Fragglepuss Anime Review 258: Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Dementia, Psychological, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Early Internet

First Aired: Summer 1998, 13 episodes

Summary: Lain Iwakura is an awkward 14-year-old trying to fit in at school. She has a few close friends at school, but besides that she is not close to many people due to her being an introvert. One day Lain and some of her classmates receive an email from their classmate Chisa Yomoda…even though Chisa had recently committed suicide. When Lain opens the email it leads her to the Wired, a virtual communication realm similar to the internet. Although she had previously been ignorant to technology, Lain becomes obsessed with the Wired and its capabilities. As she dives deeper into the digital realm strange occurrences become increasingly regular. She encounters cryptic messages that relate to the real world, strange men dressed in black suits begin to follow her, and the line between reality and cyberspace begin to blur.

Serial Experiments Lain was created during that sweet spot of the early internet when it was still basic with few functions. Society was unsure of how it would turn out but was concerned with what could happen. Lain shows a dark side that could have resulted in the wrong hands. I like watching sci-fi anime from this era because when it comes to the internet they always seem to get several parts right and Lain is no exception. The prediction of dependence on the internet and how much it affects the real world is spot on. The way individuals become addicted to the computer is also accurate. Lain is a quality anime with a lot of positives. The story is deep and meaningful, telling an existential tale with depth and substance. The animation is dark and drab, differing from the traditional anime style. The characters shine, especially Lain. As she progresses through the series she changes in an incredible way. That alone makes the show worth watching.

You might enjoy this if: You are prepared for a deep dive into what separates fantasy from reality.

You might not like it if: You despise the days of the early internet.

Similar Series: Perfect Blue, Paprika, Summer Wars, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell

Note to the Viewer: Serial Experiments Lain is unique in how it was initially created as an anime and later adapted into a manga. The majority of Japanese I.P. begins as a manga or light novel and is later adapted into an anime if it is popular enough, since creating manga is less expensive than producing anime.

Serial Experiments Lain Opening

 

AMV – I’m The Only Me, Right? by GallyG

(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 257: Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san / Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san / Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Slice of Life, Skeleton Bookseller

First Aired: Fall 2018, 12 episodes

Summary: Join the skeleton Honda-san at the manga shop as he encounters unusual customers and circumstances on a daily basis. One day he is attempting to explain the Yaoi genre to an innocent fool while another day he is dealing with pesky foreigners that only speak English!

Honda-san is the best skeleton bookseller I’ve ever seen! It’s great, the author (Honda) worked in an actual manga shop and the series is full of common real-life situations he encountered. The animation is simple, and the episodes are short with little continuity between them, but the series shines with its situational comedy and the reactions of Honda-san as he is forced to deal with unusual situations. He is an easygoing skeleton that works in a fast-paced manga shop with a lot of particular customers, and he has to stay on his toes to keep the customers happy, no matter how bizarre their request.

You might enjoy this if: You live in or have visited Japan and are familiar with manga shops. You will also enjoy it if you are passionate about Japanese culture and want to learn more.

You might not like it if: You demand your Slice of Life anime to be strictly based in reality. Honda-san is a legit skeleton, and everyone seems to accept it without asking any questions. I say it adds to the quirky charm of the series, but I can see how some sticklers would be bothered by it.

Similar Series: Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou, Aggretsuko, www.working, Nichijou, Cells at Work, Himouto Umaru-chan

Note to the Viewer: The Skull-Face manga has been serialized online via “Pixiv Comic” since August 2015 and has been collected in three volumes so far.

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san Opening

 

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san Ending

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 256: Corpse Party: Tortured Souls / Bougyakusareta Tamashii no Jukyou

Corpse Party: Tortured Souls / Bougyakusareta Tamashii no Jukyou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Mystery, Horror, Psychological, Supernatural, Nine-Person Promise

First Aired: July 2013, 4 episodes

Summary: Nine students are gathered at their high school in the middle of the night to bid farewell to their friend through a ritualistic promise. The intent of the promise is to remain close with one another. Unfortunately for the students, the charms they use are connected to an elementary school that was destroyed after a series of gruesome murders took place. The elementary school of the murders was Tenjin Elementary School, and the new high school was built on the foundation of the old school!

The cursed charms transport the nine to an alternate dimension, leaving them confused and fighting for their lives in the strange world. It is up to them to work together to stay alive and escape this cursed school!

Corpse Party tells you all about its intent in the title. It’s clear from the onset that not everybody is going to survive. As the series unravels you get insight into the students past, present, and future. It is interesting to watch as the students show their true colors under intense pressure in the nightmarish conditions. The art and animation are commendable and successful in portraying the horror genre. I was freaked out a lot of the time while watching this series and a lot of that had to do with the animation and soundtrack (or lack thereof at times). The story leaves something to be desired, but the intent of the series is to show its characters true personalities and mental limits, and in that it succeeds. The secondary intent has got to be hyperviolence, and in that it also succeeds.

You might enjoy this if: You want to see what happens when individuals are transferred to another dimension and pushed to their physical and mental limits.

You might not like it if: You don’t watch a lot of shows with the violence. Corpse Party is easily one of the most gruesome shows you will ever watch, so avoid it if you are sensitive to that kind of thinf.

Similar Series: Elfen Lied, Hellsing, Ninja Scroll, Another, Deadman Wonderland, Death Parade, King’s Game the Animation, The Lost Village,

Note to the Viewer: The Corpse Party anime is based on a survival horror video game of the same name.

Corpse Party Opening – Hoshikuzu no Ring

 

Corpse Party Ending Song – Firefly

(The opening and ending are classic in their “horror anime style”. The opening is super scary and intense to make you scared while the ending is real calm and relaxed to soothe you after a scary episode)

 

AMV – Hide and Seek by Dearth Impact

(This AMV does a good job of showing the violence and intensity of Corpse Party without being too gruesome or giving away spoilers)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 255: Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Medieval, Goblins

First Aired: Fall 2018, 12 episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMV – Superhero by WarLuxAMVs

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

 

Goblin Slayer Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 254: Mirai

Mirai

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

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

First Released: July 2018, 98-minute film

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mirai Official Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 253: Nyanbo!

Nyanbo!

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Short-Form, Box Cat

First Aired: Fall 2016, 26 short-form episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nyanbo Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 252: Peeping Life

Peeping Life

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Sketch

First Aired: Spring 2009, 10 short-form episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peeping Life Episode One – Fiddle Faddle Couple

 

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

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

Lychee Light Club / Litchi DE Hikari Club

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

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

First Aired: Fall 2012, 8 short-form episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Litchi Hikari Club Musical – Opening Dance Sequence

 

ライチ光クラ

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

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

My Neighbors the Yamadas / Tonari no Yamada-kun

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

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

First Released: July 1999, 104-minute film

Summary: Meet the Yamada family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Neighbors the Yamadas Official Trailer

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

Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

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

First Released: July 1995, 111-minute film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whisper of the Heart Official Trailer

 

AMV –Hold On by Virginia Chan

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