Pumpkin Scissors and Ghost Hunt
October 2009 Edition by Todd
Douglass, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai
by Todd Douglass, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai
Hi everyone! Happy fall! Or if you live in New England like I do and it's already been 30 degrees and snowy for a couple of days, happy freaking winter...um, anyways... It's October, which means that another month has gone by without an anime column! Things haven't been too crazy around here, but John and I have been working, working, and working on getting reviews out as much and as fast as possible. There's no real feature to speak of this time around, though, and we're going to keep it straightforward and simple.
This month we've tackled some old favorites, some interesting new shows, and ones that have been going on for a while now. WTK also has some more bargains just in time for Halloween and I'm sure there are some ghoulish series out there just itching to claw their way onto your shelves. Until next time, be happy, be safe, and try not to get attacked by hentai tentacle monsters.
First up today is a show that has more to do with the season than it does with anything else, at least with regards to its title. The awkwardly named Pumpkin Scissors was released ADV (now known as Section 23 by the way) a while ago and made its way onto a two-part collection by FUNimation when they picked up the license. Well, now the industry's leading publisher has released the complete series as a nice little boxed set. In case you missed it the first or second time around, Pumpkin Scissors takes place in an alternate war-torn world. The whole place is a mess following a massive war and a group known as Pumpkin Scissors is going around trying to aid with war relief. There's a certain amount of mysticism here, some fascinating characters, and a story that is unlike anything you've seen before really. It's a fun show with a lot of heart and deserves to be checked out!
Another re-issue we checked out was the complete series of Black Lagoon. In a word: Awesome. This is one of the most badass shows to come along in quite some time and it's definitely something that should be on your watch list. It all takes place in the near future where a group of mercenary smugglers runs a business in the seas of South Asia. Just check out the review, or even better, just run out and buy the set. You'll be glad you did!
A couple of other re-issues come in the form of Magikano and Heat Guy J. To put it bluntly, don't bother much with Magikano unless you absolutely LOVE harem anime. It's just too cliché and dry at times. Heat Guy J, however, is definitely a show worth owning. It's very original, stylized, and is full of personality. Oh, not to mention it's one of the better science fiction shows I've watched in a while!
We've been all over FUNimation's re-release of the Dragon Ball Z and GT series over the course of the past couple of years, but with those parts of the franchise out of the way it's time to focus on the grass roots of it all. Last month we saw the first season of the original Dragon Ball. This one brings us back to a point in time when Goku was just a kid and really gives us a nice glimpse at his coming of age. After sitting through Z it was a nice change of pace to go through this one, though I must admit that the atmosphere and tone are almost identical. It's easy to see how this one could be love or hate, just like the other parts of the franchise are.
One of the recently released shows I got to check out this past month was Nabari no Ou. The first half of the show landed in my lap and I have to say I was pretty stoked. The series started out kind of strange with a protagonist who was indifferent to everything. He hardly bats an eye when he finds out there are ninjas out to get him and he doesn't even give a second though to discovering that he possesses an ultra cool magic ninja scroll inside him. The show really kicks off when the ninja world envelops him and he has to figure out what he wants to do with his power. It's a solid show and I can't wait to see what the second part has in store for us!
Another new show we sat through this past month was Ghost Hunt. This one wasn't quite as compelling as Nabari no Ou was, but it was entertaining enough to warrant a recommendation. Basically it's a series about a group of people who track down ghosts and solve other paranormal riddles as they arise. The cast is fairly eclectic, though for the most part the characters wind up in one stereotype category or another, and the atmosphere is kept light with some silly humor. Ghost Hunt can be a little too formulaic for its own good, but there are enough stories within its 25 episodes that really stand out.
Do you remember Gunslinger Girl? You know, it was that show about young girls who happen to be implanted with cybernetic parts and work for the Italian government as assassins. If you aren't familiar with the show, then I bet that description isn't something you hear every day. The original series had a very "Professional" vibe to the whole thing, and I'm pleased to say that the sequel Il Teatrino does as well. This picks up the pieces that were left scattered at the end of the first series and tosses you right back into the same stylish atmosphere and fascinating background. Another 13 episodes of Gunslinger Girl is a good thing, and the sequel is definitely worth the wait!
You ever get to a point with a show that you're just sick of it and you want to move on? I'm not going to lie, I kind of got that way with the original Naruto series. There was simply too much filler to digest volume after volume, and over time that filler turned into light contempt. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed some episodes, but by and large the filler was more obnoxious than entertaining. Thankfully Shippuden has finally arrived! The first volume has been released and we once again see a story that has moved forward (this time by a few years). Check out the review for more information. All I'm going to say here is that the only thing that didn't sit well with this installment for me was the fact that it only had four episodes. We were used to three discs worth at a time with the original series, but for the sequel we only get one disc with four episodes? Come on VIZ! Get with the program!
FUNimation continues on their region one anime dominance with the release of a long running comedy series that is sure to have wide appeal here in the states. Sgt. Frog Season One Part One is a 13 episode set that brings an outrageously funny show to American shores. Filled with wacky and outrageous humor the show is entertaining to both adults and kids, with a good number of anime insider jokes thrown in for all the otaku. If the series continues to be this strong it looks like FUNimation will have another hit on its hands.
More anime is turning up on Blu-ray too. The latest addition is Burst Angel, a 24 episode TV show that FUNimation originally released on six DVDs back in 2005 and 2006. Created by the fine folks at Gonzo, the program is heavy on the action but doesn't leave characterization and plot by the wayside either. With a perfect melding of traditional and computer animation, the visuals are very appealing, and they really stand out in this fine looking Blu-ray set.
It's the first game of the season, and the newly formed baseball team from Nishiura High School is matched against last year's champions. Can Mihashi, the insecure star pitcher, handle the pressure? Can viewers keep their interest when this animated match lasts as long as a real baseball game (11 episodes)? Those are the questions we find ourselves asking going into the second, and final, volume or Big Windup.
A battle between two giants that have raged for 100 years, a villain who can shoot an unlimited amount of wax out of his arms, and the return of Coby and Helmeppo. Yep, the second season of One Piece is in full swing and Luffy and his crew start the first big story arc since arriving on the Grand Line. With a new crew member, some new villains and some very tall new friends the show hasn't lost any steam and is still going strong.
There are several anime shows that are just fun to watch. They might not be as deep or as dramatic as the some of the biggest anime titles, but they are the shows where you pop in a DVD, hit 'play', and the next thing you know you've sat through 4 or 5 episodes and are yearning for the next one. Bleach is one of those fun, light shows, and fans of the action series will want to pick up Bleach Season Three: The Rescue. In this collection of 22 episodes, Ichigo and his friends continue their storming of the Soul Society in order to rescue Rukia who is scheduled for execution. With some exciting battles along with a fair amount of character development this set is another winner.
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Anime Talk Returns!
One Piece and DBZ on Blu