Fragglepuss Anime Review 289: Lu Over the Wall / Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta

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Lu Over the Wall / Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Music, Supernatural, Fantasy, Water

First Released: May 2017, 117-minute film

Summary: Kai is a middle school kid living in Hinashi Town, a small fishing village. His father and grandfather want him to continue in the family business of umbrella making, but Kai has other intentions. Kai gets dragged to Merfolk island with two of his classmates because they are trying to force him to join their band, “SEIREN”. At the island Kai discovers Lu, a carefree mermaid girl that loves to dance! Everything changes as Kai befriends Lu and the two turn the village upside down.

Lu over the Wall is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, and his style is all over this film. If you have seen other Yuasa works, you will immediately notice the signature animation. The storytelling is also similar to other works, with the quick transitions in tone that seem dreamlike. When you watch the big dance scenes, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The overall story is all over the place at times, but comes together nicely at the climax of the film. The beautiful animation more than makes up for it and keeps the show interesting.

You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a kid-friendly Masaaki Yuasa anime. Lu Over the Wall is significantly more family-friendly than some of his other shows, like Mind Game and Devilman Crybaby.

You might not like it if: You are in the mood for a more traditional anime in terms of animation style and story.

Similar Anime: Other Yuasa works (Mind Game, Ping Pong: The Animation, Devilman Crybaby), Ponyo, Weathering With You, Mirai, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Your Name, Spirited Away

Note to the Viewer: Yuasa admitted influence from Hayao Miyazaki for Lu Over the Wall. The influence came from Miyazaki’s 2008 film, Ponyo.

Lu Over the Wall Official Trailer

 

AMV – Bad Liar by Vincze Lizett AMV

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers, but nothing too crazy)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 288: Spice and Wolf / Ookami to Koushinryou + The Six-Year Anniversary of Fragglepuss Anime Reviews!

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What a ride it’s been these last six years! It’s bizarre to think I’ve reviewed almost 300 unique anime over the years. I must admit, this year has presented its difficulties in continuing the reviews. It seems the whole world is shut down due to COVID-19, and even though it feels like this would be the perfect opportunity to crush through anime, life has other plans. I am going to continue posting anime reviews, and hopefully I will be able to return to the regular weekly posting once the world returns to normal. I always like to thank everyone who is supportive of the website, and this year is no exception. I have certainly learned to be grateful for the good things in life lately. Thanks to all the family and friends that support Fragglepuss.com through reading the posts. Thanks to everyone that attends our panels at the various nerd conventions we attend. Thanks to everyone that reads and posts on the anime reviews. A special thanks to Breanne for always being supportive of the Fragglepuss way. Enough about me though, on to what everyone really came here for, nerd talk on anime things!

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Spice and Wolf / Ookami to Koushinryou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Bartering

First Aired: Winter 2008, 13 episodes

Summary: Kraft Lawrence is a mid-20s, low-level traveling merchant. He makes enough through wheeling and dealing to get by, but by no means is he rich. While traveling through the town of Pasloe he comes across Holo, a 600-year-old wolf goddess with the appearance of a young girl with ears and a tail. She claims to be the town’s goddess of harvest, but the farmers have become less reliant on her over the years. The two strike a deal that Kraft will take Holo to her northern home, Yoitsu. In exchange, Holo will partner with Kraft while traveling, attempting to broker better merchant deals along the way.

Spice and Wolf throws an anime spin at “The Odd Couple” situation. An unlikely pair end up together and must learn to focus on their similarities and strengths, rather than their differences and weaknesses. The contrasting personalities of the two protagonists are fun to watch unfold. The careful and calculating Kraft must learn to accept the wild and charismatic Holo, which is a risky maneuver. Sometimes Holo’s outgoing personality pays off with excellent deals, while other times it is a hindrance. I am surprised I enjoyed this series as much as I did. I read the synopsis about a traveling merchant making deals and thought they just threw in a fox girl to “spice” it up, but that was not the case. The episodes remain interesting throughout the series and the medieval-style trade deals are fun to watch.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a bunch of medieval-style deals go down. It’s a fictional world reminiscent of medieval Europe, but of course with the anime flavoring added to spice it up.

You might not like it if: You want a fox girl centered story. While Holo is a main part of the show, her fox-like characteristics are secondary for the most part. She does have a luxurious tail though, if I do say so myself.

Similar Anime: Kamisama Kiss, Log Horizon, Eden of the East, Wolf Children, Claymore, Silver Spoon, Ascendance of a Bookworm

Note to the Viewer: Spice and Wolf is based on a light novel series, not a manga like most anime. The series consists of 21 volumes and counting and is written by Isuna Hasekura.

AMV – Thousand Years by Daniel Smith

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 287: Sturgill Simpson presents Sound & Fury

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Sturgill Simpson presents Sound & Fury

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Music

First Released: September 2019, 41-minute film

Summary: Set to the music of Sturgill Simpson’s latest album, Sound & Fury, this psychedelic anime adventure follows a lone swordsman on their defense against post-apocalyptic goons. That’s about all I can say, it’s bizarre and way out there.

The anime is directed by Jumpei Mizusaki of Kamikaze Douga animation, but each album track is directed by a different director, which is apparent from the widely varied styles. It’s incredible the story they can tell with the only sound being from the Sturgill Simpson album. The artwork makes the show worth watching. It’s nice to see the different directors styles and if you are not keen on one, it will change after a few minutes. You can tell the Afro Samurai influence that Takashi Okazaki brought to the project. The soundtrack is clearly another strong point to the film, being that the anime was created based on the sound.

You might enjoy this if: You like to watch AMVs and are ready for a short film in that vein.

You might not like it if: You are averse to violence, gore, and light nudity. There’s a fair amount of all that in this.

Similar Anime: Basilisk, Berserk, Castlevania, Cowboy Bebop, Detroit Metal City, Junji Ito Collection, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Mind Game

Note to the Viewer: The team of directors for individual tracks include: Koji Morimoto, Michael Arias, Masaru Matsumoto, Henry Thurlow and Arthell Isom.

Sound & Fury Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 286: Ascendance of a Bookworm / Honzuki no Gekokujou

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Ascendance of a Bookworm / Honzuki no Gekokujou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Fantasy, Isekai, Fish-Out-Of-Water, Book Drought

First Aired: Fall 2019, 14 episodes

Summary: Motosu Urano loves books more than anything in the world. Life is good for Motosu as she is surrounded by books as a college student. To top it off, she just received her Librarian certification and is looking to land her dream job. Unfortunately for Motosu,  her life comes to a crushing end when an earthquake causes her to be buried under a pile of her own books. Her dying wish to be reincarnated comes true in an unusual way when she wakes up as a young girl named Main in a different world. This new reality has a low literacy and a surprisingly scarce availability for everything she loves. Books are only for the wealthy and paper is impossible to find. If Main wants to read again, she’s has to come up with new ways to do so. Otherwise she will live out her days without another book to love.

Ascendance of a Bookworm uses the Isekai genre as a simple way to enter a Medieval world with a single fish-out-of-water character. That being said, it is nice to have the new character use the knowledge of their former life to their advantage and the benefit of the new world. Main uses a mix of her know-how from her former life and the tools in her current state to better the world. I love the world-building in this series better than some of the other Isekai anime out there. Characters are good, animation is bright and vibrant, and the ending song/animation is spellbinding. It’s a chill series to watch when you have some spare time and you are stuck in your house for one reason or another.

You might enjoy this if: You are a bookworm with a hankering to know what life would be like without libraries, paper, and literacy. This series is a crash course in learning about paper.

You might not like it if: You want a Medieval-style world with action and adventure. This world draws inspiration from the old times but solely focused on culture, trade, and merchant-esque hijinks.

Similar Anime: Konosuba, Amagi Brilliant Park, Gamers, Re: Zero, Spirited Away, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime,

Note to the Viewer: There is a lot of Bookworm media to consume. There are several manga volumes, light novels, the anime series, a second season of the anime coming soon, and two OVAs.

Ascendance of a Bookworm Official Trailer

 

Ascendance of a Bookworm Opening – Mashiro by Sumire Morohoshi

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 285: Fire Force / Enen no Shouboutai

Fire Force / Enen no Shouboutai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Smoking Hot!

First Aired: Summer 2019, 24 episodes

Summary: The “Fire Force” are special fire brigades that deal with instances of spontaneous human combustion, where humans turn into insatiable Infernals. The Fire Forces are comprised of second and third generation humans with fire producing abilities. Each special person possesses a different form of pyrokinesis, and the later the generation, the more powerful they typically become. It is year 198 in the Solar Era in Tokyo, and Shinra Kusakabe is a third generation pyrotechnic that is able to produce feet flames at will. He joins Fire Force Company 8 and is going to have to learn to check his attitude at the door if he wants to be a part of the team.

Fire Force starts off with a lot of similarities to other action anime, especially the sub-genre of action with multiple characters all possessing different and unique abilities. The world building is unique in the world being mainly fire. It’s fun to see the abilities each character possesses and how they utilize them. It is also interesting to see learn about the different Fire Force companies and what they are all about. All they all good or have some of them been corrupted? Maybe some of them use unconventional methods to solve their fire problems.

You might enjoy this if: You are all about that smoking hot action!

You might not like it if: You despise the sharp teeth. Shinra, the protagonist, is 100% sharp teeth and you see his pearly whites all the time.

Similar Anime: D.Grayman, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul

Note to the Viewer: No worries about source material here. There are currently 21 volumes of Fire Force manga, and the creator has stated the series will likely end up with anywhere from 30-50 volumes when all is said and done.

Fire Force Opening – Inferno by Mrs. GREEN APPLE

 

AMV – I’m Dangerous by Onii Chaaa

(Warning, the AMV contains some minor spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 284: Weathering With You / Tenki no Ko

Weathering With You / Tenki no Ko

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Slice of Life, Rain Showers

First Released: July 2019, 114-minute film

Summary: Hodaka Morishima runs away from home at age 16 to go to Tokyo. He quickly discovers how difficult it is to start a new life in the big city as a high school dropout. Luckily for him he meets Keisuke and Natsumi, two unusual small-time publishers that take him in like a stray animal. One day Hodaka encounters Hina Amano and their lives become intertwined in a way they will never forget. It turns out Hina is a “Sunshine Girl”, a fabled individual that can control the weather. Maybe Hina can do something about the record-breaking amount of rain that has been falling for the past several months.

There is a lot to appreciate in Weathering With You. It is directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also created Your Name (the highest grossing anime film of all time). The first thing I noticed was the beautiful animation, especially during the fantasy-heavy portions of the film. The fish rain was stunning and everything down to the raindrops splashing on the ground was perfect. I appreciate when the little details of anime are covered, such as in the Ghibli films, and Weathering is a perfect example of not being lazy with animation. The next thing I noticed was the soundtrack, which added so much to the film. Shinkai films always seem to have a wonderful soundtrack that builds the mood at the right time, and Weathering does exactly that. The climactic finale is all-the-more significant and emotional because of the song being played at just the right time.

The film itself is amazing. Great protagonists and supporting staff that develop as time passes. The minor characters add so much to the film, even down to the alley cat “Rain”. The story moves at a nice pace and keeps you guessing. The start of the movie feels like it is biting off more than it can chew in terms of the message it wants to get across, but it delivers at the end and leaves no doubt what it is trying to say.

You might enjoy this if: You want to watch a slice of life show mixed with some fantastical elements and a dash of romance.

You might not like it if: You are a fair-weather person who only enjoys the sunshine.

Similar Anime: Any of the other Shinkai-directed films (Your Name, The Garden of Words, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, 5 Centimeters per Second, The Place Promised in our Early Days), When Marnie Was There, Spirited Away, Fireworks, Mirai, Whisper of the Heart

Note to the Viewer: You are not crazy if it sounds like the Weathering With You soundtrack is eerily similar to Your Name. Both films soundtracks are headlined by music from Radwimps.

Weathering With You Trailer

 

Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do by Radwimps

(I love this ending song)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 283: King of Thorn / Ibara no Ou

King of Thorn / Ibara no Ou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Epidemic, Post-Apocalyptic

First Released: October 2009, 110-minute film

Summary: Medusa is a deadly virus that becomes a worldwide epidemic. The world’s population is quickly shrinking, and one solution is to place 160 individuals in a cold sleep, waking them up when a cure has been found. Kasumi is one of the lucky participants, but her twin sister Shizuku is not so lucky. The two share a heartfelt goodbye as Kasumi enters the sleep center, although they promise to find each other once she wakes up. Kasumi and the others wake up to a completely different world. The sleep center is covered in thorny weed and it appears to have shut down years ago. It is up to the surviving members of humanity to discover the truth behind what happened while they were asleep.

King of Thorn is not what I expected, in a great way. The story takes you through twists and turns, guessing where each bend will take you. The ending will leave your jaw dropped on the ground with someone else picking it up for you while you digest what just transpired. The concept of waking up in an unfamiliar place is a story that has been told, but King of Thorn throws a unique twist to it. The traveling companions in the sleep center complement each other well and the losses are felt in their own way. I love the worldbuilding with the world of thorn. The backgrounds are beautiful and the contrast between sleep center technology and nature reclamation is well executed. The soundtrack is another positive, capped by an appropriate ending song that perfectly portrays how you feel after watching this show.

You might enjoy this if: You can handle a post-apocalyptic survival story with several twists and heartache along the way.

You might not like it if: You are averse to blood, violence, and epidemics.

Similar Anime: Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Another, Btooom, Deadman Wonderland, Paprika, Akira, Serial Experiments Lain

Note to the Viewer: If you are a fan of the film, make sure to read the manga. It is collected in six volumes and dives much deeper into the character’s backstories. Additional characters are introduced in the manga and it even has a different ending…

King of Thorn Trailer

 

King of Thorn Ending – Edge of This World by Misia

 

AMV – Sleeping Beauty by Vermillion AMV

(Warning, the AMV contains some spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 282: Magical Sempai / Tejina-senpai

Magical Sempai / Tejina-senpai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, School, Ecchi, Magic

First Aired: Summer 2019, 12 short-form episodes

Summary: A seemingly normal high school boy gets recruited into the Magic Club as an assistant to the magical sempai, the only additional member. The two of them practice magic after school. Sempai is overly enthusiastic about her tricks while the new assistant could not care less. Hopefully the school approves of their club, even though it is severely lacking in members…

Magical Sempai makes you fall in love with magic! Sempai is a great character with an unmatched passion for all things magic. She is as skilled as they come when no one is watching, but as soon as she has an audience, stage fright gets the best of her and she messes up every trick. Her assistant is kind enough to play along even though he has little to no interest in the dark arts. Other characters pop in from time to time to check on the club, whether it is Sempai’s sister, who happens to be a teacher at the school, or a third-year transfer student named Saki. The series moves fast. Each episode is only 15 minutes which is broken up into smaller segments.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick laugh that involves poorly performed magic.

You might not like it if: You want to do a magic trick to make fan-service disappear. It definitely plays a part in this series.

Similar Series: D-Frag, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Plastic Neesan, How Clumsy You Are Miss Ueno, Dagashi Kashi, Are You Lost

Note to the Viewer: Magical Sempai is produced by Liden Films studio. Even though the studio was founded less than a decade ago, it has been busy producing anime like: Miss Monochrome: The Animation, Sekko Boys, Terra Formars, Hanebado, and Midnight Occult Civil Servants.

Magical Sempai Opening – Fantastic Illusion

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 281: Are You Lost? / Sounan Desu ka?

Are You Lost? / Sounan Desu ka?

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Survival Instinct

First Aired: Summer 2019, 12 episodes

Summary: The series begins with four high school classmates waking up marooned on an island. How did they get there? Unknown. Three of the classmates are basically worthless when it comes to island survival. They are lucky that the fourth student, Homare Onishima, is a wilderness survival expert. It is up to Homare to keep the four girls alive, utilizing what little help they have to offer, even though they fight her every step of the way due to their customarily easy lifestyle. They come from the city, where they have never had the need to catch their own food or distinguish between edible and lethal berries. The stranded gals include:

  • Homare Onishima – The survival professional that does not waste words. She was taught by her father as a child how to fend for herself in the wild, from setting up a shelter to capturing food.
  • Asuka Suzumori – An athletic girl who is part of the school basketball team.
  • Mutsu Amatani – A shy and intelligent writer.
  • Shion Kujo – A spoiled rich girl.

“Are You Lost” is a quick and easy watch. The episodes are about 15 minutes a piece, longer than short-form but shorter than the traditional half hour show. The only characters you meet are the four stranded students and the occasional flashback of Papa Onishima teaching Homare everything she knows when it comes to not dying in the wild. Each character stands out in traditional anime style, from the loud, athletic Asuka to the shy yet brainy Mutsu. The various forms of survival were enough to keep me intrigued throughout the series. It goes in depth of the types of traps used to capture wild beast, as well as preferred shelter based on terrain.

You might enjoy this if: You are “survival ignorant” and looking to beef up your knowledge before waking up stranded on an island. You don’t want to be the one eating poisoned berries. You want to be the one diving for fish and cooking up gourmet meals that you can use for barter with your island-mates. Watch this series and they’ll never doubt you. After all, even if you don’t know what you are doing out there, do it all with confidence and they will never question you. You will be king/queen of the island.

You might not like it if: You are looking to avoid fan-service. Between island survival tips and camaraderie between budding friendships, there is the “shake your head” anime fan-service.

Similar Series: 7 Seeds, Dr. Stone, Highschool of the Dead, Kemurikusa, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, From the New World, Chaika the Coffin Princess

Note to the Viewer: The direct translation of “Sounan Desu ka?” is “Are We Shipwrecked?”, which frankly is the best title. I don’t know why they changed it.

Are You Lost? Official Trailer

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Anime Banzai 2019

Anime Banzai 2019

Layton, Utah

October 18-20, 2019

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The 15th annual Anime Banzai took place this weekend at the Davis Conference Center. 2019 guests included: Alejandro Saab, Derek Stephen Prince, Tara Sands, Trina Nishimura, Warky, Jennifer Cihi, Stefanie Deleo, Ben Dunn, Newton Ewell, Jez Roth, Pannon, Alpacaash, Bryan Young, Caryn Larrinaga, Jared Quan, Cassidy Ward, Kylee Berry, S.J. Restivo, and Alex Harrow.

 

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, the 6th annual scavenger hunt, Kid’s Corner, countless panels, and two viewing rooms that offered anime all day long. Some of the main events included Banzai’s Got Talent, the Opening Ceremony, Cosplay Chess, Speed Cosplay, AMV Contest, Cosplay Contest, and the Monster Ball.

 

Anime Banzai’s charity quilting auction returned this year with multiple quilts as part of the silent auction. All proceeds will be donated to charity.

 

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

Anime Banzai AMV Contest 2019

Anime Banzai AMV Contest 2019

Some of my favorites include:

Dance Like It’s Your life by Synaesthesia Productions

 

Konosuba Rhapsody by Opner

 

Anime World Cup by AntaresHeart07

 

Sanity Test by DopplerDo

 

Happy Little Clouds by Glitzer

 

Without Madoka by Dariru

 

Thanks to everybody that attended our What’s New in Anime 2019 panel. The usual panel crew included Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, and myself. It was our 7th year presenting this panel and it continues to be a blast every time we do it!

The anime we covered in the panel include:

  • Babylon
  • Kemurikusa
  • Rilakkuma and Kaoru
  • Are You Lost?
  • Fire Force
  • Magical Sempai
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm
  • Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
  • Bloom Into You
  • Conception
  • Try Knights
  • To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts
  • Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?
  • Cinderella Nine
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
  • Dororo
  • Bem
  • Vinland Saga
  • Lord El-Melloi ll’s Case Files
  • Fairy Gone
  • Robi Hachi
  • Violet Evergarden
  • Cop Craft
  • Dr. Stone
  • Run with the Wind
  • Granbelm
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Sarazanmai
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero

 

Anime Banzai is always 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!

                       

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

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