Dream (Level 21)

Year End Garbage Review on Pupa is up: http://www.animevice.com/profile/dream/ani-crap-year-end-garbage-review-ii-pupa/107-11977/. My 50th Ani-Crap Review poll will be up in two weeks.
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This is some pretty significant news if you're a fan of Studio Ghibli films. It was announced just today at Italy's Venice Film Festival by Studio Ghibli president Koji Hoshino that acclaimed Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki will be retiring at age 72 from future production of Ghibli films. This is off the heels of the studio's release of Miyazaki's latest work, The Wind Rises, which has been playing in Japanese theaters since July 20.

Many anime fans are likely familiar with the work of Hayao Miyazaki. He has been involved in animation direction since the 1970s, directing a number of TV anime titles during the period like episodes of the first Lupin III TV anime and Future Boy Conan. His directorial film debut, The Castle of Cagliostro, is still recognized as one of the best films in the Lupin III franchise among fans of the popular Monkey Punch thief character.

Miyazaki was one of the original founders of Studio Ghibli in 1984, having directed a number of films for the studio like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. His 2001 film, Spirited Away, is still the highest grossing film of all-time in Japanese theaters and the only Japanese animated film to receive an American Academy Award for Best Animated Film in 2003.

The man will definitely be missed by me in the world of anime as I've been a fan of many of his films for years with Kiki's Delivery Service being one of the very first anime titles I seen in the late-1990s, just as Walt Disney Home Entertainment started up their deal with Ghibli to release many of their films internationally to home video and theaters. How do you guys feel about Miyazaki's retirement from film direction?

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Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc was a two-episode OVA series animated by Studio Deen that was released in Japan on March 21 and August 22 of 2012. The series adapts the Kyoto arc of Nobuhiro Watsuki's famous 1990s shonen manga title, Rurouni Kenshin. The OVA series was released to DVD and Blu-Ray video formats earlier this year by Sentai Filmworks.

The Plot

The rumors are true: they fucked each other here.
The rumors are true: they fucked each other here.

In Meiji era Japan, former government hitokiri Makoto Shishio is out to wage war against the new government, leading a group of swordsmen called the Juppongatana to overthrow the government and institute his own rule of survival of the fittest. Hearing of this threat, Kenshin Himura returns to being a wanderer to seek out Shishio, while being accompanied on his journey by a young Oniwabanshu ninja girl named Misao Makimachi.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Kenshin Himura- The main lead of the series. A former hitokiri who fought alongside the Meiji rebels to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate and now lives life as a wanderer swearing to never again take a life. In battle, he wields a sakabatou, a katana with a reverse blade incapable of inflicting fatal wounds.
  • Misao Makimachi- A young ninja girl raised and trained by the Oniwabanshu ninja clan who travels with Kenshin on his journey to learn of the whereabouts of Aoshi Shinomori, an older member of her clan whom she strongly admires and has romantic feelings for.
  • Kaoru Kamiya- The young trainer of the Kamiya Kasshin-ryu sword dojo whom Kenshin was staying with before resuming his status as a wanderer. Having fallen in love for the swordsman, Kaoru travels to Kyoto with her student Yahiko to seek out Kenshin's whereabouts.
  • Saito Hajime- A former member of the Shinsengumi who crossed swords with Kenshin during the Bakumatsu period. Now an officer for the Meiji military, Saito aids Kenshin in his efforts to stop Shishio's plans.
  • Makoto Shishio- A former hitokiri for the Ishin Shishi who was thought killed when the Meiji government ordered his assassination. Having much of his body covered in bandages from the severe burns his body underwent from being set ablaze, Shishio now desires to overthrow the Meiji government and implement his own rule of survival of the fittest.

Why It Sucks

Perhaps a bigger stain to the Rurouni Kenshin franchise than the Reflection OVA, New Kyoto Arc is a compressed take on the major events that took place during Rurouni Kenshin's famous Kyoto arc.

Usui not making the Purgatory trip.
Usui not making the Purgatory trip.

Having only ninety minutes total to tell the developments of the whole arc, New Kyoto Arc is very rushed in its developments, greatly limiting major character depth and development that took place throughout the span of the arc. What make this rather bad is the Kyoto arc was a major point within the Rurouni Kenshin storyline as the series delved more into Kenshin's past as a hitokiri with the man forced to come to terms with his bloody past when dealing with the indirect consequences his decisions had on influencing Shishio's later actions.

This rushed pacing also affects the many battle scenes that are scattered throughout the arc. While the series is polished and nicely-detailed with scenery and character designs, the title's limited run time leads to quick battle scenes that lack the polished choreography, depth and engagement that were offered from the manga and TV anime. As mentioned, depth is an issue here since Rurouni Kenshin was known to exploring conflicting ideologies between characters, shown through the battles that these characters had with one another.

Alongside the rushed pacing, New Kyoto Arc also adds in new scenes and some significant changes to the Kyoto arc's storyline from the original series. These changes either significantly affect later events in the title's plotting or are placed there to fit the OVA's 90-minute total run time. For example in the OVA, Kenshin has his final battle with Shishio aboard the Purgatory ship. Yet in the manga and TV anime, said final battle took place later on after Kenshin and his allies went through a gauntlet-style battle against several of Shishio's comrades and the Purgatory was destroyed earlier in the arc.

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Dark Blue was a two-episode hentai OVA series animated by PoRo and released on April 27, 2012 and March 29, 2013. The series is based on an eroge game created by LiLiM DARKNESS.

The Plot

If you think she's licking ice cream, might want to get your head examined.
If you think she's licking ice cream, might want to get your head examined.

Yukito Aizawa brings his two sisters to the mansion of his childhood friend and crush Otoha Kunoji. However, one of Yukito's sisters is mysteriously murdered as everyone stays in the mansion to seek refuge from the killer and indulge in their own pleasures.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Yukito Aizawa- The male lead of the series who gets arousal from seeing the sexual activity occurring with his roommates throughout the mansion.
  • Suzuka Aizawa- Yukito's older sister who is blackmailed into doing sexual favors for her teacher.
  • Otoha Kunoji- Yukito's childhood friend and crush whose mansion he stays in. She has feelings for Reiya.
  • Reiya Inou- Friend of Yukito's with a crush on Otoha.
  • Gorou Takamine- Suzuka's teacher who blackmails her into doing sexual favors for him.
  • Honoka- The Kunoji family maid.

Why It Sucks

What's better: maid giving you a hand job or seeing your crush getting fucked by another guy?
What's better: maid giving you a hand job or seeing your crush getting fucked by another guy?

Dark Blue's plot is mostly a backdrop to the various sexual acts shown in graphic detail involving Yukito's roommates and the boy getting arousal from seeing them occur without stepping in to halt them. What makes this element to his character rather irksome is he lets arousal get too much to his head to halt his sister being raped by her teacher and stopping his crush, Otoha, from getting nailed by Reiya.

But with this being a hentai, character depth is secondary to graphic sexual scenes playing out with all the typical foreplay you can expect with oral and anal sex, doggy style, hand jobs, breast fondling and a few other sexual positions at work.

As for the murder plot that the series eludes to, the second episode's conclusion has a poorly-explained finale revealing who the killer is without any kind of buildup or foreshadowing thanks to this title's heavy focus on its sexual antics.

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Funimation and Sentai Filmworks made big announcements just today at Otakon over titles they license rescued from Bandai Entertainment. It was reported by Anime News Network back in May that both companies were in talks with Sunrise to acquire titles that were formerly distributed to home video in the North American market since Bandai's closure last year. It appears the major acquisitions have begun of Bandai's old license library. Here are the titles that Funi and Sentai had acquired from their dealings with Sunrise.

Funimation

  • Tales of the Abyss
  • Witch Hunter Robin
  • Code Geass (both seasons)
  • Angel Links
  • Crest of the Stars
  • Banner of the Stars
  • Banner of the Stars II
  • Passage of the Stars - Birth
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Escaflowne (TV series and movie)
  • My-Hime
  • My-Otome (TV series, Zwei and 0~S.ifr~)

Sentai Filmworks

  • Big O (both seasons)
  • Argento Soma
  • Betterman
  • s-CRY-ed
  • Z-Mind
  • Zegapain
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Space
  • Infinite Ryvius
  • Kurokami: The Animation
  • Brain Powered
  • Overman King Gainer

Anyone else who hasn't followed news on Bandai titles, Funimation had also announced earlier in the year that they acquired several titles in the .hack franchise with Sign, Legend of the Twilight, GU Trilogy and Roots.

In addition, Discotek picked up a couple former Bandai titles with Blue Submarine No. 6 and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Blue Submarine will be getting a DVD and Blu-Ray release later in the year, while Jin-Roh will be released sometime in early 2014.

Also, RightStuf announced earlier in the year that they have acquired video distribution rights to Gundam Unicorn, as they plan to release the series to DVD in four volumes with the first three volumes consisting of two episodes each and the fourth containing the hour-and-a-half long final episode that will be released to video in Japan in Spring of next year. The first and second volumes will be released later this month on August 20.

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Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin was a 12-episode ecchi/ action anime that aired from April 2 to June 19 of 2009. While airing uncensored during its broadcast run on AT-X, the series was heavily censored on other channels it aired on in Japan. The series was based on a manga series franchise made for several seinen magazines like HJ Bunko and Comp Ace, which were published from 2007 to 2011. The series was released to DVD for American audiences by Media Blasters in 2010.

The Plot

Gotta be disturbing if your boobs are bigger than your head.
Gotta be disturbing if your boobs are bigger than your head.

A battle tournament called Queen's Blade is held every four years within the Continent's capital, Gainos, between various female warriors to crown a new Queen who will rule the Continent. A young woman named Leina, heiress of the acclaimed Vance family, travels to Gainos to take part in the tournament and encounters several warriors along her journey who have differing reasons for being involved in the tournament.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • Leina- The main lead of the series who is the middle sister and successor of the Vance Family, an aristocratic family of nobles. However, she has no desire of being countess and desires to venture the world like her mother, donning her armor for her journey to Gainos.
  • Risty- A thief who uses the money she steals to support a shelter for children orphaned by war and desires to win the Queen's Blade tournament to help the orphans. She aids Leina during the early part of their journey together.
  • Nowa- A girl of mixed elf and human heritage serving as a guardian of her forest home and deals with prejudice from other elves due to her mixed bloodline. She normally doesn't wear undergarments, a habit that disturbs some among the cast.
  • Tomoe- A priestess from the island of Hinomoto seeking to enter the Queen's Blade tournament to halt a power struggle going on within her land and to avenge the deaths of her fellow priestesses who were slain by ninja hired by her enemies.
  • Echidna- A wild elf mercenary who takes an interest in Leina and is known to be aggressive in showing her emotions towards those who interest her. She's an expert with wielding bladed weapons and wears her pet snake Keltan as a thong.
  • Menace- A princess from the Egyptian-like Amara Kingdom resurrected by the Swamp Witch to be part of her army. Instead, Menace broke free from the witch's control and seeks to restore her kingdom.
  • Elina- The youngest of the Vance family sisters with an incestuous interest in middle sister Leina.
  • Airi- A scythe-raiding ghost maid who is another of the Swamp Witch's minions with the power to absorb her opponent's vitality through physical contact, mainly by kissing them.
  • Nanael- A self-absorbed angel who serves as the overseer of the Queen's Blade tournament.
  • Cattleya- A swordsmith who is notable for her forgings of swords and capable of wielding an enormous sword called the Giant Slayer. She is notable for her massive bust size, being 120 centimeters in circumference.
  • Shizuka- A kunoichi who used to serve as part of the Kouma Ninjas before she defected from the group to become Tomoe's guardian.
  • Melona- The third of the Swamp Witch's minions composed of a pink liquid substance that allows her to shapeshift into objects and other people, as well as travel to other places. She is capable of squirting a volatile liquid substance from her nipples and can make use of a sword created from her hair.
  • Claudette- The oldest of the Vance family daughters, but is not in the family's line of succession due to being an illegitimate child. She wields the sword Thunderclap, which is capable of controlling lightning.
  • Ymir- A young dwarf girl entering the Queen's Blade tournament to prove the superiority of her kingdom's weapons.

Why It Sucks

If there's a fetish or character type that appeals to the otaku crowd, Queen's Blade is likely to have it. For the most part, the series is one big excuse to show off the attire of its scantily-clad fighters and the perverted quirks that a number of them indulge in. There are plenty of boob and ass shots to be seen throughout the series, along with a nice amount of nudity and sexual predicaments that come along thanks to the antics of a number of this title's characters.

Imagine if Saber had to put up with this.
Imagine if Saber had to put up with this.

The first season of Queen's Blade is meant to introduce many of the characters who will be competing in the tournament. While many of them do get their focus to explore why they are participating in the tournament, it is hard to get attached to their characters when their personalities are paper-thin archetypes and the most prominent aspect that fans tend to focus on will be either their well-endowed figures, the fetish that they personify and/or the notable sexual quirk that they have. The series is also intentionally left open-ended for the second season of Queen's Blade, which would focus on the progress of the tournament.

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