2019 Holiday Haul #1 – Black Friday Sales || RightStuf & Sentai

Hello all!

Apologies for dropping off suddenly for another two weeks, I was ridiculously busy with finals (and pretty much everything else since Thanksgiving). But finals are OFFICIALLY behind me as of last Wednesday. I took a couple more days off to relax with family, and now I’m back. Glad to be here in this space once again!

As the title of this post implies, this is the first part of MANY a holiday haul posts, some being orders made during the sales, others being orders that were placed months ago and are now slowly trickling in. I hope you stick around with me as this month of holiday sale shenanigans goes on.

With part one, I’m taking us back nearly three weeks now to the Black Friday sales of our favorite online retailers for anime goodness: RightStuf and Sentai Filmworks!

First up from the epic Sentai sale this year is the Princess Principal LTD ED set. This thing is absolutely stunning, with gorgeous gold foil printing layered over a soft matte box. The spine alone speaks volumes about the quality of this set.

Peeking inside, we’ve got the Blu-ray, the signature Sentai box-of-stuff, and not one, not two, but THREE art books. WOW. The first is a storyboard collection for the first episode, while volume two contains character art, scenery, the goods etc. The third is loaded with staff and cast interviews, which is perfect for fans of the sub. Personally, I have no idea what this show is even about, aside from the fact that it’s got steampunk vibes and it was dubbed in English with ACCENTS. I’m shook.

Gosh, there’s so much to love about this set. I originally told myself that I’m holding off on Sentai LTD EDs due to space, but I couldn’t resist this one for just $40 (although it did go even cheaper the next sale :/).

Also, ALSO, the box isn’t full of nicknack stuff that I wouldn’t care about. Instead, it’s got a lovely cloth poster (with unique art!) and a metal steampunk coaster set, which I am legit currently using. Nice one, Sentai!

I picked up some other Blu-rays from the sale for other’s gifts, but they won’t go in my collection so I won’t bother showing them off. Instead, you can indulge in Love Stage!! with me—and yes, it’s got the new dub! I haven’t actually seen this series, so this’ll be a fun one for me to dive headfirst into, heh heh.

Onto the books, we’ve got the two newest volumes of my favorite LN series, SAO volume 17, “Alicization Awakening,” and A Sister’s All You Need. volume 5. Really hyped to continue reading the War of Underworld story!

Next is the third volume of Our Dreams at Dusk, another series that I’m waiting to have the volumes of before starting, as well as some VOFAN stuff. Here’s the novelization of Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters per Second: one more side and VOFAN’s art/storybook Colorful Dreams. I bought it thinking it’d be your typical art book, but instead it ended up being an anthology of 1-4 paged short stories with full art spreads. Hopefully it’s a good one.

Last for this haul is the long-awaited Millennium Actress Blu-ray release by Shout Factory! Continuing with the rescue of Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece films, I’m stoked to see what the buzz has been about this one. Since this one is technically a pre-order from the Shout Factory store itself, it came with an exclusive lithograph/poster of the release’s cover. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but it’s nice to have!


And there you go, the first haul of many for this holiday season! I didn’t realize it until I had all of the items together, but there’s a beautiful blue-green theme going on here. It’s certainly nice when odd stuff works out like that, isn’t it? Anyway, let me know your thoughts on any of these pick-ups down in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

Typhoon Noruda: A Storm of Emotions || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 30-minute 2015 anime original film “Typhoon Noruda,” animated by Studio Colorido, and directed by Youjirou Arai.

typhoon noruda storm brewing.PNG


Thunder in the Distance

On the eve of his middle school culture festival, Azuma has a fight with his best friend Saijou after suddenly deciding to quit their baseball team. Azuma’s reasons are his own, but Saijou just can’t understand why his friend would depart from the sport they’ve been playing together since childhood. Any time for reconciliation is cut short by the shattering of a glass window in their classroom, and the fierce winds of a typhoon rocking their little island.

Right before the rain hits, Azuma notices a girl who, despite wearing their school uniform, doesn’t actually attend their school. Or at least, she shouldn’t. Shrouded in mystery, the girl quickly flees, and the storm rages on. What connects this enigmatic girl to the typhoon that is shaking up their island, and can Azuma and Saijou’s friendship be saved by this tempestuous storm of emotions?

As far as characters go, Azuma and Saijou aren’t the most memorable boys out there, but they tell their story well enough to convey their frustrations with miscommunication and self-esteem. They are charming in their own way, Saijou embodying the “prince” of the class, confident and always willing to lend a hand, and Azuma being a total introvert just wanting to mind his own business and figure out what kind of person he truly wants to be. Dynamic as they are different, they really do mirror the interplay between thunder and lightning, rain and wind—one following the other in this clash of ambitions.

saijou and azuma.PNG

To save a young girl, two boys must first save themselves. Azuma uses the girl’s dire situation to prove to himself that he can help other people, and Saijou takes Azuma’s abrupt disappearance to reflect on their relationship. I can’t really say anything about the mystery girl without spoiling the entire plot, but I find her mere presence and willingness to lend an ear to a complete stranger to be proof that people are—as they have always been—worthy of redemption.

Soaked in Aesthetic

What immediately draws the viewer to Typhoon Noruda is the animation, no two ways about it.  From the sparkling rain to the leafy trees, busted wooden floorboards, and colorful school festival debris blowing in the wind, the attention to detail in crafting this turbulent environment truly paints the picture of a severe tropical thunderstorm.

The film looks incredible, with fluidly animated and expressive character designs, and the titular storm intensifying in the background. And the ash-colored clouds, how they move with such majesty, as if to shout, “Behold the storm!” Talk about a stunning sight. Down to the last drop, Studio Colorido produces a visual spectacle, and an ode to all us thunderstorm lovers. It’s as if a Makoto Shinkai setting and Mamoru Hosoda characters were married off and bang, Typhoon Noruda. Well, Comix Wave Films was listed in the credits, so it’s no wonder the Shinkai aesthetic feels so present here. 

typhoon clouds.PNG

For sound, Typhoon Noruda is supported by your standard string orchestral soundtrack, 15 minutes worth of music that follows the characters through to the climax. The real gem here is the credits song, “Arashi no Ato de” or “After the Rain” by Galileo Galilei, which is so good it gets its own official VEVO video, how about that. Seriously though, reminiscent of youthful days and fleeting childhood, this ED theme was how I was introduced to the film—and it’s arguably better than the film itself!

Lastly, John Swasey directs a solid dub, Greg Cote conveying the honesty and extroverted nature Saijou’s rash character, and Adam Gibbs nailing the discomfort and insignificance of Azuma’s naivete. I found myself really relating to Azuma through Gibbs’ performance, as I certainly know what it feels like to be the social outlier in class.

saijou and azuma blue light.PNG

Rain or Shine, We’ll Make it Through

Just as it sounds, Typhoon Noruda is a school fantasy short film anchored around youth and friendship. Despite only 26 minutes to tell its story, the film does follow a decent progression of exposition, rising action, and climax, never sticking on one plot point for too long. By the end, the conflict between the two boys feels decently resolved, and you’re only left briefly pondering a bit of the fantasy aspect (which I won’t spoil for you). It’s not perfectly convincing by any means, but for a mere half hour, the experience of the storm itself makes the film worth watching.

Simply, Typhoon Noruda is an entertaining, endearing story about insecurities and self-expression. As a small indie project from Studio Colorido, the visual and audio quality of the piece far outshines any looming clouds one may have about the plot and characters. Save this one for a rainy day, and you just might find yourself whisked away by the storm, left only to the freeing pleasure of having watched two relatable teenagers face life head-on—and leave their misgivings with youth behind with no regrets.

Noruda and the storm.PNG


Remember, cherish what you have. — Noruda


Afterword

I remember chatting with Neha over at Biblionyan, saying how I’ve been wanting to watch this film for sooo long, and how I even owned the Blu-ray yet just left it sitting on my shelf! Well, part of me was saving it for a rainy day (literally) to soak in the entire ambiance of stormy afternoons, which I finally got. I talked more about that feeling in my most recent “Cafe Talk,” so be sure to check that out. Anyway, I’m really glad that I enjoyed the “Cake” worthy Typhoon Noruda. It’s not a novel piece by any means, but for 30 minutes of unfiltered thunder and rain, what’s to lose?

I’d love to hear whether or not you enjoyed this recently licensed title by Sentai Filmworks! If you’ve yet to see it, but have been wanting to as I was, I pray for a cloudy day on the forecast just for you! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Sentai Filmworks 2019 Summer Sale HAUL!

Hello all!

Just as the title says, I caved and spent $107 at Sentai Filmworks’ summer sale. They always go all out, and you know I can’t resist $10 anime Blu-rays.

Seeing as how one of my 2019 blog goals was to post more of my hauls (as I tend to buy a lot but not tell anyone, shhhh), here we are. Let’s get this box sliced open and see what’s inside!

First up is The Ambition of Oda Nobuna and BTOOOM!, two series that I’ve wanted for quite some time, but for entirely different reasons. BTOOOM! I’ve heard is an awesome survival game show, one of my favorite sub genres of the overarching thriller genre, so there’s that. But Oda Nobuna has been a long-awaited buy. I watched it in the summer of 2016, and enjoyed it immensely for some reason. Glad to finally have her in the collection—or should I say, on the throne where she belongs!

Here’s a couple more pickups I’ve been meaning to make for a while: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions!: Take On Me, the movie. I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about the former, but it was always out of stock whenever I tried to buy. Happy to have these after all this time!

I wasn’t actually planning on ever watching Knights of Sidonia, let alone buying it. Yet, it would seem even titles produced by Netflix expire on Netflix, meaning it was $20 now or a missed opportunity forever, and I thought hey, CG space fights sound pretty aight.

I used to TORTURE myself over whether to settle for DVD or pay practically double for Blu-ray back in the day. Thankfully, with Blu-ray prices steadily declining and DVDs going extinct, I’ve been limited to the obvious choice. It would seem that everyone’s trying to get ahold of this beloved title, however, so it was DVD for both sets or eBay Blu-ray hunting for one of the OOP collections. I chose laziness. Settled for less, perhaps, but was it really worth the effort to begin with? Only time will tell.

Last, but certainly not least, is Sentai’s massive Patlabor Blu-ray collection, which contains ALL of the classic series. That’s like, 47 episodes, 3 movies, and a boatload of OVAs. And it was just $40! A no-duh purchase for a sci-fi fan like myself, right?

Here’s what the inside cases look like. Love the coordinating art and the blue, white, orange color palette. The silver shine on the “box” also adds a nice industrial feel to the release. Did I mention the window on the box sleeve is really neat, cause it is.

And here’s the back, since I’m feeling generous and all (and I’m totally not exploding with happiness for the quality of this release). They even included a little timeline for all this animated stuff—how thoughtful! Speaking of time, I heard the first film just had its 30th Anniversary this past Monday, July 15th! What a perfect way to celebrate the franchise and its success! (Plus, a wonderful way to end this post!)


I love hauls. No matter the contents, no matter the amount, they bring me so much joy. Did you buy anything from the summer Sentai sale? Show me your haul over on Twitter or let me know down in the comments! Have you seen Patlabor, and did you like what you saw? Let me know that, too!

I typed all of this spontaneous post on my phone, so yay for mobile blogging. I’ll get around to posting a manga review here within the next couple days, so that’ll be cool. Same goes for a summer simulcast line-up . . . it’s, eherm, on the way, yeah. Otherwise, that’s all I’ve got, so till next time!

– Takuto, your host

Parasyte -the maxim- Review

I kid you not, as I was following this show during the fall season, I found myself acting in this more “unemotional or robotic” way. I didn’t really talk to people, I only ate and slept for energy, and I even recognized all of the unnecessary and disgusting things some of my friends do. Upon finishing my simulcasts as of late, I noticed what was manipulating me – possibly one of the most influential anime I’ve seen to date – Parasyte -the maxim-.

They called themselves alien beings, but we know them better as Parasites . . .

Izumi Shinichi is a lanky and awkward 17-year-old high school boy who lives peacefully with his mom and dad. One night, tiny aliens silently rained from the sky, burrowing themselves into humans and taking over their brains. As one of the worms tries to crawl into Shinichi’s ear, the headphones he wore while sleeping blocked the entrance. It tries to drill itself into his right hand, but Shinichi rips off the ear buds and ties them around his arm, preventing the bug from entering his brain.

Forced to coexist with “Migi,” the two form a close bond (literally!). And while the separately conscious pair stumble into other Parasites on the streets, the two form strategies and acquire new skills to ensure their survival.

Though I don’t care much for this survival of the fittest concept, Parasyte at the very least deserves the award for one of the most well-paced anime I’ve ever seen – and it keeps this effort up until about episode 18/24, after which it dramatically slows down to introduce the core villain, but picks back up again in the last couple episodes for a satisfying conclusion. The only con to this ending is the still-unknown origin of the Parasites, but hey, I really didn’t care about that by the end.

So an impressively-paced anime must include some interesting characters, right? Absolutely, and Izumi Shinichi’s dynamic yet gradual change from absolute human to slightly less than machine couldn’t have been more fleshed out than this! The struggles, externally and internally, of what it truly means to be “human” that Shinichi overcome are seriously scary – Do you think you could kill another (or several) human(s), one bearing a child at that? Sure, his foes are technically Parasites, but it’s damned hard to tell in some cases! Great developing character; an ideal lead for the “did nothing wrong” trope.

Representing the cold, harsh truth is Migi, Shinichi’s newly named right hand after the Parasite took over it. Because he is attached to his body, he receives nutrients from the food Shinichi eats, meaning that he has no need to kill humans for food. He doesn’t understand humans. The rational Migi values his own life over all others, threating to kill anyone whom Shinichi leaks the news to. As the series progresses, however, Migi slowly reveals a human side, and as it happens, Shinichi is absorbed more into the monstrous nature; the Parasite lifestyle. It’s a brilliant concept that is executed without flaw.

Shinichi and Migi deserve another round of applause for their superb voice actor and actress, Nobunaga Shimazaki and Aya Hirano, respectively. Shinichi’s confusion, transformation, and choking on blood sounds convincingly realistic, and Migi’s emotionless yet matter-of-fact speech is one of this show’s charms. Migi is so gosh darn cute – especially when he/it detaches from the arm and waddles around :3

The only other interest is Tamura Reiko, Shinichi’s substitute math teacher who is actually a Parasite. I won’t spoil the crimes that she commits, but she almost outdoes Shinichi in the transforming humanism aspect. She is a key character because, though she does kill to survive, Tamura is among the few that question their own origin by “experimenting” on other Parasites and humans. Let’s just say that when she’s taken out of the picture, the story as a whole loses some drive and fundamental curiosity.

Shinichi’s friend/love interest Satomi Murano is an annoying piece of sh*t.

If you enjoy more realistic animation, then you’ll enjoy what Madhouse has to offer. With the exception of the “anime eyes,” everything is pretty proportional. To me, the flesh-colored tones and dull colors are boring, but despite that the animation is indeed solid. The UNSENCORED BLOODY Parasite fights nice; intense and fluid in motion, using bright colors during quick and deadly execution. In contrast, emotional or romantic scenes feature cool/rich colors to mellow out the mood and add a sense of hearth.

And while Migi had some personality, all of the other Parasites were just the same monster; variety is not prominent in this anime.

I am torn when it comes to the OST. Parasyte is infamous for its use of dubstep BGM, even though there are killer monstrosities on the run. That, I can understand, makes for some lackluster encounters. On the other hand, there’s a music box-sounding track that plays during parts where you’re like, “Oh man, something really bad is going to happen any minute now.” The soundtrack is very enjoyable when it plays the right song, but otherwise it can draw away from the mood.

The first part of the strong opening (verse) “Let Me Hear” by fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is really freakin’ cool, however, from the chorus and on the opening is just a screamo song. My thoughts aside, it fit the show quite well. The ending, “IT’S THE RIGHT TIME” by Daichi Miura beautifully wraps up each episode with melancholy and a longing to just go home. Though I absolutely love the song, it doesn’t fit well when some episodes end on the world’s largest cliffhanger. 😀

Parasyte -the maxim- succeeds at appealing to all levels of relationship: maternal, paternal, friendship, mutuality, comradery, and by distant acquaintance. Its address on the qualities of humanity attacks your very soul, challenging and questioning you as to what it truly means to be “human.” This anime does lack notable supporting and antagonistic roles, but it’s nevertheless an exciting story of power struggle. Because of its uncensored, slasher gore, the horror that is Parasyte is not for young or soft viewers. But for those who can handle the gripping thrill ride, do yourself a favor and check it out!

“I might be about to commit an irredeemable sin as a human being, but can I say that an organism has no right to live just because it’s harmful? Even if it is not beneficial to humans, to Earth, it may actually be . . .” – Izumi Shinichi

Parasyte -the maxim- has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks, so we can expect an English dub soon, fingers crossed – this is Sentai, after all. For legal streaming, the whole series is out there on Crunchyroll for FREE! Did you like this anime? Feel free to like and comment! Until next time, this has been

-Takuto, your host