Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

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

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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

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

I’ve Always Liked You – Feature Length Slice of Life Shoujo Anime Movie Review

Just finished watching “I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee” on Crunchyroll and had to immediately type up a review because that’s how much I enjoyed this anime. Everything about it was so relateable and the cute artwork and numerous vocal songs throughout made this just an amazingly memorable movie to watch.

I’ve been going through numerous tough times in my own relationships or lack there of, this year, breaking up with someone, trying to date other people, liking people that will never like me back, feeling awkward, nervous, excited, scared, sad, happy, overwhelmed at times even, or at times, just the reverse, dating people who liked me way more than I felt towards them.. So in that regard, I could relate to every single character and the overall theme of this anime in so many ways.

 

I think part of the reason we all love slice of life or romantic comedies is because it lets us escape into the lives of the characters, and have a happy ending, even if it’s not real, or not our own. We become attached to the characters, we care about what happens to them, and we want to see them be happy, because ultimately we feel that if they can achieve their dreams, then maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all.

Title: I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Length: 64 minutes – 1 movie so far, reportedly with a sequel in the works for release later this year.

Genre: Shoujo Slice of Life Romance Drama

Studio: Honeyworks

Release Date: October 4th 2016

Geeky: 0/5 – Nothing geeky here. Very predictable, basic slice of life, with typical anime tropes, complete fluff, no action, adventure, or scifi, and no complex plot, or themes, so unless you’re into over-the-top “cuteness” and/or “relationship drama” this is a show you’ll want to pass.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The theme really hit home. Unrequited love is something we all experience.  The cute artwork and pop music also make this anime very “sweet”.

Concept: 9/10 – This anime can jump around a bit, it tries to do a lot in a 64 minute timeframe. It would have worked better as a series. There’s really not a clear main character, with all of the characters getting pretty equal screentime and having equally complex relationship dilemmas. It is interesting how many vocal music tracks were used, more than I have ever seen in an anime feature length film before. This gave it a very “Disney” kind of feeling – you know how characters just burst into song. The songs help tell the story – and they’re good songs too. The lyrics to the songs hit home just as much as the character dialogue and story. Presentation values were very high, with excellent music, voice acting, and artwork. The writing, while extremely predictable, also felt extremely raw and real. All of the characters were likeable and relateable to anyone that’s ever struggled with their feelings.

Story: 8/10 – I love this anime because of the story, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. You know early on how this story will go, and what will happen. (Which I won’t reveal here). This doesn’t make it a bad anime by any means. Slice of life don’t really need mystery or suspense. What they need are characters that show significant growth and development. characters that draw you in, make you like them, care about them, and a central plot that draws from perhaps the author’s own experiences, or experiences that are very common to almost anyone from any walk of life – and this anime has all of those things.  The story does jump around quite a bit though and that can be distracting at times. The basic premise is there are 3 couples, the first are childhood friends who are both too afraid to confess their feelings. The next is a pair of relatively new friends/acquaintances who aren’t really sure of their feelings yet and are in limbo somewhere between friends and dating, and the final pair consist of a guy with unrequited feelings for a girl for many years, and the girl being inexperienced and never really thinking much about love. There’s also a few love rivals and other outlying characters and issues throughout the film.

Characters: 8/10 – The characters are likeable, relateable, and they gradually begin to experience growth and mature to where many of them eventually overcome the obstacles facing their relationships. Watching them awkwardly work through their feelings, struggle, and fail, or struggle, and overcome their hardships, these things endear them to us. The artwork for the characters is also quite nice and drawn in a very cute style. The voice acting is also cute. The characters exude a lot of charm and work well in a shoujo setting. However, I feel like more could have been done given more time. I think the series does a good job of making all of the characters “main characters”, but for example, some of the truly minor characters, such as Nacchan’s brother and Setoguchi’s sister, their relationship is not fully explored – although there is a scene at the end of the credits with Setoguchi’s sister holding a love letter – but I kinda wonder if that letter is perhaps for Yukki who ends up being the only “odd man out” — if that’s the case though then Nacchan’s bro would become the “odd man out”– and the blonde pigtailed girl gets barely any screentime – do we even get to know her name? — Perhaps all of these things will be revealed if there is a sequel later this year as rumored.

Artwork: 5/5 – Nacchan reminds a lot of Lovely Complex – which I reviewed here. There, I criticized the female lead’s physical appearance for not being very kawaii (although some of my readers in the comments section clearly disagree). — However, although Nacchan has the same hairstyle and haircolor, Nacchan’s hair is more “fluffy” and flattering. Her bun is actually really kawaii! Later in the movie you also get to see her with her hair down as well. — Her fashion sense though is very boyish and strange — but you also get to see her dressup and be feminine later on too. Showing how multifaceted she is, makes her seem more real, more relatable, and ultimately more kawaii. — The other characters are also equally kawaii – my favorite for “Kawaii”factor is definitely Akari. I also really like Yukki. I think he was equally cute with his long hair and more modest appearance (which is shown only briefly as a flashback). The way everyone’s eyes are drawn is super beautiful too.

Music: 5/5 – Really would like to give it more than 5 points, but to keep it a bit consistant with my other reviews, we’ll go with this. – Music plays a huge vital role in this anime. Reading the lyrics is really important, It helps convey the characters’ feelings and emotions. I’ve never ever seen an anime feature length film with so many vocal tracks. There’s at least 5 or 6 music tracks. The ending music also when the credits roll continues to tell a story and seems to forshadow even college or adult life with some clips and brief animations as well. (in these illustrations the characters seem more mature, their hair is much longer, one of them is wearing a suit, etc. ) It’s definitely worth watching the ending credits. Plus there is a very brief scene after the credits as well. Like I mentioned, the vast amount of vocal tracks in this anime really give it an almost Disney-esque feeling. It’s definitely a memorable experience and makes me want to buy the soundtrack!

Voice Acting 5/5 – I loved all the character’s voices, Nacchan’s voice sounds more tomboyish, while Akari has a very kawaii voice, and the other girl very soft spoken, all 3 of them are very distinct and instantly recognizable.

Overall: 45/55 82% “Very Good Anime for Girls”

I’ve Always Liked You – Feature Length Slice of Life Shoujo Anime Movie Review was originally published on

Summer Days with Coo – Anime Review

Do you love Studio Ghibli films? Summer Days with Coo is not a Ghibli film, but it reminded me a lot of one. It’s a great family-friendly feature length anime that kids and adults can enjoy together.

It has a lot of cute characters and a heartwarming story. It’s pretty obscure with only 2,300ish “watched” on myanimelist and 600 watched on anime planet. Hopefully if you haven’t heard of it yet, this review will inspire you to check it out for yourself.

Title: Summer Days With Coo

Genre: Family / Fantasy Adventure

Release Date: 2007 (Japan) as far as I know as of the time of this review, it has still not been licensed in North America

Studio: Shin-Ei Animation

Where to Watch: If you know Japanese you can buy the DVD from Amazon here. Otherwise, you will have to find a torrent or watch it on an anime streaming site thanks to fansubs.

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 4/5 

Story: 10/10 My Summer with Coo is a feature-length family film about a young “baby” Kappa. Kappas are mystical creatures in Japanese folktales which are thought to lure humans into the river to kill them.  You can read more about Kappa here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_(folklore) It’s really interesting, especially after having watched the movie.

It starts out about as tame/innocent as Totoro or other Ghibli films, but then it gets really dark. (Still family friendly though).

The movie begins hundreds of years before the events of the main story. Coo (the baby Kappa) is with his daddy in the river, when some drunken samurai come walking by. Kappa are curious in nature and when Coo’s father approaches the samurai, he startles them which provokes an attack. Coo is too young to survive on his own, and unable to return to his river.

He “Dries Up” and then our main story begins, when a young human boy in modern times uncovers his fossil one day on his way home from school. He takes the fossil home, and his family are surprised to discover it is a kappa. They nurse him back to health with food, water, and kindness. Kappas can speak Japanese, so Coo becomes a very close friend to everyone in the house.

Eventually, despite their efforts to hide Coo, it is discovered that the family is hosting a real Kappa. This draws much attention from the media and changes the lives of the family who begin to lose sight of what’s best for Coo.

Characters: 10/10 Coo (and Kappa in general) are what is referred to as Busukawaii or Ugly-Cute. This is a trend that’s gaining popularity the last few years in Japan. Something that’s so ugly, it’s actually kinda cute. I love all of the characters in this anime. Even the family’s pet dog has a really unique personality and big impact on the story and family and on Coo. It’s the characters and the look into their family that makes this anime so enjoyable that I’ve watched it 5 times now.

Graphics: 2/5 I’m not a fan of the character designs. I like more “anime” looking characters, big eyes, white dazzling skin, blue or pink hair, etc. lol. This is more like what I would think disney would do if it were to make a movie about Japan (very true-to-life looking characters, dark hair, dark skin, small eyes, etc). Coo is cute, but he’s also pretty ugly lol. Just kinda a hard movie to “watch” because it’s so out there and different from “mainstream” anime techniques.

Music: 5/5 I really love the music in this film. It ranges from peaceful, playful tracks reminding you of your summer vacations, to dark, depressing, or even aggressive sounding tracks when the mood of the film shifts later on in the story.

Voice Acting: 4/5 – Some of the voices didn’t seem to match the characters in my opinion, but the main characters all delivered their lines with a lot of emotion, and since it’s such an emotional rollercoaster of a film, the voice acting really aided with the immersion.

Overall: 38 / 45 84%

Summer Days with Coo – Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie