The Other Side of Animation 262: Pompo the Cinephile Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


At this moment in time it definitely feels like the film industry doesn’t actually like movies. Granted, it may be due to the success of films like Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Bad Guys, and The Northman, but if you watched the Oscars a month or so back, well, the tone and vibe of it all tells a different story. Like, sorry that people want their favorite entertainment to be taken seriously and yet the industry keeps dumping on the talented hard-working people that make the films that award shows like the Oscars “love”. Yes, we have seen films that are all about their love of cinema, but they sometimes come off as hollow and were there for awards and not much else. It’s rare when you get a film that, while maybe flawed, has the passion for someone who loves film. To make these types of films not become shallow experiences, you need to be able to poke at both the good and the bad, and sometimes, that results in films like Pompo the Cinephile


This film was directed and written by Takayuki Hirao. It’s based on the manga by Shogo Sugitani and was produced by CLAP. The story follows an assistant who works under the famed Nyallywood producer Pompo, dubbed by Brianna Genitella. She is famous for her work of releasing B-grade movies that are hugely successful. The assistant is named Gene Fini, dubbed by Christopher Trindade. One day, he thinks about how Pompo should make a more serious film, and ends up finding a screenplay for such a film on Pompo’s desk. He is then assigned by Pompo to help produce, direct, and pretty much helm this project all in one go. Along with the help of Pompo and a young up-and-coming actress named Natalie Woodward, dubbed by Jackie Lastra, can Gene craft a masterpiece and learn to find the secret and passion for filmmaking? 


So, let’s not beat around the bush, a couple of early reviews for the film were not positive. Understandably so, the film is not well told, the cast of colorful characters aren’t fully memorable, it can be a touch messy pacing-wise, and some aspects of the film hit differently, both for good and for bad. However, after watching the Oscars fiasco that was bad no matter how many want to put the blame of it on the slap, this film’s story and the experience hit differently. Yeah, this is one of those situations where watching it after certain events really recontextualizes the overall story of the film. Instead of coming off as a messy uneven film, it’s a film that shows the passion that drives filmmakers, and is unapologetic in showing how the passion can drive and or hurt someone, or absolutely stop projects flat if the right or wrong decision is made. It shows the love for film, but also the brutality of making one. You simply can’t release a 10-hour movie and call it a day. You need to make it flow fluidly from point A to point B. It needs to fit a certain runtime that will make audiences of all kinds happy. Maybe setting up a shot a certain way can help elevate the emotional punch of a scene. It’s a film that loves to discuss these details, but also loves to call out certain filmmakers or aspects of filmmaking, like the jabs at filmmakers creating 2-hour films instead of what Pompo describes as “the perfect length”, which is 90 minutes. It’s funny because the film itself and the marketing portray those runtime gags and trailer edits in the exact way seen in the film. The film itself is literally 90 minutes and that’s a fairly funny meta gag. Still, even with its story that’s all about the celebration of cinema, the editing, and what have you, it still gives you a story with a cast of likable characters to follow and it does capture the joy and ethereal vibes that you get with watching movies, seeing certain shots unfold, and that one magical moment that makes you love movies. It’s a corny, but charming ride with how Gene learns and approaches certain shots with how the story is told. 


Animation-wise, the film looks great. It has an appealing mix of more typical modern character looks, but a sprinkle of what can be labeled as retro. Pompo has a fantastic design, and you can see why her visual look has a mix of the more modern, but retro vibes with how pop art she looks. The backgrounds once again take some inspiration for the detailed cityscapes of Makoto Shinkai’s work, and the character movements are given plenty of detail and expressive reactions to certain situations as they arrive in the story. The English voice cast is great as well, with Brianna Gentilella, Christopher Trindade, Jackie Lastra, Anne Yatco, Kenneth Cavett, Jonah Platt, Gavin Hammon, Brock Powell, John H. Mayer, Michael Sorich, and Thomas Bromhead to name a few. They tend to capture the personalities from Pompo’s sharp-witted mannerisms, Gene’s awkward but fiery passion for filmmaking, Natalie’s humble hardworking newcomer persona, Mystia’s outward bombshell look that hides a clever individual, and you get the idea. Kenta Matsukuma, the composer, might not have too much under his belt with work ranging from Black Clover, God Eater, and Real Girl, but he brings a pretty solid soundtrack. It isn’t the most memorable effort, unless you consider the theme songs which were written by other people, but he does get the job done with what kind of mood or stage the soundtrack needed to set. 



Now, as for criticisms, there aren’t that many, but the ones that are there do stand out. The music itself isn’t the most memorable, and one can assume that due to this being his first major film score, it’s why the overall soundtrack isn’t the most memorable. As mentioned above, the overall story has some small pacing issues and some story beats go the distance in stretching the suspension of disbelief in how they were able to pull off certain moments. Some characters also feel like they were there for the sake of some crucial story moments or to fill space. They aren’t completely pointless due to their connections with the main characters, but otherwise, they don’t do much. 

Yes, Pompo the Cinephile is not perfect, and yes, if I did see this film before the whole Oscars fiasco and some other unexpected events in the film industry unfolded, the reading of this experience would be different. However, it has a lot of charm and passion of a film lover who may not know everything about films but enjoys the medium so much. Unfortunately, unlike Belle, it didn’t get a huge release but will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD on July 12. If you want to see something that has more love of the movies than the entire award season industry, then give this film a watch! Now then, due to how little is coming out, let’s talk about something that has been a long time coming. Next time, we will be talking about the first film in the popular comedy franchise with Bob’s Burgers the Movie




Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 259: Bubble Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. 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 257: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 The Movie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 252: Sing a Bit of Harmony Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. 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 Funimation. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Funimation for this opportunity.

Recently, Funimation has decided to help co-produce a couple of different anime projects that include a few series like Tribe Nine, and this is the topic of this review. It’s safe to assume that they are now doing this because they have the backing of that sweet sweet Sony money to get a few anime shows and films made that they can then keep the rights for their streaming services and catalog of anime titles. This isn’t the first time this has happened either, as there have been a couple of shows or films made due to the helping aid of the US distributor that was interested. It didn’t always deliver success, but if that was the only way the show was going to get made, then so be it. Plus, it could result in something super delightful and visually beautiful like the film we are talking about today, Sing a Bit of Harmony

This film was directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, who directed the rather impressive Patema Inverted and Time of Eve and its movie counterpart with a script by Yoshiura and Ichiro Okouchi. The story follows isolated loner Satomi, dubbed by Risa Me who is not very popular at school, is considered the teacher’s pet, and a “rat”. Yeah, she’s not very popular. One day at school, a new arrival joins her class named Shion, dubbed by Megan Shipman. It turns out that this new student is actually an AI! Yeah, we got a robot girl walking around, and she makes it her main goal to find a way to make Satomi happy. This gets the two into multiple shenanigans that involve the entanglement of some adjacent students, including tech-savvy Toma, dubbed by Jordan Dash Cruz, popular hunk Gotchan, dubbed by Ian Sinclair, popular girl Aya, dubbed by Alexis Tipon, and Judo student Thunder, dubbed by Kamen Casey. What adventures and stories will unfold, and how will Shion help make everyone happy and in harmony? 

Something that has been happening in the animation scene that has come to fruition in 2021 is how studios and teams are crafting films that may not rival the big-budget affairs, but are more committed to just properly executing the project at hand in order to be the best thing it can be. 2021 offered films like Wish Dragon, Words that Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, and Seal Team. This film has a very similar vibe and mood to a fun 80s teen drama/comedy, but without the super problematic parts of said films. It’s a film that’s about the connection that humans share with AI and through scenes that range from small to big, showing the interaction between humans and AI and technology in general. Some treat robots like garbage, some want to use AI and technology to make people smile and be helpful, and some want to use them for undisclosed profit and non-human friendly reasons. What’s rather nice is that the film doesn’t have a large cast for the heck of it. It could have been so easy to just market Shion due to her singing and typical anime beauty and the possible anime statue sales. Luckily, not everyone in the anime industry is that cynical, and everyone in the film has actual character to them. Yes, you have seen these characters before, but the filmmakers do add nuance to them and give them their own little arcs in the film and then watch as they all grow closer as friends. Of course, we will find out why Shion knows our lead and the backstory that the film builds up from the beginning and throughout the first two-thirds, but the time it takes to start and then get to the big reveal is really charming. It’s a very optimistic film about technology, and that’s always fun to see since we have pretty much run the course of “technology bad” narratives. Or, at the very least, we don’t need any more technophobic stories that paint everything technology as bad. 

Animation-wise, this is probably where the film falls the flattest. It does look good. It has a vibrant and polished look, and the skyscape scenes are very Makoto Shinkai-inspired, and the overall animation is very fluid. The problem is more that it’s not the most theatrical-looking film, or at the very least, the musical sequences aren’t the flashiest. They definitely saved the best moments for a few of the songs, but when you think of musicals, you want there to be more visually fun dance and musical sequences. Still, the film does look nice, and not every animated film needs to look like Children of the Sea or Belle. Luckily, the voice cast is also stellar with a really good cast for these characters. You’ve got Megan Shipman, Risa Mei, Jordan Dash Cruz, Ian Sinclair, Alexis Tipton, Kamen Casey, David Wald, Laila Berzins, and Richard L. Olsen. The music by Ryo Takahashi is also great. He composed music for shows like SK8 The Infinity, The Vampire Dies in No Time, Skate Leading Stars, and performed the ending theme to the new series Tribe Nine

It might not be the most groundbreaking animated film to come from Japan, and it might not be as wildly ambitious as the director’s previous work, but you know what? There has always been this pushback from snobbier animation fans and filmgoers that if directors don’t top themselves with every single film or if they regress to make something more approachable and family-friendly, it’s a step backward. Sing a Bit of Harmony is obviously made for a wider audience and it feels more cohesive and better executed than Patema Inverted. Making films solely on passion is good and all, but passion won’t help when the returns aren’t there and it causes the audience interest in your films to dwindle. Not everyone can do big ambitious and experimental films and keep doing so. Sometimes, there is something fun to see someone make a film for a wider appeal, but not feel so studio noted to death. Sing a Bit of Harmony is a fantastic film and an easy frontrunner alongside The House as some of the best animation of 2022 so far. Next time, well, who knows what will come next for this journey of 2022 in animation. Maybe I’ll review a film that came out in January to fill the void before everything else gets released, but it will be something animated! 

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 251: Belle Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It’s interesting to observe the steady rise in popularity of certain animation directors from Japan. For a good long while, it used to be just Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata taking up all of the attention from overseas audiences. It wasn’t until 2016 that Your Name by Makoto Shinkai received the same attention. It wasn’t until 2017 for Masaaki Yuasa with his combo of Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. The hope for the future is that with the acclaim of A Silent Voice, Liz and The Blue Bird, and The Heike Story, Naoko Yamada will be next alongside Mari Okada with her film Maquia: When the Promised Flowers Bloom and her work on O Maidens In Your Savage Season. For now, it’s finally Mamoru Hosoda’s time in the spotlight. Sure, he has had it before with his acclaim for films like Summer Wars and Wolf Children, but mainstream audiences are mostly going to know him as the director of the Oscar-nominated Mirai. Even now though, how can you trust more casual movie audiences to actually go out and see a foreign animated feature when there are barely any theaters playing them? Luckily, GKIDS and Hosoda have gone all-in with his newest film, Belle. 

Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda himself, the story follows Suzu, voiced by Kaho Nakamura and dubbed by Kylie McNeill. She’s a distant individual who feels alone in the world due to the depression that surrounds her after the death of her mother at a young age. She currently lives with her dad, but is pretty reclusive to anyone who isn’t her friend Hiroka. She even grew displaced with her hobby of singing and music due to how it was her mother who was supportive of it. One day, she decides to join the massive social media world known as U, an online space that scans a photo of you and turns you into who the “real” you really is. She goes by the name of Belle and ends up picking back up her singing under her new online persona becoming a massive hit. Unintentionally, with all that comes with fame and popularity online, her path is crossed by an entity known as Dragon, voiced by Takeru Satoh and dubbed by Paul Castro Jr. Who is this mysterious individual and what will Belle/Suzu’s fate unfold into if she decides to find out who this Dragon really is? 

It’s been said on record that Hosoda was inspired by Disney’s 1991 Oscar-nominated Beauty and The Beast, and the film uses a lot of the themes and elements of the original story. Though honestly?  I wouldn’t truly call it a Beauty and the Beast story in the more traditional sense. There are themes about love and family, which is what a lot of Hosoda’s films are based around, but this time, he sort of goes off the beaten path with how much this film is tackling. It deals with themes of loss, love, connection, coming of age, becoming stronger in a metaphorical sense, abuse, identity, and especially social media with how it warps and changes individuals. It might have some similar elements to Summer Wars, but people expecting Summer Wars 2 should really not go in expecting that. 

The only thing similar is how the film takes place in a social media world, but it doesn’t feel rehashed or recycled. People forget how long ago Summer Wars was and how social media has absolutely changed from 2009 to 2021. It’s more of a story of Suzu’s growth as an individual, and you can see how that progresses from the start to the finish of the film. Belle is full of small character beats of set-up and pay-off that are frankly, so well executed. Some reviews say there was too much going on, but the story never felt like it had too much on its plate. As previously mentioned, there are small little visual story beats that set up the overall story that you can miss if you aren’t paying attention. The overall story is extremely touching and shows how human connection and love can help each other get through life and grow stronger as individuals. 

Animation-wise, Hosoda made sure it was clear that there would be a lot more CGI used alongside his studio’s incredible 2D animation. There seems to be this weird technophobic reaction to anytime someone uses CGI, and that’s a shame, because the CGI here is used well. It might not match what Disney or what US studios are doing, but it has a distinct look that has the same level of high quality CGI used by studios like Studio Orange. It helps that a majority of the CGI is used while in the virtual social media world, and it’s all incredibly stylized. The characters are expressive and the movements never feel awkward or clunky. It also helps that Jim Kim, who designed multiple characters for Disney hits like Frozen and Encanto, designed the look of Belle herself. Even Cartoon Saloon helped out with the backgrounds in U, and it leads to a mixture of some of the best visuals of the 2020s so far. That doesn’t mean everything amazing was pushed into the CGI,  because the 2D is also great as usual, with some fantastic designs, expressions, and when the film wants to be funny, comedic animation. 



It’s Studio Chizu, so of course, it was going to look great, but the acting is also so good. The original language version and the English dub are quite possibly some of the best in recent memory. You can tell the actors on both versions worked hard to hit the big emotional scenes and are compelling outside of those scenes. Both the Japanese and English actors for Belle had their breakout roles in this film. The rest of the cast includes some really big names on both sides like Takeru Satoh, Jessica DiCicco, Hunter Schafer, Wendee Lee, Barbra Goodson, Ben Leply, Shota Sometani, Paul Castro Jr, Kylie McNeill, Chase Crawford, Manny Jacinto, David Chen, Lilas Ikutah, Ryo Narita, Brandan Engman, Tina Tamishiro, Andrew Kishino, Kenjiro Tsuda, and you get the idea. What’s fun about the English dub is that while there are some recognizable names, they aren’t the biggest celebrities around like some of GKIDS previous endeavors with casting celebrities for their films. It’s a dub filled to the brim with character actors and voice actors, which is the best. However, one thing that could have crippled the film is the quality of the songs that were performed by Kylie and Kaho respectively. Well, they are bangers! There might not be many songs for the lead to perform, but what they lack in quantity of songs, they definitely make up for in the quality of songs. The songs play an important role for each part of the story in which they are introduced, and they will stay with you for the rest of time once you leave the theater. The music is, like the visuals, a collaborative effort by Miho Sakai, Yuta Bandoh, Ludvig Forssell, and Taisei Iwasaki. It offers a vibrant offering of tunes that are just as fun to listen to alongside the musical moments. 

Belle is simply put, a powerful experience, with its outstanding visuals, engaging story, and musical moments all wrapped up in one of the best animated films of 2021. It truly deserved its 14-minute standing ovation at Cannes as well as the multiple award nominations and wins under its belt. It’s this reviewer’s personal favorite film of 2021 alongside The Mitchells vs. The Machines. It’s now time for Mamoru Hosoda to have the same level of acclaim and attention that Hayao Miyazaki has enjoyed over the years. If you can watch this film safely, please do check it out. It’s an experience unlike any other in animation. Next time, we will look at the Funimation co-produced and distributed Sing a Bit of Harmony

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essentials 

The Other Side of Animation 239: Poupelle of Chimney Town Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Studio 4C is one of the premiere animation studios from Japan. While they might not be as well known as Science Saru, Ghibli, Chizu, or Madhouse, their work is some of the most visually stunning and impressive to be seen. The thing is, you probably have seen their work. If it’s not Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game, then it may be their shorts seen in anthologies like Batman: Gotham Knight, Memories, and The Animatrix. You may also have seen their anthology films like Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond. Their other films include Tekkonkinkreet, Spriggan, Princess Arete, the Golden Age Arc Berserk films, Harmony, Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, or the visual masterpiece from 2019, Children of the Sea. Whether you gel with their experiences or not, you can’t deny the immensely talented animators, directors, and artists they have that craft some of the most distinct films out there. They are also one of the earlier adopters of CGI among the many studios in Japan. It’s not always perfect, but when you live in a world that has both Ex-Arm and Tesla Note, you can do so much worse. Plus, a lot of Studio 4C’s work is quite good! This includes their newest CGI feature film, Poupelle of Chimney Town. 


Directed by Yusuke Hirota, the story follows a young boy named Lubicchi, dubbed by Antonio Raul Corbo. He lives with his mother in a large city known as Chimney Town, a grime-and-smoke-covered city where the only lights visible to the people are from the buildings, as the smoke is so thick that it covers the sky. Before he went missing, Lubicchi’s father Bruno, dubbed by Stephen Root, told Lubicchi about stars in the sky and a world not covered in smoke. Unfortunately, anything relating to said stars or any kind of optimism is squashed by a zealous cult that gets rid of people that bring that kind of stuff up. One day, Lubicchi encounters a being made entirely of trash, who is dubbed by Tony Hale. Lubicchi learns that this trash individual may have been from beyond the smog-and-smoke-filled sky, and decides that he wants to see what the outside world is like while avoiding the grasp of an evil cult. 

A good way to go into this film’s story is that it plays out more like a fairytale. It has very dream-logic  and fantasy world-like logic, but if you try to put too much logic in what is going on, then you will probably not like this movie. Luckily, there is more than one way to tell a story, and luckily, this film has a lot of substance behind its fairytale-like story with commentary about the environment, family, connection, believing in the truth, and is scathing towards organized cults and capitalism. The entire plot and why Chimney Town is in this condition is based around someone trying to solve the problem with greed. It’s a film with an ambitious story within its whimsy, and it finds a way to properly balance out both. It takes a lot of time to let the characters bond and let them breathe within its smog-filled world. Some characters are not as memorable as our two leads, but there are enough characters that are appealing that will make up for some of the film’s lesser characters. 

Animation-wise, this was going to be one of the interesting elements to the film. The original picture book has such a vibrant style that would be a challenge to bring it to life in film. The film and studio decides to go the route of using CGI animation, which to some animation purists is a sin when it’s really not. Sometimes, CGI is the only way to properly bring certain visual styles to life. While Japanese animation studios are still getting used to working with CGI, the visuals are really good here! The animation is snappy and expressive, the world around the characters is oozing with small details, and the world they have crafted feels fully realized. The music is also whimsical and even has a random Halloween dance number. It’s all composed by Yuta Bando and Youki Kojima. Voice acting-wise, the English dub is the first time I have seen Eleven Arts dive into the world of bringing on celebrity voice actors. At least they brought on great character actors with Tony Hale and Stephen Root having some of their best performances not only as voice actors, but actors in general. Antonio Raul Corbo is also good as our child lead. For one of his first voice overperformances, he does an excellent job. You also have Misty Lee, Hasan Minhaj, Ray Chase, Kari Walghren, Aleks Le, Mick Wingert, James Mathis, Laura Post, Greg Chun, and Fred Tatasciore. It’s a cast that does a fantastic job with their roles. 

Now, it might get overshadowed by the other foreign features being released during award season, and sadly, we might not be seeing this in limited release until 2022, but when you can find a way to watch the film, please do. It’s one of the most charming animated features from 2021 and one of the best and most visually stunning films from the acclaimed studio. It’s great that Eleven Arts is bringing over more animated fare and we can all hope they do more of that. Now then next time, we will be talking about another Netflix original series as we are diving deep into a few screeners. 

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essential

The Other Side of Animation 238: Fortune Favors Lady Nikkuko Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


2021 seems to have brought up a debate about directors and studios, and the quandary about how they go from grand-scale philosophical struggles about life and being human, and then go to making an experience that’s smaller in scale. That’s not really fair to expect directors or studios to keep one-upping their latest projects. The animation industry is already a really taxing career even if it can be fun and produce amazing films and shows. It does seem a touch silly to say a film is a downgrade from the last one because it’s a different type of story. As long as the film is good and the context of the production is relevant, it shouldn’t matter what came before or after a certain film release. Plus, when you are a director like Ayumu Watanabe, who has a ton of great work behind him, it should be no surprise that his newest film, Fortune Favors Nikuko, is quite good. 


Directed by Ayumu Watanabe, the story follows a young girl named Kikuko, voiced by Cocomi. She lives with her mom, a woman of size and full of positive energy and spirit named Nikuko, voiced by Shinobu Otoke. They go about their lives in a small town while living in a boat house by the shore and grill where NIkuko works. There has always been this tension between Kikuko and Nikuko, but Kikuko hasn’t really been able to figure it out. Will she be able to find happiness with her life in the town and with her mother? 



So, this sounds like another slice-of-life film that focuses on small vignettes rather than having an actual three or five act structure. Normally that would make a plot feel aimless, but there is a throughline with the small story beats shown throughout the film. If you had to find an arc that keeps the experience together, it’s Kikuko’s journey of who she is, and what she is looking for in life and her relationship with her mother. It’s a story that focuses on themes of family and connection. The film delves into the connections between our leads with the other townsfolk and teenagers. It’s a very laid back movie, as it’s more focused on the smaller character moments and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. While there are some unfortunate fat jokes at the beginning of the film due to how they make a point to focus on Nikuko’s weight, they back down from them and what is nice is that Nikuko is a fantastic character. While life has been rough for her, she has an extremely upbeat vibe and is probably the most expressive and the speediest individual in the entire town. Everyone loves her, and she’s a real bright spot to many of the people in town. It’s a film that takes its time with its story and the way it builds its bonds with the characters. 




Animation-wise, this is Ayumu Watanabe and Studio 4C, so the animation is topnotch. They take the same approach with Children of the Sea with lucious backgrounds, color usage, and smooth movements. The character designs come from Kenichi Konishi who did character designs for Tokyo Godfathers, Tale of Princess Kaguya, My Neighbors The Yamadas, and Bokurano. The music was composed by Takatsugu Muramatsu who also composed the music for Masaaki Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall. The acting is great with Cocomi, Shinobu Otake, HIro Shimono, Ikuji Nakamura, Izumi Ishii, Matsuko Deluxe, Natsuki Hanae, and Riho Yoshioka. 





The one downside to this film is that, like most episodic stories, the third act conflict comes up fairly abruptly. Yes, it’s a way for the story to wrap up, but it always seems like the tone suddenly changes and then everything is in trouble at this point. It works some of the time, but you can always tell when a film is about to start wrapping itself up. It’s a shame, because the rest of the third act is so delightful and heartwarming with a real emotional gut punch at the end that really solidifies the film’s theme of motherhood and family. 

It’s a surprise that this film hasn’t been picked up by anyone, which is impressive, because Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko should have some fortune for it. GKIDS will probably pick this film up for a 2022 release, and when you can find a theater to play it or when it hits on demand, give it a watch. Animation is a beautiful medium of storytelling, because you can tell any kind of story, and space it however you want. If we limit how stories and arcs are told, then we are only limiting the art of filmmaking. For now, we shall move on to another Japanese film that was at Animation is Film that Elevenarts is releasing with Poupelle of Chimney Town

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 234: The Stranger by the Shore Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

As much as I, a critic, do love watching foreign animation, reviewing it, talking about it, and making sure you all watch it, trying to watch them legally is a pain in the neck. I know some people will justify less legal means to watch everything, but I always want to make sure I tackle films that you can easily find. Unless I get a screener for a film not out in the US yet like Snotty Boy, a majority of animated films I have reviewed have some way to watch it. You can either buy it, rent it, stream it, and or it is coming out stateside. It’s a tedious job sometimes reviewing these films, but it makes it easier when companies in the US, no matter how big of an audience these films will have, give them a shot. This is why I was really happy to see a company like Funimation start to invest in bringing movies over again, and one of their first films this year that wasn’t based on a franchise was the gay romantic drama The Stranger by the Shore


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Directed and written by Akiyo Ohashi, and produced by Studio Hibari and Blue Lynx, this film is based on the boys love L’estranger series of the same name. It’s about two young men. One is a gay novelist named Shun Hashimoto who works at a beachside inn, and Mio Chibana a lonely orphan who recently lost his mother. A few years pass after the first time they meet, and while Shun still works at the inn and goes through the struggle of becoming a novelist, a new employee ends up working at the inn, and it turns out to be Mio, who then confesses his love to Shun. Will the two respond healthfully back to one another with their true feelings, or will life throw a wrench into the situation? 



The biggest problem with this film is its run time. There seems to be this rule that anytime a gay love story is adapted into a film in anime, it can only be an hour long. This leads to the film really putting the pedal to the metal to get to every single gay love story drama point resulting in a film that is not 100% satisfying story-wise. When it was able to slow down and let the drama be between our two leads, this film had a very nice, intimate atmosphere to it. It didn’t feel so contrived, because the drama between the two felt grounded. 

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When it had to go from Shun’s overarching narrative of commitment to dealing with his actions of the past, and the scorn of a woman he was supposed to have married but didn’t, it feels a bit much. It doesn’t help that Shun seems to get the boatload of development, while Mio gets the short end. Both characters are great, but a longer running time or better pacing would have absolutely helped make both leads feel fully fleshed out. It’s also a touch disappointing that the end goal for the two of them was to have sex. The sex scene itself is handled very tastefully and is intimate and loving, but the end goal of a romance shouldn’t be sex. Sure, that might not have been the intended goal, but that is what it seems like their end goal was. Apparently, the manga sequel to this story fleshes them out more, but we aren’t here talking about the manga sequel. We are here to judge this film and this film alone. 




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One thing that is consistent about this film is the animation quality. It’s a gorgeous film with fluid movements, detailed backgrounds, and very expressive characters. The studios behind the animation, Studio Hibari and Blue Lynx made one of the best-looking films of 2020/2021. If you want some great visuals, then you will love this film’s look. 





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The voice cast is also strong with some familiar names of the Funimation regulars, including Josh Grelle and Justin Briner of My Hero Academia fame playing our lead characters. They do a great job playing off one another, and they make the romance, when the film is able to focus on that, believable. The rest of the cast is impressive as well, with Amber Lee Conners, Morgan Garrett, Bryn Apprill, Jessica Cavanagh, Ciaran Strange, Brittney Karbowski, Monica Rial, David Wald, and the overall cast is a talented group for their respective parts big and small. 





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The Stranger by the Shore is a flawed, but touching romance story, and is readily available to watch now on Funimation Now. There is something nice about seeing more companies bringing over films from overseas, because it seems like the anime industry is willing to give us everything no matter the end quality, but when it comes to films, US distributors have to jump through hoops to bring these films over, and then you get distributors like Aniplex that think most people can afford their super expensive releases. For now, this film doesn’t have a physical release in mind, but if you have Funimation NOW, you can stream it for free, and if you are looking for a good romance anime film, then I recommend checking this film out. Now then, we shall journey to Netflix for a German, Spain, and Belgium collaboration with Firedrake The Silver Dragon aka Dragon Rider

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!


Rating: Go See It! 

Summer 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Here we have the second part of my impressions of the Summer 2021 anime season! As usual, these are just my subjective impressions of anime from a three or more episode viewing. The summer season has been mediocre, full of misfires that really didn’t connect to me or other viewers. It’s a sign of how there is too much anime coming out, and not enough time or people to properly flesh out the ideas. Who knows how good some of these could have been if they had proper time and talent attached to these projects. They also run into that problem of just because you can adapt something, doesn’t mean you can or should. Hopefully, the overly stuffed Fall 2021 Season will be better, but we will have to see. Let’s talk about these last few shows. 



Comedy/Romance 


Cheat Pharmacist’s Slow Life: Making a Drug Store in Another World (Crunchyroll)

Based on the novels, light novels, and manga by Kennoji, this anime adaptation is directed by Masafumi Sato, written by Hiroko Kanasugi, and produced by EMT Squared. This is the most middling mediocre isekai of the season. It’s not the worst one, but boy you had better be okay with watching a show that gets wildly repetitive. First off, we don’t know how the lead character got into this fantasy world or what he did beforehand. 

It’s a weird take, and while it is usually groan-inducing to see the lead character either die of being overworked or getting hit by a bus or a truck, the show, as of the episodes I watched, didn’t seem interested at all with telling us our lead’s backstory. 

Due to this being an EMT Squared anime, it’s more interested in having a male lead with a bunch of very young-looking women around him or falling for him than telling us a proper story. Listen, I’m not saying EMT Squared is a little sister or young girl harem anime studio, but after a while, you see a particular pattern in the shows they make. It’s luckily not directed by the guy who has made some of the studio’s more notorious shows like Assassin’s Pride or Master of Ragnarok, but it still has a few of those show’s worst elements. The little werewolf girl is meant to be this cute mascot for the character for the show, but her design is rough to look at, due to how it looks like she’s wearing just cotton panties/shorts and a vest that doesn’t cover her torso. Come on, anime industry, can we stop with these types of design tropes? I know you have to work hard and make your show look distinct from the other shows coming out, but let’s not cater to the creep crowd. It’s a shame this show is so mediocre, because an isekai all about potion making and health items sounds cool, and the visuals are decent enough to make for a different take on the isekai genre. 

It even has a few decent side characters that were enjoyable to see every time they are on screen. It’s a bummer they aren’t the actual focus of the show, since I don’t care for our main characters. It’s also too bad we already had a much better show all about this last season with The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent. Oh, and Cheat Pharmacist doesn’t handle a character who has anxiety attacks very well, so, yeah. It’s one of the more notable misfires of the summer season, but I can at least understand why someone would turn on this show due to how lightweight and junk foody it is. Due to some elements that rubbed me the wrong way, I can’t say it’s harmless, but if we want to talk about shows that I find morally repugnant, well, I know a few that I would call the worst of the season.  





The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated (Crunchyroll)

This quirky little comedy is based on the manga by Wakame Konbu, is directed by Mirai Minato, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Silver Link. I think outside of an obnoxious first episode, the show mellows out by the second and third episodes. I even watched the latest episode and found the show to have a lot of charm. I don’t care for Jahy’s child form wearing a large shirt though and the fact they keep focusing on her legs. 

The show also has a lot of humor relying on Jahy being poor, and those jokes get tiring fast. The show was at its best when it focused on different types of jokes and introducing characters that play well off of Jahy, like her loyal servant, her unknown rival/assassin, the owner of the apartment, or her friend she works with at the pub. When it focuses on those elements, the show is decent. Granted, I kept thinking about The Devil is a Part-Timer while watching this anime, but that’s a huge problem with many shows this season, where I was constantly thinking of other shows with similar premises that I would rather be watching than the one I am watching now. However, I can’t say that this was one of the worst of the season. It’s straight down the middle. It has its moments, but it’s a show I can see myself skipping for other ones. 












Remake Our Life (Crunchyroll)

Based on the manga and light novels by Nachi Kio, this adaptation is directed by Tomoki Kobayashi, written by Nachi Kio, and produced by Feel. I will be honest about two specific things. One, I forgot to put this within the slice of life category for the first half, so I’m sorry about that. The second thing is that this show doesn’t get off on the best foot forward. It’s an hour-long premiere, and I felt like it focused too much on the front half of our lead getting sent back in time 10 years to go to a different art school to restart his life. It also dips too much into art school drama and cheap fanservice moments. 

With that said, when it starts to dive into the main character interacting with his classmates for projects and their drives for what they want to do, the series seriously picks up. It might not be the best-executed drama, but considering how mediocre a lot of the stories were in all of the anime this season, I am all for a show that does eventually by the second episode get the ball rolling, and tell a compelling enough tale for the audience to enjoy. 



The Duke of Death and his Maid (Funimation) 

Consider this the problematic favorite of the entire summer season. It’s based on the manga by Koharou Inoue, and the anime adaptation is directed by Yoshinobu Yamakawa, written by Hideki Shirane, and is produced by JC Staff. Seeing the team behind this series makes a lot of sense when you consider that the director was behind High Score Girl. The CGI visuals and cutesy gothic aesthetic will look familiar to the director’s previous work. 

It’s called the problematic fave, because on the outside and as a whole, there is a genuinely sweet story about a young man who is fated to be alone due to a curse put on him. Anyone or any living thing he touches will die, and the only people in his life are his loyal butler and his very anime-looking maid. The chemistry between the two leads from the title is extremely sweet and wholesome. They have some of the best chemistry out of any duo this season. The romantic feelings for one another are believable and cute. Some of the show’s best moments are when the two are together and speaking sincerely to one another. 

So, what makes it a problematic fave? It’s because the show’s tone and how it portrays the duke and his maid’s dynamic seems to be at odds with one another. It’s supposed to be sweet and cute, but the dialogue, how the characters act, and the tone play it up as harassment that’s played for comedy. Harassment is not okay, and it’s weird how the show uses dialogue and sequences that reinforce that, when the show is also saying it’s not that harassy. It’s a very odd tone to a quirky show, and to some degree, you can understand why they took this angle. Still, I don’t care much for the Duke’s sister’s quirk of falling for the butler. That felt tacked on and weird. 


Even then, with one or two rewrites and a fix to the tone of how these scenes are shot, everything would feel more cohesive with the rather expressive CGI animation. It’s an incredibly charming show that could have used one more run-through with the tone or maybe a female director or perspective on how to make it feel more cohesive. It’s still one of the better anime of the season though, and if you want to see a cute romantic comedy with a gothic twist, then this show will be right up your alley. 











The Dungeon of Black Company (Funimation)

This anime is based on the manga by Yohei Yasumura, and the adaptation is directed by Mirai Minato, written by our recurring writer this season Deko Akao, and produced by Silver Link. At first, the series shows its cynical dark comedy fangs with an isekai that’s all about tearing down and commentating on the infamous Black Company-style working conditions seen throughout Japan. Considering the definition of Black Company, I assume you can find this kind of problematic work ethics in any work culture from around the world. It has shades of Konosuba, where our main character is a real pain in the neck who, due to working around legal loopholes, was originally a human who raked in the cash by making a few questionable business decisions. The anime then sends him straight into the deep end by forcing him to work in inhumane working conditions. It then expands on the overall commentary about the flaws of workforces driven by capitalism.  

Sometimes, anime that wants to dabble in serious topics, using humor with commentary falls flat due to not being able to balance out the two, but Dungeon of Black Company tends to hit it out of the park with being creative with the fantasy setting, having a cast that are likably dumb and mean, and the commentary is spot on with how twisted some major corporations can be for the pursuit of the bottom dollar. Personally, I had to briefly stop myself from watching the show due to how much I was laughing and enjoying my time with the show. 

Of course, there is a reason why some people find the setting so disgusting, due to the real-life Black Company policies being used on actual people. Sometimes comedy has lines they shouldn’t cross, and that will be dependent on what that individual’s taste in comedy is. With that being said, with how many mediocre comedies and fantasy shows are out this season, anime fans should be happy there are a few isekai/fantasy shows that have more meat to their discussions. 




Action/Adventure



 Itaden Deities Only know Peace (Crunchyroll)

Content Warning: Rape is shown at the end of the first episode and is a constant thing in the overall show. I won’t blame you for wanting to bail after this warning. 

This anime is based on the manga by Amahara. It’s directed by Seimei Kidokoro, written by Hiroshi Seko, and produced by MAPPA. Honestly, while Gods of Highschool still might be MAPPA’s worst anime, Itaden Deities is right up there. This hot mess of a show feels like it was meant to be a dark comedy of fantasy action shows like YuYu Hakusho, mixed with the visual style of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which is not a subtle comparison due to how the illustrator, Coolkyousinnjya designed the look of both Itaden and Dragon Maid series. It also has a ton of that edgelord tripe from the late 80s/early 90s anime era, where rape and assault are played up as huge elements of the story and even as jokes, which, you know, aren’t great. It has a decent hook at the beginning about the morality tale of Deities. They were meant to protect the human race, but due to how the newest batch never had to fight demons until a few episodes into the show, they don’t know how to react. 

I can see that hook being a really solid bit of commentary. With that said, it doesn’t work because I do not like these characters. You can make flawed and obnoxious characters interesting, but the lead characters in this show are some of the most unlikable I have seen this season. Even when the villains are also complete garbage, I would rather invest time with the villains than the heroes who are insufferable. 

By the time I caught up with the rest of the episodes, the show got worse when the stakes became nonexistent. Why should anyone care about what happens when the humans suck, the villains suck, and the heroes are intolerable jerks? There is no balance with it being stupidly violent and edgy. Anytime it gets better, it takes five steps back. This is one of MAPPA’s worst shows, and easily one of the worst shows of the season and the year. I’m so mad this wasn’t better. If you like it, that’s perfectly okay, but for me, I just can not recommend this to anyone. 




Spirit Chronicles (Crunchyroll)

This wildly mediocre isekai anime adaptation is directed by Osamu Yamasaki, co-written by Yamasaki, Megumu Sasano, and Yoshiko Namakura, produced by TMS Entertainment, and is based on the novels and manga by Yuri Kitayama. Outside of an incredibly dark way of making our characters teleport, and a slight twist to the formula with some of the characters having to share a mind and body of a pre-existing individual in the fantasy world, everything else is awful. 

It has cartoonishly mean characters who are bordering on a parody of rich classist individuals. There are no real surprises in terms of what the roles of our main characters are, and the biggest problem is that it does want to be something distinct. It has moments where it either builds up the lore of the world and has proper character moments that expand on our otherwise bland leads. It then drops those beats and turns into another mediocre isekai fantasy series that wants to be another Sword Art Online in more ways than one. Seriously, it took me three episodes to realize that the lead in the opening looks exactly like the lead in SAO. It also has some of the EMT Squared blood in its DNA as the lead has a harem of really young-looking girls and it’s never not uncomfortable. I know the isekai genre is super popular, but maybe we should take a break from adapting them if they are going to be this bad. It’s easily one of the worst anime of the season. 



How a Realist Hero Rebuilds a Kingdom (Funimation) 

The title should be How to Not Have Fun in an Isekai or How To Take A Comedic Idea and Ruin It! This anime adaptation is based on the novels and manga by Dojyomaru, directed by Takashi Watanabe, co-written by Go Zappa and Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by JC Staff. I was looking forward to this anime, due to the premise of an isekai where the story and action take a seat on the throne of running a kingdom from a “realistic” perspective. It’s not so much about the action as it is more about running a healthy and fair kingdom.

That sounds great. Too bad someone decided to lean into the more “work” side of things, leaving me unimpressed with how seriously they are taking the “realist” part of the show’s title. This whole anime and story feels like an anime made for those smarmy individuals that made articles that kickstarted Disney’s live-action remake train, because no one ever accepts that a fantasy story should be full of, well, fantasy/fantastical elements. This show is a boring sit, but it’s not like I don’t get how this can gel with someone. 

It has a few decent jokes, and to be fair, I have heard the anime doesn’t do a great job at portraying the source material’s charm and appeal. Well, that’s too bad, but even if I at all cared about whether the manga was good or not, the anime has to stand on its own legs. Being bored in a pretty generic fantasy world with a few elements that bug me is what I got from watching the first few episodes of this show. 

It’s not the worst show of the season since it is technically doing what the title set out to do, but I think if this series leaned more on the comedy aspect of this show’s premise, I would have enjoyed it more. How much fun would it be if it took the One Punch Man approach to subversive comedy, taking full advantage of how goofy this plot is and then have fun with it trying to be as realistic as possible? I think I’m also a bit burned by this anime, because I was looking forward to it, only to find out the actual anime I was curious about was coming out two seasons from now in Winter 2022. If they didn’t fully commit to being so realistic with how a realist would run a kingdom, maybe I would have enjoyed it more. Check it out if you want, there is a dub available, but this show was not my cup of tea. 







Battle Game in 5 Seconds After Meeting (Crunchyroll)

Another battle royale? Must be a day that ends in Y. This one is based on the manga by Saizo Harawata, and the anime adaptation is directed by Meigo Naito and Nobouyoshi Arai and produced by SynergySP, Vega Entertainment, and Studio A-Cat. Well, it’s another battle royale. It doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from other anime in the genre, and that’s becoming a huge problem. Why adapt something when there is no real meaty hook to make you stand out from the rest? It has one interesting hook with the lead character’s ability, where he has to convince his opponents what his abilities are, but that’s it. 

I guess it’s nice that the lead character is not a pushover, and whimpering about not wanting to be there, but they did make him a sociopathic monster, so, I guess you pick your poison on which one is worse. The other characters don’t stand out much, and the only thing that is fun to look up about this show are the voice actors with the sadistic cat girl being voiced by Haruko’s voice actor from FLCL and the dude with the sword ability voiced by the Japanese voice of Zoro from One Piece. It is a show that wants to be super grimdark and edgy, and it keeps doing so in the most cartoonish of ways. By trying to come off edgy, it comes off as edgeless. It can be a pseudo-fun time during certain battles, but I can already watch much better battle royales and much better action shows from this and previous seasons. It’s a vapid show that is another low point for this season full of low points. 






D_Cide Traumerei the Animation (Crunchyroll) 

Based on the mobile game by Sumzap and Drecom, this anime adaptation is directed by Yoshikazu Kon, written by Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by Zanzigen. Do you know what we have here? It is yet another anime with something really good about it, but undermined by mediocre storytelling and writing. First off, this is probably some of the best CGI animation of the season. It looks incredible and the fight scenes are well executed. It has some of the season’s best action sequences! 

But then it comes to the story and how it tries to do the whole “we have social commentary” approach, and this is where it falls flat. I don’t hate it when shows try to cover tough topics, but if you are going to touch topics like abuse, drugs, and toxic fans, maybe you should handle them with care and not like some uneducated teenager who thinks they know everything. I’m so sick of shows this season with half-baked plots and half-hearted executions of themes and commentary. 





Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy (Crunchyroll) 

Who would have thought that one of the best shows this season would be an isekai? It’s based on the manga and novels by Kei Azumi, and the anime is directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by C2C. It finally happened. We have an isekai this season that wasn’t complete garbage! 

While the comparisons to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime are understandable, the novels came out a year before Slime got started, so technically, Slime should be thankful for Moonlit Fantasy. They even have some fairly similar elements of the main character getting warped to a fantasy world and befriending/making contracts with powerful individuals. Moonlit takes it in a more comedic direction where the lead gets two hot women who are loyal to him, but not in a horny fanservicey way. Even the lead getting sent to the fantasy world gets the raw end of the deal from that world’s goddess, and has to get bailed out by another deity to actually survive in the world. 


It has some real top-notch comedy, action, and character dynamics. It’s able to mix its comedic edge with sincere character moments and solid action. It’s one of the anime this season that feels the most cohesive, outside of Uramichi Oniisan and The Aquatope on White Sand. It stands as one of the best anime of the season and of the year so far.

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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

The Other Side of Animation 228: Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz 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 patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It would be an understatement that Japanese animation loves to revolve stories around teenagers. Teenagers seem to be the core age range for so many animated films from Japan, and while I understand the want for older characters, I get it. Teenage years are the end of your childhood and right before your adulthood begins. A lot of interesting coming-of-age stories can be told in a variety of different experiences. For example, with the newest animated feature that Netflix picked up, we have a coming-of-age teen romance that not only has a unique visual look, but also has an adoring theme about how art connects us. Let’s talk about Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop


Directed by Kyohei Ishiguro, and produced by Signal MD, the same studio that made 2017’s  Napping Princess, it was originally supposed to come out last year, but due to that one thing that caused 99.9% of all films to get delayed, it didn’t come out until July 22nd and was released by Netflix onto their service in the US. Unfortunately, like most Netflix exclusive films and shows, it has been buried under everything coming out onto the service, and I’m going to make sure you see this film. 

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The story revolves around a young boy named Cherry, dubbed by Ivan Mok, who interacts via haikus, and a young girl named Smile, dubbed by Kim Wong, who hides her smile and braces behind a mask. After running into one another at the mall and accidentally picking each other’s phones up, their summer changes their lives forever. This includes helping an old man find his long-lost record, and Cherry and Smile dealing with their individual friends and family. 

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I think let’s talk about the outright beautiful animation shown on-screen first. This flat bright color palette reminds me of the bombastic visuals seen in anime like The Great Pretender, where they take realistic photos and then paint over them in this very vibrant pop-art look. The character movements for the most part are weighty and realistic, but when the time comes for it, the characters move like individuals seen in something by the likes of Science Saru or Trigger. They bring such a rough, but readable and lively look to everyone, that it makes the film itself stand out from other Japanese animated films that have come out this year or will be coming out in the future. It’s an animated film with its distinct vibe and feel, and while it may only be about 90 minutes in length, it has a low-fi charming pace to the overall look and atmosphere of the story being told to us. 

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In terms of the story, it’s a smaller-scale experience with it mostly focusing on the love story between our two leads, but due to great writing, identifiable and likable characters, it’s nice to see something smaller-scale. Not every animated film needs to be about the literal ending of the world. Their relationship, and the fact that it grows strong even though there is the possibility of it ending is catastrophic enough. I know I’m defending what would normally amount to melodramatic teen problems in real life or normal mediocre teen dramas, but it’s always in the execution that you make the teen drama interesting. You want to root for Cherry to be able to speak in front of people. You want Smile to be able to not be ashamed of her buck teeth and braces. You want to see them get the record back. It’s compelling and epic in scale in its small way. Sure, some of the characters are a little one-note, but you do recognize them and they are kept consistently entertaining and relatable. It’s a film about how art connects us, and it’s a constant theme throughout the entire film as we see poetry, art, and music give everyone connections to one another and how we move through the world around us. It also helps that we have a fantastic dub cast that includes Ivan Mok, Kim Wong, Sam Lavagnino, Marcus Toji, Ratana, Ping Wu, Yuuki Luna, Victoria Grace, Kim Mai Guest, and Andrew Kishino. It also helps that there is an incredible composer as well. You’ve got Kensuke Ushio, who composed music for A Silent Voice, Liz and the Blue Birds, Ping Pong, Japan Sinks 2020, and Devilman Crybaby. The music overall is fantastic and the main song that plays in the final act and in the credits is beautiful. I’ll look up the songs and download them if I can get my hands on them. 

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Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is a delightful, low-fi, and really sweet animated feature. It executes its story and characters with grace and respect to the viewers, and tells an endearing and wholesome story through its music and visuals. It’s on Netflix right now, and I highly recommend everyone check it out! I can’t wait to see what this director does next since he’s attached to that upcoming samurai-themed Bright film. For now, I will talk about a truly excellent Netflix series that you will not want to miss out on!


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 patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essential