Tag Archives: Anime

Your Name Review | visually stunning, emotionally stimulating

Makoto Shinkai’s (5 Centimeters Per Second, 2007, and The Garden of Words, 2013) latest offering, Your Name, is a stunning piece of animated film.  It takes you on a whimsical YA body-swap adventure that somehow manages to be grounded in reality in spite of the sheer imagination required for such a storyline. Despite pulling on your heartstrings, Your Name doesn’t exactly break it and leaves you satisfied but still wanting more.

Mitsuha and Taki are two total strangers living completely different lives.

But when Mitsuha makes a wish to leave her mountain town for the bustling city of Tokyo, they become connected in a bizarre way- somehow connected to the meteor shower we see at the very beginning of the film.

Mitsuha finds herself in dreams of being a boy living in Tokyo while Taki dreams he is a girl from a rural town he’s never been to.

What does their newfound connection mean? And how will it bring them together?

In its exploration of the line between the beginning and the end, from minute things to the heavier questions of life, the film juxtaposes new and old, the urban sprawl and rural life alongside their male and female counterparts while allowing the audience both healthy doses of laughter and poignant moments of heartache.

It’s almost like being a daydream yourself, however everyone is speaking Japanese and of course it’s animated, not live-action.

The J-Pop soundtrack is lit, drawing you into the film straight away and complimenting the visual brilliance of the landscapes and forces of nature quite brilliantly.

Check it out when you can, it’s great to see on a huge screen I tell ya. Find out where, in NZ, and go see it! The film opens for a limited screening run on Dec 1st.

I’ve heard people compare Shinkai to Hayao Miyazaki, calling him Miyazaki’s heir apparent, but I can’t say the comparison is fair. Shinkai’s work is its own beast, and Your Name has a quality to it that isn’t Miyazaki but that’s a good thing in that we should be allowed quality work that isn’t cut from the same stone, or that follows a similar kind of format.

You’ll be thinking about the film’s plot and trajectory long after the vividness of the the painted cityscapes have faded from the screens, they become etched in your mind along with thoughts of ‘what next’ after that final scene.

Watch the trailer below, beyond the trailer are our honourable mentions RIFE with spoilers so continue at your own risk!

Honourable Mentions:

  • Just one because I’ve talked enough: Taki, you had ONE job just before twilight hit and Mitsuha disappeared. Write your name on her palm but instead he writes “I love you” and as cries and smiles before saying, “Idiot…I can’t remember your name with this…” I’m sitting in the theatre trying not to yell out TAKI YOU HAD ONE JOB. ONE JOB!
  • Huh and who’s have thought it was also a time travelling tale on TOP of the the body-swap?
  • Every time they’d wake up in each other’s bodies and Taki kept getting snapped fondling Mitsuha’s boobs was always a crack up- each time you think… nah he won’t this time, zoink the door opens he’s like: mdvdrif

The Boy and the Beast | Review

The Boy and the Beast Studio Chizo’s latest, by filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (Summer WarsWolf ChildrenThe Girl Who Leapt Through Time), is a visually stunning hand-drawn animation, that is equal parts action-packed coming-of-age buddy film and semi-realistic but spectacularly fantastical epic.

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Released in Japan last year, and killing it domestically at Japan’s box office, it’ll finally be released to New Zealand theatres on March 3rd 2016- with both subbed and dubbed versions available.

The Boy and the Beast is set between both current day Tokyo and a parallel world – called Jutengai – that resembles feudal-era Japan populated by humanoid beasts. And follows a nine-year-old boy named Ren, who runs away from home and accidentally finds himself in Jutengai, where he becomes the apprentice of a prickly bear-man-beast named Kumatetsu- who renames Ren ‘Kyuta’ according to his age.

We see the progression of their relationship, and Ren’s time in Jutengai, through a montage of hilarious moments where the two clash constantly. These moments become poignant as you see their relationship move from antagonistic apprentice and irritable teacher who don’t mesh well at all, to antagonistic teenaged apprentice and irritable teacher who still don’t seem to mesh well but work nonetheless.

The film is visually stunning, however what makes it worthwhile are the characters. They fill the worlds up nicely and the development of the ‘master and apprentice’ relationship is not one-dimensional, there are layers to the friendships and bonds which the film allows the audience to discern for themselves. 

Granted there are moments where cliched life-lessons are thrown at you left, right and centre, however when you look beyond the usual ‘fight bad with good’ and ‘you can do it’ cliches there are heavy issues addressed tastefully. Notions of depression and abandonment, as well as the effects these can have on a person, and how different people deal with these issues are juxtaposed against a fantastical world where humans are more or less banned because of these issues and their effects- which residents of Jutengai refer to as ‘the darkness’.

Action and battle scenes are just as epic as the lighthearted bickering scenes are hilarious, and poignant moments are both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

The film is equal parts hilarious, heartwarming and well executed.

Hosoda’s not one to tie everything up nicely, however. There are a few twists you may or may not figure out before they’re revealed, and just like in real life not everything is prettily resolved and easily sorted.

If you like a good epic, with funny bits and well-developed characters give The Boy and the Beast a shot.

You can catch The Boy and the Beast in NZ cinemas from March 3rd onwards at any of the locations below:

Academy Cinema Auckland

Event Cinemas Albany

Event Cinemas Manukau

Event Cinemas Queen St

Event Embassy Theatres

Hoyts Cinemas Wairau Park

Hoyts Metro

Hoyts Riccarton

Hoyts Sylvia Park

Tokyo Ghoul Season 1 Collection Uncut – Review

tokyoghoul2

Just finished binge watching Tokyo Ghoul season 1 collection uncut, 300 minutes of blood, gore, a number of story lines- most of which are kind of hit and miss- and a tiny smidgen of character development, woohoo!

Remember when I reviewed the first episode after it premiered on Anime Lab and said I would review each ep as it came out? Yeah I lied, but only because I got extremely busy and couldn’t watch weekly. I’m so sorry.

But the kind folk at MadMan sent us the season 1 collection, which was released in December of last year, for our viewing pleasure.

Serves me right to be left on such a cliffhanger after finally getting around to and binge-watching the 12 episodes. Word of caution, it ends in the middle of the huge showdown, just as something major occurs.

(However season 2 is out and you can catch the episodes on Anime Lab.)

But let’s talk about that first season, which may have been more about that blood and gore and less about a coherent storyline and character development. This doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy watching it.

Because although it took 12 episodes for Kaneki to become a badass, and they introduced a tonne of characters in the last 3 episodes that you had to keep up with in a short amount of time, and some characters didn’t fully get developed in that time, the first season made me want to keep watching.

Whether this was because of the cliffhanger or whether it’s from genuinely being into the anime, I’m not sure.

But I say give it a go, I started reading the manga and while they kept a few things the same the anime is its own beast as it diverges from the source material heavily.

And yep, season 3 has also been confirmed.

Stray thoughts contain spoilers so read ahead at your own risk:

  • Ken gets a hundred times more attractive once he accepts the fact that he’s a ghoul and metaphorically eats dead Rise who’s inside him- yeah I know how that sounds.
  • Touka’s still my favourite, even if she’s currently getting her ass kicked by her younger brother.
  • Best lesson to learn, if you try to be kind to everyone- you might die.

Black Butler – “One Hellish Butler”

Screen shot 2015-04-18 at 9.39.36 PM

I’m going to be straight with you, I haven’t seen the anime or read the manga which the live-action Black Butler film is based on. I know next to nothing about the anime or the manga, save for fanvids I’ve watched on YouTube, and will be basing this review solely off the movie alone. So leggo!

Black Butler is a film that I’ve been wanting to watch for a while now after stumbling across a fanvid of it in my search for kdrama fmvs. After witnessing some badass action scenes in the fmv, I was hyped for some kickass fight scenes with scary, brooding characters and a whole lot of blood. But here’s the trailer, which definitely (okay, probably) contains less spoilers than this review.

Directed by Kentaro Otani and Keiichi Sato, it’s a live-action adaption of the manga Kuroshitsuji by Yana Toboso, with Ayame Goriki as the female lead Shiori Genpo and Hiro Mizushima as the demon butler Sebastian Michaelis. Set in the future, year 2020, the plot follows the story of a young girl out for revenge after witnessing the murder of her parents. She disappears, and returns later as a boy with an entirely new identity, and alongside her, a butler. In exchange for help in her plan to take revenge against those who killed her parents, she offers her soul to the demon, Sebastian, which he’ll consume after aiding in Shiori’s revenge.

Sure, it has a pretty cliche and overdone storyline, but it was well executed and didn’t come across too predictable. The gore was okay, it freaked me out a little (especially the scene where that guy gets mummified), but it wasn’t so bad that I was afraid to leave the room without all the lights on. What originally sparked my interest in this film were the fight scenes, which were very nicely choreographed and edited just as well.

Especially in this fanvid, which omfg slaaayyyyssssssss!

Although this is my absolute favourite fmv for this film!

But on a very serious note, I TOTALLY LOVED THIS MOVIE AND THOUGHT ABOUT IT DAYS AFTER WATCHING IT. Hiro is bae (hella), Ayame is bae (double hella and she looks like my other bae, D.O Kyungsoo), and although I’ll forever have nightmares about being mummified, I’d rewatch this without a doubt. Also considering this is based off the manga and anime, I think I’ll be checking those out, too!

He’s so attractive. She’s so attractive. This was actually one of my favourite scenes, and I just think they’re precious little babies who need to take over the world and consume a bunch of souls and rid this universe of all evil while at the same time being the most evil (and sexy) beings around.

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Collection 2 (Eps 14-25) | Review

Mikasa, Eren and Armin“To rise above monsters, we have to abandon our humanity.”

Got your Attack on Titan Collection 2 DVD/BluRays? People always rag on dubbed anime but honestly it’s nice not to have to read subtitles every now and then- and if the translation is pretty decent and the voice actors are good then everything should be hunky dory!

Right? Right, now onto the review of the second-half of the first season, shall we? First of all, marathon play is definitely your friend. Because if anything the second half is so much more intriguing than the first as we get into the nitty gritty of everything within and outside the walls, so being able to just experience the entire thing without interruption is such a plus.

Also, if you thought the first half of the season was violent and gory, well wait until you get through the second half. (A lot of us probably couldn’t wait for the dubbed and continued with the subbed only to get confused as to why Armin sounded like a girl, or was that just me?) There’s so much going on, above and beyond Titan take downs- or Titans feasting on humans.

Also more Levi! Seriously. So epic.

Oh and Hanji, one of my favourite characters.

Attack on Titan gives us an almost overwhelming amount of characters, however there’s no difficulty with keeping up with them as they are uniquely characterised, making it easy to recognise a certain character and their motivation (well apart from survival, anyway). What is humanity’s breaking point? The series continues to explore human nature in this anime about what it means to be human in the face of certain death, while still allowing us to ponder the mysteries of the Titans and how they came to be. I’ve heard many call it the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones of anime, in that it’s gritty, addictive and provides an interesting approach to human survival and what people do in order to do just that. Especially when there’s obviously more to be wary of than just Titans, sure Titans are still the biggest problem however humans are just as dangerous. If it were up to Hanji Titans would be considered pets deserving of some slack.

This anime is so addictive, you get through the entire season and mourn the fact there’s still no word on a second season. Especially because there’s little to no, well there’s absolutely no, closure by the end as we’re kind of left on a huge cliffhanger. So huge that I immediately started reading the manga. That cliffhanger’s been explained, sort of, but so much more happens that it’s physically painful to be waiting for the second season which will be made up of the rest of the manga out so far. But don’t let the lack of closure deter you, let it spur you. I encourage you to watch the first season, if not for the excellent animation and original characters, then definitely for the mysteries surrounding the Titans

Check out the trailer for the second half of the (dubbed) first season below:

Persona 4: The Animation Series Collection

The bear puns just HAD to go. The character-focused episodes were life.

I can’t say I liked Persona 4: The Animation from start to finish because I almost didn’t make it past the third episode. However I’m glad I persevered because it got hilarious soon after, it’s safe to say that this anime’s a bit of a slow-starter however once the show gets into its groove and finds its footing it’s easy to become engrossed. Which is lucky because while the anime was pretty and sharp, what was with the bottom half of each person’s face being a shade darker than the top half? It was weird and a bit distracting, luckily you do learn to overlook it.

The story revolves around new kid, Yu Narukami, in the town of Inaba- where a mysterious murders have been taking place. Upon discovering a distorted TV World and acquiring a mysterious power known as “Persona”, Yu and his friends, (Yosuke Hanamura, Chie Satonaka) decide to investigate the murders and save others from being killed. As the show progresses, those rescued also become allies after overcoming their own Shadowselves and gaining Personas of their own, including Chie’s best friend, Yukiko Amagi, delinquent Kanji Tatsumi, idol Rise Kujikawa, and young detective Naoto Shirogane. Together, Yu and his companions face up against the threat of the Shadows whilst also making some YOLO choices.

Where the show focuses on our characters, and less on the Persona “Chosen One” storyline, is where it shines the best. While I can’t attest to whether or not the show was a solid adaptation of the game, as I’ve never played it myself, I can say that the characters are the anime’s best feature. They’re memorable and hilarious, well-rounded and developed. They aren’t just flawed, but confront their flaws and insecurities head on, literally, when faced with their Shadowselves. The murder mystery plot was interesting in that they let it develop and build towards the big reveal, while not becoming so convoluted and bogged down by its own complexity. Well.

Get through the first few establishing episodes because the best the anime has to offer comes after all the setup. I like that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, also the fantasy elements are interesting- if a bit cumbersome at the start in terms of setting out the story. Fair warning, the show’s a bit R16 aye lol. So uh, yeah.

Stray gif thoughts:

Yu’s deadpanned humour is actually my favourite thing.

Gotta catch ’em all Cardcaptor Sakura?

 

Also, tomorrow’s the Tokyo Ghoul finale, I believe! Catch it on AnimeLab and then look out for our series review. Still reading the manga, too.

Tokyo Ghoul – ‘Tragic’ Review

tokyoghoulSo this gem was added to the AnimeLab list of shows on Friday, based on the manga of the same name by Sui Ishida, and I thought ‘hey that looks interesting, let’s see what it is’. Without even reading the synopsis, or watching the trailer (no I haven’t read the manga), I played the episode. And holy shih tzu was I unprepared for the gore after binge-watching Ouran High School Host Club and School Rumble but hot damn is it awesome. Seriously, so good.

I suppose the scary-faced fella in the picture above, and the name Tokyo Ghoul, should’ve given me an indication of what I was in for but my eyes still widened at the very first scene. Horror. It’s a full-fledged psychological horror set in modern-day Tokyo, where creatures called ghouls look like humans for the most part but have an insatiable hunger for human flesh (where are Sam and Dean when Tokyo needs them?). People in society are aware of the existence of ghouls, and from the looks of things they’re basically an accepted hazard, like roaming lions- not the best comparison. Tokyo Ghoul follows our main protagonist Ken Kaneki, nice bookish Ken, whose bad dating choice lands him in a dire situation.

Check out the trailer below if, unlike me, you like seeing what you’re in for.

Readers of the still-ongoing manga will already know, and be epically excited for, the extremely dark outlook of this anime. The first episode, beautifully and sharply animated, successfully sets the tone.  Whether or not you’re a reader of the manga you’re sure to be engrossed. The anime isn’t without comic relief which comes in the form of Ken’s bestie, Hide (Hideyoshi Nagachika) a goofball. The characters are likeable enough more importantly a badass female character, Toka Kirishima! I shan’t say too much about her lest I spoil the one slight twist, however she does remind me of Mikasa from Attack on Titan.

While some aspects of the episode were predictable the episode overall is a great start, the internal conflict, Ken is faced with, gradually builds as he realises what he’s become, the fight sequences are brilliant and the gore is well gruesome innit? Apparently the manga is excellent and I’ll be sure to get on that because waiting week-to-week for a fix will suck. This will be me after each episode with the thought of a whole week to wait:

New episodes every Friday on AnimeLab I hope. Also, we’ll also be getting the first episode of Terror in Resonance which looks absolutely amazing in a different way. Trailer below!