Dream (Level 21)

Terror in Resonance review is now up. Guess it's a waiting game now until Fall titles start up next week.
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Note: Seeing as I'm personally not really finding this anime to be horribly bad in any way, I will be tweaking my format of this review slightly to offer up more of my personal thoughts on the series instead of highlighting its flaws. With that said, on with the review.

Blade was a 12-episode TV anime animated by Madhouse Studios that aired from July 1 to September 16 of 2011. It is the last of four TV anime titles adapting one of Marvel Comics' superheroes in a deal between Marvel and Madhouse. The series was later licensed for American video release by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and the series would air on American TV via G4.

The Plot

Awww, they don't explode into gory goodness like they did in the movies.
Awww, they don't explode into gory goodness like they did in the movies.

Blade is a dhampir (half-vampire, half-human) born under unique circumstances when his mother was attacked by a vampire and the strain became inherited by him while still in his mother's body. Due to his unique origins, Blade is blessed with the strengths of a vampire without many of their weaknesses. Growing up to become a vampire hunter, Blade's latest hunt brings him to Japan where he seeks out the vampire Deacon Frost and his organization of vampires known as Existence.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Blade- Born Eric Brooks, he is a man born with both human and vampire blood due to his pregnant mother being attacked by a vampire as he inherits their abilities without their weaknesses. Dedicating himself to slay other vampires as a vampire hunter, Blade comes to Japan to seek out the whereabouts of Deacon Frost.
  • Deacon Frost- A man who turned himself into a vampire via artificial means, Deacon was formerly a scientist who sought to use his knowledge in the field to expose and kill vampires to avenge his son being slain by one. However, his mind became warped from the trauma of his son's loss as the months wore on and led him to use his knowledge of vampire physiology to produce his own strain of vampires to rule the world with. He is responsible for the attack on Blade's mother that resulted in Blade's unique origins as a “daywalker” vampire.
  • Makoto- A teenage vampire hunter in Japan who seeks to kill Blade when he killed her father to save her life when he was turned into a vampire. She wields a pair of spiked knuckles and hidden blades concealed in her boots that are laced in silver to slay vampires.
  • Noah Van Hellsing- A descendant of a long line of vampire hunters who trained Blade in the ways of vampire hunting and gave him the means he needed to rein in his bloodlust as a vampire.
  • Tara Brooks- Blade's human mother who worked as a prostitute in the streets of London before being slain by Deacon Frost.
  • Kikyo Mikage- A returning character from Wolverine, Mikage is hired by Deacon to hinder Blade's efforts to stop his plans. The swordsman is shown to have past ties to Blade as the two were taught together in the use of a sword-fighting style taught to them from the same master.

The Review

Like prior Marvel anime adaptations, Blade mostly revolves around the hero of the series being regularly entangled in fights as they try learning more of the enemy threat they are up against and their motives. In this case, Blade has to go up against the vampire mooks created through the experiments of Deacon Frost and Existence. Blade's journey to slay Frost leads him to travel through a number of Asian countries where Existence have their lairs located, while encountering allies and locals affected by Deacon's plans to some extent. Some anime-only characters like Makoto are made for the series, with the mentioned character being another case where a Japanese character is created to aid the hero of the series in stopping the enemy threat he is up against.

Your garb is so 17th century.
Your garb is so 17th century.

In terms of its source material, Blade adopts elements of its live-action movie trilogy adaptation and the comic version of the character to create Blade's character and several major allies and villains within his title that retain some sense of faithfulness to its source material's story and character elements. Blade's character is a composite take on his movie and comic adaptations where he has the attire, personality and weapons of his movie counterpart, while having the back story of his comic book version. Deacon's character is also a composite take of his movie and comic takes on his character with some aspects to his origins being altered for the anime, having the scientific background and appearance of his comic persona combined with the desire to overthrow pure-blood vampires as his movie persona. The series does devote parts of episodes to explore Blade and Deacon's origins and past history together, as well as providing fleshing out on Kikyo's character when he makes his presence felt in the second half of the series.

In terms of presentation, Blade is similar to Wolverine in terms of its visual quality. Scenery shots and character designs sport plenty of detail with characters shown to be Western-influenced in terms of their design that make them look more realistic. However, the series still resorts to animation shortcuts like those Wolverine pulls during its action scenes. The soundtrack to the series is no different from prior Marvel anime titles in that it consists of mostly high-energy tracks that regularly play throughout many scenes in the series, with no regard for mood or tension played out during key scenes.

Overall, I'd put Blade on a level of quality on par with Iron Man. The series is faithful to elements of Blade's comic book and movie origins, while creating some original elements to expand on aspects to their characters during the show's focus on Blade and Deacon's origins. However like many prior Marvel anime titles, the series is more heavily focused on its battle scenes and its plot layout is not much different from prior Marvel anime titles. Marvel Comic and action anime fans would get enjoyment out of the series. But beyond that, the series is rather forgettable thanks to its straight-forward storytelling formula.

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Wanna be the Strongest in the World was a 12-episode ecchi sports series that aired from October 6 to December 22 of last year and was animated by Studio Arms. It is based on the ongoing shounen manga series written by ESE and illustrated by Kiyohito Natsuki for Comic Earth Star magazine since December 2010.

The Plot

She can't make you humble. But she can at least break your back and choke you out.
She can't make you humble. But she can at least break your back and choke you out.

Sakura Hagiwara is a 17-year old pop idol who is the lead vocalist of the idol group Sweet Diva. She impulsively decides to enter the world of women's professional wrestling to avenge the beating that one of her members took at the hands of a wrestler.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Sakura Hagiwara- The lead vocalist of Sweet Diva who decides to enter the world of pro wrestling who maintains a cheerful and bright persona through any ordeals she presses through.
  • Rio Kazama- A mid-class wrestler part of Berserk Wrestlers who is responsible for attacking one of the Sweet Diva members.
  • Misaki Toyoda- The top pro wrestler among Berserk Wrestlers and a former pop idol who trains Sakura in improving her skills as a wrestler.
  • Moe Fukuoka- A karate prodigy who joins up with Berserk later in the series to train in professional wrestling.

Why It Sucks

Like you would expect out of many Studio Arms titles, Wanna be the Strongest in the World's sole purpose of existence is to pander to otaku and ecchi fans with its desperate attempts to get gratuitous shots of T&A out of much of its female cast. A good amount of these shots come from submission holds that get applied to female wrestlers during their matches and the camera offering up-close shots of boobs, crotch and butt, as well as the occasional shower scenes and random service shots.

Fifty-plus losses to a Boston Crab? So why are we supposed to care for you again?
Fifty-plus losses to a Boston Crab? So why are we supposed to care for you again?

Outside of its desperate attempts to milk T&A, there's little else to get hooked into with this series. The pro wrestling element of its premise is lazily implemented as the first half to the series is quite painful to press through with Sakura's ridiculous losing streak she racks up and losing to the same submission hold in each match. The second half gets slightly better with Sakura being more competent in her in-ring ability, though the in-ring action still borders on ridiculous with a good chunk of action reserved to submission holds for the mentioned T&A shots and some wrestling maneuvers shown at camera-angles that are supposedly painful to look at (with moves like piledrivers and powerbombs that cause harm to the head, neck and back). However with the latter, the wrestlers are conveniently able to get back up to their feet like a shounen action hero refusing to stay down when just about crippled or near-death.

Don't go expecting to connect with the characters in this series either as they are mostly paper-thin archetypes and have little in the way of depth or dimension to make them relatable to more than just otaku and ecchi fans.

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A bit surprised I didn't cover this yet, but here we go. As of this writing, all the industry panels have taken place thus I'll cover any new announcements that distributors had to report:

Viz Media

Viz announced that they have acquired home video licensing rights to the anime series Coppelion and will release the series early next year.

Aniplex of America

Aniplex announced that they will be releasing Nisekoi in a Blu-Ray box set on November 25. The set will come only with Japanese audio and English subtitles and will include the following physical extras: collectible ending card pin-ups and a deluxe poster and box designed by chief animation director and character designer Nobuhiro Sugiyama. Aniplex is accepting pre-orders of the series now.

Crunchyroll

Cardcaptor Sakura will be streamed in its entirety on the site in both subbed and dubbed formats starting on Tuesday.

Vertical Inc.

Vertical announced the acquisition of another artbook with artwork from Makoto Shinkai called A Sky Longing for Memories. The artbook will have 160 pages and will be released in May 2015, being priced at $34.95.

Funimation

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This may seem like a cruel joke, but appears to sadly be true. A number of news sources internationally have reported that Ghibli's General Manager Toshio Suzuki announced on a Japanese news talk show today that the studio will be shutting down its animation studio. The studio will be transitioning to licensing and merchandising characters and trademarks from its various classic films, as well as keeping a small staff on hand to take part in "Miyazaki projects" that are yet to be revealed. The reasons for the shut down of the animation studio are heavily rumored to be due to Hayao Miyazaki's retirement from animation direction last year and financial issues that plagued the studio over the past year as one of their recent films, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, underperformed in box office earnings in Japanese theaters as it only earned back half the money spent for its animation budget. The studio's final film, When Marnie Was There, was recently released in Japanese theaters on July 19.

UPDATE: Have some additional details on this news. It looks like many of the news sources may have misunderstood Suzuki's announcement regarding Studio Ghibli's future due to a mistranslation. Anime News Network is reporting that the studio is currently taking a hiatus from future animated works to plan out and restructure the company, with the possibility of releasing some among its production department or even completely shutting down any future animation production. It would seem things are still uncertain with the future of the studio for now, but all is not doom and gloom right now.

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At an announcement conference in Shinigawa, Tokyo just today, the staff and crew for the upcoming Fate/ Stay Night TV anime at Ufotable revealed their production plans with the popular Type-Moon franchise. Instead of one project, they will be working on two animated projects for the franchise. The TV anime they will be developing will be an all-new adaptation of the Unlimited Blade Works route from the Fate/ Stay Night visual novel that will be made to air for two separate seasons. The first half of the series will premiere on Japanese television on October 4 and the second half will resume things in April 2015.

Unlimited Blade Works is the second route in the Stay Night visual novel game that focuses on Shiro Emiya's interactions with Rin Tohsaka as the two team together to deal with developments in the fifth Holy Grail War where magi can summon the spirits of seven legendary heroes to compete in duels to the death where the winner will be able to make a wish upon the Holy Grail. Unlimited Blade Works was previously adapted into a 90-minute film adaptation by Studio Deen in 2010, where it was later licensed for American video release by Sentai Filmworks. A trailer for the upcoming Unlimited Blade Works TV anime can be seen here:

As for the second animated project...

Ufotable will be adapting the Heaven's Feel route of the Stay Night series into a film adaptation that they are presently in development with. Heaven's Feel is the third route in the visual novel series that had yet to receive an animated adaptation until now. It is the darkest among the three routes of the visual novel as it will focus on Shiro's interactions with Sakura Matou, a girl in his class who has romantic interest in him and regularly deals with an abusive relationship that she has with members of the Matou family that escalates during the events of the Holy Grail War. A trailer for the upcoming Heaven's Feel movie can be seen below:

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