Voices of a Distant Star Review

hoshinokoe_8597_7851Story:
Mikako is only fifteen years old when she joins the UN’s attempts to keep a new alien species from invading and annihilating the solar system. She tries to keep her childhood friend, whom she loves, updated on her progress through the galaxy, but with each warp deeper into space, the time between when she sends her messages to him and he receives them get longer and longer. Years pass for him, but it is only a matter of hours for her…

Violence:
The alien creatures bleed red and we see this when they are shot and killed by the human robots. It’s not something that lingers on screen for long and because the aliens are giant glob things, it’s not as graphic as it sounds… I will still tag this for YA, to be on the safe side, however.

Language:
Nothing to report here!

Nudity: 
Aside from some shots where Mikako’s skirt is rather short, nothing to report here either.

Theology/mythology:
Aliens are the only things to speak of here and I really don’t think that fully counts…

Personal impression:
I had actually seen this short film years ago, but catching it again on Crunchyroll, I decided it would be a good idea to re-watch it and review it. It was just as powerful the second time.
I’ll be honest here, the art in this is VERY rough. But when you realize every scene was handled by a single guy on his computer, the show becomes outright amazing. Shinkai pretty much single handedly crafted every aspect of this science fiction drama, from the tears floating in zero gravity to the slow, but powerful change in scenes between our lead’s fight against the alien invaders and her old classmate’s ageing life back on earth. This is definitely one of those rare cases where I believe the story is so strong that it’s worth bearing with the odd and very off artwork.
If you’re looking for a watertight science fiction, this won’t be it. But if you want some feels alongside your space fantasy work? This has it in spades. And, yes, this guy got hired after making this and, yes, his other films improved. This one is still worth the time to watch it, however, and I do recommend it for anyone who loves science fiction.

Personal raring: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (25 min)
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama, action, science fiction
Company: CoMix Wave Films
Production: Makoto Shinkai
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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Wolf Children Review

a13862-791722162-1323905458Story:
Hana is a single mother of two… well, wolf children. After losing her husband in an accident, she must learn how to care for these mythical children of hers all on her own, despite being a normal human herself.

Violence:
There are some scenes showing both death and injury. Blood isn’t avoided. This said, the movie’s point isn’t fighting so it only occurs once or twice and isn’t focused on too much. Still, those scenes would likely scare very young viewers…

Language:
Pretty tame stuff. Only a few sh-ts and whatnot here and there.

Nudity:
We don’t really see much in the way of outright nudity, but we do have one scene where it’s very clear that two adults are going to have sex. Nothing is shown and the scene blacks out, but it’s no mystery what’s going to happen.

Theology/mythology:
This show focuses around a family born from a wolf/human. If the idea of creatures (or humans) shifting forms disturbs you, this movie isn’t for you. Especially as one of the major themes for this show is the differences and similarities between man and beast.

Personal impression: 
This is an amazing animation. From the facial expressions to the dialog, the settings and music… all of it was extremely well handled. There’s good reason why this show has been up for so many awards.
That being said, if I had to nit-pick, there were a few instances that were frustrating to watch as someone who deals with children herself. Japan has very different views on discipline than I tend to and thus it can be irritating to see these kids grow up so… well, selfish. We don’t really see them disciplined at all and it shows by the end.
Even so, the main point of this movie for me was the mother, Hana, and her fight to come to terms with both the world she must live in and the duality of her children.
So long as you aren’t allergic to bittersweet endings (or lack of constant action), this is a wonderful film and I quite recommend it.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (movie)
Languages: sub and dub
Offical rating: PG13
Genres: Fantasy, drama
Production: Madhouse
Company: FUNimation
Official streaming: n/a

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

the_girl_who_leapt_through_time_posterStory:
Makoto Konno loves nothing more than playing some baseball with her two guy friends and generally lazing about. One day she has a near death experience with a train and discovers she can jump from one time period to another. At first she uses her new power to do silly things here and there for fun, such as 10 hours of karaoke and going back and forth to days when her family made her favorite meal for dinner. But after awhile she begins to notice that her actions have painful consequences for those around her…

Violence:
While few people get into fist fights or anything, there are quite a few violent scenes. Mainly when our MC falls and rolls down a steep road, breaking her arm and cutting herself badly. It’s disturbing to see and hear, so be warned.

Language:
Usually kept to a few d-mns. Other than that, I didn’t really hear anything too objectionable in this one (I’ve only viewed the subtitled version).

Nudity:
Nothing much in this one. We have one or two bath scenes, but it’s vary covered and we see nothing of note.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of what appears to be magic, or those who are considered witches, bugs you, go ahead and skip this (though later it is revealed that technology might be more of a cause than actual magic). We also have a shrine and prayer scene, but as usual no doctrine is discussed.

Personal impression:
I rarely get a chance to review anime films, but I was able to watch this one and let me tell you, it was oddly… good. It’s definitely a slow starter, so be warned on that. The art is also a bit sketchy here and there until you get used to it. The background music is totally forgettable, but overall the script makes up for it. The characters are all believable and the dialog is steady (no sudden personality changes for this one’s cast). I did feel as if the plot twist at the end was a bit… forced, but even so this film closes down leaving a strong message about time behind.
So long as a more melancholy ending is your cup of tea, I think you’ll really enjoy this show. Though you’ll have to get it through Netflix or FUNimation seeing as it’s not streaming at the moment.

Personal rating: young adult

Episodes: Movie
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, slice of life, drama
Company: Kadokawa/FUNimation (previously Bandai)
Production: Madhouse
Official streaming: na

I’ve Always Liked You Review

screen-shot-2015-07-14-at-15-58-59Story:
Natsuki Enomoto has a huge crush on her childhood friend, Yu Setoguchi. When she manages to confess her feelings towards him, she chickens out halfway through, claiming the whole thing was just “practice” so she’d be ready to confess to the one she really loves later. Believing her, Yu keeps his own feeling for her hidden as day after day she continues to “practice” confessing her love.

Violence:
Pretty non-existent besides some characters staring each other down (dem angry gazes tho).

Language:
Super light. Besides a few d-mns, it’s not really there.

Nudity:
Aside from a few shower/bath scenes where no details are shown at all, nothing here to report either, which is nice.

Theology/mythology:
The usual shrines and charms for good luck are here and there, but no discourse on religion or theology take place.

Personal impression:
This whole mini-movie has no point or substance to it beyond getting two characters together. And maybe seeing her friends get together too. That’s… really it. Nothing else is going on. There are no points being made outside of that. Now, if you’re chill with that, you might like this one. It does a good job of portraying friendship and early love which is really the whole goal of this title so there’s nothing really to gripe about. I suppose if you like more comedy alongside your romance, this might not do it for ya, but other than that, there’s little to fault this show for.
Even the music and art are… fine. Not great, not bad, just fine. Which is overall how I feel about this whole production. It wasn’t something that blew me away or made me super happy to watch (like Kimi ni Todoke or My LOVE story!), but it didn’t made me angry and want to slit my wrists (like Say “I love you” or Wolf Girl). So if all you want is a sweet romance that doesn’t try to be or do anything else, give this one a go. I think you’ll find nothing too objectionable in it (besides perhaps finding the leads to be a bit less interesting than the side characters).

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 1 (movie)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genres: Romance, slice of life
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Fuse: Memoirs of the Hunter Girl Review

fusetitleStory:
A young huntress from the mountain journeys to the city to find herself unwillingly roped into chasing and killing the Fuse, supernatural creatures that can look human and suck the life out of others. But the Fuse might not be nearly as different from humans as they are said to be.

Violence:
The worse part of this show is probably sitting right in this section. The hunt of a wolf at the very beginning of the movie is pretty graphic for a PG13 title, but it’s a good indication of the violence levels for the rest of the show. The Fuse are often beheaded, the heads displayed for all to see, complete with flies buzzing around them. If the violence levels of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex really put you off, this is a title to skip for sure. Also, there’s a bit of a trigger warning concerning the mention of babies and female prostitutes being killed in a ditch in the red light district, often as suicides.

Languages:
The classics are all here, the d-mns, sh-ts and b-words. Not every word, but not non-existent either.

Nudity:
Another trigger here is the red light district, where prostitutes sell themselves. We don’t see too much actual nudity, but a lot is implied (for obvious reasons). We see shadows of two people coupling for a few seconds and the presence of children in these places is very unsettling.

Theology/mythology:
Gods aren’t discussed much in the show, but the Fuse are indeed supernatural and human hybrids. There are implications that they were born of a super wolf and human coupling. This isn’t confirmed, however. Also, the Fuse seem to live off the souls of humans. Take from that what you will, but if these things bug you, this movie isn’t for you.

Personal impression:
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, oddly enough. The violence is a bit much, even for me, however, which keeps this show from the top anime slots in my mind. Also, as some reviewers have mentioned, this show is pretty blunt on the idea of not killing animals for sport and such. The agenda to show how human animals are (and how animalistic humans can be) is pretty blunt.
Even so, the ending isn’t cliche, though I feared more than once that it would be. The characters are interesting enough to hold interest and you honestly root for the heroes to win out in the end.
The art is a bit odd in places, but fits the show well. As does the music. My only serious critique being that the characters aren’t really explored as well as they might. But considering this is all crammed into a single movie, I’m willing to give quite a bit of leeway there.
If you like fantasy and action, with quite a bit of social commentary drama along the way, this movie is a great watch. Just don’t expect a perfect ending here. Or too much historical accuracy, come to think of it (feudal Japan didn’t have hand cannons for hunters).

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: Movie
Languages: Sub
Official rating: PG13
Genre(s): Fantasy, drama
Company: TMS Entertainment
Legal streaming: Hulu
Screenshots:
f1 f2 f3

5 Centimeters Per Second Review

titleStory:
Takashi has fallen in love, but life, technology and the changing of the seasons gradually work their way between the young lovers. Told in three “chapters,” this show seeks to visually tell the tale of love, distance and heartache as the cherry blossoms continue to fall five centimeters per second.

Violence:
If you don’t like violence in your anime, this show is perfect for you. Seeing as this is about two young people gradually growing apart and little else, there’s really no violence at all in this show. Those that fear blood may relax.

Language:
Aside from a character or two tripping up and letting out a d-mn or two, there’s not much to put in this section either. The whole pace of the show is so easy going, there aren’t tempers flaring at any point either, meaning the opportunities for foul language are pretty low.

Nudity:
There’s really not much in this show in terms of “inappropriateness.” One girl practices surfing, but her suit is full body so nothing much to note there either.

Theology/mythology:
Again, not much to put here. Any theological impressions are ones the audience comes up with, as nothing is clearly spelled out by the show itself. You are simply shown things as they are and largely left to your own conclusions.

Personal impression:
This show, even over ten years after being produced, is visually gorgeous. We’re talking jaw-dropping at times. And, really, this is why I watched it initially. Yes, I know, that’s a bit shallow, but I’m really not much for sad stories like this.
That said, I ended up really enjoying the story itself in the end. In fact, if I had to describe the story in literary terms, it was similar to a literary fiction short story (aka character-based story). Not much happened, action-wise, but the characters did change over time and grow, though in unexpected directions.
But really, those visuals are the K.O. moves. Even the most ordinary settings are striking, all the more so when those ordinary settings have a small window into a far larger science fiction world, with a train passing by with a rocket on board. Yet never do those small glimpses of sci-fi interfere with the main story. In anything, they enhance it, pressing home all the more the theme of distance drawing individuals apart, yet still allowing them to gaze upon the same stars.
Along with the breathtaking art, the music is slow and sweet, matching the pace of the show and not overpowering the bittersweet moments. If you can stomach the less happy tales now and again, I highly suggest giving this show a go (and, lucky news for dub lovers, both sub and dub are still available for free viewing). Just don’t expect a narrator to hold your hand or for a perfect ending.
As a side note: I labeled this for all ages as there really isn’t anything I found objectionable in it. However, I highly suspect most kids would be bored to tears trying to watch this. As beautiful as it is, it’s a very slow show and not really kid fare.

Personal rating: All ages

Episodes: Movie
Languages: Sub and dub
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Romance, drama
Company: CoMixWave Films
Legal streaming: Crunchyroll
Screenshots:
5c25c15c3

 

 

 

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