Anime Review Roundup

If you went to Oktoberfest last weekend, then I hope you had a good time. As for me, it looks like I blew my news wad in the middle of last week, and so it is I only have one snippet to bring you for the beginning of the new.

Linebarrels of Iron on Crunchyroll

Always with the weird names for anime. Gonzo's association with Crunchyroll as distributors for online anime continues, and they bring out a new series, first and free on the streaming and download service (you'll have to shell out for the downloads though). This year we have seen the enjoyable Tower of Druaga, the time-locked Strike Witches, and the godawful Blassreiter debuting on the Crunchyroll site, not long after their Japanese broadcasts. All I can say is that Thank God that Blassreiter finished recently, and fingers-crossed that Western companies avoid it like the plague come licensing time. But with the autumn season comes new anime, and so it is that Gonzo unleashes Linebarrels of Iron to the Interweb. You've probably figured out what it's all about from the title, but just in case… It's a classic tale of a boy and his mecha. A hapless cowardly schoolboy who one day dreams of unleashing his inner strength, is hit on the head by a mecha one lunchtime outside school. When he wakes up, he's in a crater, with the giant robot looming over him, and a girl lying naked next to him. It's one of those futuristic anime that Gonzo churn out constantly. There are various factions competing in some sort of mecha cold war, there are conspiracies and secrets yet to be revealed, and it's basically your annoying teenage schoolkid piloting 100 tonnes of robot hardware along with all the clich├ęs that comes with it. On the bright side, it's more entertaining than Blassreiter. You can find out for yourself at Crunchyroll, with a new episode each Friday.

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On the bright side, I did get a decent wodge of anime reviewed last week, beginning last Monday with the third volume of Death Note from Manga Entertainment. This acclaimed series goes from strength to strength, and these eight episodes are the best so far, as 'Kira' Light Yagami goes up against his nemesis L, after having his memories of the Death Note erased, and without even knowing that he and L are supposed to be enemies. At the same time, a new Kira wreaks havoc on the criminal world, and makes a killing in the corporate world too. And Misa is still as cute as a peach, for a mass murderer.

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The Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie fell into my player on the Wednesday and left me feeling confused and bemused. It's taken a while to get to the UK, and in doing so has left the TV series that it was based on back in the US. It's supposed to be a loose retelling of the TV story, but without that to compare and contrast, you have to take it at face value. Do you remember when 2001 came out, and people went into the cinema after having partaken of peculiar substances to get a different kick out of the ending? This is one of those films. Alas MVM have chosen not to include a tab of something illegal with the DVD.

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It was my second dose of Death Note on Friday, as I finally got a look at the live action adaptation. For fans of the manga and the anime, they'll be happy with how faithful it all is, while for those who look for something new and different in their adaptations, there is just enough in the film to offer a different perspective on the Death Note story. Light Yagami is more of a sympathetic character in the film, although L is spot on to the anime and manga versions. The UK disc comes with a nice collection of extras too in a two-disc set, a set that is bound up in its own little Death Note.

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Finally on Sunday, I finished working my way through the Planetes Collection, a series that is probably the best sci-fi I have seen in years. It's a genuinely plausible vision of mankind's future of space-exploration some sixty years down the line. There aren't any phasers, transporters, hyperdrives or Death Stars, there aren't any aliens or time travel, just a slice of life story of the Low Earth Orbit equivalent of bin-men, and it's the most inspiring, uplifting, realistic vision of the future that I have yet seen in fiction. It's also downright entertaining.

Death Note Volume 3 comes out from Manga Entertainment on the 13th of October, the same day as the second live action movie, and if you shop at Zavvi, you'll be able to get a cute Misa figurine, or a Ryuk grotesque. Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie is released by MVM on the same day. The first live action Death Note movie was released earlier this July by 4Digital Media, while the Planetes collection has been available in Region 1 land since 2006 from Bandai Entertainment.

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