Dream (Level 21)

My Ani-Crap Review on Senran Kagura is now up: http://www.animevice.com/profile/dream/ani-crap-review-48-senran-kagura/107-11928/. The next poll will be up on December 5.
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Senran Kagura was a 12-episode ecchi-action TV anime that was animated by Artland and aired in Japan from January 6 to March 23 of 2013. The anime is based on a series of action video games created by Tamsoft since 2011 and have had a number of manga adaptations published since that time, one of which currently licensed in America by Seven Seas Entertainment called Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows. The anime is currently licensed by Funimation, who had released the series to home video formats earlier this year.

The Plot

So how exactly does dressing like that allow you to blend in with your surroundings, Miss Ninja?
So how exactly does dressing like that allow you to blend in with your surroundings, Miss Ninja?

A group of five girls attend Hanzo Academy, a secret school that teaches its students the art of ninjutsu. However, the girls find their skills challenged when confronted by the students of their rival academy, Hibi Girls Academy, who seek to steal two secret scrolls containing knowledge of Hanzo Academy's most secret techniques.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Katsuragi- A third-year Hanzo Academy student who is a bit of a tomboy, shown to wear nothing underneath her school uniform and known to sexually harass her friends at the academy.
  • Asuka- A second-year Hanzo student known for her grandfather's status as a legendary ninja. She is a hard-working and energetic girl.
  • Ikaruga- A third-year Hanzo student descended from a famous ninja clan. She has a formal and collected personality.
  • Hibari- A cheerful, energetic first-year Hanzo student who is the weakest fighter among the group.
  • Yagyu- A first-year Hanzo student with a quiet and stoic personality, who is known to look out for Hibari's well-being.
  • Yomi- A second-year Hibi Girls Academy student who dons maid attire while in battle who targets Ikaruga during the clash between Hanzo and Hibi.
  • Homura- A second-year Hibi student known for her intense personality and rivalry with Asuka.
  • Haruka- A third-year Hibi student with a queen-type personality who targets those weaker than her, notably Hibari. She is shown to be something of a motherly figure for the Hibi underclassmen.
  • Hikage- A third-year Hibi student with a strong and emotionless personality with little motivation for her actions who targets Katsuragi throughout the series.
  • Mirai- A first-year Hibi student dressed in gothic lolita attire who targets Yagyu throughout the series.
  • Kiriya- The teacher of Asuka and the girls at Hanzo.

Why It Sucks

Enough T&A and sexual harassment to go around.
Enough T&A and sexual harassment to go around.

Outside of the anime's existence being to promote its video game source material, Senran Kagura is also not much different from prior ecchi-action titles like Ikki Tousen and Master of Martial Hearts in that its entire premise exists only to milk fan service shots and clothes-tearing action coming from the fights between female characters. The typical service shots are employed in this title which consist of panty shots, breast groping, characters in undressed states, a majority of the female cast having large bust sizes and some characters being in revealing or fetish-themed attire.

Beyond the title's emphasis on clothes-tearing action and ecchi antics, Senran Kagura is as shallow as many earlier entries in the ecchi-action genre when it comes to depth. Characters are paper-thin archetypes with attempts at giving them back story bordering on the ridiculous with overly tragic developments and their personalities not being much better off. The plot is just as shallow being a “good vs evil” style plot involving the ninja academies which build up to a rather ridiculous climax when it is revealed why one character desires the secret ninja scrolls. Episodes not focused on the academy conflict are instead focused on the training of the Hanzo students, but these don't offer much substance either.

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Green Green was a 12-episode ecchi/ comedy TV anime that aired from July 12 to September 29 of 2003, being animated by Studio Matrix. The series was based on an eroge dating sim game created by Groover in 2001 and also had a light novel series created for it that was printed in Japan from November 2002 to January 2004. There was a “thirteenth episode” of the series animated in OVA format in 2004 that bumps the content of the series up to hentai levels due to scenes of intercourse being present in the episode. The TV episodes of the anime were licensed by Media Blasters for American video release in 2006 and are now out of print.

The Story

Now, how many times have you seen this predicament happen in rom-coms and ecchi titles?
Now, how many times have you seen this predicament happen in rom-coms and ecchi titles?

The all-male boarding school of Kanenone Gakuen is in the process of merging with an all-girl's school to become co-ed and the female student body of said school are staying at Kanenone for a month to test out the merging. Unfortunately, much of the hormone-driven male student body becomes thrilled with this prospect and has led students such as those among the perverted trio known as the Baka Trio to lust for the female students. Besides dealing with the perverted antics of the Baka Trio, male lead Yusuke Takazaki comes upon a girl named Midori Chitose who excitedly proclaims that they were childhood friends promising to fall in love when they were younger.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Yusuke Takasaki- The male lead and most normal of the male student body at Kanenone, Yusuke often finds himself dragged into the perverted antics of the Baka Trio and is befuddled with the attention that Midori gives him.
  • Baka Trio- Consisting of Tadatomo Ijuuin, Hikaru Ichiban-Boshi and Taizo Tenjin, this trio of perverted students contribute much of the show's comedic reliefs with their lusting of the female students and attempts to peep on them. They often drag Yusuke into getting involved with their schemes.
  • Midori Chitose- A cheerful and energetic girl who appears to know Yusuke and has a seemingly one-sided crush on him, as she claims to know him from childhood.
  • Futaba Kutsuki- The boy-hating tsundere among the female student body who is the self-appointed protector of the female student body. She is known to physically lash out at the Baka Trio for their perverted antics and seemingly develops feelings for Yusuke throughout the course of the series.

Why It Sucks

Green Green is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get for an ecchi title with its entire premise being a very flimsy excuse to show off male perversion and a good helping of fan service involving its female cast. This isn't too surprising considering the title's eroge game origins.

Lady, you should have castrated that moron.
Lady, you should have castrated that moron.

The show has little in the way of plot as many episodes in the series are devoted to typical predicaments in romantic comedies and ecchi titles to get as much perverted content out of the series as possible. This is most notable with the Baka Trio as every episode in the series feature them lusting for the female cast, making attempts to molest or peep on them and often dragging Yusuke into their antics. Its ecchi content tends to vary at points with female cast members often flashing panty shots, being in undressed states or showing off frontal nudity for bath scenes. The content usually gets disturbing at points thanks to the lewd fantasies and antics of the Baka Trio.

Beyond the perverted content, there isn't really much in the way of substance for the series. Many characters in the series are flat, one-dimensional archetypes with little depth and not too memorable. Also, the series makes a half-assed attempt at a plot involving two major characters being reincarnations of forbidden lovers yet this gets little focus and buildup until the final two episodes of the series as Green Green was more fixated on showing off its ecchi content for many episodes. Even when it does finally get focused on, the plot isn't too effective at creating anything compelling thanks to its poor buildup and the characters being too archetypal to really care about, much less caring about any possible relationship developments that take place.

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I wasn't really sure how to think of this one. It's got all the makings of something I would normally rip apart, yet it has presentation and style rarely found within the mentioned trappings. I guess I'll be doing this in another slightly tweaked format to offer my thoughts of it.

High School of the Dead was a 12-episode horror/ ecchi/ action title that was animated by Madhouse and aired from July 5 to September 20 of 2010. The series is based on the manga series created by Daisuke and Shoji Sato for Monthly Dragon Age magazine since September 2006, with the series currently on hiatus. The anime is licensed for American streaming and video release by Sentai Filmworks.

The Plot

I'd run if I were you.
I'd run if I were you.

A zombie pandemic is affecting the human populace at large with affected humans turned into zombies. A group of high school students and their nurse find themselves on the run as they struggle to survive and encounter the changing world order with societal collapse and the decay of moral codes.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Takashi Komuro- The male lead and unofficial leader among the group of high schoolers as they fight to survive against zombie hordes. He fights at first with a baseball bat, yet later gains a pistol and riot shotgun.
  • Rei Miyamoto- Takashi's childhood friend and possible love interest. Being in her school's sojutsu (spear-wielding) club, she is skilled in wielding a spear as she first fights with a broom having a shattered, sharp end and later upgrades to a semi-automatic rifle with a bayonet attachment.
  • Saeko Busujima- A third-year high school student with a calm and composed personality who is part of her school's kendo club. She fights with a bokken at first and later gains a katana.
  • Saya Takagi- A bespectacled second-year student and friend of Takashi who is also the daughter of an influential right-wing politician. She is unarmed at first, but later makes use of a rifle and pistol throughout her journey with the group.
  • Kohta Hirano- A gun otaku who makes use of a number of firearms throughout the group's journey such as a custom-made nail gun and a sniper rifle.
  • Shizuka Marikawa- The ditzy school nurse who accompanies the group of high school students and serves as their driver while they make use of a school bus and Humvee to trek through zombie-infested areas.
  • Alice Maresato- A 7-year old girl rescued by the group after her father is killed by members of a household not giving them shelter from a horde of zombies.
  • Koichi Shido- A sadistic teacher hated among many of his students due to his twisted and manipulative personality, with no regard for the lives of those he considers weak. He manipulates a number of surviving students into becoming mindless followers of his own personal cult.

The Review

High School of the Dead is more or less something of a parody of zombie movies as a group of high schoolers fight for their lives with the zombie apocalypse hitting the Japanese populace. The anime mostly relishes in the spectacle of seeing zombie hordes getting slain in various ways, the populace struggling with moral inhibitions to ensure self-preservation and plenty of T&A going around thanks to the anime's copious amounts of fan service and ecchi content it shows off. Visually, the anime is one of the better animated 2010 anime titles to be made making creative use of camera positions and effects such as bullet time, zoom shots and swooshing angles to depict the intense zombie-killing action that unfolds, with scenery shots looking vast and well-detailed when the camera pans out to show them off.

Rather nonchalant wearing that in front of guys, aren't we?
Rather nonchalant wearing that in front of guys, aren't we?

While the series is a rarity for anime in being a zombie survival title, it doesn't have much to offer in terms of depth, with the plot and characters to High School of the Dead being rather paper-thin. The plot is mostly repetitive as our group of high schoolers have to regularly fight through zombie hordes, find shelter for a period of time, wind up fleeing when their shelter is breached and repeat. It also often disregards proper logic for the sake of its spectacle as characters are known to not make smart decisions regularly in this series and details such as proper government action and ammo supply are often disregarded.

The characters are not much better as they are mostly archetypal and get little in the way of development, most notable of these characters being an otaku who is seemingly a representation of a stereotypical otaku with his enjoyment of shooting his way through zombies and usually relishing in the women that are within his group. Speaking of the women, High School of the Dead has them purposely designed to be well-endowed and sporting a good number of fan service/ ecchi moments with panty shots, breast jiggling, revealing attire, clothes changing scenes, a bath scene and an orgy. The mentioned fan service is mixed in at many points during the zombie battle scenes, with the series clearly aimed at fans of gory action and ecchi titles.

Overall, High School of the Dead mostly gets by with the style it emphasizes with its presentation and premise, while lacking quite a bit on the end of substance. If you don't mind some mindless entertainment, this would make for a decent rental. But if you are looking for more substance or are not a big fan of gore and ecchi content, then this isn't a title worth picking up.

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Looks like Gundam Unicorn won't be the only Gundam title released via Rightstuf. In an announcement on the distributor's site just today, Rightstuf has announced that they and Sunrise have reached a deal that will grant Rightstuf distribution rights to more anime titles in the Gundam franchise for North American audiences in the near-future. Rightstuf will be releasing the original Mobile Suit Gundam series and the previously unreleased Turn A Gundam TV anime to American video release in Spring 2015. Besides these titles, Sunrise is working on plans to release the upcoming Gundam: The Origin OVA series and Gundam: Reconguista no G to American audiences.

Gundam is a 35-year long anime franchise created by Sunrise that is well known for being one of the first titles to introduce the "real robot" archetype to the mecha genre of anime. The popular space opera franchise has focused around the use of giant robots as tools of war and generated a number of sequels and spinoffs that are either based around the Universal Century timeline of the Gundam franchise or create their own separate continuities. A number of the titles in the franchise have been directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, who is known to older anime fans under the moniker of "Kill Em All" Tomino due to the high death rates of major characters that he is known to have in older mecha titles that he directed. Much of the franchise was previously released in America by Bandai Entertainment before the company announced their closure in 2012.

EDIT (10/12/14): Forgot to mention one other news detail with this announcement. Rightstuf also announced that they have acquired video distribution rights as well to Gundam ZZ, another title to the Gundam franchise never released to video here in America.

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Naruto Vol. 1 JPN (Mar 2000)
Naruto Vol. 1 JPN (Mar 2000)

Despite any opinions one may have over how dragged out its events may have gone, it looks like the end of Naruto is at hand. According to Weekly Shounen Jump's web site, the Naruto manga series will be ending its 15-year run in the magazine next month on November 10. The popular manga from Masashi Kishimoto has been running since September 19, 1999 in Weekly Shounen Jump, with over 70 volumes and almost 700 chapters having been published in its focus on the exploits of Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous young ninja who is an outcast in his village due to having the demon spirit of a Kyuubi sealed within his body.

The manga's popularity has resulted in a number of anime adaptations of the series to be created by Studio Pierrot. The first series, Naruto, having aired for 220 episodes from October 2002 to February 2007; its second series, Naruto Shippuden, been airing since that time with nearly 380 episodes having aired as of this article; and 10 films being released, with the anime's tenth film The Last -Naruto the Movie- being released to Japanese theaters in December. Most anime and manga adaptations of the series are licensed for American digital, print and home video release by Viz Media.

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