Fragglepuss Anime Review 203: Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Thriller, Monte Cristo

First Aired: Fall 2004, 24 episodes

Summary: Gankutsuou is loosely based on the novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. It follows the series of bizarre events of aristocrat Albert Morcerf when he befriends a wealthy nobleman, The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite his friend’s warning, Albert trusts the Count to the point of inviting him to meet his upper-class family. If only Albert was wise enough to realize the Count has an ulterior motive.

The first thing you’ll notice about Gankutsuou is the unique animation which utilizes Photoshop textures, layering them into digital animation with backgrounds often rendered in 3D. There is an emphasis on it being loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo. The anime takes place far in the future, 5053 to be exact, as opposed to the late 19th and early 20th Century of the novel. However, the anime does maintain a lot of the original French aesthetic.

You might enjoy this if: You have been waiting for a fresh new take on The Count of Monte Cristo story that turns it on its head.

You might not like it if: The unique animation is too distracting to pay attention to the story. Normally I would say to give a series three episodes to grab your interest, but if the animation is driving you crazy after the first episode it will probably annoy you throughout the whole show.

Similar Series: Monster, Terror in Resonance, Alice to Zouroku, 91 Days

Note to the Viewer: Both the opening and closing themes are by Jean-Jacques Burnel of The Stranglers, so you know who to look for if you love or hate it.

AMV – Finders Keepers by Allegoriest AMVs

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 202: King’s Game the Animation / Ousama Game the Animation

King’s Game the Animation / Ousama Game the Animation

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Drama, School, Psychological, Intrigue, Death Game

First Aired: Fall 2017, 12 episodes

Summary: Nobuaki Kanazawa is a transfer student, fresh in a new school with a heart of ice. His classmates wonder why Nobuaki is so cold as he maintains his emotional distance. He finally begins to warm at the school’s sport festival during the relay race. Shortly after the festival has finished the entire class receives a mysterious text from someone claiming to be “King”. The seemingly harmless prank turns serious as Nobuaki warns his classmates of the serious nature and severity of King. They had better play by King’s rules or risk the consequences.

The rules of the King’s Game are as follows:

  • All class members must participate
  • The order sent by King through text must be followed within 24 hours
  • A punishment will be given to those who don’t follow the order
  • Quitting the King’s Game halfway is forbidden

Imagine a more intense version of Battle Royale or the Hunger Games and you will have an idea of what King’s Game is all about. I am always intrigued by psychological anime that take a deep dive into the human psyche and sociological effects of pushing a group to their limit. As I watch the series I think about how I’d react in each situation. I like to think I would be calm and collected, making correct choices, but it is difficult to know what I would actually do if the situation were real. The ensemble cast of characters left me wondering who would be punished next. Some of the crew were jerks, but do they deserve to be punished in such a cruel manner? Some classmates are timid and kind, I hope they survive the King’s Game!

You might enjoy this if: High stakes mystery and intrigue is your style.

You might not like it if: You are not into violence and gruesome death. King’s Game spares no one’s sensitivities when it comes to murdering in the most grotesque way.

Similar Series: Death Parade, The Lost Village, Another, Danganroupa, Death Note, Btooom

Note to the Viewer: Be prepared to pause when an email appears on the screen. They are only visible briefly and usually contain important information regarding the “game”.

King’s Game Official Crunchyroll Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 201: Space Patrol Luluco / Uchuu Patrol Luluco

Space Patrol Luluco / Uchuu Patrol Luluco

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Space, Weapon Transformation

First Aired: Spring 2016, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Luluco is an eccentric middle schooler who just wants to be normal. Unfortunately, she lives in an unusual city, Ogikubo, an intergalactic melting pot of humans and aliens, the only Space Immigration Zone on Earth. Luluco’s father experiences an unfortunate freezing accident, resulting in Luluco’s recruitment to the Space Patrol. Her life may never be normal again…

Space Patrol Luluco is as bizarre as it sounds. The short-form episodes provide fast-paced entertainment without a lot of plot. The focus is on the characters and their daily experiences in the space patrol. The series is made by Studio Trigger, creators of: Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and Ninja Slayer From Animation. The animation style prominently shows with its bright colors and thick outlines. The ending is fun as well, adding to the strange premise of the series.

You might enjoy this if: You want a break from serious and are ready for hectic nonsense. Imagine a full anime series of Mako (from Kill la Kill) monologues. It’s a fun watch when you sit and enjoy an episode or two at a time.

You might not like it if: You have just come off a Studio Ghibli high and are expecting quality storytelling with beautiful animation and breathtaking backgrounds.

Similar Series: Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, Ninja Slayer From Animation, Space Dandy, FLCL

Note to the Viewer: The Space Patrol manga was written by Hiroyuki Imaishi, who also wrote and directed the anime series. Imaishi co-founded Studio Trigger after leaving Gainax in 2011.

AMV – Trouble by Royal Anime Works

(The video is a 2 for 1 special! 2 AMVs in a single video! They’re both real good too)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 200: Eden of the East / Higashi no Eden

I don’t believe it, 200 reviews! Thanks to everyone that’s read them over the years, even if it’s just been one. Thanks to my nerdy family that loves anime as much as I do. It’s been a blast to present panels with some of my closest friends. Thanks to all the SLC Anime members that I’m able to chat anime with. I have watched several shows through group recommendations that I would not have looked into otherwise.

Something I’ve learned from watching all this anime is that there is an anime for everyone no one will love all anime. Not everyone is going to like the same stuff. Anime is a medium, not just a genre. You would never say that someone will love all television shows, so why would they love all anime? My recommendation if you’re searching for an anime to enjoy is to start with a genre you like and go from there.

 

Eden of the East / Higashi no Eden

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Thriller, Psychological, Streakers

First Aired: Spring 2009, 11 episodes

Summary: Japan is hit by ten missiles on November 22, 2010 with no casualties. The terrorist act is referred to as “Careless Monday”, but due to the lack of casualties, the event is quickly forgotten by the general population. Three months later Saki Morimi is on a graduation trip in America. By accident she meets the naked Akira Takizawa in front of the White House. He suffers from amnesia with his only possession being a high-tech cell phone unlike anything they have ever seen. The cell phone makes unusual contacts and is loaded with 8 million yen! Morimi’s kind and inquisitive disposition causes her to help Takizawa in his time of need. The situation escalates quickly as the two attempt to discover more about Takizawa’s mysterious background.

I have watched this series several times over and noticed something new every time. The mystery is well done, providing appropriate pacing throughout the 11 episodes. It leaves you wanting more at the end of each episode while not giving away too much and not leaving you bored and disinterested. There are other series out there where I’ll watch a few episodes, think back and realize nothing has been explained. Eden starts with a shot of intrigue and continues to deliver. The characters are a positive, with several to care about and follow as they develop. One of my favorites is Yutaka Itazu, commonly referred to as Pantsu. Despite his short amount of screen time, he left an impression on me. The backstories and decisions of the Seleção are also interesting. The story is well-written, the opening and closing credits are a bonus, and the quality of the overall production is there.

You might enjoy this if: You are like me and love mystery and intrigue. The first time watching, I finished the series in two days because I had to know what was going to happen next!

You might not like it if: You cannot stand the sight of thousands of streakers. They’re all censored in a hilarious fashion and nothing crude is shown, but in the end, it is still a lot of naked guys running through the city at one point in the show.

Similar Series: Terror in Resonance, Death Note, Psycho-Pass, Monster

Note to the Viewer: In Japan, the opening song for Eden of the East is “Falling Down” by Oasis. That’s right, the same Oasis you’re thinking of. Wonderwall…Champagne Supernova… Due to licensing issues in America, the opening was changed to “Michael ka Belial” by Saori Hayami. It’s funny how the Japanese opening has an English song while the English opening has a Japanese song.

Original Japanese Opening – Falling Down by Oasis

 

English Opening – Michael ka Belial by Saori Hayami

 

AMV – Runaway Boy by Cenit

(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 199: Knight’s & Magic

Knight’s & Magic

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Mecha, School, Fish out of Water, Medieval Builders

First Aired: Summer 2017, 13 episodes

Summary: Kurata is an otaku with an unbridled passion for mechs. He is a genius programmer that spends his free time building mech models. His passion is so strong that his two-bedroom apartment has one room for him and one for his models. On a rainy day like any other, he dies, reincarnating in another world as Ernesti Echevarria. This new universe is everything he’s ever dreamed of, with mechs not only existing, but being a part of everyday life. Ernesti quickly adjusts to his new reality and strives to attain his new goal, becoming a part of the Knight Runners that pilot the Silhouette Knight machines.

Knight’s and Magic differs from other mech anime in several ways. It goes into incredible detail with the machines being built, from their efficiency upgrades to entirely new mechanisms. The series focuses on mech building rather than piloting or fighting. It is set in a medieval setting with giant mechs, so that’s different. There’s still some fighting against baddies and robots, but the focus is elsewhere. On another note, the opening and closing credits are enjoyable and appropriate.

You might enjoy this if: You are a mech-building otaku. You will be all about the deep dives into mech mechanics.

You might not like it if: You are tired of the “being transported into another dimension” trope. My one minor beef with this series is how the protagonist is transported into a new dimension in the first episode and then it’s like the original world doesn’t even exist anymore.

Similar Series: Overlord, The Irregular at Magic High School, Log Horizon, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World

Note to the Viewer: Knight’s & Magic began as a web novel before being picked up for print publication. The anime adaptation was created by studio 8-Bit, creators of Absolute Duo, Comet Lucifer, and Rewrite.

AMV – Alive by Anime4Kings

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 198: Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic / Kuroshitsuji Movie: Book of the Atlantic

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic / Kuroshitsuji Movie: Book of the Atlantic

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Comedy, History, Demons, Supernatural, Fantasy, The Titanic

First Released: January 2017, 100-minute film

Summary: Ciel and his butler, Sebastian, book a trip on a luxury vessel to investigate the doings of the Aurora Society, a secretive group uniting under the Phoenix banner. The society claims to be performing unbelievable miracles, and it’s up to these two to discover the truth behind it all. Turns out there is more to it than meets the eye as Sebastian gets involved in all manner of disputes. Several fighters are aboard the vessel and rumor has it the dead are being resurrected with a taste for the living.

I will admit this is my first experience with the Black Butler series. I’m familiar with the characters, but this is my first real exposure to the anime. That being said, it was an enjoyable watch. The characters are full of personality and easily distinguishable. The unique weaponry for each character was a nice addition. The action was well choreographed throughout the fight scenes, which can make or break a show. The zombies were a nice touch in the battles, especially with the creativity in ways to kill them.

You might enjoy this if: You love zombies, action, and the high seas. I mentioned how Book of the Atlantic is my first exposure to Black Butler. Watching it left me wanting more. I’m going to start watching the series now.

You might not like it if: You are averse to a to violence and gore in a comical way. There’s a significant amount of blood in the film, but it’s presented in an over-the-top fashion.

Similar Series: Black Butler, Hellsing, Death Note, D. Grayman

Note to the Viewer: The Black Butler franchise is expansive, consisting of two television series, three OVA films, a live-action film, a video game for the Nintendo DS, and several musicals that each had a short run in Japan.

AMV – You’ll be the Moon by Erika Shun AMV

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers and a lot of blood)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 197: Space☆Dandy

SpaceDandy

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Space, Alien Registration

First Aired: Winter 2014, 13 episodes

Summary: Space Dandy is a dandy guy, in space. He combs the galaxy like his pompadour, on the hunt for aliens. Planet after planet he searches, discovering bizarre new creatures, both friendly and not. These are the spectacular adventures of Space Dandy and his brave space crew, in space.

Space Dandy travels the galaxy searching for unclassified aliens, hoping to capture them and receive a handsome reward from the alien registration division. His journeys take him all over the universe, whether he’s encountering zombies or a mystical ramen chef.

The series reunited several creators of the Cowboy Bebop crew, including producer Masahiko Minami and director Shinichiro Watanabe. The similarities are apparent throughout the series, from the space setting to the humor and the use of woolong currency. It even has a catchy opening song!

You might enjoy this if: You love the Cowboy Bebop universe and have been waiting for more content with a lighthearted and sometimes nonsensical tone. Something I enjoyed with this show is the ability to watch an episode here and there without the worry of forgetting the story. The episodic format allows for viewing of a single episode when you need a quick laugh. That said, the individual episodes are well written and fun to watch.

You might not like it if: You want a consistent storyline that doesn’t do a soft reset after several episodes. It should also be mentioned that Space Dandy’s favorite eating establishment is “Boobies”, an intergalactic chain restaurant shaped like the name. It pops up in most episodes, so if that sounds offensive, this probably isn’t the series for you.

Similar Series: Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Redline, Highschool of the Dead, Konosuba – God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World

Note to the Viewer: Space Dandy premiered in the United States before Japan! It first aired at 11:30pm on January 4th, 2014 on Adult Swim’s Toonami block in the U.S. It then aired in Japan at 11:00pm on January 5th, 2014 on Tokyo MX.

AMV – Just Funkin’ Dandy by Shin AMV and Pixel Blended Studios

(Warning, the AMV contains butts and boobies. It’s a good representation of the show)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 196: 18if

18if

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Supernatural, Psychological, Fantasy, Dreams

First Aired: Summer 2017, 13 episodes

Summary: Tsukishiro Haruto is taken by surprise when he awakes in a bizarre dream world run by a witch. He discovers that the witch is a trapped soul afflicted by “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”. Traumatic life events have caused these individuals to go into a coma-like state and create a unique dreamscape that resembles the nightmare that caused them to be there. Haruto must figure out the rules of the dream world if he has any hope of escaping.

18if reminds me of other dream-based anime with how much I enjoy watching interpretations of distorted reality. This series takes a dark approach to the topic with the witches demanding retribution for the way they’ve been wronged. Their methods of inflicting punishment can be cruel but they’re usually justified in their decision. Half the time I wondered why I was rooting for the villain. I really enjoy the dream world scenes and animation. They nailed it with the dream sequences, going all over the place with little connection on the surface.

You might enjoy this if: You are ready for a trip into the mind of several individuals, regardless of what may be in within.

You might not like it if: You want to keep it light with a lighthearted crazy series like Space Dandy.

Similar Series: Paprika, Summer Wars, Perfect Blue, Death Parade

Note to the Viewer: 18if is produced by Gonzo, producers of countless quality anime. The series is based on the game “18: Kimi to Tsunagaru Puzzle”.

AMV – Wait for Me by RL99AMVs

(Warning, the AMV may contain spoilers)

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Anime Banzai 2017

Anime Banzai 2017

Layton, Utah

October 20th – 22nd 2017

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The 13th annual Anime Banzai took place this weekend at the Davis Conference Center. 2017 guests included: Daman Mills, Alejandro Saab, Michaela Laws, Sean Chiplock, Crit Killen, EmpathP, Jamie McGonnigal, and Steve Nunez aka Warky T. Chocobo.

Some of the events at this year’s Banzai included a card/tabletop gaming room, an arcade/video game room, the vendor hall, Artist’s Alley, a scavenger hunt, Banzai Village, Kid’s Corner, countless panels, and two viewing rooms that offered anime all day long. The main events included Banzai’s Got Talent, the Opening Ceremony, Cosplay Chess (Jesters vs Humorless), Brawl, AMV Contest, Cosplay Contest, Orori Matsuri Ball, VOCAMERICA Live, and the Closing Ceremony.

 

Anime Banzai’s charity quilting auction returned this year. All proceeds will be donated to Huntsman Cancer Institute.

 

The AMV Contest showcased 34 videos this year in the main event room.

Some of my favorites AMVs of Banzai 2017 are:

Infectious Affections by Drew Brisco

 

Anime Master Chef by Chiara Carparelli

 

Burnt Animu by Anthony Ronquillo

 

Twintails and Music Clubs by Nathan Gjertson

 

I attended the How to Critique Anime panel presented by Athena Colt and Josh Jones. The panel took a deep dive into how to critically review anime, from the animation quality to the pacing of the story. It was an informative panel that I’m glad I attended. The panelists were well prepared and thoroughly answered every question asked.

 

Thanks to everybody that attended our What’s New in Anime 2017 panel. We were happy to have our full panel crew present with Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, Alec Unsicker, and myself. There’s so much anime that comes out every year so it’s difficult to funnel it down to so few.

The anime we covered in the panel include:

  • Akiba’s Trip: The Animation
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Love Tyrant
  • Gamers
  • 18if
  • King’s Game: The Animation
  • Clockwork Planet
  • Fastest Finger First
  • Re: Creators
  • Dive!!!
  • The Reflection
  • Alice and Zoroku
  • A Centaur’s Life
  • Clean Freak Aoyama-kun
  • Restaurant to Another World
  • Fuuka
  • Made in Abyss
  • Girl’s Last Tour
  • Love and Lies
  • In Another World with my Smartphone
  • The Royal Tutor
  • Ancient Magus Bride
  • Black Clover
  • Neo Yokio
  • Vatican Miracle Examiner

Thanks to everyone that attended our Visiting Japan panel, presented by Lindsay Starke, Alec Unsicker, and myself. We traveled to Japan recently and wanted to share our experience, giving others some suggestions of places to visit and the best way to travel around the country. I apologize that we couldn’t take questions at the end of the panel since we were running late.

If you want a recap of the locations we covered, you can check out my post series on recommendations while visiting Japan:

Akihabara

Shrines and Temples

Nakano Broadway

Studio Ghibli Museum

Quick Stops in Japan

 

Thanks to everyone that attended our Appetizing Anime panel and special thanks to Brittany Evans for putting together such a wonderful presentation. The panelists were: Brittany Evans, Breanne Evans, Lindsay Starke, Alec Unsicker, and myself. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did.

 

 

This year’s iteration of the Anime Banzai convention was well run and organized. I appreciate how the organizers of Banzai strive to make it an interactive convention with something for everyone. There’s a variety of panel topics, various main events, all sorts of games, and even a courtyard for dancing at any time of day! A new type of event this year was ribbon gathering, which involved finding convention-goers with a ribbon badge and answering their question to earn a ribbon to attach to your badge. From what I could tell, attendees were getting way into it.

Photos courtesy of Breanne Evans. Feel free to use, but please give credit to Fragglepuss.com for taking the photo.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 195: Fooly Cooly / FLCL

Fooly Cooly / FLCL

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Parody, Dementia, Mecha

First Aired: Spring 2000, 6 episodes

Summary: Naota Nandaba is a seemingly ordinary 12-year-old living in a city with his father and grandfather. His mundane life is rocked when he is run over by Haruko Haruhara and her scooter. The pink-haired Haruko hits Naota in the head with her bass guitar, opening a horn-shaped portal that occasionally creates robots. As if this wasn’t enough, Haruko moves into Naota’s house and drags him into a battle between the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood and the Pirate King.

There’s a lot to like about FLCL, from the stunning visuals to the fast-paced story that wastes no time. I’ll admit, I watched the first couple episodes and was confused because I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should. I started over, giving it the full attention it deserves and it was significantly better. It’s nice that the series is short enough to watch through multiple times without much commitment. FLCL embodies anime in a glorious manner with everything it is able to accomplish. By that I mean FLCL tells a story that is only possible through the anime medium, from the animation to the execution of the storytelling.

You might enjoy this if: You want a coming-of-age story that involves a fair amount of nonsense and silliness.

You might not like it if: You are not ready for a journey into the abstract.

Similar Series: Kill la Kill, Mob Psycho 100, Punch Line, Nichijou / My Ordinary Life

Note to the Viewer: Almost two decades after the release of season one, 12 new episodes of FLCL were announced in March 2016 as a co-production between Production I.G and Adult Swim.

AMV –Black Betty by Spiderbait

(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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