Dream (Level 21)

Macross 7 Ani-Crap Review is finally up: http://www.animevice.com/profile/dream/ani-crap-review-50-macross-7/107-12056/. New Ani-Crap poll will be up in February.
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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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This should be excellent news for Mushishi fans. Following the Sunday airing of a TV special for the series called Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage, an announcement was made that a second season has been green-lit for production called Mushishi: The Next Chapter and will air in April 2014.

Most of the production staff from Artland for the original 2005 TV anime will return to be involved in making the series and Ginko's original seiyuu, Yuto Nakano, will be reprising his role in this second TV season.

For those not in the know of the series, Mushishi was based on a 10-volume manga series made by Yuki Urushibara for the Afternoon seinen magazine from 1999 to 2008. The series focused around the exploits of Ginko, a young man who wanders the land to aid others affected by supernatural beings called mushi. The first season TV anime and a live-action movie directed by Katsuhiro Otomo are both currently licensed by Funimation and available in both streaming (anime only) and physical media formats, while all volumes of the manga series were released by Del Ray Manga.

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Kodomo no Jikan is a 12-episode ecchi/ romantic comedy anime that was animated by Studio Barcelona and aired on Japanese TV from October 12 to December 28 of 2007. The series was based on the 13 volume seinen manga series created by Kaworu Watashiya and published in Comic High magazine from May 22, 2005 to April 22, 2013.

The series is quite controversial and infamous among many anime and manga fans for its lolicon content, which affected the series to varying degrees. North American manga distributor Seven Seas Entertainment originally planned to release Kodomo no Jikan in the United States in 2007 under the name Nymphet. But due to concerns about the title's appropriateness to American audiences, Seven Seas was forced to cancel plans for releasing the manga series stateside.

Kodomo no Jikan's reputation also affected its TV anime broadcast run in Japan. Two TV stations that were originally going to air the series, TV Saitama and Mie TV, removed it from their broadcast schedule. TV Saitama would later make a press release announcing that they decided to cancel their plans of broadcasting the series due to concerns that the series could be associated with a then-recently arrested child pornographer named Takayuki Hosoda, who was revealed to have been the vice principal of an elementary school before his arrest. Broadcasters that aired the series aired edited versions of the episodes that had varying levels of censorship applied to them. Japanese DVD releases of the series would show the episodes completely unedited.

The Plot

This is the high point of the series. Endure five episodes of lolicon ecchi content before you reach it.
This is the high point of the series. Endure five episodes of lolicon ecchi content before you reach it.

Daisuke Aoki is a 23 year old young man who recently gained his first teaching job as a grade school instructor at Futasubashi Elementary School. He is placed in charge of the mischievous students of Class 3-1 where he encounters Rin Kokonoe, a nine-year old precocious and troublemaking girl that develops a crush on Aoki and desires to be his girlfriend. Aoki finds his teaching career complicated by Rin's romantic efforts, the antics of Rin and her friends and dealing with the complicated relationships involving his students and the adults within their lives.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Daisuke Aoki- A recent addition to the teaching staff at Futasubashi Elementary School. Having idealistic notions about his job, Aoki finds his intentions tested dealing with the complications of his job that come from the advances and mischief caused by Rin and her friends.
  • Rin Kokonoe- A nine-year old mischievous girl with a large crush on Aoki, known to make forcible advances on the teacher and willing to jeopardize the man's job to have him acknowledge her. She normally causes trouble for Aoki with her two friends, Kuro and Mimi.
  • Kuro Kagami- One of Rin's close friends who comes from a wealthy family and known to indulge in expensive fashions, mostly Gothic Lolita mixed with catgirl ears and tail. Kuro is known to make snide remarks about Aoki's virginity.
  • Mimi Usa- A shy and reserved girl with glasses who is also a close friend of Rin's. Her shyness, intelligence and unusually well-endowed figure for her age made her a target for bullying and teasing among students and her previous homeroom teacher before she befriended Rin and Kuro.
  • Reiji Kokonoe- Rin's first cousin and current guardian. Having suffered from an abusive past from his parents as a child, Reiji moved in with Rin's mother, Aki, and fell in love with her. After Aki's death, Reiji became Rin's guardian and becomes overly protective of Rin to the point where he hates the close affection that she has for Aoki.

Why It Sucks

While I do feel some of the infamy to Kodomo no Jikan feels a bit overblown, this is still a turkey of a series that relies very heavily on tasteless humor involving its quite young female cast and having wasted potential on an element to its story.

Breast groping a 9-year old well-endowed girl? Ugh, I feel dirty.
Breast groping a 9-year old well-endowed girl? Ugh, I feel dirty.

Seemingly catering to the lowest of the otaku fanbase, Kodomo no Jikan milks ecchi humor off the questionable behavior of Rin and her friends. Occasions of Aoki walking in on fourth grade girls undressing, Rin making sexual advances on the guy, panty shots with Rin and pals, an episode that has some creepy humor involving Mimi's surprisingly well-developed bust size and innuendo gags that involve double entendres and teasing about Aoki's virginity are the norm for much of the series.

Good kids shouldn't be giving their teachers hard-ons.
Good kids shouldn't be giving their teachers hard-ons.

For the most part, many of the characters fulfill the same tiresome character types you can expect out of modern high school rom-coms such as Aoki being the idealistic doormat to the antics of Rin and pals, Kuro being the sharp-tongued ojou, Mimi the busty and shy glasses girl and Rin being part tsundere and part sexually aggressive student in her advances toward Aoki.

However the show has a story element that makes you question “what if” when a later episode reveals the pasts of Rin and her guardian Reiji, that is the best quality element of the series and a rather tragic back story. The developments of this story element are focused on again in the final two episodes of the series, though build up to a somewhat inconclusive ending due to the anime's limited remaining episode count and having caught up to the manga source material. The mentioned backstory with Rin and Reiji had me thinking Kodomo no Jikan could have worked better if it committed more to serious drama involving dilemmas faced by Aoki's class instead of mostly littering the series with the exploitative and tasteless behavior coming from Rin and her friends towards Aoki.

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