Anime Corner: Golden Kamuy Season 3 Review

Hinna! Hinna! Hinna! Hinna!

What’s the Story?

On the trail of Asirpa, Sugimoto and the members of the 7th Division head to Karafuto, north of Japan. There they’ll have to battle the bitter cold, bare-chested Russians and one vicious wolverine. That’s before they even catch up with Asirpa and have to deal with her uncle and everyone else who is trying to unlock the secret of the lost gold. Will the key to the puzzle finally be found? Will Asirpa learn more of who her father really was? Sugimoto doesn’t care, he only wants to get Asirpa back and he’ll take on all challengers to do it. He doesn’t have to worry, he is the Immortal Sugimoto after all!

The Review

Golden Kamuy is back and it’s better than ever! Okay, I’m going to try to reign the hype train in on this one, but you should know that I love this show and having just finished the final episode of the third season I may just love it more than I ever have before. If you want to check out my review of the first two seasons then click HERE, but the summarised version is that, as I’ve already said, I love this show. It’s such a perfect mix of, well, everything. Comedy, action, suspense, drama, it’s even a compelling historical piece and cooking show to boot and it balances all of these aspects perfectly. One minute your in the middle of a heart-stopping showdown between two equally ruthless snipers, the next your laughing your head off at one of the countless dick jokes that the series has to offer.

This third season picks up right where the second left off, with Asirpa travelling with her uncle and Sugimoto doing his best to follow and eventually catch up with her. For me this season improves things in one important area, and that’s the number of important characters directly involved in events. My only real gripe about the first two seasons, outside of the CGI bears which thankfully don’t make an appearance here, is that this show has a massive cast. Don’t get me wrong I love each and every one of these lunatics, but sometimes it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Each character has their own rich back story and goals and it’s a lot to keep in my head (then again that’s only really a problem while watching it weekly, I imagine binging this show will easily solve this problem).

This season though is much simpler, we have two groups with two succinct goals. Asirpa’s group is out to learn more about her dad in the hopes of uncovering the secret to cracking the code to the gold, while Sugimoto’s group obviously wants to get Asirpa back. We do get development on a lot of character’s back stories and plenty of new characters added to the mix, but this streamlined narrative was so much easy easier to keep in my head. Also, as I mentioned there are no terrible CGI bears so the visuals were a vast improvement on the whole.

The action is also top notch this season, the previously mentioned sniper battle being a particular highlight, though I also enjoyed the bare-knuckled, bare-chested fight against the Russians. Some of the fights do get really brutal though, not that there weren’t brutal fights in the last two seasons, but some of the confrontations this time around were particularly wince-inducing. I don’t know how some of these people are still alive, but I’m so glad that they are. We also get a lot of new locations this season as the groups move towards and eventually through Russia, giving us access to a lot of new cultures and settings to explore. Add on some solid comedy moments and you’ve got the triumvirate of good entertainment, action, comedy and education!

I don’t really know what else to say, I love this series and this season gave me everything that I wanted. It’s so good to see Asirpa and Sugimoto back together again and, while I did complain about the large cast, I have missed a lot of them and I’ll be glad to see them again. Bring on season 4!

The Verdict

Golden Kamuy season 3 is another sterling season in a stellar series. If you haven’t already checked out this show out then I urge you to, right now. Make sure to start at season one otherwise you’ll really get lost and, please, look past the CGI bear this show has so much to offer beyond that. I love this show, as I’ve already said a thousand times. I love these characters and learning more about them and the world they live in and I can’t wait to learn even more. Good food, good company and plenty of action and intrigue, what more could you ask for from a series?

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Cartoon Corner: Hilda Season 2 Review

Hilda and the Expanding World!

What’s the Story?

By now Hilda has gotten used to living in the walled city of Trolberg. She may still miss living out in the wild sometimes, but with her friends by her side she’s discovered that there’s more than enough adventures to be found within the walls. From krakens to immortal Vikings, the hidden library of the witches to the return of the Tide Mice, what more could a wild-at-heart girl ask for? Of course not everything is sunny in Trolberg, Hilda is keeping these little adventures a secret from her mum and that’s causing some tension at home. Then there’s the efforts of the Safety Patrol that generally do more harm than good around the city. Also, is it me, or are those trolls getting closer to the walls?

The Review

Hilda’s back! I really loved the first season of this cosy, utterly charming little show, as anyone who read my review of it will be able to tell you (you can read it for yourselves HERE). So, how does the second season stack up? Well, it’s more of the same and that’s exactly what I wanted! This series is like settling down with a warm cup of tea after coming in from a wintry day, possibly with a cucumber sandwich or two. It’s effortlessly captivating, from the superb visuals and animation to the heart-warming characters and inventive situations and creature designs. I could spend the rest of the my days running around the streets of Trolberg, going on adventures with Hilda and the gang, but before I turn this into another non-stop gush let’s talk about what this series does different to the first.

In my review of the first season I talked about how the story kept evolving, and that is true of this second season too, more so in fact. For starters a lot of the elements and characters of the first season return and are further explored and developed. Want to know what happened to those Tide Mice? Want to see more of the witch librarian and see more how magic works in this world? That’s all here and more. It really makes the world of the series feel like a living breathing place, actions have consequences and one adventure will have a knock-on effect on another down the line. It’s also nice that Frida and David get to meet characters that they didn’t run into last season, but the rest of the cast did.

That brings me to the biggest development this season, and the closest this series has gotten to an over-arching plot, Ahlberg. New head of the Safety Patrol, he’s keen to be seen as the hero of the town and his vanity and various schemes often cause problems throughout the season. From antagonising the local wildlife to interfering with forces that only make things worse, it’s almost as if Hilda has a recurring antagonist at last. I say almost because the majority of the time Ahlberg is treated as a joke and dismissed, a fearful idiot who just doesn’t know what he’s doing and never gets any real comeuppance. For those looking for his comeuppance I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer. There’s no real resolution to the problems he’s causing by the season’s end and, since the Mountain King story hasn’t been adapted yet, I’m assuming all that’s going into season 3. (Having read the Mountain King comic though I can’t wait to see it animated!) The most we get for now is the deputy starting to see Ahlberg for the egomaniac he really is.

Ahlberg isn’t the only problem for Hilda this season though, there’s the continual rising tension between her and her mother. It’s typical kids show stuff really, kid goes out on these wild, fantastical adventures and doesn’t tell their parents what they’ve been up to, leading to arguments when they’re finally caught out. Where Hilda is different though it that it goes to great lengths to show both sides of the argument. Hilda’s mum is genuinely worried about Hilda, after all she knows about some of the stuff that’s out there and she knows how headstrong Hilda can be. Hilda on the other hand just wants to roam and enjoy herself, and in her head she’s not telling her mum about this stuff because she doesn’t want her to worry. Of course she doesn’t realise that by not telling her stuff she’s actually making her mum worry more. You can feel the love between these two and the moments where they get to show that, as well as going on little adventures together, are just magical.

There are also quiet a few tearjerker moments in this season, for me personally the ones that really got me where the time travel episode and the Twig episode. The Twig episode I was expecting to get to me and it did, but the time travel one managed to get me to care more about a couple of ancillary characters in twenty minutes than some shows have managed in twenty episodes.

On a final note, I can’t end this review without once more mentioning how good this show looks. The character designs are just perfect, simple and yet endlessly-endearing and really creative when it comes to the various creatures that pop up throughout the series. I really love the use of colour in this show’s visuals, especially when paired up with the changes in lighting or when anything is glowing. There’s a warmth that just oozes off of the screen and pretty much every episode has at least a dozen frames that I want to decorate my walls with. As I said in my previous review, this show is just beautiful in multiple senses of the word.

The Verdict

If you enjoyed the first season of Hilda, then you’re definitely going to enjoy this one too. It’s more of the same, but what else could you really ask for from this show? It’s sweet, it’s heart-warming and oh so very close to being perfect. The animation, character decision and sound design are all top notch and the world and characters continue to evolve in natural ways. Fair warning, the series does end on a cliffhanger and there’s clearly more to come so we’ve all got to await that elusive season 3, which I’m more than happy to wait for. The best things are worth the wait.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Infallible Fish Reviews: Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks

“Life depends on change and renewal.”

What’s the Story?

Having bested the Cybermen and saved the Earth yet again, the Doctor finds his body wearing a bit thin and it’s time for a change. Regenerating into a new, younger form, the Doctor is quite literally a new man, but while his companions Ben and Polly struggle to come to terms with that fact, on the planet Vulcan a strange capsule has been found in the mercury swamps. While tensions rise amongst the colonists and plots for power are put into motion, the Daleks bide their time. They may be weak now, having to play at servants, but before long the colonists will be facing the true power of the Daleks!

The Review:

First broadcast on November 1966, this is probably one of the most important episodes in the show’s long, long history. This is the very first regeneration story for Doctor Who, the changing of the guard from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton, setting the precedent that would allow the show to replace its lead actor for decades to come. If this had failed then the show would have most likely ended in the 60s. Thankfully that’s not the case and outside of its historic significance, this also happens to be one of the best Dalek stories put to screen. It breaks my heart that the chances of ever finding the original episodes is remote at best, but that’s what these animated episodes are for, to give us a way to experience this story in as close to all its glory as we can get. I’ll warn you all now this is going to be a heavily biased, heavily gushing review so be prepared.  

First though, let’s talk about the structure of classic Doctor Who, this is one story, but it’s comprised of six episodes, each roughly 30 minutes long. I suppose nowadays with more serialised shows its less of a shock to the system than it used to be, but it can take a moment to become accustomed to the style of Classic Who for all those who are interested. Just bare that in mind if you’re planning on using this as your first step into classic Doctor Who. It’s not as pacey as modern stuff, which does give more time to explore a location and characters, which I greatly enjoy.

On that note, let’s start with my one and only real gripe with this production, the animation, specifically the humanoid character animation. Look, I know this project was rushed out by the BBC for one reason or another. In a way it’s very in keeping with the production of classic Doctor Who, done on a meagre budget with extreme time constraints. On the other hand though, these episodes have been missing for more than 50 years, what exactly is the rush to have them produced now? Why not give the animators the time to make this look as good as it possibly can? It’s not as if the animation is terrible, there are some nice movements, but more often than not the humanoid characters move really awkwardly and there’s no nuance whatsoever. Take the scene where the Doctor is supposed to be studying Bragen’s expressions, he’s meant to be subtly watching him, but the animation has the characters stood right on top of one another with the Doctor being as obvious as possible. He might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that says ‘I’m watching you’. Thankfully this improves with later releases, but I’ll get to that next week.

The animation is much more successful when it comes to the Daleks, they move and look exactly like classic Daleks, rolling around with all the menace the metal pepper pots can bring to bear. There are also a number of shots that the original production would have struggled with, like when the camera pulls back to reveal a room filled with newly built Daleks, or their gruesome production line. The original production had only a handful of Dalek props to hand so, yeah, this time a point goes to the animation for making those scenes as good as they are.

But let’s talk about the real strength of these episodes, the story. David Whitaker knows how to write Classic Who, he’s one of my favourite writers of the era because he knows how to write interesting characters. This may be a Dalek story, but it’s also a story of the people on Vulcan (no, not that one). Whether it’s Lesterson tinkering away with the capsule in his lab and not caring about much else, Bragen plotting to take power by any means necessary or the governor who has no idea about the death and destruction that’s about to befall his colony. All these people have their own motives and plans and they all think they can use the Daleks for their own ends, not realising the danger.

Personal opinion time, for me, the Daleks are at their best when they’re on the back foot. Seeing an army of murder-crazy killing machines is terrifying in its own right, but its the creeping dread of this story that makes them genuinely scary here. If you’re a Who fan you know what the Daleks are capable of, so to see all these people squabbling over petty things while the Daleks are getting stronger and stronger. It puts you in the same position as the Doctor, screaming at everyone to just listen and understand how much danger they’re in. The colonists are so convinced that they’re differences are worth fighting for, that they can use the Daleks to achieve their ends, but how does that all end? With slow panning shots of dead bodies filling the corridors. To the Daleks the differences don’t matter, we’re not Daleks and that’s all the reason they need to kill us. When a Dalek asks Bragen why humans kill other humans it’s chilling because, in truth, a Dalek would never kill another Dalek.

I suppose I should put some words towards talking about the Doctor in this review of Doctor Who. I love Patrick Troughton and he gives a fantastic performance here, but while this is a regeneration story, it’s not a story about regeneration. The first episode is really where the Doctor gets the most focus through his interactions with Ben and Polly and their trying to come to terms with his change. Regeneration is given a simple and effective explanation, with enough vagueness to it so it can be expanded on later. The rest of the time is just the Doctor acting strange while his new personality settles in, though there’s also the suggestion that the Doctor is doing a lot of this to only appear the fool (Sylvester McCoy isn’t the only chess master persona). Of course he’s there to stop the Daleks and prophecies the deaths to come, but really this is a story of Vulcan and the Daleks.

The Verdict:

The Power of the Daleks is a seminal story in Doctor Who’s history, the beginning of the second Doctor’s adventures, the very first regeneration and a terrific Dalek story to boot. For any Classic Who fan this is a must see and I’d recommend it to anyone else as well, though it might be an idea to watch a few other stories first, just to become acclimatised to the style. The animation of the humanoid characters is the one weak point in the production, but the soundscape, the writing and the Daleks themselves more than make up for that.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Cartoon Corner: Tangled the Series/Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure Review

Plus Est En Vous!

What’s the Story?

Freed from the tower and the clutches of her kidnapper/abusive parental figure, Mother Gothel, it looks like Rapunzel finally has her happily ever after. She’s reunited with her real parents, has the man that she loves, Eugene, in her life and the whole kingdom of Corona to welcome her home, what more could she possibly want? Whatever it is that’s missing it’s enough to convince her to take a late-night trip out beyond the walls with her new handmaiden, Cassandra, to where the Sundrop Flower once grew. Now there are indestructible black rocks growing out of the ground where the Sundrop fell, and when Rapunzel touches one they suddenly begin to grow. That’s not the only effect though as the magic inside Rapunzel is reawakened, giving her back her incredibly long golden hair and brand new magical abilities. Adventure is calling for Rapunzel, it will take her to the Dark Kingdom and back, test her closest friendships and even see her facing a near-immortal evil from Corona’s past. Nobody said being a princess was easy…

The Review

I love Disney, always have always will. Doesn’t mean I won’t make fun of them or call out the machinations of our corporate overlords, but when the business suits get put away and the creators and talent working behind the scenes can just do their thing, Disney produces some of the best in the business. That brings me to Tangled the Series (also known as Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure from the second season onwards). I’ve talked about this show a couple of times before on this blog, which you can check out HERE and HERE, and I am very much in love. Is it the greatest cartoon that Disney has ever produced? No, that’s a three-way death match between Gargoyles, Gravity Falls and the latest DuckTales cartoon (potentially the Owl House, but we’ll talk more about that next week). That being said, Tangled the Series genuinely inspires me as anyone who’s ever visited the Disney folder on my Deviantart account will probably be able to tell. (In fact, to save you the trip I’ve put some of my favourite pieces throughout this post!)

This show is proof that it doesn’t matter what your idea is, what matters is how you do it. I have no idea how this series got the initial green light. You want to make a series following on from Tangled? A film that pretty succinctly wrapped up its plot, has no dangling plot threads left over and even has a short to give us all the wedding scene we wanted. Also you want to set the series in-between the film and said short so we know for certain nothing is going to happen to any of the characters that appear in the short, because they have to be there. What are you supposed to do with that? If it was me I’d have thrown my hands up in defeat at the first script writing session, but luckily I wasn’t on staff for this series because they did have a plan. Not only that, they pulled out literally all the stops, bringing back Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi to voice their characters again and putting Alan frickin’ Menken on music. Tangled the Series is what happens when you take an idea and pour as much talent and passion into it as possible.

Let’s talk about the animation, which is another highlight of this series for me. I’ll admit it took me a few minutes to get used to it, but now I’m fully onboard. Disney’s been trying out this style in some of their shorts for several years now, it’s this weird mix of 2D and 3D where I’m not sure if it’s 3D models textured in such a way that they look 2D, or if it’s 2D characters somehow ported into a 3D space, or a mix of the two. Whatever it is it really works, even on a meagre TV budget. There are certainly some shots where you can tell that something is off, but then there are other times when the animation is free to dive into these big sweeping shots that just take your breath away. Add on the utterly gorgeous backgrounds and the storybook look to everything and it’s like you’ve stepped into a Mary Blair sketchbook. (FYI, Mary Blair was an artist/animator who worked for Disney back in the early days, think Sleeping Beauty and you’ll get the look I’m talking about. Also, check out her concept art because it’s all gorgeous). When I’m in love with a series’ art style I often say I want to take each frame of animation and hang them up on my wall, well, for this series I want to cover every wall of my house with frames from this show. I love it and, honestly, I’m praying that Disney will try this style with a big budget film some day.

What about the story though? It’s all well and good bringing in all these talented people and making everything look really, really pretty, but it’ll all fall flat without some substance behind it. Thankfully I love the story of this series as much as I do the artwork. What took me by surprise the most was the attention to character detail. Admittedly I was just expecting this series to be silly princess hijinks in the capital, which is how the series starts, but there’re little bits that show just how much the creators get these characters. Rapunzel’s reaction to returning to the tower for the first time, her dad waking up in the middle of the night, terrified that he’ll lose his daughter again and the things that fear makes him do… all of it is spot on.  Rapunzel is by far the most interesting Disney princess to me, she’s spent her whole life trapped in a tower, she knows nothing of the outside world and is probably the most child-like princess in the Disney canon. She’s never had to make difficult choices, she’s never had responsibility, but now she does and we follow her as she struggles along that journey. Honestly it’s been a joy to watch her grow up as she’s tackled everything from friends betraying her to ancient evils and shocking revelations about those around her.

That’s something else I have to give this series credit for. It effortlessly adds and expands on the mythos of the film, turning it from a fairy tale story about a flower with healing properties into a grand adventurous epic. I mean I never expected ancient wizards, goat-headed demons and alchemists’ robots to turn up in a Disney princess story, but somehow it all works. The only real complaint I have about the story is the amount of filler episodes it has. Tangled the Series works very much on the tent pole format, where there are several episodes in each season that progress the series’ arc and need to be seen, but all the ones in-between just tend to maintain the status quo and keep things chugging along. The tent pole episodes themselves are all fantastic, and I love them, but the filler are a bit more hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, some of the filler episodes are my favourites in the series, but others are very much just padding. Fun padding, but also obviously padding. It’ll probably be less of a problem on a binge watch, but watching it week to week it can wear you out waiting for the story to get properly going again. It’s not a major problem though and I do enjoy if not outright adore 99.9% of this series.

On a final note, I can’t leave this review without mentioning the music of the series. As I mentioned earlier they got Alan Menken back and I am so glad that they did. The songs of this series, in my opinion, are actually better than the movie’s. Nothing against Tangled’s songs, I do have a great deal of fun with them, but nine times out of ten, the ones in this series pack so much more of a punch. From the sheer joy of songs like ‘Wind in My Hair’ and ‘The View from Up Here’, to the heartbreak of ‘Waiting in the Wings’, the Broadway power of ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ and the epicness of ‘Ready As I’ll Ever Be’. These songs are scattered throughout the series, mostly in tent pole episodes and the majority of them knock it out of the park, especially the villain songs (though personally I think of them as ‘antagonist songs’, but I can’t talk about that without spoilers so I won’t). Just go listen to them, you won’t be disappointed, though some songs may come with spoilers so be warned.

The Verdict

All in all, Tangled the Series/Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure is a fantastic series and a true testament of what you can do when you put talent and passion into your idea. Combing a clear understanding of the characters with a dramatic storyline, expanding mythology, breath-taking art style and some toe-tapping songs, it’s been a joy to watch. I’m still sad that this series has ended now after three brilliant seasons, but I’m also incredibly grateful that I’ve gotten to go on this journey with these characters in the first place. It’s not perfect, but this is the series that cemented Rapunzel as my favourite Disney princess, potentially my favourite Disney character period. Check it out, maybe you’ll have had as much fun as I did.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

There’s one last stop for the Disney train this year as we take a look at one of Disney’s latest productions, Next Week…

Take a trip to the Boiling Isles!

Anime Corner: Steins;Gate Review

The microwave is a time machine. Well, it’s either that or the blue police box on the corner.

What’s the Story?

When an errant text message smashes its way through causality and alters the timeline, self-anointed mad scientist Rintaro Okabe comes to a startling realisation, he’s just invented the time machine! Of course science, and possibly the whims of Steins;Gate itself, demand that he further test this discovery, not realising that each message is sending him deeper into a labyrinth of his own despair. When the evil SERN finally make their move to claim Okabe’s work, he realises too late the mess he’s gotten himself into. Can Okabe and his fellow members of the Future Gadget Lab untangle this knot of time and revert the world back to its proper course? What’s more can they do it without sacrificing one of their members forever, or before Okabe truly goes mad?

The Review

Well, I’ve finally gone and done it. Steins;Gate is one of those anime that I’ve been meaning to watch for a very long time, but it’s only now as I sit confined in my own home that I’m actually getting around to watching it (I’m writing this post in early May of 2020 for context and since I have no clue when I’m actually going to post this review it does prove one thing, time travel is real! We just haven’t figured out how to go backwards yet). I’m sure we all have a series like this, one that you hear nothing but good things about and everyone recommends, so you put it on your list, but then there’s a thousand other shiny things that distract you and you end up never actually watching it. That’s me and Steins;Gate. Heck I actually bought the DVD set last year because I saw it cheap in a local shop and it’s spent the time since glaring at me from one of my shelves. Why am I telling you all this instead of getting to the actual review? Because I was scared guys. The more time passed the more I realised the expectations I was weighing on this series. Every person I’ve ever spoken to, every review I’ve ever read has praised this series to no end, and every time I think of that there’s this little voice in the back of my head reminding me that hype has killed things for me before. So, I’ve bitten the bullet, does Steins;Gate stand the test of time? Does it live up its reputation?

YES!!!!!!!!!!!

My God yes it does. I challenged Steins;Gate to impress me and it proceeded to grab me by the throat and drag down into a twisted labyrinth of maniacal highs and soul-crushing lows. Where do I even begin? How about the mechanics of the series? Now time travel series are notoriously hard to write, bending causality to your whim and then trying to put everything back together again in a way that makes sense and doesn’t fall into a pitfall of paradoxes and plot holes takes a chess master degree of planning. I’m going to have to watch this series again (multiple times in fact), but after a first viewing everything tracks and holds together as far as I can tell. I do love the way this series is constructed, like a beautiful puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle and so on. The very first episode is a terrific example of this, giving us one side of the equation, before returning to it at the end of the series where we finally get the other side and the last pieces slot into place. My hat goes off for the amount of planning and forethought that went into this story.

Another aspect I love about this series is that it’s always moving, giving us one problem to solve and then once that one’s done we move on to the next and the next after that. There’s constant momentum in the series, changing the rules of the game and upping the stakes without ever feeling frustrating. Everything is the logical continuation and escalation of what came before, building off of previous instalments and prepping for the way ahead. It’s that puzzles within puzzles thing I mentioned earlier. It just sucks you in and won’t let go until you’ve seen how they’re going to resolve this. Also the methods of time travel are really interesting as well, sending text messages into the past, sending your memories into your past self (that last one isn’t that original to fans of X-Men, but it’s still a fantastic idea that I’m surprised more series don’t use). On a technical and intellectual level I can do nothing but admire this series, but there’s one more ingredient we need to make a truly stellar series that I can love, let’s talk about the characters.

I both do and don’t want to be Okarin. On the one hand it’s hard not to love the guy. Between his verbose use of language, the breadth of his imagination and just the sheer glee that he takes in life I often find myself feeling quite jealous (I mean when I talk about my plans for world domination and my secret ninja training I just get weird looks). On the other hand though, what he has to go through in this series is heartbreaking. There are several points throughout the series where his mad scientist alter ego cracks and we see the desperate man underneath, struggling to hold himself together in the face of one nightmare after another. I watched the English dub and J. Michael Tatum puts in a great performance, from maniacal laughter to soul-crushing screams, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen while he was talking. The other characters are all equally captivating, all with their own shades and faults that we discover across the series, and all with particularly great performance, I especially love Mayuri’s little speech at her grandmother’s graveside. I even love the romance in this series towards the end, it’s just stellar all round.

The Verdict

In the end Steins;Gate has garnered it’s reputation for a reason. It’s complex without getting complicated. The story itself is a marvellous construction, keeping the momentum going while at the same time shifting from one puzzle to the next and back again. The characters are all lovable with deeper shades than first appearances might indicate and they will have you both crying and cheering throughout. If you haven’t watched this series yet, or maybe it’s just been a while, then do yourself a favour and watch it now! Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to send a text message to my past self instructing him to watch this as soon as possible, I’m sure that can’t go wrong in anyway.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Hanasaku Iroha Blossoms for Tomorrow Review

Fest It Up!

What’s the Story?

When Ohana’s mother takes off with her iffy boyfriend to avoid paying his debts, Ohana is sent to live with her grandmother who owns an inn, Kissuiso. At first Ohana is convinced this is going to be a grand adventure, but five seconds after meeting her grandmother, that delusion is well and truly gone. Ohana’s grandmother is a harsh taskmaster and she expects Ohana to work if she’s going to stay with her. So Ohana becomes an attendant at the inn, and while the work is hard and often gruelling, Ohana starts to notice something. She actually enjoys it. Whether it’s giving the best experience to a customer, or finding out more about her new co-workers, there’s a special feeling from doing a job to the best of your ability. Of course Ohana is still a teenager, so awkward feelings, misunderstandings and a whole lot of drama are soon to follow.

The Review

Yes! I finally made it! Ever since I watched Sakura Quest I’ve been meaning to get around to this series and that time has finally arrived! For those that don’t know, this series forms a loose set with Sakura Quest and Shirobako as part of P.A. Works’ ‘Working’ series. There’s no actual connection between the series, each one has a completely different cast, location and it’s own themes and ideas that it wants to explore. The only real things connecting each series is that, one, the cast is largely female-centric, two, they’re done by P.A. Works and, three, they’re focussed on some sort of job. Shirobako was about working the anime industry (check out my review HERE), Sakura Quest was about working in tourism and revitalising a small town (check out my review HERE) and Hanasaku Iroha is obviously about working in an inn. They’re also about more than that, but I’ll get to that once I’m into the review proper. For now, if you want to check out each series, then I thoroughly recommend each of them, but if you’re wondering if there’s a particular order to watch them in or anything, don’t worry, pick what you want and watch that (Technically speaking, Hanasaku Iroha is the first show in the series and I’ve watched it last with no problems whatsoever).

Right, now that the set up’s out of the way, what is this series actually like? It’s really, really good. I’m often up front with my opinions in reviews and there is no way I’m holding that one in any longer, this is a really great series and I want to kick myself for waiting so long to watch it. It’s honestly amazing to think that this series is roughly eight and a half years old, because it holds up astonishing well. Maybe the animation isn’t as bright or flashy as some current anime, but in a lot of places this series is stunning to look at. From the streets of Tokyo to the sweeping vistas of a more rural Japan, this series just makes me want to step through my screen and end up at Kissuiso. Admittedly a lot of this is shown through panning shots and there isn’t a great deal of dynamic action, it’s a show about an inn, having everyone running about isn’t really the desired scenario. When it counts though, the characters are filled with all the energy and impact you could ask for.  

What makes this show though, is the characters. Each of them is just brimming with personality and while there are those who aren’t really the focus of the series, everyone gets their own little moment in the spotlight. Whether it’s the shy and nervous Nako, the bloody-minded and often infuriating, Minko, or even the resident erotica writer and his antics (I was worried said character was going to be really annoying, but after the first couple of episodes his role is toned down and he gets used for some effective comedy), everyone has their time to shine. I especially love that the majority of the characters get their own little arcs and develop across the series while still remaining the kind of tight-knit team I always enjoy in a series. Of course Ohana is our main character and she gets the bulk of the development. A lot of it is your typical coming-of-age stuff, with Ohana working out her feelings for a boy, finding out where she belongs and thinking about what she really wants to do with her life. What keeps this storyline fresh though is Ohana’s attitude.

Ohana has a habit of rushing in head-first into a situation, sometimes not even understanding why she’s doing something, just knowing that it’s the thing that needs to be done. She wants to ‘sparkle’, as she puts it, to find her thing and excel at it, something that she’s never really given much thought to while she’s been taking care of her disaster of her mother. That’s another thing I’ll give this series, it did actually manage to redeem Ohana’s mother by the end, somewhat, though I’m not going to let her off the hook entirely. It speaks to the depth of these characters, that every one has shades to them and as the series progresses we get to see more and more sides to them and learn what makes them tick. Even the central romance between Ohana and Ko is developed in a natural way, between the awkward conversations and the constant back and forth of them trying to work out their feeling while living miles and miles apart is kind of adorable and you can’t help but root for them (not as much as I rooted for Minchi to confession though, but that was purely so she could get her feelings out in the open and stop being such a nightmare to everyone. I seriously wanted to strangle that girl on several occasions, which just goes to show how much I got invested in this show and these characters).

On a last note, I suppose I should rank the ‘Working’. For me, personally, Shirobako comes out on top. Hanasaku Iroha is a better series on a technical level, but Shirobako just means more to me on a personal level with it giving an insight into the anime industry and the fact that I watched it at a time in my life when I really needed it. Hanasaku Iroha takes second place, but it’s only a whisker behind Shirobako and that leaves Sakura Quest in third place. All three series are really good though and I thoroughly recommend each of them.  

The Verdict

Hanasaku Iroha is a fantastic series following not only an energetic protagonist finding her way, but a whole host of eclectic and fascinating characters. There are some gorgeous backdrops to look at and a wealth of drama, whether that be in the workplace or in personal lives, to keep you glued to the screen. There’s a slight lull in the middle of the series, as the show takes time to explore some of the characters in a bit more detail, but I like these characters so much that I honestly don’t mind. This is twenty-six episodes of anime goodness and I’m now really sad that I’m done with the ‘Working’ series from P.A. Works. Then again, I can always watch the series all over again, so I might just do that.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Haikyu!! Season 1 Review

Blog Haikyuu Season 1 Review Title

Give it to me!!!

What’s the Story?

Shoyo Hinata has had a passion for Volleyball ever since he saw the ‘Tiny Giant’ playing on TV. Unfortunately for Hinata his middle school didn’t have a Volleyball team and the one time he gathered enough players to make up a team, he was utterly destroyed by the ‘King of the Court’, Tobio Kageyama. Now he’s in High School though, the same school that the ‘Tiny Giant’ played for, and he’s determined to not only get his revenge on Kageyama, but to become the team’s next Ace! Except Kageyama is also going to Hinata’s school, and he’s one of his new team mates?! Can Hinata get along with the ‘King of the Court’ and, more to the point, can the two of them working together help rid the team of it’s unfortunate nickname, the ‘Wingless Crows’. It’s time to take flight and soar!

The Review

Haikyuu is one of those recent classics, everything I’ve ever read or heard about the series has been nothing but praise and I admit that can be a little intimidating. Hype has killed plenty of things for me in the past and I know next to nothing about Volleyball (then again there aren’t many sports I do know a lot about). In the end though, when I finally did sit down to watch this show, maybe I got a little too cocky. My basic attitude pretty much boiled down to, “Alright Haikyuu, you’re so great, impress me.” Cut to a shot of Hinata’s super fast quick attack smashing me right in the face. Yeah. I admit defeat. Haikyuu is good. It’s great. It’s amazing! IT’S THE BEST SPORTS ANIME I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE SO FAR!!! I have never watched a show that sucked me in as quickly as this series did. I’ve never come away from a show feeling so exhausted and yet energised at the same time, as if I’ve been the one playing Volleyball with all my heart and soul for the past few hours. I am but a puppet and Haikyuu firmly has hold of my strings. It’s so good!

I don’t even know where to start with this show, it gets every single element right. Great writing, fantastic characters, intense, pulse-pounding action, heartache, drama, memorable opponents and some top-notch animation backed up by an amazing soundtrack. Is this what it feels like to be a sports fan? To be stood in those stands, cheering ‘til your throat’s raw, willing your team on and on, to make that next step, get that next point and win! I feel enraptured and, if you ask me, that’s the one thing a sports anime should make me feel and Haikyuu emits that feeling so perfectly and effortlessly. Part of how it does this is through the characters. I love each and every member of our protagonist’s team, but more than that I love the opposing teams as well. Haikyuu has this tremendous ability to let you get to know a character in just a few short beats, but without it feeling like we’ve just glossed over anyone. Sure certain characters get way more focus than others, but you know what makes the majority of them tick. It’s thanks to this that the show can have an impressively large cast and no one feels like they’re fading into the background. It also means that we can get to know our team’s opponents so they don’t just become a generic obstacle to overcome.

Every team in this series has it’s own unique flavour and symbolic reference to go along with them, obviously our protagonist team are represented by crows, but we also gets cats and iron walls and I just know there’s going to be more and more in the seasons to come. It adds some visual flair to the series so that you’re not just watching twelve guys smacking a ball around for episodes on end. Not that the matches are in anyway dull to watch, there’s a real sense of power and speed to every moment. When someone lands a killer spike, or Hinata dashes from side of the court to the other, you feel it and, personally, I couldn’t help but feel my adrenaline spike every time it happened. Add on a soundtrack that lifts you up and all those loveable characters we’ve gotten to know so well and is it any wonder I was sucked so deep into this series? Each one element of this series fits in perfectly with the next and they build on top of one another to make this exhilarating series, kind of like a well-honed Volleyball team. I don’t know what else to say. I’m sure everything I’ve said here is news to no one and this show has four seasons out already, of which I’ve only watched the first. If you’re like me though, and held off on this series, for whatever reason,  do yourself a favour and start watching this.

The Verdict

In the end, Haikyuu is a perfect sports anime, and I say that as someone who doesn’t believe that perfect really exists, but damn this is as close as it’s possible to get. From loveable characters, to blistering action and a pace that won’t let up, is it any wonder that so many people praise this series? To some it up it’s thrilling, it makes you feel exactly as a sports should, energised by that sense of competition and adrenalin. There’s nothing else to really say, whether you like sports or not, whether you know anything about Volleyball or not (and this series also works as an excellent beginners guide to the sport), check this show out!

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Tower of God Review

Blog Tower of God Review Title

The End of the Beginning!

What’s the Story?

What do you desire? For Rachel it’s to see the stars from the very top of the tower. For Bam it’s to follow Rachel wherever she goes. Of course they are not the only ones who seek to climb the tower, for it is promised that at the top everything will be yours. Be it knowledge or power, you can have it all and become a literal god if you so wish it. That’s a hard thing to resist, even for the many varied and quirky inhabitants of the tower. However the way up the tower is no easy path, there are many challenges and tests along the way, as well as countless dangers. Only the lucky and the formidable will survive, but Bam is willing to brave it all for Rachel. Of course there’s also the question of whether Rachel wants Bam along in the first place…

The Review

This is, without question, my favourite anime of the past season. I know the pickings were a little slim, mostly due to the pandemic shutting down the majority of shows, but I’m confident that I’d be saying the same thing even if those other shows had aired. Heck, if this show had come out in any of the past few seasons I’d be saying the exact same thing (though it would have some more stiff competition). Tower of God is exactly the kind of fantasy that I love, creatively unusual, grand in scope and packed to the brim with intriguing concepts. My brain is bubbling over with theories and questions, so much so that it’s in literal agony to know the answers and I both love and hate that feeling (is that weird?). Genuinely my brain is having a wrestling match with itself trying to decide between jumping straight into the webtoon to find out what happens next, or whether I torture myself and wait for season 2 (There had better be a season 2 otherwise someone’s getting a visit from a scary version of me!).

All I want to do is gush about this show, but at the same time I don’t want to over hype it too much. This is not the next One Piece, but it does have the potential to become it, or something like it at least (and for those that don’t know, I’m a massive One Piece fan so understand how big a compliment that is). I haven’t read the webtoon, yet, but I can already tell that this show has the making of a grand, sprawling epic that is meticulously planned. Having said that, these first thirteen episodes are very much the prologue to that epic and while thirteen episodes might be a bit much for a prologue it also feels necessary. I can see breadcrumbs being laid down, the foundations set for character development to come, all the while delivering an engaging and fun story to keep us entertained in the meantime. There’s very much the sense that we’re just scratching the surface here with the characters and the world, especially with the likes of Bam and Rachel.

Let’s talk about Bam and Rachel for a second. Admittedly I have no idea where their characters are actually headed in the grand scheme of things, but the ending of this first season (please be just the first, please!) does give a good indication of where they’re going, which is something I can’t wait to see. Again there’s that feeling of barely scratching the surface with these two, we know hardly anything about them. Bam himself is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, oh sure he comes across as the naïve, optimistic special one, but we have no idea where he comes from or what exactly makes him so special. I mean he doesn’t either, but there’s so much we just don’t know yet. The one constant he has is his devotion to Rachel, which is entirely understandable. She is literally the first person he ever met, the only person he ever knew before coming to the tower. Of course he imprints on her like a baby chick. He’s like someone who’s been locked in a dark room all his life and then someone finally opens the door. His dedication to Rachel is unhealthy and he needs to learn to develop his own wants and ideals outside of Rachel, something I can see in his future character arc.

Honestly though Rachel may be the most interesting character for me at the moment. Again we actually know very little about her, like where she comes from or what makes her so obsessed with climbing the tower. I mean, we know why she wants to climb the tower, the real reason, but what lead her to think that way? Why does she have this obsession and where exactly is it going to take her now that we’ve seen how far she’s willing to go for it? Honestly it’s questions like that that I’m desperate to know the answer to most of all. I might even climb an impossible, reality-warping tower packed full of monsters and horrendous tests to find out the answers. I don’t want it to sound like we don’t learn anything about Rachel, or Bam for that matter, we get a good sense of their characters as they are now and they’re entertaining as they are now, I’m just really intrigued by where they’ve already been and, more importantly, where they’re going next. I haven’t even gotten into all the other fun and interesting characters of this series, because we have so much more than just Bam and Rachel. All the character have great designs and their personalities just shine, from the ones you love to hate, Paracule, to those I will worship forever, Endorsi, and even my second favourite, Khun. I don’t have room to discuss them all here, so I’ll save that for another time.

I also haven’t even talked about the visuals and the sound yet either. I love this series’ use of colour, every scene pops on the screen, even the ones that are in a dark and dingy locale. There’s a real spectrum of bold colours used throughout, really setting the mood of each scene, and when that’s paired up with the great character designs, well, this show is a feast for the eyes. Throw on top from good action, compelling drama and a soundtrack I can best describe as epic and you’re literally hitting all the right notes for me. Again, I don’t want to overhype, but I can’t help up gush at the same time. There’s so much potential with this show and I can’t help but feel we’re all in for a wild ride, which I am more than looking forward to.

The Verdict

In the end (or should that be the beginning?), Tower of God is a series bursting with potential. Thirteen episodes in and it feels like we’ve only just taken the first step, which may put some people off, but for me it’s the promise of a great adventure to come. With a world brimming with fun, interesting characters, mysteries around every corner and a presentation that looks, and sounds, this good? How could I not be excited? A lot of people compared this series to the Hunters Exam arc from Hunter X Hunter when it first started airing and that comparison holds up for me, and knowing how good that show got, I can’t wait to see what Tower of God does. We’re just taken the first step, but the tower is before us and I, for one, am more than willing to climb it.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Given Review

Blog Given Review Title

Oh just kiss already!

What’s the Story?

Uenoyama wants nothing more than to crash in his favourite napping spot, he’s become rather listless of late, losing interest in everything, including his music. All that changes though when he meets Mafuyu, a quiet young man sitting in his spot, clutching a guitar. Mafuyu doesn’t know anything about music or instruments, so he’s amazed when Uenoyama fixes the broken string of his guitar like it’s nothing and immediately begs Uenoyama to teach him how to play. Though initially reluctant, Uenoyama eventually caves and soon finds his passion for music returning, along with certain new feelings. But who does the guitar that Mafuyu always carries belongs to and will Uenoyama ever be able to work out his own feelings or will he just collapse into a puddle of awkward?

The Review

I don’t really watch a lot of BL (Boys’ Love for those that don’t know) series. Nothing against the genre, but it’s the same as any other romance for me, unless there’s a plot that grabs my attention I’m not all that interested. I prefer my romance as a subplot to some other genre or story, but this series is a prime example of why you shouldn’t let genre biases dictate what you watch, because this show is in the running for my favourite anime of last year. Admittedly what first drew me to the series was the music, because I always enjoy series about bands (despite how musically inept I am, or maybe because of it. A man can dream dammit!), but what I stayed for was the characters and the quiet charm of this series.

This series really knows how to just let a scene sit and breath. There’re so many scenes of a character just sitting there and thinking without any kind of narration and just a nice, gentle track playing in the background. All of which sounds really boring on paper, but this series knows how to sell it. The whole show is laced with feelings of melancholy and peace, intertwining and battling against one another as the characters struggle with their feelings and their trauma. Seriously, if you want to know how to use quiet in a scene, watch this series. The quiet also has the effect of amplifying the louder moments to perfection. I got chills when Mafuyu finally sang on stage, to be fair the whole series had been building up to that point and the final release was just something special. I was completely with the crowd in the series with their blown away expressions.

Speaking of Mafuyu, and the rest of the band. I have to admit that I’m in love with each and every one of them. This series is really at its best when it has all four bandmates on screen together, I love their odd little discussions and the way they bounce off of one another. I really just want to go get some barbeque with these guys and hang out for a few hours. Of course the characters are just as good individually, each one of them overflowing with personality and charm. I especially love Uenoyama’s many reactions throughout the series, the best Uenoyama is a frustrated Uenoyama! Also I like the way the relationship builds between Uenoyama and Mafuyu, starting off with neither of them noticing (well, Uenoyama doesn’t notice) before things finally kick into gear and it just leaves me with the warm fuzzies. I got sucked in hard into this romance.

Something else I really love about this series is that is manages to swerve a lot of romance clichés as it tells its story. Of course Uenoyama and Mafuyu’s relationship is full of stumbling blocks as the pair come to terms with their feelings, but that doesn’t mean the series has to fall back on the old tropes to add drama, in fact there are points were the series deliberately deflates the drama once its used it to rise the tension a bit.

(Next paragraph has a couple of minor spoilers, if you want to avoid them skip to the paragraph after it.)

Couple of examples, one, there’s a girl who crushing on Uenoyama, not that he’s noticed, but she’s obviously jealous of how close he is to Mafuyu and after hearing about Mafuyu’s past relationship she decides to tell Uenoyama. Now I was spitting feathers at this point (even though I’ve never understood that expression), but immediately afterwards the girl realises what a world class word for a female dog she’s being and instantly rolls it back. Good. Example two, Uenoyama realises that Mafuyu loves him back and he’s overjoyed, until he remembers a conversation from six months ago about how relationships between bandmates never end well. Does this mean he pretends to hide his feeling for Mafuyu? Do they try to date in secret from their bandmates? No, they go round to their houses and talk to them! What’s this? Conversation and communication in a love story? What fresh spore of madness is this?!

This series doesn’t need to be big or loud to get its point across. It doesn’t need melodrama or the angst dial turned up to eleven, it can get by perfectly well with a few quiet moments and some contemplative scenes, saving the real feels for when they’ll have the biggest impact. In the right circumstances a whisper can be so much louder than a shout, and this series is the epitome of that.

The Verdict

All in all, Given is a fantastic series and one of my favourites of last year (which considering some of the shows we got last year, that’s quite the achievement). It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s sweet and, yes, it’s heartbreaking in a few places. This is a series that really knows how to use quiet and mood to their best effect, building up the feels for the moments when the show wants to hit you squarely in the heart. I really love all four main characters and, honestly, just want to spend more time with them. If you skipped this series then you missed out, so go correct that right now and watch this show!

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! Review

Blog Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken Review Title

Animation is the power to create whole worlds and beyond.

What’s the Story?

Ever since she was little, Midori Asakusa has wanted to go on adventures. One rainy night she happened to come across an old anime and realised that she could make those adventures she was craving herself. Together with the money-minded Sayaka Kanamori and teen model turned character animator Tsubane Mizusaki, the three girls decide to form their own club and make anime! Unfortunately animation is not an easy business, between working inhumanly long hours, dealing with clients and other outside forces, and finding the right balance between practicality and artistic integrity, the girls have a lot to learn and overcome. Yet when they put their boundless imaginations together they can create marvels, so it shouldn’t be too tough, right?

The Review

Back when I did my first impressions of this show, I said that if I could ever have an anime as the outward representation of my soul, then it would be this one. Nine episodes later and it is still true, this show is such a love letter to animation and the creative process that I can’t help but adore it. There’re so many moments that ring true, especially with my own experiences, both as a writer and as a student of animation. When Asakusa and Mizusaki are goofing off and Kanamori has to put her foot down, literally, I’ve been in that position (I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I was one of the people goofing off, there’s just certain people that if you put me in a room with them, you’re going to bring out my more chaotic side). Heck, the Mizusaki focussed episode, where she’s studying how people move, had me flashing back to college and me and my friends walking up and down a corridor to watch one another for a class. What I’m trying to get at is that the people that made this anime know what they’re talking about and I can just feel the years of personal experience and anecdotes that have been poured into this series.

There’s a clear passion for the subject at hand and you feel that oozing through every frame. Whether it’s the way Asakusa sits up as that first anime inspires her, or the look of wonder on Mizusaki’s face as she watches her grandmother perform the simple act of throwing away some tea (honestly, I’ll try to mention Kanamori more, because she is an important part of this equation, but I’m not business minded and I just relate more to the other two). The animation, for the most part, takes on a very loose style, foregoing a lot of the clean, boldly defined lines of a lot of modern anime in favour of something altogether more fluid. These characters stretch and scramble their way across the screen and that just makes them feel all the more real without going into sakuga levels of detail. Also can I just say how much I love the design of the main characters? This is a show about high school girls putting together their own club and for once their not made overly cutesy or, I guess twee would be the appropriate word here. The girls are allowed to be just that, girls, in whatever shape they come in. It adds again to that realism, without necessitating a metric tonne of detail to be added to the characters.

Also if we’re talking about the animation, then of cause I have to mention the little imagination pieces, where the girls get carried off into whatever wild daydream they’re drifting off to this time (and can I just say how much I love the fact that it’s the characters themselves doing all the sound effects for these sequences, at least until they get their sound library anyway). In fact my only real disappointment with this series is that these daydream sequences get less and less as the series progresses, but then it makes sense. The girls are busy actually creating anime by that point, they don’t have as much time for daydreaming when you’ve got a deadline looming and Kanamori ready to come down on top of you. The daydream sequences are some of my favourite moments in the series, they look like they’ve come straight out of Asakusa’s sketchbook, which I realise is entirely the point.

I said I’d talk about Kanamori though and I guess it’s time for that. Look, I love Kanamori just as much as I do Asakusa and Mizusaki, the team wouldn’t be complete without her, I just personally identify more with the other two. If anyone has any experience running a creative company, or trying to wrangle creative-types into getting something done (good luck to you, it’s like trying to herd feral cats at times and I’m speaking as one such feral cat), I’m sure they’ll have endless sympathy for what Kanamori has to put up with and how she goes about getting things done. Having said all that, Kanamori is apart of some of my favourite scenes, practically whenever she’s squaring off against the student council or that scene in the last episode where she pulls an Uncle Buck and bursts down the door.

I don’t want to talk too much about the story itself, other than the specific examples I’ve already given. This is a series that should really be experienced, and everyone should experience it. If you’re in anyway interested in the creative process, be that anime or anything else, or you’re a creative person yourself then you definitely need to check this series out. There is so much passion and earnestness packed into the twelve episodes of this series that it just needs to be shared.

The Verdict

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is a wonderful and heartfelt series. It’s packed with so much passion and experience that it’s a joy a watch and anyone who takes part in any kind of creative process, not just animation, will recognise something in this series. It’s characters feel so true and you can’t help but root for them as they take on the mammoth task of creating anime and the animation is a marvel of technique and style. If you only watch one anime this year, make it Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, you won’t regret it.

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.