughout the series, which is also enjoyable to watch. The episodes run short at only three minutes a piece, but you really get to know everyone by the time the series is over.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick and easy romcom without a huge time investment.

You might not like it if: You want more than simple back-and-forth interactions that make up entire episodes.

Similar Series: Engaged to the Unidentified, Garden of Words, Glasslip, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, The Master of Killing Time, My Love Story, One Week Friends

Note to the Viewer: The My Sweet Tyrant manga was launched in 2013 and has eight tankobon volumes released to date.

My Sweet Tyrant Clip

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

 

Kabuki at Kabuki-za

Kabuki is classical Japanese theatre known for its stylization of drama and elaborate makeup worn by the performers. It is the most popular of the traditional Japanese drama. Some other forms include Rakugo and Bunraku. The stage design is essential to kabuki, from the hanamichi extending from the main stage to the mawari-butai (revolving stage). Three main categories of performances exist: historical, domestic, and dance pieces (jidaimono, sewamono, and shosagoto).

They have made Kabuki foreigner-friendly using audio guides in multiple languages.  The guide provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories that may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand. Another foreigner-friendly option is to attend a single act rather than a full play.

Kabuki-za is the main theatre for kabuki. It was originally built in 1889, but was rebuilt in 1911, 1924, 1950, and 2013. Once it was destroyed due to fire, once due to earthquake, once to bombing during World War II, and once as a complete rebuild due to earthquake concerns. Kabuki-za runs plays year-round. If you are going to catch a single act of the play, you have to show up morning of to buy tickets. You can only buy one ticket per person. Show up early to ensure you can get a seat.

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