The calm before the storm?
a semi-weekly column by Todd Douglass, Don Houston, John Sinnott, and Wen-Tsai
I hate to say it but the past couple of weeks have been kind of quiet in the anime world. Announcements have not been coming down the pipeline but I suppose no news is good news, right? I mean, with all of the hullabaloo surrounding Geneon and ADV I think the anime world could use a little R&R at this point. The industry should take the downtime to focus on how it conducts business and what shows it shoves money towards. Then again that's nothing we haven't been saying for a while now.
This time around the review pile is a tad on the smaller size but once again that lapse in quantity doesn't ding the quality. Stuff like Appleseed: Ex Machina, Black Blood Brothers, and the special edition of Origin: Spirits of the Past have hit our doorsteps. Continuing shows like Mushi-Shi, Super Robot Wars, and Hell Girl also arrived for a bit of sizing up. Also in case you missed it Rightstuf has started a 20% sale off of in stock items so now is a great time to pick up some anime. Spend your money and get that economy moving! As always WTK offers some fantastic bargains for those of you looking for more anime for your dollar.
Like vampires and things that suck your blood which aren't mosquitoes? Black Blood Brothers may be right up your alley! Set in the future after an apocalyptic vampire war ripped across the globe there is very little of the old world that is safe. As darkness closes in on that last bastion of hope an old blood vampire may just be the only thing standing in the horde's way. As Jiro, the vampire, fights to get his way to safety he has his brother tagging along. The two make a very interesting pair for this show and though it's a half season in length the first volume makes quite an impression. I can't wait to see what's in store for Jiro and his brother!
The fourth volume of Hell Girl has hit the shelves and the plot thickens as the journalist Hajime gets closer to discovering some secrets. The trick is that as he finds things out his daughter's bond with Ai Enma gets ever stronger. With only a couple of volumes left Hell Girl has turned into a delicious tale about revenge with some interesting twists. I have really enjoyed the subplot that has emerged with Hajime though the individual stories continue to be entertaining. The focus on violence and suspense has tapered off somewhat but the series is still rock solid.
If you have been paying attention to our reviews page then I'm sure you've noticed a few different reviews for Appleseed: Ex Machina. This follow-up to the 2004 remake of Shirow's masterpiece offers familiar characters and a new story to back them up. While we each have taken a different spin on the film I found it to be a tad on the dry side and not quite as invigorating as the original. The story wasn't as involved as it could have been and there simply wasn't a payoff for me when the smoke cleared. The film was an enjoyable ride but it was one filled with more style than substance though it's hard to deny John Woo's influence on the project. We definitely recommend the movie but your mileage will depend solely on what expectations you bring to the table.
Things are looking bad for the Earth Federation Forces in the fourth volume of Super Robot Wars. Not only do they have to worry about aliens that have been attacking Earth, but now there's a full fledged revolution they have to deal with too. The rebels are better armed than the Army, and they seem to be winning. Super Robot Wars continues to be a fun and exciting anime show, it's just too bad that few otaku will be able to buy the Region One discs since Bandai Visual has priced them so extraordinarily high.
Based on Shirow Masamune's ground-breaking manga, Appleseed Ex Machina is a sequel to the 2004 film, Appleseed. Directed once again by Shinji Aramaki and produced by John Woo, this film is kinetic, energetic, and exciting. Viewers who haven't meet Deunan and Briareos from the first film don't need to worry either since this one brings people up to speed pretty quickly. With engaging characters, a complex plot, and a script that poses some interesting questions about what it means to be human, the film is entertianing, but unfortunately it stumbles a bit. Still the high octane battles are impressive and go a long way towards making up for the films faults.
Vampires are traditionally the villains in anime series and movies, but not all of the time. Karin, the unfinished Geneon series featured a family of (mostly) friendly vampires but that was played for laughs. Black Blood Brothers is a more serious action show that has a vampire protagonist who is, ironically, trying to stop the spread of vampirism through the human race. This first volume (of three) is a good start to what promises to be a fun show.
Sony is trying a new experiment with their latest anime release, Blood +. Instead of releasing the series one volume at a time and then putting out a collected set, they're releasing the first half of the show in a collector's box and then separately putting out just the first volume. This is a fairly high-profile release, and it's an interesting strategy. Now otaku who want to get a large chunk of this monster-hunting series can do so, but those with more limited funds or fans who want to try the series before committing to the whole thing can also get it one volume at a time. Will this mean more shows are released in this manner? Only time will tell. In any case Sony selected a good show to experiment on. This program about a young girl who is the only one in the world who can kill vampire-like monsters is very good. With multiple story lines going at the same time, first-rate animation, and some exciting plot twists, this is a show all otaku should at least check out.
The fifth volume of Mushi-Shi presents four more tales of the mysterious creatures known as Mushi and their interaction with our world. The program, while being low keyed and sedate, is actually one of the more interesting shows to be released of late. It paints an interesting world that is very much like ours, but with an added sense of mystery and wonder. It's a story driven show, but the tight story telling and unique plots make it a joy to watch.
Retail Price: $49.98, 47% OFF!, [Review]
January 2015 Edition
2013 Q4 Top Anime Titles from RightStuf.com, Part 1
Crunchy Roll, Lupin, and Bunny Drop