Dream (Level 21)

Goal established. As a heads up, my next Ani-Crap poll will be starting up Friday. Look forward to voting on the next crappy anime offering you'd like me to suffer through.
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I guess I can say Happy Valentine’s Day in light of my “love” for today. I had this planned out for the past month considering I wanted to kill some time since I’ve been in a pit of a rut lately with finding good anime to watch. But does this mean I will return to doing Ani-Crap on a regular basis? I’ll let you folks decide on that. Pepper me on my Wall or with PMs and there’s a chance Ani-Crap may come back from the dead if I get enough support. In the mean time, on with the review.

Mad Bull 34 was a four-episode crime action OVA that was released from December 21, 1990 to August 21, 1992. It was based on a manga series written by Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Noriyoshi Inoue for the seinen magazine, Weekly Young Jump, from 1986 to 1990. The series was animated by Magic Bus, who outsourced much of the animated work for Mad Bull 34 to be handled by studios in China and Korea.

Mad Bull 34 was released dubbed on VHS in the 1990s by Manga Entertainment, who lost their licensing rights to the series years later. Discotek acquired licensing rights to the series last year and plan to release it on DVD with both the original Japanese audio and Manga Entertainment’s English dub later this month on February 26.

The Plot

AIM FOR HIS BALLS! AIM FOR HIS BALLS!
AIM FOR HIS BALLS! AIM FOR HIS BALLS!

Daizaburo Ban is the newest recruit in the New York Police Force’s toughest precinct, the thirty-fourth. He becomes the partner of John “Sleepy” Estes, a cop with no regard for the rules as he violently dispatches criminals (even for minor crimes) and runs his own prostitution ring. While Daizaburo hates the reckless conduct of his partner, he comes to learn of Sleepy’s good side as the money earned from his prostitution ring is used to benefit a home for victims of rape and battered homes, as well as a clinic curing STDs. The two team up to tackle the crime-infested streets of their precinct.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • John Estes- Known as “Sleepy” by his friends and “Mad Bull” by his enemies, John is a giant of a cop known for going above the law in his fight against crime in the 34th precinct with his violent execution of criminals and running a prostitution ring. Despite this, he has good intentions with his actions as his “creative” methods of fighting crime help to greatly reduce criminal activity in his precinct.
  • Daizaburo Ban- Nicknamed “Eddie”, Daizaburo is a Japanese American who is the newest recruit to the 34th precinct and becomes Sleepy’s partner. While at first disgusted with Sleepy’s lack of regard for police protocol, seeing his partner’s good intentions lead Eddie to warm to Sleepy’s methods of fighting crime.
  • Perrine Valley- A lieutenant for the precinct introduced in the title’s second episode who helps Eddie and Sleepy with their missions. Becomes a love interest to Eddie.

Why It Sucks

Mad Bull 34 is rather infamous among anime fans for its graphic content and unflattering depiction of 1980s era New York City.

Criminals killed off throughout the series are all offed in some over-the-top graphic detail as gun shots are shown to blow off limbs and make heads explode. It is also rather misogynist as nearly every woman in the series is either a prostitute or winds up being a victim of rape.

Another overkill moment brought to you by Mad Bull.
Another overkill moment brought to you by Mad Bull.

The creators of the OVA also didn’t seem to be well versed in knowing of life in New York City or didn’t seem to care at all. The criminals seen throughout Mad Bull 34 are rather bizarre and over-the-top or strongly stereotypical. Examples of criminals you can expect in the series include a cyborg Mafia boss; two armed robbers decked in Jason masks, tight jean shorts and roller skates; and a gang of Chinese assassins prone to committing kamikaze attacks on their targets.

Yes, they're dressed as nuns. And no one one bothers to ask about Sleepy sticking out so much.
Yes, they're dressed as nuns. And no one one bothers to ask about Sleepy sticking out so much.

The show’s efforts to paint Sleepy as some sort of Dirty Harry-esque character are also rather ridiculous. The guy pulls off stuff that Harry Callahan wouldn’t dare to pull in his movies as Sleepy is regularly seen screwing the prostitutes of his ring and commits enough ridiculous acts such as blowing up a gang of Mafia thugs with grenades attached to his pubic hairs and instructing Eddie to comfort a traumatized female victim by literally sticking a finger up her ass. Worst of all, Sleepy never gets any kind of repercussions for his actions as being presented photo evidence of his actions isn’t enough for his seemingly inept superiors to punish him in any way.

Manga’s English dub for Mad Bull 34 is also worth mention for the title’s infamy. Dubbed at the company’s UK branch, the voice actors are quite inconsistent in the delivery of their lines as they go in and out of delivering horrible New Yorker accents and usually get quite deadpan in the speaking of lines. Not to mention that you can expect regular use of graphic language that wasn’t found in the original Japanese version of the series, another instance of Manga trying to make a horrible anime more edgy to Western audiences with regular use of cuss words.

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Just in time before Christmas, I give you folks another video update looking into what I have in my anime collection.

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Before I get to this review, I’ll spill the beans on my major announcement regarding the future of Ani-Crap. Regrettably, I plan on making this the final article that I plan to put together for my look into the worst of anime. I’ve recently gotten back to working again after over a year and a half of unemployment and I found myself rather drained from the work week, enough so where I felt that I would rather watch something that has good quality to it than plowing through anything that is an utter piece of garbage like the stuff I’ve watched through over the past year. I’ll admit that my Ani-Crap reviews were a nice way for me to kill time when I was drained from my repetitive daily routines of being around my house much of the time and become exposed to titles far worst in quality than anything I would subjectively call overrated. But I don’t think I can keep up with Ani-Crap if I’m back on a 40-hour work week and would want to relax instead of torturing myself. Ending on this sad note, here is my final Ani-Crap review to cover Yosuga no Sora.
 
 

Yosuga no Sora was an animated adaptation of the eroge visual novel game created by Sphere and released on December 5, 2008. The anime was animated by studio feel and aired on AT-X in Japan from October 4 to December 20 of 2010.

 

 Maybe they should have called this "The Fucking Haru Show" instead.
 Maybe they should have called this "The Fucking Haru Show" instead.

The Premise

Fraternal twin siblings Haruka and Sora Kasugano move to the countryside residence of their grandparents following the deaths of their parents from a car accident. Sora is greatly dependent on Haruka for emotional support and personal needs due to being ill and frail since she was born. In this move, Haruka finds himself becoming romantically involved with one of several girls he becomes acquainted with in his return to the countryside.

 

Notable Characters (from left to right)

 

 
  1. Haruka Kasugano- A thin, kind-hearted boy who is capable of making friends with others easily and cares for his sister’s well-being while the two live together alone at their grandparents’ residence. Becomes romantically involved with one of several girls throughout different arcs in the series.  
  2. Sora Kasugano- Haruka’s twin sister who is emotionally reserved and has been ill and frail since birth. She has a troublesome personality as she constantly desires Haruka’s attention and normally carries around a stuffed rabbit given to her by her dead mother.  
  3. Nao Yorihime- Next-door neighbor of the Kasuganos and Haruka’s childhood friend. She and Haruka harbor an intimate relationship with one another, enough so where they had sex with one another before Haruka moved. While she tries to rekindle a relationship with Haruka when he returns to the countryside, Nao does find herself facing hostility from Sora, who fears that Nao is taking Haruka away from her.  
  4. Kazuha Migiwa- The daughter of an influential Japanese magnate burdened with having to hide the fact her father had an illicit affair with another woman that led to the birth of an illegitimate daughter among her group of friends.  
  5. Akira Amatsume- The illegitimate daughter of Kazuha's father who uses her energetic, cheerful and innocent personality as a front to cover up her insecurities and worries on the matter. She practices performing as her town’s resident miko and spends a lot of time helping out the elderly.  
  6. Motoka Nogisaka- A college student/ maid appearing in the show’s bonus omake at the end of each episode looking into her everyday life with financial struggles, drunken escapades and falling in love with Haruka.

 

Why It Sucks

Yosuga no Sora’s premise is pretty much one big excuse for male lead Haruka to become romantically involved with a different gal in each arc of the show and inevitably screw them once any drama within said arc is resolved.

The series is divided up into several arcs featuring Haruka’s romantic involvement with a different girl, having some sort of dramatic development affecting the relationship, engaging in softcore sex with the girl once the drama is resolved and have events be reset to a point where they lapse into a different development involving another of the girls in the series. This style of storytelling screams laziness with writing to feature different “what if” scenarios of whatever girls Haruka gets to nail.

 Take a very good guess at what is happening here!
 Take a very good guess at what is happening here!

The storylines and characters of each girl in the show are nothing to get too thrilled over as they are basically rehashed character archetypes or storyline scenarios you likely would see done to death with conventional ecchi/ romance anime/ manga titles or other eroge games. Because of the limited episode length of each arc, characters are never given much opportunity for depth or natural growth, which make the seemingly speedy progression of relationships with Haruka and the “girl of the arc” look very unnatural.

Not to mention that the softcore sex scenes involving Haruka and the “girl of the arc”, including a few occasions of masturbation with a couple gals, are likely to turn off or offend anyone not among the title’s intended horny otaku fanbase.

Yosuga no Sora’s most infamous element comes in the form of its final arc involving Haruka getting into an incestuous fling with his sister, Sora. Supposedly portraying itself as a “mature incest love story”, the arc is no different from past anime titles that don’t seriously explore the taboo as honestly and tastefully as Koi Kaze. Yosuga no Sora combines the typical flaws you would find with the portrayal of incest relationships in anime as Haruka and Sora’s relationship suffers from melodramatic trappings and is a cheap excuse to feature shocking and perverted content throughout its run.

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Vampire Wars was a 50-minute OVA series animated by Toei Animation in 1990. The anime was licensed in America by Manga Entertainment in the late 1990s, who released it on VHS in 1998 and later on DVD in 2002. Both releases are currently out of print.
 

 Our "hero" conversing with one of his many hookers.
 Our "hero" conversing with one of his many hookers.

The Plot

A brutal attack on a NASA base in an Arizonan desert by vampires gets the attention of a French freelance agent named Kozaburo Kuki, who thinks the incident may be connected to the corpse of a CIA agent seen floating along the Seine River in Paris. Discovering that an actress named Lamia Vindaw is being targeted by these vampires, Kuki commits himself to the protection of Lamia as he tries learning more about the vampires and their reasons for attacking the NASA base.

 

Notable Characters (from left to right)

 

 

  • Kozaburo Kuki- A French freelance agent who is investigating strange happenings connected to a group of vampires and finds himself getting entangled in a complicated plot involving the vampires and government agents who are all after Lamia.
  • Lamia Vindaw- A popular actress who discovers that she isn’t human after having medical tests performed on her and comes under the protection of Kuki when she is targeted by vampires and government groups. 
  • Mirusha- The leader of a group of vampires trying to abduct Lamia for mysterious reasons.

 

Why It Sucks

Vampire Wars is another example of bad 90s OVA titles made in Japan. The anime has some pretty bad writing in properly laying out its plot and characters.

In the case of characters, just about everyone you meet tends to stick with flat one-dimensional archetypes. Characters barely have much in the way of personality (especially in the case of our deadpan hero Kuki) and any depth they are given is sloppily laid on in whatever scene they are introduced. Scenes where Kuki is supposed to portray himself as heroic, despite the violent, merciless ways in which he dispatches thugs and implied to sleep with prostitutes, is quite laughable and a poor attempt at trying to have the audience sympathize with his shallow character.

 Two baddies about to be slaughtered badly.
 Two baddies about to be slaughtered badly.


The execution of the plot is just as laughable as the pacing to Vampire Wars makes events breeze through quickly and major revelations come across more as sloppy and happening too conveniently. The movie gets in the horrible habit of having events with Kuki happen way too conveniently. For example, Lamia’s mother not only gives biological details on her daughter’s condition to Kuki despite supposedly only being Lamia’s talent agent, but also happens to own and be capable of piloting a helicopter that Kuki uses to fly in and raid an enemy hideout when Lamia gets abducted later in the OVA.

The visuals to Vampire Wars haven’t aged too well as the seemingly realistic style of drawing used for character designs look rather ugly and flat. Also for an OVA series, the animation to Vampire Wars borders from subpar to terrible as a number of action scenes feature stilted and unnatural movements from characters thanks to the title’s low frame rate. It seems too obvious that Toei was working with a limited budget when they animated this.

The English dub to Vampire Wars also does its part to enhance how laughably bad the series is. Made at the Manga Entertainment branch in the UK, the dub for Vampire Wars features some voice actors making poor attempts at delivering French accents and tossing in graphic language not found in many parts of the original Japanese script to the series as Manga was purposely trying to bump up the age rating to appeal to older audiences and make the anime seem more edgy.

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Those of you expecting me to completely rip apart Upotte like I’ve done for my prior reviews will be surprised to know that I didn’t find it to be as horrible as what some folks may have made it out to be from its premise, though it is still obvious otaku bait. Baring this in mind, I am slightly tweaking my review format for this review to reflect more on my thoughts of the pros and cons of this series. I may adopt the format if I run into another issue like this for future reviews where I run into titles not as horrifically bad as I’ve heard of them to be!

Upotte!! is a 10-episode action-comedy ONA series animated by Xebec and had episodes released from April 8 to June 9 of this year. The series is an adaptation of the ongoing manga series written by Kitsune Tennouji for Young Ace, Shonen Ace and 4-Koma Nano Ace magazines since 2009. The series was licensed earlier in the year by Sentai Filmworks, who have yet to announce when they plan to release the series on DVD and/ or Blu-Ray format.

 

 Yes, she's cute. But she isn't what you think she is!
 Yes, she's cute. But she isn't what you think she is!

The Plot

A young teacher takes a job at Seishou Academy where he is the only human amongst anthropomorphized guns in human form. The students at the school are trained into becoming useful weapons and divided up into different classes depending on how they were made such as submachine guns (elementary school), assault rifles (middle school) and battle/ sniper rifles (high school). The new teacher finds himself being the homeroom teacher for a class of assault rifles and becoming acquainted with an assault rifle named Funco and her group of friends.

 

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Funco- The main heroine of the series in the form of a small, energetic girl who supplies the punch lines for her friends when they play dumb. Being a Belgian FN FNC assault rifle, she does wear a thong due to having a skeleton stock and will often lash out angrily at the slightest mention of it from her teacher. 
  • Ichiroku- The energetic best friend of Funco who is foul mouthed, yet kind, and talks with an Osaka dialect. She normally models for gun magazines and requires frequent maintenance due to the delicate build of the rifle she is based on, the American M16A4 assault rifle.
  • Elle- A shy and clumsy girl among Funco’s group of friends who is Ichirou’s roommate at Seishou. She is seen as unreliable and is a British L85A1 assault rifle.
  • Sig- The honor student among Funco’s group of friends. An excellent marksman at mid-to-long range and capable of surviving in frozen temperatures, Sig is a Swiss SG 550 assault rifle.
  • Modern Literature Teacher- The unnamed new teacher at Seishou who becomes the homeroom teacher of Funco’s class. While he does care for Funco, his misunderstandings about the girl’s nature often lead him to get fired upon by Funco.

 

What Works

 All the specs you need on Elle.
 All the specs you need on Elle.

For a series clearly geared for the otaku crowd, the premise for Upotte is an original one if one is able to look past the seemingly creepy implications of the “gun girl” gimmick. The quirks among some of the girls are influenced by the real-life firearms that they are an anthropomorphized form of and a number of the show’s comedic gags and innuendo jokes are gags that could be followed by anyone with heavy knowledge of firearms. The anime often takes some time to go into depth on elaborating on the history and specs of many of the firearms introduced throughout the series.

Also for an otaku pandering show, many of Upotte’s elements were tolerable for the most part for me to watch through. Many of the characters don’t get overly obnoxious with their personality quirks and the ecchi content to the series is tame for the most part compared to gross-out and excess ecchi titles like Seikon no Qwaser or Kiss x Sis as much of Upotte’s content is mostly panty shots, bath scenes, clothes changing and the occasional innuendo joke.

 

What Sucks

Looking past Upotte’s “gun girl” gimmick, the series is still mostly a pretty typical high school gal pals comedy in the vain of recent titles like A Channel and Tamayura: Hitotose. Many of the girls follow the typical character archetypes you can find of such titles, which would be a major turn off of folks tiring of the excess number of titles using this setup.

Later episodes of the series also have their occasional moments of slipping up with their quality. A later 3-episode arc of the series introduces the character Sako, whose typical psychotic personality and some of her creepy actions (like masturbating during a gunfight) were quite the turn-off for me. The anime also tosses in a few characters seemingly to only be comic relief with their girl crushes on major members of the anime cast and mess with the viewer’s perceptions on their sexuality, a gag which has already been done to death enough in past moe slice-of-life comedies.

 Sako being her creepy, psychotic self.
 Sako being her creepy, psychotic self.

The weakest of the series for me came in Upotte’s final two episodes when it tries to make itself more serious when the Seishou gun girls get in a conflict with another group of gun girls. Other than this mood change being way out of place with the mood setup in the show’s earlier episodes, the enemy faction gets very little depth, the conflict was clearly rushed through, there is a cop-out resolution to a major event that occurs during the conflict and it gets left open-ended.

 

Overall

I just don’t see where folks consider Upotte to be horrifically bad. While the anime is still otaku bait, much of its ecchi content is rather light and its sloppy moments of writing are nowhere as horrifically bad as past duds I’ve seen like Garzey’s Wing and Harlock Saga. Looking past its “gun girl” gimmick, Upotte is just an average and clichéd title that I imagine would become forgettable for many folks in the next couple years since it doesn’t have much else that sticks out beyond its gimmick.

 

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