Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Review

moribitoStory:
Balsa is a bodyguard for hire, but in all her travels she has never been tasked with a more challenging ward than Prince Chagum, a sweet and caring child with the misfortune of housing a water spirit’s egg, a thing the royal house will not allow to live. Fearful for her son, the empress hires Balsa to keep him safe but her skills alone may not be enough against the entire royal house’s army…

Violence:
This show doesn’t use violence for shock value, however there is a lot of it considering the set up. Expect cuts, blood and death. It’s tastefully done, but definitely a show deserving it’s TV14 rating.
Side warning: At one point, the prince learns how to kill and skin wild animals to eat during winter. Again, it’s not focused on for long, but seeing animals being gutted can be extremely disturbing for some, regardless of how short the scene is. Be well warned.

Language:
Some b-words and d-mns are the worst, but they are rare things.

Nudity:
We don’t get any of this besides a scene of Balsa being shirtless while her wounds are tended to. It’s not sexual at all and the screen keeps to her face. Is it sad how happy that made me? Probably, but honestly I loved how clean this show was in this sector.

Theology/mythology:
This is probably going to be the determining sector for a few people. This story’s world has it’s own folklore, religions and customs. This makes the story incredibly believable and rich, but it also means the idea of the afterlife, magic and monsters can’t be ignored. These are active parts of the story and if anything like that bothers you, skip this title.

Personal impression:
This show was amazing. Easily the best show I’ve watched in a long time. The world is vivid and has a rich history of its own. Despite how much background needs to be revealed it’s never done in the dreaded info-dumping manor. Instead, it comes about naturally or through conversation. I never felt as if the information being given was forced in any way.
The characters are also unique and their development is slow at times, but very deliberate. There’s no point in which I felt their arcs were wondering aimlessly. The lead Balsa is especially amazing to watch. She’s a strong woman but is not treated the way most “strong women” are in anime. She gets a mixed bag of opponents, some which see her for her skill and some of which only see her gender, but the series, and her character, take this in stride. I never felt as if the show was pushing any agenda. Things in that world simply were and the characters dealt with it as best they could.
The music and art are also exceptionally good, as expected from a Production I.G. work. But still I felt as if this show’s art was especially so. The movement was amazing. Balsa’s weapon of choice is a spear and her movements in combat with it are beautiful to watch. Even soft scenes of nature are skillfully rendered, from dragonflies in the air to frogs leaping around in a rice paddy farm. The fact that this level of art remains consistent for twenty-six episodes is… well, let’s just say that it’s rare enough to see mediocre shows keep up these days.
If I had to find a flaw in this show it would be one arc in which, for around five to six episodes, there is a massive communication failure between leads. For no reason. It’s actually pretty obvious the creators wanted to make a plot reveal later more dramatic, but it’s very frustrating to watch as both characters are walking side by side for DAYS without discussing things they would normally be discussing. It’s a break from an otherwise very well written script and that makes it stand out all the more as a bad chunk. Thankfully it does get resolved eventually and the excellent scripting from before kicks back into place.
Overall this show is amazing and a very high recommend from me. My only regret is that I didn’t see this show sooner.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure, action., drama
Company: Production I.G.
Production: Media Blasters
Official streaming: Yahoo View

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Tiger and Bunny Review

tiger_bunny_posterStory:
Tiger is getting a bit old and outdated for a superhero. Unlike the younger heroes on Hero TV, he doesn’t seem to pull in crowds. But everything turns around when his company goes under and he’s taken in to be a new hot shot hero’s “partner.” Convincing his new partner to accept him is only half the battle…

Violence:
This is an action show so there’s blood and bones breaking. It could have been much worse, but it’s not tame either. Very much around the level of Black Cat and other typical Jump titles.

Language:
Typical TV14 stuff: expect d-mns, sh-ts and a few b-words. Especially around large battle arcs.

Nudity:
We have one female character (who is only in high school) who poses sexually and has a skimpy hero outfit. She also crushes hard on Tiger who is significantly older than her, which is creepy. Other than that, it’s pretty clear.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from seeing temples around and a few abstract mentions of God, nothing to put here. As is usually the case, religion is left out of this title.

Personal impression:
This was amazingly good. Seriously. I had missed out on this one back when it was first streaming and I regret not getting into it sooner. The characters are just fresh enough to make the show feel different, clearly mimicking American superhero models. But there’s still enough typical anime fair mixed in to give the show a very unique feeling. Some of the scenes are actually pretty hilarious. And while I wish they hadn’t indulged in a few American standards story-wise (the whole “I have to avenge my parents’ murder” thing is very old hat and very boring stuff), overall I really enjoyed the blend.
The music is sadly forgettable overall and the art is lacking here and there, but those things thankfully didn’t distract me too much from the characters themselves, specifically Tiger, who is an oddly likable lead. Usually the bumbling leads aren’t my thing, but Tiger is strangely enjoyable to watch. Likely this is due to his strong ethics on human life, including his insistence on protecting life no matter who it belongs to, including criminals. His arc with his daughter was actually very well handled as well, an aspect I had originally feared would be forgotten by the show.
In the end, this show is a very high recommend from me. Especially as Yahoo View has both sub AND dub available for free right now. I’ve watched bits of both and they are equally well done. In fact, the English cast was really well thought out, as was the dialog.
If you like action of any kind, I think you’ll really enjoy this title. Especially if the usual anime cliches are getting on your nerves.

Personal rating: young adult

Episodes: 25
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Action, fantasy, superhero
Production: Production I. G.
Company: FUNimation
Official streaming: Yahoo View

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Review

magus-brideStory:
Hatori has nothing. Still in her teens and with nowhere to go, she is bought by an inhuman sorcerer who intends for her to train in magic and eventually marry him. Coming to terms with her new life, Hatori begins her studies and finds comfort in an old picture book from her past.

Violence:
Pretty nonexistent. That said, there are some very scary youkai in this first episode and while no actual violence occurs, the heroine does fear for her life and the chase sequence is pretty scary.

Language:
Nonexistent.

Nudity:
Nothing to report… technically. On the theoretical side, the fact that a young girl, still in high school, is set to someday marry a beast who is likely hundreds of years old… well, that’s kinda creepy. Just sayin’.

Theology/mythology:
Here’s where you make a choice about this one. The are youkai. Also, the, er, creature? Mythological beast? looking after Hatori is a sorcerer. He’s also probably older than dirt. There’s also spells and fairy things and whatnot. If you aren’t chill with any of that, skip this one. There’s no getting around these elements.

Personal impression:
Fair warning right here! This show is actually a prequel to a manga and thus is only set to have three or so episodes total. Released six MONTHS apart. As this is a unique situation, I shall endeavor to create mini reviews for future episodes as they are released, linking back here for the content evaluations (which shall also be updated as needed).
With that out of the way, this is a charming start. Well directed and with solid art, this is one of those titles that’s perfectly content to show versus tell, something I personally appreciate quite a bit these days. Characters come and go naturally and the world feels pretty expensive considering how little of it we get to actually see.
That said, this show also doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as it’s just a warm up for a manga, so plot and character-wise, I’m sad to say that there’s just nothing going on. I can see how they’re setting up for a future story. And if I had the time to go into something like that, perhaps I would. But at the end of this single episode (episode 2 isn’t due out till next year), I just found myself wishing they would spring for a real series rather than yearn for the manga. And I doubt that was their intent.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 1 (as of posting, stay tuned for future mini reviews for any continuing episodes)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Company: Production I.G.
Official streaming: Crunchyroll