Gunslinger Girl

“Young and heavily-armed.”

gunslingergirlIf you want something more cerebral and family friendly than Kite – if a story about underage assassins can ever be family friendly! – then Gunslinger Girl is perhaps for you. Set in Italy, a shadowy government organization, the Social Welfare Agency, has a prototype project which takes young women from hospital beds, augments their strength, speed and agility with cybernetic accessories, and unleashes them as state-sponsored special agents, with a wide-ranging license to kill. Each has a handler, to maintain and direct their conditioning and act as backup. But these trained assassins are still little girls at heart, with a fondness for teddy bears and ice-cream, as well as forming disturbing attachments to their handlers, who become their only family.

Though probably the most disturbing thing here, is that these are the forces of good: this is your tax dollars (well, tax lira) at work, fighting against radical terrorists and organized crime. Does the end justify the means, in terms of both the physical and emotional costs paid by those who take part, especially those too young to offer any kind of informed consent? Perhaps wisely, the thirteen 22-minutes episodes don’t delve too far down that rabbit-hole, preferring to concentrate more on the relationships between the five girls who are the subjects of the project. There’s something of Ghost in the Shell here, with the heroines’ awareness of their own (now, largely mechanical) nature leading them to ponder what it is to be human, and whether they can even consider themselves as qualifying any more.

The action here is perhaps less frequent than you’d expect, each episode typically having one or two brief bursts of intense activity. This doesn’t soft-pedal the violence in any way, even if it doesn’t seem to have the emotional impact on its young subjects that you feel it might; this could well be the point, and may also be a side-effect of the amnesia which is induced in them. The technical aspects are solid, in particular the music which prefers a classical tone to the (over-used, to be honest) standard large helping of J-Pop tunes, and the show has been complimented for its attention to detail, particularly in the details of the weapons it depicts.

My main issue is the lack of any real story arc or escalation. You reach the end of the 13th episode and, while not ineffective (most of the girls sit out in a meadow, watching a meteor shower and singing Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, while one lies in a hospital bed), it would hardly pass for a satisfactory conclusion. This may well result from it being an adaptation of just the first two volumes, in a series actually running to fifteen. Given this, it might have been wise to cut down the characters; rather than splitting stories and characterization relatively evenly across the five, focusing on one or two in greater depth would potentially have been more successful. That said, I still appreciated its more thoughtful and leisurely pacing, and will certainly cover the sequel series in due course.

Dir: Hiroshi Ishidori
Star (voice): Eri Sendai, Yuuka Nanri, Kanako Mitsuhashi, Ami Koshimizu

The Resident Evil animated films

residentevilanimeThe Milla Jovovich series are not the only films set in the Resident Evil universe. There have also been two feature-length computer animated movies: Degeneration was released in 2008, and Damnation four years later. A third, Vendetta, is scheduled to be released in Japan this spring. While made in Japan, with a Japanese director and crew, the voice cast are English-speaking. As with the novels, the stories and characters are in line with the universe of the computer games, rather than the live-action features, and tend to occupy spots in the timeline between the entries in the game series. Therefore, there’s no Alice, but the animated films contain their fair share of strong heroines and, of course, action.

Resident Evil: Degeneration

degenerationThere’s a new EvilCorp in town, and its name is WilPharma, as we learn during the montage of news stories which opens this. In game terms, the film takes place after the events of “Resident Evil 4”, which saw the dismantling of the Umbrella Corporation. Its assets and research naturally proved too valuable to destroy, and WilPharma has taken over, with the announced goal of developing a vaccine for the troublesome T-virus. However, some dubious medical research in India leads to the company being targeted by protestors from TerraSave. It’s one such demo, at the Harvardville Airport, that kicks things off, as a plane of infected subjects crashes into the terminal, where Senator Davis is trying to avoid the protestors. TerraSave’s Claire Redfield (Court) finds herself trapped with the Senator, before they’re rescued by a team of soldiers including Angela Miller (Bailey) and Leon S. Kennedy (Mercier).

Claire goes to the WiiPharma research facility, at the invitation of researcher Frederic Downing, and discovers they have the even more lethal G-virus being studied. There is… oh, dammit, let’s just call it “quite a lot more plot”, involving WiiPharma’s efforts to sell the virus as a bioweapon to General Grande; Angela’s brother, Curtis (Smith) an ecoterrorist who deliberately injects himself with the G-virus; and the true identity of the mastermind behind it all. It’s probably too much to be crammed into 98 minutes, especially when you also have to fit in copious amounts of action. The second half, in particular, is more or less one long action sequence, with Angela and Leon trying to survive in the facility. It’s a change of focus, since Redfield was the main protagonist during the first half, becoming the guardian of a friend’s child during the attack at the airport, maybe reflecting her switch to pacifism (albeit pacifism of an oddly bad-ass kind!).

Being CG, and of a 2008 vintage, the animation is good at doing what 2008-era CG was good at, which is movement rather than emotion – as you’d probably also expect from a film produced by a video-game studio. The sequences and shots where the camera is swooping in and around the battle participants, are sometimes spectacularly good, and in general, while in motion, this is effective and exciting. Beyond the technical, its problems are more a plot which lurches from frantic action set pieces to expository lumps, and seems to rely too much on viewers being familiar with the characters and creatures from the games. But it has to be said, WiiPharma certainly seem to have a better handle on the proper use of containment mechanisms than Umbrella ever managed…

Dir: Makoto Kamiya
Star: Alyson Court, Paul Mercier, Laura Bailey, Roger Craig Smith

Resident Evil: Damnation

adawong-jpgIncluded here largely for completeness, since the action heroine content likely would fall a little short of qualification on its own. Not that it’s entirely lacking, as the video at the bottom shows. But it’s definitely more a vehicle for Leon S. Kennedy (Mercer/Dorman). Which brings me to one of the odd things here: that is not a typo, it’s a double-credit for the character, because two different actors played the role, one providing the voice, the other the source for the motion-captured animation. Not sure I’ve seen that before.

Anyway, Kennedy finds himself dumped into the middle of a former Warsaw Pact satellite nation, the Eastern Slav Republic, which is being torn apart by a struggle between Government forces, under President Svetlana Belikova (Lee/Lee), and rebel groups. Both sides are making use of B.O.W’s, Bio-Organic Weapons, which have now been developed to such an extent that humans can now mind-control some of the creatures, using a parasitic organism called Plaga – albeit not without some unpleasant effects. Meanwhile Ada Wong (Taylor/Andersen) – hang on, last time I saw her, she was dying in one of the novels? – is trying to insert herself into Belikova’s circle, with her own agenda in mind. It all builds to an extended battle, pitting Leon and rebel commander, Alexander Kozachenko (Wittenberg/Earnest), along with the Lickers the latter controls, against the monstrous Tyrants fighting on behalf of Belikova.

This is particularly well done, a lengthy, escalating sequence of animated carnage, even if it does require something of a deus ex machina to show up at the end. It’s clear that animation has progressed markedly since the first movie, and this film takes full advantage of those improvements in its action scenes. For the purposes of this site, I’d really like to have seen more of Wong, whose moral ambivalence is intriguing; I reached the end, and still didn’t know on whose side she was supposed to be. [She does show up in RE: Retribution, played by Li BingBing, albeit dubbed there too]. The scene below, where she goes hand-to-hand with President Belikova, is a lot of fun – Belikova certainly counts as one of the more hard-core politicians I’ve seen! Bet she could kick Hillary Clinton’s ass…

And that is as close to politics as I’m ever going to get o

Dir: Makoto Kamiya
Star (voice): Matthew Mercer, Dave Wittenberg, Courtenay Taylor, Wendee Lee
Star (motion-capture): Kevin Dorman, David Earnest, Jolene Andersen, Melinda Lee

Kill La Kill

“Not sure if serious…”

killlakillAfter I watched the first episode of this show, I was sure it was a delicious parody of anime shows, particular the “super-powered high-school” genre. It seemed to be taking the concepts of shows such as Sailor Moon, say, and ramping everything up to 11. The violence, in particular, is somewhere beyond Dragon Ball Z in terms of excess, except with copious additional amounts of arterial spray – though people survive far beyond the point at which any normal person would be a desiccated husk. I mean, just look at that heroine’s outfit on the right. They cannot be serious, can they? But the longer this went on… the less sure I was whether it was a parody. If it is, it’s an impressively straight-faced one.

The setting is Honnouji Academy, a Tokyo high school ruled over by Satsuki Kiryuin (Yuzuki), who runs the place as a neo-fascist regime, enforcing her will through selected pupils. Her chosen ones are enhanced by “Goku uniforms” of various levels, made from a strange substance called life fibers, which give the wearer superhuman abilities. But into this comes Ryuko Matoi (Koshimizu), a transfer student with an agenda all her own – as well as her own enhanced uniform, a sentient outfit called Senketsu (Seki), and half of a pair of giant scissors, which she starts using to take out Satsuki’s minions. For Ryuko is seeking the killer of her father, the scientist who developed Senketsu, and seems like Satsuki played a significant role in that murder.

There’s more. A lot more. Suffice it to say that just about no-one here is quite what they seem, right down to the life fibers, and by the time you reach the final episode, loyalties and alliances have gone to a completely different landscape. For something which feels like it should be shallow, tongue in cheek and certainly has copious amounts of fan service (albeit being fairly even-handed in its OTT depiction of both sexes), there’s clearly considerable effort gone into the plotting. But, let’s be honest, the main focus here is on the fights, as Ryuko first makes her way up the chain of command toward her nemesis, and then discovers the truth about what’s going on and has to recalibrate her sights. There’s hardly one of the 24 x 25-minute episodes which does not consist of at least one-third major, major animated mayhem, with Ryoko beating the tar out of one or more enemies, and taking as much damage as she receives.

As such, it does get somewhat repetitive – if you’ve seen Ryuko’s transformation sequence once, you’ve seen it several dozen times – and there isn’t much sense of escalation to the action. But it is brashly hyper-energetic, relentlessly female-driven, largely romance free and perfect for viewing in small, highly-caffeinated doses. If only I could figure out whether or not it was intended to be one big in-joke or not, I know whether or not to feel guilty about enjoying it.

Dir: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Star: Ami Koshimizu, Ryoka Yuzuki, Aya Suzaki, Toshihiko Seki

First Squad

“The first Russian anime mockumentary, I presume.”

firstsquadA strong concept here. Indeed, perhaps too strong for a feature which runs not much over an hour, credits to credits. It’s set in 1942 Russian, when Soviet forces are struggling to beat back the Nazi invasion. Behind the mundane warfare is a supernatural struggle, with both sides using occult methods to their advantage. The German Ahnenerbe group [which was a real thing] seek to revive the spirit of Baron von Wolff, a knight from the Middle Ages and his ghost army, while Section Six of Russian intelligence, put together a team of psychics as a counter-measure. The Soviet squad is wiped out, safe for 14-year-old Nadya (Chebaturkina), but the Russians have created a machine which allows her to enter the afterlife, and contact her late colleagues. With a battle looming which both sides know will be a “moment of truth” – a tipping point in history – the lines are drawn for a confrontation in both the real and paranormal fields of conflict.

Animated in Japan, but with a Russian cast and crew, the film also includes live-action interviews with “historians” and “veterans” designed to give the impression this is based on actual events, beginning with historically plausible stories and gradually moving into the occult. It’s an interesting idea, though some viewers may find these interludes take them out of the story, and you wonder if the time would have been better spent progressing things – some elements just end without resolution, such as the Nazi twins sent to assassinate Nadya. It feels almost like a pilot for a series, doing a good job of building characters or setting, and pointing the way forward; it’s better at asking  questions than answering them, as part of a complete story. The final fight between Nadya and the Baron is disappointingly short, despite the heroine’s apparent skill with a sword, though I did appreciate her colleague Zena’s enthusiastic use of a flame-thrower.

It’s a rich universe, with potential that is undeniable, and its share of effective sequences, such as when Nadya is being pursued through the streets of Moscow by the Nazi twins, or skeletal “zombie knights,” riding into battle, in a way which reminded me of Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead movies. On the other hand, the apparently unfinished nature of the storyline is a shame, with an excess of loose ends and ideas that are set-up and never executed. After seven years, I think the chances are sadly slim of ever getting a sequel that will address this problem, and what you’re left with is a somewhat frustrating exercise in impressive imagination. The entire film has been made available by the distributor on YouTube, if you are interested in seeing more, after watching the trailer below.

Dir: Yoshiharu Ashino
Star (voice): Elena Chebaturkina, Michael Tikhonov, Ludmila Shuvalova, Damir Eldarov

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate


“Maybe it makes more sense if you’ve played the video-game?”

Bayonetta-Bloody-Fate-1I might have enjoyed this more, if I hadn’t recently sat through 25 episodes of basically the same plot, in Blood+. Generic anime storyline, #7: supernatural entity, trying to bring about the end of the world because… That’s what they do? In this case, there are sages and witches, who balance good and evil. 500 years ago, however, one from each side united, and the offspring was Bayonetta (Tanaka). She is now taking out angels, but there’s also a religious cult preparing for the rebirth of their saviour, a journalist who blames Bayonetta for the death of his father, and a mysterious, very whiny little girl, who keeps calling her “Mommy”. Who that turns out to be will surprise no one.

I had to piece together the above, and it’s kinda vague in some areas, I suspect largely because there’s an unspoken assumption that, if you’re watching this feature, you’ve played the video-game on which it is based. Now, that’s probably not an unfair assessment for the majority of viewers. However, any casual spectator (and I certainly fall into that category) is likely to be somewhere between confused and bored by the approach, which seems to gloss over stuff that warrants more exposition, and explains in details things that shouldn’t need it. For instance, at one point, Bayonetta is on a train, and is attacked by another woman, leading to a spectacular battle in, on and around the carriages. The attacker then vanishes from the movie for a long period, without explanation. Game players, I suspect, will know the who and why, far better than I did; to me, it just felt disjointed and badly constructed.

Which is a shame. I used the word “spectacular” in the previous paragraph, and there’s no questioning that aspect of proceedings. The look here is very stylized and elegant, especially during the numerous fight sequences, both imaginative and well-animated. in a way that reminded me, in some aspects, of the early Aeon Flux animated shorts. It’s just a pity this obvious effort wasn’t expended on a feature which provides little more than fan service, both in the storyline and a rather leering approach to its lead character, that is significantly less mature than the subject matter deserves. While I understand and accept Bayonetta herself is, to a certain extent, intended to be a parody of this kind of OTT character, the movie is probably only recommended if you’re looking for an animated superheroine who resembles Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. I get the feeling that is likely to be just a little bit too much of a niche market.

Dir: Fuminori Kizaki
Star (voice): Atsuko Tanaka, Norio Wakamoto, Tesshō Genda, Mie Sonozaki

Kite Liberator


“Half a star deducted, for being only half a movie.”

KiteLiberatorAnd not a very good movie at that, suffering from such multiple personality disorder, it sometimes feels that two completely different anime were spliced together in some mad scientist’s laboratory. If so, he clearly got bored and drifted off while the project was half complete, because this ends in a way which doesn’t so much suggest another part, as demand it unconditionally. Six years on, that still hasn’t materialized, making this about as appetizing as a half-cooked chicken. Oh, and speaking of mad scientists, there’s one of those in here too.

We’re a decade on from the events of the original Kite, and it seems Sawa has – without explanation – morphed into Monaka (Inoue). In between tracking down and killing paedophiles, she has a regular identity as a klutzy waitress at a cafe, where he co-worker Mukai (Okamura) protects her from the sleazy patrons. Monaka’s father is an astronaut, who has been in space for years. His space-station is visited by Kōichi Doi, a researcher investigating ways to preserve bone density in zero-G. However, it appears a combination of factors such as radiation, results in the astronauts mutating into monstrous creatures. After a firefight, Doi and his team bail out as the station disintegrataes, but the monster that Monaka’s father has become, is also on their craft, which crash-lands – conveniently right in her neighbourhood. A cover-up ensues, despite a trail of corpses, and Monaka is given her next mission: to kill the monster, unaware that it’s actually her father.

Which is pretty much where it ends, after a first battle between Monaka and him. Really: WTF? On its own, this is such an entirely pointless release, you have to wonder what happened. Even up to that point, this is problematic in a bunch of way, not least that Monaka is almost a minor character, and it appears to be a sequel in little more than name. While I’m not normally one to criticize a film for a lack of sex, this also lacks the severely transgressive or original qualities which made the original infamous. This is mostly a monster mash, which we’ve seen any number of times before. There is some potential for a second half, but I doubt it will ever happen. This is like tearing a book in two, selling the first half and never publishing the rest. If I had actually paid any money for this, I would be righteously pissed.

Dir: Yasuomi Umetsu
Star (voice): Marina Inoue, Akemi Okamura, Masakazu Morita, Setsuji Satō

Blood +: Episodes 1-25


“Bloody mediocre”

bloodThis is the third version of the same concept I’ve seen, following some years after the first animated version (released in 2000), but a couple of years before the live-action movie from 2009. What they both had over this was commendable brevity. If I’d realized the degree to which this was true, when I started the series on Netflix, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. The main problem, for anyone who has seen the other two takes, is that you know what’s going on. You’re well aware that the heroine Saya is a human-vampire crossbreed, who has now sided with humanity and dedicated her life to taking out the monsters. This was taken care of, quickly and efficiently, in the alternate versions, and we could move on to the kicking of vampiric ass. Here, however…. Not so much.

After 25 episodes – eight hours of story, even discounting credits – I still haven’t seen Saya in full-on attack mode. Indeed, I really don’t know a great deal more than I did after the first two parts, because the story unfolds at a glacial pace. A military group is trying to weaponize the “Chiropterans,” alongside a shady industrial conglomerate, Cinq Flèches. Opposing them is the Red Shield, dedicated to wiping out the Chiropterans, who can only be killed with a sword dipped in Saya’s blood. And then there is Saya’s own history: she may be a teenage girl in modern Okinawa, but she gradually remembers that she goes back through the Vietnam War, all the way to pre-Revolution Russia. Of course, telling this in chronological order would be too simple: not when she can have dramatically convenient amnesia, and recall things at whatever leisurely pace is needed by the plot.

Instead, we get a lot of chat about her not being fully “awakened” and, even more irritatingly, all the characters seem to know what’s going on, they just refuse to enlighten the audience. For instance, there’s a diary, started by the founder of Red Shield, Joel, which contains all his research; successive generations have kept it, to share with those who commit their lives to Red Shield. Do we get to know what’s in it? No, not even after Saya’s brother Kai is given the diary to read. It’s something which can be sustained for a short time, but as the episodes roll on, and information continues to be dribbled out, the approach becomes increasingly irritating. It’s a shame, since the core idea is imaginative, with scope for plenty of development, and the animation is solid, and better than I expected. There’s one wonderful episode in the middle, where an attack on a research facility unleashes children which turn into… things. I was all ready for this to be Saya’s blossoming, and the next dozen episodes to hurtle towards a thrilling conclusion. Didn’t happen.

Instead, we got more in the show’s ongoing series of inconclusive battles, with the villains muttering something dark and meaningful, before flying off into the night, and Saya recalls another incident from her past. By the time episode #25 rolled around, with the heroine finally getting to face off against the uber-mysterious Diva, I was wondering how it would all be wrapped up, but hardly unhappy to have finally reached the en… What? There’s another 25 episode chunk hidden elsewhere on Netflix? You have got to be kidding me. And, from the reviews I’ve read, these make the first batch look like masterpieces of storytelling. Don’t expect a review any time soon. Life’s just too damn short.

Dir: Junichi Fujisaku
Star (voice): Eri Kitamura, Akiko Yajima, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Junichi Suwabe

RIN ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~


“Harry Potter, with more lesbians.”

mnemosyne2There’s something to be said for not laying everything out on the line for your audience from the get-go, and only gradually revealing pertinent information. But do it too often, or for too long, and you run a significant risk of driving them away in bafflement. Such is probably the case here: for rather too long, it’s clear that the characters know a great deal more about what’s going on than the audience. The central character is Rin (Noto), a private investigator who, we soon discover, is immortal. We find this out because she keeps coming back after getting killed by Laura (Ohara), an assassin employed by the mysterious “Apos,” who thinks he/she is a god, and is intent on proving it. Turns out, this immortality is the result of Rin ingesting a spore from a tree known as Yggdrasil – yep, that’s ancient Norse. In Japan – which normal people can’t see. If a woman is infected, she becomes immortal. If a man does, he turns into an “angel”, a monster that hunts and eats the immortals, who have an irresistible urge to have sex with the angels.

There’s more. A lot more, spanning a century or so. Probably too much more than should be crammed in to six 45-minute episodes, but as I noted with AHS: Coven, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s fairly clear where it’s all going to end: a battle between Rin and He-who-must-not-be-named, Apos. Before we get there, however, there’s a lot of sex, much of it of the girl on girl variety, though with a significant quantity of BDSM as well, befitting is apparent origins on a Japanese version of Skinemax. That certainly makes this unsuitable for minors: some is necessary to the plot, but a lot of it feels more like fan service – a bit of a shame, because it needlessly devalues what’s a fairly intriguing concept, containing a good deal of imagination. Rin’s daily business, such as finding lost cats, always seems to end up dragging her into much more complex affairs, linked either to Apos or some big corporation.

Some of these are well done and are capable of standing alone, such as the third episode, which covers biological weapons and human testing, still something of a taboo subject in Japan (Don’t mention Unit 731. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it).  However, the closer we get to the big bad, the more confusing and less interesting things become. One review put it beautifully: “It feels like you’re just watching the characters explain what the hell is going on, while raping and eating each other.” I think the creators are trying to up the ante, but there’s little or no emotional wallop to the sexual sadism, with the result that it becomes kinda dull. However, it does also play to anime’s strengths, in that whatever the mind conceive, can be depicted. If you don’t get a frisson when the angel wings start sprouting, you’re a more phlegmatic individual than I. Overall, it’s worth a look, though you may want to track down the episode synopses first, and use them as a cheat-sheet.

Dir: Shigeru Ueda
Star (voice): Mamiko Noto, Rie Kugimiya, Nobuyuki Hiyama, Sayaka Ohara

[Random amusement: while looking for pics, I did a Google Search for images with “mnemosyne anime”. One of these things is not like the other. #AmyPondWTF?]

Kite trailer + clips

The adaptation of the infamous manga and anime was mentioned just a few days ago, in our 2014 preview, but we now have more info, in the shape of the first trailer, and four clips. Per the synopsis, it’s the story of “Sawa (India Eisley), a young woman living in a failed state after the financial collapse, where a corrupt security force profits on the trafficking of young women. When Sawa’s policeman father is killed, she vows to track the murderer down with the help of his ex-partner, Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson).”



“Broads with swords. Really big swords. And monsters. There will be blood.”

You can almost imagine the trailer for this anime series being done by The Trailer Guy [y’know, who does all the voice-overs for Hollywood action flicks]: “In a world where demons stalked the land… One woman… Was humanity’s final hope…” The particular focus here is Clare (Kuwashima), one of 47 Claymores, an all-female sect of nomadic warriors who travel a fictional country, battling the flesh-eating Yoma, with combat abilities that border on the magical. But doing so requires them to unleash their own Yoma power, an act which runs the risk of them becoming what they hunt if they lose control. Clare rescues Raki (Takagi), who becomes her companion and cook, but out heroine has a mission of her own: hunting down and killing the Yoma who, years previously, killed her own mentor, Teresa of the Faint Smile.

This 26-episode show does not skimp on the violence, to say the least, with limb-lopping and arterial spray, both human and demonic. the order of the day, and the style is nicely mature (I’m no fan of the huge eye approach so often seen in anime, which inevitably makes me think the show is aimed at 11-year-old girls. Sailor Moon has a lot to answer for). But what worked best for me was the characterization: it’s a neat role reversal, with the taciturn warrior being female, and the clingy tag-along, male. The other members of the organization, when we meet them, are also well-drawn, with their own back stories and motivations, as well as abilities. The interplay among them is fascinating, with a strict hierarchy, which Clare threatens to up-end, due to how she became one of them.

Two-thirds through, this was poised on the edge of greatness, but it ended up falling short. The sub-plot involving her splitting from Raki, and their subsequent reunion, is poorly handled, and the series topples over into repetitious battles, with the final few 25-minute episodes little more than two long fights, with a brief pause between them. One wonders if this might have worked better in a longer format: by the time you lop off opening and closing credits and the “story so far” sequence, there isn’t a lot of room to move the story on and provide the necessary quota of action. Do not expect any resolution either: the series ends in a way that requires a second season, which hasn’t happened at this point (the manga is ongoing, I think). Still, even as someone who is nowhere near as much an anime fan as I used to be, this was not unimpressive stuff, and definitely didn’t leave me feeling like I had wasted my time.

Dir: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Star: (voice) Houko Kuwashima, Motoki Takagi, Aya Hisakawa, Hana Takeda