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Maken-Ki was a 12-episode harem comedy anime animated by AIC and aired on the Japanese AT-X network from October 5 to December 21 of 2011. The televised airing applied censorship to cover up the anime's more gratuitous fan service shots and nudity, which was later left uncensored for video release. The series is based on the ongoing shonen manga series written by Hiromitsu Takeda since April 20, 2007. The series was licensed for home video distribution by Funimation in 2012, who released the series in a Blu-Ray/ DVD combo set in November of last year. A second season of the series called Maken-Ki Two is currently airing this season on Japanese TV.

The Plot

She's wearing an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, blue and white-striped bikini (that is way too small for her huge rack).
She's wearing an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, blue and white-striped bikini (that is way too small for her huge rack).

Takeru Ohyama is enrolled at Tenbi Academy, a high school that recently converted into a co-ed school. Happy at the thought of being able to see plenty of pretty girls, Takeru is surprised to learn that Tenbi is a school for students possessing magical energy called Elements and wield weapons called Maken. He joins up with the school's Security Committee, where he becomes acquainted with several girls who become drawn to him for varying reasons.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Takeru Ohyama- The male lead of the series. A first-year student at Tenbi Academy who is often at the center of predicaments with the school's female student body. He is fiercely protective of girls as he bared witness to the murder of his mother at his family's martial arts dojo when he was younger.
  • Haruko Amaya- A second-year student and childhood friend of Takeru. She harbors romantic feelings for the boy, yet gets jealous of the amount of attention he gets from other female members of the Security Committee. She wields a Maken called Murakumo, a sword that Haruko is incapable of completely unsheathing unless she is facing a powerful threat.
  • Kodama Himegami- A blonde second-year student who controls shikigami capable of using fire and lightning attacks. She initially thought that Takeru was an enemy, yet develops an interest in him and moves into his room.
  • Inaho Kushiya- A ditzy girl claiming to be Takeru's fiancee and made a childhood promise with, despite Takeru being forgetful of it.

Why It Sucks

Maken Ki is yet another recent anime offering in Japan whose sole purpose of existence is to objectify its female characters to its otaku fanbase with ample amounts of huge boobs, gratuitous panty shots, nudity and other perverted hijinks involving its female cast.

This series sure loves its gratuitous panty shots.
This series sure loves its gratuitous panty shots.

The typical character archetypes and tiresome cliches you can expect of anime like this are played up enough here with Takeru being your lecherous doormat of a male lead, Haruko his busty upperclassman/ childhood friend, Kodama the tsundere and Inaho the ditz. Also expect a good number of the typical situations that are played out in titles like this that are a cheap excuse to show off female skin like bath scenes, pool episodes, undressing and Takeru getting in enough compromising predicaments with members of the female student body.

The series also appeared to be following in the vein of erotic battle action titles like Ikki Tousen and Queen's Blade in that much of the cast are capable fighters with some type of superpower, as well as making an attempt at some kind of plot when an enemy group of Maken users make their presence felt in the second half of the series. The former failed to impress due to Maken-Ki's subpar animation. The latter is a mix of cliched and poorly written, being more focused on the antics involving Takeru and the female student body and ignorant of properly developing its plot and characters beyond shallow cliches and archetypes.

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It looks like ufotable is digging into more work from Type Moon. The studio that made animated adaptations of Fate/ Zero and the Kara no Kyoukai film series will be working on a remake of Fate/ Stay Night that will premiere as a TV anime in the Fall 2014 anime season. Takahiro Miura, the director of the two prior Type-Moon titles adapted, will lead in direction of this new adaptation of Stay Night.

Fate/Stay Night was previously adapted by Studio Deen in a 26-episode TV anime series back in 2006, which was licensed by Geneon in 2006 and then Sentai Filmworks in 2012. The 2006 TV anime was released by Sentai on DVD and Blu-Ray video formats last year.

Both titles are adaptations of Type Moon's popular visual novel game that was originally released in Japan in 2004. The series revolves around a high schooler named Shiro Emiya who becomes entangled in a tournament called the Holy Grail War that involve battles to the death involving the spirits of seven warriors famous from legendary and historical lore.

A trailer for the upcoming remake can be seen here:

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Cartoon Network's Twitter account confirmed just today that they have acquired television broadcast rights to air Black Lagoon. The series will premiere on the network's Toonami block starting Saturday, March 22 where it will replace Soul Eater's current time slot of 1:30 AM.

The 12-episode action anime is adapted from Rei Hiroe's seinen manga series that aired in 2006. The series focuses on Japanese salaryman Rokuro "Rock" Okajima becoming involved with a trio of pirates called Black Lagoon Company who have their headquarters in the crime-infested Thailand town of Ronapour.

The series was originally licensed and released to American home video by Geneon in 2007, before the distributor closed down later in the year which left future volumes of the series in limbo. Funimation acquired licensing rights to the series in 2008, releasing both seasons of the series on DVD and Blu-Ray formats. They have since also released the third OVA installment of the series, Roberta's Blood Trail, onto DVD and Blu-Ray.

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And we have yet another scenario where I don't find a title I cover to be a complete dud. This is the fourth case where I've ran into this kind of situation alongside Upotte, Iron Man and My Wife is a High School Girl. With this in mind, I'm tweaking my review format slightly to cover my thoughts of Fantasista Doll instead of tearing it apart.

Fantasista Doll was a 12 episode sci-fi/ mahou shoujo comedy TV anime that aired from July 7 to September 28 of 2013. The series was animated by Hoods Entertainment and a number of manga and novel titles were made based around the series throughout much of 2013, a few of which are currently ongoing in Japan. The series is currently licensed for American home video release by Sentai Filmworks and episodes of the series are available for legal streaming by Crunchyroll.

The Plot

Nothing says bonding like whoring a bathtub full of your Dolls.
Nothing says bonding like whoring a bathtub full of your Dolls.

Middle schooler Uzume Uno was an elite player at card tournaments. One day, she receives a strange device with cards that allow her to summon virtual sentient female warriors called Fantasista Dolls. Becoming acquainted with the dolls, Uzume finds herself battling other players who desire to have wishes granted to them by the Mutual Dream Association Group (MDAG) if they can defeat Uzume.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Uzume Uno- The main lead of the series. A middle schooler who is an elite card game player who gets used to and befriends the five Fantasista Dolls that she battle with.
  • Sasara- The first Fantasista Doll that Uzume encounters. She is a talented swordsman.
  • Katia- Another of Uzume's Dolls who is childish and careless yet has a great deal of luck.
  • Shimeji- A Doll who is initially distrustful of Uzume at first due to being her abandoned by her pervious master before gaining trust in her.
  • Akari- An emotionless Doll dressed in gothic lolita attire who attacks using yo-yos.
  • Madeleine- A tall and busty Doll who plans out tactics in battle for Uzume's group of Dolls.
  • Kagami Totori- Uzume's underclassman and rival throughout much of the series. She is part of MDAG to seek out information on the whereabouts of her missing older brother.
  • Manai Uzuki- The president of the card club at Uzume's school and her childhood friend. She is also in possession of her own group of Dolls.

My Thoughts

Fantasista Doll appears to be made in mind for younger female audiences in its focus on Uzume and the bonds she makes with her group of Dolls and the various rivals she confronts throughout the title's run.

He loves soccer and coaches his team for battle. Get it?
He loves soccer and coaches his team for battle. Get it?

The series is a mix of mahou shoujo and card/ monster battle style anime as Uzume and her opponents make use of different types of cards in their fights that can change the battle outfits of their Dolls that give them differing types of attacks and can affect outcomes of the battle. The series milks differing character types and cliches typical of these types of anime with a strong focus on friendship and trust, elements typical of mahou shoujo anime. With these elements focused on, Uzume's group is shown to bond with rival groups and even resort to “power of friendship” style plot devices when dealing with a great crisis or threat.

That mask isn't gonna hide your identity when we seen you earlier in the episode.
That mask isn't gonna hide your identity when we seen you earlier in the episode.

This style of show does have its shortcomings, freshness not including with its premise. Many of the characters in the series suffer from paper-thin archetypes as they don't get much in the way of depth to allow them to be more than just two-dimensional characters. Also for a series focused around a card game, Fantasista Doll doesn't really offer much explanation of specific details as to the rules of its battles as types of cards and battle conditions are introduced only when required by the plot and make this element to the series pretty weak since the series is more focused on exploring the bonds between players and their Dolls.

Yet despite its shortcomings and formulaic storytelling, Fantasista Dolls isn't necessarily a dud since it is aimed for younger audiences with its story and its content isn't too objectionable for the most part. This would be okay to show off to younger viewers or fans of the mahou shoujo genre as a decent time killer, even if it isn't necessarily groundbreaking in any way.

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In today's posting on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences site, the nominations for the 2014 American Academy Awards were announced with Studio Ghibli's latest film, The Wind Rises, being among the nominees for Best Animated Film. The film's competition for the award include The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine and Frozen.

This is the third Ghibli film to receive an Academy Award nomination with Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle receiving prior nominations, the former being successful in winning its award for Best Animated Feature and the first and only Japanese full-length animated film to date to win the honor.

The movie was supposed to be Hayao Miyazaki's final film he had directed before announcing his retirement back in September 2013, before backing out of it. The film is loosely based on Tatsuo Hori's The Wind has Risen short story, being a fictionalized biography of Japanese plane designer Jiro Horikoshi that focuses on the rise of his career and his romantic involvements with a girl named Naoko.

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