Angel Beats! is a ★★★☆☆︱The Passage of Souls

If you were ever trapped in a labyrinthine purgatory, as an amnesiac, would you a) fight against God with a Beretta 92 in hand, b) join a rock band, or c) mingle with a council of colorful characters in an abandoned high school building? The correct answer is: all of the above. Bereft of the meaning they had from their previous lives, a group of kids must come to terms with their internal struggles or choose to stay in limbo, for all eternity! Could this show possibly be Key’s best series? Let’s find out!

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: Otonashi awakens only to learn he is dead. A rifle-toting girl named Yuri explains that they are in the afterlife, and Otonashi realizes the only thing he can remember about himself is his name. Yuri tells him that she leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and wages war against a girl named Tenshi. Unable to believe Yuri’s claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn’t go as he intended.

Jun Maeda’s stories don’t usually emotionally resonate with me. I respect the man, whole-heatedly, I do. He built an expansive visual novel empire off of beautiful stories with cute girls, not only that, but he composes all of the music featured in the games. I have the utmost respect for him. The pacing in Kyoto Animation’s “Clannad” always seemed too lackadaisical and, in my opinion, J.C. Staff made a clunky adaptation of “Little Busters;” and we don’t even talk about 8bit’s version of “Rewrite,” an adaptation that ought to be REWRITTEN!

P.A. Works did it right.

The comedic-timing is perfect, there were times where I even laughed out loud at some of the character interactions. And when there are touching moments, they are really felt. Part and parcel, due to the S-tier ※seiyū, too! Each character has their own, intricate reason for having their individual tics or habits. Within the short, single-cour-length of 13 episodes… many of the characters are exfoliated and properly developed, despite the large cast and a small window of time to produce the series.

※Kana Hanazawa, Eri Kitamura, Miyuki Sawashiro, Hiroshi Kamiya, etc. You can see many members of this all-star class in my Black★Rock Shooter review, too!

This is even more impressive, when you think that Mr. Maeda and the rest of Key’s staff are used to writing full-length visual novels, the average dōjin-game is 6+ hours of gameplay. Whereas, a 13-episode series is compressed into a span of just under 5 hours! The essence of the story was able to be distilled properly, and to a high-rate of emotional effectiveness!

It’s difficult to go into the characters too much, without giving anything away, but even the most callow characters, like Yui… have emotional catharses that would make a grown-man sniffle. Characters like Yuri, ※Kanade, Yui, Masami, and Yuzuru will stick to you like glue! My biggest gripe about the series is that there were times were the pacing slogged, a lot like the predicament with the “Clannad” anime, and it felt like certain emotional scenes were wrung-out and overwrought, until there wasn’t a grain of schmaltz left!

※Especially Kanade, she’s an angel.

The aforementioned issue was apparent, more so, at the very beginning of the series and in the last three episodes. I found Yuri’s discussion with the “※theos ek mēkhanēs” figure full of more tedious dialogue, among a time or two of meaningful revelations. The “graduation” scene also was excruciating with its mawkishness. So, despite being the prevailing Key adaptation, there were problems with the plodding plot.

※literally, “God from the machinery”

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Seiji Kishi (director), notable works:

  • Ansatsu Kyōshitsu (“Assassination Classroom”)
  • Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio (“Arpeggio of Blue Steel”) ✅
  • Asobi Asobase ✅
  • Aura: Maryūin Kōga Saigo no Tatakai
  • Carnival Phantasm ✅
  • Danganronpa 3
  • Devil Survivor 2: The Animation
  • Fate/Prototype
  • Hamatora
  • Inu to Neko Docchi mo Katteru to Mainichi Tanoshii (“With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun”)
  • Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
  • Kamisama Dolls ✅
  • Kappamaki
  • Kengan Ashura
  • Magikano
  • Persona 4: The Animation
  • Radiant
  • Ragnarök: The Animation
  • Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace ✅
  • Seto no Hanayome (“My Bride is a Mermaid”)
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred
  • Tsuki ga Kirei
  • Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijō Shugi no Kyōshitsu e (“Classroom of the Elite”)
  • Yūgo: Kōshōnin (“Yūgo, The Negotiator”)
  • Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru (series) ✅

Commentary: Mr. Kishi did a great job at giving every character, out of the large cast, a small moment to shine. Even going so far as to bring background characters, like Yusa and Shiina, to life! I guess there’s a reason why he was hired to direct Assassination Classroom, after the fact! As for his discography, Mr. Kishi’s series are very hit-or-miss for me. There are series that are some of absolute ※favorites, like the Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru series and Asobi Asobase, as well as others that weren’t so great like, Danganronpa 3 and Ragnarök: The Animation. He’s really great at framing scenes with both delicacy and a close intimacy. Very good bibliography, I can’t wait for the latest Yūki Yūna series to air!

※The Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru series, Asobi Asobase, and Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace are on my “Top 150 Anime (2020)” list!

Kana Hanazawa as Kanade Tachibana, notable roles:

  • Tōko Amano, “Bungaku Shōjo”
  • Sakuya, .hack//Quantum
  • Hinata Kawamoto, 3-Gatsu no Lion ✅
  • Ichika Nakano, 5-tōbun no Hanayome
  • Zessica Wong, Aquarion Evol
  • Aoi Futaba, Asobi ni Ikuyo! ✅
  • Ichiko Sakura, Binbōgami ga! ✅
  • Mato Kuroi (“Black★Rock Shooter”), Black★Rock Shooter ✅
  • Yuki, Cencoroll ✅
  • Aoi Fukasaka, Coppelion
  • Honey Kisaragi, Cutie Honey Universe ✅
  • Roka Shibasaki, D-Frag!
  • Chiaki Nanami, Danganronpa 3 ✅
  • Suō Pavlichenko, Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini
  • Shiro, Deadman Wonderland ✅
  • Anri Sonohara, Durarara!! ✅
  • Nessa, Fractale
  • Rana Linchen, Freezing
  • Raphiel Shiraha Ainsworth, Gabriel DropOut ✅
  • Kuzuha Dōmoto, Hagure Yūsha no Aesthetica
  • Satō Matsuzaka, Happy Sugar Life ✅
  • Sekkekkyū AE3803, Hataraku Saibō 
  • Charlotte Dunois, IS: Infinite Stratos ✅
  • Akane Sakurada, Jōkamachi no Dandelion ✅
  • Ezekiel, Junketsu no Maria
  • Zange, Kannagi
  • Miyu, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows
  • Kobato Hanato, Kobato. ✅
  • Misaki Takasaki, Koi to Uso
  • Yuriko Mifune, Kotōra-san ✅
  • Tsukimi Kurashita, Kuragehime ✅
  • Vanabelle, Kūtei Dragons
  • Katrielle Layton, Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katri no Nazotoki File
  • Mayumi Saegusa, Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei  ✅
  • Mari Kozakura, Mekakucity Actors
  • Nadeko Sengoku, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Chiaki Kurihara, Mōretsu Pirates
  • Shiika Anmoto, Mushi-Uta ✅
  • Manaka Mukaido, Nagi no Asu kara ✅
  • Kosaki Onodera, Nisekoi ✅
  • Minori Nakazawa, Nōrin ✅
  • Naho Takamiya, Orange
  • Ruri Gokō, Ore no Imōto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
  • Susukihotaru, Otome Yōkai Zakuro ✅
  • Sharon Rainsworth, Pandora Hearts
  • Marie, Persona 4
  • Potemayo, Potemayo ✅
  • Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass ✅
  • Kagari, Rewrite ✅
  • Tomoka Minato, Rō-Kyū-Bu! ✅
  • Kuro Matsumi, Saki Achiga-hen: Episode of Side-A
  • Misora Haruki, Sakurada Reset
  • Natalia Vasylchenko, Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda ✅
  • Kusano, Sekirei
  • Ieyasu Tokugawa, Sengoku Collection
  • Nanako Yukishiro, Senryū Shōjo
  • Maria Akizuki, Shinsekai yori ✅
  • Yūka Kobayakawa, Shōjo-tachi wa Kōya wo Mezasu
  • Yuki Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Kagami Yagami, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai ✅
  • Sora Kajiwara, Sketchbook: Full Color’s
  • Shirase Kobuchizawa, Sora yori mo Tōi Basho
  • Mayuri Shiina, Steins;Gate ✅
  • Marimo Bandō, Teekyū ✅
  • Mikan Yūki, TO LOVEる ✅
  • Natsume Tsuchimikado, Tokyo Ravens
  • Rumi Yokoi, Tonari no Seki-kun
  • Yuki Minagawa, Tsurezure Children
  • Momo Hanasaki, Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?
  • Yū Naruse, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! ✅
  • Kurokami no Otome, Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome ✅
  • Sonoko Nogi, Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru ✅
  • Ryōko Kaminagi, Zegapain
  • Konoha Amagi, Zetman ✅
  • Aika Fuwa, Zetsuen no Tempest ✅
  • Syrup, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Commentary: Ms. Hanazawa truly deserves the nickname of “tenshi”—the character of Kanade is an absolute doll! Her role is very subtle, and yet it is one of the most poignant parts of the series. Excellent seiyū!

Harumi Sakurai as Yuri Nakamura, notable roles:

  • Kai Misonō, Angel’s Feather
  • Demeter, Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka (“Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?”)
  • Lisanna Strauss, Fairy Tail ✅
  • Hayami Kohinata, H2O: Footprints in the Sand
  • Sonken Chūbō, Koihime†Musō
  • Saya Tokido, Little Busters! ✅
  • HMX-17c Silfa, To Heart 2 ✅
  • Ryōko Mikado, TO LOVEる ✅

Commentary: Yikes! I had no idea that Ms. Sakurai was in so many hardcore hentai releases. I’m trying not to let that taint my perception of characters I really like! I really loved her vocals in TO LOVEる, To Heart 2, and Little Busters! Those characters were all really likable and sweet, though, you would often have to melt their icy exteriors first, in order to get to their hidden hearts. Ms. Sakurai has played some really wonderful characters!

Eri Kitamura as Yui, notable roles:

  • Koharu, Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman
  • Sawako Machida, Bernard-jō Iwaku. ✅
  • Saki Yūtenji, Bihada Ichizoku
  • Kagari Izuriha (“Chariot”), Black★Rock Shooter ✅
  • Saya Otonashi, Blood+ ✅
  • Anji Zo, Bloodivores
  • Mina Ashido, Boku no Hero Academia ✅
  • Liliana Kranjčar, Campione! Matsurowanu Kamigami to Kamigoroshi no Maō ✅
  • Kirika Ueno, C³
  • Rimi Sakihata, ChäoS;HEAd ✅
  • Uni, Hyperdimension Neptunia
  • Yuka Mochida, Corpse Party
  • Jessica Kaios, Danball Senki W
  • Adélaïde Grand Marnie, Dog Days
  • Mairu Orihara, Durarara!!
  • Aquarius, Fairy Tail ✅
  • Miki Aono, Fresh PreCure! ✅
  • Seira Hoshikawa, Genei wo Kakeru Taiyō
  • Darjeeling, Girls und Panzer ✅
  • Mahiro Yasaka, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
  • Saitō (“Bea”), Hakumei no Tsubasa ✅
  • Renko Usami, Hifū Katsudō Kiroku: The Sealed Esoteric History ✅
  • Saya Takagi, Highschool of the Dead ✅
  • Okō, Hōzuki no Reitetsu ✅
  • Myōsai Kakōe, Ikkitōsen
  • Kitsunemen no Onna, Kiitarō Shōnen no Yōkai Enikki
  • Rin Kokonoe, Kodomo no Jikan ✅
  • Yui, Koharu Biyori
  • Hibiki Sakata, Kuma Miko
  • Dōji Yase, Kyōsō Giga
  • Tatiana Wisla, Last Exile ✅
  • Anna Rochefort, Le Chevalier D’Eon ✅
  • Mitty, Made in Abyss ✅
  • Kotone Oribe, Magical Suite Prism Nana
  • Sayaka Miki, Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica ✅
  • Kanade Suzutsuki, Mayo Chiki!
  • Karen Araragi, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Eve Neuschwanstein, Needless
  • Iori Wakabayashi, Oji-san to Marshmallow
  • Rie Maezono, One Off
  • Arashi Nikaidō, Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
  • Nao Takanashi, Onii-chan no Koto nanka Zenzen Suki ja Nai n da kara ne!!
  • Chisato Mizusawa, Osake wa Fūfu ni Natte kara
  • Miu Takanashi, Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai!
  • Sunao Moriyama, Potemayo ✅
  • Alleyne, Queen’s Blade ✅
  • Akane Senri, Rewrite ✅
  • Tsunehisa Amago, Sengoku Collection
  • Homura, Senran Kagura ✅
  • Cerberus, Shingeki no Bahamut ✅
  • Lucifer, Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai ✅
  • Kureha Suminoya, So Ra No Wo To
  • Kotone Sawanatsu, Softenni
  • Aki Shiina, Sunohara-sō no Kanrinin-san ✅
  • Juri Han, Super Street Fighter IV ✅
  • Kirie Kanoe, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
  • Hamyuts Meseta, 戦う司書 The Book of Bantorra
  • Tony, Terra e… (TV) ✅
  • Bimajo, Time Bokan 24
  • Ami Kawashima, Toradora ✅
  • Chiester 410, Umineko no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Yachiyo Todoroki, Working!! ✅
  • Nene Odagiri, Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (TV)
  • Leopard, Yoru no Yatterman
  • Bahamut, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Commentary: Ms. Kitamura displays her talents as a very adorable, yet sadly complex, youthful character. Great job!

Miyuki Sawashiro as Masami Iwasawa, notable roles:

  • Maria, Arakawa Under the Bridge ✅
  • Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub, Beelzebub
  • Slan, Berserk
  • Cassandra Jill Warlock, Black Blood Brothers
  • Yomi Takanashi (“Dead Master”), Black★Rock Shooter ✅
  • Canaan, Canaan ✅
  • Kei Yuki, Captain Harlock ✅
  • Eiha, Chaos Dragon: Sekiryū Seneki
  • Tōko Fukawa, Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibōgamine Gakuen
  • Dalian, Dantalian no Shoka, localized as “The Mystic Archives of Dantalian” ✅
  • Petit Charat, Di Gi Charat
  • Celty Sturluson, Durarara!! ✅
  • Aka no Saber (“Mordred”), Fate/Apocrypha ✅
  • Julia Jinyu, FLCL Progressive ✅
  • Yu Lan Xia, Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid ✅
  • Mint Blancmanche, Galaxy Angel
  • Kitarō, Gegege no Kitarō (2018)
  • Yuzuki Seo, Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun ✅
  • Towa Akagi, Go! Princess PreCure ✅
  • Reika Honjō, Goshūshō-sama Ninomiya-kun
  • Katalina Alize, Granblue Fantasy ✅
  • Saeko Busujima, Highschool of the Dead
  • Kurapika, Hunter x Hunter (2011) ✅
  • Queen Diamond, Kaitō Joker
  • Kiari and Ririka Momobami, Kakegurui
  • Kazune Kūjō, Kamichama Karin
  • Tsugumi Aoba, Kannagi
  • Ayane Yano, Kimi ni Todoke
  • Himeko Inaba, Kokoro Connect
  • Shinkurō Kurenai, Kure-nai
  • Masazumi Honda, Kyōkaisenjou no Horizon, localized as “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”
  • Myao Rei, Loups=Garōs
  • Fujiko Mine, Lupin III ✅
  • Dorm Mistress, Maria†Holic ✅
  • Izuna Hatsuse, No Game No Life ✅
  • Bishamon, Noragami ✅
  • Aria Kurenaino, Occultic;Nine ✅
  • Pudding Charlotte, One Piece ✅
  • Cal Devens, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom ✅
  • Tomoe Misumi, Photokano
  • Kotarō Higuchi, Pita Ten
  • Kamitsure, Pokémon ✅
  • Shion Karanomori, Psycho-Pass ✅
  • Claire Forrest, Red Garden
  • Narrator, Rokka no Yūsha
  • Shinku, Rozen Maiden ✅
  • Racine, Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarō, localized as “Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” ✅
  • Tarō Sekiutsu (“Maria”), Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei ✅
  • Rita, Shingeki no Bahamut ✅
  • Perrine H. Clostermann, Strike Witches ✅
  • Shino Asada, Sword Art Online ✅
  • Lag Seeing, Tegamibachi
  • Tycho Science, Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster (“Gunbuster 2”) ✅
  • Marisa Kirisame, Tōhō Niji Sōsaku Dōjin Anime: Musō Kakyō ✅
  • Haruka Nanami, Uta no☆Prince-sama
  • Arūrū, Utawarerumono

Commentary: Along with Yuzuru and Yuri’s backstories, I thought that Ms. Sawashiro’s role as Masami was one of the most bittersweet and beautiful tales. Ms. Sawashiro is very good at playing girls who are emotionally conflicted and damaged. One of the greatest vocal talents to date!

Hiroshi Kamiya as Yuzuru Otonashi, notable roles:

  • Choromatsu Matsuno, Osomatsu-san ✅
  • Kō Ichinomiya, Arakawa Under the Bridge ✅
  • Mephisto Pheles, Blue Exorcist
  • Koyomi Araragi, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Edogawa Ranpo, Bungō Stray Dogs ✅
  • Kōji Minamoto, Digimon: Frontier ✅
  • Izaya Orihara, Durarara!!
  • Shinji Matō, Fate/stay night 
  • Mikhail Blanc, Macross Frontier ✅
  • Nozomu Itoshiki, Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei ✅
  • Yūta Takemoto, Hachimitsu to Clover ✅
  • Ittetsu Takeda, Haikyū!! ✅
  • Kakushi Gotō, Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition
  • Seijūrō Akashi, Kuroko’s Basketball ✅
  • Tieria Erde, Kidō Senshi Gundam 00
  • Takeshi Natsume, Natsume Yūjin-chō ✅
  • Yato, Noragami
  • Law Trafalgar, One Piece
  • Kusuo Saiki, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. ✅
  • Levi, Shingeki no Kyojin

Commentary: A very recognizable and distinguished voice in anime. His role as Yuzuru had a similar kind of clearness and sincerity, as Mr. Kamiya did in his role as Natsume in “Natsume Yūjin-chō;” a very powerful performance, his backstory (with his little sister) tugged at my heartstrings so much!

Ryōhei Kimura as Hideki Hinata, notable roles:

  • Kodaka Hasegawa, Haganai (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, or I Don’t Have Many Friends)
  • Eichi Sakurai, Full Moon o Sagashite ✅
  • Hirotaka Wakamatsu, Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun ✅
  • Yūgo Hachiken, Gin no Saji
  • Kōhei Imamura, Grand Blue
  • Kōtarō Bokuto, Haikyū!! ✅
  • Akira Takizawa, Higashi no Eden
  • L-ef Karlstein, Kakumeiki Valvrave
  • Aki Kuga, Kamisama Dolls ✅
  • Izuminokami Kanesada, Katsugeki/Tōken Ranbu ✅
  • Swamp Demon, Kimetsu no Yaiba ✅
  • Yūki Asaba, Kimi to Boku
  • Ryōta Kise, Kuroko’s Basketball ✅
  • Charles Grey, Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler)
  • Shōma Takakura, Mawaru Penguindrum ✅
  • Daryl Lorenz, Kidō Senshi Gundam Thunderbolt ✅
  • Cheren, Pokémon: Black and White
  • Bumblebee, Q Transformers
  • Kaoru Nishimi, Sakamichi no Apollon
  • Chihiro Furuya, Sankarea
  • Misao Kurusu, Sōkyū no Fafner ✅
  • Sorey, Tales of Zestiria

Commentary: I said this in my Macross Delta review, but Mr. Kimura is an under-appreciated voice in the anime industry. He has such a lively, energetic presence. So much so, that his character as Hideki served as a massive doom-break, in the midst of Angel Beats’ tragedies!

This series is not without its issues, but despite that, it’s something that every anime fan should watch at least once. It pays homage to the pain of lives that have passed from the mortal realm. In American media, the ghosts of the dead are often trampled on or shown no heed or any amount of human dignity to speak of, so it is refreshing to celebrate the lives of people who struggled against life’s grind; kids who pushed back against, often times, against impossible odds. There is a show of unfettered bravery and heart in this series, despite the issues of lagging lachrymosity and info-dumping! I give Angel Beats a 5/10, and recommend it to anyone looking for an evocative show to watch!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is a ★★★☆☆︱The Apotheosis of an Otaku

“Sasami-san@Ganbaranai” is something you don’t see everyday. The manic, hybrid-fusion between Japanese mythology and niche, otaku neologisms. Despite the slathering-on of Studio Shaft’s sensual sense of comedy, the light novel adaptation (originally written by the author, known as ※Akira) rivals NISIOISIN. Ameliorating common bishōjo tropes, to create a series full of twists, turns, and towering lore!

※Akira is famously known for the writing the series, Kyōran Kazoku Nikki. The aforementioned series received an anime adaptation in 2008! 

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: The Japanese call them hikikomori—people who’ve become so withdrawn socially that they refuse to leave their homes for weeks and even months at a time. For Sasami Tsukuyomi, who’s attempting to pass her first year of high school despite being a shut in, it’s more than just a word. Fortunately though, she lives with her older brother Kamiomi, who just happens to be a teacher at the school Sasami is supposed to attend. Not to mention, her “Brother Surveillance Tool” which lets her view the outside world via her computer and will, theoretically, allow her to re-adjust to interfacing with people again. What it mainly does, however, is let her view her brother’s interactions with the three very odd Yagami sisters, who inexplicably seem to have had their ages reversed and have various types of “interest” in Kamiomi. And then things start to get really weird… magical powers? Everything turning into chocolate? Is life via the web warping Sasami’s brain, or is it the universe that’s going crazy?

Usually Shaft Studios is hit-or-miss for me, but I feel that Mr. Shinbō’s animation style suites it perfectly. I wasn’t the biggest fan of how Nomad adapted Kyōran Kazoku Nikki, but the otaku-humor and zaniness fits Shaft’s approach to storytelling, like a tight glove! The progression of Sasami’s character, from being a typical NEET (with a brother complex), is framed in a grander perspective—as the plot begins to thicken and her backstory comes to light. The revelatory context, about her family’s enclosed community and how that warps Sasami’s view-of-the-world is very disturbing, at first. By the end of the series, the finale makes the harsh reality easier to accept.

There are clashes between deities, who make grandiloquent entrances, akin to the eccentric characters in the Monogatari series. Every character has a strong aura and a duplicity of traits and hang-ups! There’s even a character that struggles with being intersex! To be more specific, she is what is referred to in Japan as a “※hangetsu” (半月, half-moon). All the while, Sasami is blissfully unaware of her own abilities.

※In my “Intersexuality in Anime” essay, I go more in detail about this mythological trope. There’s a karate technique with the same name, but it’s also a term used to describe a person who changes genders, with the differing moon phases.

Whether it be from a chocolate-covered dragon that is accidentally summoned, to the ghost of Sasami’s deceased mother, to Kagami’s detachable homing missiles… this show is very weird, but in a way that’s palatable. Some issues that I have had with past scripts, that Shaft has adapted is, this: the experimental nature of series feel contrived. With Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, the avant-garde explorations feel exceedingly natural with the characters and setting. 

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Akiyuki Shinbō (director), notable works:

  • 3-Gatsu no Lion (series) 
  • Arakawa Under the Bridge (series)  ✅
  • Cossette no Shōzō
  • Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
  • Detatoko Princess
  • Fate/Extra: Last Encore
  • Ginga Ojō-sama Densetsu Yuna: Shin’en no Fairy ✅
  • Hidamari Sketch (series)
  • Katteni Kaizō
  • Kōfuku Graffiti
  • Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregototsukai
  • Mahō Sensei Negima!: Mō Hitotsu no Sekai
  • Mahō Sensei Negima!: Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba
  • Mahō Shōjo Lyrical Nanoha ✅
  • Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica ✅
  • Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica (film series) ✅
  • Maria†Holic (series) ✅
  • Mekakucity Actors
  • Metal Fighter Miku
  • Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Natsu no Arashi! (series)
  • Negima?!
  • Nisekoi (series)
  • Ojōsama Sōsamō
  • Paniponi Dash!
  • Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (series) ✅
  • Shihaisha no Tasogare
  • Shin Hurricane Polymar
  • Shina Dark: Kuroki Tsuki no Ō to Sōheki no Tsuki no Himegimi
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
  • Soreyuke! Uchū Senkan Yamamoto Yohko (series)
  • Tenamonya Voyagers
  • The SoulTaker: Tamashii-gari
  • Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever
  • Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase
  • Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? (“Fireworks”)

Commentary: “Sasami-san@Ganbarenai” has a pastel color palette, similar to series like “Hidamari Sketch,” there are also rotating facial reactions and visual references, akin to the likes of “Bakemonogatari.” The characters are distinctly vivacious and colorful, and the comedic-timing is always right on the mark. Is it even any wonder that Mr. Shinbō has accrued accolades in the industry for his unique style?

Katsuhiko Takayama (script, series composition), notable works:

  • Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi
  • Aldnoah.Zero (series)
  • Ange Vierge
  • Asobi ni Iku yo! ✅
  • Baka to Test to Shoukanjū ✅
  • Big Order
  • ef (series)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) ✅
  • Ga-Rei: Zero ✅
  • Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora
  • Kagaku na Yatsura
  • Katteni Kaizō
  • Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (“Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary”)
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
  • ルガーコード 1951 (“Lugar Code 1951”)
  • Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!
  • Mirai Nikki
  • Mouse
  • Natsu no Arashi! (series)
  • Negima?!
  • Paniponi Dash!
  • Saurada Reset
  • Shiawase Sō no Okojo-san
  • Shuffle! ✅
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
  • Stratos 4
  • Takunomi.
  • Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
  • Tokyo ESP
  • Triage X
  • Two Car

Commentary: Mr. Takayama is probably the weakest link, in the production. The biggest flaw in the series is the confusing composition of certain scenes. Perhaps, in this regard, “Sasami-san” should have been longer. The series composition often felt like it had entire novels crammed into a single episode. Episode 7 is one of the most egregious examples of this! There was so much information and dialogue in that one episode, that I had to rewatch it to understand what was going on in the plot.

Kana Asumi as Sasami Tsukuyomi, notable roles:

  • Mio Kitahara, Ano Natsu de Matteru ✅
  • Yū Kōtari (“Strength”), Black★Rock Shooter ✅
  • Kana Ushiro, Bokura no ✅
  • Arnval Mk.2, Busō Shinki
  • Blanc, Hyperdimension Neptunia ✅
  • Kyōko Todayama, Ebiten: Kōritsu Ebisugawa Kōkō Tenmonbu
  • Aina Yoshiwara, Grand Blue
  • Nyaruko, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san ✅
  • Yuno, Hidamari Sketch ✅
  • Kikuno Shōkanji, Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
  • Asuka Morisaki, Karadasagashi
  • Mikoto Kondō, Kämpfer
  • Natsumi Hirakawa, Kyō no 5 no 2 (TV)
  • Nagisa Momoe, Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari ✅
  • Komari Koshigaya, Non Non Biyori ✅
  • Megumi Kayano, Persona: Trinity Soul
  • Tensai Ikkyū, Ryūgajō Nanana no Maizōkin
  • Ran, Shugo Chara!
  • Kaoru Hanawa, Tamayura
  • Marin, Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto
  • Popura Taneshima, Working!! ✅
  • Hinata Kuraue, Yama no Susume ✅

Commentary: Sasami’s voice is very charming. As I said in my Black★Rock Shooter, she is an underrated gem in the industry. She has such a calming, normal, girl-next-door-kind of voice. Her characters are the type that you would want to have as either a friend or a little sister. Ms. Asumi is absolutely precious! Magnificent job!

Kana Hanazawa as Kagami Yagami, notable roles:

  • Tōko Amano, “Bungaku Shōjo”
  • Sakuya, .hack//Quantum
  • Hinata Kawamoto, 3-Gatsu no Lion ✅
  • Ichika Nakano, 5-tōbun no Hanayome
  • Kanade Tachibana, Angel Beats! ✅
  • Zessica Wong, Aquarion Evol
  • Aoi Futaba, Asobi ni Ikuyo! ✅
  • Ichiko Sakura, Binbōgami ga! ✅
  • Mato Kuroi (“Black★Rock Shooter”), Black★Rock Shooter ✅
  • Yuki, Cencoroll ✅
  • Aoi Fukasaka, Coppelion
  • Honey Kisaragi, Cutie Honey Universe ✅
  • Roka Shibasaki, D-Frag!
  • Chiaki Nanami, Danganronpa 3 ✅
  • Suō Pavlichenko, Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini
  • Shiro, Deadman Wonderland ✅
  • Anri Sonohara, Durarara!! ✅
  • Nessa, Fractale
  • Rana Linchen, Freezing
  • Raphiel Shiraha Ainsworth, Gabriel DropOut ✅
  • Kuzuha Dōmoto, Hagure Yūsha no Aesthetica
  • Satō Matsuzaka, Happy Sugar Life ✅
  • Sekkekkyū AE3803, Hataraku Saibō 
  • Charlotte Dunois, IS: Infinite Stratos ✅
  • Akane Sakurada, Jōkamachi no Dandelion ✅
  • Ezekiel, Junketsu no Maria
  • Zange, Kannagi
  • Miyu, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows
  • Kobato Hanato, Kobato. ✅
  • Misaki Takasaki, Koi to Uso
  • Yuriko Mifune, Kotōra-san ✅
  • Tsukimi Kurashita, Kuragehime ✅
  • Vanabelle, Kūtei Dragons
  • Katrielle Layton, Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katri no Nazotoki File
  • Mayumi Saegusa, Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei  ✅
  • Mari Kozakura, Mekakucity Actors
  • Nadeko Sengoku, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Chiaki Kurihara, Mōretsu Pirates
  • Shiika Anmoto, Mushi-Uta ✅
  • Manaka Mukaido, Nagi no Asu kara ✅
  • Kosaki Onodera, Nisekoi ✅
  • Minori Nakazawa, Nōrin ✅
  • Naho Takamiya, Orange
  • Ruri Gokō, Ore no Imōto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
  • Susukihotaru, Otome Yōkai Zakuro ✅
  • Sharon Rainsworth, Pandora Hearts
  • Marie, Persona 4
  • Potemayo, Potemayo ✅
  • Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass ✅
  • Kagari, Rewrite ✅
  • Tomoka Minato, Rō-Kyū-Bu! ✅
  • Kuro Matsumi, Saki Achiga-hen: Episode of Side-A
  • Misora Haruki, Sakurada Reset
  • Natalia Vasylchenko, Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda ✅
  • Kusano, Sekirei
  • Ieyasu Tokugawa, Sengoku Collection
  • Nanako Yukishiro, Senryū Shōjo
  • Maria Akizuki, Shinsekai yori ✅
  • Yūka Kobayakawa, Shōjo-tachi wa Kōya wo Mezasu
  • Yuki Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Sora Kajiwara, Sketchbook: Full Color’s
  • Shirase Kobuchizawa, Sora yori mo Tōi Basho
  • Mayuri Shiina, Steins;Gate ✅
  • Marimo Bandō, Teekyū ✅
  • Mikan Yūki, TO LOVEる ✅
  • Natsume Tsuchimikado, Tokyo Ravens
  • Rumi Yokoi, Tonari no Seki-kun
  • Yuki Minagawa, Tsurezure Children
  • Momo Hanasaki, Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?
  • Yū Naruse, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! ✅
  • Kurokami no Otome, Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome ✅
  • Sonoko Nogi, Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru ✅
  • Ryōko Kaminagi, Zegapain
  • Konoha Amagi, Zetman ✅
  • Aika Fuwa, Zetsuen no Tempest ✅
  • Syrup, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Commentary: Ms. Hanazawa is wonderful as Kagami. Although she’s a deadpan tsundere/kūdere, she’s easily one of the most lovable characters in the show! From what I read, Ms. Hanazawa earned the fan-nickname “tenshi” from playing this role, that would then extend to her part as Raphiel in Gabriel DropOut! One of the greatest seiyū-talents, in the industry!

Chiwa Saito as Tsurugi Yagami, notable roles:

  • Konoha Inōe, “Bungaku Shōjo”
  • Yona, Akatsuki no Yona
  • Aika S. Granzchesta, Aria the Animation
  • Schierke, Berserk
  • Miina, Brave Story
  • Sigyn Erster, Break Blade
  • Paya Livingston, Dai Mahō Tōge
  • Yuki Saegusa, Dance in the Vampire Bund
  • Aoi Asahina, Danganronpa 3
  • Neneko Izumi, DearS
  • Nanoha, Double Circle
  • Chloe von Einzbern, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya
  • Kirie Kojima, Girls Bravo
  • Inugami, Gugure! Kokkuri-san
  • Tatenashi Sarashiki, IS: Infinite Stratos
  • Chroniko, Kaiba
  • Tama Hitotsubashi, Kamichu!
  • Chitan Tsubōchi, Katte ni Kaizō
  • Kemeko, Kemeko Deluxe!
  • Natsumi Hinata, Keroro
  • Kokoro, Kokoro Toshokan
  • Riko Aida, Kuroko no Basket
  • Lavie Head, Last Exile
  • Nureha, Log Horizon
  • Subaru Nakajima, Mahō Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
  • Homura Akemi, Mahō Shoujo Madoka★Magica
  • Louise Halvey, Kidō Senshi Gundam 00
  • Hitagi Senjōgahara, Monogatari (series)
  • Ayame Akimo, Mōsō Kagaku Series: Wandaba Style
  • Nancy Lee, Ninja Slayer From Animation
  • Adele Roland, Nishi no Yoki Majo: Astraea Testament
  • Rebecca Miyamoto, Paniponi Dash!
  • Anita King, R.O.D -The TV-
  • Kotori Kanbe, Rewrite
  • Komachi, Samurai 7
  • Meru Otonashi, Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei
  • Chihiro Uomi, Seitokai Yakuindomo
  • Imu, Senran Kagura
  • Mao, Shining Teas X Wind
  • Honoka Mutsu, Stella Jogakuin Kōtō-ka C³-bu
  • Francesca Lucchini, Strike Witches
  • Hazuki, Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase
  • Tenko, Ueki no Hōsoku
  • Futaba Yoshinaga, Yoshinaga-sanchi no Gargoyle
  • Miku Miyama, Zettai Shōnen

Commentary: Ms. Saitō is an incredibly talent, she really made the role of Tsurugi, the snarky (900-year-old) teacher! As always, wonderful work!

Ai Nonoka as Tama Yagami, notable roles:

  • Kanade Takatsuki, Asura Cryin’
  • Binchō-tan, Binchō-tan
  • Hororo, Binzume Yōsei
  • Beauty, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
  • Fūko Ibuki, Clannad
  • Mika Inamori, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
  • Kana Iriya, Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu
  • Tokino Akiyama, Kujibiki♥Unbalance
  • Konoka Konoe, Mahō Sensei Negima!
  • Kyōko Sakura, Mahō Shoujo Madoka★Magica
  • Ichijō, Paniponi Dash!
  • Rika Kagura, Platonic Chain
  • Kafuka Fūra, Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei
  • HK416, Girls’ Frontline
  • Hajime-chan, Shinya! Tensai Bakabon
  • Shima Katase, Uchū no Stellvia
  • Koyomi Morishita, Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahō

Commentary: Although Tama gets less attention and spotlight than the other heroines, Ms. Nonoka gives her a very cute, slightly guileless, voice! Great job!

Conclusively, I would recommend this series to anyone who wants a series drenched with a contemporary take on Japanese deities, and doesn’t mind the prevalence of ecchi in the narrative. Even with Shaft’s definition of original, “Sasami-san@Ganbaranai” takes originality to a new level. Very slapstick, sometimes serious, occasionally geeky, with a milieu all its own! I give the series a solid 6/10!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Metal Fighter Miku is a ★★☆☆☆︱Professional Wrestling with Magical Girl Transformations

Similar to the “Cutey Honey” M.O. …a group a cute girls (adorned in spandex-armor) transform and then fight against a group of masculine women. It’s difficult to categorize this bizarre, amalgam of retro anime tropes with clear precision. Metal Fighter Miku could have been something, but by incorporating so many tired clichés, it ended up being a series scarcely thought about in the community. Even in the realm of Japanese forums, I was couldn’t find many mentions of the show and it was hard to scrounge up any official art for the series, despite Akiyuki Shinbō’s name being attached to it!

⚠️ This review for Metal Fighter Miku will have spoilers ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: In the near future, the sports world is dominated by Neo Wrestling, a new spectacle in which Metal Fighters challenge each other to be named champion. The story follows the girls of the Pretty Four (Miku, Ginko, Sayaka, and Nana) as they face off against the current champions, Team Sapphire. With a burnt out drunk named Eiichi Suo for a coach the girls must not only contend with problems in the arena but also unforseen circumstances that arise in day to day life. Only through protecting their friends, understanding their enemies, and eventually challenging their idol Aquamarine, can Miku and the girls understand Eiichi’s purpose and the shady secrets behind Neo Wrestling.

When I first heard of this series, I really hoped it would be something like “Battle Athletes”! Motivational, funny, a little bit of shōjo-ai, and a cast of likable characters! All the girls in Metal Fighter Miku have cardboard personalities, I would say that there’s only one character-trait per person in the span of this series. Miku is the leader of the group and is, naturally, the most determined. Ginko is the headstrong, tomboy. Sayaka is the vapid, pretty one. And Nana is the cute, “baby” of the group.

Even though the wrestlers are a bunch of nobodies, a big corporation feels threatened by their burgeoning talents and that they’re being coached by, supposedly, the best coach to ever live. Eiichi Suo is a flagrant alcoholic with geta shoes, whose main technique, in getting the girls to out-perform the rest, is to make them do five-hundred push-ups and sit-ups. No special method or anything. Towards the end of the series, Suo prepares Miku for her final battle—by making her train in the ocean with scuba-diving gear—but that’s as far as the “special” training goes.

There’s a teenage boy, Kinta, who works at the gym. The only aspect of his personality, is that he has a crush on Miku. That never really has a purpose or goes anywhere. He gets jealous when a CEO, from the evil organization, starts asking Miku on dates. But, he doesn’t do anything! There’s never any romantic tension, nothing at all between Kinta and Miku, it’s just him awkwardly gawking at her from afar!

The evil organization is kind of like Team Rocket, in each episode, they try to sabotage the girls, via: sending in a secret agent to get in the way of their training, manipulating Miku into falling in love with the organization owner’s heir, or, in one episode, Ginko is even offered compensation to betray her teammates. All of the conflicts, in this series, are resolved with relative ease and are very anti-climactic!

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Akiyuki Shinbō (director), notable works:

  • 3-Gatsu no Lion (series) 
  • Arakawa Under the Bridge (series)  ✅
  • Cossette no Shōzō
  • Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
  • Detatoko Princess
  • Fate/Extra: Last Encore
  • Ginga Ojō-sama Densetsu Yuna: Shin’en no Fairy ✅
  • Hidamari Sketch (series)
  • Katteni Kaizō
  • Kōfuku Graffiti
  • Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregototsukai
  • Mahō Sensei Negima!: Mō Hitotsu no Sekai
  • Mahō Sensei Negima!: Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba
  • Mahō Shōjo Lyrical Nanoha ✅
  • Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica ✅
  • Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica (film series) ✅
  • Maria†Holic (series) ✅
  • Mekakucity Actors
  • Metal Fighter Miku
  • Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Natsu no Arashi! (series)
  • Negima?!
  • Nisekoi (series)
  • Ojōsama Sōsamō
  • Paniponi Dash!
  • Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (series) ✅
  • Shihaisha no Tasogare
  • Shin Hurricane Polymar
  • Shina Dark: Kuroki Tsuki no Ō to Sōheki no Tsuki no Himegimi
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
  • Soreyuke! Uchū Senkan Yamamoto Yohko (series)
  • Tenamonya Voyagers
  • The SoulTaker: Tamashii-gari
  • Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever
  • Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase
  • Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara Miru ka? Yoko kara Miru ka? (“Fireworks”)

Commentary: Most of this series is low-budget and the frames of animation often glitch or linger on still-shots. The character movements are practically non-existent. In the last few episodes, there are a few memorable sakuga moments. Miku’s last fight against Aquamarine, is filled with some really artistically stunning gems. Another scene that comes to mind, is when the CEO takes Miku to the beach. The set-up for him asking her to quit the league was well choreographed, but then again, Mr. Shinbō has a knack for creating memorable moments!

Kenji Kawai (music composition), notable works:

  • 009 Re: Cyborg
  • A-Ko: The Versus
  • Akachan to Boku
  • All That Gundam
  • Bakuretsu Hunters
  • Barakamon ✅
  • Biohazard: Vendetta
  • Blue Seed
  • Burn Up! ✅
  • Busō Chūgakusei: Basket Army
  • CB Chara Go Nagai World ✅
  • Chibi Neko Tomu no Daibōken: Chikyū wo Sukue! Nakama-tachi
  • Corrector Yui
  • Cosmos Pink Shock
  • Cyborg 009: The Reopening
  • Devilman: Tanjō-hen ✅
  • Devilman: Yochō Sirene-hen ✅
  • Dragon Fist
  • Esper Zenon
  • Eyeshield 21: Maboroshi no Golden Bowl
  • Fate/stay night ✅
  • Fate/stay night Movie: Unlimited Blade Works ✅
  • Fūjin Monogatari
  • Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
  • Girlfriend (Kari)
  • Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai! ✅
  • Groove Adventure Rave
  • Gunparade March: Arata Naru Kōgunka
  • Hakuouki Movie 2: Shikon Soukyū
  • Hana no Asukagumi! 2: Lonely Cats Battle Royale
  • Higashi no Eden ✅
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Hime-chan no Ribbon
  • Hyper Police
  • I: Wish You Were Here
  • Iczer-Girl Iczelion
  • Innocence ✅
  • Jinki:Extend
  • Joker Game
  • Jūsenshi Gulkeeva
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor ✅
  • Kōkaku Kidōtai ✅
  • Kurogane Communication
  • Kyūketsuhime Miyu ✅
  • Mahō Senshi Louie
  • Maison Ikkoku ✅
  • Majū Senshi Luna Varga
  • Maroko
  • Mermaid Forest OVA
  • Metal Fighter Miku
  • Mezame no Hakobune
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Kidō Senshi Gundam 00
  • Mutekiou Tri-Zenon
  • No Guns Life
  • Oira Uchū no Tankoufu
  • Ranma ½ ✅
  • Ryūō no Oshigoto!
  • Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarō ✅
  • Seirei no Moribito
  • Servamp
  • Shōka
  • Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Starship Operators
  • Subete ga F ni Naru
  • Tachiguishi Retsuden
  • Taiho Shichau zo The Movie
  • The Sky Crawlers
  • Tōken Ranbu: Hanamaru ✅
  • Towa no Quon
  • Twilight Q
  • UFO Princess Valkyrie
  • Wakaba*Girl
  • World Trigger
  • Xi Avant
  • YAT Anshin! Uchū Ryokō
  • Zetsuai 1989

Commentary: I could tell that Mr. Kawai composed the soundtrack for this series, but it’s really plain, in comparison to his work on series, like: Vampire Princess Miyu and Ghost in the Shell.

I watched Metal Fighter Miku with the English dub, so I will list the Japanese seiyū. Unfortunately, with this particular title, there were no English voices listed. Their credits are non-existent on the internet! I guess with good reason, the English dub was terrible! But because of that, there will be no commentary on the vocal talents. Just a list of the main, four seiyū!

Konami Yoshida as Miku, notable roles:

  • Sawa, A Kite
  • Shimarisu, Bonobono
  • Alice Shinohara, Idol Fight Suchie-Pai 2
  • Alexandria Meat, Kinnikuman (“Ultimate Muscle”)
  • Gash Bell, Konjiki no Gash Bell!! (“Zatch Bell”) ✅
  • Umi Ryūzaki, Magic Knight Rayearth ✅
  • Kukuri, Mahōjin Guruguru (1994)
  • Azusa Kanzaki, Mamono Hunter Yōko
  • Ruri Himeyuri, To Heart 2 ✅
  • Maria Shiratori, Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh (1992) 

Ai Orikasa as Ginko, notable roles:

  • Arisa Mitaka, Aozora Shōjo-tai (“801 T.T.S. Airbats”)
  • Max Mizuhara, Bakuten Shoot Beyblade
  • Ryoko Takeuchi, Blue Seed
  • Mitsuhiko Tsuburaya, Detective Conan ✅
  • Marth, Fire Emblem ✅
  • Berg Katse, Gatchaman
  • Kōtarō Kirigakure, Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger
  • Tōma Seguchi, Gravitation ✅
  • Sealand and Tony, Hetalia
  • Jakotsu, InuYasha ✅
  • Hayabusa, Jigen Sengokushi: Kuro no Shishi (“Black Lion”)
  • Yuko Kondō, Kidō Shinsengumi Moeyo Ken
  • Naoko Asakura, Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo: Yōkoso Tsugumi Ryō e
  • Pururun, Kyattō Ninden Teyandee (“Samurai Pizza Cats”)
  • Solude Schfoltzer, Maze☆Bakunetsu Jikū (TV)
  • Quatre Raberba Winner, Kidō Senki Gundam Wing ✅
  • Sakura Murakami, Momoiro Sisters
  • Natsuki Kisumi, Natsuki Crisis
  • Pietro Pakapuka, Popolocrois Monogatari
  • Kurt, Pymalio
  • Romeo, Romeo no Aoi Sora ✅
  • Pavlin Peacock, Saint Seiya Omega ✅
  • Mizuki, Saishū Heiki Kanojo: Another Love Song
  • Kanae Ōtori, Shōjo Kakumei Utena ✅
  • Cedric Errol, Shōkōshi Cedie (“Little Lord Fauntleroy”)
  • Helga Mittermeyer, Suna no Bara: Yuki no Mokushiroku (“Desert Rose”)
  • Genius Sage, Tales of Symphonia ✅
  • Ryōko Hakubi, Tenchi Muyō! ✅
  • Alexial, Tenshi Kinryōku (“Angel’s Sanctuary”)
  • Tarydon and Mother Eliza, Terra e… (TV) ✅
  • Siddhartha Gautama, Tezuka Osamu no Buddha
  • Koto and Shizuru Kuwabara, Yū☆Yū☆Hakusho ✅

Mariko Onodera as Nana, notable roles:

  • Snow Dancer, Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon S: Kaguya-hime no Koibito ✅

Machiko Neya as Sayaka, notable roles:

  • Satella Harvenheit, Chrno Crusade
  • Nine A. Thunder, eX-Driver
  • Melissa Mao, Full Metal Panic! ✅
  • Riza Hawkeye, Fullmetal Alchemist ✅
  • Jun, Gatchaman
  • Irene Vincent, Gunsmith Cats ✅
  • Hungary, Hetalia
  • Ihrie, Hikyō Tanken Fam & Ihrie ✅
  • Tatsuki Iizuka, Hyakko
  • Mako Satō, Initial D
  • Talho Yūki, Eureka Seven ✅
  • Delphine Eraclea, Last Exile ✅
  • Hilda Harken, Kidō Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny
  • Huang Kuang-Mei, Power Dolls
  • Nancy Makuhari, R.O.D リード・オア・ダイ (“Read or Die” OVA) ✅
  • Honey Kisaragi, Shin Cutey Honey
  • Doll Izumi, Super Doll Licca-chan
  • Natalia Luzu Kimlasca Lanvaldear, Tales of the Abyss
  • Adiane, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • Serio (HMX-13), To Heart ✅

Conclusively, Metal Fighter Miku is a series that is very forgettable, despite the Evangelion Rebuild character designer (Takeshi Honda) portraying the girls as lithe and lively young women, you can’t let the cover art fool you! I would only recommend this a) if you’re a diehard Akiyuki Shinbō fan, or b) if you’re into professional wrestling and you really want to see representation in anime. And if that’s the case, Tiger Mask and Kinnikuman (“Ultimate Muscle”) are decent alternatives. I give the series a 3/10.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Innocence is a ★★☆☆☆︱Confucius Said

Like Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, “Innocence” is much more of a “Mamoru Oshii” film, than it is a “Kōkaku Kidōtai” production. It has all the makings of a Ghost in the Shell story, as far as the theme and setting goes, but the ambience is more idiosyncratic with the sensibilities of the director. Some of the fluid motions are much more advanced than anything I have ever seen in a cell-animated film, it appears much more neoteric than a movie made way back in 2004! And yet, the script gets stuck ankle-deep, in a pile of sludge.

⚠️ This review for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence will have spoilers ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: With Major Motoko Kusanagi missing, Section 9’s Batō is assigned to investigate a string of gruesome murders—seemingly at the hands of faulty gynoids, or sex robots. But when a faulty gynoid leaves Batō a cryptic message, he begins to question the cause of their malfunctions. Suspicions of politically motivated murder and an illegal “ghost” quickly crop up, drawing Batō and his partner Togusa into a perilous web of conspiracy.

The way the center of the plot falls through, is like a bowling ball through a damp sheet of paper—it really bothered me! The cinematography, the overall message, and the dichotomy between Batō and Togusa was brilliant—but it felt like the middle of the film really faltered in the dialogue department. Every other sentence was quoting Confucius or René Descartes, and it got really tiring to listen to!

Perhaps, the film would have been better if the length was shortened, but the dialogue felt so contrived. It was bludgeoning me over the head with aphorisms, that I would have considered cool, if I was back in high school. Some of the cuts were really abrupt, too, there’s a really famous scene; Batō and Togusa are talking in an airship and all of a sudden, there’s a CG parade, resembling the parade in Satoshi Kon’s “Paprika.”

What the film was setting up was genius: I liked the comparison between Togusa having a family and having a set of dolls to play with, Batō’s insistence on purchasing a living dog (rather than an artificial one), their differing ideals of what constitutes reality, and Togusa’s reluctance to to accept that his entire existence might just be a product of their society! All of that was great, but the mass of references and philosophers gesticulated at, as well as the random subplot with the Major, kind of detracted from what could have been. Much of the delivery felt excessive.

I did like the comparison between Gabriel (“the light of Batō’s life”) and the Major (“Batō’s guardian angel”), being shown to be what grounded Batō to life in a cybernetic labyrinth, that one sliver of spirituality made him stronger than the malleable, Togusa. I feel like this film would have been better with the surfeit scenes of philosophical jargon cut out of the picture, or perhaps, more would have been able to come to light, if it had been an OVA or mini-series! Like the stumbling narrative in Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, I think Innocence would have suffered less if the production staff had given Oshii less of a free-reign, during the production.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Mamoru Oshii (director, screenplay writer), notable works:

  • Blood: The Last Vampire ✅
  • Dallos ✅
  • Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai!
  • Halo Legends
  • Jin-Rō ✅
  • Patlabor: The Mobile Police (“Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor”
  • Patlabor the Movie
  • Patlabor 2 the Movie 
  • Ghost in the Shell (“Kōkaku Kidōtai”) ✅
  • Maroko
  • Mezame no Hakobune
  • Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai (“Miyamoto Musashi: Souken ni Haseru Yume”)
  • Wonderful Adventures of Nils (“Nils no Fushigi na Tabi”)
  • The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters (“Tachiguishi Retsuden”)
  • Angel’s Egg (“Tenshi no Tamago”) ✅
  • The Sky Crawlers
  • Urusei Yatsura ✅
  • Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You ✅
  • Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer ✅
  • Vlad Love

Commentary: The animation and direction in Innocence is stunning, the characters movements resemble actual human beings… what someone would actually look like, walking across the screen or something. It’s impressive that it could be pulled off without rotoscoping and while using minimal CG. Every motion is directed with care and deliberation. It’s no surprise, many of the talented animators that were brought onto this project, also worked on: Akira, City Hunter, FLCL, Kachō Ōji (“The Legend of Black Heaven”), Metropolis, Mōsō Dairinin (“Paranoia Agent”), Paprika, Perfect Blue, Samurai Champloo, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (“Spirited Away”), The Animatrix, Tokyo Godfathers, etc. Gorgeous film, Mr. Oshii’s screenplay isn’t the greatest, but it’s still a noteworthy film. Based on the visuals and thought-provoking themes alone!

Kenji Kawai (music composition), notable works:

  • 009 Re: Cyborg
  • A-Ko: The Versus
  • Akachan to Boku
  • All That Gundam
  • Bakuretsu Hunters
  • Barakamon ✅
  • Biohazard: Vendetta
  • Blue Seed
  • Burn Up! ✅
  • Busō Chūgakusei: Basket Army
  • CB Chara Go Nagai World ✅
  • Chibi Neko Tomu no Daibōken: Chikyū wo Sukue! Nakama-tachi
  • Corrector Yui
  • Cosmos Pink Shock
  • Cyborg 009: The Reopening
  • Devilman: Tanjō-hen ✅
  • Devilman: Yochō Sirene-hen ✅
  • Dragon Fist
  • Esper Zenon
  • Eyeshield 21: Maboroshi no Golden Bowl
  • Fate/stay night ✅
  • Fate/stay night Movie: Unlimited Blade Works ✅
  • Fūjin Monogatari
  • Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
  • Girlfriend (Kari)
  • Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai! ✅
  • Groove Adventure Rave
  • Gunparade March: Arata Naru Kōgunka
  • Hakuouki Movie 2: Shikon Soukyū
  • Hana no Asukagumi! 2: Lonely Cats Battle Royale
  • Higashi no Eden ✅
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Hime-chan no Ribbon
  • Hyper Police
  • I: Wish You Were Here
  • Iczer-Girl Iczelion
  • Innocence ✅
  • Jinki:Extend
  • Joker Game
  • Jūsenshi Gulkeeva
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor ✅
  • Kōkaku Kidōtai ✅
  • Kurogane Communication
  • Kyūketsuhime Miyu ✅
  • Mahō Senshi Louie
  • Maison Ikkoku ✅
  • Majū Senshi Luna Varga
  • Maroko
  • Mermaid Forest OVA
  • Metal Fighter Miku
  • Mezame no Hakobune
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Kidō Senshi Gundam 00
  • Mutekiou Tri-Zenon
  • No Guns Life
  • Oira Uchū no Tankoufu
  • Ranma ½ ✅
  • Ryūō no Oshigoto!
  • Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarō ✅
  • Seirei no Moribito
  • Servamp
  • Shōka
  • Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Starship Operators
  • Subete ga F ni Naru
  • Tachiguishi Retsuden
  • Taiho Shichau zo The Movie
  • The Sky Crawlers
  • Tōken Ranbu: Hanamaru ✅
  • Towa no Quon
  • Twilight Q
  • UFO Princess Valkyrie
  • Wakaba*Girl
  • World Trigger
  • Xi Avant
  • YAT Anshin! Uchū Ryokō
  • Zetsuai 1989

Commentary: Mr. Kawai creates a haunting atmosphere in the cyberpunk setting of Innocence, it very closely resembles the OST from the original film! Kimiko Itō’s rendition of the classic song “Follow Me” (the song that is featured during the ED credits) gave me goosebumps! Ms. Itō has a gorgeous voice!

I watched Innocence with the English dub, so I will list the Japanese seiyū, but comments will be on the performances of the English voice actors.

Akio Ōtsuka as Batō, notable roles:

  • Lion, Africa no Salaryman
  • Zōroku Kashimura, Alice to Zōroku
  • Amon, Amon: Devilman Mokushiroku  ✅
  • Kunimitsu Tange, Ayane-chan High Kick!
  • Tōta Kijima, Bakuen Campus Guardress  ✅
  • The Skull Knight, Berserk  ✅
  • Kurō Hazama (“Black Jack”), Black Jack ✅
  • Jirō Sōzōsuke Shunsui Kyōraku, Bleach  ✅
  • Daitetsu Kunikida, Blue Seed
  • All For One, Boku no Hero Academia  ✅
  • Geronimo Jr. (“005”), Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Solider ✅
  • Kenzo, Darkside Blues ✅
  • Rider (“Alexander the Great”), Fate/Zero ✅
  • Nemo, Fushigi no Umi no Nadia ✅
  • Gwendal von Voltaire, Kyō kara Maō!
  • John Estes, Mad★Bull 34
  • Magma, Magma Tenshi
  • Ekubo, Mob Psycho 100
  • Avavel Gato, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memories
  • Montana Jones, Montana Jones
  • Moominpappa, Mūmindani no Suisei
  • Toshimi Konokawa, Paprika ✅
  • Valgas, Power Stone
  • Zaxon, Sōsei Kishi Gaiarth
  • Regal Bryant, Tales of Symphonia ✅
  • Demitri Maximoff, Vampire Hunter (“Darkstalkers’ Revenge”) ✅

Richard Epcar as Batō, notable roles:

  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
  • Vamdemon (“Myotismon”) and Etemon “King of Digimon”), Digimon Adventure ✅
  • Mitsukake, Fushigi Yûgi ✅
  • Ryu Nakanishi, Gatchaman
  • Joseph Joestar, JoJo no Kimyō na Bōken ✅
  • Daisuke Jigen, Lupin III ✅
  • Hokusai Katsushika, 百日紅~Miss HOKUSAI~
  • John Silver, Takarajima (Movie)

Commentary: Mr. Epcar is very talented at playing the strong and silent character roles; I really liked his more crazy roles, too, like his casting spots in Digimon Adventure. As a kid, Vamdemon (“Myotismon”) was my favorite villain from the first season. Mr. Epcar did a good job at making him both charismatic and cruel. As for Batō, his voice conveys the enigma of a stoic, badass. Good work!

Kōichi Yamadera as Togusa, notable roles:

  • Spike Spiegal, Cowboy Bebop ✅
  • Beerus and Tenshinhan, Dragon Ball Z
  • Kōichi Zenigata, Lupin III—待て, ルパン!! WAIT, LUPIN!! ✅
  • Ryōji Kaji, Neon Genesis Evangelion ✅
  • Papacharino Nanadan, Photon
  • Mew and Lugia, Pokémon
  • Ryōga Hibiki, Ranma ½ ✅
  • Akihito Kayaba, Sword Art Online
  • Abert Desler, Uchū Senkan Yamato 2199 ✅
  • Meier Link, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
  • Sorata Arisugawa, X/1999 ✅

Crispin Freeman as Togusa, notable roles:

  • Balmung, .hack//SIGN
  • Hideki Motosuwa, Chobits ✅
  • Kōichi Kimura, Digimon Frontier
  • Tōma Norstein, Digimon Savers
  • Shizuo Heiwajima, Durarara!!
  • Kirei Kotomine, Fate/stay night ✅
  • Rude, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
  • Campanella, Ginga Tetsudō no Yoru
  • Alucard, Hellsing ✅
  • Hibiki Amawa, I My Me! Strawberry Eggs
  • Togusa, Ghost in the Shell ✅
  • Holland Novak, Eureka Seven ✅
  • Alex Row, Last Exile ✅
  • Itachi Uchiha, Naruto
  • Joseph Carpenter, R.O.D. 
  • Shannon Casull, Scrapped Princess
  • Tōga Kiryū, Shōjo Kakumei Utena ✅
  • Zelgadis Graywords, Slayers ✅
  • Kyon, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūtsu
  • Rosiel, Tenshi Kinryōku ✅
  • Amon, Witch Hunter Robin
  • Tsume, Wolf’s Rain
  • Fūma Monō, X

Commentary: Mr. Freeman has one of the most recognizable voices in the industry, his role as Togusa is very human and believable. Wonderful casting choice!

Atsuko Tanaka as Motoko Kusanagi, notable roles:

  • Bayonetta, Bayonetta
  • Silene, Devilman: Crybaby  ✅
  • Caster (“Medea”), Fate/stay night  ✅
  • Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell  ✅
  • Claudette Vance, Queen’s Blade
  • Kyrie Ushinomiya, Umineko no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Jagara, Wolf’s Rain
  • Karulauatsuurei (or Karura), Utawarerumono  ✅

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Motoko Kusanagi, notable roles:

  • Urd, Ah! My Goddess
  • Ayla V. Roznovsky, Battle Athletess Daiundōkai (TV)
  • Cornelia li Britannia, Code Geass
  • Nuriko, Fushigi Yûgi ✅
  • Sofia Galgalim, Geneshaft
  • Naoto Shirogane, Persona 4
  • Kanna Kirishima, Sakura Taisen ✅
  • Feb Fall, Sol Bianca
  • Buburina, Totsuzen! Neko no Kuni Banipal Witt (“Catnapped”)
  • Jura Basil Elden, Vandread

Commentary: I haven’t seen many of Ms. McGlynn English roles, I’ve primarily watched that anime that she’s in with subtitles. I did really like her as Nuriko (Fushigi Yûgi) and Kanna Kirishima (Sakura Taisen), though; she’s really good at playing strong, sultry female characters! Great job as the Major!

Overall, I had a really tough time with rating this installment of the franchise. The reliance on philosophical quotes and avant-garde imagery really hindered the progression of the plot—conversely, I was dumbfounded by the beauty in the film’s conclusion and stood in a hot shower for far too long, ruminating on the meaning of it all. Despite my low score, I think everyone should experience this film, at least once! I give Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence a 4/10, and suggest checking it out, if you have some spare time!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Nekojiru︱The Cruelty of Children

Nekojiru is the pseudonym for a mangaka that had a brief stint of popularity in the ’90s, and was known for purveying a sense of strikingly cruel, social commentary from the perspective of young, cat characters. Nekojiru is a portmanteau of the Japanese words: neko ねこ “cat”, and shiru しる “soup,” creating ねこぢる (“cat soup”). The creator was born Chiyomi Nakayama, and then would later change her name to Chiyomi “Hashiguchi.” Ms. Hashiguchi tragically died on May 10th, 1998, from suicide, only eight days after the death of HIDE from X Japan. People close to Ms. Hashiguchi claim that the two had nothing to do with each other, the mangaka had stated that she didn’t like rock music because it was too “noisy” and preferred to listen to Aphex Twin records. 

From Ms. Hashiguchi’s biography, she seemed to be a very troubled and eccentric woman. Supposedly, she was bone-thin because she viewed eating solid foods as repulsive. According to her spouse, when she would go to restaurants, she would only order plain broth. A close friend claimed that Ms. Hashiguchi was utterly repulsed by raw meat and fish, saying that she would often say that, “The taste of blood is disgusting.”

This sentiment is echoed throughout her works, even the name “Cat Soup” hints at her disgust towards the consumption of other living beings. In her comics, there is a caste-system with talking cats and pigs. The pigs are mercilessly slaughtered and eaten, despite having cognizance and going to school with the cats. A close friend would later comment that Ms. Hashiguchi would get censored for attempting to address social hierarchies and racism in the “Nekojiru” series. 

The documentary seemed to imply that her publishers and agents seemed to try to commercialize the “cute” characters, rather than focusing on the merit of her work. One her publishers in the television special stated that before Ms. Hashiguchi’s suicide, she seemed to have grown weary of publishing comics. That also may have been due to Ms. Hashiguchi’s issues with alcoholism. In her biography, it is stated that instead of eating physical meals, Ms. Hashiguchi would live on a diet of broth and Jack Daniels whiskey.

From an outside perspective, it seemed that Chiyomi Hashiguchi had an awakening sense of consciousness about the world around her. Famously, Ms. Hashiguchi is said to have travelled to India and tried LSD, thus causing her to entirely genuflect to Indian culture and the iconography in Hindu mythology. It is incorporated in many of her published works. In the thirty-minute film, created by J.C. Staff to memorialize her life and death, the heroine (“Nyako”) is taken away by a blue-skinned being. The deity resembles the Hindu god, Vishnu. 

In the biography, according to Ms. Hashiguchi’s spouse, the little brother character (“Nyatta”) was supposed to a comic representation of him. With that information, it is even more heart-breaking that Nyatta is desperately trying to save Nyako, from the looming shadow of death. I personally believe that because of Ms. Hashiguchi’s tête-à-tête with her inner demons, writing from an uncaring child’s perspective probably brought her relief. 

Chiyomi Hashiguchi chooses to illustrate her world-view through the unconscious cruelty of children. The cat characters experience things like death, torture, and money laundering… and they don’t understand the consequences or ramifications of their actions. In her biography, Ms. Hashiguchi was said to be very harsh. She had absolutely no filter in what she said out-loud. Her close friends would say that they would be ashamed to go out to eat with her, because she would often berate the server openly.

It’s probable that because of Ms. Hashiguchi’s realization of the world’s evils, topics that her publishers didn’t allow her to express, that caused her to feel very lonely and depressed. As an adult, people eventually realize hard truths and they have two choices: a) turn a blind eye or b) look at all of the world’s atrocities, face-forward. To choose the latter can be unbelievably painful. Although, her work can be interpreted as cruel and vulgar… the harsh messages really affected me. Chiyomi Hashiguchi may be viewed by most as an edgy, indie artist (some people even categorize her work as “guro”), but her views on the flaws of our society are an important thing to keep in mind.

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: The main character, a cat named Nyatta, embarks upon a journey to save his sister’s soul, which was ripped in two when Nyatta tried to save her from Death. She trails after him, brain-dead. They encounter many brilliant, mind-bending situations, beginning with a disturbing magic show.

The thirty-minute, avant-garde film (known as “Nekojiru-sō”) is almost a direct adaptation of the “Tamashii no Maki” chapter in Nekojiru Udon. There isn’t as much characterization in this installment, the whole thing is more of a symbolic, visual spectacle. Watching Mr. Satō’s adaptation is like staring into an animated version of a Salvador Dalí painting. The most characterization emphasized in Nekojiru-sō, is Nyatta’s desperation to save his older sister.

Nekojiru Gekijō Jirujiru is done in the style of a 4-koma adaptation; it is more indicative of Chiyomi Hashiguchi’s main body of work, while “Tamashii no Maki” is indicative of one of her rare, spiritual speculations. In this version, Nyako and Nyatto are portrayed as being cruelly oblivious to the consequences of things like crime and murder. Like, Ms. Hashiguchi’s savage honestly, the children convey a total lack of caring for anything, other than their own interests and survival. I believe that this is how Chiyomi Hashiguchi sees the general public and it must have also been attributed to a sense of self-loathing, regarding her own existence.

※ Haruka Haruno from Go! Princess PreCure, making a Nekojiru-like expression!

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

For Nekojiru-sō

Tatsuo Satō (director), notable works:

  • Atom: The Beginning
  • Basquash!
  • Gakuen Senki Muryō
  • Jūbee Ninpūchō: Ryūhōgyoku-hen (“Ninja Scroll: The Series”)
  • Kidō Senkan Nadesico ✅
  • Kidō Senkan Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness ✅
  • Lord Marksman and Vanadis
  • Mōretsu Pirates
  • Rinne no Lagrange
  • Shigofumi ✅
  • Tobe! Isami
  • Tokyo Tribe 2
  • Uchū no Stellvia

Commentary: From what I’ve seen, Mr. Satō’s best works are “Shigofumi” and “Kidō Senkan Nadesico.” He seems to excel at creating a dark atmosphere, as well as making visually-iconic sequences. 

For Nekojiru Gekijō Jirujiru

Hiroshi Fukutomi (director), notable works:

  • Battle Spirits: Ryūko no Ken
  • Captain Tsubasa
  • Chōjin Locke ✅
  • Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf ✅
  • Gunnm (“Battle Angel Alita”) ✅
  • High School! Kimengumi
  • Jikū Tantei Genshi-kun
  • Kaibutsu-kun: Demon no Ken
  • Kaibutsu-kun: Kaibutsu Land e no Shoutai
  • Shin Dōsei Jidai: Hawaiian Breeze
  • Suzuka
  • The Marshmallow Times
  • Whistle!

Commentary: Mr. Fukutomi’s work on things like “Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf” and “Gunnm,” are quite different from the cinematography in Nekojiru Gekijō Jirujiru. If I can say anything about his filmography, it’s that he seems to be good at framing and the pacing of certain scenes.

Sakura Uehara as Nyako, notable roles:

  • Kyoko Iwashita, Ike! Ina-chū Takkyūbu

Commentary: Ms. Uehara hasn’t had many roles at all, but her role as Nyako has a duality of charming childishness and brutality.

Nao Nagasawa as Nyatta, notable roles:

  • Kenta, Animal Yokochō
  • Daichi Sumeragi, Bakuten Shoot Beyblade G Revolution
  • Majorika, Ojamajo Doremi ✅
  • Hikrau Yoshimoto, Princess Nine: Kisaragi Joshikō Yakyūbu
  • Steak, Tegamibachi

Commentary: The only role I know Ms. Nagasawa for is the mascot in “Ojamajo Doremi.” I also saw a few episodes of “Tegamibachi”, so I remember her role as Steak. Her seiyū work on Nyatta is, sufficed to say, really adorable!

Nekojiru publications are rare to find, but there is a copy of Nekojiru-sō on DVD (Central Park Media)

Rankings:

Nekojiru-sō: ★★★☆☆

Nekojiru Gekijō Jirujiru: ★★★★☆

Black★Rock Shooter (OVA) is a ★★★★★ and Black★Rock Shooter (TV) is a ★★★★☆︱The Automaton’s Cogito

Cogito ergo sum: “I think, therefore I am.” Black★Rock Shooter examines the duality of the human psyche and all of the interpersonal issues that everyday people face, in this case, it’s the alter-egos of teenage girls (and their sadistic, school counselor), duking it out—in a kind of wayward, decaying dimensional hole! This series not only has S-tier seiyū attached to the ※project, but it is written by the goddess of teen-drama, Mari Okada, and integrates ※Huke’s unique art style.

※The cast of voice actors, includes: Kana Hanazawa, Mamiko Noto, Miyuki Sawashiro, Eri Kitamura, etc. Huke is the character designer for Steins;Gate, most recently, they did the art for Takanashi Kiara (“Hololive EN”).

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: On her first day of junior high school, Mato Kuroi meets Yomi Takanashi. Though Yomi is initially taken aback by Mako’s straightforward personality, the pair quickly becomes friends and begin to spend time together daily. As a sign of their friendship, Mato gives Yomi a cell phone charm—a blue star, identical to her own. However, when the two enter their second year, their relationship starts to change. Elsewhere, Black★Rock Shooter is on a quest to vanquish the Dead Master. These two, while opposed, bear a connection not unlike Mato and Yomi. As their stories begin to cross, it seems Yomi’s disappearance may have to do with the blue star-shaped charm and the legendary gunslinger herself.

Even though I prefer the OVA to the ※series, I would suggest watching the series first. I saw that some people were really confused about the in-depth details of the alter-ago, automatons… after they watched the OVA. The TV series really gives you everything you need to know about the characters, story, as well as the ethereal elements of the plot, so you can be prepared for the emotional sucker-punch of an OVA. 

 ※The OVA came out in 2010 and the TV series aired in 2013. The original Supercell music video, that the show’s premise is based off of, was released in 2009. 

I watched the TV series first and I almost cried towards the ending of the OVA, so I highly suggest that watching order. 

In general, televised anime series usually falter, where their pilot (OVA) episodes excel. Take Mahō Tsukai Tai (“Magic User’s Club”) as a prime example of a striking decrease in quality, between the two! Luckily, Black★Rock Shooter’s television debut is not that much worse than the original production. There are some really emotionally compelling scenes in it, especially when it comes to Yū’s backstory. I won’t spoil what happens, but as you can expect, Mari Okada projects a lot of her personal experiences with parental abuse through the characters.

The beginning of the series can be a little bit jarring, because the focus is on an unrealistically psychotic, rich girl. If you endure the manic plot contortions and the TV anime’s clunky CG scenes (there’s no 3D-CG in the OVA episode); the plot rewards you with a look into the character’s emotional and psychological struggles. After caring for these saplings in the series, you can see them in full-bloom when the OVA comes around. The OVA is a visual spectacle and a treat for any sakuga-fan out there; plus the ※shōjo-ai elements that were teased in the series are cranked up: from 150% to 300%!

※No, they do not kiss! But, there is a heavy, emotional chemistry between both Mato and Yomi.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Shinobu Yoshioka (director), notable works:

  • Rebirth

Commentary: I haven’t seen Mr. Yoshioka’s other TV series. But what I can say for sure, is that he deserves to direct another series like Black★Rock Shooter. After watching the OVA, it’s clear that Mr. Yoshioka and the key animators (working at “Ordet”) are virtuosos at their craft! The animation and skill put into that film-length production is absolutely stunning!

Kana Hanazawa as Mato Kuroi (“Black★Rock Shooter”), notable roles:

  • Tōko Amano, “Bungaku Shōjo”
  • Sakuya, .hack//Quantum
  • Hinata Kawamoto, 3-Gatsu no Lion ✅
  • Ichika Nakano, 5-tōbun no Hanayome
  • Kanade Tachibana, Angel Beats! ✅
  • Zessica Wong, Aquarion Evol
  • Aoi Futaba, Asobi ni Ikuyo! ✅
  • Ichiko Sakura, Binbōgami ga! ✅
  • Yuki, Cencoroll ✅
  • Aoi Fukasaka, Coppelion
  • Honey Kisaragi, Cutie Honey Universe ✅
  • Roka Shibasaki, D-Frag!
  • Chiaki Nanami, Danganronpa 3 ✅
  • Suō Pavlichenko, Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini
  • Shiro, Deadman Wonderland ✅
  • Anri Sonohara, Durarara!! ✅
  • Nessa, Fractale
  • Rana Linchen, Freezing
  • Raphiel Shiraha Ainsworth, Gabriel DropOut ✅
  • Kuzuha Dōmoto, Hagure Yūsha no Aesthetica
  • Satō Matsuzaka, Happy Sugar Life ✅
  • Sekkekkyū AE3803, Hataraku Saibō 
  • Charlotte Dunois, IS: Infinite Stratos ✅
  • Akane Sakurada, Jōkamachi no Dandelion ✅
  • Ezekiel, Junketsu no Maria
  • Zange, Kannagi
  • Miyu, Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko: Everything Flows
  • Kobato Hanato, Kobato. ✅
  • Misaki Takasaki, Koi to Uso
  • Yuriko Mifune, Kotōra-san ✅
  • Tsukimi Kurashita, Kuragehime ✅
  • Vanabelle, Kūtei Dragons
  • Katrielle Layton, Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katri no Nazotoki File
  • Mayumi Saegusa, Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei  ✅
  • Mari Kozakura, Mekakucity Actors
  • Nadeko Sengoku, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Chiaki Kurihara, Mōretsu Pirates
  • Shiika Anmoto, Mushi-Uta ✅
  • Manaka Mukaido, Nagi no Asu kara ✅
  • Kosaki Onodera, Nisekoi ✅
  • Minori Nakazawa, Nōrin ✅
  • Naho Takamiya, Orange
  • Ruri Gokō, Ore no Imōto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
  • Susukihotaru, Otome Yōkai Zakuro ✅
  • Sharon Rainsworth, Pandora Hearts
  • Marie, Persona 4
  • Potemayo, Potemayo ✅
  • Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass ✅
  • Kagari, Rewrite ✅
  • Tomoka Minato, Rō-Kyū-Bu! ✅
  • Kuro Matsumi, Saki Achiga-hen: Episode of Side-A
  • Misora Haruki, Sakurada Reset
  • Kagami Yagami, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai ✅
  • Natalia Vasylchenko, Sekai Seifuku: Bōryaku no Zvezda ✅
  • Kusano, Sekirei
  • Ieyasu Tokugawa, Sengoku Collection
  • Nanako Yukishiro, Senryū Shōjo
  • Maria Akizuki, Shinsekai yori ✅
  • Yūka Kobayakawa, Shōjo-tachi wa Kōya wo Mezasu
  • Yuki Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Sora Kajiwara, Sketchbook: Full Color’s
  • Shirase Kobuchizawa, Sora yori mo Tōi Basho
  • Mayuri Shiina, Steins;Gate ✅
  • Marimo Bandō, Teekyū ✅
  • Mikan Yūki, TO LOVEる ✅
  • Natsume Tsuchimikado, Tokyo Ravens
  • Rumi Yokoi, Tonari no Seki-kun
  • Yuki Minagawa, Tsurezure Children
  • Momo Hanasaki, Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?
  • Yū Naruse, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! ✅
  • Kurokami no Otome, Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome ✅
  • Sonoko Nogi, Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru ✅
  • Ryōko Kaminagi, Zegapain
  • Konoha Amagi, Zetman ✅
  • Aika Fuwa, Zetsuen no Tempest ✅
  • Syrup, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Commentary: Ms. Hanazawa as Mato conveys a very pure and innocent portrayal of the character. The protagonist, Black★Rock Shooter, is shown to be very clear-minded and empathetic This isn’t a surprise, seeing as she’s based off of Hatsune Miku! The VOCALOID characterizations are largely up to personal interpretation, but Miku is often portrayed as being a saintly figure in the franchise. When the emotional intensity and grief is dialed up in the Black★Rock Shooter OVA, Ms. Hanazawa gives one of the most compelling performances of her entire career! Brilliant seiyū! 

Miyuki Sawashiro as Yomi Takanashi (“Dead Master”), notable roles:

  • Maria, Arakawa Under the Bridge ✅
  • Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub, Beelzebub
  • Slan, Berserk
  • Cassandra Jill Warlock, Black Blood Brothers
  • Canaan, Canaan ✅
  • Kei Yuki, Captain Harlock ✅
  • Eiha, Chaos Dragon: Sekiryū Seneki
  • Tōko Fukawa, Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibōgamine Gakuen
  • Dalian, Dantalian no Shoka, localized as “The Mystic Archives of Dantalian” ✅
  • Petit Charat, Di Gi Charat
  • Celty Sturluson, Durarara!! ✅
  • Aka no Saber (“Mordred”), Fate/Apocrypha ✅
  • Julia Jinyu, FLCL Progressive ✅
  • Yu Lan Xia, Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid ✅
  • Mint Blancmanche, Galaxy Angel
  • Kitarō, Gegege no Kitarō (2018)
  • Yuzuki Seo, Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun ✅
  • Towa Akagi, Go! Princess PreCure ✅
  • Reika Honjō, Goshūshō-sama Ninomiya-kun
  • Katalina Alize, Granblue Fantasy ✅
  • Saeko Busujima, Highschool of the Dead
  • Kurapika, Hunter x Hunter (2011) ✅
  • Queen Diamond, Kaitō Joker
  • Kiari and Ririka Momobami, Kakegurui
  • Kazune Kūjō, Kamichama Karin
  • Tsugumi Aoba, Kannagi
  • Ayane Yano, Kimi ni Todoke
  • Himeko Inaba, Kokoro Connect
  • Shinkurō Kurenai, Kure-nai
  • Masazumi Honda, Kyōkaisenjou no Horizon, localized as “Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere”
  • Myao Rei, Loups=Garōs
  • Fujiko Mine, Lupin III ✅
  • Dorm Mistress, Maria†Holic ✅
  • Izuna Hatsuse, No Game No Life ✅
  • Bishamon, Noragami ✅
  • Aria Kurenaino, Occultic;Nine ✅
  • Pudding Charlotte, One Piece ✅
  • Cal Devens, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom ✅
  • Tomoe Misumi, Photokano
  • Kotarō Higuchi, Pita Ten
  • Kamitsure, Pokémon ✅
  • Shion Karanomori, Psycho-Pass ✅
  • Claire Forrest, Red Garden
  • Narrator, Rokka no Yūsha
  • Shinku, Rozen Maiden ✅
  • Racine, Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarō, localized as “Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” ✅
  • Tarō Sekiutsu (“Maria”), Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei ✅
  • Rita, Shingeki no Bahamut ✅
  • Perrine H. Clostermann, Strike Witches ✅
  • Shino Asada, Sword Art Online ✅
  • Lag Seeing, Tegamibachi
  • Tycho Science, Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster (“Gunbuster 2”) ✅
  • Marisa Kirisame, Tōhō Niji Sōsaku Dōjin Anime: Musō Kakyō ✅
  • Haruka Nanami, Uta no☆Prince-sama
  • Arūrū, Utawarerumono

Commentary: I would compare Ms. Sawashiro’s role in Black★Rock Shooter to her roles as Fujiko Mine (“Lupin III”), Perrine H. Clostermann (“Strike Witches”), and Tycho Science (“Diebuster”). Yomi is kind of an ice queen, but deep down she seeks to be understood. Ms. Sawashiro’s perfectly encapsulates the character’s subtle emotions: her jealously over other people getting close to Mato, her insecurities that she’s forced to bury, and a propensity towards evil, because the years of tortuous abuse, that she’s forced to endure. Yomi is the perfect foil to Mato’s diverging clarity. Ms. Sawashiro is such a talented performer—excellent seiyū!

Kana Asumi as Yū Kōtari (“Strength”), notable roles:

  • Mio Kitahara, Ano Natsu de Matteru ✅
  • Kana Ushiro, Bokura no ✅
  • Arnval Mk.2, Busō Shinki
  • Blanc, Hyperdimension Neptunia ✅
  • Kyōko Todayama, Ebiten: Kōritsu Ebisugawa Kōkō Tenmonbu
  • Aina Yoshiwara, Grand Blue
  • Nyaruko, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san ✅
  • Yuno, Hidamari Sketch ✅
  • Kikuno Shōkanji, Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
  • Asuka Morisaki, Karadasagashi
  • Mikoto Kondō, Kämpfer
  • Natsumi Hirakawa, Kyō no 5 no 2 (TV)
  • Nagisa Momoe, Mahou Shōjo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari ✅
  • Komari Koshigaya, Non Non Biyori ✅
  • Megumi Kayano, Persona: Trinity Soul
  • Tensai Ikkyū, Ryūgajō Nanana no Maizōkin
  • Sasami Tsukuyomi, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai ✅
  • Ran, Shugo Chara!
  • Kaoru Hanawa, Tamayura
  • Marin, Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto
  • Popura Taneshima, Working!! ✅
  • Hinata Kuraue, Yama no Susume ✅

Commentary: Ms. Asumi is an unsung talent in the industry. I really loved her roles as Yuno (“Hidamari Sketch”), Nagisa (“Madoka★Magica”), Sasami (“Sasami-san@Ganbaranai”), Komari (“Non Non Biyori”), and Popura (“Working!!”). The list goes on. As Yū, she performed with her typical, girl-next-door voice—but this girl-next-door has a hidden past. Her genki attitude is an artifice. Ms. Asumi excels at conveying Yū’s humble anguish, and because of her stellar seiyū work, she is the most sympathized-with character in the TV-version of the story!

Mamiko Noto as Saya Irino (“Black★Gold Saw”), notable roles:

  • Karen Minamino, AIka
  • Fiona, Allison to Lillia
  • Mayumi Fujimiya, Aquarian Age 
  • Felicità, Arcana Famiglia
  • Azusa, Azusa Otetsudai Shimasu!
  • Alice Gehabich, Bakugan Battle Brawlers
  • Makie Otono-Tachibana, Blade of the Immortal
  • Takami Komoda, Bokura no ✅
  • Lilica Evette, Burn Up Scramble
  • Kotomi Ichinose, Clannad ✅
  • Satomi Anzaki, Dear Boys
  • Yukihime, Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera ✅
  • Jil, Druaga no Tou: The Aegis of Uruk ✅
  • Yuka, Elfen Lied
  • Mavis Vermillion, Fairy Tail ✅
  • Satellizer el Bridget, Freezing
  • Alex Benedetto, Gangsta.
  • Yukinari Sasaki, Girls Bravo
  • CAL-141, Halo Legends
  • Mitsuki Ikuta, Hit wo Nerae!
  • Aya Tōjō, Ichigo 100%
  • Ana Coppola, Ichigo Mashimaro ✅
  • Rin, InuYasha ✅
  • Ai Enma, Jigoku Shōjo ✅
  • Ayano Satō, Joshikōsei: Girl’s High
  • Neiro, Kaiba ✅
  • Aoi Kannazuki, Kaibutsu Ōjo
  • Kōta Oyamada, Kanokon
  • Fujino Asagami, Kara no Kyōkai ✅
  • Sawako Kuronuma, Kimi ni Todoke ✅
  • Kyoko Asahina, 北へ。 ~Diamond Dust Drops~
  • Emi Kizaki, Kurogane no Linebarrels
  • Nodoka Miyazaki, Mahō Sensei Negima!
  • Einhart Stratos, Mahou Shōjo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid ✅
  • Ōka Sayama, Manyū Hikenchō
  • Shimako Tōdō, Maria-sama ga Miteru ✅
  • Yuri Takikago, Mawaru Penguindrum ✅
  • Rin Asogi, Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne ✅
  • Anna Liebert, Monster ✅
  • Shizu Murasume, TO LOVEる ✅
  • Tsukiko Sagi, Paranoia Agent ✅
  • Inia Sestina, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse ✅
  • Narue Nanase, Narue no Sekai
  • Akira Sakura, Shadow Star Narutaru ✅
  • Moriko Morioka, Recovery of an MMO Junkie ✅
  • Saeko Okuyama, Niji-iro Hotaru: Eien no Natsuyasumi
  • Haruka Nogizaka, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
  • Ririka Nishizono, Occultic;Nine
  • Fūka Yamagishi, Persona 3
  • Tomoe, Queen’s Blade ✅
  • Nayu Hasegawa, Rō-Kyū-Bu! ✅
  • Aria, Saint Seiya Omega
  • Yakumo Tsukamoto, School Rumble
  • Iona Urazoe, Selector Spread WIXOSS
  • Kenshin Uesugi, Sengoku Collection
  • Hecate, Shakugan no Shana
  • Limone, Simōn
  • Matsuri Shihō, Sola ✅
  • Yuki Sōya, Taishō Baseball Girls
  • Noel Hiiragi, Tansu Warashi.
  • Aisa Himegami, Toaru Majutsu no Index ✅
  • Esther Blanchett, Trinity Blood ✅
  • Benten, Uchōten Kazoku ✅
  • Rinko Jerrard, The Law of Ueki
  • Masane Amaha, Witchblade ✅
  • Kotori Monō, X ✅
  • Hazuki Azuma, Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito ✅
  • Kaori, Yojōhan Shinwa Taikei ✅
  • Megumi Hasegawa, よみがえる空 -Rescue Wings-
  • Tiffania Westwood, Zero no Tsukaima
  • Kotone Sasaki, Zettai Junpaku♡Mahō Shōjo

Commentary: Ms. Noto is a veteran in the industry, she got her start by playing more youthful characters, like Rin (“InuYasha”); and she’s evolved into much more womanly roles. Her role as Black★Gold Saw chilled my blood, similar in the way that her role as Fujino Asagami (“Kara no Kyōkai”) did. Only she doesn’t mutter “twist,” while mutilating people!

Eri Kitamura as Kagari Izuriha (“Chariot”), notable roles: 

  • Yui, Angel Beats! ✅
  • Koharu, Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman
  • Sawako Machida, Bernard-jō Iwaku. ✅
  • Saki Yūtenji, Bihada Ichizoku
  • Saya Otonashi, Blood+ ✅
  • Anji Zo, Bloodivores
  • Mina Ashido, Boku no Hero Academia ✅
  • Liliana Kranjčar, Campione! Matsurowanu Kamigami to Kamigoroshi no Maō ✅
  • Kirika Ueno, C³
  • Rimi Sakihata, ChäoS;HEAd ✅
  • Uni, Hyperdimension Neptunia
  • Yuka Mochida, Corpse Party
  • Jessica Kaios, Danball Senki W
  • Adélaïde Grand Marnie, Dog Days
  • Mairu Orihara, Durarara!!
  • Aquarius, Fairy Tail ✅
  • Miki Aono, Fresh PreCure! ✅
  • Seira Hoshikawa, Genei wo Kakeru Taiyō
  • Darjeeling, Girls und Panzer ✅
  • Mahiro Yasaka, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
  • Saitō (“Bea”), Hakumei no Tsubasa ✅
  • Renko Usami, Hifū Katsudō Kiroku: The Sealed Esoteric History ✅
  • Saya Takagi, Highschool of the Dead ✅
  • Okō, Hōzuki no Reitetsu ✅
  • Myōsai Kakōe, Ikkitōsen
  • Kitsunemen no Onna, Kiitarō Shōnen no Yōkai Enikki
  • Rin Kokonoe, Kodomo no Jikan ✅
  • Yui, Koharu Biyori
  • Hibiki Sakata, Kuma Miko
  • Dōji Yase, Kyōsō Giga
  • Tatiana Wisla, Last Exile ✅
  • Anna Rochefort, Le Chevalier D’Eon ✅
  • Mitty, Made in Abyss ✅
  • Kotone Oribe, Magical Suite Prism Nana
  • Sayaka Miki, Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica ✅
  • Kanade Suzutsuki, Mayo Chiki!
  • Karen Araragi, Monogatari (series) ✅
  • Eve Neuschwanstein, Needless
  • Iori Wakabayashi, Oji-san to Marshmallow
  • Rie Maezono, One Off
  • Arashi Nikaidō, Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
  • Nao Takanashi, Onii-chan no Koto nanka Zenzen Suki ja Nai n da kara ne!!
  • Chisato Mizusawa, Osake wa Fūfu ni Natte kara
  • Miu Takanashi, Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai!
  • Sunao Moriyama, Potemayo ✅
  • Alleyne, Queen’s Blade ✅
  • Akane Senri, Rewrite ✅
  • Tsunehisa Amago, Sengoku Collection
  • Homura, Senran Kagura ✅
  • Cerberus, Shingeki no Bahamut ✅
  • Lucifer, Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai ✅
  • Kureha Suminoya, So Ra No Wo To
  • Kotone Sawanatsu, Softenni
  • Aki Shiina, Sunohara-sō no Kanrinin-san ✅
  • Juri Han, Super Street Fighter IV ✅
  • Kirie Kanoe, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
  • Hamyuts Meseta, 戦う司書 The Book of Bantorra
  • Tony, Terra e… (TV) ✅
  • Bimajo, Time Bokan 24
  • Ami Kawashima, Toradora ✅
  • Chiester 410, Umineko no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Yachiyo Todoroki, Working!! ✅
  • Nene Odagiri, Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (TV)
  • Leopard, Yoru no Yatterman
  • Bahamut, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Rankings: Ms. Kitamura’s role in Black★Rock Shooter is similar to her portrayal of Sayaka Miki (“Madoka★Magica”), after Miki becomes demented by rage! Another amazing seiyū! Great at turning “cute” into “menacing” and vise-versa!

Black★Rock Shooter is a largely unrecognized series, in English-speaking countries, while it still receives heaps of praise in Japan. I know there was a large amount of hype, when it first came out, and some VOCALOID fans still acknowledge it—but it deserves to be talked about in a more contemporary tense! The disconnect between the masks we wear, versus the inner turmoil plaguing our hearts, is a very relevant issue. Especially among teenagers, as technology creates more of a rift between human interaction and boundaries. Who is the real you: the avatar or the person? I give Black★Rock Shooter (TV) a 7/10 and the Black★Rock Shooter OVA a 9/10!

OVA ︱★★★★★

TV ︱★★★★☆

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is a ★★★☆☆︱The Mœbius Effect

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is like a flash fusion between Disney’s Fantasia, Peter Pan, and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. Many people watched this during their childhood, but I did not. I watched it for the first time a few weeks ago, and am completely fresh to the material. And boy, is it a gorgeous film, the landscape design, the animation, the score! The visuals are very pulchritudinous, but do the characters and story live up to this elusively complex, visual spectacle? Let’s find out!

⚠️ This review for Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland will have spoilers ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: The film opens with the young boy Nemo experiencing a nightmare in which he is pursued by a locomotive. Upon awakening the next day, he goes with his pet flying squirrel, Icarus to see a parade welcoming a traveling circus. However, Nemo is unable to see the circus because his parents are too busy to take him. Later that night, Nemo imitates sleepwalking in an attempt to sneak some pie away, which acts against a promise he had made earlier to his mother. Upon falling asleep that night, Nemo is approached by figures from the parade. The circus organist introduces himself as Professor Genius and claims that they had been sent on a mission by King Morpheus, the king of a realm named Slumberland. The mission involves Nemo becoming the playmate of the princess, Camille. Although Nemo initially has reservations about interacting with royalty of the opposite gender, he and Icarus decide to set off to fulfill his mission after being persuaded with a gift box of cookies from the princess.

The story incorporates elements of both storybook dreamlands and Greek mythology. Probably the weakest link of the story is how transparent the plot is, as soon as King Morpheus gave Nemo the key, there was a voice in my head that screamed, “That little boy is going to mess everything up, isn’t he?” The iteration of Morpheus in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland resembles the description of the god in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, with his ability to manifest into a human form, rather than simply being a formless entity. From his first appearance, to the irresponsibility he displays at the gala (after Nemo and Flip unleash the wrath of The Nightmare King), the mighty ruler is simply written off as an old oaf. 

I give Little Nemo the same benefit of the doubt as I give other children’s films, but it does seem odd that a king, the ruler of all sleep and dreams,  would entrust a little boy with the power of an entire dimension and leave him alone with his only daughter, Princess Camille, after barely knowing him. It’s similar to openness of Mufasa’s trust towards the insidious Scar in The Lion King, except Scar was actually Mufasa’s brother and not some random kid from another world. Nemo’s decision-making was similar to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter—the protagonist makes the worst decisions imaginable, as a device to progress the plot forward.

Princess Camille exists to put the buffoonish men in their place, but her stubbornness alone isn’t enough to prevent Slumberland from being plunged into darkness. The adorable sugar glider, Icarus, is often proven to have more sense than his human owner. I would say the crux of the film is a) not many of the characters are able to employ logic, and b) some scenes seem to drag on too long towards the end.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Masami Hata (director), notable works:

  • Aesop’s World
  • Anime TV de Hakken! Tamagotchi
  • Chirin no Suzu ✅
  • DT Eightron
  • Elmer no Boken: My Father’s Dragon
  • Go! Ina Junior High Ping-Pong Club
  • Nayuta ✅
  • Mouse Story: The Adventures of George and Gerald
  • The Sea Prince and the Fire Child
  • Stitch!
  • Super Mario Brothers: Peach-hime Kyūshutsu Dai Sakusen
  • The Tale of Osamu Tezuka: I’m Son Goku
  • Yōsei Florence

Commentary: Apparently, Hayao Miyazaki was working on this film, alongside Mr. Hata, but left mid-way through the production. It makes you wonder how different Little Nemo could have been, if he had stayed on! The main issues with the directing was the pacing. I have had similar issues with Mr. Hata’s other films, The Sea Prince and the Fire Child and Nayuta specifically struggled in this regard, Chirin no Suzu didn’t struggle with pacing as much because it was a very short film.

Mœbius (character designs), notable works:

As Jean Giraud

  • Blueberry
  • La Jeunesse de Blueberry
  • Jim Cutlass
  • Marshal Blueberry
  • XIII

As Mœbius

  • Arzach
  • The Airtight Garage
  • The Incal
  • Les Maîtres du temps
  • Le Monde d’Edena
  • Silver Surfer
  • Après l’Incal
  • Icare
  • The Halo Graphic Novel

Commentary: The original comics for Little Nemo, known as Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, are polychromatic and surreal. The choice to hire Mœbius as the designer of the project was perfect, because his comics have the same kind of perspective, detail,  and richness put into their panels! Mœbius is one of the most prolific artists out there. Dragon’s Heaven (an anime and manga, originally created by the mangaka, Makoto Kobayashi) has a similar ambience to his Mr. Giraud’s bibliography, it’s clear that the creator of the OVA was heavily influenced by his art.

I watched Little Nemo with the English dub, so I will list the Japanese seiyū, but comments will be on the performances of the English voice actors.

Takuma Gōno as Nemo, notable roles:

  • Badrinath Harchand, Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor
  • Yūjirou Ishida, Yawara!

Gabriel Damon as Nemo, notable roles:

  • R.H. Sarnac, Call to Glory
  • Bobby Mynes, Amazing Stories
  • Lyle, Punky Brewster
  • Timmy Frankel, Diff’rent Strokes
  • Simon Flynn, Riptide
  • Roger Hatton, One Big Family
  • Mark, Webster
  • Joel Forbes, Convicted
  • Tommy, Our House
  • Mati, Terminus
  • Little Cornelius, Who’s the Boss?
  • Willie, Journey to Spirit Island
  • Cody McKussic, Tequila Sunrise
  • Littlefoot, The Land Before Time ✅
  • Tod, Baywatch
  • Jeremy Aster, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Kenny, Growing Pains
  • Hob, RoboCop 2
  • Tommy, ER

Commentary: I really liked Mr. Damon’s role as Littlefoot in The Land Before Time, he is able to convey the same innocence and defiance in that character as he did with young Nemo! Great work!

Kenji Utsumi as King Morpheus, notable roles:

  • Senbei Norimaki, Dr. Slump
  • Shen Long, Dragon Ball ✅
  • Alex Louise Armstrong, Fullmetal Alchemist ✅
  • Yoisho, Gamba no Bōken
  • Kenji Kamogawa, Hajime no Ippo
  • Raō, Hokuto no Ken ✅
  • Zodd Nosferatu, Berserk ✅
  • Braiking Boss, Shinzō Ningen Casshern ✅

Bernard Erhard as King Morpheus, notable roles:

  • Munkar, Deathstalker
  • Cy-Kill, GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords
  • Wolf, Rover Dangerfield

Commentary: I have never seen anything that Mr. Erhard has done previously, but his voice was suited for King Morpheus. He has a very booming and jolly voice. I could kind of imagine his voice actor doing a performance as Santa Claus!

Hiroko Kasahara as Princess Camille, notable roles:

  • Naomi Armitage, Armitage III ✅
  • Maron Namikaze, Assemble Insert
  • Seara Arisugawa, Baby☆Love
  • Ami Kurimoto, DNA² 
  • Katue Pearson, Ginga Hyōryū Vifam
  • Ishtar, Macross II: Lovers Again ✅
  • Fū Hōōji, Magic Knight Rayearth ✅
  • Mint, Mahō no Angel Sweet Mint
  • Newtar, Master of Epic: The Animation Age
  • Ryo Narahara, Megazone 23
  • Yukina Kurimoto, Seraphim Call
  • Saori Fujimura, Tanjō: Debut

Laura Mooney as Princess Camille, notable roles:

  • None

Commentary: Ms. Mooney hasn’t had any other notable roles, but she did a magnificent job at conveying Princess Camille’s sass!

Chikao Otsuka as Flip, notable roles:

  • Piemon and Apocalymon, Digimon Adventure ✅
  • Tao Pai Pai, Dragonball
  • Goemon Ishikawa XIII, Lupin III ✅
  • Professor Moriarty, Meitantei Holmes ✅
  • Boshu, Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
  • Ivo Robotnik, Sonic X ✅
  • Tora, Ushio to Tora 

Mickey Rooney as Flip, notable roles:

  • Harvey, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva
  • Gus, Night at the Museum
  • Santa, The Happy Elf
  • Sparkey, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure
  • Fugly Floom, Babe: Pig in the City ✅
  • Archibald, Time Bandits
  • Adult Tod, The Fox and the Hound ✅
  • Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July
  • Lampie, Pete’s Dragon
  • Santa Claus, The Year Without Santa Claus
  • Scarecrow, Journey Back to Oz

Commentary: I knew of Mickey Rooney before watching this film. I mean, how could you not. He’s one of the biggest, classically celebrated, Hollywood names! Disney’s The Fox and the Hound is one of my favorite films of all time, his voice as the grown-up Tod was really compelling and heart-breaking. His role in this film is not like that, at all. Flip is the sleaziest grifter out there and his greasy behavior leads Nemo astray. His character reminded me of the “talent recruiters” in Disney’s Pinnochio!

Kōichi Kitamura as Professor Genius, notable roles:

  • Murao Mima, Key the Metal Idol

René Auberjonois as Professor Genius, notable roles:

  • Father John Patrick “Dago Red” Mulcahy, M*A*S*H
  • Roy Bagley, King Kong (1976)
  • Colonel West, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • Dr. Burton, Batman Forever

Commentary: I don’t remember any of Mr. Auberjonois characters in his other films, I have seen Batman Forever and miscellaneous episodes of M*A*S*H on TV, but I don’t remember him. He plays his role very well. The English cast for this film seems to have been carefully curated, to fit each role. It’s impressive!

Tarō Ishida as The Nightmare King, notable roles:

  • Shikishima, Akira ✅
  • Tenkai, Kamui no Ken
  • Lazare d’ Cagliostro, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro ✅

William E. Martin as The Nightmare King, notable roles:

  • Broadside, The Transformers
  • Claw, Karate Kommandos
  • Samhain, The Real Ghostbusters
  • Shredder, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ✅

Commentary: I think that it’s amazing that The Nightmare King is Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Mr. Martin makes The Nightmare King very menacing, it reminded me of the Night on Bald Mountain segment in Disney’s Fantasia!

To wrap this review up, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is a phenomenal achievement in animation. I’ve never seen anything else quite like it. It seems to be a love letter to many of the other, foundational children’s stories! The characters and story could have been stronger, but I still rate it a 6/10 and plan on purchasing the Blu-ray!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

そにアニ -SUPER SONICO THE ANIMATION- is a ★★★☆☆︱The Enigmatic Poster Girl

Before sitting down to watch this series, I can’t say that I really knew Sonico as a character. Based on her design and the numerous crossovers that she cosplayed, from other franchises (see the insane amount of merchandise that has been sold with her likeness), I used to think that she was just an “oppai” character—whose only gimmick is that a) she has pink-hair and headphones, and b) is very voluptuous. After watching the adaptation of the visual novel’s story, I learned that I was completely wrong about her!

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: Super Sonico is a clutzy, adorable, and well-endowed 18-year old girl. She’s a complete sucker for anything cute, especially stray cats, all of which she giddily adopts. However, though Sonico should be enjoying a carefree and simple lifestyle as a young college student, her life is really anything but easy: she must balance being a professional model, working part-time at her grandmother’s restaurant, and practicing guitar and performing concerts with her friends Suzu Fujimi and Fūri Watanuki in their band, First Astronomical Velocity—all while attending college. SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation follows Sonico as she faces daunting challenges in her search for her place in the world, even when her days are brimming with love and happiness.

The series starts off with Sonico going to a sultry photo shoot, not only that, but one of her best friends (Suzu) constantly wants to dress her up in lewd outfits. When this series was first airing, six years ago, I originally dropped it because it seemed too exploitative for my tastes. I really don’t like the angle of an employer, taking advantage of an employee (what basically happened with Sonico and a bunch of middle-aged photographers). I also knew Nitroplus as a company, and they are mostly known for erogē games, so there was that, too! 

This year, I decided to pick up the series again, because Sonico is such a famous and visually iconic character. I wanted to know about the super-star “bishōjo,” who had accumulated such a profound amount of love and adoration from the “ecchi” otaku fandom. Aside from the occasional salacious snapshot of Sonico, her character is actually written to be very admirable. She’s a hard-working (and talented) girl, that juggles college, being a model, working at her grandma’s restaurant, and being in a band. Sonico is portrayed as being very pure-hearted and clear-minded, too, so she never has qualms with helping other people out, or occasionally rescuing a lost kitten.

At first, I was wary about her manager. I was worried that he would act lecherous towards Sonico, too, (especially, because he wears an “oni” mask all of the time), but he’s really a good guy. He just wants to the best for Sonico and he wants people to be able to get to know her, so that bad rumors aren’t spread and she can have a chance to shine… with her inner and outer beauty! Naturally, Sonico is very naïve, so her manager always tags along, to make sure that no one creeps on her. Episode 3: “Sonico Goes to Okinawa” and Episode 5: “New World” are particularly hear-warming episodes, expressing the manager’s deep care for her.

The older characters are written with more respect than I usually find with adult characters in anime. There’s a kind-hearted journalist lady, who’s going through a mid-life crisis, and Sonico’s grandma (a.k.a. dark horse best girl, Sonico’s granny is a guitar goddess and was really pretty, back when she was a young starlet)!

The weakest link in the plot are Sonico’s bandmates, Suzu and Fūri pale in her presence, when they’re compared to Sonico. I guess she’s the title character for a reason, but I feel like her two friends could have been a little bit more memorable and/or likable. Suzu is the dark-haired, smart one that lusts after Sonico, so basically… a lesbian version of Rei Hino from Sailor Moon, and Fūri just eats all of the time.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Kenichi Kawamura (director), notable works:

  • Qualidea Code
  • Steins;Gate 0 ✅

Commentary: I have only seen Mr. Kawamura’s work on Steins;Gate 0 and I really enjoyed the sequel series! Great work! There are some really fluid sakuga scenes in this series, and the character designs look good with the style of animation!

I watched SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation with the English dub, so I will list the Japanese seiyū, but comments will be on the performances of the English voice actors.

Ayano Yamamoto as Super Sonico, notable roles:

  • Nazuna Tennōzu, Change Our Mirai!!
  • Emma, Honto ni Atta! Reibai Sensei
  • Nukko, Nukko.
  • Shiki, Senran Kagura ✅
  • Nae Tennōji, Steins;Gate ✅
  • Ōpa Cognitive Computing System, Steins;Gate: Sōmei Eichi no Cognitive Computing

Jessica Nigri as Super Sonico, notable roles:

  • None

Commentary: Jessica Nigri is mostly known as an internet personality and cosplayer. This is the only role she’s ever had in an anime and I have to say, she did a really good job on it! Ms. Nigri was able to capture Sonico’s awkwardness and social anxiety really well. Especially for a first role, I think that Ms. Nigri knew Sonico’s character really well (she was a big fan of her before the recording of the dub) and it shines through, in her performance as the character! 

Mai Gotō as Suzu Fujimi, notable roles:

  • Yuka Minase, 11eyes
  • Mizuki Hayama, ef: A Tale of Memories
  • May Chang, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Sumomo Kohinata, Happiness!
  • Gentoku Ryūbi, Shin Koihime†Musou
  • Ritos Tortilla, Shukufuku no Campanella
  • Toa Narumi, Wagamama High Spec
  • Matsuri Amachi, Yotsunoha

Luci Christian as Suzu Fujimi, notable roles:

  • Haruko Kamio, Air
  • Ringo Noyamano, Air Gear ✅
  • Nagisa Motomiya, AKB0048
  • Sylphy, Amagi Brilliant Park
  • Deunan Knute, Appleseed
  • Kirino Chiba, Bamboo Blade
  • Tae Hanazono, BanG Dream: 2nd Season
  • Cassandra Jill Warlock, Black Blood Brothers
  • Enju Aihara, Black Bullet
  • Trixie, Blade Runner: Black Out 2022 ✅
  • Ochako Uraraka, Boku no Hero Academia: localized as “My Hero Academia” ✅
  • Poala, Bōken Ō Beet: localized as “Beet, the Vandel Buster”
  • Nakiami, Bōnen no Xamdō: localized as “Xam’d: Lost Memories”
  • Tsukuyo Inaba, Busō Shōjo Machiavellianism: localized as “Armed Girl’s Machiavellism”
  • Nene, Canaan
  • Chihaya Ayase, Chihayafuru
  • Luna Gusuku, Chōjūshin Gravion: localized as “Super Heavy God Gravion,” or just “Gravion” ✅
  • Nagisa Furukawa, Clannad ✅
  • Ophelia, Claymore
  • Mizuki Takase, Comic Party ✅
  • Lenalee Lee, D. Gray-man ✅
  • Risa Harada, D.N. Angel ✅
  • Kenichi Harakawa, Dennō Coil
  • Ferris Eris, Densetsu no Yūsha no Densetsu: localized as “Legend of the Legendary Heroes”
  • Daichi Shijima, Devil Survivor 2: The Animation
  • Prim Snowlight, Divergence Eve
  • Hestia, Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka: localized as “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon” ✅
  • Miyako Miyamura, ef (series)
  • Cocona Cocomine, Flip Flappers
  • Nessa, Fractale
  • Ganessa Roland, Freezing
  • Kaname Chidori, Full Metal Panic! ✅
  • Wrath, Full Metal Alchemist ✅
  • Yūri Wakasa, Gakkō Gurashi: localized as “School Live”
  • Kagura, Gintama Movie 1: Shinyaku Benizakura-hen
  • Rico, Gunslinger Girl ✅
  • Hana N. Fountainstand, Hanayamata
  • Hungary, Hentalia
  • Riko Mine, Hidan no Aria: localized as “Aria, the Scarlet Ammo”
  • Sen Tokugawa, Hyakka Ryōran: Samurai Girls
  • Junko Hattori, Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maō: localized as “Demon King Daimao”
  • Chifuyu Orimura, IS: Infinite Stratos
  • Elucia de Lute Ima, Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai: localized as “The World God Only Knows”
  • Akira Tachibana, Koi wa Ameagari no Yō ni: localized as “After the Rain”
  • Himeko Inaba, Kokoro Connect
  • Mari Nishino, Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai: localized as “This Ugly yet Beautiful World” ✅
  • Alois Trancy, Kuroshitsuji II: localized as “Black Butler II”
  • Lavie Head, Last Exile ✅
  • Regu, Made in Abyss
  • Margaret Burton, Madlax ✅
  • Marika Katō, Mōretsu Pirates: localized as “Bodacious Space Pirates”
  • Sakura Haruno, Wandaba Style
  • Cruz Schild, Needless
  • Asuna Kagurazaka, Negima!
  • Azuki, Nekopara
  • Nami, One Piece ✅
  • Mitsukuni Haninozuka (“Honey”), Ōran Kōkō Host Club: localized as “Ouran High School Host Club” ✅
  • Di Gi Charat, Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat ✅
  • Kotaro, Papuwa
  • Tetsunosuke Ichimura, Peace Maker Kurogane
  • Nonoha Itō, Phi Brain
  • Ahiru Arima, Princess Tutu ✅
  • Futaba Āsu, Puni Puni ☆ Poemii ✅
  • Maya, Ragnarök: The Animation
  • Stella Vermillion, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: localized as “Chivalry of a Failed Knight” ✅
  • Shinku, Rozen Maiden (2013)
  • Komachi, Samurai 7
  • Washu Kozuka, Sasami: Mahō Shōjo Club
  • Tenma Tsukamoto, School Rumble
  • Makina Hoshimura, Shikabana Hime: localized as “Corpse Princess”
  • Himeno Awayuki, Pretear ✅
  • Chizuru Aizawa, Shinryaku!! Ika Musume: localized as “Squid Girl”
  • Medusa Gorgon, Soul Eater ✅
  • Erica Hartmann, Strike Witches
  • Ran Kotobuki, Super GALS!
  • Birdy Cephon Altera, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode
  • Doris Lang, Vampire Hunter D ✅
  • KOS-MOS, Xenosaga: The Animation
  • Tōko Nanami, Yagate Kimi ni Naru: localized as “Bloom Into You”
  • Iroha Isshiki, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru: localized as “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU”
  • Rika Saionji, Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (TV): localized as “Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches” ✅
  • Neneko, Yumeria

Commentary: I talked about Ms. Christian briefly in my Mezzo DSA review, but I really like her work. It’s a shame that the role was for a very bland character.

Mami Ozaki as Fūri Watanuki, notable roles:

  • Hana Isuzu, Girls und Panzer ✅

Monica Rial as Fūri Watanuki, notable roles:

  • Misuzu Kamio, Air
  • Simca, Air Gear
  • Yona, Akatsuki no Yona ✅
  • Yūka Ichijō, AKB0048
  • Hotaru Tachibana, Aoharu x Kikanjū
  • Yoriko Sannō, Aquarian Age: Sign for Evolution ✅
  • Aoi Futaba, Asobi ni Iku yo!
  • Minamo Kurosawa, Azumanga Daiō
  • Chane Laforet, Baccano!
  • Jo, Bakuretsu Tenshi
  • Hagino Senkōji, Blue Drop: Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku
  • Momiji Fujimiya, Blue Seed 2
  • Tsuyu Asui, Boku no Hero Academia ✅
  • Haru Nishimura, Bōnen no Xamdō
  • Aleksandra Ivanovna Pokryshkin, Brave Witches ✅
  • Erica Blandelli, Campione!: Matsurowanu Kamigami to Kamigoroshi no Maō
  • Sakura Kinomoto, Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
  • Ringo, Casshern Sins ✅
  • Nozomi Kaibara, Chance Triangle Session ✅
  • Felli Loss, Chrome Shelled Regios
  • AnchoR, Clockwork Planet
  • Mina Tepes, Dance in the Vampire Bund
  • Shiro, Deadman Wonderland
  • Arisa, Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyōsōkyoku
  • Yūko Amasawa, Dennō Coil ✅
  • Ayumi Yoshida, Detective Conan ✅
  • Bulma, Dragon Ball Kai + Dragon Ball Super
  • Cōpa, Druaga no Tō: The Aegis of Uruk
  • Chihiro Shindō, ef: A Tale of Melodies
  • Mirajane Strauss, Fairy Tale ✅
  • Kyōko Tokiwa, Full Metal Panic! ✅
  • Momoko Koigakubo, Gakkō no Kaidan ✅
  • Emma Guzman, Garo
  • Miharu, Gasaraki
  • Yū Kashima, Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun
  • Tamaki Irie, Ginga Kikōtai Majestic Prince
  • Asirpa, Golden Kamuy
  • Angelica, Gunslinger Girl ✅
  • Neri, Guskō Budori no Denki (2012)
  • Kuzuha Dōmoto, Hagure Yūsha no Aesthetica
  • Yaya Sasame, Hanayamata
  • Miach Mihie, Harmony
  • Hyatt, Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel♥Saga ✅
  • Shizuka Marikawa, High School of the Dead ✅
  • Koharu Hondōmachi, Id: Invaded
  • Hōki Shinonono, IS: Infinite Stratos
  • Tanya Degurechaff, Yōjo Senki
  • Kuro, Isekai Shokudō
  • Tomie, Itō Junji: Collection
  • Niwatori, Jūni Taisen
  • Misaki Ayuzawa, Kaichō wa Maid-sama! ✅
  • Hibino Shiba, Kamisama Dolls
  • Mayumi Takahashi, Kekkō Kamen
  • Lumière, Kiddy Grade ✅
  • Tamayo Kizuki, Kidō Tenshi Angelic Layer ✅
  • Iori Nagase, Kokoro Connect
  • Konoe Tsuruma, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imōto ga Iru!
  • Saki, Kōtetsu Tenshi Kurumi ✅
  • Mayaya, Kuragehime
  • Kurau Amami, Kurau Phantom Memory ✅
  • Mey-Rin, Kuroshitsuji
  • Mitsuki Nase, Kyōkai no Kanata
  • Misa Hayase, Macross ✅
  • Michiru Mamiya, Magikano
  • Konoka Konoe, Mahō Sensei Negima!
  • Ao, Makasete Iruka!
  • Haruko Amaya, Maken-Ki!
  • Mariya Shidō, Maria†Holic
  • Himari Takakura, Mawaru Penguindrum ✅
  • Michiko Malandro, Michiko to Hatchin
  • Eruna Ichinomiya, Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku (TV)
  • Mio Isurugi, MM!
  • Sū, Monster Musume no Iru Nichijō ✅
  • Gruier Serenity, Mōretsu Pirates
  • Alita Castilia Arago Forland, Murder Princess
  • Lila, Najica Dengeki Sakusen
  • Nanaka Kirisato, Nanaka 6/17
  • Maya Ibuki, Neon Genesis Evangelion ✅
  • Nano Shinonome, Nichijō
  • Koki Yamoto, Ninja Slayer from Animation
  • Kirika Yūmura, Noir ✅
  • Tetsuko, Oh! Super Milk-chan ✅
  • Ringo Akai, Ōkami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi
  • Sayaka Suzuki, Paniponi Dash!
  • Stocking Anarchy, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt ✅
  • Papuwa, Papuwa
  • Reiko Michaelson, Parasite Dolls ✅
  • Izumi Himuro, Princess Nine: Kisaragi Joshikō Yakyūbu
  • Alma, Radiant
  • Haruka Shitow, RahXephon ✅
  • Yuzu Kichōgasaki, Renai Bōkun
  • Jūna Daitoku, Robotics;Notes
  • Rumia Tingel, Rokudenashi Majutsu Kōshi to Akashic Records
  • Yukina Kosaka, Rolling☆Girls
  • Yukari Sendō, Rosario to Vampire
  • Kanaria, Rozen Maiden (2013)
  • Coquelicot, Sakura Taisen: École de Paris
  • White Kitty, Sanrio Anime Sekai Meisaku Gekijō
  • Lisa, Seiken no Blacksmith
  • Elena Miyazawa, Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!
  • Homura, Senran Kagura
  • Anna Nishikinomiya, Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
  • Maria Akizuki, Shinsekai yori
  • Moa, Show By Rock!!
  • Asa Shigure, Shuffle! ✅
  • Sakuya, Sister Princess
  • Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, Soul Eater ✅
  • Hikari Hanazono, Special A
  • Kagura Tennōzu, Speed Grapher ✅
  • Rio Takeuchi, Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna
  • Maho Hiyajō, Steins;Gate 0 ✅
  • Bluesy Fluesy, Taboo Tattoo
  • Octavia, Tears to Tiara
  • Librorum Prohibitorum Index, Toaru Majutsu no Index
  • Rumi Yokoi, Tonari no Seki-kun
  • Sakura, Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE ✅
  • Hazuki, Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase
  • Hana Uzaki, Uzaki-chan wa Asobita!!
  • Tomoko Kuroki, Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! ✅
  • Mizuki Agatsuma, Yumeria
  • Ginko Yorishiro, Yuri Kuma Arashi
  • Syrup, Zettai Bōei Leviathan

Commentary: The same predicament that I had with Luci Christian’s role applies here. Ms. Rial is very talented. I used to be really into the series, Kiddy Grade. And, when I was younger, I loved her as Lumière! So, one of my friends got to meet her at an anime convention, so, she brought me back an autographed poster. Ms. Rial is typically good at playing youthful-sounding characters, with a nasally inflection!

From the start, I should have known that I would end up liking the Super Sonico series. Every visual novel that I’ve played under their moniker, has turned out to have a really well thought-out plot and purpose (excluding the BL-branch, “Nitro+chiral,” all of their translated games have been terrible and grotesque). Sonico’s beautiful, clear-minded ambition is really inspiring. Whether she is hard at work, or listless on a vacation, the character has a refined charm—like Tanjirō Kamado from Kimetsu no Yaiba, her heart is as clean as a mountainous stream! I give SoniAni: Super Sonico The Animation a 5/10!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Quest for Camelot is a ★★★☆☆︱The Warner Bros. Version of the Arthurian Legend

Quest for Camelot is a movie that I remember enjoying as a kid, but does it stand the test of time? Loosely based off Vera Chapman’s novel The King’s Damosel, the lore in this iteration is quite different from Arthurian lore that I grew up with (The Mists of Avalon written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Merlin series written by T.A. Barron is what I read in my adolescence). Despite seeing it pop-up on my YouTube feed, I decided against watching The Nostalgia Critic’s review and just went into the re-watch blind!

⚠️ The review on Quest for Camelot will have spoilers, because it’s a short film ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: Sir Lionel is one of the knights of the Round Table. His daughter Kayley dreams of becoming a knight like her father. At Camelot, one of the knights, Lord Ruber – wanting to usurp King Arthur – attempts to kill him, but Lionel sacrifices himself to save him and is killed. Lord Ruber flees Camelot in exile after being repelled by Arthur’s sword Excalibur. During Lionel’s funeral, Arthur tells Kayley and her mother, Juliana, that they will be welcomed should they come to Camelot. A decade later, a griffin attacks Camelot, stealing Excalibur. Merlin’s pet falcon Ayden attacks the griffin and the sword falls into the Forbidden Forest. Meanwhile, Ruber invades Kayley’s home, holds everyone hostage and uses a potion he purchased from witches to create steel warriors from his human henchmen and a rooster, who becomes known as Bladebeak. He plans to use Juliana to gain entrance into Camelot.

To start out, I’m guessing that Sir Lionel is a discount version Sir Lancelot, if there was no Guinevere in the story? Lord Ruber seems like a Mordred clone, he has the legendary horned helmet and everything… Quest for Camelot decided to take it a step further and actually made him look ※inbred. The biggest qualms that I had with the replica Knights of the Round Table in Quest for Camelot, is that King Arthur is a complete wimp in this version! 

※For those who don’t know Arthurian lore, Mordred is Arthur’s bastard child, conceived in the womb of his half-sister, the Queen of Orkney. Her name is often translated to Anna.

I could understand Arthur being less heroic, if it was pre-Excalibur (pre-teen) King Arthur, but this version of Arthur is grown man with a beard! This interpretation of the character seems like Arthur was never heroic at all, and he pretty much kowtows to Merlin to get him out of every conflict the kingdom faces! The Arthur in Quest for Camelot doesn’t even know how to use the magical sword, Excalibur, he just fumbles and it falls into the hands of the Ruber’s pet griffin!

So, the plot relies on Lionel’s daughter, Kayley, to save the day! We’re introduced to her as child and then as a teenager, singing a happy song about following in her father’s footsteps. It’s a bit of a jarring transition from the doom and gloom that came with her father’s assassination, but I can’t really fault the cartoon for that decision, because kids would probably hate a movie that focused mostly on death and grief. 

The biggest issues that I had with Kayley’s character is that the plot made her out to be an awesome hero, a female empowerment figure, a womanly knight, but she just gets rescued by a blind guy, who apparently has Jedi powers? It’s like Sailor Moon and the power of love, I suppose? I didn’t find an issue with Garrett being overpowered, but I didn’t understand why he has a perfectly trimmed mop of hair and pearly white teeth, if he had really been a blind hermit his whole life?

As an adult, I was able to appreciate the ambiguously gay, Siamese-twin dragons more. The animation during the “If I Didn’t Have You” song was more enjoyable, now that I’m older and know the references. As I kid, I think I only got the one Elvis Presley allusion. I think a lot of the imagery in the film is really cool, the animation on the monsters is worse for wear, but their designs (the neon green eyes with fumbling chimera bodies) were pretty neat. I didn’t like Bladebeak very much, but I got a laugh out of the griffin looking like a macho monster-of-the-week and then turning out to be a squealing lackey, akin to Starscream from Transformers.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

⚠️ Disclaimer… I know more about Japanese animation and culture than I do about the production in North American animations, so I’ll just go off of what I know ⚠️

Frederik Du Chau (director), notable works:

  • The Smoggies (animator)
  • Het Mysterie van Het Lam
  • TaleSpin (animator) ✅
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie (animator)
  • The Land Before Time 3 (animator) ✅
  • Racing Stripes
  • Underdog
  • The Krostons

Commentary: The only other animated works that I’ve from Mr. Chau are things I’ve enjoyed, like TaleSpin and The Land Before Time 3, they both get middling scores like Quest for Camelot did in this review.

Kirk de Micco (screenplay), notable works:

  • Racing Stripes
  • Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie ✅
  • Casper’s Scare School
  • Space Chimps
  • The Croods
  • The Star

Jacqueline Feather (screenplay), notable works:

  • Another World
  • Malice in Wonderland
  • Onassis: The Richest Man in the World
  • My Father, My Son
  • Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Goldrush: A Real Life Alaskan Adventure
  • The King and I ✅
  • Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family
  • Madeline: Lost in Paris ✅
  • By Dawn’s Early Light
  • Soraya
  • Son of the Dragon
  • Kung Fu Killer

Commentary: Both of the screenwriters have a middle-of-the-road répertoire, but their filmography is enjoyable enough to pass.

Patrick Doyle (music), notable works:

  • Charles Endell Esquire
  • Holding the Fort
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Maggie
  • No. 73
  • Twelfth Night
  • Look Back in Anger
  • Henry V
  • Shipwrecked
  • Dead Again
  • Indochine
  • Into the West
  • Much Ado About Nothing ✅
  • Needful Things
  • Carlito’s Way ✅
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Une Femme Française
  • A Little Princess
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Mrs. Winterbourne
  • Hamlet
  • Donnie Brasco
  • Great Expectations
  • East/West
  • Blow Dry
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • Gosford Park
  • Killing Me Softly
  • Calendar Girls
  • Secondhand Lions
  • The Galíndez File
  • Battle of the Brave
  • Man to Man
  • Wah-Wah
  • Nanny McPhee
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ✅
  • Jekyll & Hyde
  • As You Like It
  • Eragon
  • Have Mercy on Us All
  • The Last Legion
  • Sleuth
  • Nim’s Island
  • Igor
  • Main Street
  • La Ligne Droite
  • Thor
  • Jig
  • Sarajevo
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes ✅
  • Brave
  • Sir Billi
  • It (2013)
  • Puppeteer
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  • Cinderella
  • A United Kingdom
  • Whisky Galore!
  • The Emoji Movie
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • St. Stubby: An American Hero
  • All is True
  • Artemis Fowl
  • Death on the Nile

Commentary: Patrick Doyle has a similar reputation in film score compositions as Andrew Lloyd Webber. Despite this, the soundtrack for Quest for Camelot isn’t too bad. The “Flying on My Father’s Wings” and the opening track were probably worst, the “Father’s Wings” track was really obtrusive; there was overlaying layer of bagpipes that I just wasn’t a fan of. But, I did like “I Stand Alone” and “Looking Through Your Eyes,” those tracks have stood the test of time. I would say that my favorite arrangement by Mr. Doyle is for Brian de Palma’s Carlito’s Way, but I don’t watch many movies, so there could be a lot that I’m missing.

Jessalyn Gilsig as Kayley, notable roles:

  • The Horse Whisperer ✅
  • Prom Night
  • Nip/Tuck
  • Law & Order
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Heroes
  • CSI: NY
  • Glee

Singing Voice: Andrea Corr

Commentary: I didn’t know much about Ms. Gilsig’s filmography, but her vocal work on Kayley sounds like a discount version of Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Cary Elwes as Garrett, notable roles:

  • The Princess Bride ✅
  • Bram Stroker’s Dracula
  • Donald Curtis, Porco Rosso ✅
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights ✅
  • The Informant ✅
  • Liar Liar ✅
  • Baron Humbert, Whisper of the Heart ✅
  • A Christmas Carol ✅
  • Saw 3D

Singing Voice: Bryan White

Commentary: One of the best vocal talents in the production, other than the obvious (Gary Oldman)! Great job!

Gary Oldman as Lord Ruber, notable roles:

  • Sid and Nancy ✅
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead ✅
  • Henry & June
  • JFK
  • Bram Stroker’s Dracula ✅
  • Hannibal
  • Sirius Black, Harry Potter ✅
  • James Gordan, Batman ✅
  • The Book of Eli

Commentary: I was impressed that Mr. Oldman could play a compellingly creepy villain and pull off a decent musical number while doing so, but I guess it’s no surprise with the actor’s credentials! Wonderful job!

Other singers include: Celine Dion and Steve Perry.

Conclusively, Quest for Camelot is not as good as The Land Before Time or The Prince of Egypt, but it’s very memorable and iconic, and paints a pretty good, kid-friendly version of the hero’s journey trope! Even among Disney movies during that time, the Arthurian tale made its mark as something relatively unforgettable. The plot and the characters may be heavily scrutinized by an adult-viewing audience, but it’s a perfectly passable movie for a child, as well as their parents watching it with them! I give Quest for Camelot a 5/10!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Finished Juniper’s Tree, Pt. 3: Nothing in the World︱Returning on Nov. 5th!

I have finished the last book in my trilogy! 🥳 This is the first series that I’ve completed, so yay! I’m very, very proud of my work on it.

With that being said, pouring all of my creative energy into a project has exhausted me! It feels like it’s been siphoned out of my body, like it was taken away a kind of mischievous esper or something. So, I’m going to take a break from blogging (and writing in general) for nine days; during the break, I’m going to spend the time reading and producing an outline for my spin-off series: Suffer, My Desire! 

Plans ︱Starting on Nov. 5th, 2020

  • Outline for “Suffer, My Desire: The Folklorist”
    • The spin-off will take place in the post-apocalyptic world, that is formed after the epilogue in Juniper’s Tree, and will follow a mystery narrative! The main characters are Aria Adler and her boyfriend, Wyatt Watson. One day, a mysterious serum transforms Watson into an otter and the rare times he turns back into a human, he violently attacks Aria. After research, Aria deduces that the serum not only transformed her companion’s body, but is slowly melting away his hypothalamus. His affliction begins to make him more of a beast, than a normal man. Learning about a legendary elixir, Aria travels out to a mysterious mountain village to find the cure for Wyatt. When they make it to the hidden village, from mouth of a steaming passenger train, they find clues of the medicine’s whereabouts from a couple of mysterious twins: Monét and Sebastian Blanchard. While they’re chatting with the sibling, they witness a murder at the Blanchard estate and are forced to combine their cognitive abilities to solve the mystery!
  • Writing a novel-length fan fiction for NaNoWriMo, the story will ship Yukari Yuzuki (for more info: Voiceroid) x IA (for more info: ボーカロイド), the title of the narrative is: “Goodbye, Liar”︱Based on Yukari Yuzuki’s song, “Liar Syndrome”
    • This story will be my first foray into writing a full-length science fiction story! The narrative will take place in a cyberpunk setting and will have a caste system between the Vocaloid and Voiceroids. The Voiceroids, in the story, are bootleg androids and the Vocaloids are perfect models, designed for entertaining the human aristocracy. Yukari is talented street musician who has an indie band: Akari Kizuna (bass), Maki Tsurumaki (lead guitar), and Kiritan Tohoku (drums). One rainy day, IA witnesses Yukari singing her heart out for pocket change and love blossoms between a no-name, street urchin and a famous idol.
    • Extra: I’m going to post word count updates on Twitter, but in the pre-production, I’m going to edit the fan fiction like a novel and release it around the same time as the last installment of my series! So, you can expect to read it on Dec. 22, 2020!
Yukari Yuzuki + IA (artist: Fū Miyami)
  • Write a review everyday during my work days! My goal during November is to write 5 anime reviews a week! When I start Suffer, My Desire in December, I’ll have less time to write reviews, so I want to take advantage of the time I have to put out quality reviews. My mission with writing anime reviews is to glorify the industry professionals, I believe that individual industry workers are often overlooked, so expect more of that! Coming soon!
  • List of upcoming reviews:
    • Week 1
      • Quest for Camelot
      • そにアニ -SUPER SONICO THE ANIMATION-
      • Little Nemo
      • Black★Rock Shooter
      • Nekojiru-sō + Nekojiru Gekijō Jirujiru
    • Week 2
      • Innocence
      • Sasami-san@Ganbaranai
      • Metal Fighter Miku
      • Angel Beats!
      • Lucky☆Star
    • Week 3
      • Yumekui Merry
      • Burn Up! Scramble
      • Burn Up! (Original OVA)
      • Divergence Eve
      • IS: Infinite Stratos (Season One)
    • Week 4
      • Senki Zesshō Symphogear (Season One)
      • Senki Zesshō Symphogear G (Season Two)
      • Senki Zesshō Symphogear GX (Season Three)
      • Senki Zesshō Symphogear AXZ (Season Four)
      • Senki Zesshō Symphogear XV (Season Five)
  • Finish reading Les Misérables, I’m ¾ of the way done, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I will post a review for Victor Hugo’s magnum opus on GoodReads and another copy on my WordPress 2020 book list: https://eggheadluna.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/literary-review-log-2020-reading-list/

Plans ︱Dec. 2020

  • Start “Suffer, My Desire: The Folklorist”
  • Write one review per week, at minimum!
  • Start making pixel art sprites for the visual novel version of Juniper’s Tree.
This is a pixel sprite that I did of Lum from Urusei Yatsura, circa 2017

Plans ︱Jan. 2021

  • Start writing a script for Juniper’s Tree with alternate endings. I will publish the script on Amazon. If I put it on FictionPress, the preliminary product wouldn’t have a copyright wall.
  • The transcribed version of the script will be available to read on Mar. 24th, 2021.

“Suffer, My Desire: The Folklorist” will be published on Mar. 24th, 2021 and will be available for pre-order a month prior to its release.

Please let me know what you think about my creative endeavors! And, thank you again, for reading the update!

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started