Fragglepuss Anime Review 161: Laputa: Castle in the Sky / Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa

laputacastleinthesky03

Laputa: Castle in the Sky / Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Studio Ghibli

First Released: August 1986, 125-minute film

Summary: It is rumored that humanity built great flying cities until a catastrophe destroyed everything, forcing the human race to live on the ground. Our story begins when a girl named Sheeta escapes from an airship and is found by a boy named Pazu. Sheeta’s escape is miraculous for several reasons and it’s up to the two of them to discover the secret behind the glowing amulet that appears to have saved her life. The amulet may be the key to finding Laputa, the greatest of the fabled flying cities. It’s not going to be easy for the young ones, not only is the military on their tail but pirates are also tracking their every move. They’re going to have to get some help from an unlikely source and use all their cunning to figure out the secret of the amulet.

Castle in the Sky is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki so you know it’s quality work. The film contains the Miyazaki standards, such as a strong female protagonist in Sheeta, who is told to step aside several times and refuses to do so. She proves herself time and time again. The use of flight, another standard Miyazaki aspect, is portrayed beautifully through airships, gliders, and even floating land masses. The artwork on the airships is stunning, showing dilapidation in the outdated machinery. The artwork of the entire film is spectacular, from the characters to the backgrounds. The characters are enjoyable, especially in the way you constantly change your mind about who the “bad guy” is. The Disney translation into English uses a mixture of voice talent, from Anna Paquin to Mark Hamill. The soundtrack is composed by Studio Ghibli staple Joe Hisaishi, so you know it’s memorable.

You might enjoy this if: You want a starter anime. You’ll also enjoy it if you’ve seen hundreds of anime. I would recommend Castle in the Sky for almost anyone in the way it’s appropriate for all ages. It also has a good message that you can teach your kids, so that’s a plus.

You might not like it if: You can’t get past the 1980s animation. I’ll admit there is some unusual coloring at times. Pink pirate pants…I’ll leave it at that.

Similar Series: Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away

Note to the Viewer: Castle in the Sky was the first official Studio Ghibli film. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which was released before Castle, is often considered a Ghibli film but was created prior to the founding of the studio.

AMV – Awake to the Sky by Rider4Z

(This AMV shows how much Miyazaki uses flight in his films. It uses clips from Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, and The Wind Rises)

 

Castle in the Sky Trailer

laputa01

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 160: WWW.Wagnaria!! / WWW.Working!!

wwwworkingwagnaria03

Fragglepuss Anime Review 160: WWW.Wagnaria!! / WWW.Working!!

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, Quirky Restaurant

First Aired: Fall 2016, 13 episodes

Summary: Daisuke Higashida is a responsible high school student with an irresponsible family. He arrives home on an otherwise normal day to the news that his father has gone bankrupt and no one in the family has the means to provide support. Even worse is that Daisuke is the only family member that cares about this predicament. Daisuke is pressured to find a job and does so at the Wagnaria restaurant. Daisuke cannot catch a break as he discovers each of his coworkers is stranger than the last.

WWW.Wagnaria is a fun and easy watch, not too serious or heavy. The show mainly takes place in the restaurant and focuses and the various quirky personalities that come and go, whether they are employees, customers, or Daisuke’s family. There’s even the most adorable baby that makes an appearance every once in a while. The animation is nothing special but I expected as much from this type of anime. Chibi-transformations occur fairly often at appropriate times, which I find enjoyable. The exaggerated emotion of anime is something I never get tired of. If you’re looking for a representation of WWW.Wagnaria, check out the opening. The song is “Eyecatch! Too Much!” but you have to watch to fully appreciate it. It has all the elements that remind me of a classic anime opening, from the J-Pop song to the unusual animation that somewhat relates to the anime but in an over-the-top kind of way. It’s a fitting opening for the series.

You might enjoy this if: You deal with a variety of personalities in everyday life, whether at school, work, or home. WWW.Wagnaria shows how individuals from all backgrounds can come together and make the best of life, accepting each other’s individuality.

You might not like it if: You’re looking for outlandish knee-slapping comedy as opposed to subtle laughs.

Similar Series: The Devil is a Part-Timer, New Game, Aggressive Retsuko, Bakuman, The Master of Killing Time

Note to the Viewer: WWW.Wagnaria is a spin-off of the original series, “Working!!”, which is set in another Wagnaria restaurant following an entirely different group of characters. The original series had three seasons, beginning in 2010.

WWW.Wagnaria Opening – Eyecatch! Too Much!

wwwworkingwagnaria02

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 159: Ben-To

bentoanime02

Ben-To

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Comedy, Ecchi, Food

First Aired: Fall 2011, 12 episodes

Summary: Sato is a seemingly normal high school boy with a low budget. One night he awakes in a daze, unsure of his location or how he got there. Come to find out he had been attempting to buy a half-price bento and was pummeled in the process. Turns out discounted bentos are highly sought after, resulting in a whole network of brawlers going to battle as soon as the god of discounts places a half-price sticker on the container. Sato joins the bento club at his school and quickly learns to intensity of bento battles. Inexperienced food fighters, known as “Dogs”, are lucky to get the scraps. Sato will need to work with some of the best bento brawlers, such as the “Ice Witch”, to become a wolf.

Ben-To is as ridiculous as it sounds. Part of what makes it so enjoyable is the naming of the individuals and groups. Whether it’s the Ice Witch, the Lady of the Lake, the Hunting Dogs, or the Boar, everybody and everything in the community has a name. Different groups visit various stores on any given night, so you never know who you’ll be battling for the coveted laurel wreath seal. Maybe enemies will have to team up against a common thug to be victorious at the Hokey Mart. There are only a few unspoken rules to obtaining discount bento: 1- Every brawler must remain clear of the bento case until the god of discounts has placed the stickers and left the room. 2- Once an individual has a bento in hand they are victorious and their bento cannot be stolen. 3- Each individual may only take one bento, as to not be greedy. 4- Bentos must never be spilled.

You might enjoy this if: You love discounts and savings so much you’re willing to go to war for them.

You might not like it if: You are bothered by inconsistencies in animation. There are a few instances where it’s pretty bad. There’s also a lot of fan service, so you’ve been warned.

Similar Series: Food Wars, Kill la Kill, Highschool of the Dead, Dagashi Kashi

Note to the Viewer: I am usually indifferent to the Sub vs Dub debate, taking the side of watching whichever way you prefer. However, I recommend avoiding the Ben-To dub. The translation is unusual at times and the voices do not fit the characters. It’s mainly high school students but they sound like they’re all middle-aged. Just watch the subtitled version of the series to avoid the awkwardness of it all.

AMV – Kritikal Overstrike by Cenit

bentoanime01

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 158: Berserk (2016)

berserk201603

Berserk (2016)

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Demons, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Medieval, Supernatural, The Black Swordsman

First Aired: Summer 2016, 12 episodes

Summary: The Berserk anime series has finally continued from where it left off in 1997! Guts has been branded to be a sacrifice to demons but refuses to give up. He lives in a daily struggle fighting against demons, both figuratively and literally. He travels around the medieval landscape in hopes of saving the few friends he has left, as well as using his giant sword to slay the demons that torment him. As Guts journeys he encounters unlikely allies that join his quest, including a small elf named Puck that won’t leave his side.

The original 1997 Berserk series was one of the first anime I ever watched and left me with a craving for more. The cliffhanger ending left such an impact that I started reading the manga to find out what happened after the unexpected finish of the anime. I am somewhat biased in this review because of my love for the series, but I am just glad we finally got more Berserk on the screen. The 3DCG animation was distracting at times, but after a few episodes I was used to it. The dark and gritty story cut out some parts of the manga, but I expected as much. Guts is still swinging his giant sword around, demons are being sliced in half, and his ragtag group of misfits is still being assembled, so all the important pieces of the story are coming together.

You might enjoy this if: You are like me and have been waiting for this since the late 1990s. If you enjoyed Claymore and Overlord, Berserk will likely interest you.

You might not like it if: Mature content in the form of blood and gore is not for you. This series has always been big into unapologetic death scenes.

Note to the Viewer: Kentaro Miura, the author of the original manga, is the executive supervisor of the anime.

Similar Series: Claymore, Cowboy Bebop, Deadman Wonderland, Elfen Lied, Tokyo Ghoul

AMV – Send Up the World by Slayer AMV

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers and a fair amount of violence)

berserk201601

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 157: Children Who Chase Lost Voices / Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

childrenwhochaselostvoices02

Children Who Chase Lost Voices / Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Underworld

First Released: May 2011, 116-minute film

Summary: Asuna Watase is more responsible and independent than most girls her age. She seems to have it all together until strange sounds and unearthly music from a crystal radio turn her world upside down. Strange occurrences begin happening around Asuna, becoming more severe with time. Soon she’s surrounded by a world of mystery, unsure of how to proceed. It’s up to her and a few of her newfound friends to find the secret this world, something that may be more important than they could have ever imagined.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices combines aspects of several anime films I’ve seen before to form its own creation. The director is Makoto Shinkai, director of such films as: 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Garden of Words, and Your Name. The background animation is gorgeous, especially the wide shots of open landscapes. I also like the character creation of the film. The monsters are unique in their appearance and characteristics. The shadow creatures are creepy and had me watching over my back to make sure they weren’t coming after me. The last bit I’ll mention is the world creation in the film, which I appreciated. I like how the world appeared fairly normal in the beginning with abnormalities appearing at an increasing rate as time passed. By the end it was crazy!

You might enjoy this if: You are of fan of Makoto Shinkai’s others films.

You might not like it if: You cannot handle occasional animation inconsistencies.

Similar Films: Your Name, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle

Note to the Viewer: Children Who Chase Lost Voices was broadcast in the U.S. in November 2016 as a part of Adult Swim’s Toonami block during the extra hour gained during Daylight Savings Time.

AMV – Have You Got It by Nefarious Nox

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

childrenwhochaselostvoices03

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 156: Aggressive Retsuko

aggresiveretsuko03

Aggressive Retsuko

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Music, Short-Form, Office Frustration

First Aired: Spring 2016, 40 short-form episodes

Summary: Retsuko is a 25-year-old red panda working in the accounting department of a Japanese business. She enjoys her career as a whole but gets frustrated with the absurd day-to-day tasks asked of her. Sometimes she’s asked to work late so others can leave early and other times she’s told too much information about coworker’s personal lives. She keeps a cool head at the office by venting her frustration nightly at the local karaoke singing death metal. Retsuko ends each night rejuvenated and ready to take on another day at the office.

Aggressive Retsuko is easy to dismiss at first glance. The animation is simple, the soundtrack is fairly basic and the series is clearly episodic. However, if you go into the show looking for a quick pick-me-up and leave it at that, it’s a fun watch. I have worked in an office and enjoy seeing how Retsuko deals with her supervisor and coworkers. The hippo in particular is relatable to someone I’ve worked with in the past. The contrast of adorable Retsuko during her day job and her terrifying nightly karaoke is entertaining. The characters are charming and the series is hilarious.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick watch to cheer you up after watching a sad and depressing show like Another. If you like movies like Office Space, Aggressive Retsuko will be right up your alley.

You might not like it if: You are looking for a series with an ongoing story as opposed to quick snippets.

Similar Series: New Game, The Devil is a Part-Timer, WWW.Wagnaria, Wakako-zake

Note to the Viewer: Aggressive Retsuko debuted on TBS as part of the King’s Brunch variety TV program.

AMV – Work by Miraculous Ladybug

 

Aggressive Retsuko Trailer – Introducing Aggretsuko

aggresiveretsuko01

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fragglepuss Anime Review 155: Orange

orangeanime01

Orange

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sci-Fi, Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, School, Time Travel-ish

First Aired: Summer 2016, 13 episodes

Summary: Naho Takamiya is a seemingly normal high school student the receives a letter written to herself from ten years in the future. Totally normal, right? Naho is in disbelief, especially when the letter accurately recites the exact events of the day. The most important event being the transfer of Kakeru Naruse, a new student into her class. Future Naho has many regrets from the final year of high school, which is why this letter exists. What’s the deal with this letter? What are these large regrets of future Naho that warrant time travelling letters? You’ll have to watch the series to find out!

Orange is an interesting series in many ways. As a whole it feels like a slice of life/school anime. The bulk of the show follows Naho and her close group of friends through their final year of high school. The characters are a positive part of the anime. Their animation does not rely on crazy hair to tell them apart since their personalities differentiate them. The intrigue of future letters drew me in to the show, but the interactions between friends and their experiences together kept me watching until the end. I appreciate the way they handled the drama of Kakeru. He was going through a lot in his life and it seemed real the way it was portrayed in the series, as if the writer had personal experience with that type of situation.

You might enjoy this if: You fantasize about writing letters to yourself in the past that could prevent some of your biggest regrets.

You might not like it if: You are a stickler when it comes to time travel and time travel-related activities.

Similar Series: ReLIFE, Erased, Plastic Memories, Re: Zero

Note to the Viewer: An anime film, Orange: Future, has been announced. The film will retell the main story of the series from Suwa’s viewpoint!

AMV – You Can Be King Again by RIIZ PER

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers. Watch it after you’ve seen the first six episodes of Orange)

orangeanime02

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fragglepuss Anime Review 154: ReLIFE

relife01

ReLIFE

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama, School, Slice of Life, Redemption

First Aired: Summer 2016, 13 episodes

Summary: Arata Kaizaki is a 27-year-old that does not have a lot going his way. He’s unemployed, single, and his family has had enough of his lazy ways. To put it in anime terms, he’s a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). While out drinking one night Arata meets a mysterious guy in an alley. He’s offered a pill that will turn him back into a 17-year-old, giving him the opportunity to start over with his adult life. Arata wakes up as a fresh faced teenager, regretting his decision but restarting his senior year of high school nonetheless. Who knows what kind of experience he’ll have this time around? Will he use his knowledge and experience to his benefit?

I’m sure we’ve all wondered at one time or another what it would be like to return to a younger age, retaining our current knowledge and memories of the past. ReLIFE shows an example of how that would be. Before I started watching I thought the story would entail Arata becoming a teenager and then he would integrate seamlessly into high school life, leaving a run-of-the-mill school anime as the result. I’m glad to report I was wrong. Arata retains his memories and assumes he’ll fit in, but high school has changed in the past decade. It’s also been ten years since he studied, so he is lacking in his knowledge of high school subjects. There are also reminders throughout that he cannot live the adult lifestyle he was used to, considering he’s only 17 now.

I found the story enjoyable since I’ve contemplated this type of situation on many occasions. It was told in a believable way, considering the content. The characters were another positive aspect, with multiple characters being focused on in various episodes and character development being apparent. While the protagonist is Arata, the series is not solely focused on him. The animation is bright and vibrant, which I am also a fan of.

You might enjoy this if: You’ve wondered what it would be like to get a second chance at reliving a younger age and being able to make different decisions based on what you know now. Not that it’s completely related, but there were moments of ReLIFE that reminded me of Plastic Memories, so if you enjoyed that anime, check out this one.

You might not like it if: You’re the type to always move forward, never looking back in life.

Similar Series: Erased, Plastic Memories, Orange, Re: Zero

Note to the Viewer: If you pay attention you’ll notice each episode contains a different ending theme performed by various artists.

AMV – Rather Be by Epitome

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

relife03

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fragglepuss Anime Review 153: Tekkonkinkreet

tekkonkinkreet02

Tekkonkinkreet

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Psychological, Supernatural, City Control

First Released: December 2006, 111-minute film

Summary: Black and White are two orphans who claim ownership of Takaramachi, Treasure Town. The two will never back down from a fight, even if it’s the yakuza trying to take over their crumbling city.  Everything is going fine until Snake and his minions show up with plans to tear down Treasure Town and build a theme park in its place. It’s up to the imperfect pair to keep doing what they do best, maintain control of Takaramachi while battling their inner demons.

The animation in Tekkonkinkreet is unique, beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The amount of detail put into the backgrounds is stunning. A wide shot will pan the city showcasing the enormity and beauty of what used to be a metropolis. The streets are marked with graffiti and all manner of dilapidation. I’m sure it would have been easier and less expensive to skimp on the detail, and I appreciate that they did not. The story moves along well and the characters are fitting. They exhibit imperfections to show they’re human, like the rest of us. Some of the decisions they make are made with emotion rather than reason.

The quality of the English dub makes it worth watching. Several prominent voice actors play a part: Tom Kenny, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, Phil Lamarr, and Yuri Lowenthal. The director, Michael Arias, is notable as being the first non-Japanese director of a major anime film.

You might enjoy this if: The idea of turf wars and a dystopian metropolis with mind-bending tendencies piques your interest.

You might not like it if: You can’t get past the unique animation.

Similar Films: Summer Wars, Paprika, Akira, Princess Mononoke

Note to the Viewer: In case you’re curious like I was, Tekkonkinkreet signifies a child’s mispronunciation of “Tekkin Konkurito”, which is Japanese for “steel reinforced concrete”.

Tekkonkinkreet Trailer

tekkonkinkreet03

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 152: Survival Game Club! / Sabagebu!

survivalgameclub01

Survival Game Club! / Sabagebu!

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Comedy, Military, School, Shoujo, War Games

First Aired: Summer 2014, 12 episodes

Summary: Momoka Sonokawa is a seemingly normal high school girl until one day when her life is turned upside-down on the train. She encounters a pervert that is quickly put in his place by a mysterious girl with dual pistols. Momoka sees the same mystery girl at school later that day, following her to a run-down building that turns out to be the Survival Game Club. The club has few members, but what it lacks in size it makes up in passion. The group convinces Momoka to join, changing her life forever.

Survival Game Club follows the group as they combat not only one another, but also random classmates and students from other schools. The club is not allowed to use real guns but that doesn’t stop them from imagining the most elaborate fight-to-the-death battles. The narrator does a fantastic job of reminding the viewer that the battles are all being imagined in the girl’s minds, meaning the blood and carnage is simply their inner interpretation of each violent encounter.

The series uses basic forms of animation at times, see the ending credits for an example. The characters switch back and forth between chibi and normal forms in order to show exaggerated emotion, which I approve of in an anime comedy. The ridiculous circumstances that cause each battle and how they unfold is hilarious. The club members are memorable as are the bizarre situations they get into.

You might enjoy this if: You want an easy watch that can be consumed in sessions as short as 10 minutes. While each episode is the standard half hour, they are split into three separate segments that are usually unrelated. It’s almost like watching a short-form anime at times.

You might not like it if: You demand drama in your survival series. Survival Game Club is many things, but serious it is not.

Similar Series: D-Frag!, Nichijou: My Ordinary Life, Military!, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Plastic Nee San

Note to the Viewer: Even if you’re not going to watch the series, you should at least watch the third part of episode 10, titled “Survival VP”. I won’t give away too much detail, but I’ll tell you it references several movies in a true anime fashion.

AMV – A Day in the Life of the Survival Game Club! By Nagareboshi Studio

survivalgameclub02

FragglepussAnimeReviewsLogo01

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment