They’re the best Anime that 2013 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Dragon Ball Z Movie 14: Kami to Kami, Doraemon Movie 33: Nobita no Himitsu Dougu Museum, Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth, and more!
5: Dragon Ball Z Movie 14: Kami to Kami
English: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
Japanese: ドラゴンボールZ 神と神
MAL Score: 7.39
Following the defeat of a great adversary, Gokuu Son and his friends live peaceful lives on Earth. Meanwhile, in space, Beerus the God of Destruction awakens from his long slumber, having dreamed of an entity known as a Super Saiyan God. With the help of his assistant, Whis, Beerus looks for this powerful being, as he wishes to fight a worthy opponent. After discovering that the Saiyan home planet was destroyed, he tracks down the remaining Saiyans on Earth, looking for Gokuu specifically.
Having only heard of the Super Saiyan God in legends, Gokuu and his comrades summon Shen Long the Eternal Dragon, who they find out is afraid of Beerus. After learning the secret of the Super Saiyan God, an intense battle between Gokuu and Beerus commences, the immense power of which puts the Earth in terrible danger.
macho good guy vs bad guy films that I’ve seen in the past of this franchise before.
This film takes an interesting alternative within the series and starts to proceed in a different dimension in this movie compared to the other usual movies in the past.
It would seem that this movie is actually cannon to the series stated by Akira Toriyama himself as this takes place 3 years after kid buu’s defeat and 4 years before Uub’s appearance at the world martial arts tournament within the anime. Don’t worry NO SPOILERS.
Story – 7
If you have seen previous movies of this franchise, you will know that the premise within its own story is usually Basic and doesn’t have much depth to them since its main focus is on Mindless and intense fights most of the time.
The action scenes in this movie are few and have been tone down to show a lot of the characters from the series present within the film.
This movie mainly follows a God that is known for destruction by the name of
Birusu / Beerus / Bills? ( hmm however you address his name ), is woken up by his flamboyant assistant and caretaker Wiss after a 39 year slumber.
Wiss informs Birusu of Frieza’s defeat at the hands of a mysterious Saiyan (Goku) who transformed against him during their epic battle. upon hearing this, Birusu recalls a prophesy 39 years before his sleep, About an Oracle fish that told him about a So called Super Saiyan God that will compete against him in the future.
Having witness Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation against Frieza,
Birusu feels now the time is right to face this saiyan with this SSG power.
So him and Wiss decide to find the remaining surviving saiyans after the destruction
of planet vegeta in order for birusu to test his God Powers against the one who possess this SSG power which eventually leads them across the galaxy to King Kai’s planet where both Goku and Birusu face off for the first time.
Ultimately the story starts of really well with its introduction and brings a fresh new look to the progression and feel of the characters from the anime however as soon as it gets to the middle where Birusu and Wiss arrive to earth and enter Bulma’s 38th birthday party (Which by the way who even celebrates their 38th birthday anyway? since she is so Loaded.)
its during these moments in the film where things for me personally became more tedious and a little too weird and random at times.
The movie had some nice comedy and interaction scenes with many of the characters within the set pieces of this film.
But during the middle I could see it started to drag on a little and it made the pacing of this film a little awkward to sometimes to keep watching which is understandable since this film has a more of a comedic tone to it, especially about that desert scene which perhaps could of used a different scenario perhaps. I know some people who did not like this scene involving a dispute between Birusu and Buu over a pudding cup (which believe me I’ve seen worse). but ultimately I found it hilarious XD.
This didn’t turn me off instead however it kept me hyped for the tension and action that was happening and through the Last quarter of the film we find out the revelation of this Super Saiyan God and after, the incredible main event fight between Birusu and Goku which ends up taking place in many awesome locations from the city, forest, desert, mountains, cliffs, river, from underground labyrinth to the skies above and into the outer atmosphere of space itself (puff) it literally was Outstanding to watch to the end.
Art – 9
A really Great plus to this movie was the animation as it looks awesome, which was also one of the reasons it was worth seeing and not only that but this film is also the first anime film to be shown on screen in IMAX.
The locations throughout this film looked amazing as well as the action scenes, the CGI looked good within the angles even though its a little tricky to see here and there it still works really well. The character designs were nice apart from a few the super saiyan god form whether you like it or not I felt they could have done a better design
(mainly the look of the hair and few other things but thats just my opinion)
But also not to mention how Goku gains his SSG powers seems a little off,
Also ox king (Seriously what is he wearing?) and I could also say the same about the look of Wiss too. Also I felt Trunks and Goten could of looked a little bit older but that is just only a minor nitpick.
But anyway despite those nitpicks I felt that the most unique design was Birusu who has this Egyptian Siamese Cat God look to him almost resembling Anubis the Egyptian god of judgement which brings a lot more of a unique look to his character other than the typical generic steroid looking villains that we are so used to seeing in most Dragon ball movies.
Sound – 7
Not much in this music score stood out to me unfortunately. A few tracks suited some good moments and other scenes in the film including the original opening and closing theme performed by FLOW was good, however i found the music score at times to be quite generic especially with Goku turning into a super saiyan god. I didn’t mind the heavy metal use in the fight between Goku and Birusu in the forest which was cool but apart from that, the music i felt wasn’t really all that special.
Characters – 8
The characters are pretty much the same as always, there are a few changes in the behaviour of the characters like Goku, Vegeta, King Kai for reasons mainly due to the story which viewers will find out while watching it and not to mention some old faces that fans of the original
dragon ball will remember from the past like Emperor Pilaf, Mai and Shu, But again 1 of the most interesting characters that stood out to me in the film was of course Birusu.
Birusu is awesome, he isn’t actually that evil as you think he is but he can be obnoxious.
He is casual and easy going yet has a playful manner about his personality and a lot of swag which is not something you get in a lot of db/dbz villains
he is quick to anger especially over pudding which sounds very silly.
But believe me people I have seen MUCH worse.
He is not only a powerful fighter, but he is also both quirky and entertaining at the same time which made me like his character a lot. Wiss despite his appearance also seems very calm and casual like Birusu not to mention A little mysterious at the same time. I kind of wish more characters were utilized a little more within the more
Enjoyment – 9
The thing is honestly I love how different this film is to a lot of the other films in this franchise, there were interesting moments I enjoyed besides the action, there were some nice comedic moments of nostalgia especially for those who like the Dragon ball series with a few hidden stories closely related to the Dbz series which will keep fans interested. And most of the characters from the Dbz series are in this film too along with some old familiar faces which is Great, they might not get as much screen time in this film but at least they are there in the film regardless.
Towards the end of the film it leaves off on a cliff hangar and one that will raise some questions from there on in. Also this film had some decent and memorable moments as well like for example Birusu final attack in outer space in the film which I like to call (Star Blaze of Judgement) which is basically like the sun being thrown at goku’s face i have to admit was awesome! also (Bulma getting slapped by Birusu was also 1 of my favorite moments too ) I’m sorry to any bulma fans out there but that had me in stitches XD.
Overall – 8
I would like to say personally I didn’t feel this was the best DB movie but it is one of my favorites alongside Wrath of the dragon and Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan and a nice addition to the story itself.
I know for some fans and others, its a Film where i feel its not going to be for everyone,
sure there is some hiccups and plot holes I notice in a few places here and there
which I can’t deny that.
But this did not stop me from enjoying it since it had many parts catered to fans of the series.
Note: You should be aware that this is cannon material to the actual series created by Mr.Toriyama himself and for Db/Dbz fans its more than enough reason for this movie to be seen, Whether the creator Akira Toriyama would want to make a series or a set of movies or specials for the franchise only time will tell.
But for hardcore fans looking for a Bunch of straight up intense explosive action (Its over 9000!!) well there is action but not as consistent enough to meet everyone’s needs like some of the other movies, but despite that as a fan, the film is still worth a watch.
For a good percentage of this movie, up until the ending, this will follow the basic DBZ formula. I won’t give away the ending, but all I can say is it does something very different and will probably be controversial amongst western fans of the franchise. The movie does a good job of justifying the way that it ends and I think this movie deserves credit for doing something different. On one hand, you don’t really expect to see it coming, but on the other hand, it does make good sense. What you can take out of this ending is how we all interpret Dragon Ball and the spirit of it.
Overall, this movie brings back a good portion of the charms of this series. The humor, the action, the intensity, and so on. So hardcore fans may enjoy this but the ending is very disputable at this point. Birusu as a villain is very distinct from other villains in Dragon Ball. I won’t get too much into him since they would be spoilers, but I do think he is rather unique.
The action is pretty much in tune with how Dragon Ball Z always has been. Very destructive, explosive, and hyper paced. I wish in terms of special moves it was more diverse but it is more centric on hand to hand and the flying combat. I won’t get into too much of what I think should have been used since they would be spoilers. The CG used in this movie isn’t top notch. It is PS3 DBZ game quality, but the imagination I feel is what it counts. It demonstrates the devastation and the intensity very effectively and that is enough for me.
As for Birusu’s style, his posture is a lot like Freeza’s where he will wrap his arms around his back but he will use hands while fighting. As for his mannerisms, he does remind me of Thanatos from Saint Seiya The Lost Canvas. He is very powerful and a bit of a show off when it comes to demonstrating his strength against the other DBZ characters.
As for the general animation and design, its very much in tune with the franchise overall so no other complaints.
The music from the TV series and old movies is not present and is mostly using new BGM tracks. The tracks are more techno and a bit more orchestrated. It brings a more fresher feel to the series and it works in its own way. The only ending spoiler I can give is that the ending song is a new rendition of Cha-La Head Cha-La which I thought was ok.
The voice acting is still in tune with the original TV series. Nozawa Masako still captures Gokuu and doesn’t sound like she’s aged. She also does Goten and Gohan very well, too. She still has a great grasp of the character. Horikawa Ryo still does a great job as Vegeta, but due to the writing in context of the story, it does allow Horikawa to show more of his other voice talents in this portrayal of Vegeta. Horikawa Ryo is a very versatile actor and he did a great job of playing Vegeta. I think this is probably one of his best performances with the character. Last, Yamadera Kouichi plays Birusu. Yes, it is the voice of Spike from Cowboy Bebop. I didn’t recognize his voice at all throughout the movie and when I saw the credits, I was surprised it was him. His voice as Spike had this really distinct charm to it while in this one, he is also a playful character but also something of a sadist. I think he captures the character in his own way where he is scary and also has his own distinct charm. Other voice actors are back that are still alive and reprised their roles did a great job with re-capturing their characters. And there will be some surprise cameos from some other characters.
I say this movie is certainly a give it a shot movie for the fans. I say people not familiar with Dragon Ball Z will be slightly confused and some familiarity with the franchise should be a prerequisite before watching. Like I said, a lot of the things are still the same, and some things will be different this time around. I don’t think it is as good as the first Brolly movie or the Cooler movies, but it does bring a refreshing feel to Dragon Ball at some capacity. I think when this movie is made internationally available, it will get people intelligently discussing about the movie and franchise based on the ending. I am still trying to in-take it but I do understand why the movie chooses to go with the ending it has but I do have some issues with it. But feel free to watch it when you can.
Now, finally, I’ll talk about the story. Right before the Super Saiyan God part, it was 100% perfect for me. I wasn’t keeping track of time, and so the entire movie before Goku came back to Earth felt like the intro to me. Now, that makes it seem like they spent too long on those parts, but I didn’t find it to drag on, I was enjoying it. It just ended up feeling rushed when Goku got there. I don’t know, it’s like, you don’t see Goku, and then suddenly, here he is and in a minute or two becomes Super Saiyan God. So yeah, that was my main problem, but I understand it’s a movie (and an anime movie at that – they tend to be just over an hour) and so they have to try and get to the end pretty quick. If the movie was twice as long or even just 40 minutes longer, I feel this problem wouldn’t have shown up. But yeah, just Goku’s transformation feeling rushed was my main problem here. After that it was pretty much just Bills VS Goku, which was an epic fight with some real badass animation, and then after that was the ending, which I enjoyed and had no problems with.
In terms of sound, I just didn’t like King Kai’s (Kaio-sama’s) voice acting in the beginning of the Anime; everything else was good. Unlike the Anime series, there aren’t any “staying-in-your-head” soundtracks except for the theme song that plays during Bills vs Goku, which I didn’t think was needed, but it didn’t do any harm – made it feel kind of….. “AMV-ish” I guess.
In terms of characters, I love Goku’s character in both the original series and in here. Also, Vegeta too; Vegeta’s best moments are always when he’s avenging his family and the part where he battered Bills after Bulma got hurt was pure badassery – though it didn’t feel as serious as the scene in DBZ where he beats up Cell after Cell kills Trunks. And then of course there are the two new characters Bills and Whis. I liked Bills because he brought some comedy with him despite his title of “God of Destruction” and his immense power. And to avoid spoiling it for anyone who reads this without watching the movie first, let’s just say the end of the fight is the ending of a fight that you probably haven’t seen in DBZ since somewhere in the original Dragon Ball series; this is also something I like, because I preferred Dragon Ball and always wish maybe Akira Toriyama could someday do something with DBZ but takes it back to its original roots where Goku’s friends are involved and every enemy isn’t 100% pure evil. Oh and Whis is someone who has a lot of power but doesn’t care to show it – it’s not a new trait of a character within Anime, but I think other than Mr Popo and Master Roshi (in DB), this is a first in DB(Z).
I enjoyed this; best Anime movie I’ve seen to be honest. Especially considering it’s a movie based on an already produced anime series, but then again, this is kind of different from Naruto and Bleach movies in that DBZ ended like 17 years ago. So yeah, I absolutely LOVED it, and hope there’s probably more new Dragon Ball content coming in the future!
4: Doraemon Movie 33: Nobita no Himitsu Dougu Museum
Japanese: 映画 ドラえもん のび太のひみつ道具博物館[ミュージアム]
MAL Score: 7.41
On a normal afternoon, Doraemon’s bell was stolen by Kaito Deluxe, a thief from the 22nd Century. Determined to get it back, Nobita and co. decides to pursue him and take back the bell that is hidden inside the 22nd Century’s Secret Gadget Museum.
Well it wasn’t that great at first but it got better and better. I really liked how everything was building till the end. The story still wasn’t that special and some parts were confusing because I haven’t seen the original series. The end was touching though.
I thought that the animation was very good. I mean it looks like some old western cartoon but with an anime vibe. Backgrounds are much more detailed than the actual characters and I really like this style.
I guess it was pretty good. Some voices were just plain average but there were a few voice actors whose voices I really liked. Music was ok but forgettable. Sound works and I have nothing to complain about.
I liked almost all the characters. They were all well written. At first I thought that Doraemon looked pretty stupid but I started to like his design later. Of course there were a few characters that were very flat and boring but most of them very actually good, likeable and funny.
As I said earlier the beginning was pretty boring but from middle to the end it was just so epic and I really enjoyed it. It was funny at times and well there isn’t much that I didn’t enjoy.
Overall I think this is a great movie and worth watching. You will like it for sure. It was much better than I expected. I give it 8/10
3: Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth
English: Persona 3 the Movie: #1 Spring of Birth
Japanese: PERSONA3 THE MOVIE —#1 Spring of Birth—
MAL Score: 7.56
At the stroke of midnight, the Dark Hour appears—a secret hour which most are unaware of. Those not trapped in coffins during this time, unfortunate enough to find themselves conscious, are met by dangerous creatures known as Shadows. A select few, however, possess the potential to wield Persona: a special power used to defeat these beings. This secret group is called SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad), and their mission is to uncover the reason behind the Dark Hour’s appearance.
Only a short while after transfer student Makoto Yuuki begins his residency at Iwatodai Dorm, his Persona awakens after an attack by a strong Shadow. Now recruited into the ranks of SEES, he begins fighting alongside his comrades, as only they can protect humanity from Shadows and prevent the anomaly that is the Dark Hour.
The first big-screen outing of Persona 3 is roughly 90 minutes long and it covers April to June. They have cut out much of the school life aspect, and there is no mention of the characters joining clubs or taking exams. Instead, it focuses on the members of SEES and how their bond grows stronger. Makoto Yuki was a blank canvas in the game and at the beginning of the film he still feels like one; he is quiet, doesn’t say much and doesn’t really care about his own life or have much of an interest in those around him. Seeing Yuki piece together his emotions and learn what it means to have friends and comrades is a nice touch to the movie.
If you’ve never played the game but have seen or played Persona 4, the first Persona 3 movie is darker and doesn’t have as much comedy. It focuses more on jealousy, bullying and friendship. It jumps from one Full Moon battle to the next, with moments in-between where the group gets to know each other better. Yuki, Yukari and Junpei’s first battle within the Shadow-infested tower, Tartarus, is very fun and beautifully animated. Junpei ends his battle with his famous line about levelling up, before becoming jealous of Yuki’s abilities. Akihiko and Mitsuru haven’t had their time to shine yet, but there is plenty of time for that in the next movie.
After the credits we see a certain character opening their eyes and are told that the second movie is coming Summer 2014.
I couldn’t help but smile when the opening credits started accompanied by Burn My Dread: Spring of Birth Version and that smile stayed on my face for almost the entirety of the film. Shouji Meguro’s music is always fantastic and this film’s soundtrack is no exception, the memorable themes of Tartarus, The Velvet Room and Gekkoukan High School all return. These familiar pieces alongside the impressive animation makes the film that much stronger.
As a fan of the game, I found Spring of Birth very enjoyable, Makoto Yuki’s character development, the battles and the fantastic animation made it well worth the wait. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the side characters and school life, but overall it did a really good job of bringing the characters to the big screen.
I originally wrote this review for my own website, but several users have messaged me asking me to review it on here as well.
[It delivers us all to the same end.]
The latest effort in animating this esteemed JRPG series is finally here, aaaaand it’s a movie series. This means the release schedule will be hell to endure, but the payoff is definitely worth it so far.
First things first, the animation is beautiful. Anyone let down by the Persona 4 anime’s low quality should breathe easy, for the P3 movie looks stunning. The backgrounds looks great and the characters are sharp and on-model at all times. That movie budget is showing. The Dark Hour in particular looks great, with a muddy painting-esque look differentiating it from the daytime sequences. It works very well in making it look all otherwordly and creepy.
As for soundtrack, here’s where this follows the P4 anime’s footsteps. Most of the OST is lifted from the game, and occasionally slightly remixed, with some original compositions in here and there. It works, even though they liked using the main battle theme just a bit too much. (Several scenes opened with the iconic chant of BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY.)
The 90-minute movie covers the game up to and including the Fuuka Yamagishi arc, which is well over 10 hours of game time. There was a lot of daytime fluff scenes cut, much like in Persona 4, but here it didn’t really end up making the story or characters suffer at all, nor did it make the movie feel rushed. The fluff scenes were important world and character-building in Persona 4, but entirely superfluous and sometimes even badly written in Persona 3, so it’s more like they just trimmed the unneeded fat. What we have in its place is a more tightly paced, suspenseful story, which is more in line with what I expected Persona 3, the game, to be before I played it. The social links are relegated to background props and one-scene extras, but I never liked P3’s social links, so I’ve no problem with that.
With the fluff scenes cut, the main story sequences are relied upon to give the characters depth, which works wonderfully. The movie’s version of the protagonist, Makoto Yuki, manages to show great amounts of depth with very few lines. Just like with P4’s Yu Narukami, the shift from silent protagonist to actual character has gone swimmingly. Other characters I felt gained a lot from the movie were Yukari Takeba and Fuuka Yamagishi. Yukari’s interactions with Makoto are very different from the game, and definitely make her come across as much more than just “designated love interest girl”. Fuuka never got much attention in the game, but her struggles here are played up a lot, which is only a good thing. Other characters, like Junpei, Akihiko, and Mitsuru, aren’t given overhauls that big, but we’ll see how the other movies handle them.
My main complaint is the action sequences. It’s nice to see the party make use of weapons, which was missing entirely in Persona 4’s anime, but the action sequences themselves are very static and awkward, with competitors often just standing around, waiting to get hit. I suppose that’s accurate to the movie’s source material as a turn-based RPG, but it doesn’t make for compelling action scenes.
I’m not used to hearing the cast in Japanese, so that was a semi-new experience for me. It was weird, because the game’s dub was how I first experienced P3, so I’ve come to associate the English voices more closely with the characters than I do the originals. Nevertheless, the Japanese cast is, as is typical, stellar. I particularly like Mamiko Noto’s Fuuka, who projects a whole different image than whoever her English VA is.
I wouldn’t recommend Persona 4: the Animation to someone who hasn’t played the game. The opposite is true here. Despite the limited time, Persona 3: Spring of Birth is a very good adaptation of the game’s opening hours, and many scenes I’d argue were even improved a lot in the movie. There’s a lot to see for P3 veterans, too. Basically, everyone should watch this. You should watch this. If you’ve already watched it, rewatch it.
That is all, dismissed.
To put it bluntly, I went into this film with very high expectations. The Persona sub-series seems to be almost universally beloved in my online friend-circle, and frankly, after years of waiting (I own no Sony consoles besides my (now broken) PSP), I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. What I found here was technically a disappointment, but only because of my artificially raised expectations.
The story of this film is fairly good, but has hints of developing into something extraordinary in the next films. Being an adaptation of what is only the first part of a larger tale, it has very little in the way of plot, focusing instead on (somewhat clunky) exposition and the introductions of the main characters. While I am pleased with what I have seen of the cast so far (particularly Makoto and Junpei) I cannot help but feel that the nature of the film as an adaptation artificially constrained how far we could dive into them in this outing. Mitsuru in particular strikes me as having her development held back because that is how the story unfolds in the game, rather than following how it should naturally go in this medium.
Bolstering the weaknesses of an adaptation is the gorgeous but understated animation. The characters are on-model at practically all times, and the designs of the shadows and personas are breathtaking to see in action.
Overall, this is a solid film for those who are unfamiliar with Persona 3, but my intuition tells me that first-timers like me would likely be better served by biting the bullet and playing the actual game before viewing this. That said, I was sufficiently intrigued by the film to be motivated to get off my ass and buy a used PSP so I can play it, so the film definitely did its job in that respect.
2: Little Witch Academia
MAL Score: 7.82
For young witches everywhere, the world-renowned witch Shiny Chariot reigns as the most revered and celebrated role model. But as the girls age, so do their opinions of her—now just the mention of Chariot would get a witch labeled a child. However, undeterred in her blind admiration for Chariot, ordinary girl Atsuko Kagari enrolls into Luna Nova Magical Academy, hoping to someday become just as mesmerizing as her idol.
However, the witch academy isn’t all the fun and games Atsuko thought it would be: boring lectures, strict teachers, and students who mock Chariot plague the campus. Coupled with her own ineptness in magic, she’s seen as little more than a rebel student. But when a chance finally presents itself to prove herself to her peers and teachers, she takes it, and now it’s up to her to stop a rampaging dragon before it flattens the entire academy.
Aside from Ryo, which I can’t seem to find anywhere (if you happen to know a site, a link would be very helpful), I’ve seen all of the Anime Mirai 2013 films. All 4 are about half-an-hour long, so they’re pretty concise with their story. Death Billiards is pretty good, but it feels a bit pretentious, shoving a little philosophical question down your throat but not really making you think that much. Arve Rezzle feels like the pilot to a full series, and as such offers very little closure, but it has some nice ideas, even if those are undermined slightly by some rather half-baked characterisation and poorly executed exposition.
I’m giving my little mini reviews to the other episodes simply to give my review of Little Witch Academia some context. As someone with a rather cold demeanour, and who typically enjoys a dark thriller or gore-heavy action series, it may come across as somewhat surprising when I say that LWA is my favourite of the three. It’s almost Disney-esque, with genuinely loveable and quirky characters, a strong and functional, if not particularly complex, story and a completely uplifting tone. The humour is solid and hits you enough to make even the most stoic individual smile a bit. The animation is brilliant, with the art differing just enough from the conventions of the Japanese style to make me completely fall in love with it. Voice-acting is probably my primary gripe, but it’s not so bad that it distracts from the episode. It’s fun, and reminds me of why I need to be less tolerant of those angsty action-thrillers like Arve Rezzle that seem to make up the meat of today’s anime industry.
LWA is like Shrek. Far from being childish, this little gem is fun for everyone (though it doesn’t share Shrek’s gleeful love for sexual innuendo). Even if, like me, you’ve grown into an emotionally-jaded, highly critical badass, you may just find that Little Witch Academia has enough substance and upbeat tone to penetrate your doughy cynicism and really cheer you up.
I would genuinely rather they made a full series of this than Arve Rezzle.
Actually, Little Witch Academia caught me by surprise. I didn’t know Studio Trigger had something like that in stock and after I found out about this little gem I almost instantly decided to download it and oh boy was that a fine decision.
Reminder: This review will be spoiler free and I will refrain from going too deep into happenings and just summarize it really, really quickly. We have the main heroine Akko Kagari. As a child she was attending a magic show featuring the witch Shiny Chariot who has become an idol for Akko. Even though she is not born into a magic family she attends the name giving magic school and is friends with Sucy and Lotte.
Let’s split up this review into the five categories as usual:
There really isn’t much I can say about a one episode anime with 25 minutes without coming up with a summary or spoilers. So let’s just say that Little Witch Academia features a coherent plot. It features a look in the past of the main character and her motivations, parts of the everyday life at the academy and the interactions between multiple different characters. It’s just one episode but felt concluded and not rushed by any means.
Since it has been Studio Trigger working on this it has this certain touch you instantly get out of it if you have watched Kill la Kill before. In general the backgrounds are very nice to look at, the animation is fluid, lightning looks gorgeous and the character models are full of variety in looks and facial animations. There is nothing to complain about here.
As it is a single episode anime yet I would have never thought so much effort has been pumped into the soundtrack. It was outstanding and had a broad variety of different tunes to set the mood. I really loved that it consisted mostly of orchestral music. It just fitted so well.
Another part worth mentioning in the “Sound”-category is the voice acting. Trigger got really, really talented people on board for Little Witch Academia and it was a pure pleasure listening to them.
For a one-piece show they had a pretty adorable and varying cast reaching from the arrogant but talented witch with her two friends and the goofy main character as well as her sidekicks which would be a clumsy glasses girl and the superficially more introverted girl with the not-so-obvious but kickass abilities. All in all a very good cast of likeable characters.
I can’t remember when it was the last time 25 minutes felt that short. It was over in almost an instant and had no dull moments. It was funny, suspenseful and full of quality. Pure entertainment!
A very good anime. It is nice to see that projects like Little Witch Academia are such a success (600.000 clicks on YouTube according to Trigger). Also the second episode has been an insane hit on Kickstarter, fulfilling the 150.000$ mark in just one day. I can’t wait for more.
It was fun all along. You shouldn’t miss out on this enchanting tale! It’s worth your very time and appreciation.
*) Score is not an average
Instead of writing an essay about this i’m going to create a list of Positives and Negatives, I know when you’re just looking to see if an anime is worth watching you usually don’t want to read all that much.
– A short story which leaves room for expansion yet ties up the major loose ends and sticks to a three act structure incredibly well.
– The characters are all very different from each other, none are stereotypical archetypes and each are likeable in their own way.
– The soundtrack is not something I noticed too much, but it was enough to create the correct atmosphere for the scenario’s.
– The animation, I feel like this really needs to be stressed, by god the animation is amazing, everything is so smooth I think this might be the smoothest and most consistent animation i’ve ever seen.
– Hard to think of many.
– The soundtrack wasn’t extremely memorable, hardly much of a negative.
Like I said, it’s very difficult for me personally to find faults in Little Witch Academia, I would recommend this to almost anyone and am certainly looking forward to the future of this project.
1: Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
English: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent
Japanese: ベルセルク 黄金時代篇Ⅲ 降臨
MAL Score: 8.20
The Band of the Hawk has dwindled in the year since Guts left them on his journey to forge his own destiny. Unaware of their fate, Guts returns to the Hawks—now being led by his former ally Casca—after a rumor about them passes his way. Once the saviors of the kingdom of Midland, the Band of the Hawk are now hunted as they desperately fight for their lives while plotting to free their leader, Griffith, after he was imprisoned for committing treason. But the man they save is far from the Griffith they remember.
Griffith is a shell of his former charismatic self after a year of continuous, horrific torture. No longer able to walk, speak, or even hold a sword, he has nothing but the small, strange trinket, the Crimson Behelit, that will not leave him. The entire Band of the Hawk want to rise to greatness once more, but how much are they willing to sacrifice to return to their past glory? It doesn’t seem possible, but when Griffith’s heart darkens and a solar eclipse blackens the sky, the Behelit offers a choice that will leave the Band of the Hawk with a blood-soaked fate that will haunt them for the rest of their days.
The controversial CG in my humble opinion, has improved but still has its problems. I say the frame rate is more even and the frame size in proportion to the characters and foreground appropriately accommodates it. It still comes across as “gamey,” but it is an improvement, but by no means perfect. The action is very violent and lives up to its bad ass title. There will be plenty of blood and gore. Even though Guts is the main character and a bad ass, I will admit when this guy fights, he scares me and this movie does a good job of making me scared of the main character. There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself, but fear fears Guts. On a list of top anime bad asses, Guts has to be on that list no doubt.
I say what defines the art and animation is how it sets the atmosphere and brings you into the emotions. You feel Griffith’s fragility. Even though you don’t see him unmasked, the detail to the art on whatever you see of his face is enough to give you an idea of what he would look like if unmasked. You see the hesitation of Guts on whether or not he should leave the Hawks again. You feel Casca’s frustrations. I feel that the raw emotions bring a sense of substance in conjunction to its R-15+ (the equivalent to an NC-17 in America) rating.
The voice acting, as I have admitted in previous reviews, has been an issue for me. I will admit that Guts’ new actor has shown improvement and shown instances that he can capture the character. But I will openly admit as a purist and fanboy that Nobutoshi Canna is still Guts to me while Michael Bell will always be his English voice to me. The guy who plays Jedau does an ok imitation of the character’s original voice actor, Ishida Akira. Maybe for people not familiar with the previous anime series and the games will not find this to be an issue and may like the voice actors.
Like the second movie, the soundtrack is more acoustics and orchestrated. My thoughts on that carry onto this movie as well. It suits the time period very well and knows how to suit the atmosphere. The orchestra in the ending credits was very impressive. Susumu Hirakawa still does the opening theme and is my favorite part of the soundtrack. Still, like the newer voice cast, fans new to Berserk who had not seen the previous anime series or played the games will probably not think of this as an issue.
The closest thing to a spoiler I can give is that after the ending credits, there is a post credits scene which isn’t much for some people, but after that is over, there is a message in clear English that says “This is only the beginning” meaning we will get new Berserk movies. I say its only natural with the easter eggs in previous movies, this series deserves its shot where it really shines. For those not familiar with the Berserk manga, this new trilogy is a mere fraction of what Berserk has to offer. So I hope we hear more news soon if a new Berserk movie will come out this year or not.
After that, we get a bonus music video!!! So fans will most likely enjoy this.
After how much I bashed the first 2 Berserk films, you might be surprised to learn that I actually really liked the 3rd one! I try not to be petty and hold grudges, where I will automatically attack every work in a certain franchise or by a certain author, simply because I didn’t like previous entries. In the 3rd film covering the Eclipse portion of the Berserk storyline, they FINALLY get it right.
The first vast improvement is the pacing. The 3rd film covers an appropriate number of episodes, so the much beloved story and characters of Berserk don’t need to be massively watered down in order to fit a 2 hour run time. In fact, the 3rd film is able to give us background about the Berserk world that the original anime wasn’t able to fit in. We also get to actually see the full conclusion of the Eclipse instead of a random fade to black. We know from the first episode of the original Berserk anime that Guts survived the Eclipse, but the first anime doesn’t even hint as to how he could have survived it. The 3rd movie is able to fit in the Skull Knight in all his Deus ex Machina glory! Given the movie did unfortunately cut out the Skull Knight’s fight with Zodd the Immortal, but just showing the escape made it a massive improvement on the original ending. I also appreciated that the movie captured the full brutality and horror of the Eclipse even better than the first anime. There were parts of the original anime that I liked better including Judeau’s final confession of love for Caska. However, Berserk 3 still does a very solid job adapting this portion of the manga…unlike those first 2 movies.
On a technical level, the CGI is vastly improved and actually doesn’t look like complete shit for once. The music was also pretty solid throughout, although the extremely melodramatic piano piece when Griffith rapes Caska was a tad out of place. I wasn’t sure if he was going to rape her or tie her to a railroad track while evilly twisting his handlebar mustache.
Bonus Section: Trivia
The “Eclipse” happens every 216 years because 6 x 6 x 6 = 216.
The Godhand members are all named after obscure books by great fantasy/scifi writers that Miura likes. Each Godhand member is partially inspired by one of these titans of fantasy.
Void = Frank Herbert Conrad = Roger Zalazny Ubik = Philip K Dick Slan = AE van Vogt
Berserk is one of VERY few non-hentai titles to show pubic hair. Although there is no longer a censorship law against this in 2015, most anime don’t do this out of convention to keep the border between hentai and non-hentai echii clear.
Guts was named after the real life historical figure Gottfried “Götz” von Berlichingen, a badass medieval mercenary who fought with a prosthetic iron hand just like Guts.
Often hailed as one of, if not THE best mangas of all time, Berserk has earned itself a spot on many an avid manga reader’s “must read” lists and for good reason as it’s the quintessential dark fantasy manga and the ultimate story of friendship, tragedy, and the pursuit of self-destructive vengeance. This may very well be true in the manga, but Berserk’s animated history isn’t much to speak of. The TV series produced by Oriental Light & Magic in 1997 is hailed as a classic by many but its piss-poor animation along with its mortifying cliffhanger of an ending left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of people (myself included). Unfortunately, this was the *only* adaptation of Berserk that ever existed… that is until Studio 4C announced that it would be releasing a series of films to adapt the Golden Age Arc of the Berserk manga. Are these movies any good? Personally, I say that they’re great but I’m pretty sure that statement of mine just evoked the wrath of thousands of Berserk fans. Allow me to explain myself:
As fans of a manga, it’s completely understandable that we’d want our adaptations to copy the source material verbatim, but the sad fact of the matter is that it’s just not possible whatsoever. Despite the fact that mangas are basically pre-drawn storyboards for anime studios to work with, anime and manga are two completely different mediums with different demands and nuances to work with. Changes *must* be made for the sake of things like time, narrative consistency, budget, and all that other stuff. If you’re going to get up in arms about how the adaptation lacks every single irrelevant detail from the source material that you adored the shit out of, do yourself a favour and stick with the manga because no matter which way you look at it, the adaptation will *always* be inferior to the source material so there’s no use in complaining about it.
On another note, censorship is generally not an issue when it comes to manga because S&P boards aren’t even a thing when it comes down to print media (well, I think they aren’t anyway). Anime broadcast on television however need to abide by certain standards and given the content that Berserk has, there’s no way it can last as a TV series without either suffering from extensive censorship OR butchering it to the point where it’s a completely different show than what it was intended to be. Cinema on the other hand, doesn’t have to put up with censorship (unless you’re in a country with a turbulent civil rights history like Saudi Arabia, China, or Iran) and it’s more readily accessible to a greater audience than it would’ve been otherwise had it been a TV series. Sure, Studio 4C could’ve easily made an OVA series like Space Battleship Yamato 2199 but ultra-violent GAR OVAs died in the late 80s and early 90s along with parachute pants, grunge music, and The Fat Boys. Also, I don’t think a lot of people would be too eager to buy a full season’s worth of one show on DVD/Blu-ray so there’s that to factor in as well.
Now with all of that stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the movies and how they actually are from a quality standpoint. Well I won’t mince words here: each film in the trilogy is better than the one that preceded it with “Eclipse” being the best and “The Egg of the King” being the worst (by default). Now, that’s not to say that the first movie in the trilogy was terrible because in all honesty, it really wasn’t. It was a fair enough introduction to Berserk, the storytelling was fair enough (albeit rather clunky) and hey! We finally got a chance to see a battle animated properly (and in 1080p) instead of seeing blown-up watercolour stills so that’s also quite lovely. The problem lies in the way the film itself was actually animated. It’s strange to say, but that’s the most succinct way to explain the problem.
Studio 4C is an awesome studio and they’ve got some great stuff on their resume like the short film “Magnetic Rose” from the Memories trilogy by Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy, The Animatrix, and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (if you wanna include their collaborative projects with Warner Bros). Yeah, these guys aren’t slouches when it comes down to the audiovisual department. The problem is that the Golden Age Arc of Berserk contains no shortage of large-scale battles that are incredibly difficult to animate in two dimensions. To mitigate this issue, Studio 4C opted to integrate varying degrees of CG animation into the mix in order to actually animate all those large-scale battles and it works absolutely beautifully in those situations.
Unfortunately, they decided to maintain the CG even when there weren’t any battles to actually animate in the first movie and it just looks so ridiculously clunky to the point where there’s something eerie about it. That clunky CG animation is basically what caused so many people to not even bother giving these movies a chance despite the fact that it actually does get better as time went on. I’m not going to lie, the CG is an eyesore but there’s no denying that the animation across all three movies is a million leagues better than the barely-animated rubbish the TV series had to offer (do keep in mind I’m talking about the animation of the TV series, the story and characters are quite lovely). Hell, the third movie actually got the CG right and used it to great effect during the Eclipse (which I’ll talk about later).
In regard to the story and characters, I must say that Studio 4C did a pretty good job (especially given that they were trying to cover 11 volumes’ worth of content within the span of 3 films). The Golden Age Arc of Berserk is the ultimate story of hardship and sacrifice fuelled by the pursuit of one man’s dream. We start our journey in the middle of a century-long war between two kingdoms. Midland, our country of origin was forced to enlist the help of countless mercenaries just to supplement their waning military forces. In the process, they enlisted two people: our aimless protagonist with no goals in life, Guts and the charismatic and ambitious Griffith and the rest of his team known as the “Band of the Hawk.” Through circumstance, Guts ends up joining Griffith and his band of mercenaries and I’ll just leave the rest for you to experience.
Yeah, there are a lot of things missing from these movies that the TV series had but Studio 4C managed to retain the “spirit” of Berserk throughout the course of the trilogy. Sure, some events are either implied or omitted entirely but most (if not all) of the important stuff from the Golden Age Arc remain intact and dare I say that these movies managed to portray these events much better than the TV series and even the manga ever could. I’m not even being hyperbolic or anything of the sort. A lot of the highlights of the Golden Age Arc just “take” to being animated and I can safely say that Studio 4C did virtually everything they could to make those highlights from the manga stand out and work much better than they ever could’ve if they were just black-and-white panels upon pages with no sound whatsoever.
On that note, let’s talk about the Eclipse. If you’ve EVER spent any time around the Berserk fandom, chances are that you’ve heard of this event and have a vague idea of what it is. But for those of you who aren’t well-versed in the ways of Berserk, I’ll explain what it is. The Golden Age arc of the manga is first and foremost, a protracted flashback that lasted from Volume 3 of the manga to Volume 14. Berserk initially starts off with Guts in the present time in pursuit of Griffith for reasons that were never revealed until the climax of the GAA. The Eclipse is nothing short of a cataclysmic nightmare that seamlessly merged ghastly and surreal horror with heart-wrenching tragedy. A recurring theme throughout the course of the Golden Age arc is causality and the existence of free will. Throughout the manga and the films, these theme was always working its magic in the background and gave us hints and foreshadowing of the ghastly nightmare that we would later experience.
Unfortunately, the TV series lacked this sort of foreshadowing almost entirely. By the time the Eclipse actually happened, it just came out of nowhere. The impact of the Eclipse was lost completely because the themes of causality and the supernatural were downplayed heavily in lieu of putting more emphasis on camaraderie and friendship. Hypothetically, this could’ve led to a more impactful tragedy but the problem is that there was no foreshadowing whatsoever. Instead of making us crap our pants in pure, unadulterated terror whilst also making us cry like little bitches because of the fact that all of this horrible shit is happening to characters we’ve grown to know and love, it made us scratch our heads in confusion… oh, and that’s not even getting into the appalling animation making the entire ordeal difficult to take seriously and how all of this actually ended in the TV series.
Thankfully, none of that was the case when it came down to the third Berserk movie and its portrayal of the Eclipse. In fact, it managed to perfectly capture the sheer intensity of the Eclipse as a cataclysmic tragedy in ways that both the TV series AND the manga failed to do. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact that Studio 4C did an outstanding job with the animation. Did I forget to mention that the Eclipse is one of the bloodiest and most gruesome parts of Berserk to ever exist (because that’s kinda important…)? The way Studio 4C went about portraying the Eclipse was so graphic to the point where people who actually saw this movie in theatres ended up having to leave because it was just too much for some people to actually sit through. This is the way that the Eclipse was meant to be portrayed from the very beginning. The third movie succeeded where the source material and its previous adaptation failed. I’d love to keep going, but I think that’ll reach into some seriously spoiler-heavy territory and I think I spoiled more than enough at this point.
On that note, let’s talk about how it ends. The TV series ended on what is undoubtedly the single most depressing point of the entire story, but the actual resolution of the Golden Age arc in the manga wasn’t like that at all. Though the TV series left the overall story of the GAA is left largely intact, many alterations had to be made so that the entire story could fit within the span of 25 episodes. Because of this, the guys at OLM decided that it would be an absolutely fantastic idea to just omit the ACTUAL resolution of the Golden Age arc and just ended it on such a mortifying cliffhanger to the point where anyone who wasn’t familiar with the source material would be shouting at the screen going “What the actual fuck?!” The movies completely and totally avoided this and I’m SO thankful that Studio 4C managed to get it right. All you manga purist Berserk fans can talk shit about the films all you want, but there’s no denying that the way the third movie got right what the TV series got wrong.
Now, you may be wondering whether or not the movies do a good enough job of making us care about the characters. Personally, I think that the movie managed to do a great job but others may beg to differ because of the fact that the Golden Age Arc movies cut out a lot of stuff. While I can’t really say much about the secondary/tertiary characters, I can safely say that the movies hit the nail on the head when it came down to our dynamic duo of Guts and Griffith which is what ultimately matters in the end. It’s the dynamic between these two and the rest of the cast that made this arc of the manga so captivating to read in the first place.
Guts started out as a wandering mercenary with a brutal past, no friends, and nothing to aspire toward. His encounter with Griffith and the Band of the Hawk led to him finally knowing what it was like to have friends. What’s more is that it was revealed that despite all of the horrible things that Guts went through in the past, he’s got such a capacity for things like love, trust, friendship, and all that other stuff. At the same time, the GAA by and large is a tragedy and we all know that shit will end horribly for Guts and that he’ll take up his sword in pursuit of vengeance no matter what the cost. I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that he is without a doubt, one of Berserk’s greatest assets. The movies retain the very essence of this tragic character and makes it so that we’ll always have a reason to root for him in the end.
That’s not to invalidate Griffith, because he’s just as great a character as Guts is. Griffith has evoked the ire of countless Berserk fans for his actions in the manga that I’m not at liberty to discuss, but don’t let that make you think he’s not a great character in the slightest. I viscerally despise everything there is about Griffith, and yet I can still find myself finding some modicum of sympathy for him (Kentaro Miura might be fapping away to Idolmaster these days, but there’s no denying that he’s more than capable of writing amazing characters). Many of us have larger-than-life ambitions, but Griffith is one of the few who actually makes the effort to chase after those foolhardy childhood dreams that we end up letting go of as we get older. Throughout the course of the Golden Age arc, Griffith is depicted as a sort of demigod and it isn’t until he encounters Guts when his cool shell starts to crack as he and Guts end up becoming like brothers. It’s this very bond between these two that provides the catalyst for almost all of Berserk’s highlights and tragedies. If you want to know more, then you know what you need to do: watch the bloody movies and then read the bloody manga for context!
Before I wrap this review up, I want to take the time to talk about one last thing: the audio. The Golden Age Arc trilogy’s OST and dubbing is absolutely spectacular. Say what you will about the animation, but there’s no denying that everyone in the sound department deserves a gold medal for their work. On the OST side of things, every single track is absolutely spectacular and fits the mood perfectly… except one track during the climax of the third movie which makes me wonder if Griffith was wearing a top hat, a monocle, and had a thin moustache he was twirling around in one finger whilst waiting for an oncoming train to run over Casca (but let’s not get into that). Of all the tracks that were played across all three movies, I’d have to say that “Blood and Guts” (the ending theme of the first and third movies) would have to be my favourite because it perfectly captures the tragic nature of Guts as a character (that, and it also sounds REALLY fucking awesome).
As for the dubbing, I really have to give props to Viz because they not only hired the bulk of the original cast of the TV series’ dub, but they gave them better voice direction and also managed to sync up the mouth movements properly! Marc Diraison did a wonderful job in the TV series, but he really gets a chance to shine under Viz’s direction. As for Kevin T. Collins, well his work as Griffith is absolutely spot-on and almost everything I’ve said about Marc Diraison can be applied to him as well. My only complaint however is the fact that there are no outtake reels on the DVD/Blu-ray release of any of the movies (at least from what I can gather). Come on, guys… if the guys at Media Blasters have the dignity to show their bloopers, you guys can do it too.
So, what else is there to say about these movies? Hm… well, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these movies are definitely worth watching. As an introduction to Berserk, these movies do an excellent job with acquainting any potential newcomers with everything whilst giving long-time fans of the series a properly animated adaptation that while condensed and short, manages to perfectly encapsulate virtually everything there is to love about this series. At present, there is no sequel to this film trilogy, so if you’re new to Berserk and you just finished the third movie, you’ll have to do one of two things:
a) Read the manga from the very beginning so that you can see what you missed out on whilst also learning what became of Guts et al post-Eclipse.
b) Wait for Studio 4C to release the next instalment of their Berserk adaptation. They have stated previously that they have plans to adapt the rest of the manga, but they’ve yet to release anything.
Personally, I’d recommend the first option, but waiting ain’t half bad if you don’t wanna buy volumes or put up with shitty scanlations. Anyway, that’s all for now. Feedback’s always welcome and with that, I’m out. Peace 🙂
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Berserk: Ougon Jidai-hen III – Kourin
2. Little Witch Academia
3. Persona 3 the Movie 1: Spring of Birth
4. Doraemon Movie 33: Nobita no Himitsu Dougu Museum
5. Dragon Ball Z Movie 14: Kami to Kami