Interviews With Monster Girls Review

Title: Interviews With Monster Girls

Release Date: January 2017

Production: A-1 Pictures

Based on: Demi-Chan wa Kataritai Manga by Petos

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy

Geeky: 2/5 This anime has high production values in terms of artwork, music, and voice acting, however; it lacks any real substantial plot or depth beyond the unique and cute characters.

Sweetie: 4/5 This is a very cute anime with a ton of charm. I deducted 1 point for lack of a strong central story and lack of character growth or development. Still if cute is what you’re looking for, be sure to check this series out.

Overall: 43/55 78% C+ “Good Anime For Girls”

Overview:

Concept: 8/10 Interviews with Monster Girls as the name suggests, revolves around a professor who discovers Monster Girls attending his school. The girls come to form a friendship with their teacher who in turn comes to learn more about each of the girls’ unique traits and (dis)abilities.

Each episode is structured as another day spent going to school and features one or more of the monster girls in the teachers’ office. Sensei will also make home visits or encounter the girls in the halls of the school. He tries his best to help them with their problems and cares a lot for the girls’ well being.

It gains points for a unique concept with interesting and diverse characters. However, it at times becomes a typical Harem like anime, which detracts some from the overall “uniqueness” of the show.

Story: 5/10 My main complaint with the story is that we don’t see the girls’ day-to-day lives very much, aside of their time spent in Tetsuo’s office. It is a very cute and fluffy anime with interesting characters, but just not much depth. I would have liked to have seen the girls interacting with other human classmates, taking part in club activities, school festivals, sports, or other hobbies.

Each episode starts to feel more the same, and the cute/novelty wears off after awhile without a real plot to follow. I also don’t like How Demi-Chan wa Kataritai Objectifies Disabled Girls, which I’ve written a guest post about here.

My main reason for watching (aside from the sheer cuteness), is wondering which girl, if any, Tetsuo will choose to become romantically involved with in the end.

Characters: 9/10 While story is a bit blah, it makes up for that with completely unique and entertaining characters. Hikari a vampire, Machi a dullahan (headless horsewoman), Yuki a snowwoman, and Saki, a succubus.

At the center of those girls we have their Teacher, Tetsuo Takashi, who goes out of his way to help the girls and also serves as a shared love interest for each of them. He is very caring and kind hearted. He is also very curious and interested in Demi-Humans. Sometimes he is at odds for his desire to help the girls vs his fascination and curiosity.

The anime is carried almost completely just by the fact that all of the characters are so likable and different from any other anime out there right now. I also appreciated that the anime puts its own spin on folk lore and legends about the monsters.

For example, Hikari actually likes garlic, and while she gets weak in the sun, and overheats from her low blood count, she can counteract that by seeking a cool place to rest or eating cold food.

I also enjoy seeing how it focuses on the friendship formed between the girls and how they go from being lonely, to now having each other so they can begin to enjoy their school life.

It is a coming of age story too, and all of the girls are becoming aware of the opposite sex (in this case, their teacher lol). It has a lot of cute heartfelt scenes, like Hikari setting up a date between Sensei and Machi, but then Hikari herself getting jealous that the date is going “too well”.

Hikari is quite bold and immature, but she knows that people expect her to be childish. She uses her “childish reputation” to get away with acting however she wants, whether its kissing Sensei, making her sister help her get ready for school, or eating extra desserts.

I did deduct one point for lack of any character growth or development throughout the series though as we never see the girls deviate from their stereotypical roles (Hikari being bold/childlike, Machi being shy/tender, Yuki being timid and fearful, etc.)

Production Values

Artwork: 5/5 The girls are so super cute. I think a lot of people are watching this just because it’s one of those “cute girls doing cute things” types of anime.

Music: 5/5 I love the opening song. It’s very soft and different. Almost feels like a lullaby. Unique music also highlights how unique the anime is.

Voice Acting: 5/5 I really like the voice acting, especially Tetsuo who seems a bit nervous, but also curious about the girls. Of course the girls all have cute young voices (Saki is a bit more mature sounding). All of the characters are well cast for their roles.

Overall: 43/55 78% C+ “Good Anime For Girls”

Interviews With Monster Girls Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.

The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Review:

Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)

Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)

 

Production: Bejing Enlight Media

Geeky:  5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.

Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Concept:

Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.

I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.

Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.

So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.

Story:

Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.

In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.

Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.

Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.

1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.

2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?

This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Characters

Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.

Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.

Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.

The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.

I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Production Value:

Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.

Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.

Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Aikatsu Photo On Stage English Review

I just recently discovered and began watching “Aikatsu! Stars”. Aikatsu! Stars is a sequel of an anime called Aikatsu! The anime is based on a card / arcade game by Bandai. The arcade card game involves dressing up idols with cute kawaii clothes and accessories to help them achieve a higher score. — From the success of these arcade machines, as well as the success of the anime (which I believe has about 6 seasons now), and the success of the other media related to the Aikatsu franchise — Bandai then introduced Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, a mobile game which is kinda similar to Bandai’s other Idol Collecting / Rhythm Games such as Idol M@ster which I’m just learning now, and Love Live School Idol Festival, which I’ve been meaning to also review, but haven’t really gotten around to just yet.

The main difference in Aikatsu! Photo on Stage compared to Love Live School Idol Festival, is the way in which the rhythm game is actually played. Love Live School Idol Festival displays characters’ faces in a half-moon arc like shape scattered around the screen. As a song plays, music notes, indicated by a ring shape, float out to one of these characters. Pressing on a character at the right time will score higher points. You “chain” “perfect” time presses for the highest score possible.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:00pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

In Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, the rhythm game is completely different (and in my opinion more challenging). This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares.  As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:01pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:01pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

The other significant difference is that Aikatsu! Photo on Stage has never been released in North America. This means the game is in Japanese. My time spent with Aikatsu Photo on Stage has amounted to probably an hour, spread over the past two days. I cannot speak or read Japanese, and am not an expert by any means on this game. In fact, twice now I’ve accidentally clicked things and wasted my stars (in game currency used to summon new idols).

There are people and places to get much better information on this game than what I’m about to share with you. I just wanted to share my love for the game and show how cute it is, and tell you you should be playing this game. You should also watch the anime, at least Aikatsu Stars! because it is super kawaii (cute). It’s like Harry Potter crossed with Love Live School Idol Festival. It follows a young girl as she enrolls in a special academy just for idols. She is given a phone and badge and even taken to pick out a special outfit. And it was discovering this anime that sparked my interest in the game. I thought WOW this would make such a fun game! I want to go to a school for idols too! Then I thought “I wonder if there is a game based on this anime already” There are numerous Nintendo DS games, and then there’s this mobile game (and of course the original arcade/card game).

Once again I’m no expert and the following info may not be 100% correct or accurate. I will include some resources at the end of this article that will probably prove more helpful.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:00pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

First here is how to get the game if you use IOS (iphone, ipad, etc).

From a PC, log out of your Itunes account. In the bottom right corner you should see a flag to change your country/region. — If you don’t see this or if it has moved, don’t worry I’ll show you how you can change regions midway through this process later.

You need to decide which version of Aikatsu you want to play. I chose the Japanese version, but there’s also Korean and Chinese versions. The Chinese version for country code MO even looked like it was in English??? I can’t confirm that though as I chose the Japanese version believing it to be the most updated and least likely to close down later.

So if you want to play the Japanese version, select to change your region to Japan now.

Once you’ve selected your region, search for Aikatsu! – you’ll see a lot of anime and music here, you can narrow your results to just Iphone or Ipad apps to make it easier to find.

Once you find the Aikatsu! Photo on Stage app, click the “+Get” button.

You will then be prompted to create a new itunes account.

Here is where you can change your country if you didn’t already do so. It will say something like “If your billing address is not in the United States, click here to change regions” You can then search again for the Aikatsu app and click the +Get button and be prompted again to set up a new Itunes account.

The important thing is that you select the app and use the +Get Button BEFORE MAKING YOUR ACCOUNT. SUPER IMPORTANT DO NOT IGNORE THIS STEP.

Assuming that you followed this advice, the payment should be set to “None” by default.

Ignoring that step and trying to either change an existing Itunes account region, OR creating a new account before clicking the +Get button will result in you being asked for payment details even for FREE apps! And it will only accept Japanese credit/bank cards or Japanese Itunes Gift Cards. So It’s really important to remember to FIRST select the app, and THEN create your account.

You will then need to finish filling in your details, an email address that is not associated with any other Itunes account, you may need to create a new email address, which you can do for free on sites like hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. Then fill in your secret hints and select a new password.

You need a Japanese address, I have read that you can use a university address, your mileage may vary. My understanding is that as long as the Prefecture, city, and zipcode all line up, the rest of the address doesn’t matter.

You can use a US cellphone number.

You are now the proud owner of a Japanese Itunes Account. Congratulations!

Your app should begin downloading automatically after entering your password or thumbprint.

To get your app to your Iphone: Now from your Iphone, go to settings, and under the “Itunes & App Store” select sign out, and select sign in to use the new account you just created.

Now when you browse the App store you’ll be browsing the Japanese app store.

You can switch back at any time by going to settings and again signing out and back in to your US Itunes account.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not Work on any Rooted Devices, so if you Jailbreak your Iphone it will no longer work for you. This also means Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not run on android emulators such as Bluestacks. So I am not sure how Android users can enjoy this game. I think it involves using a VPN and Tunneling service, but then I don’t know if that would “flag” the “Rooted Device” warning signal, so unfortunately I can’t provide help or directions to get the app on Android.

But assuming you’re an IOS user, you’re now ready to Play Aikatsu! Photo on Stage. And I’m now finally ready to review it for you 🙂

Title: Aikatsu! Photo on Stage

Where to get: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/…

Publisher: Bandai Namco

Genre: Rhythm Game / Idol Simulation

Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:13pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Geeky: 3/5 – This app is over the top cute/sweet which can distract some from the actual gameplay and features. I read that it was originally aimed at young elementary school girls… However, Bandai was surprised that many “Hardcore” adult male gamers also play the game, perhaps moreso even than their original audience. The reason for the mass appeal is that, if you look past the pink girly graphics, the gameplay itself is quite challenging, and guys like to collect their virtual “waifu” – They may also be trickling down from the other two popular Bandai Franchises, Love Live, and Idol M@ster (or a slew of other Bandai Namco Idol Simulation game series). It loses some points in my opinion with some of the graphics… For example your girls are just motionless/still on the stage, and in the story mode, they’re still, but come “Bouncing in” like a child playing with a Barbie doll, walking her Barbie across the floor by picking up and lowering the whole doll. — This was maybe intentional, given Bandai’s original target audience, and the “dress up theme” but it’s none the less, strange to watch and distracting compared to the more “fluid” looking animations in the other idol apps. The UI also confuses me but that could just be since I can’t read Japanese — However, by contrast, the UI of Ensemble Stars, which I reviewed here, is so simple that it doesn’t matter that it’s Japanese. So I would say there are some overly complex issues with the UI in Aikatsu… but it’s not as bad as the UI in Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls which I’m having even more difficulty navigating (too many things to click/options/features, which yes, makes for an awesome game, but steep learning curve when not in your native tongue).

Sweetie: 5/5 – As mentioned, this game and the anime are unbelievably cute. Seeing your girls on the stage, instead of just a circle with their face is very cute, and outside of performing, you can set your home screen to different backgrounds (often with pink glitter, hearts, gems, etc floating by) and select if you’d like to see 2, 3, or all 8 of your girls. When you go to power up your girls, you will be “dressing them up” to even more kawaii versions of themselves.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:14pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Concept: 8/10 – I feel like feature wise, it’s a step up from Love Live, but a significant step down from Idol M@ster.   You should play this game because it’s cute. But as for actually “dressing up your girls” Idol M@ster does this better and in a fashion much closer to the Aikatsu! Card Arcade game, which allows you to equip tops, pants, shoes, or a dress which can sometimes take the place of multiple items. By contrast, the Aikatsu mobile game “dresses up” your girls much in the same way that Love Live idolizes your girls. In Aikatsu you have Rare, Normal, and Super Rare “Tokens”, each card will require some combination in some amount of these tokens to “dress up”. It will also require a certain number of hearts… Despite that… I have met the requirements — saying “OK” for each type of token, and have more than enough hearts, and still haven’t been able to dress up my girls (so perhaps I am misunderstanding something about how this works. Like I’ve said a couple times, I’m no expert). But it still seems to me, a rather lackluster system, and seems that Idol M@ster actually has the “dressup system” that the original card arcade game was so popular for.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:04pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

That said, I do think there is some way to scan your cards in Aikatsu Photo on Stage, but I haven’t figured it out, nor do I have any of the cards.

Music wise, I feel like it’s not quite as good as Love Live.

Overall, it’s just “another” idol sim and rhythm game from Bandai Namco, of which there are probably a dozen different apps and franchises to choose, each with their own anime and target audiences. But you just can’t look past how cute and addictive it is to collect all of the girls. Like most of these games, there are limited time events, and the desire to collect the rarest cards keeps players coming back.

Gameplay: 8/10 What makes Aikatsu stand out (at least compared to Love Live), is the way the rhythm game is played which involves squares filling with shapes from a deck of playing cards. If you read the first few paragraphs of my review, you have a good idea how that works already. If not, here’s a recap.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:14pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares.  As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.

You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:15pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Again deducted a few points for a somewhat overwhelming UI, as well as not quite as feature rich as some of Bandai’s other Idol simulation games.

Also another caveat to the gameplay is the ridiculous load time and frequency at which it keeps requesting to load things. Their loading screen is cute, but I see it way too often and it interrupts my game to the point of frustration.

Story: 8/10 – This is my assumption on what the story is about, based on what I’ve seen of the anime. I cannot read Japanese, so I can’t really grade the story within the actual game. But the story in the anime involves a young girl who goes to a special school for idols. When the girls perform they seem to become like Hatsune Miku or a Vocoloid, and “transform” into much cuter versions of themselves. In the anime, there’s some really bad/cheap 3D animation used when the girls perform their songs lol. But the concept is none the less cute. As the girls enter this special academy they are given all kinds of cute thing, and begin their special training to become idols.

In some ways, it’s very similar to Harry Potter; there are different houses (whose names I forget, but just winging it here) such as Star, Bird, Ocean, Whisper, etc. Students are assigned a house based on their personality and natural abilities. The houses compete with each other, as well as other schools, to be the top idol group in their school and in the world. The girls are given cute costumes and magic idol tools to use in their training and performances. They make friends and go to classes with a variety of characters as classmates and teachers.

The story in the anime is very cute. I prefer this story 100 times more than the story in Love Live because it has that sort of fantasy, Harry Potteresque, “magic idol school” setting. Once again I can’t confirm that the game follows this story.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:13pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

The story is revealed in story scenes upon clearing certain song stages and ranking up, similar to how story is revealed in the Love Live mobile game as well.

I only wish it was in English so that I could actually read the story. As it is now, I skip all the story scenes because I just can’t read them.

The story is a bit juvenile / fluffy – but once again Bandai’s original target audience was gradeschool children with this franchise, so this is to almost be expected.

I also compared the story quite a bit to Full Moon Wo Sagashite – which this anime is really nothing like, except for the age of the main characters, and their desire to become Idols and their sorta similar personalities between the main girls.

Full Moon Wo Sagashite has much more substance, feeling, heart, drama, and strife than Aikatsu! Stars. But if you’re looking to get your idol fix, this may do it for you. Another anime to check out in a similar tone is Fancy Lala.

Aikatsu! Stars Anime
Aikatsu! Stars Anime

Characters: 4/10 – I feel like the character designs are hit and miss, both in terms of personality, and also in their visual appeal. I’m not super far into the anime, but the characters so far story and background wise, feel so cliche… actually many of them feel like a copy/paste of “corresponding” characters from Love Live. There’s one girl that could be a dead ringer for Kotori with the same hair style, half up side pony tail, twisted and clipped over her light blonde/silvery/grey hair. Despite the change in setting to a more fantasy / harry potter style of “Crazy Cute and Cool Idol School” the characters themselves aren’t that unique at all. However, the main character of Aikatsu! Stars is so cute…

She’s my favorite girl, and I was excited when I got her card, even though it’s only “Rare” and not “Super Rare” or “P Rare” (dunno what the P stands for? Precious Rare? Pretty Rare? Premium Rare?). (P Rares are what you want to be aspiring for, but Super Rares are pretty good too. Rares, just as the same with Love Live, aren’t really all that rare at all! lol.) — Anyways sure she’s cute, but how does she differ from any other magical shoujo girl main character? She doesn’t, even the yellow pigtails are sure to remind you of a certain well known shoujo magical girl.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:09pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

 Graphics: 9/10 – So Cute, this is probably the cutest app on my Iphone… I deducted 1 point for the “bouncing” animation in the story scenes where characters move across the screen by bouncing up and down as they glide stiffly across the screen – which looks pretty bad. The anime also is mostly cute 99% of the time, but when the girls transform to sing, it shifts to some really bad 3D animation that looks cheap and dated. Sticking to 2D would have looked so much better; but I think they wanted to show that the girls’ idol performances are using Virtual Reality like Hatsune Miku.

A photo posted by jenilee (@xenokitten) on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:09pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Music: 7/10 – The music is good – it better be, since it’s a rhythm game right? But not great. The girls’ vocals don’t have the same tone and quality as the girls’ in Love Live – or if they’re using some of the same cast, perhaps it’s that the song arrangements aren’t quite as catchy. Whatever the reason, if I were to play a game just for music alone, I’d stick with Love Live. The music in Aikatsu! is not bad, it’s “good” but I think it’s natural to want to compare it to Love Live, and it just doesn’t stack up.

Voice Acting: 6/10: The game has a few “one line” voice overs. The voice acting that’s there is good, really good even. I love the voice actor for the male teacher in the red track suit. He is funny and energetic. But the game is not fully voiced and I feel like the potential, especially in the story scenes, is not really reached, especially when similar apps do have full voice overs in this area.

Replay Value: 10/10 This cute game has addictive rhythm games, lots of cute rare girls, and lots of in game events. It’s one that will keep you playing over and over. It’s best in small but frequent doses.

Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overall Aikatsu Photo on Stage will appeal to you if:

You like Kawaii things, such as shoujo, magical girl anime or idol culture.

The rhythm game is fun, and it’s not impossible, but slightly frustrating to play since it is not in English.

If you like Aikatsu Photo on Stage, check out Bandai Namco’s other idol games such as Love Live, Idolish, and Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls. — For anime check out the original Aikatsu! and newer Aikatsu! Stars, as well as Fancy Lala, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Chance Pop Session. You may also like Wizardess Heart because of the harry potter theme which I reviewed here. You’ll also like Ensemble Stars which I reviewed here.

For Additional English Aikatsu! Resources Please Refer to:

Aikatsu English Wiki (very informative, but a lot of information to take in at once): http://aikatsu.wikia.com/wiki/Aikatsu!_Photo_on_Stage!! 

English Menu Translation Screenshots (Good for getting up and playing quickly): http://photokatsu.tumblr.com/post/138182170057/main-menu-translationsguide

Fairly Active Reddit Community (Good for talking about the game, asking specific questions, or showing off your girls): https://www.reddit.com/r/photoonstage/

 

Aikatsu Photo On Stage English Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Makura no Danshi – Pillow Boys – Anime Review

OK…. I just watched one of the weirdest anime of my life… Well two of the weirdest anime of my life…. And I didn’t really hate it?..

The first anime I came across is a relatively new anime called OneRoom. In OneRoom, everything is supposed to be in first person… except… only… it’s not??? Because why then can I keep seeing almost up the backs of the girls’ skirts?! Do I have hidden cameras in my apartment? Do I have super powers? Am I having an out of body experience? The answer is NO, they just wanted to cram as much fan service as humanly possible into each 4 minute episode…

Not only that…. But it is the first anime I’ve ever watched which puts YOU in the anime…. or tries to… but fails miserably at this… They make it so you never see, hear, or know anything about the main character… sort of… only except… you do know/assume what he is saying based on the things the girls are saying to you… And unless you’re a total pervert, chances are whatever the anime thinks the main character is feeling/thinking/saying doesn’t line up with what you’re actually feeling/thinking/saying while watching it… so it’s still almost impossible to immerse yourself into this supposed “blank slate”.

While watching it, I felt like I was playing Love+ (a dating sim game), except I wasn’t playing anything at all. It was like a waifu simulator, with all the gamification and simulation parts taken out.

Still… because the artwork was cute… and the music was catchy… and most of all because the episodes were only 4 minutes long, I kept watching….

While reading reviews after watching, just to laugh at peoples “WTF” comments…. I discovered there’s a version of this “anime experiment” designed for women as well….

Enter Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys! An anime by the same studio as OneRoom, Makura no Danshi, or Pillow Boys, features a different Pillow Boy each week.

What the heck is a Pillow Boy? In Japan, for both guys and girls, there are anime pillow cases that fit large body sized pillows. WARNING NSFW: https://www.aliexpress.com/promotion/promotion_anime-male-body-pillow-promotion.html

This anime was blatantly created for one sole purpose… to sell such pillow cases…. and this anime is effective at doing that… Before watching this anime, I knew about the Pillow Boyfriend / Pillow Girlfriend trend in Japan…. and I’d looked at such pillow cases before… I didn’t have a large pillow at the time though; About 3 weeks ago I got a really big expensive memory foam body pillow…. It’s currently dressed in a not very feminine or kawaii dark color…. Watching Pillow Boys reminded me that I could get something more Kawaii that would fit my image, my room, my decor, my life. I already cuddle my pillow every night so why not cuddle it and look at cute anime boys too lol. So I will probably buy one of these pillow slips, as soon as I decide which one I want… there are literally hundreds of styles, some from popular games and anime, and others completely original characters.

So now that you know what a Pillow Boy is… let’s move on to the actual review…

Title: Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys!

Episodes: 12

Episode Length: 4 minutes

Studio: Feel

Publisher: Imagineer

Release Date: 2015

Genre: Slice of Life, Shoujo, Romance, “Pillow Boy Simulator?” lol.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Overall: 35/55 64% D “Average Anime for Girls”

Geeky: 1/5? lol… Not sure… I mean it does have pretty art, and actually I really like the opening theme song, and it IS geeky, because I mean, who else buys these pillows except for geeks. But I can’t in good faith give it a higher score here, because aside from the opening theme, there’s almost no other music, each episode is 4 minutes long, and there’s literally no plot, and it’s just weird as heck lol.

Sweetie: 5/5 – at the opposite end of the rating spectrum, this is an incredibly cute, kinda awkward, and at times highly inappropriate, funny, fun, anime…

Concept: 6/10 — Fanservice for Women. Blatant money-grab anime whose sole purpose is to sell merchandise… but yet… oddly… interesting… and entertaining… Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced… and they’re all pretty cute and likeable….

I want to make a comment here… but it may be a spoiler… not that the story is important or even coherent in this series… but just in case, using my spoiler tags… you can click to read… it’s about the ending of the final episode…

And when you realize THAT, it kinda completely changes the entire tone of the anime lol.

Story: 3/10 – Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced, each episode is self contained and stand-alone. Each episode consists of the Pillow Boy talking to you about his day, and asking you questions, which you’re encouraged as an audience member to talk back to the TV (k we go from talking to pillows to talking to the TV now lol). They don’t give you much time for response, and ultimately, it suffers the same problem as OneRoom, in that it’s still difficult to immerse, because you can still get a vague idea of the “conversation” that is supposedly going on.

Characters: 9/10 – Ok so the characters themselves though are actually strangely cute, and charming. I honestly liked just about all of them. My favorite was probably the cuddly one or the shy astronomy geek, or maybe the naughty twins lol. “Let’s play find the flower” lol. But even the little boy was cute, in a strictly platonic way. But that didn’t stop the anime from making highly inappropriate sexual innuendos and jokes even in that episode such as the title of that episode: “Innocent Danshi, a highly energetic, hot, 5 year old” WHAT THE F??? That is the creepiest weirdest title for an episode I’ve ever seen. PS, the episode is COMPLETELY G rated – thank god. It’s NOT some weird creepy perverted pedophile anime lol. — You know most anime with a “young looking” “Loli” or “Shota” character, they merely LOOK young but are actually of age of consent, and not an ACTUAL 5 year old… but in this anime, he really is a 5 year old, and you’re baby sitting him… I won’t give too much away, but you’re playing power rangers and he tells you to be the pink ranger, and he wants to be the super “rare” black ranger, whose super power is “Fatty Beef Bomber” — Really? lol… Innuendo much there? Given the character’s age, that is just messed up…. But then… when you take into account what I mentioned in the spoiler tag above, about the ending of the final episode, then you can look past this part. Each character is unique and has a charm of their own.

Artwork: 3/5 – The character designs are super cute, but the animation itself is very low quality and cheap. One scene, with your coworker, in particular, keeps one still image on for 1-2 minutes… in a 4 minute episode… that’s…. pretty cheap lol. The character designs are also not consistent — the final episode brings back the pillow boy from Episode 1… and he looks like a junior high school or even elementary school student now (which to be honest, fits his personality better) Except then, near the end, he goes back to looking about college student aged again (as he appeared in the first episode) for a few seconds. I don’t think this was done for any reason other than they were lazy. It wasn’t like he was done in a “chibi” style to be more cute, It was more like, they forgot what they went with, or couldn’t decide on and stick to one style, or they were outsourcing or using different artists – which would be pretty sad given its a 4 minute per episode kind of show, which shouldn’t be overly complex or have that much detail etc.

Music: 3/5 – The opening theme honestly, would be like a 5/5 — I really like it. It’s catchy as heck. But the rest of the anime has almost no music at all… Even an episode where the Pillow Boy is a violinist, which was the weirdest episode to watch without music.

Voice Acting: 5/5 — I thought the voices were cute, as well as the artwork, those two factors played a big role in my liking of the characters and overall enjoyment of the anime.

Overall: 35/55 64% D “Average Anime for Girls”

Makura no Danshi – Pillow Boys – Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sailor Moon R Movie Promise of The Rose Subtitled Theatrical Release Review

A few days ago, I got a chance to go see Sailor Moon R in theaters, again for the 2nd time. The first time that I saw it, they were showing the Sailor Moon R English Dub, which I reviewed here. The dub was good, but I always prefer to watch my anime subbed, because quite often so many things get changed when they dub an anime. Even though, this time it was “uncut” there were still some changes that I noticed.

This review is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to start by pointing out the changes between both versions, some thoughts on the overall experience of each version, and then, my more traditionally formatted review near the very end. Hope you enjoy my review; and if you get a chance, go watch this at the theater. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for you as a fan, and it may help to bring us more Sailor Moon movies, series, and merchandise!

Onto the changes between each version.

For starters, there’s a scene where the girls are sitting around planning their next move and Usagi is feeling nervous about the nature of Mamo and Fiore’s friendship. In both the Dub and the Sub the girls begin to tease Usagi. However, in the Sub, they also begin to tease Ami and it’s a very cute moment. In the Dub that Cuteness is Lost. Here is an overview (from my memory) of how it goes in each version.

Dubbed Scene:

Usagi: “Am I overthinking things?… But they sure seemed like more than friends to me”

Ami: “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too”

(I think it was ) Mako: “Well I guess it’s fine if you’re born that way”

(I think it was) Rei: “There’s even a few couples like that at my school”

(I think it was) Mina: “What, Really?!”

Subbed Scene:

Usagi: “Am I overthinking things?… But they sure seemed like more than friends to me”

Ami: “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too”

Rei: “Ami! I can’t believe you just said that!”

Mako: “That’s not like you Ami”

Ami: “That’s not what I meant.. Just…”

Mina: “Ami, you’re blushing!”

Rei: “There’s even some couples at my school who are like that”

Ami: Nervous Laughter (and she is blushing) “Guys come on, that’s really not what I meant!”

Ami was really super cute in this scene in the Subbed version. Ami rarely breaks from her serious character, and she said this without thinking. Immediately, you can see the look on her face when she realizes what she has said; even SHE can’t believe she just said that either. Then she shyly tries to backpedal on what she meant. And the other girls have playful fun teasing her for it too.

Although the scene in the dub is very similar (They kept 3 or 4 of the lines verbatim), for some reason they chose to just have the other girls agree with Ami and add their own thoughts, instead of being so shocked that she of all people would bring up a topic like that. It loses some of the cuteness by changing or removing just those few lines.

The other big change was that in the new dubbed version, Sailor Jupiter swears about 4 to 5 times during the fighting scenes. Now, I was watching for my own enjoyment, and not super analyzing things for this review since I’m just a hobby blogger, so maybe I just missed it, but pretty sure this was not part of the subtitled version. It’s possible it was there, and just didn’t stand out as much since I was “reading” and not “hearing” what was being said.

As I mentioned in my review of the dub here, hearing swear words in Sailor Moon was so shocking that it stood out like a big sore thumb; so in the dubbed version, I began counting the number of times she swore. I feel they could have done without this. It adds nothing to the film. It could have been replaced with a Haaa or Yaaaaaa fighting sound or a simple click of the tongue like Tch sound to replace the 1 syllable swear word.

Did they do it to make Mako sound tough? Or to make the anime “cool” and “edgy”? The thing is though, yes, Mako is a bit “rough” but she’s also extremely concerned with being feminine, so she wouldn’t swear. The reason she wears her skirts so long and her rose earrings, and probably the reason she curls her hair, is because she’s self conscious of her height. Yes, she has a bit of a temper, but she’s always trying to appear more feminine, which is why she begins cooking, etc.

So by making those seemingly “small” changes like that to the dub, they somewhat changed the basis of her character, by ignoring the fact that Mako is actually very feminine, despite being physically the strongest, and tallest, of the girls.


The other big difference in watching it subbed was the interaction from the audience. The dubbed audience had way more FUN! While watching the dub, the theater was more crowded AND filled several times with UPROARIOUS laughter so loud that you couldn’t even hear parts of the film.

In the subbed version, there was some hushed chuckles here or there, but largely, the movie went by with almost no reactions from the audience.

This in part, was because the dub was cheesy, and some of the voice actors were unbelievably over dramatic, turning suspenseful, touching, or sad scenes, into comedy gold.

The one part that both audiences laughed at though was when Chibiusa was trying to wake Usagi after being saved during a fight. Watch for this near the first fight sequence. It’s one of the best jokes in the film lol.

In the dub, Fiore’s voice actor, and the lines he had to read, combined to create some rather cheesey dialog in the final fight. Also I did notice an odd choice in translation here as well. In the sub, Fiore says “My flower’s seeds shall rain down on the earth”. In the dub I believe he says something closer to “My seeds shall rain down on the earth” — which of course, people’s minds went to the gutter with that one. Que more laughter.

In BOTH versions he does say “It’s all over now, Mamo has thrown a flower at me” — For some reason, only in the dub did people laugh… and laugh… and laugh… and laugh…. To where I was glad I did get to see it again cuz I couldn’t hear the next several lines. In which he asks Mamo if he intends to leave him all alone again. (aww so sad 🙁 ).

There were many more instances within the dub where the audience would just burst out laughing. Actually I’ve only been to maybe 2 other movies where people have laughed this much. I liked the “energy” of the audience a lot more at the dub.

I also think maybe it’s because of the “types” of people who prefer dub, vs the “types” of people who prefer subs. Most people who want to watch it subbed are older, more mature, more artsy, intellectual types, compared to the younger, more loud, outgoing, off the cuff types of otaku who watch more mainstream stuff.

The “experience” of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen was more fun during the dub because of the audience’s reactions.  Of course, I know plenty of people who don’t want to join anime clubs, or even watch anime with their friends, etc, because they dislike comments/laughter/remarks etc from the audience and just want to focus on watching their anime.

So this just comes down to a personal opinion. Either way, seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience!

The final difference, was that the English dubbed version was prefaced by about a 15-20 minute exclusive interview with the English dubbed cast asking about their characters and how they feel the characters have grown or evolved from season 1 to the start of the new film, whereas the Subtitled version jumps directly to the Mini-Cartoon after the previews end and then follows directly to the movie.

Now, finally, onto the review – You will notice some things are the same in both my reviews for the dub and sub, and a few things are different! :). You’ll see our score for the Sub ranks only very slightly higher than that of the Dub. It moves from a B- to a B+.


Title: Sailor Moon R the Movie (Subtitled Version)

Release Date: January 2017

Publisher: Toei Animation, Eleven Arts, and Viz Media

Geeky: 5/5   High points for Nostalgia, and excellent animation for the date/time of the film.

Sweetie: 4/5  I gave the dubbed version 3/5, but the subbed version 4/5. Both are weaker on character development than the TV Series; however, in both versions, seeing Mamo, Fiore and Usagi as little kids, as well as the comedy and certain romance scenes, earn it 3 hearts. The additional 4th heart on the subtitled version comes from different (cuter) dialog choices, such as the scene I pointed out where the girls are teasing Ami.

Overall: 48/55 87% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Concept: 8/10 Seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is awesome no matter how good or bad the movie itself is. It’s something I’ve literally dreamed of doing ever since I was a child. And, as the English cast points out, rarely do you see anime in a US theater, especially anime that is now, nearly 30 years old. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience… and judging by how many tickets the theater sold, perhaps Viz and Eleven Arts will treat us to re-releasing the other Sailor Moon movies in theater format in the future as well. I had given the dub 10/10 here, but the interaction from the audience also weighed heavily on that experience. Without the cheesiness that the series is known for, and a more straight forward, literal translation, it loses a tiny bit of the “overall experience” here to me. (but makes up for it in other ways!)

Story: 8/10 There is a lot of action and almost no character development in this film. Also, unless you’re a fan of the series (but then again, who isn’t a fan of Sailor Moon?), you may feel a little lost or confused even with the inclusion of the Mini-cartoon that re-introduces the scouts and explains their strengths and weaknesses and about the silver moon kingdom and their rebirth on earth. — And although Chibiusa is included in the Mini-cartoon and actual movie, her past and history and relationship to Usagi is actually not explained at all.

The story gives you a unique look at Mamoru’s childhood. Also, in this uncut version, they more clearly explain Mamoru’s relationship with the new villain. I remember when the movie was announced a few months ago, I got into an “argument” with someone on facebook who made a comment when I shared the news post. They argued that the relationship was more than platonic, and I counter argued, that they were just close childhood friends… but after seeing the uncut version, I have to concede, and agree, the relationship is definitely 100% romantic.

The Sailor Scouts even joke about the questionable nature of the relationship, quipping things such as “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too” “There’s even a few couples like that at my school” and Usagi is stressed/worried and says to herself “It sure seemed like more than friends”. Which comes as no surprise, because by the next few seasons, almost everyone in the Sailor Moon universe is openly exploring their sexuality, with Uranus x Neptune, Uranus x Moon, and Chibiusa X Saturn… and that’s not even mentioning Sailor Stars, which are essentially gender-neutral, or transgendered Women who were born in Men’s bodies when they re-incarnated and transforming back to female when they take their Sailor forms. So Sailor Moon is no stranger to dealing with these topics. It was actually quite revolutionary for its day and time, back in the 90s, when even live-action TV shows were still shying away from tackling such relationships.

If your favorite part of Sailor Moon is the action and fighting scenes you will probably really enjoy Sailor Moon R the Movie. It is way more action heavy compared to the TV Series. It opens right away with a lengthy and fairly violent fight sequence within the first 10 minutes or so of the film.

The story is also full of comedy… Shortly after that fight sequence, there’s a scene with Usagi and Chibiusa that builds and builds the same joke for what seems like forever, but it was effective. I don’t laugh out loud easily… and even that elicited a chuckle from me.

Despite, at the core, the story being about Mamo and Usagi and the new Villain, it’s actually not very Romance laden. They are on a date at the opening of the film, but once again comedy comes in to foil any chance of romance for the two of them. We do get a little taste of romance at the end though.

Characters 9/10: I had given the dub 8/10 here, but I think the Subbed version comes much closer to capturing the true character of each scout, showing Ami in an unusually vulnerable light, and removing some things that felt off to me about Mako’s dialog in the dub throughout the final fight.

As mentioned, character development is really pretty much non-existent. You could easily skip watching this film and not miss anything earth-shattering in developing the scouts or Mamo as characters. You’d miss out a lil on Mamo’s backstory but it’s mostly stuff that’s been glossed over briefly by the series anyways.

The scouts are featured heavily in the film and so if you’re the type who complains that one of the weaknesses of Crystal is how it’s all about Mamo x Usagi, (this seems a common complaint), then you’ll like how prominent each of the scouts are in this film, and a decision that Usagi makes near the end of the movie, showing how much she loves and cares for the other scouts. Though this too is not surprising if you’ve seen the 90s TV series you know the focus was more on Usagi and the Scouts and less on the Reincarnation / Romance bits.

If however, one of your primary draws to Sailor Moon is the character development or romance, this movie may very well disappoint you.

But you should still go see it, because it’s Sailor Moon :). How long have we waited to see this cast of characters on the big screen? And if we want to see the other movies, a re-run of the dub, or airing of the new Viz dub, or a new season of Crystal, or perhaps a continuation of the series even beyond Stars, or more Sailor Moon merchandise and collectibles, then, you know as they say “Money Talks”.

Also, as you know, the characters in Sailor Moon are very diverse, with almost someone for EVERY girl out there to look up to. How many TV shows or Movies can claim such a wholesome cast full of role models for young women?

Sailor Moon teaches us about friendship, love, respect, and kindness. Moon is the quintessential loud/ditzy/friendly outgoing girl, Mercury is the smart/brainy/shy girl, Mars is the mysterious/quiet/serious/beautiful girl, Jupiter is the “tomboy” type girl (who also secretly has a soft side and loves to cook, and falls in love easily), Venus is the “best friend” or “girl next door” type of girl.

With so many different personalities, there’s bound to be a superhero that your kids can look up to, which I think is one of the reasons for the series continued success and popularity.

Artwork: 4/5 This is the old 90s style animation, and it shows… There’s some really bad CG effects later on in the film… and the characters have that unique 90s style to them… However, I was surprised by how bright and vivid the colors were and how crisp, clean, and clear all of the animations looked. There are also some lovely backgrounds too.

Music: 5/5 I had given the dub 4/5 here for some scenes where the Japanese music didn’t fit and caused a strange mismatched and disjointed feeling (like when it was actually the characters themselves singing). But that problem doesn’t exist in the sub, because the characters are both speaking and singing the same language now.

The music in the film was quite enjoyable, adding to the suspense, action, and drama of the film. The soundtracks to Sailor Moon have always been among my favorites. I owned many of the imported Japanese CDs, as well as some of the English cassette tapes and equally loved both the Original Japanese music, as well as the old 90s stuff too.

Voice Acting 5/5 –The Japanese voice actresses and actors just sound more cute, energetic, youthful, and emotional in their performances. Also as mentioned throughout this article, several creative liberties were still taken with the dub despite it being so-called un-cut. These changes ultimately changed some scenes, or even characters’ personalities. So it was definitely nice to see the sub and the original dialog and scenes. The changes were VERY slight, and understandably done to appeal more to an American audience, but there were still differences none the less, which is why I still prefer watching subbed anime. We’ve come a long way from the rampant censorship of the 90s, but still, I prefer the little nuances and charms of the original voice cast.

Overall: 48/55 87% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Overall, the experience of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen, the hundreds of moonies who turned out for the event, and the movie itself, made for an enjoyable and nostalgic night of entertainment.

Both the dub and sub are worth going to see on the big screen. Depending on your own personality and preferences, you’ll clearly enjoy one version more than the other. If you enjoy a lot of audience interaction, fun, laughter, and a little bit of over the top cheesiness, the dub is the version you should see. If you’re more reserved, quiet, or just want to enjoy the movie in peace and quiet OR if you prefer a more literal translation that’s more “accurate” to the original script, then go see the Sub.

Either way, you do not want to miss this once in a lifetime experience to see Sailor Moon in theaters.

Sailor Moon R Movie Promise of The Rose Subtitled Theatrical Release Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Fuuka Anime Review

Fuuka is a relatively new anime that is part of Crunchyroll’s Winter Simulcast lineup. You can watch Fuuka for free on Crunchyroll here.

Fuuka is very similar to other band slice of life anime such as Beck Mongolian Chop Squad or Nana. If you like either of these anime, I think you’ll also enjoy Fuuka.

Check out my “Early Review” for episodes 1 through 4 of Fuuka below, and catch Episode 5 on Crunchyroll Friday at 11:00am EST.

Title: Fuuka

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Length: 12 Episodes (so far only 4 have aired).

Related Media: Fuuka is a sequel to another anime called Suzuka. Fuuka is actually the daughter of one of the main characters in Suzuka. Both Fuuka and Suzuka also have manga adaptations, and Fuuka’s manga is currently still running with new material.

PS: You can enjoy this series without watching Suzuka – I had never heard of Suzuka until I was researching my blog post tonight – and only just started watching Fuuka tonight too and already in love with it. It’s definitely “my kind” of anime! Suzuka is similar but instead of a love triangle in a band, it’s a love triangle in a sports anime. I may marathon it this week while waiting for the next episode of Fuuka :).

Studio: Diomedia and Funimation

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 3/5 – The animation and music are both highlights in this series with extremely high production values; however the slow plot and short overall length of the series could alienate some fans.

Sweetie: 4/5 Awesome characters and story with love as a huge focus and slice of life about kids starting a band. Took away one heart for huge amounts of fanservice.

Concept: 9/10 – It’s not terribly original. (-1 point) It’s been done before, and probably done better before too… but Overall, I am in love with the premise of this series. Two childhood friends drift appear, reconnecting years later – One is well on their way to fulfilling their dreams and promises; while the other simply drifts aimlessly through life until a key event occurs which puts them also on the path to their destiny.

There is a huge love triangle/love rivalry at the center of this drama. There’s also huge  amounts of significant character growth and development. Already just within 4 episodes, we’ve witnessed the main character overcome his fears and shyness and learn to speak up, and we’ve seen already several relationship ups and downs.

As for the female lead whom is the namesake of this show, we’ve watched her, also like the male lead, go from wandering aimlessly, to having a purpose and a goal and a vision. We’ve also seen that although she can essentially be a tomboy, that she too gets shy and awkward at times, and has trouble expressing her feelings.

Also within just 4 episodes we’ve watched them find and recruit all of the necessary members for their band, and even put on an impromptu performance.

Story: 10/10 – If relationship drama and slice of life is not your cup of tea, you will not be too interested in this — However, for me, it’s my favorite genre; and yes, although there are similar anime dealing with “band drama” (Beck, Nana, Your Lie in April, and White Album to name only a very small few) — I still find the concept refreshing and enjoyable.

To put it simply, the story revolves around a love triangle between “music geeks” who are pursuing their dreams of becoming either solo artists or rock band musicians. I’d like to say “pretty sure we know how the triangle will end” given the name of the show… but that is not necessarily true you know~!! Similar Manga such as Nana have had a lot of failed relationships and couples that you’d think should be together, but aren’t.

It could just be that Fuuka goes on to become an idol and fulfill her dream (which is to sing). She could go on to become a strong, independent character — she already is so much stronger than the more emotionally weak (but successful already in her singing career) love rival that she’s pitted against.

Though we do witness weak, tender, and vulnerable sides of Fuuka as well. At this point it’s anyone’s guess how the story will go. Who will Yuu choose? Or perhaps none of those relationships will pan out.

Aside from the love triangle, you witness the day-to-day struggles of performing music, and see the characters at school, work, and home, typical slice of life stuff here.

Fuuka anime review
Fuuka anime review

Characters 10/10: The story begins by introducing the male lead, Yuu, who will become the bass player for the band. He is a very shy and awkward soft-spoken boy who finds escapism online and has difficulty connecting with others face to face.

One day he meets the namesake of the series, Fuuka, as she’s dashing across the street and bumps into him, because he is so busy looking at his phone. This creates a misunderstanding about why he was using his phone, and it won’t be the last misunderstanding between them either.

Fuuka is an extremely energetic and bright young girl who has a strong tomboy streak and acts very unlady-like at most times. Like a lot of young people, she wonders what she should be doing with her life. One day, she gets free concert tickets to a live event. As they’re walking home, she begins to sing, and finds encouragement and feedback from Yuu, which causes her to impulsively want to form a band. She pretty much forces Yuu to go along with her idea, and Yuu can’t say no at this point, because his personality is weak, and Fuuka is very dominant at this point.

They also enlist the help of a classmate who is charming and good looking but “not interested in girls” as he himself says lol. He becomes the keyboard artist for the group.

Lastly, they recruit an upper classman who has been pestering Fuuka to join the track and field team oneday when he lets it slip that his big brother used to be a drummer; thus, he too becomes a drummer like his brother.

As mentioned, there’s also a very prominent love rival in the form of a childhood friend of the main character.

The main character also lives in a house full of females (enter more copious amounts of fanservice). And a cast of side characters consisting of teachers and advisers who also happen to be former band-mates who have taken the new members under the wing.

Anyways, most of all, I can’t explain but the namesake of this show is just so darn cute sometimes (in her actions and facial expressions). And there are some truly cute moments between both “couples” in the series… It’s definitely the cute characters that make this series for me, especially Fuuka!

Artwork: 4/5 I love the artwork in this series; they way their eyes are drawn and the detail and light in their eyes is especially pretty. However — could do without the huge amounts of blatant fanservice.

Music: 5/5 – Thankfully this is really, really good; I mean it’s an anime about music, so it’d better be good right? lol. Crunchyroll for some reason doesn’t have subtitles on the opening or ending theme which is a bummer, but no fault of course of this anime and just a fail on Crunchy’s part.

The music is fast paced, and more “J-Rock” infused. Once again similar in ways to Beck and Nana with the same “vibe”. There are also a few tracks (from the love rival) which are definitely more soft and Pop inspired.

Voice Acting: 5/5 They have to be able to both sing and act, so I once again give this a 5 out of 5.

Overall: 50/55 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Fuuka Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sailormoon R The Movie Theatrical Release Uncut English Dub Review

Update: I recently had an opportunity to see the film again, subtitled this time, and just completed my review for the subtitled version here. If you’re curious about the differences between the two versions, or just want to see the subtitled review, you can check it out here. Otherwise, continue reading below here for my original review of the dubbed version.

I just got back from seeing Sailor Moon R the Movie at Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Ohio. We saw the uncut English Dub with the new Viz voice cast (that they have been using for a few years now for their re-dubbing of the DVDs and Blu-ray TV series). The movie is prefaced by an interview with the new cast. The interview is then followed by an animated short called “Moon Power Makeup” which is mostly just a string of flashbacks of season 1 which help to introduce the scouts to perhaps those who have not watched the first season. Also they give you a fancy looking black envelope and inside you will find art of one of the 5 original sailor scouts. We got Sailor Jupiter and Mars. You’ll also find some promotional inserts trying to encourage you to buy the TV series Blu-rays and Manga.

It drew a huge crowd last night, nearly selling out a large, several hundred seat theater. Before making the 3 hour drive to go see the film, I checked to ensure there would be tickets available. It said over 200 seats were remaining. By time the film started, much of that total had sold – plus who knows how many sold before I even checked the website. The theater was near max capacity. We had a large crowd to both the immediate left and right of us. The entire balcony area behind us was completely full, and all throughout the floor level, there was scarcely more than 1 or 2 empty seats beside each other, here or there.

Watching it on the big screen was quite an awesome experience. The colors seemed so much brighter and richer compared to when I watched the original VHS – but that may very well be due to some “HD Remastering” or retouching. Either way, seeing Sailormoon on the big screen was pretty awesome, and seeing the huge turn out of Sailor Moon loving geeks and fans in their Sailormoon shirts, hats, etc all gathered in one place, was really awesome too. Of course I wore a Sailormoon Geeky Tshirt too. :).

My thoughts on the actual movie itself are below. Enjoy my review, and if you get the chance, make sure you get out there to support our Sailor Scouts!

Title: Sailor Moon R the Movie (uncut English dub version)

Release Date: January 2017

Publisher: Toei Animation, Eleven Arts, and Viz Media

Geeky: 5/5   High points for Nostalgia, and excellent animation for the date/time of the film.

Sweetie: 3/5  Although I love Sailor Moon, the movie is a bit weak in the character development and romance areas when compared to the TV series.

Overall: 45/55 82% B- Very Good Anime for Girls

Concept: 10/10 Seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is awesome no matter how good or bad the movie itself is. It’s something I’ve literally dreamed of doing ever since I was a child. And, as the English cast points out, rarely do you see anime in a US theater, especially anime that is now, nearly 30 years old. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience… and judging by how many tickets the theater sold, perhaps Viz and Eleven Arts will treat us to re-releasing the other Sailor Moon movies in theater format in the future as well.

Story: 8/10 There is a lot of action and almost no character development in this film. Also, unless you’re a fan of the series (but then again, who isn’t a fan of Sailor Moon?), you may feel a little lost or confused even with the inclusion of the Mini-cartoon that re-introduces the scouts and explains their strengths and weaknesses and about the silver moon kingdom and their rebirth on earth. — And although Chibiusa is included in the Mini-cartoon and actual movie, her past and history and relationship to Usagi is actually not explained at all.

The story is also unbelievably cheesey. I don’t know if it’s quite so bad in the subtitled version. I would love to go again to the second and final showing this week which is subtitled to compare how much was just a cheesey plot by the Japanese staff, and how much was cheesey from poor translation choices and poor voice acting from the US staff. There were several scenes that were meant to be serious which caused 300+ people to burst out laughing instead.

Those two small complaints aside, the story is actually very cute and gives you a unique look at Mamoru’s childhood. Also, in this uncut version, they more clearly explain Mamoru’s relationship with the new villain. I remember when the movie was announced a few months ago, I got into an “argument” with someone on facebook who made a comment when I shared the news post. They argued that the relationship was more than platonic, and I counter argued, that they were just close childhood friends… but after seeing the uncut version, I have to concede, and agree, the relationship is definitely 100% romantic.

The Sailor Scouts even joke about the questionable nature of the relationship, quipping things such as “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too” “Well I guess it’s fine if you’re born that way” “There’s even a few couples like that at my school” and Usagi is stressed/worried and says to herself “It sure seemed like more than friends”. Which comes as no surprise, because by the next few seasons, almost everyone in the Sailor Moon universe is openly exploring their sexuality, with Uranus x Neptune, Uranus x Moon, and Chibiusa X Saturn… and that’s not even mentioning Sailor Stars, which are essentially gender-neutral, or transgendered Women who were born in Men’s bodies when they re-incarnated and transforming back to female when they take their Sailor forms. So Sailor Moon is no stranger to dealing with these topics. It was actually quite revolutionary for its day and time, back in the 90s, when even live-action TV shows were still shying away from tackling such relationships.

If your favorite part of Sailor Moon is the action and fighting scenes you will probably really enjoy Sailor Moon R the Movie. It is way more action heavy compared to the TV Series. It opens right away with a lengthy and fairly violent fight sequence.

The story is also full of comedy… Shortly after that fight sequence, there’s a scene with Usagi and Chibiusa that builds and builds the same joke for what seems like forever, but it was effective. I don’t laugh out loud easily… and even that elicited a chuckle from me (and uproarious laughter from the huge audience).

Despite, at the core, the story being about Mamo and Usagi and the new Villain, it’s actually not very Romance laden. They are on a date at the opening of the film, but once again comedy comes in to foil any chance of romance for the two of them.

Characters 8/10: As mentioned, character development is really pretty much non-existent. You could easily skip watching this film and not miss anything earth-shattering in developing the scouts or Mamo as characters. You’d miss out a lil on Mamo’s backstory but it’s mostly stuff that’s been glossed over briefly by the series anyways.

The scouts are featured heavily in the film and so if you’re the type who complains that one of the weaknesses of Crystal is how it’s all about Mamo x Usagi, (this seems a common complaint), then you’ll like how prominent each of the scouts are in this film, and a decision that Usagi makes near the end of the movie, showing how much she loves and cares for the other scouts. Though this too is not surprising if you’ve seen the 90s TV series you know the focus was more on Usagi and the Scouts and less on the Reincarnation / Romance bits.

If however, one of your primary draws to Sailor Moon is the character development or romance, this movie may very well disappoint you.

But you should still go see it, because it’s Sailor Moon :). How long have we waited to see this cast of characters on the big screen? And if we want to see the other movies, a re-run of the dub, or airing of the new Viz dub, or a new season of Crystal, or perhaps a continuation of the series even beyond Stars, or more Sailor Moon merchandise and collectibles, then, you know as they say “Money Talks”.

Also, as you know, the characters in Sailor Moon as very diverse, with almost someone for EVERY girl out there to look up to. How many TV shows or Movies can claim such a wholesome cast full of role models for young women?

Sailor Moon teaches us about friendship, love, respect, and kindness. Moon is the quintessential loud/ditzy/friendly outgoing girl, Mercury is the smart/brainy/shy girl, Mars is the mysterious/quiet/serious/beautiful girl, Jupiter is the “tomboy” type girl (who also secretly has a soft side and loves to cook, and falls in love easily), Venus is the “best friend” or “girl next door” type of girl.

With so many different personalities, there’s bound to be a superhero that your kids can look up to, which I think is one of the reasons for the series continued success and popularity.

Artwork: 4/5 This is the old 90s style animation, and it shows… There’s some really bad CG effects later on in the film… and the characters have that unique 90s style to them… However, I was surprised by how bright and vivid the colors were and how crisp, clean, and clear all of the animations looked. There are also some lovely backgrounds too.

Music: 4/5 I was surprised to see they kept the Japanese music with the English dub. This worked fine 90% of the time… Except for two occasions… One in the Mini-cartoon before the featured film, in a flash back Rei is singing… in Japanese… after seconds ago speaking in English… this felt disjointed, jarring, and just out of place…. The other occasion is perhaps debatable, but you can form your own opinion… My opinion is I would have loved to hear the old English version of the Sailor Moon opening theme — Or to have at least seen subtitles of the Japanese lyrics when the song played at the start of the movie.

Other than those two points of contention, which I admit are perhaps not a commonly shared opinion, the music in the film was quite enjoyable, adding to the suspense, action, and drama of the film. The soundtracks to Sailor Moon have always been among my favorites. I owned many of the imported Japanese CDs, as well as some of the English cassette tapes and equally loved both the Original Japanese music, as well as the old 90s stuff too.

Voice Acting 3/5 – I do not normally like to watch dubs. I went to the dubbed movie, simply because it was playing on a weekend, while the subtitled version is playing on a weeknight. I do not follow the North American Voice Actors, so I have really no clue who these people are (other than I do know they are not the original cast, and are the new cast put together by Viz).

I will say it is super nice to see an Asian American playing the lead role, when so many other anime movies (such as the live action Ghost in the Shell) are being White Washed by movie producers. Of course, one Asian with a cast of almost entirely white folks, still isn’t that great, but it’s a start.

Now as to the quality of their performance… it does take some getting used to, if you’re a fan of the original 90s cast, you will notice distinguishable differences which might seem jarring at first. Overall though, I feel the cast did a wonderful job.

There are a few… either… ill acted… or poorly written lines…. The most notable of which was at the end of the movie when the new villain says “It’s all over now… Mamo has thrown a flower at me” — He is so overly dramatic… and the words chosen make it seem … so…. cheesey… The entire theater erupted in laughter for pretty much 10 minutes straight… followed by a scene shortly thereafter where he reverts to his childhood form and tumbles off silently into space.

But perhaps… that cheeseyness is part of Sailor Moon’s charms. The cheesey lines are when the theater laughed the most and had the most fun. 90s anime IS very cheesey… so I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing really! But it was… probably…. not intentional — because it was supposed to be a serious, dramatic, and even slightly sad scene.

I also noticed several instances where Sailor Jupiter used a cuss word. I am fairly certain that this was a liberty taken only in the dub, because in Japan the anime was intended for preschool children, also Japanese as a language I don’t think has direct swear words such as that.

It was so jarring that I began counting the number of swears… There were 3 or 4 of them that I noticed… all from Sailor Jupiter as she was fighting. It’s a minor swear word — but still… It just did not seem to fit the spirit of Sailor Moon as a franchise.

I do appreciate that the script was “uncut” — and if that swearing was in the original Japanese script, then I’m glad they left it in. To edit it would be sad because it would mean they were back to trying to make a child friendly show or care about ratings more than care about doing an accurate translation.

So I’m on the fence as to if the swearing was “good” or “bad” – if part of the original script, it’s “good” that the script wasn’t altered to be more “kid friendly”; however, if it was as I suspect, a creative liberty taken by Viz staff then “bad”. A simple clicking of the tongue, or a Tch sound could have replaced the one syllable swear word, and seemed more “at home” in such a child-friendly show.

But overall, the voice acting was good for the most part. The scouts really showed their personalities and had voices somewhat similar/close to the 90s cast (Jupiter has a deep husky voice in both the 90s version as well as the new Viz cast; Sailor Moon has a ditzy and bubbly voice, Mercury a very calming/soothing voice, etc.) Therefore, largely I feel the series is well cast and the deliverance of their lines, mostly, pretty solid (though there were some notably cringe-worthy moments as well (such as the one with the new villain which I referenced above). Thankfully though, the cringe-worthiness was the exception and not the norm throughout the film.

Overall: 45/55 82% B- Very Good Anime for Girls

Overall, the experience of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen, the hundreds of moonies who turned out for the event, and the movie itself, made for an enjoyable and nostalgic night of entertainment.

Sailormoon R The Movie Theatrical Release Uncut English Dub Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review

This past week I finally marathoned the anime that everyone’s been talking about. Yuri!!! On Ice won a ton of awards recently in Crunchyroll’s 2016 Anime awards. And not only that, but it’s been gaining unprecedented attention even from people who would not identify as Otaku or Anime fans, including actual real professional Olympic and Competitive Ice Skaters. The series is herald for its beautiful intricate artwork that perfectly captures the movements and expressions of professional ice skaters, as well as a fantastic musical score, and touching love story which stands apart from the rest since it features 2 LGBT males. It handles the relationship in a sweet and innocent and tasteful way, and shows a lot of depth and heart combined with suspense and drama as you watch and learn more about the characters inner most thoughts both on and off the ice.

Title: Yuri!!! On Ice

Release Date: October 2016

Genre: Slice of Life, Sports, Comedy, Romance

Length: Season 1 is 12 episodes. Season 2 has been announced but no date set yet

Studio: MAPPA and Funimation

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 5/5 – The level of difficulty in animating this show is mind blowing. The characters’ movements on the ice feel so lifelike. The soundtrack is also amazing with very memorable opening and ending themes.

Sweetie: 4/5 – There is a lot of comedy, as well as a very heartwarming love story between the main character and his coach. There’s also a cute doggie ❤ However, at times, especially later in the series the story can move a lttle too slowly.

Overall: 42/45 93% A “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Story: 8/10 Yuri has just returned home to Japan after several years of training abroad as a professional Ice Skater. He finished last place in last year’s “Grand Prix” (although he fails to realize that even placing among these 6 finalists is a feat worthy of being proud of.). He returns to Japan unable to face his fans, friends, or family, until a mysterious guest arrives!! It’s Yuri’s life-long idol, Viktor, a famous Russian Figure Skater whom Yuri has always looked up to. Viktor announces that he has taken time off from his professional skating career in order to become Yuri’s coach. During this time he will live side by side with Yuri and things begin to heat up both on and off the ice. I deducted a few points as there are some pacing issues at times and the large amount of “skater jargon” can distract (although it does add realism which is a big plus!)

Characters: 10/10 There are a number of rival figure skaters from around the world. When they hear news of Viktor’s semi-retirement in order to coach Yuri, they have mixed reactions of anger, jealousy, intrigue, disappointment, or amusement.

Viktor’s former coach takes a new skater on to train in Viktor’s absense, who just also happens to named Yuri. This “other” Yuri had been friends with Viktor and Viktor had promised to choregraph his senior skating debut performance. Viktor is rather forgetful however about promises… leaving Yuri to travel to Japan to confront Japanese Yuri and the forgetful Viktor which sets off a heated rivalry which will last all season.

The story follows both Yuris and several other side characters, along with their coaches, as they travel and perform and perfect their skating, leading up to a face off in yet another Grand Prix.

Not only does it focus on the excitement of watching who will advance to the tournament finale, but also on their life, friends, family, and personal relationships both on and off the ice.

Animation: 5/5 – The animation in this series is insane. It seems as if you’re watching real people, real professional figure skaters.

Music: 5/5 – Each skater’s performances are highlighted with unique music scores, just like a real figure skater. Most of these tracks are super catchy, and watching them skate to each track is almost like some weird “Fantasia on Ice” anime. Not only that, but the opening theme and ending theme are both catchy AF and super memorable, both because of the songs and also the animations. The ending theme uses an instagram or snapchat style photo feed and totally brought back feels of Prompto’s Photography skill in FFXV making it very timely and relevant. Both Yuri on Ice and also FFXV also focus on strong male-centric relationships/friendships. The opening theme of Yuri on Ice is in English which is a rare and nice touch, and the animation is done in a sketch-book style of the anime opening.

Voice Acting: 5/5 The Voice Acting is also nearly flawless. Yuri’s sweet innocent voice, Christopher and Viktor’s more sultry/mature voices, Yurio’s rough and aggressive voice, or JJ’s high energy and confident voice, they each highlight the characters’ emotions and energy levels.

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Porter Robinson’s Shelter Is an Anime – and Here’s Why

I just watched a short film – or more precisely, a music video by Porter Robinson. Although he is an American artist, he contracted with A-1 Pictures a famous Japanese anime studio — It’s being marketed by crunchyroll (who most people associate with “anime”) — and the film first debuted in Tokyo, Japan, to an audience of Japanese people. Although it is marketed for worldwide release and distribution, it was developed, drawn, animated, and premiered first in Japan and made by a famous anime studio consisting of largely Japanese staff. It is a Japanese animation, or anime for those facts alone.

It’s true that similar “Big Eye, Small Mouth, Brightly colored” animated films are NOT anime – I fully agree. RWBY and Avatar and Kora for example are not anime – because they are not made by Japanese anime studios, they are made by westerners.

So what if someone is “paying” or “contracting” the studio – Is anime, and the animation studios not allowed to be paid for their work? How does that fact alone disqualify Shelter from being an anime?

Also bear in mind, anime is gaining global attention and branching out to a global market. Long gone are the days where anime was a niche hobby back in the 90s. It is becoming increasingly more mainstream. Perhaps some fans feel threatened by this, that their hobby will become too “mainstream” and not “cool” anymore – but going “mainstream” is a good thing – when studios can make money and increase their audience share, this means more anime will get made!

The lines of what defines “anime” are quickly beginning to blur.

One example of this is a Studio Ghibli series coming to Amazon Prime in the near future. It’s been contracted by Americans, but being developed by a famous Japanese anime studio.

Other examples of anime contracted by an American company but produced by a Japanese anime studio include 7 Deadly Sins and Perfect Bones.

My take is – if it comes from a Japanese anime studio – and has all the markings of an anime (similar animation style, writing techniques, etc) – then it’s an anime.

Shelter takes it a step further and even has original audio in Japanese by a talented Japanese voice actress. This further proves it was originally intended for Japanese audiences.

The debate on if Shelter is an anime or not has been a hot button issue this week according to Kotaku

But you can watch the anime for yourself below and decide if Shelter is an anime, or just a cartoon. It’s a beautiful short film about a lonely girl who finds escapism in a game very similar to Minecraft. After watching this film, I really want to play Minecraft, or similar voxel games such as Peria Chronicles or Islet.

There is also now a new Behind the Scenes video that shows how Shelter was made, which further proves it should be considered as an Anime:

 

Porter Robinson’s Shelter Is an Anime – and Here’s Why was originally published on

Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name – Makoto Shinkai – 2016 Anime Full Length Featured Film Movie Review

I just got done watching Kimi No Na Wa, this year’s record breaking summer box office smash that is still topping the charts for almost 3 months now in Japan.

The film is directed by Makoto Shinkai who also made anime such as 5cm per second and voices of a distant star.

All of his works follow a common theme of fated lovers who are separated by either distance or time. And Kimi No Na Wa is no exception to this overarching theme throughout his works.

What is a slight departure from his previous works is the use of several vocal tracks throughout this film – Maybe this is the new hot trend in feature length anime films in Japan right now? Because “I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee” (which I reviewed here) also has about a half dozen vocal tracks. – Kimi no na wa has about 3 or 4 – and they are used to help convey key scenes and emotions throughout the film. — In fact all of the music, even the instrumental tracks are very “emotional”. I loved the music in both of these films and it really sets them apart from a lot of other anime movies out there.

Title: Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name

Release Date: 2016 in Japan – No release yet in North America

Genre: Slice of Life, Scifi, Romance

Length: 1 Film – Runtime: aproximately 1 hour and 46 minutes

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films / Toho

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky – The theme of time travel is one that many geeks enjoy; the production values in terms of animation and sound effects, voice acting, and music are all very high – however, this is a slow paced shoujo, with little to no action until about the last 40 minutes of the nearly 2 hour long film.

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie – The theme of fated lovers and the suspense and drama throughout this anime make it a hit with anyone who loves slice of life or shoujo. The numerous vocal tracks as well as the heart-stirring instrumental themes also play on the viewer’s emotions. The animation is simply gorgeous and draws you right in as well.

Overall 40/45 89% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Story: 9/10 – The story follows 2 main characters, a boy named Taki, and a girl named Mitsuha, who switch places when they fall asleep. It’s not every night, and happens at random times. When it first begins happening neither one can remember or realize what’s happening. They begin leaving notes for one another, on their phones, in journals, or even writing all over their bodies. This helps them learn more about eachother and helps them adjust when this change suddenly happens. They also try to spend as much time helping eachother when using the other one’s body. Of course the gender-swapping thing is prone to some fanservice and comedic bits as well.

As they grow closer, and as more of the story is revealed, you learn that Taki must remember Mitsuha to save her and her village from a terrible fate. The problem is, that as they grow closer, they also begin to lose their memories and forget one another. Their dreams seem much more like dreams and less and less like reality, and soon time begins to pass them by. Will Taki remember Mistsuha before it is too late?

Characters: 9/10 – Mitsuha is from a small village deeply rooted in tradition and culture. Taki is from the city. Both dream of escaping their day-to-day routines. There are several other minor characters, but most of the screen time goes to our two love birds.

Mitsuha’s friends and family get way more screentime than Taki’s friends and family. Mitsuha lives with her grandma and younger sister. Mitsuha is responsible for helping to weave hand braided cords. Her grandma explains these cords represent the threads of time, and explains how time can unravel and reconnect in mysterious ways. Mitsuha also is training as a shrine maiden and prepares a special offering for the gods at the upcoming festival. Mitsuha’s bestfriends are another couple from her school. They become instrumental later in the film to helping Mitsuha orchestrate her plans to try to save the village.

Taki lives with his father. It appears his father works a lot and is busy so Taki is alone a lot. Taki also has 2 best friends, and a slightly older coworker, but they are far less instrumental as far as plot devices go. They serve more as comedic relief and love rivals.

Would have liked to see Taki’s friends and family fleshed out more to give this 10/10. However, the characters – especially our two love birds, really grow significantly throughout the film thanks to sometimes unwanted meddling from eachother when borrowing the other’s body. And of course we get to watch them face hardship and unravel the mystery of what is happening when they switch places. Best of all, we get to watch them come to know one another and develop feelings for eachother which is the biggest catalyst in their coming of age and beginning to change. From start to end, 8 years have passed, so we see them grow throughout their incredible journey.

Artwork: 4/5 – The animation as mentioned is really beautiful. The character designs almost have a retro vibe I think, kinda 90s looking. That, combined with the gender-swapping theme kinda harkens back memories of Ranma 1/2 or similar older anime. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but it was a unique approach. The character designs also remind me slightly of studio ghibli in that they are slightly more realistic and less “anime-ish”. But it’s the backgrounds that are just super lovely. The sky, the trees, the lakes, clouds, and even the cityscapes of Taki’s home town in Tokyo. They feel so realistic and lifelike, but yet have a gorgeous mysterious dreamlike feeling to them.

Music 5/5 – As mentioned previously, this film employs several vocal themes throughout. This really helps paint a story and carry the characters’ emotions. It also catches the audiences’ ear. Even without these tracks, the music is still a 5/5 because of the gorgeous background melodies which swell with so many different emotions

Voice Acting 5/5 – The voices felt super natural, which helped carry the emotions, suspense, urgency, and frustrations of the two main characters. The supplemental cast was also spot on in delivering the lines for their roles.

Overall 40/45 89% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls

Kimi No Na Wa – Your Name – Makoto Shinkai – 2016 Anime Full Length Featured Film Movie Review was originally published on