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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.