We're back from the holidays and are feeling great with all the great new titles we have on site! If you haven't checked them out yet, we've compiled a list of reviews for you to check out so you can get a better idea of what may be up your alley. Don't forget to stay tuned as we will have a gaggle of contests coming up with more chances for you to win some great prizes!
The blockbuster 1997 movie Men in Black influenced the movie going public in two ways. First, it made it cool to wear black suits and ties outside of funerals but more importantly it got people thinking if aliens lived among us. In the Men in Black universe, aliens for the most part were not interested in world domination or creating an Earth utopia, instead they were more concerned with peacefully living alongside humans and keeping their extra terrestrial origins a secret. Level E explores this very concept but instead of focusing on an organization focused on keeping the peace between the two species, the anime takes a closer look to how an average person would react to such information.
Yukitaka Tsutsui is the first major character introduced in Level E. He’s not a huge follower of the paranormal nor does he keep tabs on any possible alien sightings, instead he’s just a normal high school student who’s attending a high school out in the country to play baseball. On the day he moves in to his new apartment, he finds his boxes unpacked and finds a strange man (later revealed to be an alien assuming the form of a human) in his bedroom wearing his clothes. Presented with such a strange pediment Yukitaka, does what any normal person under such circumstances would do, promptly force the strange man out of his house with further threats to call the police. It was this point in the episode that sold me on the series. Yukitaka reacts appropriately to his circumstances, he’s not overly accepting toward the existence of aliens nor does he openly dismiss any evidence in front of him when in the name of skepticism.
It’s worth talking about Level E’s lead alien who goes by the name of Prince. While he is not a violent individual he does go out of his way to push Yukitaka’s buttons. The interaction between the two are downright hilarious and a highlight of the series. Far too often we see aliens in fiction as being more blissfully naïve and it’s because of their ignorance that they cause their human benefactors grief, that’s not the case in Level E. Prince loves giving the baseball player a huge headache and the only thing funnier than watching the lengths he will go just to do this are Yukitaka’s reactions. The two of them carry a bit of a Saosuke and Chidori vibe from Full Metal Panic.
As customary with all shows about aliens living on Earth, there also exist a government branch that’s determined to find Prince and hints of a deeper conflict are dropped in the first episode alone. The series seems to be walking a fine balance between comedy and sci-fi drama as Yukitaka has to do his best to keep Prince’s existence hidden from everyone around him and to make sure that Prince’s pranks don’t drive him to an early grave. With more episodes to comeLevel E is shaping up to be a good sci-fi series worth watching that will peak your interest and funny bone at the same time.
She certainly has the sex appeal of a holiday resort card dealer, but is there more to this character than just a pretty face and a pretty...generous figure? Based on Tecmo's popular series of pachinko machines (Japanese pinball), Rio: Rainbow Gate takes a regular game such as standard playing cards and gives them a whole new burst of life transforming them into something you'd want to collect! [Mind you, there are only 52 and they come in one pack so your collecting spree would be over before it began~] Also, it's a rare addition to the genre of gambling anime with only Saki and Hikaru no Go springing off the top of my head.
The action takes place at the gawdy holiday world of Howard Resort which seems to take the best of all the tourist hotspots of America as well as the fashionista heartland of the Mediterranean thereby creating a glorious utopia that ANYBODY can find and do what they desire. Of course – you gotta have a casino in this world and this is where the bulk of the action takes place. Enter our lead Rio “Rollins” Tachibana, also known as the “Goddess of Victory” and our child lackey Mint Clark to help carry the plot along. Rio has an innate gift to spread good luck to anyone that comes into contact in her which makes her extremely popular with the patrons of the gambling hall. She is what is described as a “Gate Holder”, a custodian of one of thirteen special cards referred to as “Gates”; and whenever all thirteen are the possession of one person, said person shall be bestowed the title of “Most Valuable Casino Dealer (MVCD)”.
So right off the bat, we could feasibly brand this is as a Yu-Gi-Oh! facsimile – the parallels stand out a country mile only. One could be forgiven for dismissing this series for that alone, but don't be so hasty. It may mean that the plot is pretty vacuous meaning you pretty much know that it'll simply be battle after battle (“Gate Battles”) between different and wacky stereotypes and personalities from all over the world, but it doesn't stop the series being fun. Rio: Rainbow Gate is fun. It's meant to be one of those shows that doesn't take itself too seriously and instead allows the viewer to enjoy the pretty colours and glamourous elegance of the environment laid out before them.
The character of Rio herself is actually quite likeable. Sure she may be very ample in many places, but she is a very intelligent and kind-hearted individual who is aware of her sexiness but doesn't like to exploit it unlike some main characters in other shows who do nothing BUT exploit themselves. Granted, the fanservice is still there but it's less obvious than it could so easily have been given the subject material. It's because of this that I can find little wrong with this series; but neither can I find much to recommend about it either. If you're curious about Rio: Rainbow Gate, you won't be wasting your time; but don't expect it to be a profound and intellectually stimulating analysis of the world of gambling.
Depending on where you've been getting your anime or Japanese culture news you've probably heard about Mitsudomoe, and what you've heard may range from "best series of 2010" to "immature and inappropriate". While many critics have been harshly reprimanding the anime industry for creating "cut-and-paste" anime or moe-fueled ecchi-fests, there has, in the meantime, been a great number of new shows that have restored my faith in the hobby.
Whether it is Oreimo's controversial journey through the life of a closet otaku, Squid Girl taking the infamously well known trope of monster tentacles and giving them to the other gender, Wandering Son's tackling of gender identity issues or Panty & Stocking's so-clever-why-didn't-anyone-think-of-it-before parodying of the medium you can't really call modern anime the wasteland many criticize it for being. Especially when my favorite anime of last year, Mitsudomoe, was frequently responsible for me losing whole mouthfuls of soda through my nose.
While Mitsudomoe seems like your typically funny "slice of life" anime, it is actually anything but. With the Marui triplets making fun of their otaku teacher's name from the start (Adding "Ecchi/pervert" to his name Yabe), stuffing their panties into Shin's desk because Chiba has made them think that's his fetish or naming the classroom's pet hamster "nipples" there really isn't any sacred ground left untouched by the end of the first season.
Though Mitsudomoe may heavily rely on jokes about human anatomy, most of these come from hilariously out of context situations that other characters find themselves accidentally thrust into. Whether it's Hitoha getting caught with Yabe's boxer shorts on her head due to Sakiko using them as a summoning tool to relieve her teacher of the evil spirit she believes has made him sick or the time Futaba wants to be called a "nympho" by her classmates even though she doesn't fully understand the implications, they are perfect examples of Mitsudomoe's humor. Everything is based around naivete and misunderstanding, and it's this style of presenting its jokes that keeps it light-hearted and innocent. Even when the subject matter can make it hard to watch in public without being concerned about who is watching over your shoulder...such as Futaba's "Oppai" pillow and her overall odd fascination with buxom females.
Yet beyond all of this unintentional perversion there is an under current of sweetness and sadness that I think most fans never pick up on.
First of all, look at their father. He is a single man who has to raise three very demanding young girls without losing his sanity or his patience. He remains calm and loving through all of the series and only loses his temper when he feels someone is endangering his children. He is hilariously over-protective and yet charmingly sweet to his girls no matter what kind of mess they get him in. I dare anyone to find me a father more loving and compassionate than Soujirou.
I think the cutest moment of the series was when Yabe asked them to write an essay about their father and Futaba's paper commented how she loved taking baths with him and wanted to marry him. What was even more touching was when Futaba's flattering paper was switched with Mitsuba's and her father, knowing that Mitsuba was ashamed of him, broke down and cried when he heard his out-of-touch oldest daughter speak those kind words about him. It was equal parts funny and tearful...and if anything encapsulates this series greater than that scene I've yet to have witnessed it.
Mitsudomoe has a very low-lying undercurrent of sadness to it that can be easily ignored by a casual viewer but is nonetheless present in all of its episodes. Take for instance Futaba's preoccupation with female anatomy. While it's funny to see her cozy up to an "Oppai" pillow (I bet Yabe has the same one at home) and draw disturbingly life-like breasts, I'm shocked that no one has picked up on why she does it. Perhaps Futaba, who has gone without a mother in her young formative years, is trying to remember what her mother's bosom felt like. Perhaps on some subconscious level her "search for the perfect pair of breasts" as Hitoha so eloquently describes it, is due to her trying to remember what her mother looked like and how it felt as she held her.
Nothing is said about the Marui clan's mother and it's left up to the fans to decide who she is and what happened to her. Yet what if she isn't there because she passed away? If she was alive, wouldn't she at least have some visitation rights? My guess is that she passed away, and much of the bad behavior of these three girls is the direct result of coping mechanisms that help them deal with their loss.
Futaba's desire to remember what her mother's bosom felt like, Mitsuba feeling that her being the oldest female in the house means she has to always be the dominant mother figure and Hitoha's voluntary social seclusion and individualistic tendencies are more than likely the result of their mother passing away at an extremely early time in their psychological development. When you think of it that way and look at the wonderful job their misunderstood father is doing raising them, you can't help but shed a tear.
...or you could just sit back and ignore all this while laughing your head off at all the crazy antics they get into.
Therein lies the reason why I think Mitsudomoe is the best anime in years. It's equal parts funny and emotionally uplifting, and in today's chaotic world it feels nice to see something as positive and sweet as this. While it's easy to just skim over the series and pigeonhole it as an ecchi anime with no redeeming value it would be unfair to do so. It's so much more than that.
As much as people have been criticizing them for devoting almost the entire first episode to the Gachi Rangers (Hitoha's favorite cartoon and obvious Power Rangers parody), I think it was a clever start and a much-needed change of pace that reminded me that Mitsudomoe is built around unpredictability. It was a clever intro to a truly original anime and was the perfect way to open up the new season. It was obviously done on purpose since Hitoha grew angry at the unacceptable change in her favorite anime and so did some Mitsudomoe fans who didn't quite "get the joke".
It also bumped school nurse Aiko down to 2nd place behind "Gachi Pink" as my favorite female in the series.
So far I'm really enjoying where the second season is going. With Mitsuba now showing the early signs of an eating disorder (And her sisters constantly grabbing her belly rolls) it looks like we not only have another new source of jokes but also another symptom of the missing mother syndrome. While I laughed at Mitsuba scarfing down her Christmas treat that her father bought her, I can't help but wonder if this is the typical "Eating to deal with depression" response that something like a deceased parent could bring upon a young child.
Still, if you aren't into looking at the dark side of Mitsudomoe, you could just turn up the volume and listen to those funny sounds Mitsuba makes as she shovels food down her mouth. Just seeing how oblivious she was to the fight between her father and Yabe was enough to make me laugh until it hurt.
There's simply no reason not to love this anime and nothing more exciting than the prospect of another full season. Even without my amateur Freudian analysis of the Marui family you have to admit that there is more to this series than just blatant oppai jokes.
Let's hope they keep this going for at least another few years.
Shuhei Hisagi leads a busy life handling the duties of Squad 9 Lieutenant and Editor in Chief of the Seireitei Bulletin, as well as preparing picnic lunches for the Soul Reapers. One day, Hisagi and Rangiku are sent to investigate a string of disappearances in the Rukon district. But being alone together with Rangiku causes Hisagi’s imagination to go wild, which worsens when Rangiku suggests spending the night at an inn.
Rose, Ryuji and Eriko are suddenly invited to the Japanese branch of the society by a researcher named Tokura. While Rosa is indistinguishable from a young girl, the society performs a variety of examinations after hearing she is a dragon, and the results are...! Unconcerned by her situation, Rose is simply happy to be with Ryuji, and enjoys eating ice cream. However, a young man in black and an underground broker come for Rose!
Did you know that Tatsunoko Studios has a double meaning in its name: it's both named after its founder Tatsuo Yoshida and for the Japanese word for "seadragon."