2009 News Archive


March 2, 2009

Well, that was a long and unexpected break! Sorry to all my loyal readers. Long story short, moving into a new home takes a long time, and I'm finding that being a full-time pastor, husband, and father of two is plenty on its own. But that said, I'm back with a review! I wish I could say something more encouraging about Trinity Blood, but I can't. If you liked it, you probably already watched it on Adult Swim a couple of years ago. My advice if you thought you might get around to it eventually? Don't. But for more info, just click the link and find out why the world of Trinity Blood wasn't my cuppa.

March 9, 2009

Yes, indeed, I'm back with a review after just a week...who would have thought it? Anyway, this week's article is a "preview" review of Vampire Knight. I had the chance to see the first two episodes at a convention a while back, and I wanted to report on it...and why you won't see me reviewing more of it. I know, I know...maybe I haven't seen enough of it to be fair. I do know, however, that I've seen enough of it to know that I am WAY outside the target demographic. If you are a middle-school fangirl, you've already probably watched the whole thing on the Internet and should just skip my remarks. But everyone else? Click the link if you dare.

March 16, 2009

I may be giving my loyal readers a heart attack, but here I am again for the third week in a row. Hopefully I'll be able to return to my weekly updating schedule for good! And you've arrived for a good week, because The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a great little drama worth your attention, even if you're not into sci-fi. If you like high school slice-of-life shows, then you'll truly enjoy this one.

March 30, 2009

Amazingly enough, I've updated four times in March. Granted, there have been five Mondays, but I'm happy about it! Before I get to the review, I do want to let you know that I now have an RSS feed set up on the website. If you do a search with a standard newsreader, it will find it -- or you can use the RSS box on the right hand side under the new and upcoming titles to get the link. It should help you if you like newsreaders and want to know when The Anime Review has actually updated. Meanwhile, this week's review is of Project A-Ko 4: Final. While it comes from an era of anime artistry I remember fondly, the truth is that this is a fair to middlin' end to the series...though much, much better than the goshawful followup series, A-Ko Vs. Click the link and see if this piece of nostalgic satire might be something to add to your collection.

April 6, 2009

There are plenty of rare anime out there...thousands that have hardly seen a word written on them in English that have just fallen through the cracks over the years. But to find a show with virtually nothing on the Internet that had a US release...now that's rare. Today's title, Dragon's Century, was released by US Renditions in 1996 but has completely disappeared from sight. Being a 2-part OVA series from 1988, perhaps people thought it was the second coming of M.D. Geist and just skipped it. As it turns out, though, this show is actually much better than most of the lame OVAs released in the US in the '90s. Read on to find out what makes Dragon's Century still pretty appealing after 20 years.

April 19, 2009

For a long time, I have wanted to revisit Kishin Corps. A title released on DVD under the ridiculous name Geo Armor, this show is an action adventure show filled with aliens, mecha, Nazis, and more. It's not terribly well-known and certainly not well-loved, but having enjoyed the charms of the first three OVAs in the series many moons ago, I wanted to finally complete it. How does the whole stack up against the parts? Click the link to find out...

April 27, 2009

Science fiction was one of the genres that made anime popular in the States in the late '80s and early '90s. It was what moved videocassettes. So when I come across an OVA from that era that was never picked up for release, I instantly worry that it's probably just terrible. In a great surprise, Space Fantasia 2001 Nights is a 1987 OVA that is quite solid. It has little violence and a fair amount of cheese, but those who like smart sci-fi would do well to check it out. My review explains why.

May 9, 2009

Hello, loyal readers! This is not a full review, just letting you know that a new review is in the works. I'm halfway through Aria The Animation and will hopefully be done by next week, if not earlier. If you check my RSS feed, you'll know as soon as it's ready. So far, I have good things to say about it, but I'll say nothing more until I've completed it. Thanks for stopping by!

May 16, 2009

This week's title is a fascinating look at how a "slow" program doesn't ever have to be boring. Aria the Animation is the first season of a wonderful little show about young women learning to be gondoliers on the planet Aqua. In thirteen episodes, the plot barely progresses and there are plenty of shoujo cliches...and yet, it is an immensely sweet ride. Read my review to find out why.

May 25, 2009

Many people look down on the original Vampire Hunter D OVA with disdain, not realizing that for its time, it was the perfect B-grade horror movie. The artist primarily responsible, Yoshitaka Amano, created a very similar show called Amon Saga not a year later. Sadly, the proof of how good Vampire Hunter D was can be found in how badly Amon Saga turned out. Take a look at the review so that, if you find the used DVD sitting in a nearby store, you'll just leave it on the shelf.

June 1, 2009

I know I'm a sucker for old anime...and the twelve-year-old Voogie's Angel now qualifies. This 3-part OVA from 1997 is a blast to watch in its dubbed version...but for all the wrong reasons. Click the link to find out why this very well might be the most fun you ever have watching an amazingly bad anime.

June 8, 2009

Lupin III is an anime institution. For 30+ years, the criminal gang has been stealing priceless treasures and making us laugh along the way. But over that long a timeframe, there are always a mix of good and bad. Lupin III: Dead or Alive was directed by the manga creator himself, Monkey Punch, and it would give one hope for one of the best Lupin adventures yet. Sadly, this 1996 entry in the canon is nothing special, but might be worth a look for Lupin fans forgiving of some gaping plot holes and a deadweight middle.

June 15, 2009

No review today, just a brief update to let you know that I am working on the first season box of Clannad. Not bad so far, but I've got a ways to go before I see it through. Hopefully, though, the review will be done soon. I have also changed the "In Progress" section to reflect shows that I am actually watching right now. While Eureka 7 has been on my Tivo forever and Berserk is a long-time holdout, neither one has changed status in a long time. Thus, I'm switching things around so that you know what I'm actually working on. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to have something new for you in a few days.

June 22, 2009

This week's review brings me to the halfway point of the series Clannad. Released in two sets over four DVDs, the first collection introduces us to an array of characters at a local Japanese high school. It's not exactly a slice-of-life show, but it has similarities. But is it worth your time? I'm on the fence as I write it up, so click the link to see if this should go in your collection or not.

June 29, 2009

Fans of the Earthsea universe have been waiting quite a while to see Gedo Senki, the first film by Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro. Delayed due to rights issues in the United States, it should be able to be released sometime within the next year. But will it be worth a trip to the local cinema to see it? Read the review and find out why I say yes...with some major caveats.

July 13, 2009

In 1978, nothing sci-fi in the West was hotter than Star Wars. But move further east across the globe, and there was nothing hotter than Space Battleship Yamato. Coming on the winds of the Star Wars craze, Yamato uniquely fit the Japanese mindset, and the second film -- Farewell, Space Battleship Yamato -- was a huge success. But just like playing Pong has lost its luster, so too has this film. Read the review to find out why this film doesn't work nearly as well today.

July 20, 2009

Animated "art" can be difficult to appreciate. This week, I watched a 10-year-old anime called Glassy Ocean which definitely fits into this category. A twenty-three minute piece that has more in common with French animation than Japanese anime, it's nevertheless interesting for its unique vision and moving score. This might not be your thing, but it also might get you out of your everyday anime rut. Or not.

August 3, 2009

Hello, loyal readers! Sorry for not updating, but things have been quite busy at work and anime has taken a little bit of a backseat. However, I have slowly but surely gotten started watching Flag, and I hope to have a review available soon.

As some of you who have been around for a long time know, my full-time job is as a pastor. If you should be interested in what I've been up to besides the anime scene, check out our website at www.covenantmacomb.org. If you go to the "sermons" page, you'll see the writing that takes up the vast majority of my time. And if you happened to have read the massively popular book called The Shack that's hit the New York Times bestseller charts, you can find my critique of it there too. I know some of you have no interest in religion or Christianity, but for those who might, check it out.

In the meantime, thanks for waiting...more reviews are coming, I promise.

August 10, 2009

There is plenty of banality to go around in the world of anime. You want big guns, big chests, obnoxious shonen, moe stereotypes, you got them. But some of us enjoy the things that are a little less common...unique visual designs and thoughtful presentation go a long way to making a show more than a stereotype. While Flag isn't a perfect program by a long shot, it gets plenty of things right in portraying a country on the brink of cival war and the photographers who are in the thick of it.

August 17, 2009

Mamoru Oshii is truly a legendary anime filmmaker, and while his name isn't as well known as Hayao Miyazaki, he's certainly in the very top tier. However, his works stray so close to art films that they can easily be missed or unappreciated...and frankly, sometimes they're just boring. His latest film, Sky Crawlers, is not fast-paced, but it is a cleverly told film that unfolds in a way that makes this perhaps my favorite film of his. Take a read and find out why...

August 24, 2009

Talk about a couple of banner weeks! Coming across Sky Crawlers last week was pretty awesome, but it was topped by the experience of seeing Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo. It's so good that I had to bump the rest of my schedule back and bring you this review. Sorry if you've been waiting for anything that's in my queue...but read the review and find out why you should be buying your tickets right now to this film.

September 14, 2009

While it's been a few weeks since my last update, I've got another solid show to tell you about, this time the 13-episode OVA series Space Pirate Captain Herlock: Endless Odyssey. It took me a little while to get through it, but that's because it really is a show to be savored rather than rushed. It's in no hurry to tell its story, but when you get sucked into it, it's easily one of the most engrossing (and creepy) stories in the Leiji Matsumoto canon. If you've never heard of Harlock or Matsumoto, this probably isn't the best place to start...but read the review and find out why this should eventually be on your viewing radar.

September 21, 2009

My long-term readers know that I was not a fan of the original Ghost In The Shell. I thought it was easily one of the most over-rated anime films I'd ever seen. Yet Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex did wonders in two bang-up seasons to change my opinion of the property. Stand Alone Complex continues with a made-for-TV movie called Solid State Society, and while it's not as enthralling as the series, it's good enough to make us hope for a third season. Take a look at the link to find out more.

October 12, 2009

Greetings! This week, I have a couple of minor changes to note on the site as well as a review. As you may have noticed, the Coming Soon list is now separated into two sections -- Films/OVAs and Television Series. Since I usually can get in a lot more reviews of the former than the latter, I thought it might be helpful to know what's truly coming soon and what might be in an update once I've gotten through a couple dozen episodes. Thought it might be helpful overall.

My review this week takes me back to the world of Masamune Shirow with Appleseed: Ex Machina. As it turns out, the third time is apparently the charm, as this film surpasses the dire OVA from the 80s and the enjoyable but problematic movie from 2004. It's still not the perfect take on the inhabitants of Olympus, but I'm quite thankful for the improvements along the way.

October 19, 2009

Some films defy easy categorization. What do you make of anime art film with gangs and yakuza, French art styles, and an American director? That's what I found in Tekkon Kinkreet, a 2006 film based on the strikingly odd manga Black and White. Click the link to find out more about this gorgeously rendered (if admittedly strange) trip into Treasure Town.

October 26, 2009

Sword of the Stranger made its way onto my TV screen this week with samurai swords blazing. Is there really much more to do with the samurai story that hasn't already been done?  Probably not. But when you find one that's as purely entertaining as this one, it's hard to be cynical. Click the link to find yourself in the middle of a bloody but rewarding trek into the world of feudal Japan alongside a warrior without a name and the young boy who becomes his master.

November 2, 2009

History hasn't been kind to all anime, even to classic series that still hold a certain reputation in otaku circles.  One of those shows is Space Battleship Yamato, the legendary sci-fi series that captivated Japan in the late 70s and early 80s. In the last several months, I've reviewed the first couple of films and found them, well, archaic. Surprisingly, Space Battleship Yamato 3: The New Voyage seems to turn a corner for the series. It's still far from modern and has a certain amount of cheese from its creation in 1978; it has some of the problems of its predecessors, too. But of all the films, it's the best one I've seen. Keep reading to find out why The New Voyage kept me interested in the whole Yamato universe.

November 9, 2009

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Osamu Tezuka's death at far too young an age -- just 60 years old. Yet his legacy is stunning for a man who never reached retirement; it's not for nothing that some have dubbed him "the god of manga" after creating well over 150,000 pages during his lifetime. His work lives on in his creations like Astro Boy and BlackJack. But it turns out that for all of Tezuka's contributions to the modern realm of anime and manga, his heart was in bold experimentation, striving to create artistic works for their own sake rather than as a soulless commercial enterprise. The Astonishing Work of Osamu Tezuka collects a baker's dozen of his short films, and they are wonderful. If you believe that anime can be nothing more than mecha battles and shonen stereotypes, then this collection will bore you. But I encourage you to click the link and enter the wildly entertaining world of a man who pushed the limits of what animation could truly be.

November 16, 2009

I once thought that Yasuomi Umetsu would be someone to watch. After the brilliant short film "Presence" found in Robot Carnival, I figured he would be the next great anime director.  But after Megazone 23 Part 2...and Kite...and Mezzo and Mezzo Forte...well, hope springs eternal. There's something of merit in all of those titles, though most of them aren't very good overall. But finally, the well has run bone dry, and Kite Liberator proves it. Read the review to find out just what I thought of this mess and why I think Umetsu has nothing left to offer the anime world.

November 23, 2009

Mospeada, adapted into the third segment of the Robotech saga, never got as much love as Macross, but it still had a following in Japan, enough for a follow-up OVA release. Mospeada: Love Live Alive is a music video that tracks Yellow Belmont as he gets ready for a concert and reminisces about his freedom fighter friends. Check out the review to see my thoughts on how well this piece (included on the Mospeada box set) stands up 25 years or so after its release.

December 7, 2009

I've been working hard to clear my Tivo recently, and that involved watching a whole lot of Eureka Seven. This 2005-2006 series from animation studio Bones, which spans 50 episodes, is another strong entry from the company, following in the footsteps of Fullmetal Alchemist and Wolf's Rain. It has significant weak spots throughout the run, but I also find myself quite fond of it at the end of the journey. Read the review to find out why.

December 14, 2009

This week, I went back to 2003 to find a little OVA series called True Love Story. Based on a dating-sim, it follows in the footsteps of half a billion other games in the genre...and its lone positive, as far as I can tell, is the grace it has in how it handles its many cliches. Read the review to find out whether or not this is worth your bandwidth.