Anime Review Roundup

Inline Image
Apparently this is a monthly thing now. The last Anime Review Roundup was just at the end of November last year, and here we are, too late to say Happy New Year! Apparently that’s how long it takes me to review three new anime, or rather three anime that are new to me. After all, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled – OVA Series actually came out in 2021. Code Geass was the epic sci-fi fantasy series set in an alternate world where Britannia invaded Japan and turned it into a vassal state. It’s a world of giant robots, arcane energy, and mystical mind powers called geass. And over 50-odd episodes it charted an epic journey of ups and downs with larger than life characters. It sealed it off with a concrete ending, and subsequently the producers must have wondered if they had killed off a cash cow. They went back and retold the series in movie form, but changing the ending so that they could now make a fourth original movie. But before all that, they tried telling this side story set in a different country, with different characters. It’s directed by Kazuki Akane, the director of the superlative Noein. But it turns out that is no guarantee of quality.

Inline Image
In the US, it’s just called “Wonderland” but All the Anime used the Japanese title, Birthday Wonderland. But the birthday itself doesn’t play much part in the story, despite it being a coming of age tale. It’s just the plot element to kick the story into motion, with the protagonist sent to her aunt’s curio shop to pick up her present, only to be pulled into a fantasy world that she is expected to save. It’s a colourful and imaginative film, with plenty to hold the attention. It’s only that it’s a family film playing in a genre with plenty of other, better alternatives. Click on the review to read more.

Inline Image
After a couple of good but uninspiring anime, it was satisfying to get something a little more original and inspiring to review. Not that Horimiya breaks too much in the way of new ground. After all, there are a few other anime rom-coms out there that eschew the harem route. But Horimiya has a couple of interesting main characters with a lot more depth than usual, and there’s just a smidge more in the way of realism to the story. It’s good enough to have inspired a second season, although as has happened a few times recently with anime, it’s a second season that adapts those bits of the original story that the first series left out; less of a sequel and more of a fill-in-the-gaps-quel.

This Week I’ve Been Mostly Rewatching...

Inline Image
Otogi Zoshi. This is going back some. At the start of the DVD age, Manga Video became Manga Entertainment, and kept ticking over re-releasing old VHS content on the new format. But it was when they managed to make lightning strike twice, co-producing the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series the way that they had done with the original Ghost in the Shell movie, that they got the momentum to start licensing and releasing new anime again. Among that early tranche of releases such as Heat Guy J, She the Ultimate Weapon, and Noein, was this elaborate fantasy series, Otogi Zoshi. It was a two cour series, with the first half set in the Heian period of Japan, some 900 years ago, a fantasy about a girl seeking the legendary Magatama beads to save her city through a mystical Onmyoji ritual. The characters in this first half wind up resurrected in modern day Tokyo for the second half of the series, where the story concludes, although it’s more of an urban sci-fi fantasy. It’s an ambitious tale which is pulled off with some verve here.

Manga Entertainment were notoriously inconsistent back then, and Otogi Zoshi from 2006 was no exception. The first half, the Heian cour got the treatment, properly presented episodes, on discs laden with extra features, a cornucopia of Heian period history to back up the stories. Here’s my review of volume 1. But when it came to the Tokyo arc, Manga released barebones discs with the translated subtitles of the first half ditched for horrific dubtitles, and all of the extras dumped as well. I wound up importing the second half from the US as released by Media Blasters. It apparently didn’t sell well. If you look around, you should be able to find a few copies on sale, although just as it turned out for me back then, it might be easier getting the second half from the US, while Manga’s discs for the first half are still floating around on Amazon Marketplace.

Funimation UK was the label that released Code Geass: Akito the Exiled OVA series on Blu-ray and DVD and Limited Edition Blu-ray back in 2021, but they’re called Crunchyroll now. It was Crunchyroll that released Horimiya on standard and Limited Edition Blu-ray in Feb 2023. All the Anime released Birthday Wonderland on DVD, Blu-ray and Collector’s Edition combo in 2020.

Your Opinions and Comments

Be the first to post a comment!