Fragglepuss Anime Review 210: Millennium Actress / Sennen Joyuu

Millennium Actress / Sennen Joyuu

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Drama, Romance, Fantasy, Psychological, Story of Life

First Released: September 2002, 87-minute film

Summary: It’s the turn of the millenniu, and Ginei Studio is about to be demolished. Filmmaker Genya Tachibana decides to honor the occasion by filming a documentary about the company’s star actress: Chiyoko Fujiwara. The actress quit acting and suddenly became reclusive a few years back, resulting in mystery surrounding her whereabouts and happenings as of late. Genya and his cameraman travel to meet the estranged actress, unaware of the story she will tell.

Chiyoko tells the filmmaker the story of her journey through life and film, with the two weaving back and forth in an illusionary manner that leaves the line blurred between fantasy and reality. The present combines with the past and characters from film blend with influential individuals from real life.

Millennium Actress is the second film directed by Satoshi Kon, preceded only by Perfect Blue. He continued to direct Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika. I love the way Kon adds a psychological aspect to his films. Actress is the most subdued in that regard, with Perfect Blue and Paprika both being a total trip. The soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa is a major bonus. He also composed the soundtrack for Berserk and other Kon films.

The transitions are perfect, merging every one of Chiyoko’s life events to the next. If you’re ever looking for a guide on transitions, look no further than this film. Without spoiling, I will mention that the ending was well executed. It was exactly what it should have been. I appreciate that Kon ended the film the way he should have rather than what would have left the audience the most satisfied.

You might enjoy this if: You appreciate other Kon films, which is to say psychological films that merit a second watch to fully digest.

You might not like it if: You want a simple watch that doesn’t require a lot of thought or attention to fully understand.

Similar Series: Perfect Blue, Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, 5 Centimeters per Second, Your Name

Note to the Viewer: Satoshi Kon was working on another feature film, Dreaming Machine, when he passed away. Masao Maruyama still intends to finish the film, no matter how long it takes.

AMV –Ceaselessly into the Past by Draqua

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 209: Mary and the Witch’s Flower / Mary to Majo no Hana

Mary and the Witch’s Flower / Mary to Majo no Hana

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Witch School

First Released: July 2017, 102-minute film

Summary: Mary is down on her luck and borderline miserable. She’s living with relatives and doesn’t have any friends in her new life. An unexpected occurrence causes Mary to follow Tib, a black cat, to a strange flower in the woods. A chain reaction of events occur that lead Mary on the adventure of a lifetime! It starts when she finds a broom unlike any other, one that shoots Mary into the sky and guides her to Endor College, the prestige school for witches. It’s up to Mary to adapt to her new and exciting life, even if the school is more than meets the eye.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first release of the recently founded Studio Ponoc, a Japanese animation studio started with several animators from Studio Ghibli. The name is Serbo-Croatian, meaning “the beginning of a new day”. Ghibli had basically gone on hiatus and the Ponoc team wanted to step up and continue the legacy of quality anime films. If you need proof, look no further than director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who worked on countless Ghibli films and directed two of them: The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There.

I cannot praise this film enough. From the beginning it reminded me of the quality of a Ghibli film, from the beautiful soundtrack to the breathtaking backgrounds. To create believable backgrounds the film crew traveled to Europe, where the film is set, and drew real landscapes. They say that studying real places, as opposed to photos, helped create the scenes because you notice more when you are on location. There is only so much you can gain from a photo.

I particularly enjoyed the world building in Mary, from the characters to the school. Endor College was amazing. Without giving anything away I will say that I loved the scene where they are taking Mary on a tour through the school. The teachers are interesting, Mary is a wonderful character, and Tib is perfect. I never knew I could care so much about a broomstick…

The film blends a good amount of humor with the right amount of drama and action to create an enjoyable film that piqued my interest in the beginning and held it straight through the credits. It confirmed it was a Ghibli-quality film when the ending credits rolled accompanied by a beautiful song that made me never want to leave the theater.

You might enjoy this if: You have wanted to watch a new Ghibli-style film with fantasy elements. Mary had its own feel that was distinctly its own, but the quality was up there with some of my favorite anime films. If you enjoy Harry Potter, you’ll love Mary. Several scenes reminded me of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Learning about magic as a foreign concept, fitting in at magic school, troublesome teachers, and a place with more to it than meets the eye.

You might not like it if: You’re a stickler for storytelling. There are parts that feel rushed, but if you’re not nitpicky and willing to go with the flow, this will be an enjoyable film.

Similar Films: Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Your Name, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 208: Bananya

Fragglepuss Anime Review 208: Bananya

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Cat Bananas

First Aired: Summer 2016, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Imagine a world filled with some sort of half-cat half-banana hybrid. That’s Bananya! In this world we follow the main Bananya through everyday life, whether it’s taking a trip to the supermarket or simply watching TV. The colorful cast includes:

Bananya is very optimistic and carefree. He likes sweet treats. He also loves to play. His dream is to become a trendy chocolate-covered bananya.

Bananyako is the Madonnya of the bananya world. She’s a girl who loves to look fashionable and researches makeup every day.

Baby Bananya looks very cute when he’s asleep. His favorite treat is banana milk. He has quite an age gap with Daddy Bananya, but they’re still good friends.

Tabby Bananya is a boy cat with a handsome tabby-striped coat. He’s the type that hates losing. He likes Bananyako but she doesn’t return his affection.

Daddy Bananya is the oldest of the Bananyas, so the banana part of him is more ripened than the others. He’s self-conscious about it, but it makes him look sophisticated and handsome. He was apparently quite appealing back in the day.

Namaste Bananya is a bananya from another country. He seems to have come from the land of curry. He has a strong personality.

Elizabeth Bananya also came from another country and has a strong personality. She is a fancy bananya, raised on a famous banana bread farm.

Black Bananya has a beautiful black coat and wears a bowtie. He looks so stylish. He’s a gentleman from Europe who loves fine cuisine.

Long-Haired Bananya is the most handsome of all the bananyas. His long, fluffy coat makes him look so handsome, it’s almost infuriating. The coat is his pride and joy, and he takes care of it every day…for two hours!

Mackerel Tabby Bananya is Tabby Bananya’s younger brother. He’s a dependable sort who cares about his older brother. His role model is Black Bananya. He is awkward with girls and shy.

The Bananya Bunch are three of Bananya’s siblings. When they’re all together they’re difficult to tell apart.

Calico Bananya lives next door and comes over to play sometimes. He’s good friends with Bananya but mainly goes over to see Bananyako.

What a delightful anime! Bananya combines a simple concept with an appropriately short run time to create a quick and easy watch. The entire series can be binged in about half an hour, or you can spread out the cuteness by watching an episode here and there. Either way seems good to me. A short episode of cat bananas can be a great way to recover after a difficult day at the office. The story is basically non-existent, the animation is basic, and the soundtrack is simple, but the purpose of the anime is achieved. It’s super adorable and leaves you loving those cute little characters.

The only thing I don’t understand is what the bananyas are exactly. Are they tiny cats that took up residence in a banana peel? Are they bananas that evolved into an actual cat-banana hybrid? Can they be seen and understood by humans or just the narrator that interacts with them like Muppet Babies?

You might enjoy this if: You are a crazy cat person or just a cat person in general.

You might not like it if: You have never had the curiosity of seeing what a cat-banana hybrid would be like.

Similar Series: Sekko Boys, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time, Bonobono, Aggressive Retsuko, Lovely Muuuuuuuco!

Note to the Viewer: Make sure to watch until after the credits of each episode. It shows an adorable real cat every time!

Bananya Crunchyroll Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 207: Nyanko Days

Nyanko Days

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Anthropomorphic Cats

First Aired: Winter 2017, 12 short-form episodes

Summary: Tomoko is a shy high school student that is having a difficult time making friends. The three friends she has are her three cats: Munchkin Maa, Russian Blue Rou, and Singapura Shii. Each cat has its distinct traits, which makes sense considering they are anthropomorphic in personality and looks. I’m still not entirely sure if they are a half cat/half human hybrid or if they only appear that way to Tomoko while appearing like normal cats to everyone else. The latter would certainly make more sense. It’s anime though so who knows.

It seems like I’ve been watching a lot of these anime recently. I’m referring to the short-form series that are heavy on chibi style. Nyanko Days is a simple show that can be watched in less than half an hour. The animation is nothing special, the characters are fine, just like every other aspect of the show. The nice thing about this series is you can watch a few episodes and if you don’t like it you haven’t lost much time.

You might enjoy this if: You have always wanted your cats to exhibit human traits. This show will ease your curiosity.

You might not like it if: You want a show with substance. As cute as this series is, it’s about as simple as it comes.

Similar Series: Aggressive Retsuko, Kaiju Girls, BAR Kiraware Yasai, Plastic Nee San

Note to the Viewer: The Nyanko Days anime is based off a four-panel manga series by Tarabagani, which is fitting for the short run time of each episode.

Nyanko Days Ending

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 206: Kaiju Girls / Kaijuu Girls: Ultra Kaijuu Gijinka Keikaku

Kaiju Girls / Kaijuu Girls: Ultra Kaijuu Gijinka Keikaku

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Parody, Fantasy, Chibi Monsters

First Aired: Fall 2016, 12 short-form episodes

Summary: Humanity has enjoyed an era of peace after many years of kaiju battles. After some time, girls begin to manifest the soul of kaiju monsters with the ability to transform. It’s up to a secret organization (GIRLS) to ensure these kaiju girls don’t get out of control and destroy the city!

This series is as ridiculous as it gets. The chibi-style girls transform into monsters and end up being more adorable. It’s fun to see the callback to some of the traditional Ultra series monsters and the loose interpretation they take in this show. The animation is fitting with its basic nature in the form of chibi characters, thick lines, and a lack of shading. The series knows what it’s going for and delivers on its promise of lighthearted moe girls.

You might enjoy this if: You are part of the Ultra fandom and are looking for a fresh new take on the kaiju of that universe. If you’re looking to learn more about the monsters behind the Kaiju Girls, check out this article on Anime Now:

http://www.anime-now.com/entry/2016/11/17/000058

You might not like it if: You don’t have an interest in watching an anime that exclusively uses chibi characters with little to no story.

Similar Series: Aggressive Retsuko, Ao Oni: The Animation, BAR Kiraware Yasai, Plastic Nee San

Note to the Viewer: The Kaiju Girls series is part Ultra Monsters Anthropomorphic Project by Tsuburaya Productions, whose goal is to bring back monsters and aliens that have appeared in the Ultra Series.

Kaiju Girls Trailer from Anime Japan 2016

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 205: She and Her Cat: Everything Flows / Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows

She and Her Cat: Everything Flows / Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Psychological, Drama, Slice of Life, Short-Form, Pet’s Perspective

First Aired: Winter 2016, 4 short-form episodes

Summary: Kanojo and her cat Daru have been inseparable since she was a child. Now as a college student she must find her own apartment and a part-time job to afford her living situation. As time passes we witness the story between Kanojo and Daru, from the cat’s perspective.

She and Her Cat is a moving story, especially considering it goes from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. Every scene is important and no screen time is wasted. Even though we did not have a lot of time to get to know she and her cat, I feel as though I comprehend the complexity of their relationship. Throughout the series we see the entirety of their companionship, from a rough beginning to the heartbreaking end. I’ll be honest though, maybe it resounded with me more because of my love for my pets. I connected to the characters on so many levels with situations I have been through with my dogs and cats. That ending though…I knew it was coming but that didn’t help me at all!

You might enjoy this if: You love or have loved a pet in your lifetime. If your heart is ice cold towards animals, prepare to have it melted by this heartwarming story. It’s such a quick watch that it’s difficult not to recommend it.

You might not like it if: You want action and characters and all that good stuff. There’s a total of four characters in the series, but mainly only two. There’s no action and mainly dialogue mixed with a beautiful soundtrack.

Similar Series: Usagi Drop, The Cat Returns, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Lovely Muuuuuuuco!, Wakako-zake, Your Name

Note to the Viewer: The original She and Her Cat OVA was released in 1999, directed by Makoto Shinkai, which makes sense because the story’s style has his name written all over it.

AMV – Affinity by Allaire

(This is the AMV that made me curious about this anime. I swear though, it made me weep as much as the series itself. I’m such an easy mark with this.)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 204: Angel’s Egg / Tenshi no Tamago

Angel’s Egg / Tenshi no Tamago

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Dementia, Artsy

First Released: December 1985, 71-minute OVA

Summary: An unnamed girl lives alone in the remains of an undetermined city protecting a mysterious egg. An unnamed boy crosses her path. He has questions about the egg she’s protecting as well as her general situation. They are in the company of one another for a short time before the film reaches its conclusion.

The animation and soundtrack are two of the highlights of Angel’s Egg. The film has little dialogue and there are times where several minutes can pass without a word being spoken, but the space is filled with haunting music that sets the scene and creates an uneasy feeling appropriate for the post-apocalyptic setting. The slow pacing and lack of dialogue remind me of horror films during the same era with slow moving plot lines that allow for a significant amount of personal reflection. Sometimes with this style of film I find myself immersed in the storytelling and thinking heavily about the story that’s unfolding. I didn’t feel this way with Angel’s Egg. Instead I found myself thinking, “It’s been three minutes and the animation has not changed save the small fire crackling away”.

You might enjoy this if: You want to view something that feels more like animated art than a story-based film.

You might not like it if: You want a more traditional film. Angel’s Egg is incredibly slow in its pacing with hardly anything occurring from beginning to end. It leaves you a lot of time to watch the screen and listen to the soundtrack while nothing is happening with the animation.

Similar Series: Serial Experiments Lain, Ergo Proxy, Vampire Hunter D, Metropolis

Note to the Viewer: Angel’s Egg was written by Mamoru Oshii, who himself stated in “The Cinema of Mamoru Oshii: Fantasy, Technology and Politics” he does not know what the film is about. He also stated in “Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii” that Angel’s Egg kept him from getting work for years.

Angel’s Egg Trailer by fokkusu1991

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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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