Category Archives: Ratings 90-100

Pompo the Cinephile

PLOT: Operating out of the movie capital “Nyallywood,” Pompo has been shooting one B-grade entertainment flick after another that anyone would enjoy. One day, Pompo’s “movie buff” assistant Gene spots a new script written by Pompo, and is moved by its exquisite story. However, Pompo tells him to direct it. Thus, Gene takes on his first directing gig. Meanwhile, Natalie, an ordinary girl who just arrived in town with movie actress dreams, has been discovered by Pompo.  ~ANN

Animation Production: Studio CLAP [ Animation Production on the following works: The Tunnel of Summer the Exit of Goodbye / Animation Production Assistance for feature film BELLE]


  • Takayuki Hirao (Director on the following works: Futakoi Alternative, Garden of Sinners films, GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack, Mahou Shoujo Sisters Yoyo & Nene / Spy X Family Storyboard, Director, Art Supervisor, and Color Script for ending sequence / Director for Texhnolyze’s opening sequence)

Script: Takayuki Hirao

Storyboard: Takayuki Hirao

Music: Kenya Matsukuma (Black Clover OP composition [OP2, OP9, and ED3] / Occult Academy OP Composition for OPs 1 and 2])

Character Designer: Shingo Adachi (Character Designer for the following works: Galileo Donna / Sword Art Online / Director on Lycoris Recoil / Key Animator on Princess Principle)

Art Director: Miu Miyamoto (Background Artist for the following works: B The Beginning / Black Clover [at Studio Rufus] / Candy Boy ONA / Classroom Crisis [at Studio Who and subcontracted at Studio Rufus for episodes 3,4, and 8 through 12] / Demon Slayer [at UFOTABLE in-house] / Eden’s Bowy [at Studio WHO] / Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel III / Fuuto Pi [subcontracted at Studio Rufus] / Geneshaft / M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane / Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation [Background Art and Art Director] / The Promised Nederland Season 2 / The Tatami Galaxy / Weathering with You film)


An idiosyncratic film under the direction of a strongly creative director—-Takayuki Hirao. A little bit of history surrounding this film before I dive right into the content. Around 2017, Hirao was requested by Bandai videogame producer Yusuke Tomizawa about developing a film adaptation of a Pixiv manga series that he believed would suit Hirao’s style. Eventually this worked out because during this time Hirao was working on a novel with Shingo Adachi’s illustrations, and the publisher was Kadokawa. Both whom ended up working on Pompo — Adachi as character designer, which many of you might know his work as the character designer of Sword Art Online and Kadokawa went on to become the main financial backer for the film.

This one is a knockout as a cinematic experience—I really hope that this film garners enough attention because Pompo is the exact kind of film that reminds me that animation works like this one especially when the film’s story holds a variety of influences (much like the TV series Space Dandy held onto) isn’t a normal trend in the industry much anymore. You can really get a sense of how Hirao’s creative freedom was brought on by his predecessor Satoshi Kon. Pompo in my opinion, carries that same level of energy—a sharpness in the quick thick lines and then in the next few frames some of the film’s main characters specifically Gene and Nathalie Woodward contain wacky and very stylish expressions. Considering how well edited this film is and one has to wonder if Hirao is very much Gene himself. The animation doesn’t shine as much as series like Demon Slayer from UFOTABLE or Jujutsu aisen from MAPPA because it’s on a vastly different level—creatively open and unique. A seamless flow of well timed cutting and framing that is obtuse and well-crafted. Perpetuating the flair of this series bombastic and wildly aggressive animated integrity. The film is also complemented with stellar voice acting— establishing the central focal point that its conveying to the audience. Achieving your dreams and capturing the moments that matter.

In the story, Gene is set on making THE film that will make this happen however he doesn’t want to outshine his mentor—-Pompo. She’s an active and highly rated film director and producer that had made her mark with films of wide acclaim (carrying dozens of American and Japanese tropes in its commercialized marketing). The nice thing about this film is it allowed the film’s director, Hirao to unleash his potential both as an animator (as during his start of his career had a tough experience at Studio Ghibli) and as a director to expand his creativity resulting in a film that is messy, cheerful, bleak, and empowering—a story centered around filmmaking. The tour de force about this film is it’s attention to detail—the visual presence pays respects to classic Hollywood films that ultimately inspired the kinds of films that went on to be recognized at an academy level (Oscars, etc.).

Pompo also reminds us how tightly strict and difficult the anime industry is—much like TV anime’s Shirobako presented us a perspective on how anime gets made (in the framework of television broadcasts), this film depicts a timid editor that wants to step outside the bounds of his career and craft a story (with the help of Pompo’s writing) in order to capture that moment for audiences and in this case specifically bring the hotshot producer-writer Pompo to greater heights as both a film creative and a film cinephile. (Hence the title)

It’s extremely fitting how fourth-wall breaking Pompo the Cinephile truly is. Clocking in at 90 minutes (just as Gene’s edited film turns out to be) drives home how personal this film is about creativity within cinema. As much as I wanted this film to be longer, diving into the hearty details of film production at its core–that’s not what this film is about it. Pompo said it best when she said “directing is subjective and editing is objective”. Gene had literally been working himself to death editing a film in order to appease Pompo. I really enjoyed how it were these exhausting moments for Gene to discover he would need to add an additional scene to really capture that defining moment for the film he’s editing. Like he said, it wouldn’t be his film if he wasn’t editing it anymore. Cutting out all of the moments that didn’t matter (in a visually shonen style–slicing through the film reels with a sword) helped elevate the overarching theme centered around what was more important. He would be faced with a challenge by figuring how the film should be edited–objectively or subjectively? Cutting out those scenes with Nathalie Woodward and Martin Braddock hit home with this quite a bit. Ultimately it would be that this editing moment would help Gene to grow as an editor and Pompo acknowledging his skill but this wasn’t about him being accepted but rather what the film he was going to make in order for Pompo to relive her love of cinema as a child.

Pompo the Cinephile relies on creative passion and paying respects to the very films that inspire people to channel their own energy into works of cinema.


On a side-note, my real life obligations have kept me busy and I have had virtually zero time to write for this blog. Hopefully this will change and I will review and as such I am looking for writers for my blog interested in writing for this site. If you are interested in tackling a series and or film(new or current) email me at

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] [93/100]

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A show that masterfully created suspenseful drama. Productions were top notch–visuals by A-1 Pictures put this towards the top of my list as some of the best animation including its wonderful cinematography!  Yuki Kajiura scored a dramatic soundtrack and it pays off!  Especially with Kayo’s scenes between her mother and the incredible detail on object framing throughout the kids conversations at school!

We get a realistic perspective on how Satoru grows up through the eyes of a child.  If it weren’t for Satoru’s mother, Sachiko, being such a strong parental figure (supporting Satoru’s decision on not abandoning Kayo) in this series I would not have rated this in the 90’s.  It’s because of her we understand Akemi’s treatment of her own child, Kayo, and that Boku Machi is more than just a chilling murder mystery series.  It is clearly seen by the first half of this anime that the director chose to highlight the friendships (Kayo x Satoru) rather than focusing on Satoru finding out who killed his mom [until towards the end of the anime].  We get a concurring theme of murder mystery that helps him get closer to Kayo–the animation and cinematography were important in getting this across.  We see realistic scenes between the two of them from hand holding to birthday parties and while being in his 10-year old self it’s Satoru’s job to protect Kayo it also rewarding that he is learning new things about himself and why he couldn’t connect with his mom and friends before.  His revival ability gives him the chance at a “do-over” and it’s amazing to watch it pan out.  Offering us well-written inner dialogue scenes from heartfelt moments to comedic scenes.

Director Tomohiko Ito [Sword Art Online] cut out a lot from the manga and still managed to give us an ending that is satisfying.  The manga explains that Satoru can rerun moments of time backwards sometimes of his choosing.  In the anime, his ability is known as revival where it occurs through a situation that leads to tragedy.   In the manga, chapter 3 explores this in detail when Katagiri Airi and he discover a building getting torn down and Satoru has a rerun.  He knows something is off and discovers a child stuck in an elevator shaft.  After saving the child’s life he discovers that Katagiri’s first name is Airi and they call each other on a first name basis after the incident.  In the anime this entire scene is completely removed resulting in a lack of characterization for Airi. And still the anime captured even Airi’s moments nicely.  Using her as Satoru’s push forward in the middle of this story worked–Satoru can lean on his friends for help.  IF it wasn’t for her punch scene with the manager and the entire fire sequence I don’t think Satoru would have leaned on his friends, especially Kenya, as much as he did in the second half of Boku Machi.



On a side note I thought I’d share some upcoming events my anime club is having. If anyone is interested in helping out with my events please contact me.

Anime Nights’ Facebook Events

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso [91/100]

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This show is bittersweet–depicting the lives of middle school students enjoying their youth and experiencing hardships.  Noitamina picked a wonderfully written manga to adapt and the music sells this show a ton!

A-1 Pictures adapted Naoshi Arakawa’s manga faithfully.  It’s beautifully drawn with very detailed character designs by Yukio Aikei!  This is a wonderful series that ties the bonds between friends together through music and love.  Arima Kousei’s growth is one of the big highlights of Shigatsu as we see him placing fear onto himself due to his mother’s death.  The contrast that gets him out of his shell is Kaori Miyazono.  She’s free-spirited and much like his childhood friend, Tsubaki Sawabe, she’s got this drive to fix Kousei out of his slump.  The connection is that they are both musicians and this is how the romance develops between the two of them.  They’re both learning their own sounds by practicing together and discovering they’ve got strong chemistry!

Masaru Yokoyama’s soundtrack fits extremely well into this–  picking from a range of popular classical insert songs to a collection of original pieces that are just as emotionally moving as the animation and its engaging characters!  When it comes to a series about music it’s pivotal that you need sound to get this story moving and it doesn’t let go of this idea ever.  This is one series I would highly recommend to anyone that’s a fan of music or romance.  It touches on parental loss and the huge respects are paid to this theme throughout as Kousei goes on his journey discovery that in order to get over his mother’s death and realize his feelings for Kaori he must find his own way of voicing it out even if its through playing piano.

If you like Nodame Cantabile‘s focus into music than I’d say you would enjoy this series.  A lot of criticism from Shigatsu stems from its overdramatic scenes and moments where the show at times leans more on a characters’ emotions rather than the musical performances themselves.  In my opinion I find this to be a pretty big success to the series’ way of reminding us that these are middle school students and they need all the room to grow up in their own ways.


Yuri Kuma Arashi [94/100]

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Kunihiko Ikuhara.  From Revolutionary Girl Utena to Mawaru Penguindrum comes a story about young girls falling in love.  His stories as I’ve mentioned previously contain a narrative pattern–  repetition, sexual symbolism and of course the addition of fanciful elements.  In this case its bears and what these creatures represent both for women and the important of the absence of males in Yuri Kuma.  I believe the reason for this is to enhance the dynamic between true love and lust.

Kureha Tsubaki lost her mother to a bear, fell in love with a bear and is coming to grips with Sumika being eaten by a bear.  She’s trying to find her own place in a world [the school] caught up in the Invisible Storm.  These Kumalia bears are depicted as the aggressors both out of survival instinct and sexual desires.  An incredible look at same-sex relationships by using a court system [which interestingly enough is led by males] to judge human compassion, the validity of friendships and how far people will go in order uphold these ideals. As strange as the beginning may have been for a lot of viewers its typical Ikuhara fashion.  A style I find engrossing.  The final three episodes were probably the best this show has to offer as it ties any sort of confusion together quite nicely.  The weird elements of bears ‘eating’ girls’, the imagery of lilies being deflowered/clipped and Lulu’s seductive behavior towards Ginko act as symbolic pieces to a fairly straightforward narrative about maintaining friendships and understanding yourself from a girls perspective.  Perhaps this is why Ikuhara decided on shifting the focus away from manly tropes–  Yurika’s father is represented as a male with female features in masculine clothing.  The judges aren’t even human which is why they are oddly designed to be a patriarchy with moe designs.  Really stick out with Yuri Kuma because underneath all of Ikuahra’s intentional softcore visuals, naughty dialogue and whimsically-driven storytelling lies a simple story about friendships and love overcoming societal structure!

One of the most incredible character study series I’ve ever seen apart from Simoun.  The focus isn’t just on Kureha but for most of episode 4 towards the beginning there is a look at Lulu’s life at the kingdom, eventually we get to see Yurika’s backstory and the motif behind bride-in-the-box.  What’s even more prevalent throughout is how dead characters are just as important as the main cast!  Sumika represents Kureha’s courage, Reira is the reminder to her that you should never give up on your dreams and accept things with your heart fully.  The picture book [and it’s incredible watercolor drawn art] amplifies innocence from Kureha’s perspective wonderfully.  Mirun, Lulu’s brother is the same as well!

The animation in this show is done amazingly solid.  This and Rolling Girls have some of the best background art of the Winter 2015 season!  Especially the storybook sequences!

The soundtrack is top notch.  Paint animator on Patema Inverted and composer/arranger Yukari Hashimoto wrote songs for this that are filled entirely with chromatic piano melodies, chorus and techno sections!  It fits Yuri Kuma perfectly with its transitions from downright weird to passionately engaging and heartfelt.

I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of Ikuhara’s other works.


Death Parade [95/100]

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Perhaps I’m being too picky when it comes to Death Parade‘s finale.  I enjoyed it quite a bit and the conclusion to Onna’s journey was satisfying yet I wanted so much more. [sad that we won’t be hearing that groovy opening sequence again]  I really wanted this series to be episodic and channel its progress through the people that mysteriously end up at Queen Decim.  However, I do want to say that this series worked out extremely well as a week-to-week build-up narrative.  It’s incredibly awesome!  Realistically grim with its characters that adds in the supernatural elements with the various death games where we get to see how precious life is.

Rather than focusing just on its side-cast, Death Parade presents the dead as this sort of knot of human relationships that breaks just about every episode in order to build up the true intentions of this show:  what is that makes people human?  A question that Decim never would have thought of from an emotional standpoint if it were not for Onna.  Her past greatly enhances this question wonderfully and I believe where Oculus acts as the pendulum in establishing a power struggle within the staff is where we see this theme is explored from an Arbiter’s point of view more clearly.  Her desire to make Decim more human through Onna’s heartfelt experience as a side-kick arbiter gives us an emotional roller coaster ride with the help of some amazing animation by MADHOUSE!  The nod to Death Note‘s Light Yagami also represents how far this show gathers its dead people from.  Now lets see a second season of this with a Red Garden crossover!

Just a few days ago I re-watched this entire series.  There is a ton of foreshadow about the puppets being the humans that are brought to the bar and Nona’s plans.  I really like the part of this series in episode 11 where the puppets are clapping at the end of Onna’s skating performance–  a fitting send-off from QueenDecim and into another part of life after death!  Given that we see Episode 1’s Machiko in a later episode as a puppet I would venture to guess they were clapping as foreshadow that she would become a puppet herself.  Glad the ending left that portion of the story open.  It’s these final glimpses of a person’s life that Death Parade achieves near perfect in terms of character development–  Chisato’s real appearance as the elevator doors are closing, Yousuke crying over the fact he killed himself, Shimada’s obsession with avenging his sister by killing Tatsumi again, the desperation Maya has in being with Harada in her final moments and most importantly Onna crying over seeing Decim genuinely smile.  All these situations portray regret, compassion, anger, hatred, and so many other emotions wonderfully well throughout this series which is why these final moments in these characters leave such a huge impact each week!

I sure hope creator Yuzuru Tachikawa can make another one of these just as good as this one if not better!


Garo -Honō no Kokuin [91/100]

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Keita Amemiya got his start in the anime industry in character monster designing with 1989’s Ultraman. His first created work had been on Iria: Zeiram The Animation.  An action sci-fi adventure series.  Where he really shines though is in his fantasy works–  Mahou ShoujotaiGaro and horror OVA G-9.

Makai Knights under a code of honor by the Order are sent throughout the land to kill Horrors–  humans that are consumed by their own grief and/or hatred.  German’s wife is killed by being burned at the stake fueling the inevitable witch hunts led by Valiante King’s advisor Mendoza.  Some of the best narratives are the side-cast that Garo focuses on.  The horror doctor, the mother and child outed from their village, the blacksmith overcome by his grief of losing his son–  so many personal issues with these minor characters really build this world into a larger piece that plays onto Mendoza’s hatred wonderfully well.  His backstory is awesome:  he throws his wife and child off a cliff because they are marked just like him after he was banished from the Order as a Makai Alchemist because he was power hungry.

Ema Guizman is one of the strongest female characters of the past few seasons–  she’s doesn’t believe in the Makai Knights and tries to shoulder everything on her own.  The episode where her love with human-turned horror Luciano really illustrates the relationships people have with each other and how the code these Makai Knights and Alchemists follow can sometimes in unfortunate circumstances can change them.  Sometimes though the plot is flimsy–  the handmade Garo Knight felt entirely out of left field just for the sake of bringing back blacksmith apprentice Juliano.  Sometimes there’s overacting in times that doesn’t need to be just to deliver a more intense mood.  However, overall the story is so good that it’s easily passable.

The soundtrack is just as good as the art–  really dark and ambitious.  MONACA founder Keiichi Okabe is amazing–  I couldn’t tell this came from the same group that did the score of Hourou Musuko!  It has understated piano tracks and very toned down drum sections compared to Hiroyuki Sawano.  It works wonderfully in this series that is subtle with its grim narratives.  If you are a fan of Mahou Shoujotai, enjoy watching fantasy series with more mature themes than I highly recommend this series that is a twisted take on the tokusatsu genre!

Let’s see more original series from Amemiya like this one in the future!


Mushishi Zoku Shou [98/100]

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This is my 299th post and what better way to end this here than with my final review of Mushishi‘s second half Zoku Shou.

There really isn’t a single series out there like this one.  This show is awesome!  What anime series lack in characterization Mushishi more than makes up for in its wide cast.  This is certainly a show that blows just about every other anime out of the water by focusing on people individually.  A big applause to Yuki Urushibara for writing such etherial and sometimes relaxing stories!  A lot of the episodes come across being really deep in its settings and themes but what really sets this anime apart from the rest is the atmosphere it gradually maintains–  luscious forests and even snow scenes with glowing mushi allows for this series to come off quite beautiful visually!

The extra is how strong the music is.  While the stories about people being afflicted by mushi in some form or another tackles japanese folklore and legends its very much in the way of its soundtrack that delivers the authenticity that this show is known for.  It sets itself up nicely for the viewer.  Toshio Masuda,  I’ve mentioned him before in Kamisama Kiss’ recent episode post and how well diverse he is getting to be as a composer.  Without a doubt Mushishi still stands as the best work he’s ever done and without it I do not believe Ginko’s tales would have been so effective.

When Zoku Shou got announced I was rather worried because there are times when series do come back for a sequel and some of the staff doesn’t return;  which can greatly hinder the differences between seasons drastically for the viewer.  A fine example of this was last season’s Psycho-Pass 2 in how the writer and production studio changed.  With Mushishi,  just as the stories are authentic it strived to adapt the manga with so much heart it had to have just about every staff member return.

Director Hiroshi Nagahama most known for helping conceive Revolutionary Girl Utena‘s animated work hasn’t done much but what he has achieved has been incredible.  This guy has done wonders for this series, to be able to maintain such consistency in every keeping the high standards the first season had set after having such a large gap between seasons 1 and 2 is an amazing achievement in itself!  One of my favorite series that he actually created was Simoun.  As for the animation I personally think its some of the best we’ve had of 2014 and Studio Artland pulled it off once again!  Mushishi isn’t flashy and doesn’t like to show off but more importantly what it aims at is whether or not it can tell a solid narrative.

This second season I think may have had some of the best chapters adapted.  It’s also one of the few anime series that has animated every single chapter a mangaka has ever done!  We start off with a sake brewer and his connection with his father’s wishes to be the best there is to episodes like Komori E and Koten no Hoshi that bring families even closer together by shifting the focus away from Ginko and using the mushi as the mediator to point things out.

Then there are some really dark stories that come off even better than the light-hearted ones!  Stories where people disappear into nothingness, chopping off heads to keep a woman alive, getting frostbitten, a fish-like boy turning into water to people killing each other out of rage–  these were episodes that were definitely on another level.  While they weren’t cruel they just put humans in ethical predicaments.  The mushi for the most of Zoku Shou remains a principal string that ties these episodes together into the genre of supernatural so well.  It’s because of that this anime is also able to develop these minor characters into the grand scheme of things.  The reoccurring theme of survival and what comes with it.  The life-cycle that is represented in a lot of Mushishi episodes conveys a strong message about morality and what kinds of customs the characters of this series follow and sometimes don’t.

Mushishi can make us laugh and cry within a single episode while pondering so many questions about human connections and even teach us about Japanese traditions.  A powerfully moving anime that invokes a spirited presence with stunning visuals and an enriching collection of ideas about our existence and the people that we connect with that can make it a fulfilling life.


Space Dandy [Seasons 1 and 2] [99/100]

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Episode **: I Can’t Write a Review with Stale Words, Baby

Instead of talking about just the 2nd half or rather Season 2 I thought it’d be better to discuss this in its entirety: Episodes 1 through 26, we are finally at the end [for now] one that has been a stupendous ride.  Now this is an anime that takes risks, one that says screw it with conventions; it is a series that takes a concept only to reintroduce it in an entirely obscure way!  This sci-fi adventure comedy is absolutely perfect, and if I had to nitpick something it would be that we did not get enough scenes of the Boobies restaurants or even more of Admiral Perry.  Aside from that, Space Dandy has a been monumental anime series in the genre of space opera.

Wacky, fun, weird, and downright hilarious narratives that Dandy is thrown into with tales of an alien hunter and his companions.  This series very much could have ended on episode 14 as it returned the world to a somewhat rightful place but there was a catch–  an entirely different kind of Dandy and crew!  A show that always seems to create loose ends yet explain them in future episodes.

Space Dandy is a visual feast and the stories were so eclectic– Dandy decides to become a racer, catch a big fish, sing in a high-school built on musicals, gets captured by giant talking plants, meets aliens that have no reflection only to fall in love with a woman who is the essence of a planet, joins a rock group with the leader of the Jaicro Empire, travels through a 2-dimensional world and fought off a giant omnivorous booby monster.   It took on tons of challenges by being varied, where its content was boundless in the people on screen, and animation designs it took ideas and ran with them with just about every episode delivering amazing results!

Shinichiro Watanabe [General Director] oversees the project with various animators, episode directors, scenario writers and musical artists:  what a clever idea!  So many influences that tackle each story in creating an overwhelming universal science fiction comedy series.  There were a ton of big names in the industry working on this huge project that Watanabe wanted to tell.

Masaaki Yuasa one of my favorite directors in the business helmed Episode 16 that tells the story of a talking carp and his hardships to get back home with the help of Dandy and his misfit companions!  This was one of the most unusual tales of Dandy that we had as it shifted the world that Shingo Natsume [Director] and Watanabe built up with a dose of Yuasa’s perspective and storytelling.  As hilarious as these episodes have been, one that definitely stands out is the rock and roll adventure that Dandy experiences with his galactic buddy Johnny.  Every idea of starting a rock band would’ve have been thrown in, and Sayo Yamamoto wrote a powerful piece about how much music can sway human emotions even!

One of the more surprising directors of the 2nd half had to be Yasuhiro Nakura:  this is where Dandy experiences an other-worldy dimension caught up between life and death and needs to get out of the planet Limbo!  Nakura is not only a director but an animator as well, as he was the one who drew the characters for Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis. A fantastic cyberpunk drama film about self-discovery and corruption and with an episode of Space Dandy about the contemplation of death it was nice to have a long-time director of this caliber put to good use in this.  We also had some extremely talented animators on this episode as well–  Kazumi Inadome of UN-GO’s character designs and Chikashi Kubota of Shikabane Hime on top of the original character designer of the show Yoshiyuki Ito.  Incredible stuff!  These were just a few of the staff members behind the production of Space Dandy, but one aspect I’ve neglected to mention more notably in my previous posts are the composers that bring these tales to life!

After reading quite a few staff interviews and anime panel discussions Watanabe and his team sought out a lot of people for this project that some even turned down: one of them being Hideaki Anno [director of Neon Genesis Evangelion].  It’s a shame really, because he could have given us a wildly produced philosophical turn to the many worlds of Dandy.

Without ado I want to talk about the style of music that the creators chose for this.  KenKen and Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro provided a lot of the jazz scores incorporated into Space Dandy, I can definitely see an influence by Yoko Kanno as she has worked with Watanabe on numerous works including Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon.  Mabanua wrote some pieces to Sakamichi no Apollon and there is one track especially that I can hear sounds reminiscent of the late Nujabes [musical composer of Samurai Champloo] with their musical style!

LUVRAW&BTB provided one of the best songs out of the entire season with I’m Losing You [featured in Episode 23].  Without the use of these amazing artists and many more I felt that Space Dandy would not have been as energetically meaningful as it was:  episodes that immersed you into the varied inhabitants of oddly designed planets that tied together in developing fantastic space adventures.

There are a few other shows I can think of that had a similar effect on me:  MushishiCowboy BebopSamurai ChamplooTrigun and Master Keaton.  Obviously, as you can tell some of the works listed here are Watanabe projects as he has this creative vision at delivering such entertaining series that push the limits outside of the box.  Take the traditional anime of today, shows like Ben-To, Highschool DxD, Nisekoi, heck even Free! might look really good in terms of animation but lack substance.  Fan-service that most of the time will overwhelm a story with struggling characters that are often change emotionally for the sake of the plot resulting in sometimes weak endings.  I’m actually rather disappointed in the state of the anime industry, but every season we get a few gems and Space Dandy is one of them.

I would highly recommend a first-time watcher of Japanese anime to this series, that is if you can handle the occasional perverse tongue in cheek humor.  Space Dandy has single-handedly toppled all of Watanabe’s previous works! [even Zankyou no Terror] Week after week this anime series just worked flawlessly–  it made me laugh, cry, and rooting for Dandy and his friends whether their decisions were in the right or not!

It ranks as my #1 best anime series of all time beating Cowboy Bebop by a hair. A spiritual successor to a very fundamental show that generated a success in gathering new fans worldwide.  This has been a wonderful sci-fi series that includes many Bebop homages from Dr. Gel looking like Jet, the bird in the final episode, the fridge that has shown up numerous times,  Dandy’s line in the Lovers are Trendy episode where he says bang.  I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed out on as there had been tons of other references as well including: Eureka Seven, Hagane no Renkinjitsushi, Google, Chuck Norris, and the reveal of Admiral Perry.

Dandy acquires a large amount of pionium and episode after episode they seem to foreshadow the fact that he’s split himself up into different universes and timelines.  Never would have thought that this show would have utilized the multiverse theory in such detail like it did in subtle fashion adding elements of the real heart of this story inside of all these random episodes where Dandy turns into a zombie, dies numerous times either from getting blown up, being replaced by another version of himself, dancing until the world explodes, and turning down god for boobies.

Which moves to my next point as to why this show is so clever it has unbelievable dialogue.  It’s great that many viewers have been given the chance to see this show [that is the first of its kind I might add] to premiere a show in English prior to its Japanese airing.  There are quite a few lines throughout that remain subtitled in English, as they are kept intact in a native tongue in order to express the level of realism that this show has captured with its diverse worlds and creative aliens.  Nonetheless, one part of this show that is much more humorous than the Japanese is how well the English is came through in Dandy and the large cast he encountered on his various adventures.  Having learned from the downfall that Cowboy Bebop had in its initial broadcast run back in 1997, it feels as though Shinichiro Watanabe devoted this animated work to the Western fans of anime.

With a wide range of voice actors, episode directors and animators  Space Dandy was able to pay homage to many science fiction films and novels of the past.  Without a doubt this was the best anime of the year and one series that should not be missed, that is to say that this is as Dandy as any show can get!


If you like this you might also enjoy:

–  Cowboy Bebop

–  Outlaw Star

– Space Adventure Cobra

Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo] [97/100]

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Bless by Arnor Dan is one of the best insert songs I’ve heard all year and such incredible direction!  This was without a doubt one of the best series to air this entire summer season, and I stand by what I’ve said previously– Zankyou no Terror is the best work that Shinichiro Watanabe has ever done.  Now, only time will tell if this still rings true as we’ve still got the final episode of Space Dandy [Watanabe’s other work] to air.  I also stick by what I’ve said about the music production of this show: This is Yoko Kanno’s most compelling soundtrack of her entire career!


As stunning as the visuals and the score have been, for Zankyou it isn’t much about what’s being shown on screen rather than what is the underlining meaning behind it all.  As I have said many times before, Zankyou is a show that leaves nothing behind, it does its research [thermite reactions, dismantling a bomb, to the scenes of the bombings].  VON means ‘hope’ in Icelandic and from what I’ve gathered here, is that Sphinx didn’t want to harm anyone.  All they wanted was to be noticed after being neglected and tossed aside in a misguided attempt to improve the structure of the country.  Sphinx’s goal– the collapse of current-day Japan, a society that loosened up after World War II, separating itself from being a strong nation into one that could revitalize itself by starting over–a step, although a primitive one, so to speak, was an attempt at justice or perhaps, revenge.


Nevertheless, it took a year to regain what Sphinx had done, and it is their cause that gave the youth of Japan a voice.  Miyami and Aoki wanted to dismiss Shibazaki’s investigation into the Athena Plan, so when Miyami questioned Shibazaki about whether or not he would go to the authorities, it was a two-sided endeavor.  One that wasn’t meant just for the adults in this show but for the kids as well.  Quoting Miyami here further establishes this:

“…no more than a small voice in the midst of a storm. That voice will disappear before it reaches anyone.”

Mukasa also clearly pointed out a crucial piece to understanding Sphinx a bit further very early on.  If I recall it was around Episode 3 where he says,

“Anyway, don’t you think Sphinx is lonely, too? They probably just want attention. They’re kids aren’t they?”

Kids that were stripped of their childhood, as well as the very will to live.  We see this theme strongly hinted at with Five’s personality.  Hellbent on tracking Nine down, to beat him at his own game, and this episode, illustrated very well the impact she made on the FBI.  They didn’t want these kids doing whatever they wanted and pulling a trigger on a bomb anytime, anywhere.

However, this is one of the issues I have with this series.  Five is a very clichéd villain in that she’s got a temper that feels completely out of place for the FBI, and when she goes overboard at the airport putting a bomb on a plane, why wouldn’t the FBI just stop her?  Why did Clarence even go along with her plan to capture Nine?  There were so many inconsistencies with the FBI and her character that it felt rather forced just to push this story quickly ahead.  If Five had to be in this at all, she should have been eliminated after her decision on the airport situation.

We saw throughout this show, that young people were utilizing technology so prevalently that they (just as the children from the Settlement) had forgotten how to interact with each other, whether forced by higher-ups or societal change.  I do want to point out that Mukasa playing his video games largely indicated this.  I was surprised to find that this was the real meaning behind Sphinx’s actions– a vital theme to the very end.  To renew Japan to a time that would not allow for such atrocities to occur were in the words of Shibazaki:

“A long time ago, when I was young, there were teenagers who threw rocks at the riot police and fought against the government. Even though Sphinx are called terrorists now, in a different time… they might’ve been called something else.”

Looking back, the English title Terror in Resonance isn’t even about the explosions Sphinx set off throughout Japan but in how everyone in this series had a role that would be detrimental to the progression of the story.  Shibazaki a washed out detective who is at the tip of a government conspiracy would only unravel into injustice in order to release himself from his past [Shunzo Miyami’s death].  Kurahashi maintaining his position as chief of the Japanese police all the while staying on the good side of the FBI, the wrecked home and school life of Lisa accurately depicts her gradual transition throughout this anime between depressed teenager to a young woman searching for a subtle and sweet acceptance from terrorists [Nine and Twelve].

Even the FBI tries to stand firm in taking over for the Japanese police in recovering the atomic bomb, while for a while there it worked but Five ultimately shook this up quite a bit.  They didn’t want to make it known that they had been a large part of Japan’s underhanded plan to whisk children away in order to not just improve the country but the possibility of enhancing the populace worldwide.  Considering how this plan had backfired the mass media couldn’t know about their involvement thus resulting in the astounding repercussions at the Settlement with Nine and Twelve in the final episode.

In short Zankyou no Terror is a stunningly beautiful piece of art in the anime industry:  A heart-felt nihilistic journey towards retribution that is just a slight take on the modern-day issues of terrorism and corruption.



Kill la Kill [90/100]

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So with my final impression underway I will try to refrain from spoiler plot points for those that have not seen this show.

Without a doubt in my mind this was one of my favorite anime series to have aired in the Fall 2013 to Winter 2014 timeslot.  That season wasn’t as difficult to figure out what was good and what ended up being horrible unlike the spring and summer season of this year that we’ve had.  Putting aside some of the great offerings of the Winter 2014 season, the Fall 2013 season was for the most part nonexistent.

Kyoukai no Kanata [Beyond the Boundary] was a very beautiful series to watch but the plot was lacking whole heartedly.  Samurai Flamenco was crazy fun with all of the changing of genres yet the ending didn’t feel complete.  Originally I stopped watching Diabolik Lovers only to later finish it after it’s airing and it was one of the worst anime adaptations from an otome game I’ve ever seen.  Galilei Donna had promise with the use of history about Galileo but ended up being too short for how much material the creators chose to include.  Coppelion had pretty background visuals and a neat premise at first but here just like Galilei Donna fell short due to it’s rushed and incoherent ending.  Pupa was a short-lived disaster that was only getting delayed because the television broadcasters were too afraid of airing risky gory animation.  This resulted in the final product of the blu-ray being horribly animated. The only other series aside from Kill la Kill that I can think of that had a lasting impression on me was Kyousogiga.  Talk about an inventive  science fiction and fantasy series- one that takes you to a whole other level.  Reminded me a little bit of Mahou Shoujotai in how the world was very mystical.  Kyosogiga was a really unique show to watch each week!

Hiroyuki Imaishi the director of Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt and got his start as a key animator for Anno’s Evangelion series left Gainax with Masahiko Ohtsuka to establish their new animation studio. Trigger.  Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the best mecha series I have ever seen it was just written exceptionally well.

Kill la Kill is something of a spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann– without that show I do not believe this anime nor Anime Mirai Projects’ Little Witch Academia would have been made.  Gurren influenced so many themes that Kill la Kill uses throughout its progression- with the overall presentation being ‘intensified’.

Ryuko Matoi the average transfer student with a mysterious past is hell-bent on revenge- sounds simple right?  Uncovering the mysterious other half of her scissor blade only to embark on a journey with oddly-formed friendships and the boldness to show some skin.  She’s a lot like Yoko from Gurren in how she is viewed by the men throughout the series- both anime known for fan service sequences largely incorporated into the plot.  A lot of the times in Gurren while it would come off as extremely funny I felt like it was unnecessary for the heart of the story.  Here it is portrayed as a strong structure as clothing and sexuality became the big message of Kill la Kill.  Incorporating this as the main focus in mind- with the help of Gainax’s animation techniques makes out its visuals to be uniquely engaging and attractive.

This is a series that illustrates the mahou shojo genre fairly well as it piles on with each episode a fierce performance with the intention of being profoundly seductive.  This is where its interesting as Senketsu is the motivational force in pushing Ryuko further and further into something more than just a schoolgirl.  This does however spiral in a huge reveal towards the end- I’d say I was pretty satisfied with that moment.  Very interesting concept to develop clothing as more than what it is- quite the element of surprise for an anime that looks to be your typical action/adventure series.

The big problem however is in how this show portrays its villains.  At first we are to believe its Satsuki Kiryuin and her Elite Four of the student council, but in fact it’s just a mother with the desire to control the world.  This has been done to death in anime series!

The soundtrack, where do I even start? It was quite powerful but it had its share of issues.  Hiroyuki Sawano is becoming one of the most productive composers in the industry- being that he has so much on his list since 2011, and he’s got a ton of works on his plate even this year!  The problem however is how indistinguishable every song is- and it’s not just in this anime that he has done this to- in where he chooses high impact rather than being influentially creative with diversity.  You could paste some of the tracks he’s provided for this show into Aldnoah.Zero and it would have worked just the same.  I will say that he’s got a knack for an explosive style that creates passionate sequences- songs that are very compelling to give a listen to but where there is not a whole lot of substance like composer Yoko Kanno has pulled off.  Zankyou no Terror, Cowboy Bebop, Sakamichi no Apollon, and even Darker than Black were widely varied- I could go on with her list of incredibly mixed compositions!

If Mako Mankanshoku hadn’t been in Kill la Kill I’m sure I would have rated this around a 80 or so.  She is the best character in this series as she personifies the best friend trope so well.  A wacky and playful schoolgirl is just the break this show needed from all the adrenaline pumping action scenes and intense angst-filled drama.  I’d also like to mention how cool Tsumugu was- that’s one hell of a way to give someone an introduction in Episode 5!


If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

– Basquash!