Her Blue Sky Review

If you could meet face-to-face with your past self, what would they say? Would they be proud or disappointed? Would you try to fix your past mistakes or accept that they made you who you are? Those are questions at the center of Her Blue Sky, an anime coming-of-age tale of experiencing love for the second time, losing sight of what you once dreamed of and moving on.

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Another Anime

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

A couple weeks ago, I said that horror and anime often don’t mix, and that’s mostly true. In anime, horror mostly deals with gore or “torture porn” and the supernatural. The former mostly deals with characters being constantly tortured or falling to over-exaggerated deaths, while the latter mostly refers to monsters and demons with exaggerated facial features. In any case, the anime relies on exaggerating whatever method it’s using to create shock value because it wants to remind you that what you’re seeing isn’t real, so they can get away with overplaying that disconnect. 

But there are some creepy anime thrillers that can get under your skin, and a select few that could be considered true horror shows. One such show that is definitely horror is one that’s part junior-high drama, part supernatural murder-mystery with disturbing imagery, and part anime-version of the Final Destination franchise – by which I mean, you can expect some of the most bonkers, ridiculously bloody kill scenes.

That show is Another. We follow 15-year-old Koichi Sakakibara, whose mother died after childbirth and whose father is abroad on business. He’s the new transfer student in a rural junior-high school with a horrible secret. Of course, he gets assigned to the one classroom that is said to be cursed, and even though he’s well-versed in horror (Koichi is often seen reading Stephen King or John Saul), Koichi doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. There are a lot of special rules he’s supposed to follow but doesn’t know about, and there’s a quiet and weird girl with an eyepatch whom both teachers and students seem to ignore – as if she’s either invisible or a ghost. Are there supernatural beings haunting the grounds of the school? Is there really a curse that claims the life of a student each month? Is Koichi next? 

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Children of the Sea Review

If you want definitive prove that animation is not just for children, I dare you show Studio 4°C’s Children of the Sea to any kid and see their mind slowly melt before your very eyes. What starts as a straight-forward coming-of-age story with some fantastical elements slowly transforms into a psychedelic and extremely abstract feast for your eyes. 

Adapted from the manga of the same name, Children of the Sea follows Ruka (voiced by Mana Ashida), a young girl who has always felt like the sea in calling her. Her father works at an aquarium and she keeps having flashbacks to a childhood visit where she saw a weird and glowy presence. On the first day of summer vacation, an aggressive encounter with an older girl gets Ruka kicked out of the handball team. She then decides to visit the aquarium where her father works, and sees a boy swimming in the big tank among the whales.

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Cowboy Bebop Production Delay

Just a couple weeks ago, Netflix showed off the production of their live-action series adaptation of the massively popular anime series Cowboy Bebop with a behind the scenes featurette straight from the set in New Zealand. Unfortunately, that’ll be the last glimpse we see of the production for awhile, because it’s now halted for seven to nine months after John Cho sustained a knee injury in a freak accident that happened “on the last take of a routine and well-rehearsed scene.” Find out more about the Cowboy Bebop production delay below. Read More »

studio ghibli streaming

If we have learned anything over the years, it’s to never take a Studio Ghibli declaration at face value. Hayao Miyazaki has fooled us several times over with his “retirements.” And now we learn that, contrary to reports from just two days ago that Studio Ghibli films would never appear on any streaming service, HBO Max has acquired the Studio Ghibli streaming rights. This marks the first time in history that the venerated animation studio’s films will be available to stream.

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Ride Your Wave Review

Masaaki Yuasa has made a career out of weird yet beautifully crafted anime. From the trippy and enthralling Mind Game, to the loopy Lu Over The Wall, and even the brutally graphic and unforgiving DEVILMAN crybaby, you know you’re in for a ride when his name comes out in the credits. Though at first glance his newest feature, Ride Your Wave, may seem like his most accessible film yet, it still offers an emotional and eye-popping visual feast that is as cheesy and predictable as it is charming, touching and funny. Tears may be shed, and you’ll have the theme song stuck in your head for days. Read More »

The Promised Neverland

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

Horror is one of the most under-seen genres in animation. Because audiences don’t follow flesh and blood people, it may be a bit harder to connect emotionally to the horror the characters experience than it would be with live-action. This often results in anime shows which rely more on gore or music for scares, or thrillers that barely dip their toes into horror – until The Promised Neverland.

CloverWorks studio’s adaptation of the manga with the same name wants to challenge the notion that horror doesn’t work in animation, with a story that is as terrifying as it is emotional and simply adorable (yes, we’re talking about Phil).

Writing about The Promised Neverland is tricky since the concept of the show itself is a such a big surprise that I’ll try my hardest not to spoil it. You should just know that the anime follows a group of orphans living together in the Grace Field House. They have everything they could want in life – they’re well-loved, well-fed, have an excellent education, and no cares in the world. But everything changes when two of the older orphans discover that there’s a terrible and deadly secret that awaits the children that get “adopted.”

From there, the show becomes a cat-and-mouse game of secrets and escape plans as the children uncover the sinister purpose of the orphanage. It’s a tense story full of cliffhangers, intrigue, and the most adorable 4-year-old orphan that will break your heart and have you worried for his true allegiance (yes, Phil, we still mean you). Read More »

weathering with you trailer

Makoto Shinkai‘s highly anticipated follow-up to his sublime 2016 hit Your Name has been on a hot streak since its summer premiere in Japan, where it became the country’s biggest box office hit of the year. Since then, Weathering With You has earned raves at every film festival it has opened at, including the Toronto International Film Festival where it made its North American premiere. The cherry on top of Weathering With You‘s successful summer was its submission to be Japan’s entry for Best International Film — a first for an anime film since Princess Mononoke in 1998.

Now GKIDS, the film’s U.S. distributor, has released a new Weathering With You trailer along with an official release date…for 2020. Yes, we’ll have to wait another three months until we see Shinkai’s acclaimed sci-fi romance, but at least we have a gorgeous new Weathering With You trailer to tide us over.

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cowboy bebop first look

You can’t have Cowboy Bebop without the classic anime’s very good corgi, and the Netflix remake is bringing Ein to the forefront in its first behind-the-scenes look at the production. The western sci-fi series begins filming today, and Netflix celebrated the occasion with a special corgi-cam video of the behind-the-scenes production.

The corgi playing the beloved “data dog” gets to wander around the Netflix offices and drink from a special embossed bowl while Cowboy Bebop stars John Cho, Daniella Pineda, Mustafa Shakir, and Alex Hassell fawn over it in a behind-the-scenes Cowboy Bebop first look.

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The Devil is a Part-Timer Review

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

When you’re trying to convince a newcomer about the diversity of anime shows and the power of the anime medium to tell vastly different stories, show them an action show, followed by something completely different – like a comedy. On paper, you’d think something like a slice-of-life drama or a workplace comedy wouldn’t benefit from being done in animation, but along comes something like The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, which turns its high-concept into a hilarious comedy, and it makes you realize that anything could benefit from being animated.

What if I were to tell you that Demon Lord Satan, the Devil himself, nearly conquered his world of Ente Isla but right before killing his enemies, a hero named Emilia forces him to escape through a gate that transports them both – as well as Satan’s right-hand demon Alciel – to modern day Tokyo? With no powers and rent coming up, what’s Satan to do but take a part-time job working at a fast food joint called MgRonald’s?

From there on, The Devil Is a Part-Timer evolves into a hilarious, often sweet and thought-provoking comedy. Though it isn’t afraid to dip its toes into some fluid and exhilarating action scenes, the focus is always on Satan’s struggles to stay afloat the current economy, and whether people can actually change.

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