Short Run Series XVIII- “Circus” Catch

January 25, 2015 in Anime, Black Butler: Book of Circus, General Reviews

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We have the third season of “Black Butler: Book of Circus”, which gives a complete story approach (much like the second season), but is far more entertaining, and far more heartless.

It is February 1886 and Ciel has been asked by the Queen to help her again. It seems that there is an epidemic of children disappearing, and not just one or two, but lots of them, as if they have been Pied Pipered away. The only link is the Noah’s Ark Circus, which has been to the towns that have missing children and it just happens to be coming to London in the next few days. The Queen wants Ciel and Sebastian to investigate and at least prove or refute the charges.

To this end, they infiltrate the circus, pretending to be commoners and apply for a job. The series details their adventures to crack this mystery.

The star performers all have one thing in common: they are defective. They have all sustained some degree of physical injury and a benefactor has taken great pains to give them marvelous prosthetics, so they can lead a somewhat normal life (they are circus people, so what does ‘normal’ really mean?)

Despite the short run (10 episodes), they managed to pack in quite a lot, which includes Ciel’s back story as to how he met Sebastian, the back story of all the Circus folks (and they are from left to right Beast, the tiger tamer; Snake, the snake charmer; Dagger, the knife thrower; Peter and Wendy, trapeze artists; Joker, the ringmaster; Jumbo, a man of great strength; and Doll, the tightrope walker) and a potential seduction sequence between Beast and Sebastian.

Two things bothered me about this show. The first was that Sebastian NEVER used his catch phrase even ONCE! (“One hell of a butler”.) You couldn’t find a place to put it? The second was Ciel’s servants.

If you have seen the series, when they are called upon to use their special talents, it is death for you. Period. It’s that during their regular working life Baldo, Mei-Rey and Finnian are three of the most incompetent folks you would never want to employ. That is the sole source of comic relief, as this is a very grim show.

We all knew how cruel and heartless Ciel is (and it is reflected in the flashback sequences), but he make a decision that not only shows the total blackness of his soul (blacker than a raven’s wing at midnight in a coal mine), but he makes it with no more thought than getting a beef burrito at Taco Bell. This was a shocking degree of emotional depravity, even for him. If you cross him, you get crossed off. Those who recall the first season had a front and center seat to that horror.

Not that anyone escapes their past or their sins. All the players are on the treadmill to hell; it just depends on who is going to get there first.

But, it is an intriguing and entertaining show, as we track down mystery upon mystery and see the true nature of everyone who inhabits this Alternative London. I am giving a very strong recommendation to see it.

Oh, here is the nit-pick part: Peter and Wendy did not make their appearance until 1904, so that is a reference for our benefit only. Such is a problem when you play fast and loose with the facts.

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork 8 (Pretty solid efforts)
Plot 8 (A very compelling tale)
Pacing 7 (A touch of a slow down near the middle)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of flashbacks)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)

Overall 8 (Chilling and cruel)

And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Still one hell of a butler.

I Feel a Bad “Vibration”

January 18, 2015 in Anime, Freezing: Vibration, General Reviews

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It has been four years since the ladies of West Genetics have graced our screen, but we now have the second season. “Freezing: Vibration”, however, has taken a page from the “Maken-Ki II” playbook. For those of you who have forgotten (and who don’t want to take the time to read my original review for “Freezing”), the world is beset by these strange creatures called Nova. They are as large as a Gundam and wherever they land, they cause untold destruction.

There are these special women, called Pandoras, who have the power and ability to fight these aliens with their Volt Weapon. They have a male limiter who can project an energy field that ‘freezes’ the Nova in place, allowing the Pandora to dispense a huge amount of damage.

The conclusion of the first season is now called the 10th Nova Battle. Although we secured a victory, many Pandora were killed (as is the nature of war). To combat this personnel problem (as only about 2% of women worldwide are even compatible with the Stigmata that give a Pandora her abilities), Chevalier, the organization that oversees the Pandoras, has come up with a series of experiments that could make even common women able to be Pandoras. The “E-Pandora Project” is taking place in their secret base in Alaska, where the world’s Pandoras are sent to help with this experiment. Read the rest of this entry →

“Rail” against your Fate

January 15, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Rail Wars

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Rail Wars” is a terrible title for this show. The problem is that anytime you have the tag “…Wars” in your title, everything gets back to “Star Wars” and this show is nothing like that at all. Perhaps if they called it “Tales from the Rails” or “Getting on Track”, it would be closer aligned with what this series is about. Hey, why don’t we use the subtitle of the manga? “Japanese National Railways Security Force.” Too dull, I guess, for someone. Let’s look at part of the capsule description for this show: “This is in a Japan where the nationalized railway system was never privatized…..” Was that really that BIG of a deal? “What if Rome never fell?” is something of much greater of an import, not this. OK, let it go and discuss the show.

Naoto Takayama (Mr Salute) is an ordinary high school student who aspires to a comfortable life working at the JNR, being an engineer. He ends up working as a security force trainee, where he unwillingly has to deal with his strange colleagues as well as RJ, a group of extremists who are fighting to privatize the railway. And the strange colleagues are (Clockwise, this time): Read the rest of this entry →

What a “Doll”

January 12, 2015 in Unbreakable Machine Doll

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This is a rather odd show, in the fact that they go to all of this trouble, but in the end, “Unbreakable Machine Doll” is just a glorified “Pokemon”.

It is early in the 20th Century. Science and magic have been facts for many years and have created a technology that allows both to merge together in making Makinot, circuits made from spells that were put into an object to bring them to life and even gain a personality. It was developed as a military weapon and has now spread throughout the world. One of the best places in the world to learn this happens to be in Liverpool, England, the Walpurgis Royal Academy of Machinart. Uh oh, this is a bit of trouble. A quick look up of Walpurgis tells us this is a traditional meeting of witches and warlocks. It’s kind of like going to Armageddon High.

Into this mix comes Raishin Akabane (far left). He has brought with him Yaya (to his left), not only a very fine doll, but created by the famous and mysterious Karyuusai Shouko (that busty vixen in red more towards the right). Alas and alackaday, Yaya is what is known as a ‘banned’ doll, in the fact that she was made with both mechanical and organic parts (organic parts? You mean parts from people? Shhhhh!) The problem with a banned doll is that they are far stronger than a regular doll, so it is both a moral dilemma and unfair advantage in all of this. It could be seen as using steroids obtained from orphans (not like that would deter a lot of folks). Read the rest of this entry →

“Love” To Love You

January 9, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Love Live II

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It seems to be a rule of anime that if you have an idol show, there MUST be a second season and “Love Live II” is no exception. We follow our nonet as they decide to put on the gauntlet again and try for stardom. But they bring in a lot of artificial problems to force them to fish or cut bait.

The first problem is that Honoka Kōsaka (in the lead spot) is now Student Council president and doesn’t have the time for this. The second is that Love Live is now doing regionals and their group would have to beat A-Plus to move ahead. The third is that three of them will graduate by the end of the school year, so this would be the last time the original members could perform together.

What should they do? What can they do? What will they do? Any suggestions? Yeah, like you couldn’t see through that. Of course they forge ahead, ready and willing to sing like there’s no tomorrow (and, in a sense, there isn’t). It’s just that the second season seems pasted together and a lot of the ‘problems’ aren’t real problems, more along the lines of having to surrender parts of your youth to move ahead into the world of adulthood. Read the rest of this entry →

Bite the “Bullet”

January 5, 2015 in Anime, Black Bullet, General Reviews

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This is another of those “Girls Who Save the World” shows, but with a bit more tragic results, potentially closer aligned to “Gunslinger Girl”. Welcome to the world of “Black Bullet”.

It is the year 2021. Mankind has been decimated by the Gastrea, a parasitic virus, and is forced to live within this ring of Monoliths, which are created from Varanium: a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. (And where did we discover this metal?) Soon, children are born with the Gastrea virus. They have superhuman abilities as a result, but people are so terrified of them, they are dubbed “Cursed Children”. Because the Gastrea threat is still out there, the Cursed Children (who are all girls) fall under the jurisdiction of the Civil Securities. You now have a pair of fighters: the Initiator, (the child) and a Promoter, (the guy). We follow the adventures of Rentarō Satomi (the guy with the gun), a high school student who is also a Promoter in Tendō Civil Security Agency owned by his childhood friend Kisara Tendō, along with his Initiator, Enju Aihara (red head), who try to prevent the destruction of the Tokyo Area and the world.

OK, so we will take a break so you can take this all in. It’s quite a lot. Read the rest of this entry →

Short Run Series XVIII – Let’s Look For “Buried Treasure”

December 28, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews, Nanana’s Buried Treasure

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure” (“Ryūgajō Nanana no Maizōkin”) is a good action-adventure-ghost show, as there are layers upon layers and everyone has a hidden agenda. Oh, and this also is a “move-in” show.

Our hero, Juugo Yama, (fourth from left) comes to the “Special Student Zone” on the artificial island Nanaejima. Strapped for funds, he moves into an apartment, with the strange proviso of all the rent for a year up front. The reason? It is haunted by a previous tenant who was murdered there. This is Nanana (the one in the trunk) and she spent her living days hunting down strange and unusual treasures.

It has been 10 years since she was killed and the cops are no closer to finding her murderer today than when it happened. Juugo is determined to find her killer, but also unlock the hidden treasures that are about the island. Part of this is to help her move on. Another is the lure of treasure. Now, for a ghost, Nanana is both lively (playing video games all the time) and hungry (devouring pudding, but preferring a rather expensive brand). And when she wishes it, can physically manifest herself (as she wrestles Juugo often for apartment supremacy). Read the rest of this entry →

Reach Out in the “Darkness”

December 21, 2014 in Anime, Brynhildr in the Darkness, General Reviews

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This can be properly categorized as a ‘witch show’, but this is no ‘magical girl’ show. It might be closer aligned with “Black Rock Shooter” in the caliber of despair that it generates, but I get ahead of myself. This is an unhappy show. Not a sad show. A sad show is like “Air the Series” or “5 Centimeters per Second”. This one is unhappy is that everyone…it looks like I’m taking the chute back to Square One, as I’m getting ahead of myself.

Brynhildr in the Darkness” (“Gokukoku no Buryunhirude” “Extreme-Black Brynhildr”) is an odd cat of a story, mainly because it doesn’t know what it wants to be.

Ryouta Murakami is head of the astronomy club. They even have this far out observatory to use. (No, I mean far out; he has to take a couple of bus lines to get to the thing) Too bad there isn’t a single other person in the club. I mean, what gives? I know if there was an astronomy club at my high school, I’d be there (we had a chess club. If I had joined, I’d be called ‘Carpet’, as I’d have been laid out the entire time.) Read the rest of this entry →

“Unidentified” Flying Object

December 16, 2014 in Anime, Engaged to the Unidentified, General Reviews

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In a sense, this is another ‘move-in’ show, but it takes a slightly different tack for it. “Engaged to the Unidentified” (“Mikakunin de Shinkōkei, “Unconfirmed & In-Progress”) tells the tale of Kobeni Yonomori (far left). She is a high school girl who lives with her mother and older sister Benio (next to her). Upon turning sixteen, Kobeni is shocked to learn that, due to an arrangement by her late grandfather, she is engaged to a boy named Hakuya Mitsumine (far right) who, along with his little sister Mashiro, (next to him) come to live with Kobeni. Talk about a move in, they not only come into the house, they come into the school and right into her class room (like you didn’t see that one coming, eh?). As Kobeni spends time adjusting to this new family, she learns there is more to Hakuya and Mashiro than meets the eye.

Kobeni has enough problems in her life, as sister Benio is The Most Popular Person at School, smart as they come, Student Council President, perhaps runs the World Bank in her spare time and anyone would do anything for her. It’s that now we have Hayuka transfer in (a man of little to no words) and Mashiro (who is a bit overcute for me. Look, look, her uniform is too large so you never see her hands! Awwwwwww!) In a sense, Kobeni is under attack on three fronts and has to place this all in perspective. Adding to the concerns, she kind of vaguely remembers Hayuka, but a childhood accident robbed her of her memories of that time. Read the rest of this entry →

We Are the “World”

December 14, 2014 in Anime, General Reviews, World Conquest Zvezda Plot

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This is one strange fish of a show, in the fact I think it is intentionally designed not to make any sense. “World Conquest Zvezda Plot” (“Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda”) confuses you right from the start, as the entire series is told as a giant flashback.

We are greeted with a scene of absolute destruction and devastation. Is anyone left alive? Is the Starbucks razed? A lone figure wanders the shattered landscape, pondering the nature of world conquest and the people who do it. We are then transported back in time, to when things were sunny and clean and colorful and it all worked (sort of). Oh, and there IS a Starbucks.

Asuta Jimon (he’s that S&M looking type, second from left) has run away or been thrown out of his house by his father. As he walks the streets, he is told to get inside fast, as marshal law is being declared. He flees the police and ducks into an alley, where he meets Kate Hoshimiya, (dead center) who is looking for her doll (yeah, that hideous pink bunny. Those are pointed teeth). She also calls herself Lady Venera, the leader of Zvezda, an organization with its eyes on world conquest. Asuta is eventually cornered by the military, but is rescued by Kate, who welcomes him to her group. Read the rest of this entry →