The Other Side of Animation 260: Tekkonkinkreet

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

There was an article going around in Japan that talked about the current climate of animated films that aren’t big anime franchise films. After Your Name was a smash hit in 2016, the industry has been trying to find the next big Your Name hit, and unfortunately, or what was apparent from that article, the returns haven’t been promising when the big franchise films like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 have been smash hits. That isn’t all true, with Belle becoming a financial hit, but it makes you hope that they do not regress into doing big IP-driven ONLY films. Now, we could talk about the fact that the industry all over the world keeps glomping onto the next big hit and trying to replicate it, and how chasing the trend first and making a good film second is always going to end in tragedy, but you know how the industry works. It takes action first without thinking about the long-term game. It’s a shame, because while making money is important, letting the art and the teams make something distinct is also important, because most franchise-based films are underwhelming. When you want to see something that looks like it goes off the beaten path, then you need to see films like Tekkonkinkreet

Directed by Michael Arias, one of the first non-Japanese directors for a major Japanese-animated film, this film is written by Anthony Weintraub, and was animated at Studio 4°C. The story follows two young boys named Black and White, dubbed by Scott Menville and Kamali Minter. They live on the streets of Takarmuchi, a once-thriving metropolis that is now bloated and overrun with criminal gangs trying to take down one another. Black and White try to take control of the streets by protecting everyone from said gangs. Can the two boys survive these dangerous times inside a crumbling city? What else is this character-driven city hiding or dealing with? 

While this is the part where we talk about the plot of the film, let’s instead focus on the standout feature of the film, the animation. If you were looking for something unique, then it would be tough to find something as distinct-looking as this film. The art direction was handled by Shinji Kimura, who also helped out in films like Children of the Sea and The Portrait Studio. Character designs were handled by Shojiro Nishimi, who also did character designs for MFKZ. They were able to translate the immensely detailed buildings and city life and blocky character designs from the original manga by Taiyo Matsumoto to life. Some moments in the film even go into this dream-like imagery that looks like it was all drawn by colored pencils. Even the action beats are as fluid as ever, despite the designs being blocky at points. The city feels intensely lived-in with so much of the city feeling like it’s falling apart. Most of the metal and buildings are covered in rust or chipped paint. There doesn’t seem to be much that isn’t overrun by industrial factories as the many civilians from the typical citizens, the different gangs, and everyone in-between give off vibes of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Shanghai, which were the direct inspirations for the city as they were looking for a Pan-Asian look. Even with the grime and roughness of the overall city via its visuals, there is a lot of love put into the world and how people love living there. The voice cast is also distinct because it’s more US-animation-driven than the usual anime dub casts you see in most Japanese animation. You have the likes of Scott Menville, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, Phil LaMarr, Dwight Schultz, Rick Gomez, Kamali Minter, David Lodge, Quinton Flynn, Alex Fernandez, Yuri Lowenthal, Kate Higgins, Steve Blum, Matt McKenzie, Crispin Freeman, and Dave Wittenberg. It’s a nice mix of what you would normally see in US and Japanese animation. The music is composed by the group Plaid, and they bring this minimal touch to the world mixed with some industrial and fantastical beats. 

Now that we’ve got the talk of the visuals out of the way, what is this film actually about? It’s not that it’s a complicated story, it just follows more of a vibe or mood-like approach to its storytelling. It’s vastly different from what you would see back in 2006 and some would argue even now. Then again, with a film from the same studio that made Children of the Sea and is usually the origin of those fantastic anthology films like Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond, you should expect something off the beaten path. It’s more flowing and not in your face as we follow the two brothers and the police chasing after the multiple gangsters trying to squeak out a living in a world that is constantly changing. It brings back historical moments like the change from 1970s New York when it was filled to the brim with sex, drugs, and violence before it was cleaned up. The city around them is dying and pushing them out, but some love the city as it is, while reminiscing about what it was like back in the day. The loss of childhood innocence, freedom, and dealing with your personal demons is rampant throughout this film, as there are tales of kids that run and fight freely throughout the bustling city streets. Corruption slithers its way through the alleyways, and this is all while the two brothers at the center of this story are both at the forefront and at points on the sidelines to focus on everyone else. It results in a story that is working on a more emotional than logical level, and that will definitely turn off some people. It’s not the most cohesive story as it goes through the different seasons, and much of what can be interpreted by the audience is either hidden within the dialogue or through visual storytelling. You might not want to focus too much on a film’s plot to get everything, and it’s not the best-told story, but with everything listed above, it’s one of the easier to follow films, whereas the similar-looking Mind Game, which Masaaki Yuasa directed, was a touch more complicated to follow exactly what the story and themes were without breaking them down yourself. However, sometimes, you may want to simply watch a movie that’s an experience and hits a certain part of your brain that likes those less straightforward stories.


While its visuals and atmosphere may overtake the story and how the story is told, Tekkonkinkreet is a film that you don’t get too often and should be celebrated when we are all, as of right now, looking for films that are different from the big franchise fodder or tentpole releases. Yes, they might not always work out 100%, but no film is ever going to be quote on quote, “perfect.” Yes, that would be nice, but then every film would be boring. Wouldn’t you rather talk about a film that has some big hits and maybe some misses of varying sizes? At least you have more to talk about than just, it’s good, it’s bad, or something in the middle that doesn’t leave that much of an impact on your filmgoing experience. As of writing this film, there has been no re-release and there is a Blu-ray and DVD release, but the Blu-ray seems like it’s hitting that out-of-print situation where it is hitting absurd prices on Amazon and the like. It’s a shame, because this is a fantastic film, and you would hope a company like Discotek or GKIDS would re-release the film. Still, if you can get a hand on a copy out in the wild, you are in for one of the many examples of why animation is such a vibrant medium, and how it’s not just for kids. Now then, the next time ya see a review, you will be hanging out with DreamWorks The Bad Guys

Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation 259: Bubble Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Studio Wit is a rather fantastic studio full of talented artists that are mostly known for animating the first few seasons of the acclaimed Attack on Titan. It must have been frustrating to be stuck on such a big franchise, because for a while that is all that they helped make. Luckily, they broke free from that franchise’s clutches, because the production committee was being absurdly impossible to deal with. It seemed like after that, they were able to start working on shows and films that they are way more passionate about. This includes Vivy, Ranking of Kings, After the Rain, this spring season’s Onipan!, and are co-producing with CloverWorks the Spy x Family adaptation, to name a few of the projects they have worked on since or alongside Attack on Titan. Now, they have an original film that will be out on Netflix called Bubble that shows that hopefully, Netflix is still going to be committed to original animated ideas and features. 

Bubble is directed by Tesuro Araki and written by Gen Urobuchi. It follows a group of people who live inside a large bubble that has overtaken Tokyo after an environmental disaster where these floating bubbles that defied gravity appeared. The game played within the bubble is essentially a more extreme and dangerous version of parkour as teams fight for resources by traversing floating and sunken buildings, and avoiding undertow-like traps throughout the courses. Hibiki, dubbed by Zach Aguilar is a young male who has had a history of hating sound or being affected by it in severe ways enough to wear headphones at all times, but inside the bubble, is one of the top-tier parkour players of his team.  One night, he decides to venture to the Tokyo Tower where ground zero hit when the bubbles arrived on earth. As he ventures around Tokyo Tower, he encounters a mysterious girl later nicknamed Uta, dubbed by Emi Lo, who is new to this now sunken city and world of parkour. Can Hibiki, Uta, and their friends find a way to solve the mystery of the bubbles? What about Uta? What is her role in this fantastical story? 

So, who said they needed a film that combined anime with The Little Mermaid, and parkour? Because that is what this film is. It’s a modern anime take on The Little Mermaid with the mixture of anime, and, well, you do get a distinct take on the fairytale that makes it stand out from other animated films like Ponyo, Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish, and Lu Over the Wall. There is something fun seeing what studios do with incorporating elements or story beats of fairytale-like experiences and how they unfold within the narrative. However, it’s more like Belle from 2021 in some regards, because it’s not fully a Little Mermaid story, but more of how it implements themes of environmentalism, connection, bonding, and freedom to the Little Mermaid formula, and it works out pretty well. It even has some of those ethereal universal atmospheric moments you would see in Ayumu Watanabe’s adaptation of Children of the Sea. While this film sounds like it goes places and is action-packed, it does tend to have more downtime moments where the characters breathe and the world is expanded upon, which is always a nice thing to see. Still, when the film decides to focus on the action, there is this rush that you get only when you combine some incredible music and gorgeous visuals from Wit Studios. 

With this being a Wit Studios production, the animation is obviously some of the best that the industry can offer. The entire sunken city world inside the bubble looks like it took its multiple coloring and intense amount of detail from Makoto Shinkai. The human movements are fluid and fast-paced with this being partly a fun action-packed parkour showcase, and its mixing of both 2D and CGI elements are seamless in the combination of the two. It’s a visually stunning film, and I know it’s easy to take jabs at it because of how it’s taking a ton of inspiration from Shinkai’s work on a visual level, but when the end result looks this fantastic, well, that’s a good thing. The action itself is so much fun to watch. There are definitely different takes on parkour, and there are some shows that make fun of it, but when you take it into the world of animation, it makes it look thrilling and exciting. This is especially true with how the people competing make harrowing jumps from floating debris and try to avoid getting knocked into the water or these dangerous black hole-like entities that are placed all over the city. The designs by Takeshi Obata are definitely some of his best work and don’t feel like leftovers from his collaborations with Tsugumi Ohba. The music is a real deal hit with the music being composed by Hiroyuki Sawano of 86, Attack on Titan, and Promare fame bringing this majestic, awe-inspiring, and epic score that really elevates the already impressive visuals. Granted, the fact this film opens with an anime-like opening sequence with a song by the famed Eve is jarring due to how this is a movie, but Eve has been making bangers over the past few years, so that’s perfectly okay. The English dub cast is full of well-known names like Zach Aguilar, Keith Silverstein, Emi Lo, Erica Lindbeck, Robbie Daymond, Laura Stahl, Landon McDonald, Jalen K. Cassell, Chris Jai Alex, Kyle McCarley, Christina Vee, Bill Butts, Derek Stephen Prince, Aleks Le, Howard Wang, Kaiji Tang, Brock Powell, and Jeannie Tirado.

Now, as for the criticisms for Bubble, it feels like it was drafted in the first half to be an anime series before getting turned into a film. There is a ton of exposition, and it always isn’t the best paced. The film is full of distinct side characters, but outside of a few who get some subtle or upfront character beats or backstories, most of them are forgettable. They are there to help push the story along and that’s about it. Even the other teams don’t have too much to themselves outside of some visual characteristics. It comes off at points, again, that it was meant to be a TV show. It would have definitely helped give the characters who aren’t Hibiki and Uta more time to be fleshed out. 

While it may be light as a bubble in some areas, Bubble is a fantastic original experience from a talented studio and team that I would definitely be on the lookout for if they team up again to make another animated feature offering. It will be on Netflix April 28th, and if you like action, lush animation, and something a bit different from your animated films, then definitely put this film on your watch list. Now then, since we are talking about distinct animated experiences from Japan, I think it’s time to check out a film that should have been covered on The Other Side of Animation for quite a while. Next time, we will be talking about Tekkonkinkreet

Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation 258 – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Childlike memories are unreliable, fuzzy, and nostalgic in a lot of ways. I’m sure most people tend to look back on their childhood from time to time. Maybe to remember their time as a child with their families, maybe to look back at what that time period was like in terms of politics, social climate, and you get the idea. Sometimes, we look back in the past to see where we were back then, or maybe we see where we are now compared to back then. Living through historic events and trends can really shape what you do and how you see the world around you. It’s very difficult to capture that feeling of nostalgia and fondly look back at memories of your childhood on film, because you either look navel-gazing, pretentious, or like an old man yelling at clouds. You have to bring earnest energy into the story or the overall experience, and some directors are able to make that work to their advantage, like Cameron Crowe before his career ended and today’s director, Richard Linklater with his new film, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

Directed and written by Richard Linklater, we follow the childhood of Stanley, voiced/played by Milo Coy. The narrator of Stanley’s story is, of course, an adult Stanley, who we never see, but is voiced by Jack Black. The story revolves around adult Stanley recalling his childhood during the big space race/ space-age craze time period of the 1960s when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The one twist is that adult Stanley adds a twist to the story of kid Stanley getting chosen by two NASA Officials played/voiced by Glen Powell and Zachary Levi to help NASA with going to the moon. 

So, if you are curious about what kind of story is being told here, it’s less a major three-act story where there is a story about NASA hiring a kid to go into space. It’s more about the narrator remembering the time period and his childhood. It’s a more grounded story, but has that small bit of whimsy of Stanley training to go into space. The overall story covers multiple aspects of the time period, including politics, war, a small splash of the racial inequality of the time, pop culture, what the film industry was like, how families around NASA worked, food, and you get the idea. It’s all about capturing that time period through a nostalgic lens. As mentioned above, you have to be so careful, because it can come off either sappy or extremely cynical in an entirely different way. No one wants to see a film about an old man saying “life was good in my day”. The film even points out elements like how kids were punished back then, as more of a low point than anything else. It was able to capture the childlike viewpoint and mindset, and how everything going on was fed through the lens of a kid going through the times. I’m sure most viewers will be able to spot themselves or their families or the parents of your family knowing what it was like back then. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood overall has a charm that you can’t find in many films with this type of story set-up. It makes you remember when the big new things in pop culture were the colored TV, Baskin Robbins having 31 flavors, syndicated television, and you get the idea. It has its adult moments, but it has one graphic moment and very little swearing. It has adult themes and elements, but it doesn’t indulge in what most people think of when the term “adult animation” pops up. 

Linklater has, for the third time, returned to rotoscope animation, and it’s definitely his most polished take on the animation art form. It’s not rough like Waking Life or as surreal and unusual as A Scanner Darkly. They said the inspiration for the art style is similar to what animated shows were like back when Saturday morning cartoons were like that, and while it’s more similar to the color palette of that time period, the animation does look great. The fact we are getting more films like this, including 2017’s Loving Vincent, is nice to see. Animation is such a vibrant medium, that you must be a real uneducated tool to think animation is just for kids. It has its moments of clunkiness, but rotoscope animation is going to feel like that, but that’s why you have animators and hardworking VFX people to make it look as good as possible. The voice cast or in this case, traced-over actors are fantastic with Glen Powell and Zachary Levi as the two NASA agents, Jack Black bringing a loving warmth to the narration of the entire film, and the other cast including Milo Coy, Bill Wise, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman, and Danielle Guilbot all doing a great job to make you feel like a part of this time period. Normally, there is a sentence or two here talking about the composer, but the composer is really the soundtrack that looms over this film’s entire runtime that is full of a lot of great old tunes and rock-and-roll that perfectly fit the time period.  

The only real criticism this critic could find is that there could have been a bit more time put into the kid’s fantasy of getting hired by Nasa. It’s the opening scene and the instigator of what can be charitably called the third act. Again, it’s more of a time “capsule retelling” of the period, and that stuff is great, but when the film’s trailer paints it more about the space mission, it’s mismarketed, and your tolerance for nostalgic look-back at time period films will depend on how you, the viewer, will tolerate how much of the first and second act is all about it. 

This film is quite the nostalgic experience. It’s less, ‘Nasa sends a boy to space’, and more about being a kid during the big space race and space-age boom in Houston. It’s a fantastic film, but I can understand that some viewers may see the marketing of Nasa sending a literal kid to space instead of the more metaphorical and symbolic angle it goes for. It’s on Netflix, and if you love yourself some Richard Linklater charm and some distinct and unique animated offerings that show animation is more than “just for kids”, then definitely give this film a watch. Next time, we will be talking about Netflix’s other big April tentpole animated offering. 

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 257: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 The Movie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Crunchyroll/Funimation. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank youCrunchyroll/Funimation for this opportunity.

Well, here we are, we are talking about a shonen battle anime franchise film. For those that know this critic’s personal bias towards them, you know that these franchise films aren’t really all that good. Most of the time, these films are shallow non-cannon experiences that introduce elements that could have been useful in the main story and are never brought up again. You wonder why the showrunners never think about adding the film elements and making them canon, but no matter how good they are, they tend to be just shinier versions of the show with exclusive villains and storylines. There is a debate on which type of shonen franchise film is worse, the recap of an arc in film form, or the filler story that may introduce some new characters, villains, and story beats, but will absolutely not matter in the long run. Luckily, we are seeing a new trend where some franchises are adapting certain story beats into films. Like, why not pace out an arc for a film when it might not work in the form of a show? This happened with Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, even if they did then reanimate a chunk of it as a couple of episodes. Luckily, today’s review will not have that issue, since it’s a prequel to the overall anime! This is a review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0

The film is directed by Sunghoo Park, the director of the show, The God of Highschool, and Garo: The Vanishing Line. It’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and based on the manga by Gege Akutami. Our story follows Yuta Okkotsu, dubbed by Kayleigh McKee. He’s a high schooler who happens to have something looming over his shoulders in the form of a deadly and immensely powerful cursed spirit named Rika Orimoto, dubbed by Anairis Quinones. This spirit happens to be his childhood friend before she died and was cursed to stick to Yuta. After an incident where Yuta put some classmates into the infirmary ward, he is sought after by our favorite Jujutsu sorcerer/mentor Satoru Gojo, dubbed by Kaiji Tang. He decides to enroll him into the school where individuals who want to become sorcerers can train and save people from these curses. Unfortunately for Yuta and Gojo, the main villain of the series, Suguru Geto, dubbed by Lex Lang, wants to get Rika for his own desires to rule the world and kill anyone who isn’t a Jujutsu sorcerer. Can Yuta get a handle on his grief and save the day? I mean, obviously, something happens since this is a prequel story, but still. 

What’s so fascinating about this film is how it fits into the overall franchise. Unlike most films in battle franchises, this one is actually important to the story. You can literally start the franchise with this film and then watch the show. The film rewards you with watching it first by making a lot of the stuff that happens in the show have more substance to them. However, watching the show and then the film afterwards can also give you some rewards in a different sense by filling in those parts of the story that this film explains. It’s such a smart decision to adapt the prequel story into a movie due to how it really couldn’t work as its own small story arc due to how little substance there was in the original manga. The film itself has a rock-solid story of Yuta getting over the loss of his friend, and him metaphorically and literally holding onto his grief with Rika. There is also a part of the story dealing with the different ideals, and the ravine that separates two of the characters due to their backstory and philosophy. It’s a film with a lot more substance than “the heroes fight a movie-exclusive villain that doesn’t do anything for the main storyline”. 

Animation-wise, it does look fantastic. Despite the fact that MAPPA is overworking their animators like the rest of the anime industry when they shouldn’t, their animation is top-notch. The film might not look any different from the show, but considering how good it looked in the first place, that isn’t the biggest deal. The characters look great, the animation is fluid, and the action beats are incredible. There is a reason why most studios try to book MAPPA for action shows due to their incredible work. I am sure this is what the director is now going to be known for. The English dub cast is fantastic as usual, with a really good set of actors that are obviously in the show as well.  As I previously mentioned, we have Kayleigh McKee, Anairis Quinones, Kaiji Tang, Lex Lang, Allegra Clark, Xander Mobus, Matthew David Rudd, Bill Butts, Ryan Bartley, Sarah Williams, and Laura Post. The music hits all of those fun bombastic and action-packed notes, and they bring back the overall team of the show for the film. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They brought back composers Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Yoshimasa Terui, and Alisa Okehazama. Hiroaki is a well-known composer who also worked on shows like Tokyo Revengers, Dr. Stone, Orange, Children of the Whales, Monster Musume, and the infamously awful Koikimo

Now, criticizing this film is a touch complicated. Not that it doesn’t have any flaws, there are a few that could be leveled against this film, but some of those complaints are probably build-up for the second season coming out next year. For example, the side villains? They don’t get to do much. While a few of them have a lot more story importance with the upcoming season, it’s a shame some are simply introduced. Luckily, this show is tremendously popular and will have some story relevance in the future, but for the sake of this film, they aren’t really substantial to the story. There also should have been a lot more time for moments to expand upon the friendship and love between Yuta and Rika. The film does enough to tell you their backstories, but they really are the highlights. They were both kids with illnesses, they loved each other, and then Rika dies and gets cursed by Yuta and turns into this powerful cursed spirit. There isn’t much time for Rika to breathe as a character, and while a majority of this film’s story is about Yuta letting go of loss and the grief of cursing his childhood friend, Rika is used more like a prop rather than having her own actual character. Or at the very least, she isn’t as fleshed out as Yuta is, and that’s a shame. It’s essentially the big problem with shonen battle shows and Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole, where sometimes the story and writing aren’t taking time to give the characters time to breathe. 

Overall though, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is fantastic, and once again, it’s one of the rare franchise films where you can literally start with the film and then jump into the show, or watch the film after the show, and get rewarded in many different ways. It’s a fascinating film that mostly works as a perfect introduction to a franchise, and it has substance within the franchise. It’s actually mandatory that you watch the film, unlike so many franchise films that you can pretty much skip. The franchise is pretty good, and is a much better battle show than most that get released. Well, next time we will be looking at another Netflix feature from a prominent director. You will just have to wait for the review in the near future. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 256: Turning Red Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

The fact of the matter is that there needs to be more diverse stories being told in film and animation, and there needs to be a bigger push for more diverse storytellers behind these projects as well. It’s absurd how stubborn some animation studios can be or have been in the past to rely on the same three or so directors for all of their films, and that’s detrimental to actually telling more ambitious and creative stories. Do you think we would be where we are now with films like Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Encanto, and today’s review of Turning Red if we had the same people in charge of greenlighting every single project? We need this change in the US animation scene, because having the same five or so directors with the same familiar but distinct to their own respective studios’ art styles gets tiring quickly. This is why much of the time, the best animated films that come out every year are from overseas, because they are willing to talk about stuff and do different animation and visual styles that most US studios aren’t willing to tackle. It’s frustrating, because now with studios like Pixar and Sony breaking down the walls that were limiting studios back then, they are now able to let artists and studios go in new directions. I mean, did you see that new Puss in Boots trailer? It looks amazing. Anyway, we are going to talk about Pixar’s newest animated venture with Domee Shi’s Turning Red

Directed by Domee Shi and written by Domee Shi and Julia Cho, we follow the story of Meilin Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang. She’s an ambitious, proactive, and extremely realistic teenager living in Toronto with her family and circle of friends. After an absolutely embarrassing moment caused by her mother, Ming Lee, voiced by Sandrah Oh. When she reacts to some drawings in Meilin’s notebook, something changes within Mei overnight. The next morning, she finds out that she has turned into one of the world’s cutest animals, a red panda. After understandably freaking out, she then goes on a journey to find out how she can deal with this new and apparently familial “curse”, and still go on with being a newly appointed teenager and life around her. 

Let’s start with the themes and overall story, because, for some reason, quite a few people, mostly uneducated, had some notoriously bad takes before and after this film’s release. Now then, to the people who said “I can’t relate to the main character.”, let me ask you a question, were you ever a teenager? Unless you are under 13, then you have been a teenager. Do you remember how many corny things you have said and done? How you have tried to be overly perfect in everything you do? What about some embarrassing drawings that you know don’t look good now, but you were super passionate about? Don’t you remember seeing a concert for a particular artist that you thought would be the biggest and most important thing in your life at that point? What about how you thought it would be the end of the world if you didn’t see that one concert, movie, show, or play that one new video game? What about that moment in time when you found your sexual discovery of finding other boys or girls cute and or hot? To the artists who are reading this, do you not remember drawing fanart or writing fanfiction of characters you loved and you “Frankenstein” them together into a story because you could? Turning Red does a fantastic job of capturing the messy era of time that is puberty and becoming a teenager more so than shows like Big Mouth. It’s an extremely awkward time, and one when you are finding things out about yourself that you never quite got until that point in time. The fact some people find this film unrelatable either means they have completely blocked out that part of them growing up, just found the execution of being said teenager not perfect, or are absolutely lying, because just because the character may not be 100% specifically you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find characters relatable. I have reviewed films and shows that are 100% not relating to me, but I find ways to be invested with the entire story or experience. Don’t tell me you can relate to something like a walking toy, a bug, a car voiced by Owen Wilson, and then not a more relatable character like a pre-teen going through puberty and her period. The film’s story also tackles themes of pressure from the toxic familial drama that trickles down through generations, as Mei’s mother Ming also had to deal with that from her mother. Yes, we now have two animated films in a row from Disney that deal with toxic family ideals about perfection and the unhealthy pressure that is put upon the rest of the family. When Mei’s father, Jin talks with her in the third act, you can tell that while he had a more backseat approach to the overarching narrative, his talk with Mei is one of the most crucial story beats about loving yourself, and that means loving the side that’s great and all of the corny dorky awkward sides to it as well. Domee Shee and her team were able to weave such a tapestry of a story that, while it gets bonkers in the third act, was still executing it all with such precise accuracy and everything from the rest of the family members and friends has such nuance to them that it results in one of the most intimate stories ever made at the studio. 

Before we move on though, isn’t it refreshing that an animated film actually acknowledges that periods are a thing? No real sugar coating of it either. This film makes it known that yes, this stuff happens in real life, and there are no attempts to walk around it since everyone is going to deal with it. It’s like how refreshing it is to hear a show or film about zombies actually call them zombies and not some generic marketable word like walkers, or when food competition shows can’t use branded food items and the show has to come up with the bargain bin generic title of those items, but then are actually able to say them. This whole element of the overarching plot due to the metaphorical puberty and period themes is a good sign of how far we have come to talk about this subject in shows and films without it being a weird and frankly gross/punching down punchline. For example, did you know that Disney originally didn’t release Isao Takahata’s masterpiece, Only Yesterday, into the states because one part of the story in a coming-of-age drama talks about the main characters getting periods? It’s a natural element of growing up or something! It only makes that fact so much more aggravating, because Disney was sure as heck glad to get those films over here, but apparently not all of them for some reason. 

Now that we talked about the story, let’s gush about the animation. While it might be similar to last year’s film Luca, Turning Red takes Luca’s art style and amplifies it up to over 100%. This is hands-down some of Pixar’s most expressive animation. It’s ridiculous how much blood, sweat, and possible satanic goat rituals the talented animators have to go through at Pixar to really push the envelope with how expressive their characters can be. It has a really fast-paced snap to how Mei reacts to everything alongside the other side characters. There is definitely some of that Sony Pictures Animation snap to the movements, and the ease with which it puts you into the mindset of Mei when her mother either embarrasseds her in front of everyone at the convenience store or when her mom brings pads to school, even simply seeing the food on the family dinner table. They even add so many small 2D elements to the CGI models, like the sparkly anime eyes trope. When they get to the spiritual bamboo forest sequences, they look less like CGI forests and more like beautifully lush painted environments. It brings such an alluring and out-of-this-world atmosphere. All of Toronto really reminds me of the pastel colors you would see in a Kirby game and how full of character and life it is. It’s so cool to see that we are now in a space where CGI can have these new techniques and tools to bring the next step in CGI animation up to the plate. Sure, The Peanuts Movie and Into the Spider-Verse got the ball rolling, but to see how everyone has taken notice and want to do the same thing is such a nice change of pace, when back in the day and even as early as the last decade, everyone wanted to try and be that one studio when they should have been doing their own thing. Now, studios are doing their own thing and being the best they can be at what they do, but everyone gets to have more fun with taking the animation game to the next level! Who cares at the end of the day who started it first, let’s just enjoy the fact the US animation scene is growing. 

Anyway, the voice cast is fantastic! The people in charge of casting at Pixar tend to always pick who would best fit the character, instead of who would get the most buzz for marketing and social media. Not to say they get no big-named actors, because a lot of the actors in this film are recognizable, but the fact they aren’t slammed in your face via the marketing is always going to feel refreshing. The actors they did get though, do a fantastic job with their characters. You get Rosalie Chiang as Mei who brings this delightful energy and driving force to the plot. Sandra Oh is always amazing in whatever she is cast, Orion Lee brings a nurturing and quirky nature to the dad, it’s always a good time when you bring James Hong into the equation, Wai Ching Hu is complex and captivating as Mei’s grandmother, and Ava Morse, Hyien Park, and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan do such a pitch-perfect job as Mei’s friends. The music that is composed by Ludwig Goransson was able to perfectly capture the films’ tone and the world of early 2000s Toronto. The boy-band tunes that are played throughout the film were composed by Billie Eilish and her brother, and they are shockingly good. They really capture the era of boy-bands the world was enjoying at that point in time. 

There are a few story beats that could have been resolved better in the third act, but they are minor nitpicks, since this reviewer personally found that it hits the landing to make up for some of the small story beats and some clunky writing moments. Turning Red is a new step in the evolution of Pixar storytelling. Hopefully, they hire more new talent among their already immensely talented teams of animators to keep pushing the envelope of animated storytelling because as we have seen, when studios do that, others tend to follow with their own takes. It’s an early frontrunner for the best animated film of 2022 so far, and this year is stacked, so we will have to see where things go from here. Now then, let’s talk about an anime franchise film! The next one up will be the brand new and hugely successful Jujutsu Kaisen 0

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 255: Human Resources Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Out of all of the shows that get people hot and bothered on Netflix, Big Mouth gets people the most bothered. The iconic adult comedy that revolves around the life of a bunch of kids going through the disastrous and horrifying time of puberty with the help of monsters and creatures representing different sides of the human condition has split viewers down the middle. Some love this raunchy comedy for what it’s tackling with puberty, sex, gender identity, and relationships. On the other hand, many do not care for it due to how it’s yet another crass raunchy animated comedy that supposedly skates by with an artificial approach to said topics mentioned in the previous sentence. It doesn’t help that other shows got canceled while Big Mouth was able to fester. Luckily, shows like Tuca and Bertie were able to find new life on other services, but you get the idea. People who hate adult animation and comedies tend to point to this one being the worst of them all as it lingers grossly on the service. And now Nick Kroll and his creative team have a spin-off show that focuses on the monsters at hand. Now then, let’s make a trip to the third floor to Human Resources

This new show was created by  Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Kelly Galuska, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. This takes place in the world of the creatures that inhabited Big Mouth. We follow a group of different creatures including love bugs, anxiety mosquitos, logic rocks, hormone monsters, depression kitties, addiction angels, and you get the idea. We follow them through their daily lives as they help deal with the problems, minute and personal. 

So, with this being a spin-off to Big Mouth, expect a lot of the same elements that defined the iconic yet polarizing series. Comedy-wise, expect this to be fairly raunchy with so many sex jokes, swearing, and essentially, a small army worth of innuendos and visual gags. There will be nudity and some fairly graphical moments with violence and sex, but at this point with adult animated comedies on the streaming service, you should expect there to be no real limitations. As we have seen with shows like The Prince or HOOPS, being crass, shocking, offensive, and or in bad taste is not enough to make shows good, due to how you need something else to balance out the crass, cynical, and or mean-spirited nature of the art you are offering to viewers. Like how Big Mouth has a flawed if not admirable path of talking about the ugly side of puberty and coming of age with its kid characters becoming teens, Human Resources focuses more on the adult side of the lifespan. Granted, that sounds weird since this show is reliant on you loving the monsters and creatures that helped out the humans in the original show. 

Luckily, there is substance to this show. We see themes and storylines dealing with friendships, workplace situations, trust, dealing with loss and grief, toxic traits, the unpredictable reasons behind being in love, the battle between love and logical thinking, self-love, complicated relationships, sex, and you get the idea. The show does give a lot of characters time to bounce off of one another, and while your tolerance for these characters will make this series enjoyable, there are a few likable characters including Randall Park as Peter the logic rock. Everyone does a good job working off of one another, and while the crass humor is, say it with this critic now, the ride-or-die element of your tolerance for the story and how it all unfolds, there are a few really solid jokes and gags. 

Animation-wise, this show has the common adult-animated comedy visual look caused by problems that originate with bad production cycles made by giant studios and companies not giving the teams making these shows the time they need. As usual, people in the animation industry need new deals, so make sure you show support with stuff like #NewDeal4Animation, #StoryCraftUnite, and #EqualPay4EqualPaint. While it may not have the most appealing designs, there are a few designs that are fun to look at. I love the logic rocks and the need demons the most. It also seems like some moments in the show were able to breathe a little more and have a more fluid feel.  The voice cast is also pretty good with a great cast of comedic and character actors. You have Aidy Bryant, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, David Thewlis, Keke Palmer, Pamela Adlon, Randall Park, Ali Wong, Thandie Newton, Bobby Cannavale, Jemaine Clement, Maria Bamford, Rosie Perez, Henry Winkler, and even guest appearances from Hugh Jackman, Helen Mirin, Lupita Nyong’o, and Janelle Monae to name a majority of a really stacked cast. 

Now, in terms of criticisms, with most comedies, the humor is hit-and-miss, and, well, that’s no different here. A lot of the humor can be a touch much. It has musical moments, but sometimes it can feel too chaotic onscreen all at once.  Some of the comedy even goes down to just yelling, and it’s not fun to watch when everything is going bananas on screen. It also has issues from time to time of balancing out the crass comedy and its more sincere moments. Sometimes the morals hit, and sometimes the comedic punchline or gross-out joke tends to take away the emotional punch. Yes, these characters can be deplorable and gross, but shows like this need to be careful with wanting to have their cake and eat it too. 

While your mileage will very much vary with this spin-off, Human Resources offers a more human experience to the adult animation landscape. If you like Big Mouth, but more for the times it hits more human themes and the creatures involved, then you will probably enjoy this show. If not, well, you can go watch something like Undone on Amazon Prime or Primal on HBO Max for your adult animated needs. Now then, next time, we will be taking a good look at Pixar’s Turning Red

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 254: Child of Kamiari Month

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

With the Oscars once again dismissing and ignoring the Japanese animation side of things, stagnating as usual with what they actually nominate over what they should be nominating for awards, let’s keep reminding ourselves that not getting nominated doesn’t mean the film in question isn’t good. Who’s favorite film is actually ever in the Best Picture category? Anyway, just because the award shows announce their nominees, doesn’t mean films stop getting made. More movies are going to come out and they will continue to be interesting, good, bad or everything in-between, no matter the awards they are or aren’t given. So, let’s get down to it with one of the first animated films of the year with Child of Kamiari Month

This film was directed by Takana Shirai, written by Ryuta Miyake, Tetsuro Takita, Toshinari Shinoe, and was produced by Liden Films. The story revolves around a tongue girl named Kanna Hayama, dubbed by Mia Sinclair Jenness. Her life has been upended due to the death of her mother and she has lost her passion for running. That’s a touch unfortunate because she is also participating in her school’s marathon with her supportive dad being there. Sadly, due to the emotional baggage that she has been carrying, she doesn’t quite do well at the marathon, and runs away before her father can help comfort her. She runs to a shrine that she walked past with her friend the other day, and while there, her mother’s keepsake starts to activate. Time slows down around her and she realizes that something is up. Kanna can see the spirits that inhabit the shrines now! She encounters a talking bunny spirit named Shiro, dubbed by Luci Christian, who comes just in time to help her with an encounter with an oni boy named Yasha, dubbed by Mark Allen Jr. After the encounter, Shiro tells Kanna that she must go on this journey across Japan and gather the offerings from different spirits for Kamiari Month, a mystical holiday that is a celebration of the gods and spirits. Reluctantly, Kanna accepts the quest to traverse all over Japan to get all of the different gifts and complete the run. 

So, a recurring theme seen in so many foreign animated films that have been covered in multiple reviews and brought over to the states has been the main character going through some kind of coming-of-age story of getting over their grief or dealing with the loss of a loved one. It’s not an original concept, but they execute it well, with a much smaller-scale story about Kanna dealing with the loss of her mom and the growing depression and bitterness that has been caged up inside of her since that incident. The other side character that starts out as a rival to Kanna, the oni boy Yasha, has his own arc and reasons for wanting to do the run for Kamiari Month to regain the honor of his family that was dragged through the mud and banished from the heavens above. It’s a quieter experience as a couple of the montage sequences are just visuals set to music. The overall story might have some wonky and familiar elements, but it’s a good reminder, as usual, that not every film needs to be a groundbreaking mind-blowing experience. Sometimes, you just need to dial back your expectations 

The animation is pretty solid. It’s not super-flashy, and personally, when you are coming out after Belle, Josee The Tiger and The Fish, and Words that Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, it doesn’t quite compare to those, and not every film needs to, but don’t expect this to be on the same level as those films or upcoming films like Bubble and Drift Away. It does have some nice flourishes like when they encounter a giant dragon god, and when the film wants to have some distinct visual moments, it does deliver on those aspects with some waterloo flourishes that have elements of those Japanese ink paintings. The voice cast is also pretty rock solid with Mia Sinclair Jenness, Mark Allen Jr., Luci Christian, Kirk Thorton, Keith Silverstein, and Michael Sorich all bringing their usual top-level talent. 

In terms of criticisms, the film takes a lot of time to talk and explain everything about Kamiari Month. It’s not well-paced, because instead of spreading out everything throughout the runtime, they upload a ton of exposition about the lore and how everything works, and it becomes a bit much. Once you get past the film’s first 15 or so minutes, it ends up flowing much better, but you have to be careful about doing that story build-up upfront. It’s because most will be ready to switch to watching something else if the story is not paced well. It would be better if they were able to spread everything else around the run across Japan as they were doing it instead of wasting so much time in one spot to save money and time on new environments. 

While not perfect, and Netflix once again not promoting this film that they spent money on outside of a single trailer, Child of Kamiari Month is a solid spiritual experience of getting over loss and becoming spiritually stronger. Personally, Sing a Bit of Harmony is the better of the two Japanese animated films released this year so far. Luckily, it was able to get some attention on Netflix and on the web before it got buried or overlooked by Studio Wit’s upcoming animated feature Bubble that’s coming out on Netflix in April. If you need something to watch and to get your anime fill that’s not a weekly TV series, then definitely give this show a watch. Next time, we will be talking about a new spin-off series based on one of Netflix’s most controversial and popular series.

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

Winter 2022 Anime Season Impressions Finale

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Well, with this second part now completed, I can safely say that overall, the Winter 2021 season was a real hit-and-miss experience. You would find some fantastic shows, but then you would run into shows that feel like they came out from the hugely mediocre Summer 2021 season. Still, when the good anime show their heads, they do elevate a rather ho-hum season. Still, if half of these anime came out later, and actually had time to be good, then maybe I would be singing a different tune. The anime industry needs to slow down and make sure they are paying and taking care of their animators instead of burning them out and losing more, due to said burnout and overwork. As usual, there needs to be a new deal for animation, not just in Japan and the US, but all over the world. Now then, let’s get started. 


Futsal Boys (Funimation)

This anime is part of yet another dreaded mixed media project. It’s directed by Yukina Hiiro, written by Shoji Yonemura, and produced by Diomedea. Am I really going to have to go through another year where most of the sports anime series that were released were awful, with very few of them being good and even fewer being great? Seriously, even with all of the anime industry nonsense going on, we shouldn’t have to wait for another Bakuten level success. While it looks leagues better than Farewell My Dear Kramer, Futsal Boys still suffers from an incredibly bland and boring story that you have seen in so many male-focused sports anime. You have seen these characters before, you know what their arcs are going to be, and the fact that it doesn’t look good on a whole, is resulting in a rather flawed package. It feels like any time I have seen a soccer-related anime, it turns out to not be all that good, and we are getting a total of three or so for now soccer-related anime. Maybe this show will get better, but due to how unimpressed most people are with it, I doubt it will have more time to shine. Plus, too much anime is coming out already, and I personally can’t commit to watching every show I find to be mediocre. 

Tribe Nine (Funimation)

Another original anime by the Danganronpa people? This should have been a real knockout! It’s directed by Yu Aoki, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Liden Films. This is pretty much a sports show if it was conceptualized by a child, and that’s both its greatest strength and weakness. It’s a baseball anime where baseball was taken to the extreme via the 90s, and with how unhinged and absurd it can be, when it all hits, the show is a lot of fun to watch, as we see our group of distinctly designed heroes play baseball. Seeing how it’s by the same individuals who make the Danganronpa series, the characters all have very unique looks to them and they have their own personalities as well. The villain, who is voiced by famed content creator Corpse Husband, also does a fantastic job alongside the rest of the English dub cast to bring this world to life. However, during my time watching the show, it felt like it was missing that edge that was in the team’s previous efforts with Akudama Drive from 2020, and the animation quality is underselling the over-the-top nature of this show’s sport. Maybe they should have been given more time to flesh out how to keep the sports parts more exhilarating, or maybe a Studio Trigger simply could have done better, or maybe they should have gotten the team behind SK8 The Infinity to make this show’s action punch a bit harder. Still, it’s a solid sports show with a decent cast and a great dub. Hopefully, it gets better as time goes on. 

Salaryman’s Club (Crunchyroll/VRV)

It really feels like we are back in the Spring 2021 anime season with these sports anime, because this one is the only really good one out of the batch. This is an original anime directed by Aimi Yamauchi, written by Yamauchi and Teruko Usumi, and produced by Liden Films. Well, if you had to look at the two sports anime this season that were made by Liden Films and where the resources went, it’s quite obvious this is where they went. This combination of a group of young men who work at a soda company while also representing the company’s badminton team sounds so odd, but it turns out to be the most compelling sports anime story of the season and one of the most compelling anime of the season. The main character, while acting a touch standoffish at first, quickly becomes a likable individual who has a troubled past with the sport, but opens up more once he joins the company, resulting in a super likable cast of characters. You may have seen characters like these in sports anime before, but it’s always going to come down to the execution, and when the story hits, it hits hard. It’s also one of the loveliest-looking anime of the season if the sports sequences and the lush opening aren’t already a sign of the overall quality of animation. It’s got charm for days. If you like shows like last year’s Bakuten!! (aka Backflip!!) or Free! Dive, then you will love this anime, and in a season that’s mostly sequels and some fairly mediocre titles, it’s a good idea to support the original anime that come out and hit it out of the park like Salaryman’s Club does. 


Rusted Armors (Crunchyroll/VRV)

CW: transphobic and homophobic moments. 

So, we have yet another multi-media project that includes 2.5D stage plays, and manga by both Hagi and Kairi Shimotsuki doing the two different manga art individually. The anime is directed by Shinmei Kawahara, written by Ohine Ezaki, and produced by Kigumi. Listen, while its CGI is overall extremely lackluster with models that looked like they were ripped from a PlayStation 2 era cel-shaded anime placed on 2D backdrops, it is still only slightly better than Ex-Arm. The fact that the new trend of shows getting made is hiring studios that never worked in anime before and or never worked in CGI animation before is not a good sign for things to come. The characters look like they came out of the more recent Fire Emblem games, but with none of the charm or any actual character development. The first two episodes even have some major transphobic and homophobic aspects. The overall show feels like it was an 80s cartoon made to advertise some toy line that never happened with how macho and “super cool” it’s trying to be. It’s kind of sad how hard the show is trying by the 4th episode to be this serious action drama, but its tone clashes with how bad the CGI is and how lackluster the action is. It might not be as badly inept as Ex-Arm, but this show didn’t need to exist if the team wasn’t given the right time and budget to make it work. This might be the worst anime of the year so far. 

Requiem of the Rose King (Funimation)

CW: a lot of attempted rape. 

So, this anime is based on the manga by Aya Kanno. The anime adaptation is directed by Kentaro Suzuki, written by Hiroki Uchida, and produced by JC Staff. Whether you know about the original source material or not, this show does a bad job of helping you feel invested with this show’s drama and story. It goes at a breakneck pace introducing too many characters that are major players within this show’s story. It also has a lot of drama revolving around our main character being intersexual, and it’s not well handled at all. There is also just a lot of attempted rape. On top of all of this, the animation is not great. It almost leans on not being animated at all, or just doing the bare minimum. Funny enough, with it being a JC Staff-produced show, they almost animate this as they did with Way of the Househusband. The dub cast is trying so hard to make this all work and to make it all compelling, but it’s not enough to help elevate this adaptation. I heard the manga is great, but we are here to talk about the anime, and the anime is easily one of the worst this season and is an early contender alongside Rusted Armors as the worst. 

Orient (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This action show is based on the manga by Shinobu Ohtaka. It’s directed by Tetsuya Yanagisawa, written by Mariko Kunisawa, and produced by A.C.G.T. Honestly, this would be a decently pulpy action show that you would have seen on Toonami in the early days of that program’s run. It’s basically teens fighting demons in a world where demons took over and have basically enslaved humans to become edible slaves. It has a real poppy opening as well that might be the show’s best feature. It also has a female lead who is by far the most interesting character out of the main trio. Too bad it takes until episode 4 for her to arrive, and the show looks like utter garbage. Seriously, this might be one of the flimsiest anime I have ever seen with its real lack of polish across the board. It has wonky designs for background characters, the action isn’t all that stellar, and the whole fantasy world that just happens to have magical motorcycles feels half-baked. I like the idea of what the demons have done to this world, and as the show goes on, it shows the cold nature of humans as well, but it’s a very uneven if somewhat decent series. I can’t personally see myself coming back to this odd and clunky series, but it’s not the worst. 

Girl’s Frontline (Funimation)

Well, this anime is based on the popular mobile game by MICA Team. The anime adaptation is directed by Shigeru Ueda, written by Hideyuki Kurata, and produced by Asahi Productions. A show about a bunch of cute anime girls dressed up like figurines and statues with guns is not as serious as it should be. Everyone is wearing cute anime outfits or sexy attire, and yet this is played dead seriously. It’s also not well animated, so the gunfights aren’t all that thrilling to watch, and due to the nature of the expendability of the dolls, unless they are a specific group shown off, they are hard to care about. Even the opening has better animation than anything in the actual show. It’s almost funny how seriously this show wants to be taken, but unless you really love the game, then you won’t find much to really enjoy here when you can go and watch Princess Connect: ReDive! and have a much better time with fun action, comedy, and character dynamics. 

Love of Kill (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This action/thriller/romance anime is based on the manga by Fe. It’s directed by Hideaki Oba, written by Ayumu Hisao, and produced by Platinum Vision, the same studio that animated Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist. While this show’s production values and tone are uneven, and I think that is because the show is trying to shove in little bits of comedy to break up everything else, this show is very interesting. The real hook and pull of this show is the dynamic between the hitman and the detective as the show slowly, maybe a bit too slowly, unravels why this hitman is connected to this detective. It slowly unravels throughout the first few episodes, and it was able to keep my interest in what was going on between the two. At points, the show doesn’t balance out its tone well, and this really needed more time or more people to polish out the visuals, but I was shocked with how invested I was with this show’s story. 

Tokyo 24 Ward (Crunchyroll/VRV/Funimation)

Well, here we are with the third of the three shows CloverWorks made this season. It’s an original anime directed by Naokatsu Tsuda and written by Vio Shimokura. Out of the three shows CloverWorks put out this season, this one has the biggest uphill battle to get through. It was the last to come out, it had some apparent production issues, and it might become the next victim of CloverWorks production woes as it’s an original show, and who knows how it will hit the landing. Hopefully, this sci-fi action show that is basically Minority Report, but with an anime coat of paint makes its landing, because it’s a really cool show. It has a great world, a fantastic hook, and the third episode ends on a real rock-solid note that definitely made me want to keep watching, since there are now six or so episodes out. I love CloverWorks, but this is the show I’m the most worried about this season not ending well. Hopefully our colorful cast of likable leads, intense trolley problem set pieces, solid CloverWorks level animation, and a rather engaging story keep up throughout the show’s run. 

Sabikui Bisco (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Shinji Cobkubo. The anime in question is directed by Atsushi Itagaki, written by Sadayuki Murai, and produced by OZ. When you think of light novels, what comes to mind? Mostly mediocre isekai power fantasies? Well, if your viewpoint on them was as narrow as mine, then Sabikui Bisco is a real fresh change of pace alongside other shows like Faraway Paladin. This anime feels like it came out of the mid-to-late 90s during the time of shows like Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, and Trigun. A futuristic world with a distinct infection known as Rust and a mystery revolving around mushrooms. It feels old- school and part of a time period where so many manga authors wanted to have their take on either Blade Runner, Alien, or Mad Max, but this time, without the more troubling aspects of the late 80s early 90s era of the OVA boom. On top of some stellar action and worldbuilding, our characters are fascinating and instantly hook you with their distinct personalities. It’s a world that feels fully lived and realized, and that’s so rare to find in most anime and just animation in general. You get so much of the history and atmosphere just by looking at all of the characters on screen and the environment in which they live. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season and I can’t wait to watch more.

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

The Other Side of Animation 253: The Cuphead Show Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Despite the loaded and complicated history of the rubber hose animation aesthetic, the visual look has always been a favorite among fans of art and animation. When animation visual styles go through trends, there is always this yearning for an older visual look, and while I think some of the yearnings for more nostalgic-fueled visuals can sometimes lean into some very toxic attitudes, you can see, on a visual level, why people would want to see creators and studios bring back a classic look to new shows. Of course, when you tackle something with rubber hose animation, it’s the art style you have to be the most careful with, due to how some of the design decisions made during the early days of animation have some racist undertones. Luckily, with Studio MDHR and their hit game Cuphead, they were able to translate the iconic visual style into one of the most graphically impressive experiences of the previous console generation. Of course, when a game like this gets as big as it does, then you know a show is not too far behind. Well, let’s get started then! 

Animated by Lighthouse Studios, executive produced by Chad and Jared Moldenhauer (the two who created the game), and it’s developed by Dave Wasson for Netflix. The two different directors involved for this first batch of episodes are Adam Paloian and Clay Morrow. The story follows the wacky and shenanigan-filled adventures of Cuphead and Mugman, voiced by Tru Valentino and Frank Todaro. They go all around the Inkwell Isle encountering the individuals that live there and of course avoiding the evil grasp of The Devil, voiced by Luke Millington-Drake. Along the way, they interact with their elderly caretaker Elder Kettle,  voiced by Joe Hanna, the lovely Miss Chalice, voiced by Grey Griffin, and you get the idea. 

So, while there was a “plot” in the original game, it was very straightforward. The world was vast and full of a lot of interesting-looking characters. The one thing the game was not, was story-focused. Since that is the case, how on earth do you turn this show into a TV series?  With how there wasn’t too much lore and world-building put into the main game, it wouldn’t make sense to make it more story-driven, so instead of going the route of some story-driven shows, they went the route of the more recent Animaniacs and Looney Tunes direction, making more episodic shenanigan-filled adventures. Some episodes have some pseudo-ongoing story beats, but they are usually wrapped up within the second part, and the first batch of episodes ends with a cliffhanger, so it will be interesting to see where they take the rest of the episodes. The main focus for the episodes is putting Cuphead and Mugman in a situation and the hijinks ensue. They feel very old school with how they set up stories and jokes, but they bring a more modern-day sentimentality to the overall vibe and humor, so it never feels dated or going fully against the time period the show’s animation style is from. A lot of the jokes and set-ups are delightfully charming, and that’s because they were able to give the characters more concrete personalities for our heroes to work off of. Not that the characters didn’t already have them in the game, but they were mostly told through one line of dialogue or through their animation via their movements. Some of the stories have the typical “oh, this was a big misunderstanding” plot set-up or “I’m brave because I got this special item that’s not actually special, but it makes me feel brave”, but the dialogue and the lines they offer are what help elevate it to be more than just shorts going through the motions. With all that said, the character they do give these individuals is delightful, and The Devil might be my favorite character alongside his grunt and King Dice. 

Now then, with the animation, there has been a controversy about how the animation itself is not purely or strickly like the video game. Listen, you can dislike how polished the linework is for the show’s visuals, but the fact of the matter is that doing super old-school 2D animation is costly and time-consuming, and knowing the current landscape of animation production, they were never going to be able to do pure 2D visuals like the old-school days. Heck, the developers of the game revealed they had to remortgage their home to make the game, due to how costly it was to make said game with super slick 2D animation. With what the studio had with whatever production schedule they were given, The Cuphead Show looks really good. It might use a mix of 2D and maybe some animation rigging, but the fact that the visuals look as good as they do and how they were pretty much able to copy and keep the game’s visuals the same is impressive. They even use some filter or graphical techniques to give off the impression of the multi-layer camera effects the older Disney films had. It’s a visually impressive show that stands out from other animated offerings on Netflix. The voice cast is also pretty great, with the already mentioned names above with Tru Valentino, Frank Todaro, Joe Hanna, Luke Millington-Drake, Grey Griffin, Wayne Brady, and the rest of the cast is spot-on with the characters they portray. They even have a few musical moments and they are real bangers that bring back the musical styles of the old Betty Boop cartoons. 

Overall, The Cuphead Show succeeds with its adaptation from video game to animated series, and we already know there are going to be 48 episodes, so we are getting more. Now, Netflix, I’m happy this show is a success, but you better pay the teams that made this show the money they are owed, because with the current landscape of the animation industry revealing how much worse people who work in animation are paid compared to live-action is disheartening and maddening. It would be a shame to find out if you all didn’t give this team their due. Anyway, you can enjoy the first “season” on Netflix on the 18th, and if you like old-school cartoony-style shows, then you will love this show. Now then, let’s tackle a film that Netflix barely covered and advertised with Child of Kamiari Month

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

Winter 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The Winter 2022 season seems like a slower burn than Fall 202, since there aren’t as many fantastic shows this season, and it kind of feels like Summer 2021 due to how so many shows this season feel like they could have used more time in the oven to perfectly bake. Luckily, the good shows this season are not only great, but they stand out from one another and are distinct experiences, which is not always a given with anime as well. Hopefully, this year has serious changes to the anime scene and we can get more quality than quantity, and the commitment to not greenlight second seasons to shows that were abject failures. As usual, this is a 3-episode plus impressions editorial. Now then, let’s get started! 


The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Shinkoshoto. It’s directed by Noriaki Akitaya, written by Hiroki Uchida, and produced by JC Staff.  It’s not even halfway through the year, and we can’t escape mediocre power fantasy isekai shows. Even when the isekai is within its own fantasy world, it can’t escape being boilerplate familiar and predictable. There is nothing wrong with doing something familiar, but it has to be executed well, and this was not executed well. It’s a power fantasy that you have seen a dozen times over with some of the wonkiest lore to its fantasy world that I have ever seen. It’s got bland characters, less than great animation, middling action, and some really incompetently made plot twists within its first three episodes. It has some decent ideas for its world, like the crest ranking and how the demons have told the humans through propaganda how bad magic is, but it’s not good at all. Not the worst anime of the season, but a middling one that will get lost in the pile of other isekai that have come out already or will come out. 

Fantasia Sango (Funimation)

This anime is based off of the video game by UserJoy Technology, and no, the US does not have access to this game. Anyway, this anime adaptation is directed by Shunsuke Matchitani, written by Masashi Suzuki, and produced at Geek Toys. The weird thing about these video game tie-in anime is that much of the time, the US does not have any real or legal way of playing these games, so the anime itself has to try even harder to get you interested in what is essentially Romancing of the Three Kingdoms, but with demon slaying. It’s not a terrible show, but it does dump a lot of in-universe lingo and exposition, and when it gets to the stuff you want to see, which is our heroes fighting demons, it doesn’t look all that stellar. I like the half-demon girl, but that’s because she’s the most interesting character while everyone else is just fine. Outside of some extremely gratuitous fanservice from one character, the designs are the only thing that’s kind of interesting with its more Chinese fashion sense and weaponry. However, if you are watching this and not Jujutsu Kaisen or Sabikui Bisco, then you are watching the wrong show. I don’t even really get why we get these anime brought over when no one is going to care about an anime based on a game a huge chunk of the world hasn’t played. 

World of Leadale (Crunchyroll/VRV)

Yet another isekai huh? Buckle up, because we have a few this season. This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Ceez. The anime is directed by Takeyuki Yanase, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, and produced by Maho Film. Outside of its fairly dark and depressing starting point of how our lead gets transported to a VR game world, there isn’t a whole lot going on with this anime. Granted, there are two things that make this anime stand out, including the mystery about how she got transported into a game world and how the game world has moved on in the future when the servers were shut down. The second element is how our lead’s in-game character had a family at one point and they remember her. The problem is that it’s just not very funny. Just because you’ve got the writer who helped adapt Reincarnated as a Slime and By the Grace of the Gods, doesn’t mean it’s going to be as good as this one. It’s becoming very abundant that the source material is going to be key with this genre of anime, and when this is trying to be a super cute fantasy show, it doesn’t work. It’s not all that funny, and the animation isn’t as good as it could have been in order to execute the jokes and action. Again, there are some decent story beats, and that ending song is a real bop, but when there are so many isekai released every year, you really have to stand out, and when you don’t, well, that’s a problem. It’s pretty harmless overall though, and it has a few decent gags, but I can’t personally find myself continuing to watch this. 

She Professed Herself the Pupil of The Wise Man (Funimation)

Content Warning: Child Nudity

This is one of the first of the new Funimation co-productions. It’s based on the novels and manga by Hirotsugu Ryusen. The anime adaptation is directed by Keitaro Motonaga, written by Takamitsu Kono and produced by Studio A-Cat. So, we have another isekai that takes place in a fantasy world within a VRMMO, and it’s not the last one of this season. It has a decent idea of how our lead gets sent to another world with how they were just using a new character template, but outside of that? It’s just another isekai power fantasy that does nothing to offset the unbalanced story and action, since there are no stakes due to how powerful our lead is, and the story isn’t interesting enough to keep you going. The English dub is pretty solid, and was one of the first to have one right out of the gate.   It might be the saving grace of this show, because otherwise, it does a lot of the more unsavory anime stuff like use an obviously underaged character for comedy and fanservice, and make one character hyper-obsessed to uncomfortable degrees for, again, comedy. It’s not the worst anime due to how the first episode has an out-of-place sequence where it relies on nothing but visual storytelling for the last third of the episode, but you could literally watch Ascendance of a Bookworm if you wanted a better isekai starring a young girl that focuses more on story and world building. 

Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout (CrunchyrollVRV)

Content Warning: Gender dysphoria is a major part of the story

This comedy fantasy is based on the manga by Yu Tsurusaki. The animated adaptation is directed by Sayaka Yamai, written by Toshimitsu Takeuchi, and produced by OLM. Now, with the premise that one guy gets turned into a hot anime girl, and the goddess of this fantasy world being vindictive enough to put a love curse on the two leads sounds like it could lead to some problematic elements. I’ll be honest, the first episode didn’t catch me, because it felt like there was some slight gay panic being brought into the equation. The jokes didn’t hit at first, and I was worried about how many shows this season have gender dysphoria as a main element to certain characters. Well, it’s hard to feel like they are going to handle these elements and “comedy” well. Once you get past the first episode, they build up the world around the leads, make the leads more endearing and likable, and the jokes land really hard. It has turned into a rough journey to a rather delightful comedy take on the isekai genre and this is why doing the three-episode rule is important. I hope the rest of the show is able to balance good character dynamics and jokes to make for a splendid experience. 

Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department (CrunchyrollVRV)

Content Warning: Gender dysphoria and some nudity

This delightful gem of an anime is based on the manga by Hiroaki Mizuno. It’s directed by Hisashi Saito, written by Katsuhiko Takayama, and produced by Quad. Combining tokusatsu monster-creating with the trials and tribulation of the workplace is so creative, that I’m shocked there haven’t been anime like this before. It takes full advantage of being both a parody and a loving tribute to Tokusatsu shows, while also being wildly funny, creative, and clever with how tough it must be to keep making a brand new monster of the week, every single week on time, on budget, and is able to beat the hero of the day. It has a few jokes that were hit-and-miss, but the overall enjoyment of the show doesn’t outweigh how fun it is to watch this show. 

The Genius Princes’ Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Funimation) 

This fantastic anime is based on the light novels and manga by Toru Tuba. The anime is directed by Makoto Tamagawa, written by Deko Akao aka Hitomi Mieno, and produced by Yokohama Animation Laboratory. If you were bored by Realist Hero and its condescending lead, then you will absolutely love the more comedy-and-story-focused fantasy series about a prince who is a genius, but isn’t technically using his intelligence for the better of the kingdom, but rather to raise the profitability of the kingdom to sell it off. Every time he tries to fail, he ends up succeeding and some victories aren’t all that profitable for the lead. Many of the jokes are at the expense of our lead, and while not every single joke works, the show is a laugh riot and is easily one of the funniest anime of the season so far. It also cleverly balances out world-building and our relationship with the characters in a very organic way, which seems like a thing that’s becoming rare within the anime scene. It’s a show that knows its one gimmick can’t be the end-all-be-all for the show to be a hit, and I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the show. 

Slice of Life 

Police in a Pod (Funimation) 

Content Warning: Cops, the second episode is about sexual abuse, and just typical Copaganda

So, this awkward-to-watch show is based on the manga by ex-police officer turned manga author Miko Yasu. The anime is directed by Yuzo Sato, written by Ryunosuke Kingetsu, and produced by Studio Madhouse. So, yeah, I don’t think there was going to be any real proper reaction to this show that is a workplace slice-of-life about cops other than polarized thoughts. There are definitely some aspects that it touches upon, like sexism and harassment at the workplace, and it wants to paint a sympathetic take on the stress and nonsense police have to deal with every day on the job. Too bad this anime decided to come out during a time period where cops are not looked upon with respect due to the massive amounts of police corruption and how it paints the police as the victims of the nonsense. It’s pretty much copaganda, and yes, a lot of great shows are copaganda in nature, but what separates the good shows/films about cops and the bad ones is the execution of how they tackle their stories and characters. Unfortunately, a lot of this show falls flat due to how it really can’t balance out the more serious subject matters, and it’s not funny enough to be entertaining. Its setting is grounded, and it makes it more of a weird sit. It had maybe one joke that I laughed at and one sincere moment that makes the characters likable, but this show is kind of weird in a time with everything going on right now. We are past the days of You’re Under Arrest and Patlabor that could take cops and have an obvious tongue- and-cheek take on them, but this show has none of that.

Akebi’s Sailor Uniform (Funimation/Crunchyroll/VRV)

Content Warning: Foot fetish and voyeuristic lingering on middle school girls. 

This promising, but underwhelming anime is based on the manga by Hiro. The anime is directed by Miyuki Kuroki, written by Rino Yamazaki, and produced by CloverWorks. Talk about an anime with all of the production values most anime wish they could have. This show has some of the most pristine and gorgeous visuals of any anime this season. Heck, it might be the best looking new anime of the season. It has extremely polished visuals that almost look theatrical in quality. However, it’s mostly another slice-of-life school day story, which wouldn’t be bad. Heck, it may even have some of the charm of the shows that Naoko Yamada has worked on before. The one glaring flaw so far though is how the show is shot. There are way too many shots that linger on these 12-year-old girls’ bodies, how the clothes drop off of them, and the focus on looking at feet and legs. It’s the same problem as a show from Fall 2020, Adachi and Shimamura that had the same issue of an anime that would have been sweet and wholesome, but is otherwise bogged down by a camera that lingers too much on the legs of the female leads. 

Cue! (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the video game by Liber Entertainment. It’s directed by Shin Katagi, written by Tatsuhiko Urahata, and produced by Yumeta Company and Graphinica. Honestly, the one thing that makes this idol anime stand out is the premise that instead of them being pop stars, they are voice actors. That alone makes this way more interesting than the multitude of idol anime that’s all about cute anime girls, pushing a product that no one outside Japan cares about, and not much else. Luckily, they focus enough on the business side of the venture that does help elevate the story, because they made the classic blunder and tried to give you all 15 or so of the cute anime girls that you can manage in the game, within the first episode. 

Slow Loop (Funimation)

This anime is based on the manga by Maiki Uchino. It’s directed by Noriaki Akitaya, written by Yuka Yamada, and produced by Connect. So, at the outset, it looks like cute girls doing hobby shows, and those are usually fairly popular with franchises like Laid Back Camp and Non-Non Biyori. The hobby this time is fly fishing and it’s very much committed to partly explaining every detail of the hobby to hopefully catch the viewer’s interest. It’s a very laid-back show that’s got a lot of the trappings of a “cute girls doing cute things” show, and it does succeed on not being the most cloyingly sweet thing ever. It adds some background to our main characters, due to a huge plot point being that they meet when one of them is fishing and then realize that their respective parents are getting married. It adds a sort of weird wrinkle into the formula that makes it look like the two leads are falling for one another, and I hope the show is smart enough to just make their bond more sister-like and not, well, we really don’t need any bad romance plots for something this harmless and cute. Anyway, if you like laid-back shows about hobbies, then you will probably like this show, but it’s going to be a show you either vibe with or don’t. 

My Dress Up Darling (Funimation/Crunchyroll/VRV)

This is one of three anime CloverWorks is working on this season, and is based on the manga by Shinichi Fukuda. It’s directed by Keisuke Shinohara, written by Yoriko Tomita, and, well, produced by CloverWorks. Now, at first glance, this looks like a very cheap excuse for cosplay fetish and fanservice. I mean, one of the leads is into cosplaying characters from adult-focused video games. It’s no more blatant than that. However, unlike something like this season’s World End Harem, My Dress Up Darling is more about breaking and destroying the stigma of certain hobbies, and who indulges in them. With our lead Wakana Gojo making Hina Dolls, and our other lead Marin Kitagawa into otaku culture and cosplay, the show tangos with the two as they break down the barriers around them and hopefully with society with how they are perceived for being into such things. Sure, it does have a base set up of the awkward quiet guy ending up with the most popular hot high school girl, but again, the show is about de-stigmatizing anyone who has ever been bullied or made fun of for getting into certain hobbies due to who they are. It does dangle a lot of fanservice, but that’s going to be a thing with the cosplay angle, and what saves this from being just another lightweight fanservice show or softcore adult stuff is the dynamic between our leads. They come across as very sincere, and their enjoyment of cosplay and Hina Doll-making is front and center. It might not fly high with its comedy, but it’s a sweet enough show with some stellar production values that can come at an easy recommendation if you aren’t too distracted by the show’s obvious fanservice sequences. 

Sasaki and Miyano (Funimation)

Our first boy-love anime of the season! It’s based on the manga and novels by Sho Harusono. The anime is directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Yoshiko Nakamura and produced by Studio Deen. After last year’s more troubling trashy boy-love anime, it was fairly refreshing to see one, a genre I’m not too familiar with be so wholesome and sweet. Two boys bonding over boy-love manga and watching their feelings bloom for one another is so cute! Luckily, the story has a few themes of breaking down male masculinity, and I think that’s really refreshing to see due to how many mediocre male power fantasies are released every year. I know Studio Deen doesn’t have the most appealing track record, but they must have had proper resources and time to adapt this anime, because the show looks great. It’s a shame this didn’t get Akebi’s Sailor Uniform’s budget, but it looks better than most Studio Deen productions. It might have a slower pace to its storytelling, but I’m glad it’s taking its time to make the story as impactful as possible. I think I tend to personally gravitate towards romance that is more wholesome and sweet, and if you are into romance anime of any kind like that or Horimiya, then you will like this show.

Thanks for reading the editorial! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to I will see you all next time!