My Top 10 Long-Awaited U.S. Anime Releases from This Year| Blogmas 2017 Day 2

Hey everyone, welcome to day 2 of Blogmas, or as everyone else calls it, the “12 Days of Anime!” This year was pretty BIG for us anime collectors in the states; several titles that had gone unlicensed for the looooongest time were FINALLY license-rescued and saw physical releases this year. Most were given that Blu-ray touch for the first time ever, and some even lucked out by getting an English dub, despite the YEARS of neglect. That’s pretty awesome of them.

Particularly, from 2016 September to the earlier parts of 2017, Funimation led the rescue front, releasing long-awaited titles like Haruhi Suzumiya, Code Geass, The Vision of Escaflowne (via Kickstarter), and more. For this post, I’ll be highlighting my favorite titles that I picked up from this year alone. So yeah, these are my top 10 releases from least to most anticipated. Here we go!

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TOP 10 U.S. ANIME RELEASES IN 2017

Honorable Mention:   The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

This film needs no introduction, as it means A LOT to many, many, MANY fans out there. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, I have not seen Haruhi Suzumiya. BUT, I did manage to snag one of the last copies of the collector’s edition before they went out of stock, as well as a copy of this film when it came out. In other words, I’m saving it for one epic rainy day, but should I had seen it by now, I’m sure it would’ve been close to the top. GOD BLESS FUNI for saving this film and bringing it to Blu-ray with the rest of the franchise!

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This set’s simple red-lettered theme is to DIE for

#10  The Vision of Escaflowne

Escaflowne may have been my first Kickstarter I campaign to participate in, but it most certainly won’t be my last. Recorded over with a brand new English dub (I did try out the old one, wasn’t too big a fan), Escaflowne was a blind buy, and I have to say it was a pretty neat show. Surprisingly, I haven’t reviewed it yet, but maybe after I get around to the film I’ll just review the entirety of the franchise. While this limited edition Kickstarter exclusive box is fairly nice looking, it’s nothing compared to the gorgeous hand-drawn art style of the collector’s edition. At least the reverse covers make it look like a complete set.

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I showed the back side of the box because the front is the same as the little art pamphlet. It’s also cooler.

#9  Miss Hokusai

By far the oddest entry on this list that you will read, this film has some very odd history. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of this film before either—it wasn’t until I came across a English trailer on YouTube featuring Erica Lindbeck that I immediately put everything that I was doing now to rush and preorder it on Amazon. There was just an underlying charm or witty humor in its delightful trailer, and Erica’s brief yet strong and somehow resilient portrayal as the lead (presumably the titular Miss Hokusai at the time) was enough to convince me it was worth it. The film ended up being fairly good, nothing like a Ghibli film (though it’s not really fair to compare like that). I think a second rewatch would have allowed me to place it higher up on this list.

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MAH GURL, KILLIN’ IT

#8  Code Geass: Akito the Exiled

Ever since I heard that more Code Geass existed—and it served to fill in events that took place during the series—I knew that Akito was a must. And though it doesn’t quite live up to the original’s masterful characterization and story (not even close, but it’s a tough show to beat), I did enjoy this little set of OVAs—the dub was pretty solid too, complete with accents! And ooh look, pretty art cards!

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Shin Godzilla was definitely a highly-anticipated release, but I’m just reusing pics here to save me time 🙂 

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#7  Sailor Moon Crystal Season II

Now, y’all already know that I love me some Sailor Moon, especially Crystal for its more accurate take on the manga’s rich story of betrayal and tragedy. Despite what anyone says about the CG animation or the ridiculously long legs, I still love Crystal, almost as much as the original; for me, both are necessary to bring out the depth of Usagi’s tale. That said, Crystal II was definitely a step down from the first. The plot was fine, accomplishing what took R +30 episodes in like 12, but the same main problem prevents Crystal from matching its predecessor—the characterization (particularly of the villains this time around) is incredibly weak. Aside from Usagi, Mamoru, and Chibiusa, there is very little time left for everyone else. I still love this saga, however, and I CANNOT wait to pick up Crystal III! The English dub is excellent for this one, BTW.

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The holographic finish on these Crystal covers is gorgeous—I only wish there was a consistent theme between all of them.

#6  Sailor Moon R The Movie

Anyone remember when this film was subtitled “Promise of the Rose” by Dic? Yeah, well I still call it that >.< and I have no regrets. Though a technically A-OK film, much of the nostalgia was lost with the removal of the English insert song “The Power of Love,” which I still jam to daily! The original Japanese song is, to be fair, still kickass. I didn’t get to witness R The Movie on the big screen like everyone else, but now I’ll be able to watch it whenever I like!

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I think this cover art was exclusively created for Viz’s release, so HUGE props to them on that cause it’s absolutely gorgeous.

#5  Sailor Moon S 

YASSSS SAILOR MOON S AND THE OUTER SCOUTS!!!! Of all the releases to come before it, this was the one I was most excited for—and boy did it live up to its reputation! You see, as a child, I watched this series on like 4 or 5 VHS tapes. Those tapes chronicled all of the Sailor Moon knowledge that I had, until I picked up Viz’s first release of it and watched the whole thing in sequential order. My childhood self was absolutely SHOOKETH to find out just how dark the real, uncensored story was. I’m still partially in disbelief at S‘s ending. But alas, the show goes on, and I cannot wait for SuperS in the spring!

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Viz’s other Sailor Moon DVD sets continue to look pretty bland, but at least they look nice together as a set.

#4  Your Name

Does this film even need an introduction? I mean, seriously, it was advertised like hell in 2016, and has been praised ever since. And you know what? It’s deserving of every good thing said about it. Now that I own the Blu-ray myself, I’ll elaborate more on this one in a review and theater experience coming up soon, heh heh heh. But for now, know that this one was a short, painful wait, yet one made all the more worth it because of the immediate NEED to experience it all over again.

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THE HOLOGRAPHIC FINISH ON THE SLIP COVER IS EVERYTHING. I tweeted my reaction to this surprise and Funimation retweeted it, causing it to blow up to 200 likes in one day. I’m famous now.

#3  Steins;Gate The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu

In terms of looooong-awaited releases, this entry is hard to beat. I’m a huge Steins;Gate boy. In fact, it’s in my top 5 favorite anime of all time. When the film first came out in Japan, of course I -illegally- streamed it somewhere on the internet, and I have no regrets for doing so, as little did I know that it would not see a U.S. release for FOUR YEARS. Well, after a little bit of time travelin’ myself, four years are up, and now I can relive—what I like to believe is—one of the most perfect films to follow up an anime series. Long story short, I’m very happy to have this, and to FINALLY listen to J. Michael Tatum, Trina Nishimura, and the rest of the spectacular English dub in all their glory!

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I’m at a loss for words. The art parallels between this set and the series is just so damn clever.

#2  Hyouka 

We’re down to the last two—IT WAS SO HARD TO PICK. But of course it made a spot in the top five! Hyouka‘s lead, Oreki Houtarou, has been the face of this cafe for years now. That said, you can probably expect this to be one of the most celebrated releases for me in recent times. Hyouka was one of those Funimation license rescues that took FIVE years to get here. This is why, upon its announcement, that many thought the show would receive the sad DVD/sub-only treatment. Boy were we surprised. Not only would it get the Blu-ray combo pack special, but IT GOT A FREAKIN’ DUB. To make things even better, THE DUB IS FANTASTIC!!! (Sadly, there was no LTD ED box, but I made my own thanks to Simply Gee’s help, so we’re good I guess.) No words can honestly express my excitement, but there is still one title that deserves the real gold here . . .

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I was absolutely stunned with how much official artwork Funimation was able to obtain for these releases. Where they don’t have a cozy official box to slide into, the art more than makes up for it. Also, what do you think of my own DIY box? 😛

#1  Gosick

I watched this show in the spring of 2014. That’s three years ago, but it’s not as long as some fans have been waiting for. Gosick is SIX, almost SEVEN years old. SEVEN, and it had gone unlicensed for all this time. Some of you may argue that Hyouka is far better than Gosick, both as mystery shows and physical releases. And you know what, I kinda agree. But riddle me this: How much do you value the first anime you ever watched? Gosick is not that title, but it was one of the firsts that wowed me as a youngster—everything from the silly, lovable characters, the old-fashioned European atmosphere, and that EPIC ending theme that triumphantly rang at the end of each episode just enthralled me, it really did.

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And just like with Hyouka, holy crap—Funi was able to get like every single cover from the Japanese releases, and used them in a practical way that features all at once. I JUST LOVE THIS SO MUCH. (Also, another homemade box.) 

So here we are, so many years later, and so many anime have gone by since. On over 20 occasions, I was THIS close to just buying a bootleg of this series (heck, not sure how, but it supposedly even came with a soundtrack!). But I had faith, a near-unwavering faith that one day, however long it would take, someone would save this show. Once it left Crunchyroll a few years back, I had officially lost all ties with it—but I still carried my faith with me. And then Funimation finally lifted my prayers: “GOSICK Blu-ray/DVD English Dub & Sub COMING SOON.” That’s all it took to make this year awesome for me as a collector and a fan. Even though the dub is merely serviceable, I still have the sub; Even though it didn’t come with a fancy box to house the two parts, I made my own; EVEN THOUGH it took SIX YEARS to be rescued, it’s always better late than never.

God, I love Funimation. And for all these reasons and more, this why I love the exciting, unpredictable industry that is anime. 

(still praying for ya, Tales of Symphonia and Black Rock Shooter—you got this!)

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Let me know if you had any favorite anime releases from this year! Heck, I didn’t even get around to the magic happenin’ at Sentai lately (to be fair, I haven’t picked up their latest LTD EDs yet, though—still lookin’ at you, Haikyuu)! This wraps up Blogmas Day Two of the 12 Days of Anime! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

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End of February Update 2/28/17

So I failed the 4-post-per-month plan yet again, but the defeat doesn’t seem as crushing as it was last month. Perhaps that’s because of my involvement with the OWLS bloggers; having a set deadline for a hefty post keeps me on my toes. Plus, they are more fun to write for some reason, hehe. The update this month will be brief, but hey, at least I’m doing the end of February update at the actual end of February!

Recently Finished:

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash – I covered my recent love for this short series in the last update, and here it is again but in the finished bin! Looking back, I’m happy that Grimgar didn’t stray from its preface of presenting the struggles of daily life in a fantasy adventure setting. Things took an unexpected turn, however, and on top of food, clothing, and other basic utilities, our party had to deal with death. Finding ways to cope and properly honor those who have passed on occupied much of the middle block. Luckily, the party found their way back on the track and ended their quest with great, intense combat, leaving the series open to a continuation if one ever were to arise. I quite enjoyed Grimgar, and I’ll probably try to pick it up now that FUNimation has released pics of the limited edition, huehuehue. I just might have to write a review if anyone is interested in knowing more of my thoughts!

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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence – As part of my Ghost in the Shell marathon week(s), this was the second entry to be completed. IT WAS NOT THAT BAD. Sheesh, everywhere you go, you have folks claiming that it was “too far up its own ass.” That quote was by the ANN podcast. I really enjoyed this film, I mean, not as much as the first, but still, it proved plenty interesting to say the least. The animation is gorgeous, the music complements the dingy atmosphere (that ending theme is soooo beautiful), and the premise offers enough to keep the viewer thinking, which is more than what Stand Alone Complex is currently giving me. I went ahead and picked it up on Amazon since FUNi recently rescued it and released it. When it gets here, I’ll rewatch a few bits then hopefully cover my thoughts in-depth later.

Currently Watching:

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – I’m not going to lie, SAC has so far been the most underwhelming entry in the franchise for me. I wasn’t even hooked until like episode 17 when the characters were trying to save bottles of wine–WINE for crying out loud! Maybe it’s just the way the characters converse that I’m not quite fully comprehending. I am watching the English dub (because YES Mary Elizabeth McGlynn AKA Viceroy Cornelia) if that makes any difference. The overarching “Laughing Man” plot has had its moments that completely gripped me, but there are too many government/political figures to remember, and that only adds to my confusion. Someone help, plz. I’ve got three episodes to go, so hopefully it all ties in by now, if not then by the “Laughing Man” recap movie, at least. The music is good, though, especially those first 15 or so seconds of the opening “Inner Universe.”

Between all this Ghost in the Shell, I don’t want to start anything not related to the franchise. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a marathon, right? I have Sailor Moon Crystal Set 2 on the way, as well as Innocence and GitS: The New Movie, so maybe I’ll hop into some sailor senshi awesomeness after Motoko’s done kicking all that cyber ass. Oh, isn’t set 2 of Sailor Moon S supposed to come out sometime in March? I already have set 1, so that’ll probably follow my Crystal session.

All of the releases lined up for this spring are absolute bliss: Steins;Gate the Movie, Crystal Season 2, Grimgar, One Punch Man, not to mention several others–the highlight of my entire year, however, has been the BLU-RAY RESCUE and even ENGLISH DUB of GOSICK set to come out in MAY. THIS. MAY. GOD I’M SO HAPPY I EVEN CRIED. What are you looking forward to picking up this spring?

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Also, how are the winter simulcasts, guys? I was going to watch Chaos;Child and Masamune-kun’s Revenge, but let me know if anything else out there is noteworthy. I plan to spend the afternoon reading all of the January and February OWLS blog tour posts, so be sure to check those out if you haven’t yet done so! I also plan to catch up on ALL of those comments you guys left. You know, time to be a responsible blogger for once, right? Haha, I will try to be super active this month, so until next time (hopefully soon), this has been

– Takuto, your host

Happy V-Day, “V” for Versailles, that is!

HELLO cafe-goers, it’s Valentine’s day!! I hope you all are having a grand day, whether that’s spending time with that special sweetheart, relaxing with the fam, or crying to yourself as you watch anime and stuff your face with chocolates you bought on sale. Personally, I am tending to those last two options, but I won’t be crying because, in the strange annual spirit of V-Day, I plan to marathon an anime classic from the past! The previous menus have included:

2013 ~ Steins;Gate

2014 ~ Ouran High School Host Club/Gosick (couldn’t remember which)

2015 ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

2016 ~ The Rose of Versailles

When I’m not chatting it up with my siblings, attempting to put together my thoughts on 3.33 (it’s coming soon, I swear!!), I’ll be attempting to knock this shojo classic out of the park! I picked it up for pretty cheap during a holiday sale, and thought, sure, what the heck – I only heard it was THE historical anime of the century! So yeah, hope you all have had a sweet day, and I promise, the conclusion to Eva-Week is on its way. See you all soon!

With love,

– Takuto, your host

30-Day Song Challenge Day 30 (FINALE): Songs That Would Be The Theme Song To A TV Show About Your Life

It’s finally arrived. 30 days later, we finally made it, minna! Enjoy the finale ~

I feel like I should be making some sort of elaborate speech, but truth be told, it’s just another day of the challenge XD. One last time, I shall be breaking the rules by uploading as many songs as I freakin’ can just to prove my point. What is today’s topic anyway? A theme song for a show about my life? Well, that’d be pretty boring, IDK, probably just some awkward little string pizzicato diddy. But if it’s like any TV show nowadays, the theme song’s grandeur would be exponentially higher than what the show actually makes out to be. So let’s just blow my life story out of proportion and get to rockin’!

These songs, by the way, will be considered the “opening theme” for a show about my life.

From Gosick, “Resuscitated Hope” by Lisa Komine

If my life was a mystery-occult-romance-drama thrown back in the 1920s, then my opening song would easily be this masterpiece. I’ve been waiting this whole challenge just to fit this song in the mix, and I think it’s more than appropriate here, wouldn’t you? The anime Gosick, by the way, is totally epic! It’s a rarity that surprisingly many people don’t know about, so go check it out as soon as you can. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the time period and the characters, not to mention getting wrapped up in all of the intense mystery horror (too bad my life’s not like Victorique’s)!

From Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W, “Koi wa Chaos no Shimobenari” by Ushiro kara Haiyori-tai G

If my life was a rom-com-harem-fan-service-ecchi anime, then hells yeah this is what it’d sound like! Now, I haven’t seen the show at all, let alone this sequel, but with the way it bounces all around just makes me think of ecchi things. WOAH, Takuto, you’re a pervert? Well, as much as the next guy I suppose, but doesn’t this song sound kinda . . . naughty . . . ? Think about it.

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“Endless Tears” by CLIFF EDGE feat. Maiko Nakamura

If my life was a romance-intense-drama-heartbreaker, then here you go. “Endless Tears.” Yes, I know I’ve already talked about this one, but seriously, this is my drama-bomb cry-forever song. My life will most likely never be so complicated in the field of love (cause I’m a loner), but if things did take a drastic turn and BAM, sudden dramatic twists, then I can’t think of a better match. Enjoy it this last time ~

From The Heroic Legend of Arslan, “Lapis Lazuli” by Eir Aoi

If my life were a fantasy-tragedy-action anime, then you’ve got “Lapis Lazuli.” I mentioned a cover of this song, but try out the original sometime. It’s fantastic! It’s got just enough sass and swing to carry the melody, and the beat is perfect for imagining all kinds of exciting adventures over various lands. But I include tragedy because I feel a bittersweet longing in this song – a craving for something special. In the end, I don’t think I would ever find it, so I mark my ending as tragic. At least it was one hell of an adventure, right?

From In Search of the Lost Future, “Le jour” by Satomi Sato

If my life were a romance-drama-sci-fi-thriller, then I think this would be a decent fit. Now for those who have not watched this obscure anime (or haven’t even heard it before), don’t watch it. It’s sh*t. But it had several wonderful aspects to it that made me want to see it through to the end. What was the best thing I got out of it – this song, the opening. It’s rejoicing, tragic tone just reminds me so much of, well, myself! I probably didn’t match the genres up as well as I could have, but here it is nevertheless.

From Neon Genesis Evangelion, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi

If my life were a psychological-supernatural-sci-fi-thriller, then what else would you expect from me?? Honestly, if you didn’t expect this infamous song to hit the list, then you probably don’t know me LOL Seriously though, this song kills me every time – but in a good way, mind you. Eva always manages to remind me of how the world works for some odd reason, and that’s probably due to the way it destroys its characters over and over again until you can hardly not stop crying for them. It’s got giant aliens, giant robots, comedy, romance, tragedy, action, drama – Everything for me!! If my life were anything like this, then this would easily be my theme song without a doubt.

But my life is none of these exciting things, and most likely will never be so exquisite. I manage, day by day, facing the harsh reality like anyone else. I live a normal slice-of-life-rom-com whether I want to or not. As such, there’s really only one song that can capture my struggles:

From Kyoukai no Kanata, “Daisy” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION

It’s casual, light-hearted, but also has this relatable passion of feeling like another day is passing by. Fleeting is perhaps the word I’m looking for. While most episodes would take place in the classroom or at home, besides being the opening, this feels like the song that would burst out when I chase the one I love . . . whenever I find them. “Daisy” is very well-rounded, and as such I think it’s the ideal match. It’s slow-drumming groove and slightly delicate chord work timed with the incredible male singer transforms this into a song befitting of my average life. If you listen closely, you can hear the anguish of this normal life within the song, and its subtlety grabs me by the heart every time.

[listen to one of these as you read the rest for maximum feels]

This right here is magic.

And there you have it. 30 days; a ton of songs to listen to! I won’t lie, I’m pretty sad that it’s all over now 😥 We’ve gone through so much together in just these last 30 days. You’ve probably learned so many new things about me, whether they’re personal quotes or whatnot. Thank you for all of the support during this challenge 🙂 If you’ve stuck it through from day one to now, then you’re a really dedicated trooper! I found so much love from you guys, reading boat-loads of comments at three in the morning, or receiving text alerts all throughout the day (*sniffs, stifles back a tear). I’ll really miss this.

If you happened to miss a day during the challenge, or are curious to compare before and after certain days, then never fear. I’ve linked the challenge in the header menu above. If that’s too much work for you, I’ll just leave a convenient listing below. Click on a day and take in all of these feels!!

Day 1: A song that makes you happy
Day 2: A song that helps you clear your head
Day 3: A song that makes you laugh
Day 4: A song that reminds you of something sad
Day 5: A song that has a new meaning to you every time you hear it
Day 6: A song you can always relate to
Day 7: A song that holds a lot of meaning to you
Day 8: A song that makes you cry
Day 9: A song that makes you want to dance
Day 10: A song that annoys you
Day 11: A song that reminds you of summer
Day 12: A song that reminds you of your best friend
Day 13: A song you sing to in the shower
Day 14: A song you liked when you were younger
Day 15: A song people wouldn’t expect you to like
Day 16: A song that is your guilty pleasure
Day 17: A song you like hearing live
Day 18: A song you have as your ringtone/want to be your ringtone
Day 19: A song you’re currently obsessed with
Day 20: A song from a new album you are waiting for to come out
Day 21: A song you want to dance to at your wedding
Day 22: A song that you haven’t listened to in a while
Day 23: A cover song that you like
Day 24: A song that makes you angry
Day 25: An acoustic song you love
Day 26: A song by your favorite band
Day 27: A song you make fun of
Day 28: A song that reminds you of your boyfriend/girlfriend (if you don’t have one, make one up)
Day 29: A song currently stuck in your head
Day 30: A song that would be the theme song to a TV show about your life

[Challenge Starting Date: August 14, 2015]

[Challenge Completion Date: September 13, 2015]

Did you have a particular favorite day of the challenge? If so, tell me down below – Let’s have a party in the comments! Wow, I guess I could go back to watching anime and writing reviews now. Also, I have a crap ton of lovely nominations for various awards to follow up with. I guess wherever the wind takes us next will be our new quest! Thank you all again for your support throughout this challenge. I had way too much fun writing for each of these special moments 🙂 WE DID IT! This challenge was so, so incredibly tiring, but well worth the new friends and songs that I got to meet and listen to. I recommend this 30-Day Song Challenge to anyone daring to take up 30 within a month. I thought it was supposed to be done day-by-day, but apparently other bloggers have been posting to their own liking, which I won’t lie, it probably would have been an good idea to try 😛 BUT I’m crazy like that, so there you go! Until next time everybody, this has been

– Takuto, your host