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

imageedit_1_4092610381.jpg

(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


imageedit_3_2419841742.jpg

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. 

imageedit_5_3827892636.jpg

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. 




imageedit_7_2767321680.jpg

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. 





imageedit_11_7223946390.jpg

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. 





imageedit_9_9641876363.jpg

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

imageedit_1_2593981750.jpg

(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. 

imageedit_3_8071366895.jpg

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. 

imageedit_1_6135908998.jpg

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. 

imageedit_5_9664967542.jpg

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. 

imageedit_7_8661733174.png

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

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Part 2

imageedit_1_4541312616.jpg

(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!)

Hey everyone, welcome back to part 2 of the Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020. If you have yet to read part 1, then you had better do so because if I don’t mention a film on this list, then it might be on a later part of the previous or future list. Let’s continue then, shall we? I mean, that’s what’s going to happen. 

27 Kill it and Leave this Town 

imageedit_8_6089805963.jpg

I always respect the fact that we still get animated features that stay true to the original ambition and idea created by the director. I think that’s always a good goal to have in mind with making animated features. However, if that director wants to make a film that’s extremely slow, hard to follow at points because of the heavy emphasis on dream logic, and only appealing to a certain niche group of animation and film fans, then you shouldn’t be shocked if someone ends up not liking it and not recommending it. I do get what this film is about, but the meandering pace and focus on surreal dream-like images, designs, and a very morose tone make for a fairly dull watch. I love the art style and the music, but it shouldn’t be a shock when a film like this doesn’t find a wider audience. I know this was the director’s passion project, and that’s fine! I get why some critics do love this film, but again, if you want to make a film that’s as far away as possible from the films that come out from big studios, then don’t be shocked if you don’t catch many fans. 


26 Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge 

imageedit_1_9798386573.png

We have yet another video game movie, and while it’s low on the list, it’s one of the better films in terms of video game adaptations. When it’s actually about Scorpion’s Revenge, it’s a compelling story, and the action throughout the overall film is fantastic for a direct-to-video film. However, the film wants to be a universe starter and a traditional Mortal Kombat plot with a tournament set up. It’s too busy trying to focus on making a franchise and giving Johnny Cage a predictable story arc. It’s a fun film, but easily one I can see not coming back to. 

25 SCOOB

imageedit_22_7390244295.jpg

What is with WB and their fetish for wanting universe starters? Even taking out the above-average CGI animation, some decent casting, and a few clever jokes, references, and side characters, the film is not a Scooby-Doo film. It’s a Hanna-Barbera universe starter, and that’s it. It’s uninterested in being a film about the iconic dog and that’s a shame. When it does have some of that charm from the franchise, it’s a decent watch. Like everyone else, I wish some of the concept art that we got to see after the film was released was what we got instead of this lukewarm universe starter. 

24 Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

imageedit_10_8523425834.png

Speaking of universes, we now have the finale to the previous cinematic universe of DC/WB direct-to-video films. Outside of an opening sequence that made me unintentionally laugh for days, I was glad this was the last film in a franchise I wasn’t a huge fan of. It had great action, some endearing moments between certain characters, and I think the ending was pretty good! I just wasn’t a fan of this storyline and I’m glad they are moving on. 

23 Summer Days with Coo

imageedit_20_3189239550.jpg

This was one of the few foreign films in 2020 to be a carryover from a long time ago. I mean, a long time ago in terms of 2007. We finally got this film in the US, and while I do like seeing one of Keiichi Haara’s first directorial efforts, it is flawed. It has a weird time balancing more child-like whimsy and the darker tones of what it wants to tackle. While it has some very hit and miss animation overall, it does end on a rather nice note that I wish carried the overall tone of the film. It’s a cute film, but I can safely say his later films are miles above this one. 

22 A Whisker Away

imageedit_16_4742110540.jpg

If there was a real disappointment from 2020, it would be this film. While it has gorgeous animation, some truly great visuals, and the villain is fun, the main character is what breaks this film. Her constant stalking and harassment of the male lead are uncomfortable. It bogs down a film with some very mature themes and ideas. It’s just a reminder that not every original film that comes out is going to be good. 

21 A Dog’s Courage

imageedit_12_8077744903.jpg

This is another film that we finally got from a previous year in the US. While I’m not fully familiar with South Korea and its animation scene, I was aware of this director’s previous film and was excited about finally checking this one out. It uses CGI animation quite wonderfully. It is also an effective experience of a group of dogs trying to find a better life. Its use of 2D animation isn’t as good as other films, and it is yet another animated film with a tone problem. Still, I always admire a film that has a strong emotional story, and I’m glad I got to see it. Just don’t expect this film to be very kid-friendly. 

20 My Favorite War

imageedit_18_8581953842.jpg

This is such a unique movie. While we have films in this similar fashion with Another Day of LifeMy Favorite War tells a more intimate story of the director growing up in Soviet Latvia, and it has a very distinct visual style when the animation beats happen. It might not be the best animation, and it does look a little wonky at points, the personal story and the history behind that country are way more than enough to carry the rest of the film. 

19 Twilight

imageedit_14_6842329273.png

Yeah, we finally got this film. I remember there was a lot of hype for it due to being crowdfunded, which is not uncommon with Japanese animation, but then everything went silent, and it stayed in Japan for a few years. Crunchyroll then finally brought it over, and well, it’s a solid little teen drama. While it’s not revolutionary or better than other teen dramas or coming-of-age dramas, it’s still well animated and earnest in its execution to warrant at least one viewing of the film. 

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 219: Yasuke Review

imageedit_3_9828043401.jpg

Heads Up!: I was able to view this early with a screener. Thank you, Netflix!

(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!)

You know I love propping up the creators, directors, writers, composers, and the people who work on the films and shows I review. It’s good to know who makes what, because it’s not just Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Netflix, and what have you. People make these films, not just the studios. It’s worth noting them as well when it’s something like LeSean Thomas who is bringing his distinct style and vision to anime. Yes, he has worked on shows like Black Dynamite, Legend of Korra, and The Boondocks, but those shows are anime adjacent. I wouldn’t directly call them anime. He has, however, been able to make more traditional anime with the help of Japanese studios and visuals with two shows for Netflix. The first one was Cannon Busters, which I think is a pretty good gem that you should all check out, and his newest mini-series for Netflix, Yasuke

Directed by LeSean Thomas and Takeshi Satou, written by LeSean, Nick Jones Jr., and Alex Larsen, and produced by MAPPA, this anime is a fantastical retelling of the historic black samurai. However, it adds in more fantasy and sci-fi elements to make for a unique experience. How does it unfold? Well, read on to find out. 

imageedit_5_8495466373.jpg

The story follows, well, Yasuke, dubbed by Lakeith Stanfield. He is an African slave who was brought to Japan and was picked up by Oda Nobunaga to be his right hand. After some history passes, Nobunaga’s reign falls, and Yasuke is now a drunk boatsman haunted by his past actions who helps ferry people on the river. One day, he is requested to take a small girl named Saki, dubbed by Maya Tanida, who has a mysterious illness and powers attached to her. Yasuke soon finds out that she is being hunted down by not only bounty hunters, but an evil force that wants to use her powers to rule the world. 

imageedit_1_6891476768.jpg

Let’s talk about the setting and story first this time. If you are narrowly thinking that you are getting another Afro Samurai situation where it’s set in a world where it is in Japan’s past, but it somehow has hip hop and sci-fi elements,you would be wrong. I mean, yeah you do see mech suits, but the more fantastical elements are more in the background than in the foreground like you see in Afro Samurai. It leans more on the magic and supernatural elements, and I think that might be one of the issues I have with this show. It has all of these elements mixed into the old world, but until the second half of the three episodes happens, they don’t add anything outside of flare to the world. They could have taken out the sci-fi elements and you wouldn’t miss a beat. I know one of the bounty hunters, who I liked, is a robot, but he could have been a magical set of armor. In general, I wonder if I would rather have it lean more on these elements or if the show was more in the vein of something like Sword of the Stranger. I wonder this because the show pulls a lot of its runtime into telling flashbacks when Yasuke was with Nobunaga. I liked these story beats because this is such an interesting historical story and a fascinating individual, but then the story pulls me back into the modern-day and into another “I must protect this powerful small individual from bigger forces out there.” It means that Yasuke can’t be the main focus, because the focus is not him, it’s the kid. Overall, I didn’t find the world and characters to feel consistently cohesive. I enjoyed the characters themselves with a special shout-out going to the bounty hunters and Yasuke. If you are curious, they do tackle some small themes of Yasuke finding his place in Japan, and they do comment on some elements of racism, discrimination, and nationalistic pride, but again, it’s not the real focus of the show. 

imageedit_7_6198854848.png

Animation-wise, this is where the show shines and where MAPPA, the studio behind anime like Jujutsu Kaisen, shows off their talents. While the CGI can be janky at points, the action is on point with some of 2021’s best action set pieces. The action is so fluid and intense that when I was watching some of the episodes on a bus, I had to tone down my reactions to some of the action beats. As I said above, don’t go expecting this to be an Afro Samurai-style show, but do expect plenty of blood and gore. It’s a fairly violent show. It can be pretty brutal at points, but it doesn’t go too overboard into nihilistic blood fests. The voice cast is pretty stellar as well. Of course, the main draw is hearing Lakeith Stanfield as the titular character. I think he does an overall great job in the lead role since he’s a strong actor. The rest of the cast is also pretty impressive with Takehiro Hira, Maya Tanida, Ming-Na Wen, Gwendoline Yeo, Paul Nakauchi, Dia Frampton, Don Donahue, Darren Criss, Julie Marcus, William Christopher Stephens, and Amy Hill all putting in good performances. The music by Flying Lotus is stellar! The overall synth vibe the show gives off lends itself to a unique atmosphere along with a few moments of hip hop. The opening song is a real banger, and I hope you sit through the full song. I can easily see myself downloading that song and listening to it in the background as I work on writing some reviews. 

imageedit_9_6305258572.png

While I don’t think it’s as good as Cannon Busters, which I hope gets a second season at some point, Yasuke delivers a different experience than what we will get with most anime this season. Even if I don’t fully gel with a series like this, I always admire and enjoy the vision they put out with these types of projects. Plus, it’s awesome that we get to see an anime based on one of the most interesting people in history. Next time, It will be the 220th review, and I feel like I need to find something special to cover, but you will just have to wait and see what it is. 

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! 

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Part 1

imageedit_1_4541312616.jpg

(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!)

So, 2020 was a stressful and soul-sucking year, wasn’t it? On top of, well, everything else that matters more than what I’m about to write about, the animation scene was a mess in the feature film department. Delays upon delays, and changing release strategies shook everything up. Luckily, animation was a bright spot despite other elements getting in the way, and not only did we get a lot of great movies, but also a lot of incredible shows. Sure, the major studios bowed out of the release windows, but that left room for multiple smaller indie films and streaming features to enter the scene, and overall, it turned out to be a solid year. Maybe not the strongest, but still entertaining enough. Plus, unlike some animation critics, I watched all of the major releases that mattered. Anyway, the rules still apply. They must have had some kind of US release, I tend to stick to if they were released in some way during 2020, and while I am still following the Oscar Submission List, I am moving some of the films to my 2021 list due to the fact they didn’t get proper 2020 releases. Let’s get started. 

38 Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Water Rebus

imageedit_3_3191285103.jpg

Honestly, I didn’t want to add this to the list because it almost doesn’t count as animation. It mostly feels like a bunch of live-action footage with multiple filters with the bare minimum of rotoscoping the footage. It doesn’t feel like an animated film, but even if it was more traditionally animated, the plot was hard to follow, and trying to find out what the plot exactly was made my blood boil. Maybe it was a subtitle thing when I saw this at Annecy, but it’s no real shock this film had no chance at the Oscars or most award shows. It’s the exact kind of film that I would categorize as unpleasant to watch and is what I think of when people say they want something as far away from the big studio projects as possible. Well, this is what ya get, a film with such little interest in making sure you know what’s going on that it resulted in an experience I never want to have again. Sadly I do get that kind of experience, but we will get there on this list. 

37 Pets United

imageedit_7_7740262297.jpg

I know it’s a cliche to bash Illumination, but you would realize how much talent and work goes into their films if you see a film like Pets United. It’s a weird mishmash of tones, ideas, and it doesn’t work at all. Say what you will about the Secret Life of Pets films, but they were at least fun to watch and kept your interest in some way to make you not forget them. Moments after I watched Pets United, I was forgetting details about the story, the themes, the characters, and so on. Its animation is fine, and some weird aspects stand out for how out-of-place they are, but that’s not enough to call it anything good. It’s one of the films that Netflix picked up because it didn’t cost much to purchase and translate. 




36 Fe@rless 

imageedit_5_7216922616.png

Shockingly, a Vanguard Animation film wasn’t on the bottom of the list. Honestly, it does deserve it, because while it’s “better” than the previous two films, I wouldn’t call it good. It’s got all of the hallmarks of the studio’s work with a bad story, bland characters, and some decent ideas that are never expanded on or fleshed out. It all feels like a film that only had enough money in the budget for a rough draft and then got dumped onto Netflix with no fanfare. A few amusing lines do not make a good film. Otherwise, it’s just more straight-to-video/straight-to-streaming schlock. 



35 Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution

imageedit_3_4833392330.png

Who knew we would get our very own version of 2019’s Lion King, but instead of a bad remake of a good movie, we got a bad remake of a mediocre movie! Yeah, I am not a fan of the original film, and I know many love it due to how every kid saw it back in the day. Still, it’s an ugly CGI remake of a 2D animated film that does the bare minimum of improving the story, and while it might be closer to the original Japanese version of the film, that doesn’t change much due to how it’s already a mediocre story. The CGI Pokemon looked fine, and the voice cast was solid, but there was no real reason for this film to be made. 



34 Latte and the Magic Waterstone

imageedit_11_4369815364.jpg

Oh, look, another foreign feature Netflix bought on the cheap and gave no other support for it. Honestly, out of the worst films on the list, it’s harmless. Its most offensive element is that it’s boring and forgettable. It has a few cool moments like this one sequence where a character’s shadow is hand-animated, and some of the moments with certain characters were amusing enough. The biggest offender of this film is that it feels like a feature that was dated in terms of storytelling, themes, and characters. 




33 Henchmen 

imageedit_3_2330292195.jpg

It’s a real bummer the lead actor for this film is a garbage bin. I probably shouldn’t have it on there because of the recent news about Thomas Middleditch (on top of the other creepy and awful stories about him), but honestly, no one in this film is good. It’s a situation where the film’s production history is more interesting than the film itself. I mean, an animated superhero comedy written and produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell sounds incredible, right? Well, that is not what we got due to them leaving the project early on. Instead, we got a middling superhero parody that has a decent hook, but like most bad parodies, does nothing interesting with the hook. The animation is kind of cool, but it’s nothing incredible or as iconic as what Spider-Verse did with its visual style. It’s a film with a promising elevator pitch, but that’s about it. 



32 Ni No Kuni 

imageedit_13_6343801109.jpg

What do you get when you are a film based on a video game? The answer is a film that’s not even remotely familiar to the video games it’s based on. It’s related by name only. While it has a few decent story beats, it plays out like a very generic fantasy film. The only part that is kind of cool is the moments in time where the leads go back and forward between the real world and the fantasy world, but that’s about it. It’s a real disappointing film. 




31 Superman Red Son 

imageedit_15_7237561440.jpg

Do you know what my least favorite kind of DC animated film is? It’s the one based on an adaptation that shouldn’t have been one film! While the story of what if Superman was raised in Russia is a compelling one, it’s not given enough time to let the proper story beats play out, and it doesn’t feel as compelling as you would think this premise is. It’s easily one of the most forgettable films from DC’s animation lineup, and that’s a shame. 



30 Dragon Quest: Your Story 

imageedit_5_2206821973.jpg

The video game curse strikes again! This is why truncating an entire video games’ story into one movie is a bad idea, and it’s even worse when it’s based on what might be the most popular entry in the biggest RPG franchise in Japan. The CGI animation while better than most, does a few things that irked me. Why do you have Akira Toriyama’s iconic designs, but take out distinct design details that end up making everything look generic? The action and music are quite fantastic, but then the film pulls a plot twist in the last 10 minutes that causes the entire experience to drive off of a cliff. I get what they were trying to do, but maybe don’t try to make your own story when you are based on a story that already existed. 




29 The Last Fiction 

imageedit_9_7584035107.jpg

I might not like this film, but boy howdy do I respect and admire how this Iranian animated feature wanted to be this epic that had dark tones, violence, and plenty of action beats. That doesn’t mean I can’t find some things to criticize. The scale of the story is ambitious, but it feels badly paced with huge leaps through time, and characters I found forgettable. The combination of 2D animation and CGI was also something that felt like it was from the early 2000s. Still, there is something to admire about the ambition of this film. Hopefully, we can see some other promising projects from this corner of the world. 



28 Manou the Swift 

imageedit_1_5598371467.jpg

Way back in 2017, I reviewed a film called A Stork’s Journey. I considered it one of the weaker films of that year, and I still stand by that. Well, to me, Manou the Swift was what that film wanted to be. While it’s not a marginally better film, it at least has a lot more that I like about it. It has a decent cast including Josh Keaton, Nolan North, Willem Dafoe, and Kate Winslet, the animation was better, and it wasn’t as obnoxious in the comedy department. It still had a lot of the same problems as A Stork’s Journey, but it did just enough better with the story beats to not make this a total borefest. 

Still, the next batch of films on this list are at the very least more interesting, so stay tuned! 

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 204: Earwig and the Witch Review

imageedit_1_3764032397.jpg

(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 review this film early thanks to a screener.

One day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post asking about directors, actors, etc that you root for, even if they haven’t been in anything or made anything good. To me, that is Goro Miyazaki. The son of the grandmaster of theatrical Japanese animation, Goro has sadly had to live under his father’s shadow as his film output of Tales from EarthseaFrom Up on Poppy Hill, and Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (technically a TV series) has been some of the more polarizing releases from the studio. Most of the fans think he hasn’t made anything good, and I just find that to be too snobbish and cynical. Yes, he might not have his dad’s spark, but I think he has the potential to make something incredible. What doesn’t work for me is that his stories needed another run-through or a rewrite. Tales from Earthsea feels like it needed to be a series of films or a show, but was stuck being a single film. From Up on Poppy Hill has some grounded moments and some solid drama, but it has an abrupt ending. He’s almost there, and while I might like most of his work, I get why people don’t. He doesn’t have the same magic as his father, and when he tries to copy his dad’s way of making films, they seem to have elements that don’t fully mesh well. That is sadly the case for Earwig and the Witch

Directed by Goro Miyazaki, written by Keiko Niwa and Emi Gunji, this is Ghibli’s first foray into CGI animation with the help of NHK Enterprises. It was made as a made-for-TV film, which is why it feels shorter than most Ghibli features at around 85 minutes. It was picked up by GKids and given a small limited release, and will be on HBO Max very soon. So, what do I think about Goro’s recent jump into CGI animation? Well, let’s find out. 

imageedit_13_2835299116.jpg

Our story follows a young girl named Earwig, who is dubbed by Taylor Paige Henderson. She lives at an orphanage where she was dropped off as a baby. She wants to stay there due to her friends being there, playing pranks, and enjoying the orphanage’s iconic shepherd’s pie. One day, the orphanage is visited by two oddball individuals. One is named Bella Yaga, dubbed by Vanessa Marshall, and a being known as the Mandrake, dubbed by Richard E. Grant. They decide to adopt her and take her back as less of an adopted daughter and more of a helping hand for Yaga’s potion-making. Wanting to escape the house these two live in, Earwig tries to find a way out. With the help of a black cat named Thomas, dubbed by Dan Stevens, she tries to give herself an advantage in this house of obvious magic and mystery. 

imageedit_3_7352394627.jpg

So, one thing that I think we should talk about is the CGI animation. While CGI has been around in other countries for as long as the original Toy Story, it seems like, from my observation, that other countries didn’t start using it more commonly until a few years after the US got a head start. That’s not entirely true, because who knows what we are missing because a lot of countries don’t use CGI animation in the same spirit and vein as the US film industry does. They have a different production flow, and that is probably why many of them are still catching up visually since some of them are around the 2007/2008 era of CGI animation. That’s not a bad thing, but it gives more casual animation fans a raised brow when they see CGI animation from other countries. Luckily, it seems like other countries have found their ways of working with CGI, and it has worked well for countries like China. But what about Ghibli and Goro’s approach to CGI with Earwig? While it doesn’t have the same energy in its movements, it does look good on a visual level. The animations are smooth, and the overall world has a very cool figurine/plasticine/Laika-style look to everything. It does look good to a degree, and I think the characters do have distinct animation quirks and their movements to stand out from each other. What is missing is the smaller details, and since the team that Goro worked with wasn’t super familiar with CGI, it can be a reason as to why some of the animation is missing that personal touch from Ghibli’s 2D films. It’s expressive enough, and there are points where they do the typical Ghibli-style facial reactions and hair standing up straight, but I think this is why some people have had issues with the visuals. It looks too polished and doesn’t have some of the smaller elements that studios like Pixar and Disney put into their animation. It’s why even fantastic Japanese CGI animated films like Lupin III: The First still feel a little lacking in some regards. This film does have a lot of fantastical visuals and moments that do line up with Ghibli’s line of work. I think my favorite part of the animation is with the Mandrake who is the entire scene-stealer of the film. He is the one who has the most memorable design, the best story beats, and the best visual moments. Still, I get why people will say the animation is lacking. If Ghibli can hire a more experienced team of CGI animators, or maybe team up with studios like Light Chaser, Pearl Studios, or something like that, maybe they can have a better product next time. 

imageedit_5_7534899533.jpg

The animation is not the biggest fault of the film. To me, the story is the biggest fault. For a TV film that’s 85 minutes long, it feels like there are huge chunks of the story missing. Not like they cut them out ala The Weinstein Company, but they focus so much on one part of the story, that the last third has to push the most important story beats to the last 10 minutes. It’s another Goro Miyazaki film with an abrupt ending. What’s worse is that the ending feels like the story was about to get good. Not that there aren’t nice or entertaining moments during the first two-thirds, but when the last third has such touching emotional beats, and one heck of a closing reveal, well, it stings more. The film spends much of its time with Earwig who is trying to make a potential potion to avoid having to deal with the threats of Yaga, and that simply takes up too much time in the film. What would have been nice is if the film itself was more like two hours or so, and instead of being in the house the entire time, they showed off those moments that you see in the ending credits. It’s disappointing because the story does have some pretty good themes and story elements of dealing with loss and losing that part of you that gave your life spark. Simply put, I was interested in Earwig getting back at Yaga, and that got tiring after realizing how much of the runtime is dedicated to that part of the story. As I said, there are parts of the story where I enjoyed the film. I like seeing the Mandrake choose the meals for everyone. I like Earwig connecting with Thomas. I love her finding out who her mom was, and the past lives of the two adults with whom she lives. The performances are also quite good with Vanessa Marshall and Dan Stevens doing great work, and while I do love Richard E Grant, his character gets stuck saying a lot of his lines in low growly voices. Even Earwig’s mom, who is dubbed by country star Kacey Musgraves, is a cool character, but she is barely in the film, so outside of her singing talents, why cast her? It’s a real shame because this could have worked, and I don’t know if the story was truncated due to it being a TV movie, or if the writers and Goro had trouble coming up with a story that has a better flow to it. 

imageedit_9_2507627811.jpg

It’s annoying because there are plenty of cool elements to the film. First off, I love Earwig’s Mom’s connection to Yaga and Mandrake. There is a compelling interesting story there, but it’s skimmed over. I think one of my favorite story beats was when Mandrake gets Earwig’s favorite dish for dinner. It was a genuinely nice scene. I also adore the rock and roll soundtrack and opening animation. It gives this quirky fantasy setting a unique flair that I can honestly say I haven’t seen in a Ghibli film. The composer of this film is Satoshi Takebe, who also worked on From Up on Poppy HillRomeo x JulietRonja the Robber’s Daughter, and Deltora Quest. I also love the visuals at points, and when the CGI can go into the quirky Ghibli movements and reactions, it looks fantastic. The ending credits are also fun to watch, but the 2D drawings seen there do make me wish Earwig was in 2D. 

imageedit_7_3893453183.jpg

Earwig and the Witch is frustrating to watch. You can see the great film there, and who knows, maybe people will love this TV film as the years go on, but I don’t think they should give up on CGI. What they need to do is maybe work on forming a CGI animation team so that they can make talented individuals work on both 2D and CGI films. I think they can easily make it work. I don’t think this is the worst animated film of 2020, and I think some people are being wildly harsh and critical in the same way people are critical to “lesser” Pixar films. If you want to watch this film, you can either go to whatever theaters are going to play it, or you can be smart and wait for its release on HBO Max. I’m hoping that Goro finds his footing, and I’m going to root for him no matter what happens. We have seen directors who at one point may make a bad movie one year, and then the next one, they make a great film. Well, next time, we will be looking at a new cartoon show for Netflix, but I can’t tell you what it is until next time! 


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: Rent it! 

The Other Side of Animation 201: Lupin III: The First Review

imageedit_1_7910008137.jpg

(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!)

With the state of animation where CGI is becoming more common to the medium, animated properties are slowly and surely starting to slip into the transition that, let’s be real here, the same transition that video games ran into going from 2D to 3D graphics. Remember how long it took for so many game companies to finally crack the code? Not all of them were Nintendo, and so many franchises and companies paid for their failed attempts with games that weren’t great. So, what does this have to do with animation? Well, animation has and is going through those transitional phases. If you pinpoint certain parts of animation history, you can see where certain transitions to higher-end technology led to some clunky moments. I still remember when anime went from hand-painted to digital painted animation, and how they had to work with lighting and how not to make everything look so garish. Luckily, one franchise has been able to make that leap, and I can now talk about it! Today’s review will be of Lupin III: The First

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki, produced by TMS Entertainment and Marza Animation Planet, and brought over to the states by GKIDS, this is a monumental film for the franchise, as it’s the first film in the historic manga/anime franchise to be in full CGI. While CGI animation made in Japan is nothing new, it has taken a while for some franchises to take that first step. It was shown off at Annecy 2020 Online and got relatively positive reviews. GKIDS then gave it a limited theatrical release back in October, and now, well, here we are. Does Lupin make the jump to CGI? Or should this thief have stayed in the realm of 2D?

imageedit_3_2957335699.jpg

So, this time, our story with the lovable thief has Lupin, dubbed by Tony Oliver, wanting to steal a special diary called the Bresson Diary, something that the Nazis were looking for back in World War II. As he tries to steal it the first time around, he is thwarted by the combined forces of a young woman named Laetitia, dubbed by Joy Scattorin, and the ever committed Inspector Zenigata, dubbed by Doug Erholtz. After escaping the grasp of the police with the help of his buddies Jigen, dubbed by Richard Epcar, and Goemon, dubbed by Lex Lang, Lupin finds Laetitia’s home and makes a deal with her. The diary is important to him due to it being one of the few items his grandfather couldn’t steal, and Laetitia is the granddaughter of the original author of the diary. Can they make a deal and unlock this diary’s secrets while avoiding the grasp of an evil organization that wants to use the diary’s secrets and treasures to bring back the Nazi party? Well then, you can easily assume what happens, but you will have to see for yourself. 

imageedit_7_5528928977.jpg

How about we talk about the CGI animation for this film? How does it compare to the director’s other film from this year, Dragon Quest: Your Story? Personally, while I think some of the same issues can be seen in terms of animation with both films, I think it looks better than Dragon Quest: Your Story. On one hand, the previous film failed because it tried to be a CGI version of the game, and used a lesser version of the game’s iconic art style. At least with this film, everyone looks like they do from the manga and anime. While it may have been more bouncy and cartoony in its movements, the characters are still way more expressive and have their little quirky movements and traits that make them stand out from one another. They honestly do look like they were translated right from the anime and into 3D models. It’s quite impressive. There was an effort to take advantage of the animation being in CGI. While it’s not Hotel Transylvania in terms of cartoony animation, it still has some pretty good comedic animation. The action is also stylish and fun, due to how it plays like a mixture of a heist and an Indiana Jones-style adventure film. It might go into the area of sci-fi in the third act, but it at least feels more cohesive than other films in the franchise that try to mix it up, and it doesn’t work 100%. Sure, I wish Jigen and Goemon got to do a little more, like maybe they have their exclusive bad guys to fight, but this film is mostly about Lupin and the film-exclusive character Laetitia. 

imageedit_9_9843594942.jpg

So, as we talked about the animation, how is the story? Well, while simple, and the film is more or less the same kind of Lupin III plots we usually get, I rather enjoyed my time with the plot. If I had to pick a theme that this film focuses on, it’s another feature film about family, the legacy they leave behind, and how you honor said legacy. Lupin and Laetitia both want to fulfill the legacy left behind by their families, and while it’s not going to be an incredibly deep film, it’s more focused than most Lupin plots that devolve into pure shenanigans. I found that Lupin and the gang worked off the villains and Laetitia pretty well, and that’s not always a certainty with films from this franchise. The director has said that he was inspired by what is probably the best film in the franchise, Castle of Cagliostro. Once learning about that, it is easy to see the connections there, and while that can be considered a pro and a con, it’s better than a lot of the specials and films that have come out in the past. Plus, with something like this new CGI film, you want to see a lot of the traditional Lupin elements. You want to see Zenigata get excited about capturing Lupin, you want to see Goemon be the stoic samurai, you want to see the love/hate relationship between Lupin and Fujiko, and you get the idea. It might be familiar, but it’s a good kind of familiar. This also means rehiring the iconic voice cast of the original red jacket series with Tony Oliver, Lex Lang, Michelle Ruff, and Richard Epcar as the iconic characters.

So, what do I not like about this? Well, as much fun as the overall experience is, I think the villains are the weakest part of the film. They are just typical modern-day (well, modern-day for the time in which the film takes place) Nazis that want to revive the plans and ways of Hitler. Now, it is nice the film is very anti-Nazi, and I am by no means looking for a sympathetic portrayal of one, but the villains don’t leave that much of an impression. The only kind of amusing thing about one of them is that the main bad guy looks like an anime-version of David Lynch.

imageedit_11_9136061122.png

Outside of that minor issue, Lupin III: The First is a great action-adventure film that easily rises to the best that the franchise can offer. It’s digitally available right now, but you can get it on Blu-ray and DVD in January. I hope this film was successful enough to bring back Lupin to the theatrical side of things and we can see more of his shenanigans in the future! For now, we will have to travel back to the stone age as we look at The Croods: A New Age next time!

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: Criterion/Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 199: Weathering With You Review

imageedit_1_8655147715.jpg

(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!)

Content Warning/Heads Up: I will be talking about the film’s ending because it needs to be discussed, so if you have yet to watch this film, do so right now. 

Well, I was going to review Hayop Ka!, the adult animated film from the Philippines that hit Netflix. Sadly, there is a problem with that, it’s not available on US Netflix. I know I could pay for a VPN and use a different region’s Netflix, but consider me lazy, I don’t feel like doing such a thing until the film gets an official US release. The fact that it’s available everywhere else on Netflix but my country is so weird. Well, that’s life for ya. Sometimes, a wrench is thrown into my original plans, and for the first time out of almost 200 reviews, I have to talk about a different film than what I promised from my previous review. Oh well, one out of 198 reviews is pretty great, huh? Luckily, I wanted to review this replacement film for a while, because it’s one of the biggest films of 2020 in the indie scene, and one of the biggest hits for GKIDS and Makoto Shinkai, Weathering With You

Directed by Makoto Shinkai, this was the famed director’s follow-up to the monumental hit Your Name. It played at the Annecy 2019 film festival in the work-in-progress section, and was the first film shown at the Animation is Film Festival 2019 Edition. It may not have been the second coming of Your Name, but it still racked up awards all over the place in both nominations and wins. If Japan took the film and made it their submission for the Best Foreign Feature award at the Oscars, then that’s saying something. Personally, while I think Your Name is a great movie, and my opinion of it has changed somewhat since I reviewed it, I prefer Weathering With You. Why? Well, you have to read the review. 

imageedit_3_5396161932.jpg

Our story revolves around Hodoka Morishima, dubbed by Brandon Engman. He leaves his town and goes to Tokyo to chase after a sensation he saw in his home in Kozu-shima. As he gets there, he is poor, quickly running out of money, not finding a job, and in dire need of a home. He decides to take up a small gig at a small-time magazine company run by a man who saved him on the boat, Keisuke Suga, dubbed by Lee Pace. After doing a couple of weeks working with the small company, Hodoka encounters a girl he ran into when he arrived in Tokyo, a teenager named Hina Amano, dubbed by Ashley Boettcher. As the two teens bond, Hodoka finds out that Hina can control the weather by making the sun shine and the rain vanish that has been heavily pouring down in Japan. So, how will this result in the pair’s relationship? Can they brighten your day and or find happiness, and where they are going in life? 

imageedit_5_3237382597.jpg

So, one thing I notice in a lot of Makoto Shinkai films, is that he loves to have two things, teen romance and love over long-distance being used in their relationships. What shocked me is that Shinkai pretty much ditched the long-distance part as this is one film from him that I can think of where the teen couple is with one another for a mass majority of the film. I think that helps, because I like the relationship between the two kids. I know a lot of romance stories dealing with tragedy love to kill one of the love interests early on, and well, it’s nice to see films like Weathering With You and Ride Your Wave show the characters in relationships. It carries with itself a lot of the energy of teens feeling like they are lost in life, and they need to find their way and what they are looking for. Of course, this film has other bits of commentary, like environmentalism. The actions of the sunshine girl will have consequences, due to how the film has a reoccurring theme of finding your happiness and joy in what you have going on in your life right now, and trying not to worry about what will happen in the future. I like how the main cast is handled. Many times with Shinkai films, the side cast isn’t all that memorable, due to how much emphasis is put on the two leads. Here they feel more robust with how they work off of the two teens and how their stories are woven into the overarching plot. 

So, one thing that has stuck out to people who have seen this film is the highly controversial ending. If you have yet to see this film, then please know that this is where I’ll be talking about it. If you have yet to see the film, then please watch it before reading this review. Otherwise, it’s your darn fault if you read this part. Let’s get to it! 

From what I have gathered, you either love the ending, or you hate it due to the actions of the lead character. He caused Japan to flood because he wanted to be with the one he loved. It makes him a reckless protagonist. At least, that’s one side of the argument. The other side of the overall conversation is the environmentalism angle it’s going for. Honestly, it’s a mix of both and some more emotional core elements. For example, the sunshine girl’s deeds are great, but there is a fairly selfish side to what happens in the film. All of these people get to have good days due to her actions, but the day she vanishes, everyone is like “it’s for the greater good”, and that’s messed up that a human sacrifice was a good thing in the long run. This is, of course, taking into consideration that due to what is going on with our abuse of the ecosystem, ocean-side cities, countries, and what have you will sadly end up underwater if we don’t do something about it. Yes, the male lead did cause Japan to flood due to his selfishness that he would rather be with her than have all of the sunshine in the world. I mean, yeah, it looks bad, but due to how the environment is responding to us and the recklessness of teenage love, I get why he made those actions. I understand why people love and hate it, but in the end, the film’s core seems to be that things are rough, so enjoy what you have right now, and while things are going to be tough, we will be alright. However, simply put, that is my takeaway from this, and if you agree, that’s cool! If you don’t agree, then that’s fine as well! 

imageedit_7_4782741647.jpg

Animation-wise, I mean, it’s Makoto Shinkai. It’s a gorgeous movie with some of the studio’s best animation and visuals yet. It combines everything you would love from the rain in The Garden of Words to the amazing skylines of Your Name, and while you may not see anything unique about the character designs, they still look like characters from a Shinkai film. In terms of the dub cast, I know not everyone is always on board with celebrities doing voice casts, but from my experience, they are pretty good, and that’s no different here. It helps that it’s a mix of voice actors and big names, but the big names aren’t distracting. The cast includes Brandon Engman, Ashley Boettcher, Lee Pace, Alison Brie, Riz Ahmed, Barbara Goodson, Lexie Foley, Mike Pollock, Barbara Rosenblat, Wayne Grayson, Emeka Guindo, and if you know your Shinkai filmography, you will notice two actors from Your Name show up as their characters. They bring in strong performances, and of course, the Japanese cast is also great. Everyone feels very natural, so you can’t go wrong with watching one or the other. The overall soundtrack composed by the band RADWIMPS is quite stellar as well. It’s fun to see Shinkai have what could be his go-to-in-house music team with RADWIMPS, since this is their second time collaborating since 2016’s Your Name. I love a lot of the songs on the soundtrack. I listened to We’ll Be Alright ever since I saw the film back in October 2019. 

Now, do I have any criticisms? I think this is better than Your Name, so that means it’s a better film overall, right? Well, that’s not true. As much as I don’t mind the ending, and I get where he was coming from with how he handled it, I wish it was executed better. I know I spent a chunk of my review defending the ending, but it’s not like I don’t flip-flop from time to time when I think about this film’s ending. 

imageedit_9_9170088252.jpg

Other than that, I think Weathering With You is a fantastic film from Shinkai and his team at CoMix Wave Films, and while I know many people will prefer Your Name, I love Weathering With You overall. Still, both movies are great, so they are like comparing one great milkshake to another great milkshake. You don’t lose in that situation. Still, I think it’s impressive that Weathering With You is still one of the most successful indie films of the year, but knowing how this year turned out, it’s a blessing and a curse. If you have yet to watch this film, please do so. Rent it, buy the normal version, the steelbook version, or the collector’s edition. You will not be disappointed. Well, we are now at 199 film reviews. Let’s then move onto something special for the 200th review. It should be something special, and you will just have to wait and see what it is. 

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: Criterion/Essentials

Fall 2020 Anime Season Impressions Finale

jujutsu-kaisen-sukuna-anime-1221458-1280x0.jpeg

(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!)

Here we are! We are at the finale of the impressions! If you have yet to see Part 1 or Part 2, I will hyperlink them in this sentence. Now then, let’s get started!

Good: These are the anime that may have their flaws, but are still really fun watches.

Adachi and Shimamura (Funimation)

006yt1Omgy1gab7r058zxj30s80exaoy.jpg

Impressions: Based on the light novel and manga by Hitoma Iruma of Bloom Into You fame, directed by Satoshi Kuwabara, and animated by Tezuka Productions, this girl-on-girl romance anime starts on a bumpy first impression. It comes off like it wants to tell a super intimate teenage romance story, but is constantly fighting against a director who is too horny. The first episode is covered in so many thighs, butt, leg, and bust shots that it drags the intimate genuine parts down. However, once you get past the first episode, the character dynamic between the two leads is full of realistic angst and love. It’s a beautiful-looking anime as well, and I can see myself wanting to find out if it sticks the landing. We will just have to see.

Tonikawa: Over the Moon For You (Crunchyroll)

fd5151846121e5b9672996cccb212ab21594974723_main.jpg

Impressions: Out of all of the Crunchyroll exclusives I have seen so far this season, while flawed, Tonikawa: Over the Moon For You is the best one of the bunch. Based on a manga by Kenjiro Hata, directed by Hiroshi Ikehata, and produced by Seven Arcs, this romance anime begins on a rocky start, where the lead falls in love with a woman he barely knows and then gets married. Technically, when he asks her out, she says she won’t go out with him unless they get married, and then ironically, they don’t see each other for a few years. The entire base of their relationship is odd, and I don’t know if I still understand it. Even the fact that between the marriage offer and when they finally hook up, has a three or so-year gap doesn’t help covey to me why they should be together. Still, as the show has gone on, the relationship between our leads Nasa Yuzaki and Tsukasa Tsukuyomi is cute. They do love each other and they do bond as they work their way through being a young married couple. The side characters also have a lot of fun energy and add a bit of mystery to the situation. I’m honestly invested to see where this story goes and how it makes its landing. It might not be the most visually stunning anime of the Fall season, but it has a pretty great opening song. Still, if you had to check out a Crunchyroll exclusive, I’d recommend this one over Gibiate and Noblesse.

By the Grace of the Gods (Funimation)

By-the-Grace-of-the-Gods-Teaser-Screenshot-1.png

Impressions: Based on the manga and light novels by Roy, the anime is directed by Takeyuki Yanase, and the animation studio behind it is Maho Film, this is another isekai where someone from our world overworked himself, died, and is now reincarnated in a fantasy world. All things considered, it’s cute and pretty laid back so far, but it also doesn’t have too much else to make it stand out from others. I do like the laid back nature of the show’s tone, and I like that this lead character helps not through fighting, but using slimes and magic to solve problems. It doesn’t have the best animation, and it’s pretty basic-looking. Luckily, the show has started to show some depths, and there was a scene in episode 4 that was heartwarming. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorites of the season.

Ikebukuro West Gate Park (Funimation)

Ikebukuro-West-Gate-Park-anime-2nd-video-promo-PV-screenshot-jpn.jpg

Impressions: This show is based on the urban mystery novels by Ira Ishida, which was then adapted into a drama series by Tsutsumi Yukihiko, then a manga written by Ira Ishida, and now an anime series directed by Tomoaki Koshida and produced by Doga Kobo. So far, it kind of reminds me of Yakuza in terms of this more urban-set series, where we follow a young man named Makoto who helps out the G-Boys, a gang within Ikebukuro with different situations. He’s more of a middle man that tries to keep everything at peace within this city between the G-Boys and other gangs. It’s fun to watch the stories unfold as we watch Makoto and the G-Boys try and solve what the problems are, and why the clients came to them and whatnot. While maybe not supporting the best animation, it still looks pretty good, and the stories themselves are interesting enough to keep you, well, invested. I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop at some point, but I recommend this one if you are into some crime-solving with an urban flair.

Fantastic: These are the anime that may have a flaw here and there, but have stories and characters worth watching.

The Gymnastics Samurai (Funimation)

taiso-samurai-nuovo-anime-originale-mappa-trailer-data-d-uscita-v3-462895.jpg

Impressions: This is fun, an original anime by Studio MAPPA, directed by Hisatoshi Shimizu, and a lot of the teams behind Zombieland Saga and Yuri on Ice about a gymnastics athlete who doesn’t end up retiring and wants to keep going for his daughter. Oh, and a wayward ninja is living with them as well, after the athlete saves him from immigration. So, yeah, this is a weird anime, but it has a surprisingly grounded and wholesome vibe with the main character being a single dad, which is something we don’t see a lot of in anime. Much of the cast is great. With that said, it is a shame that the show stumbled in the second episode by introducing a gay doctor character who reinforces toxic homophobic stereotypes. Hopefully, they dial him back and make him more endearing, because your first introduction of a character like this shouldn’t be groping the lead without his consent. It’s a shame because the rest of the show has been pretty fantastic otherwise. I love the drama, the internal battle the lead has with himself, and the other gymnasts he interacts with.

Yashahime: Princess Half Demon (Funimation/Crunchyroll/VRV)

006BFMdqly1ghil90omg3j31hc0u0goh.jpg

Impressions: It is a sequel to the important and nostalgic fantasy action series Inuyasha, based on the franchise by Rumiko Takahashi, and directed by Teruo Sato. It follows the “next generation” storyline like Boruto, but instead of the maligned sequel to Naruto, Yashahime: Princess Half Demon is good. I honestly love the fact we have three tomboy protagonists who must save the day by traveling to the past and stop evil forces from taking over the world. It has pretty good action and animation from Sunrise, and the character chemistry and dynamics are interesting! It also has a pretty great opening song. If you have any nostalgia for Inuyasha, warts and all, I highly recommend watching this show. Just know it doesn’t make the best first impression with the first episode easing the old fans into this new batch of heroes.

Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina (Funimation)

imageedit_28_2647194439.png

Impressions: Based on the light novel by Jougi Shiraishi, the manga by Itsuki Nanao, directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka, and animated by C2C, this might be the most polarizing positive anime of the entire season. On one hand, the first two episodes have brought a different energy to the overall witch and magic world that is different enough from stuff like Harry Potter, and to a lot of degrees, better. I love the more laid back observant vibe the anime brings to the table, the lead is interesting, and I adore the less action-packed storytelling. On the other hand, after the first two episodes, the show and story go into, well, dark fairytale/Aesop stories with our lead more of a storyteller who journals her experiences in travel. I think this wouldn’t split people down the middle of it if it also didn’t make the lead look like a passive observer who could have saved some people or done something. Some of the stories are dark, and I don’t blame people getting miffed at the sudden tone change. I don’t agree with every part, of course, but I do get the divisiveness of the show. I think there is more to it than what the detractors are saying, but that’s just me. If you love and want a different take on magic and witches, then I recommend this show.

The Best: The best of the best of the season!

Dragon Quest: The Legend of Dai (Crunchyroll)

imageedit_15_7137924937.jpg

Impressions: Based on the hit video game franchise and the manga by Riku Sanjo, this new incarnation of the story is directed by Kazuya Karasawa and animated by Toei Animation. What’s so fantastic about this show is how earnest it all is. It’s not trying to do something new, be edgy, or go the mature route with the franchise. What it does do is be a very entertaining, compelling, and charming action fantasy series. It also has a great mix of 2D and CGI animation that matches well with one another and while it might not reinvent the wheel, it executes that wheel in style.

Akudama Drive (Funimation)

imageedit_17_6532801950.jpg

Impressions: An original anime directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, animated by Studio Pierrot, and written by Norimitsu Kaiho, this cyberpunk action/heist anime is oozing personality and originality out of every pore of its body. It also carries heavy Danganronpa vibes, which shouldn’t be a shock with how some of the team members that worked on this show, worked on Danganronpa 3. It might have characters that have one defining trait to them, but they take advantage of that one trait for each character and run with them. This ends up making the characters super likable and fun to watch, which is funny since they are all literal dangerous criminals. The character dynamics are fantastic, the action is intense, the world is fascinating, and it’s a show that knows what it wants to be and doesn’t sway from it. It’s easily one of the best anime of the Fall 2020 season, and if you have yet to watch it, please do.

Higurashi: When They Cry GOU (Funimation)

imageedit_19_5503211156.png

Impressions: So, it might be a pseudo-sequel to the critically acclaimed horror franchise by 07th Expansion and is directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi, but you can easily drop into this show without seeing the previous one. Sure, you could probably get more out of it if you watched the previous series, but I never felt confused, which is more than I can say than when I watched Noblesse. Anyway, if you loved the horror/murder mystery franchise that is known for its memorable characters, unsettling scares, and an incredibly compelling story, then you should check out the newest show in the franchise.

Talentless Nana (Funimation)

imageedit_21_7653501528.png

Impressions: If I was organizing these anime on a list, then this anime, Talentless Nana, based on the manga by Looseboy, directed by Shinji Ishihara, and animated by Bridge, would probably be at the top of the list. This twisted take of My Hero Academia is so much fun to watch. Very much like Moriarty the Patriot, we might be following the villain around for this story, but it’s so compelling, that you are going to be okay with that. Not every show or film needs to have a heroic main character, they just need to be interesting and worth investing in. I can’t wait to see where the rest of this series goes.

Jujutsu Kaisen (Crunchyroll)

imageedit_23_4849001289.jpg

Impressions: Every season of anime has its shonen action show, and Jujutsu Kaisen is that show. Luckily, this anime based on the manga by Gege Akutami, directed by Sunghoo Park, and animated by Studio MAPPA is a cut above the rest. Think of it as a new generation Yu Yu Hakusho. I know some may be weary due to the fact that most anime fans were disappointed by God of Highschool, and how Kaisen has the same director, but I wouldn’t worry. Jujutsu Kaisen has more meat on its bones than God of Highschool. It’s more Yu Yu Hakusho and My Hero Academia, and less Black Clover. While both Kaisen and Highschool shows have amazing fight sequences, the characters so far seem to be way more weighted and interesting in Kaisen than most of the anime in this category of, well, anime. It has slick production values, endearing characters, great action, and if you need anything else to convince you to watch this show, it has a talking panda. I think that should make everyone watch it!

Moriarty the Patriot (Funimation)

imageedit_25_9370608948.jpg

Impressions: One of the funniest things my co-host of the Tooned Up (soon to be relabeled Renegade Animation) podcast brought up was the fact three of the best anime this season have antagonists as the main characters, and that’s no different here. Based on the manga by Ryosuke Takeuchi, directed by Kazuya Nomura and produced by Production I.G, this murder/mystery anime follows Sherlock Holmes’ most dangerous adversary with Professor Moriarty. Like Kilmonger in Black Panther, while not someone you should worship as a “hero”, you understand his motives. The world he lives in is run by rich corrupt individuals, and the people below them suffer. Who wouldn’t want to make the people that have made your life worse pay for it? Even if this anime didn’t come out at a very volatile moment in time, I would still consider this to be one of the season’s best anime. Also, the opening song is amazing.

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (Funimation)

imageedit_27_7101446748.jpg

Impressions: Finally, we have what is the funniest anime of the season, and probably of the year with Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle. This fantasy comedy is based on the manga by Kagiji Kumanomata, and the anime is produced by Doga Kobo with Mitsue Yamazaki directing, and Yoshiko Nakamura writing. Instead of being a traditional fantasy anime, we get a comedy, where the entire plot is the captured princess going on quests around the big demon castle to get a good night’s sleep. What works about this anime is the very universal and broad style of comedy. It has clever dialogue, but it uses more physical comedy to get the jokes across. It doesn’t hurt that the princess herself is adorable and delightful. Every joke lands, every joke is satisfying, and while it might not have the best animation, the animation is still fan-friggin-tastic. It fits with what the show needs, and the execution of the comedy is sublime. If it wasn’t obvious, watch this show.

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!