Chainsawing Through the Fall 2022 Anime Season

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

The fall 2022 season was a pleasant upgrade over Summer 2022’s anime season. It doesn’t reach all of the same heights as Fall 2021, but with its cast of new and returning anime, it still unleashes to the anime-loving audience a batch of amazing shows. Sure, some were bound to be new classics like Chainsaw Man, but there are other great shows this season and with Winter 2023 around the corner, let’s drop some impressions of a pretty solid season of anime. 

COMEDY

Love Flops (HiDive) 

(CW: assault and harassment jokes in the first episode)

One of the few original properties this season by Kadokawa Pictures. It’s produced by Passione, directed by Nobuyoshi Nagayama, and written by Ryo Yasumoto. Consider this one of the most middling mediocre harem anime to ever exist. Probably one of the worst anime of 2022 as well with the fact that the five girls and one woman who are fawning over this teenager, have no reason to fall for him. The way they are introduced to one another is laughably terrible and conceived, and the second episode’s reason behind them falling for him is yet another take on the vibe that they want anime viewers to start getting married and make kids. If it didn’t have Passione’s higher-than-usual production values, this anime would have fallen flat due to one-note love interests, and how it’s mostly interested in being male-wish fantasy nonsense. You all know you can not watch bad anime because it has cute anime girls right? You can go to other anime for cute anime girls that have more substance and personality to them. Heck, this season is full of them. You can do so much better than this one. Oh, and it dares to have a twist and become super meta when it doesn’t earn it or deserve it. 

The Little Lies We All Tell (Crunchyroll)

Man, it must be tough to be a comedy/gag anime that comes out the same season as Pop Team Epic’s triumphant return. This show is based on the manga by Madoka Kashihara. It’s directed by Makoto Hoshino, written by Megumi Shimizu, and produced by Studio Flad. The marketing for this show is weird. One poster and the title make it sound like it’s going to be some dark teen drama, but it’s a gag anime. It feels like it was put together by random or thrown-out ideas, and it is at least trying to be absurd and have that same high energy take as classics of the subgenre, but it never quite feels as cohesive or as absurd as others. It’s trying, and it has a laugh here and there, but it’s never as consistent as other shows like Cromartie High or Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle. The four, well, three girls and one cross-dressing boy who was forced to go to the school all have something to hide, and the different gimmicks never feel like they mesh. It’s a weird show, because I personally don’t think it’s good, but I can see someone vibing with this show. It needed to have a bit more balance or focus on making the characters have actual personalities rather than just relying on the gimmick and some tired anime tropes. Still, you can do worse with anime comedies. 

Urusei Yatsura (HiDive)

Well, if it’s not broken…. This is based on the influential manga by Rumiko Takahashi. It’s directed by Hideya Takahashi, Yasuhiro Kimura, and Takahiro Kamei, written by Yuko Kakihara, and produced by David Productions. No exaggeration here, this new adaptation of the manga basically kept everything set in the 1970s without changing much outside of a new visual coat of paint. So be prepared to see somewhat tame by today’s standards mean-spirited gag stories with a somewhat overarching plot being weaved into the episodes. It can be loud, absurd, and funny, and whether its more heartfelt moments clash or not with the over-the-top and well-animated comedy, will be up to you. For me, I enjoyed the batch of episodes I have seen so far and it will at least be way better than that Inuyasha follow-up. 

More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers (Crunchyroll) 

I feel so betrayed and frustrated by this show. It’s based on the manga by Yuki Kanamura, directed by Takao Kato and Junichi Yamamoto, written by Naruhisa Arakawa, and produced by Studio Mother. If you don’t hear about the setting this story takes place in, it sounds like a real rock-solid rom-com. Two students who don’t care much for each other team up to actually hook up with the people they want to crush on. Now, if you have seen these romcoms before, you know our two leads are actually gonna fall for each other. The story focuses on their insecurities as individuals and, while it can be a bit horny since it’s anime, the show really does invest a ton of time to progress the story arcs between our leads. What makes this show fall flat is the premise. Our two leads are together because they are in a mandatory school course where they must learn to become good future husbands and wives. Oh, and the dorms the couples stay in, are wired with cameras all over, watching their every step. It’s intensely creepy and it’s maddening because this would be really cool if the premise didn’t sound like some weird conservative wet dream of the ideal school course students should be taking. I know some of the anime made every year will have some underlying political commentary about modern political topics in Japan, but no school should have a mandated “get a grade by being a married couple” course. You could easily have a better setting, because everything else is pretty okay! I wish I could recommend it full-heartedly, but there are better romcoms this year that don’t pull weird settings like this. 

I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss (Crunchyroll)

When you watch a terrible anime like Shinobi No Ittoki, coming back to watch a show like this one really shows how good some of the shows this season are. This is based on the novels by Sarasa Nagase. The adaptation is produced by Maho Films, written by Kenta Ihara, and directed by Kumihiko Habara. While we are about to slowly get flooded with isekai titles about characters playing the villain from a popular or just any random otome game, if they can keep differentiating themselves from My Life as a Villainess, then they are good to go. Here, the rom-com plot of our lead trying to propose to the demon lord has resulted in a rather delightful and quirky journey, as we see our lead break the game and shift reality around her beck-and-call and use her knowledge of the original game to her advantage. It focuses on a lot of diverse character interactions, and it’s an adorable show with so many characters being rather lovable. It might have wonky animation and CGI compositing, but this is an otherwise charming show that will warm its way into your heart. 

Do It Yourself! (Crunchyroll)

What a wonderful original anime we have this season. It’s directed by Kazuhiro Yoneda, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyashu, and produced by Pine Jam. What’s so delightful about this show is how it works on so many levels. You not only have the fun of seeing an anime about the joy of Do It Yourself projects, but it’s a show about rebuilding and repairing friendships old and new. It’s not just another “cute girls doing cute things” show. It also has a visual style that looks like the result of Cloverworks and Science Saru having a child. Pine Jam has truly crafted a fantastic watercolor visual style and some of the most expressive characters of this season of anime. It’s one of those shows that is a great gateway anime to introduce to newcomers, and it stands out as one of the best this season. 

Bocchi The Rock (Crunchyroll) 

While Chainsaw Man is probably the most obvious show this season to be popular, it’s nice to see a show like this stellar piece of rock and roll get popular. It’s based on the manga by Aki Hamaji. It’s directed by Keiichiro Saito, written by Erika Yoshida, and produced by CloverWorks. You can basically call this a combination of coming-of-age, music, and extreme cases of social anxiety. The journey of our nervous wreck of a lead character to join a blossoming band and to expand upon her social skills is one of Fall 2022’s biggest surprises. It also has some of the most expressive and vibrant animation seen all year. Not a big shock from CloverWorks, but just in general. It’s some of the most interesting visuals you will find in a year full of anime with distinct visuals. It’s also really funny and crushingly accurate as to how they capture social anxiety, and how it can feel for some people in certain situations. Just a splendid anime around, and it’s no wonder why it has become one of the fan-favorite anime of the season. 

ACTION/ADVENTURE

Shinobi no Ittoki (Crunchyroll)

Well, at least it’s trying to do more than most middling ninja anime. This is another original anime of the season that’s directed by Shuu Watanabe, written by Minato Takano, and produced by Troyca. This show has an odd balance of tones. On one hand, the story of a boy who’s suddenly forced into being trained in order to run an entire clan of ninjas is understandably compelling, but lordy, is this some of the worst written dialogue and storytelling I have seen all year. Yeah, let’s follow this one character who was never told until he was in high school about his ninja ancestry, never train him, and then throw him into a school full of other ninja clans that want him dead and not give him at the very least a rundown or heads up of who to avoid or what to know. This show wants to be this thrilling ninja story and it isn’t just due to how the characters are terribly written, and what could be interesting or fun with the rather solid action animation, is dead weight and stuck with a story that’s not fun to sit through. Just a really boring and unbearable series. It’s not a bad show because it’s poorly animated or problematic. It’s a bad show because at no point is it thrilling, at no point is the story compelling or giving you a reason to root for its characters. It has story beats that happen that aren’t earned, and it’s a sign of how bad certain original anime can be. 

The Eminence in Shadow (HiDive) 

(CW: Sexual Assault in the first episode)

What is with anime productions that want to botch their first impressions with anime-only first episodes? I swear these production committees never learn. This is based on the novels by Daisuke Aizawa. It’s directed by Kazuya Nakanishi, written by Kanichi Katou, and produced by Nexus. So, this show is weird, because the first episode is an anime-only story that sets itself up as an edgy power fantasy show, but when you watch past episode 1, it feels like it’s supposed to be a parody, or it’s goofing on the tropes and story beats of mediocre isekai. I would normally be all for that with how they crafted certain moments from the episodes I watched, but after a bit, I felt like I fell off on whether this was supposed to be a parody or they were just being very tongue-and-cheek with it when it comes off like every other power fantasy anime that comes out every year. I guess at least it has a sense of personality with how it’s trying to lay out its jokes, but I couldn’t personally vibe with this one. I get why a lot of people do, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Chainsaw Man (Crunchyroll)

I mean, we all knew this was going to be one of, if not the best new show of the Fall 2022 season right? It’s based on the hit manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto that has taken the manga world by storm. The anime adaptation is obviously produced by MAPPA, it’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and directed by the duo of Ryu Nakayama and Nasato Nakazono. This show is just a bit of everything. It has fantastic action, incredible film quality level animation, dark comedy, and it doesn’t just fall back on its popularity or the gore to keep you invested. It has everything an anime fan or a newcomer to anime could want with how it balances everything to pretty much perfectly. There is a reason why this is considered one of the best shows of the year and season. You can’t get any better than this in terms of anime, and hopefully, MAPPA is treating its animators well to craft such an exquisite experience. 

FANTASY/ISEKAI

I Somehow Became Stronger By Raising Farming-Related Skills (HiDive)

CW: Episode 2 has a really tasteless male getting assaulted joke. 

Is anyone else getting really sick and tired of shows having a solid elevator pitch, but then completely bailing on it for no reason? This show is based on the light novels/manga by Shobonnu. It’s directed by Norihiko Nagahama, written by Touko Machida, and produced by Studio A-Cat. A super-powered farmer in a fantasy world where he doesn’t want to be the hero sounds like it could lead to a really creative comedy about a farmer who just wants to farm. The first episode has the lead character literally throwing a carrot at the speed of light and killing a dragon with it. That’s so funny and yet, the rest of the show is actually not about that. It’s about a farmer who just gets roped up into being a hero because he’s got really good stats. It’s a really boring watch that doesn’t do anything new or really fun with the formula, gets way too dark for a show that isn’t advertised as such, and of course, it will slowly have a colorful cast of female love interests and some non-threatening male friends that don’t get in the way of our lead and his forced-together harem. If it focused less on being just another power fantasy with a harem with really shoddy animation, there could have been something special. Still, alas, it’s another mediocre fantasy anime in a year full of them. 

Management of a Novice Alchemist (HiDive)

Well, at least it isn’t boring. This is based on the novels/light novels/manga by Mizuho Itsuki. The show is directed by Hiroshi Ikehata, written by Shigeru Murakoshi, and produced by ENGI. I mean, it’s a “cute girls doing cute things” alchemy/fantasy edition. It doesn’t do anything truly unique outside of focusing on the crafting side than the magic, but it also has to fit in stuff like action and possible romance baiting between the four characters. It’s got a solid visual look with some better-than-usual animation, but it’s mostly just okay. If it looked a bit worse, I would rank it lower, but its aesthetic is what’s saving this run-of-the-mill anime. Not that originality is the end all be all, but after a bit with how much anime is coming out, doing the bare minimum while other shows are hitting it out of the park is going to bite some on the backside in the long run. 

Beast Tamer (Crunchyroll)

Some of the toughest anime to give impressions on are shows that are just so committed to being down the middle in terms of quality and story execution. Beast Tamer is kind of that show but with enough charm to it that makes it hard to be hateful or angry towards it. This is based on the novels by Suzu Miyama. The anime adaptation is directed by Atsushi Nigorikawa, written by Takashi Aoshima, and produced by EMT Square. The funny thing about these “I got kicked out of the hero’s party” fantasy anime is that the reason for getting kicked out is so petty, and that might be the intention, but it’s never believably done. What’s more interesting is despite it being what will essentially be a harem anime with multiple cute fantasy girls, the show as of what I have seen, was not interested in fanservice. Or, at least not to a distracting degree where the show halts in its tracks to give you some cheesecake. The main cast has decent chemistry with how our lead is gonna save the day with kindness with his monster-taming skills, but it’s just okay. Nothing super obnoxious, but nothing all that stellar either. It could definitely fill the void of comfort food anime watching, but your tolerance for certain harem tropes will be the deciding point, or if you can truly utterly believe the igniting point of the overall story in the first place. 

Raven of the Inner Palace (Crunchyroll) 

Well, we have our The Heiki Story anime of the season, and I mean that in the way that we have a period drama that’s really fascinating. It’s based on the light novels by Koko Shirakawa. It’s written by Satomi  Ooshima, directed by Chizuru  Miyawaki, and produced by Bandai Namco Pictures. It’s a shame the first major story arc is split between two episodes because this is one of the rare few anime that would have been better as a one-hour premiere. It’s really slow to start out and build up the world-building, politics, and supernatural elements with the first episode, and by the second episode, it fully kicks into what the first mystery of the show is. By the third episode, you will be intrigued and compelled to see what the requests the Raven Consort get and how they unfold. It unwraps into a beautiful story of love, loss, and is full of political and royal drama/thriller elements to keep you in this gorgeously prepared world. Doesn’t hurt either that Queen Bee does a fantastic theme song for the show, and if you are down for something a bit different from your typical shonen action romps or the big league titles, then consider giving this one a shot. 

Reincarnated as a Sword (HiDive)

This is what happens when you make a familiar, but compelling isekai. This is based on the novels by Yuu Tanaka. It’s directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Takahiro Nagano, and produced by C2C. While the lead being reincarnated as a sword doesn’t seem like it leads to a very compelling story, it actually stands on its own as one of the better isekai this year. The sword’s interaction with our cat girl lead that so far, the anime has tried to avoid sexualizing, is nice since anime is so bad at not making young characters look lewd. I get ya want to sell merchandise, but instead of doing most anime nonsense, the show does focus on the growing bond between our leads and it makes for a more pleasant experience when you are able to enjoy the show without so much nonsense getting in the way. With a fun premise, great animation, and well-executed action, Reincarnated as a Sword was a pleasant surprise in a year full of mediocre isekais. 

OTHER

My Master Has no Tail (HiDive) 

This was a sweet little title. It’s based on the manga by TNSK. The anime adaptation is produced by Liden Films, written by Touko Machida, Kei Shimobayashi, Aya Satsuki, and Yuho Togashi, and directed by Hideyo Yamamoto. What starts off as a cute little fantastical take on a period piece where our little tanuki lead goes into the human world to see what is going on, turns into a friendship drama about her wanting to work under a storyteller’s wing in a changing world. No longer can a tanuki thrive in a world with carriages, cars, and at the time, modern devices. It’s a show that tackles themes of dealing with the fear of the unknown in an ever-changing world, respecting the past, and finding that ambition to push through the tides of change. It’s well-animated, the characters are likable, and while there may be some cultural barriers that will get lost in translation, the show is easy to follow and only has a little bit of that anime nonsense that hampers it from time to time. 

Bibliophile Princess (HiDive)

This is where I wish this had a dub, due to how talkative it is. This is based on the light novels by Yui. This period piece drama/romance is directed by Taro Iwasaki, written by Mitsutaka Hirota, and produced by Madhouse. Listen, this show’s first episode is really slow, and you will only get the crumbs of what the drive of this show will be between a lovely prince and a bookish princess. Luckily, by the second and third episodes, the chemistry blossoms into a rather lovely romance with some gorgeous visuals. This is one of the few light novels where it’s not just an edgy male power fantasy isekai nonsense. Granted, even though I have watched plenty of episodes, I am worried about how much our princess has in terms of agency and how much development she gets from the story, since a lot of it is told from her perspective. Still, if you are in the mood for romance, period dramas, and something more slow and low-key, then you will probably like this show. 

Blue Lock  (Crunchyroll)

The one sports anime of the season comes in the form of one of the best sports anime of the year. It’s based on the manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro with illustrations by Yusuke Nomura. The adaptation is written by Taku Kishimoto, directed by the duo of Tesunaki Watanabe and Shunsuke Ishikawa, and produced by Eight Bit. Instead of being another familiar but well-executed typical shonen-style sports anime, Blue Lock brings a more aggressive and sinister vibe to the sports formula by pitting teams against each other to become the best. With a more assertive and menacing art style to the players and the world itself, Blue Lock sets itself apart by being different and truly stands out among 2022’s mostly generic batch of sports anime. 

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury (Crunchyroll)

Never thought I’d see the day I talk about and love a Gundam series that wasn’t G-Gundam or the other series that Toonami and Adult Swim played back then. This is directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi and Ryo Ando, written by Ichiro Okouchi, and produced by Sunrise. Who knew that what we needed was not a group of angsty teenagers in yet another anti-war story that clashes with the sole money-making side of the Gundam franchise of selling a multitude of models and action figures? Yeah, war is bad, but look how cool the robots and action beats are. Thankfully, what ya get with this one is Gundam crossed with Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is already at this point, a tired and worn joke since one of the writers of Utena is writing the script for this show. On a more serious note, this show is just fantastic. It’s got its political upheaval and war is bad messages for sure, but instead of that stuff being in your face at all times, it focuses more on the characters and they are delightfully diverse and complex. It still weaves in themes of discrimination and corruption, but they are characters first and foremost. It also helps that they are pretty likable, on top of the fight scenes being pretty stellar. It’s the shot in the arm that this franchise needed and it just needed to have more LGBTQ+ elements. Who knew?

Akiba Maid War (HiDive)

Well, I found it, I found the most ideal trashy anime that I don’t have to feel guilty for watching. This original anime is directed by Soichi Masui, written by Yoshihiro Hiki, and produced by P.A. Works. Yeah, the show is basically John Wick, but here every woman wears a sexy maid uniform. It’s more of a trashy action flick mixed with some territorial crime/gang war drama where all of the maid cafes are actually competing against one another with shady underbelly stuff that you would find in most crime thrillers. It’s over-the-top and schlocky, but with how much personality is in this show and how it 100% commits to its premise of drama and over-the-top action, if you were a fan of Lycoris Recoil, then you will absolutely love this show. HiDive this year has gotten some of this year’s best shows and Akiba Maid Wars is one of them! 


And there you have it. If you had to know the anime I’d recommend before the Winter season starts, please check out these titles: Chainsawman, Reincarnated as a Sword, Do It Yourself, Gundam: The Witch From Mercury, Akiba Maid Wars, Bocchi Rock, Raven if the Inner Palace, I’m The Villainess so I’m Taming the Final Boss, and honorable mentions go to Not a Married Couple, but Not Lovers and Urusei Yatsura

The Other Side of Animation 275: Goodbye on Glees Review

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

As we head into the late stage of studios doubling down on either something that can be cheap and made on a production line, or throwing money at ideas and properties that everyone knows about, the importance of supporting and rooting for original properties is becoming even more of a thing. At this point, an original film is something that isn’t based on a pre-existing property. You would think that so many have gone and seen the big franchise anime films and having them become hits would lead to more people going to see original films that get brought over, but they don’t. It comes off as cinema-goers and anime fans are too afraid to be more adventurous with film-watching and supporting non-franchise-based films. Listen, it’s okay to like them, but if you genuinely want more anime to be seen and released in theaters, then you need to be able to support the ones that are not tied down to something familiar. How boring would filmgoing be if it was just franchise fodder? It’s a shame so many viewers are not that adventurous or are all that supportive of original properties, because many fantastic films get released every year. Sure, it’s a good idea for the distributors to also make sure as many people can see them as possible and not just limit them to major cities, but filmgoers share the responsibility as well. Don’t just go and see whatever big franchise film gets put into theaters. You need to go and support films like Goodbye Don Glees as well. 

Directed and written by Atsuko Ishizuka, this film is animated by Studio Madhouse. We follow the tale of three friends. They are Roma Kamogawa, dubbed by Adam McArthur,  Hokuto Mitarai, dubbed by Nick Wolfhard, and Shizuku Sakuma, dubbed by Jonathan Leon. The three of them live in a small rural town in the countryside, and hope for lives outside of the city. Unfortunately, when a fire breaks out in the forest near the town where they live, they are for some reason blamed for it, and the trio of heroes go on a journey in the countryside to find a way to prove their innocence. 

So, you know how the metaphorical and literal igniting point of this film is the fire that the three are blamed for? Well, that’s the throughline of the entire story, but it’s not really about the fire if that makes sense. The film only really focuses on our main three characters, which results in a cast of side characters who really don’t get much development outside of one character that is connected to Roma’s personal arc in the story. Instead, the film doubles down on focusing on the three boys, and the real story is a coming-of-age story about what the three find important in their lives. What is the treasure that drives them and their goals in life? What is their ultimate adventure and the endgame of what they want to do? It’s a shockingly complex story, and the three leads work well off of one another. It finds a lot of time during its 90 mins to let the three relax and show off their friendship or reignite said friendship during some incredible moments. The three of them really do act like realistic teenagers and what they define as what it means to become more adult. It’s hard or really rare to find a film that has more grounded takes on teenagers, and it’s refreshing to see it here. I like that we have had a couple of films this year where the teens actually act like real teens or preteens as in the case of Turning Red. It shouldn’t be shocking due to this being the same director as A Place Further Than the Universe, but it’s nice to see other filmmakers from time to time show that they know how to write teenagers. It will even hit you with one emotional gut punch after another in the third act, so be ready. 

For the animation, Studio Madhouse did their usual fantastic work with some expressive and detailed character animations and incredible environmental backgrounds. Due to the location, it results in a very nature-driven world where every kind of green can be seen that meshes into a world full of nature growing around the land itself, and at certain points, man-made paths, and vehicles covered in grass. There are some scenes that are truly and utterly awe-inspiring. It’s a shame this film only got a Fathom Event release, because this film looks incredible, and you know the big screens would have made this film pop. It’s always the same problem with Fathom Events, because there are so few screenings. The designs of the humans were handled by Takahiro Yoshimatsu, who worked on titles such as Desert Punk, Overlord, and A Place Further Than the Universe. He brings some very appealing looks for our three leads, and each of them stands out in their own ways from Roma’s touches of red in his clothes, the fabulous hair of Hokuto, and Shizuku’s iconic jacket. As usual, it’s a gorgeous film and it results in some of 2022’s most awe-inspiring moments. Voice acting-wise, the English dub is good, as we have a cast that includes some fairly well-known anime voice actors and one celebrity voice with Wolfhard. The overall cast includes Adam McArthur, Nick Wolfhard, Jonathan Leon, Victoria Grace, Alan Lee, and Stephanie Sheh. The music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa offers a combination of tunes that ranges from streams of ethereal nature to some quirky tunes to use for jokes and some emotional “gut punch” tunes that play when you least expect them. It feels different from the composer’s other work that includes Estab Life, Engage Kiss, Love Live Superstar!, and Isekai Cheat Magician

Goodbye Don Glees is a surprisingly complex and endearing coming-of-age film about friendship between three boys that discover not only a way to save their lives, but also what drives their personal goals in life and their friendship. They set out to find that treasure that they hold near and dear to them. It’s a fantastic film that if you can find a way to see it on the big screen, do so. Otherwise, pick it up on Blu-ray to watch his charming story of friendship and life. Now then, we will now go on a journey via an ocean-bound apartment building via Drifting Home

Rating: Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 192: The Princess and the Pilot Review

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

We have talked about distributors in the past, like GKIDS, Funimation, Shout! Factory, Central Park Media, Elevenarts, and we will be talking about many more of them as more animated films from overseas are released in the states. However, today, we are going to talk about an animated film I have had my eye on for a while, and didn’t know it got a US release until I saw a distributor who brought it over, NIS America. While mostly a video game distributor, they did partake in releasing anime over in the US up until the mid-2010s. The most noteworthy title that they have brought over is the anime adaptation of the beloved, if notorious, Bunny Drop and the Love Live! seriesWhile not known for much else, I’m always interested to see what distributors like to bring over, and that includes today’s film, The Princess and the Pilot

Directed by Jun Shishido, who has directed other anime like Yuri!!! On IceKamen No Maid Guy, and To the Abandoned Sacred BeastsThe Princess and the Pilot is based on the light novel by Koroku Inumura. The film was also written by Satoko Okudera, who has written the scripts for many animated features like Summer WarsWolf ChildrenThe Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Miyori no Mori. So, did this animated feature deserve to fly under the radar? Well, you will have to get into the co-pilot seat and find out!

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The story is set in a land where two nations, the Levamme Empire and the Amatsukami Imperium are, well, at war with each other. No one can live in peace or anything. Anyway, we focus on a pilot named Charles Karino, voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki, who is tasked with escorting the princess of the Levamme Empire, Juana Del Moral, voiced by Seika Taketomi. The catch is that they are flying a plane that has no real combat experience, and must get across enemy lines to the homeland of the princess. 

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What do I like about the film? Well, despite showing off air-based combat, the film is more focused on our lead characters and the relationship and chemistry between them. If there was a theme or a topic that the film focuses on, it’s the theme of freedom. The pilot loves flying since he isn’t held down by the rules and limitations of the ground. The princess feels free of her legacy and her royalty while in the air. The two make for a fairly cute romantic couple, even if their fates are as clear as the blue sky. The film also does tackle other issues like racism, corruption, and discrimination, but they are more like flavor packets to the overall experience. The film does spend a lot of time with the two leads, but when the air combat happens, it’s impactful. Due to the fact the duo are flying a plane made for speed more than combat, they take advantage of Charles’ supposed flying skills, and the combat sequences are thrilling. Sure, they are using CGI for these planes and airships, but it doesn’t stop the fights from being fun to watch. It’s all in the execution. 

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Animation-wise, the film was produced by TMS and Studio Madhouse, and the results are pretty. The animation is gorgeous, and when they do use CGI, it blends pretty well. I know people love to rag on CGI used in anime, and yes, there are still some pretty bad examples of it today, but with the proper execution, it can look great. It also helps that the CGI is used sparingly. The music is also atmospheric and more environmental than grandiose, but it’s a solid soundtrack by composer Shiro Hamaguchi. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he composed the music for One PieceFinal Fantasy: UnlimitedOh My Goddess!Final Fantasy VII, and the original Monster Hunter. Unfortunately, the US release doesn’t have an English voice cast, but I found the overall Japanese cast to do well.

It was tough to write about this film because anytime I could try to layout this review, I kept thinking about Porco Rosso. To be clear, any criticisms I have for this film are not because this film isn’t one of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. With that said, while I do, in general, like this movie, I want to talk about some of the issues. For a film that takes place in a fictional world, they try to act like it is a “based on a true story” award season film. Even down to the villains in the film being a touch too cartoony in their hatred. Not to say there aren’t just cartoonishly racist people in the real world, but the characters who are hateful are too “on the nose” about it. I also wish the film didn’t use so many of its flying sequences taking place from inside the cockpit of the plane. Not to compare every part of it to Porco Rosso, but that film made the sky and landscapes feel alive. Porco Rosso loved to show landscape shots and show the beauty of the world around Porco. Too many times The Princess and the Pilot only focus on the cockpit view, and it takes me out of the film. The ending is also abrupt and, again, it ends with “historical” text like they were real people. It’s a shame because I loved the ending up to that point. The side characters are also not all that interesting, and you don’t see many of them again after they are introduced. Honestly, one of the more fleshed-out characters is an antagonist pilot later on in the film, and unfortunately, he doesn’t stay long either. 

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Despite my criticisms of the film, I enjoyed my time with The Princess and the Pilot. It’s still readily available on DVD and Blu-ray, and you can find it on Amazon or on Rightstuf Anime. If you want to expand your anime film collection, then I recommend this film. It’s a shame not more people know about it, but I guess that’s what happens when you are with a distributor like NIS America that has pretty much stopped distributing anime. Well, it was fun to explore a new title, but we now must tackle an animated film that Netflix did nothing to advertise, and for good reason with Fe@rless

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

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 164: Okko’s Inn Review

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

If we are going to have a healthier theatrical animation scene in Japan, studios and animation enthusiasts alike need to be supportive of newer voices. We can’t let already-well-known names be the only ones that get the spotlight. While the Japanese animation scene is going through some major obstacles with keeping people who want to work in animation in the animation industry, that means when a new or unfamiliar voice makes a film, we should go out and support it.

Whether you love the end product or not, it’s more important that someone new or not as well known gets the attention. This is why I wanted to support Okko’s Inn. Directed by Kitaro Kosaka, and based on the manga and anime of the same name, Okko’s Inn is a film that I find to get overshadowed by other 2019 US-animation releases, like Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You and Studio Trigger’s Promare. I think Okko’s Inn deserves more support, and I’m going to tell you why!

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Our story follows a young girl named Okko, dubbed by Madigan Kacmar. She ends up in an unfortunate situation where her parents are killed in a car accident. She goes to live with her grandmother at her inn. Okko then encounters some friendly spirits around the building, including a young boy named Uribo, dubbed by KJ Aikens, a young girl named Miyo, dubbed by Tessa Frascogna, and a small demon named Suzuki, dubbed by Colleen O’Shaughnessey. Okko will encounter different inn guests and even a girl who helps run a rival inn named Matsuki, dubbed by Carly Williams. Can Okko learn to be an innkeeper and learn how to help people? Can she learn about forgiveness and selflessness in helping others?

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So, something to note about the director Kitaro Kosaka is that he worked on multiple Studio Ghibli projects that include Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, Spirited Away, and even Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and the Beast. If you feel like Okko’s Inn has the same vibe as a lower-key Ghibli film, you wouldn’t be wrong. This movie focuses on Okko’s coming of age as she helps different tenants in the inn who have their hang-ups in their life. It shows how acts of kindness of any kind can help improve the lives of others. It’s a laid back film in the same spirit as Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbor Totoro. You get some fun shenanigans with the spirits, but the film’s strongest moments are with Okko figuring out how to help out everyone who comes to the inn. It’s noticeable that this film, through its designs and tone, is an experience aimed at a younger audience, and even for a film aimed at that demographic, it doesn’t talk down to them. The film does tackle themes of death, and it’s not afraid to talk about it. Luckily, the characters feel like they were right out of a Ghibli film, likable, endearing, complex, and fun.

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Okko’s Inn was produced by Studio Madhouse and Dream Link Entertainment, which shows in the animation. It’s a gorgeous movie with charming designs, and fluid animation. There are some wonderful scenes, including the koi fish kite sequence and when Okko meets the fortune teller. The dub for the film is handled well. You can tell the kids in the film are voiced by kids, and the adults are voiced by adults. I have seen both the sub and dub versions of this film, and you really can’t go wrong with either. The music by Keiichi Suzuki is beautiful, and has that Japanese flair you would want with a film taking place in a mountain-side inn. If his name sounds familiar, he is the same composer behind Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers and the famous RPG Earthbound.

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If I had to complain, I could, but a lot of the issues I have are nitpicky. The designs took a bit for me to get used to. They are more family-friendly, and it was jarring to me for some reason. They remind me of something like Hamtaro. I did look it up, and the person in charge of the art direction is Yoichi Watanabe, who worked on the Star Ocean EX series. The only major issue I have is that a lot of the major drama is shoved into the third act, and it’s abrupt when it transitions into it. However, I do like the ending, so I guess you can say that it’s also a nitpick.

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Okko’s Inn is a delightful little film about kindness, growing up, forgiveness, and helping others. It might be getting overshadowed by other high-quality anime films, but Okko’s Inn shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s available right now on Blu-ray and DVD, and I think everyone should get a copy. Now then, it’s been four years since I have been reviewing animated films, and I think it’s time to celebrate with something flashy. Next time, we will take a look at Studio Trigger’s first original film, Promare!

Thank you for reading my review! If you like my writing and would like to throw some support my way, you can become a patron at patreon.com/camseyeview. I hope you all have a good day, and I will see you all next time.

Rating: Go See It!