Friday, March 22, 2019

Golden Kamuy: Season One and Two

Age Rating: 17 and up
Rating: 7 out of 10
Episode Count: 24
Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical Drama
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis: "The story takes place in the mighty Northern field of Hokkaido, the time is in the turbulent late Meiji Era. A post war soldier Sugimoto, aka, “Immortal Sugimoto” was in need of large sums of money for a particular purpose…. What awaited Sugimoto, who stepped into Hokkaido’s Gold Rush with dreams of making a fortune, was a tattoo map leading to a hidden treasure based on hints inscribed on the bodies of convicts in Abashiri Prison?! The magnificent nature of Hokkaido vs vicious convicts and the meeting with a pure Ainu girl, Ashiripa!! A survival battle for a hidden treasure hunt begins!"

Hue's Review:

I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t been vaccinated against Golden Kamuy’s charms, apparently though I was the only immunized party to seeing its many and massive flaws. As much as I’d like to push ethics aside and say I loved every element, that wouldn’t be something I could put my hand on a Bible and repeat in a court of law, at least not without facing some serious legal repercussions.
In honor of this series indomitable warrior spirit, not to mention the fact I’d like to at least attempt to alleviate a sliver of the immense guilt I’m about to feel in ripping it a new one. I’d like to start by praising some of the qualities that made it slightly hard to detach from emotionally.

It has an original story that’s rooted in historical facts and cultural folklore, gritty yet clean animation that’s indicative of its violent nature and sense of humor, a large cast of characters ranging from sweet to sociopathic, a half decent soundtrack, and engaging English voice acting.

Nope, still don’t feel any better about what I’m about to do. Well, it was worth a shot. Let’s rip this band aid off and start pouring salt in the wound. So I’m sure the nagging question is, “If all that was fine, what was wrong with it?” The answer’s more complex than I’d prefer, but I’ll to try to break it down as succinctly as possible.

For starters, despite Golden Kamuy’s attempts to impersonate incredibly focused semi-long running series like FullMetal Alchemist, its plot progression was shoddy at best. Rather than focusing on the mission statement, FIND INU GOLD, as well as intermingling pertinent sub plots and weaving in back stories, it ventures off on so many unnecessary tangents and antidotes that even the audience will begin to lose sight of what the goal is. With entire episodes dedicated to food frenzies, minor characters’ musings, and difficult to describe detours, it’s a wonder this series progressed as far as it did.

Next, we have what I considered to be the bedrock of the series, Sugimoto and Asirpa’s relationship, being rapidly eroded by a seemingly unending cast of additional characters forcibly inserting themselves into an unachievable group dynamic (square peg meet round hole-have fun!), while mucking up their previously perfect magnetic comradely, witty conversation, and palpable on screen chemistry.

Last, we have its straight up twisted sense of humor. Now think of who’s making this statement—the girl who laughed her way through Die Hard just called a series out for having a warped sense of humor. That’s really saying something. I can toss a pity chuckle its way when it literally sends its comedy styling down the crapper with poop and crotch jokes. I can even find a way to forgive the fact it thinks an entire military faction worshiping a brain damaged war monger who abnormally abuses them is funny, but you lost me when you introduced the loony-toon who considers making clothing out of human skin and dressing in it… is a hobby—too far Golden Kamuy—too far!

Golden Kamuy started as anime’s answer to The Revenant, and I loved it for that. Its first season left me excited and expectant, while its second dashed any hopes and dreams I may have previously. I enjoyed its ability to be gritty without being gross, right up until it reversed roles. I would have preferred fewer characters joining forces with our main duo, better focus on the objective of the story, and a less disturbing comedic vocabulary. The cold hard truth is that Golden Kamuy fell miles below where its potential could have taken it, the only upside is that I find that sadder than I do infuriating.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Land of the Lustrous: Season One

Age Rating: 13 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-fi, Coming-of-Age, Slice-of-Life,
Format: Japanese with English Subtitles

Official Synopsis: "The Houseki fight against the Moon Dwellers, beings who attack them and use their shattered bodies as decorations. Each Houseki is assigned a role, and Phos, the youngest, is assigned to create an encyclopedia of natural history."

Hue's Review:

Swords, ships, safari animals, countries, and (insert expression of disbelief here) game consoles! I’ll be the first to admit that the list of anthropomorphic anime has started to get a bit long in the tooth as of late, but humanoid semiprecious gemstones … what girl could resist that?! Diamonds are our best friends after all, and I’m nothing if not a support friend, so this series was a must watch for me personally.

I had seen glimpses (and heard whispers) about Land of the Lustrous, but didn’t quite know what to make of it off hear-say alone. I wasn’t entirely sure if watching a bunch of anthropomorphic, gender ambiguous, rock people fight mass produced moon aliens was going to be my cup of tea, but it was!

My main concern was whether I would be able to tolerate its entirely CG character animation, and learn to love its immensely flawed lead character, who I had been repeatedly warned about by fans and haters alike.

Concern number one was remedied instantaneously, as I was met with not only the best CG animation I’ve ever seen, but the most appropriate vessel for it as well. Concern number two was also put to bed, but in a much less desirable manner, as all the rumors I had heard about Land of the Lustrous titular hero were indeed true.

Phos was overly rambunctious, with entirely misplaced self confidence, and despite being a gem, had nary a glowing quality to speak of. HOWEVER, the same exact traits that make Phos a complete and utter annoyance and seemingly irredeemable pest are what make his slow and steady ascension into adulthood, not only provocative, but possible.

Land of the Lustrous is a coming-of-age story, progressed through a mystery, and wrapped in fantasy. It conveys simple morals such as: Neither beauty nor immortality can give life meaning or purpose, sometimes it’s the things your heart most desires that will bring us the least amount of happiness, and, sometimes the more you try to fit in, the more you stand out from the crowd, but in an imaginative, if not easily misinterpreted and roundabout fashion.

Because of its characters immortality, and sub sequential age though, unlike most coming-of-age stories, Land of the Lustrous avant-garde deconstruction of the genre enables it to reach a broader audience than most series with like morals.
  • Intriguing story, that’s in no hurry to get anywhere fast
  • Methodical, mindful plot progression
  • Mature, yet innocent and lighthearted characters (minus Phos)
  • Prickly, sharp witted, sardonic humor
  • Exotic Arabian inspired OSTs
  • Fluid, fast paced fight sequences
  • Translucent animation
  •  Luminescent, closed circle setting

In a seemingly unchanging and monotonous word, both its lead character, as well as its story, manages to continually evolve little by little.

With more than half of its anime dedicated to world building and character development, this series acts better as a vessel to get you introduced to the manga, than as its own un-tethered entity. With its firmly established manga, and fresh rumors of a second season swirling around, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy this uniquely compelling coming of age, without the fear of never getting to finish the story.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Sirius the Jaeger: Season One

Age Rating: 16 and up
Rating: 10 out of 10
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Action,  Thriller, Suspense, Drama, Historical
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis: "In imperial Tokyo, a group calling themselves "Jaegers" secretly hunt the vampires seeking the Ark of Sirius. Among them is young werewolf, Yuliy."

Hue's Review:

Its official, Netflix is a powerhouse when it comes to choosing impeccable anime, and Sirius the Jaeger is the fiercest new weapon in their ever expanding arsenal. They have quickly developed a knack for sniffing out the exceptional, and this series only goes to prove that even further than Violet Evergarden and B-The Beginning did.

 Siruis the Jaeger is everything Seraph of the End should have been. The skillfully progressed plot and well thought out story, coupled with an unpretentious cast of low key characters and realistic relationships/interactions, all give this series an air of realism that’s hard to find in this genre.
  • A diabolical cocktail of:
  • Brilliant story narratives
  • Strategically placed plot points
  • Surprising story telling
  • Layered, present, evolving characters
  • Understated, yet impacting relationships
  • Fluid fight sequences
  • Creative use of cast, with well timed intros and exits
  •  Detailed animation that strikes a lovely compromise between modern and vintage
  • OSTs that encapsulate the series
  • A phenomenal dub filled with talent you’re unlikely to recognize, or complain about

Sirius The Jaeger is everything a modern vampire series should be. It’s the diamond bedazzled, 18K gold embellished, pure platinum filled yard stick I’ll use to judge EVERY vampire series going forward.

Despite its undeniable allure, I’ll be the first to point out that the sheer number of elements that could have gone pear shaped is staggering. What’s more incredible though, is that not a one did.

For example, Yuliy (main character) could have easily fallen into your stereotypical, revenge driven archetype. Instead, he managed to become a well rounded, capable lead worthy of respect, with moving and inspirational character development. Incorporating an understandable amount of angst into his personality, without going overboard, he even proved himself to be quite sweet and thoughtful as time progressed.

Another good example of a character that could have gone sideways is Mikhail (Yuliy’s brother). His demure, brooding persona could have tripped him up when it came to connecting with the rest of the cast, and conveying his true intentions to the audience. However, with the help of a nuanced performance, both in animation and voice acting, and a good helping of clear, level headed communication, Mikhail managed to stand out as the most sincere and sacrificial character. Mikhail’s inner beauty could be seen past his many scars, both literally and figuratively, not only by the rest of the cast, but the audience as well.

Despite the majority of the relationships being clear cut, and surface level in terms of depth, the much needed punch of comradely this series cast needed fell to Yuliy & Mikhail’s subtly strained relationship, putting it in a precarious position. Over played and it comes out irreconcilable. Underplayed and it reeks disingenuous. With trust and patient persistence though, it turned into one of the most endearing familial bonds ever seen in ANY series. Whether quietly talking, or slaughtering an enemy, the moment Yuliy and Mikhail share the same air space spontaneous cinematic magic occurs.

Certainly the most domineering component that could have gone belly up was its tendency to incorporate overused story elements. You want vampires turning into horrific monsters? You got it. You want a werewolf versus vampire feud a la Hatfields and Mccoys? Sure. You want siblings torn apart by war and circumstances? Okay. You want a fight sequence on a train? Why not! It’s trop-tastic!

Here’s the catch though, it takes every single thing it steals, and legally ensures it as its own. They say if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. Sirius the Jaeger takes it a step further, it not only uses the best trops from the genres, but it proceeds to dissect each one down to a molecular level, pinpointing exactly what makes that element exciting, emotional, or evocative, and splices only those pieces into the fabric of the story. It masters each element so well that not only are you left with no recourse to complain, but you begin to forget you’ve ever seen them before, and praise it as if it were your first time encountering them.

I don’t believe there’s a thin line between love and hate. However, I do believe there’s a thin line that stands between a series being mediocre and magnificent, and this series walked that tight rope all the way to the end without ever needing to rebalance.

Right when it looked like the vampire genre had finally bought the farm (pushing up daisies, taking a ride on the grime reapers moped) like the very jaws-of-life, Sirius the Jaeger exhumed it with a single jolt of electrical entertainment. If you’re looking for a series that’s equal parts ripping action, tear jerking drama, and riveting suspense, you’ve found that and so much more in Sirius the Jaeger!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Counting Down 8 Years of Great Anime, Good Reviews, & Growth!

Every year when March 1st rolls around I find myself pacing the halls, scratching my head, and fraying my nerves trying to come up with a way to commenorate another year of successful blogging. It feels so me-centric to go on for three to four paragraphs affirming your ability to keep something alive that you voluntarily gave life to in the first place, and that's what celabrating Hue Hue Anime's Anniversary always feels like.

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place! Don't celebrate and it's like I'm not appreciative of the opportunities the previous year held. Go all out, and you look like a ponpous so-and-so fanning the flames of your own ego. I wish there were a way to graciously state how proud and happy I am with Hue Hue Anime, not because of anything I've done, but because of the amazing anime that is its life blood.

After much brain cramping, I decided on a little omage not to me, my blog, or even you loyal readers, but instead, the anime which have made Hue Hue Anime possible with a countdown of eight of Hue Hue Anime's More Memorable Reviews.









I can’t possibly know what milestones or memories 2019 will bring, or what musings or mutilations I’ll be inspired to pen, but if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that as long as there's anime on this terrestrial ball I call home, I'll always have something to write about!

Thanks for sharing these last eight years with me! Here's to another year of great anime, good reviews, and growth!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Kakuriyo- Bed and Breakfast for Spirits: Complete Series

Age Rating: 13 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 24
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life,
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis: "After losing her grandfather, Aoi—a girl who can see spirits known as ayakashi—is suddenly approached by an ogre. Demanding she pay her grandfather’s debt, he makes a huge request: her hand in marriage! Refusing this absurd offer, Aoi decides to work at the Tenjin-ya bed and breakfast for the ayakashi to pay back what her family owes."

Hue's Review:

This is in no way meant to undermine all the hard work (I’m assuming) went into this anime, but for more than half of its twenty-four episode run, my opinion of it was so poor that I felt I could have summed Kakuriyo’s entire existence up in one short sentence. Mediocrity in motion.

In fact, that incredibly insulting statement was the first note I bothered to write down regarding this series. I needn’t look past my other notes for further confirmation of my distain either. Words like “contrived”, “subpar”, “below average”, and “flat”, were bandied about on the disheveled paper I’d scribbled on while watching.

Due to my less than glowing opinion, I was a bit baffled by the fact that this series was scheduled for a twenty-four episode run, as the slapdash animation, nonchalant plot progression, and lackluster relationship development, struck me as unworthy of anything more than a single core (if that).

I say all of this in a matter-of-fact, Vulcan like demeanor though. No different than me breaking the news to a child that Santa doesn’t exist, or confidently proclaiming that the sky is blue. My summarization of this anime is nothing more than what I believe to be true. Here’s the catch, despite its prehistoric animation, patchy plot progression, pathetic excuse for romance, and (initially) poor character interactions, in its own unique way, Kakuriyo is perfectly precious.

Bashing this series felt like abusing a stray puppy abandoned in a dilapidated box on a rainy day—essentially, NOT GOOD! The further this series progressed, and the more I came to love it for its simple slapdash charm, the more I dreaded reviewing it, as I knew despite its appealing qualities, I couldn’t lie about its numerous downfalls.

Earnest, heartfelt, and freely giving of its emotions, Kakuriyo’s allure lies in its inhuman characters all too human characteristics. Whether they’re struggling to assert themselves in  family matters, express emotions to a friend, sift through the tumultuous waters of unrequited love, or suffering from being overworked and underappreciated (who isn’t!)—in short this is a series about solving life’s many problems, often times with the help of a friend, and tasty dish.

Its recipe for success includes ingredients such as: Natsume’s Book of Friends emotional morals, Sakura Quest’s work ethic, and The Ancient Magus’ Bride demure brand of romance, with an extra helping of Sweetness and Lightning’s appreciation for food scooped out on top.

As much as I began by defaming this series, by the time it reached the final curtain I was crossing my fingers in the hopes of it getting a second season. Preferably, another two course season. Among the many lessons I took away from this anime, the biggest one is that just because you recognize the flaws of a series, doesn’t mean you can’t still applaud its winning attributes.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Island: Complete Series

Age Rating: 17 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 12
Genre: Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Drama, Slice-of-Life
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis from Crunchyroll: "The island of Urashima sits on the ocean far, far away from the mainland. The island is so lush and beautiful that one might mistake it for paradise, but the people there are trapped by a complex past and long-established traditions. Long since abandoned and all but forgotten by the mainland, the people of the island are ready to give up hope. But then, a young man named Setsuna who calls himself a "time traveler" washes up on the island. Setsuna has lost all of his memories except for a certain mission that he must fulfill. On Urashima he meets three girls, Rinne, Karen, and Sara, and begins."

Hue's Review:

This series was a hairs’ breadth away from losing my interest entirely with its lackluster plot progression, but right when I was about to write it off, this series cranked the volume to max, blew the roof off the house, and pulled this enormous magical multicolored jackalope out of a hat I didn’t even know existed! Within a matter of moments it went from “meh” to “HOLY GUACAMOLE,” and turned itself into one of the flat out coolest romances in the history of anime. Not only did it force me to stick around and see its conclusion, but I absolutely adored the process of watching it unfold.

Ahhhhhh, it’s moments like this when my spoiler free rule bites me in the bum. I love it when a series can pull the wool over my eyes (it happens so rarely) and waits until the last possible moment to reveal its master scheme (moo-hoo-ha-ha!). That’s exactly what this series did. It royally pants me and I couldn’t be more pleased with the blush inducing embarrassment!

As much as I revere Islands’ ability to turn the tables on me, the reason it nearly lost my attention to begin with still remains an unavoidable element. Because it’s based off a visual novel, Islands plot progression is very event oriented, and plays out much like a video game. On top of that, nothing throws off a series’ mojo, and puts an audience off their tea quite like a constant, unprovoked, roller coaster of emotional ups and downs being thrown at you in quick knee-jerk succession. Islands constant bouncing between “fun in the sun” silliness, to super intense philosophical debates, back to overtly emotional, “not when death is on the line” conversations, leaves you feeling a bit like a yo-yo in a lift.

Due to its visual novel roots perpetually tripping it up, this series’ story progression, albeit brilliant when looked back on, plays out awkwardly in the moment and screams dating game. Thankfully, this is relatively easy to overlook as it provides itself with the opportunity to showcase its uniquely snarky characters and their particularly enjoyable brand of snappy dialog, witty banter, and perverted humor.
A large part of what made this series a success for me was its incredibly entertaining English dub. A well written and adapted script, cohesive ADR directing, and spot on moment-to-moment inflections from the VAs, all serve to make the perfectly adequate Japanese version look like rubbish in comparison.

I found that all of Islands uniquely snarky inflections, witty one liners, and awkwardly adult humor was lost in the Japanese version, and I had a hard time connecting with the porosity of the Japanese VA’s performances. Where the American VAs seemed to have a beat on how to handle all the hokey melodrama in a tongue-in-cheek manner (nailing the snappy back and forth rapport between the characters) , and only dropping their energy levels to deliver the more intense scenes. The Japanese VAs sounded as if they were taking every scene a bit too seriously. 

The English version it so superior, that I actually urge anyone interested in watching Island to ignore its Japanese version and watch the dub. Also, in case you’re thinking, “Well of course she’d say that! She loves dubs.” I’d like to note that I’ve only ever made this suggestion three times.

If you’re looking for a deceptively complex anime that draws on elements of everything from Greek mythology, Shakespearean plays, soap operas, teen dramas, and the Lake House; and you’re willing to put in the time to follow the long and winding map that leads to this Islands’ “X”, you’ll find digging to get to this series’ buried treasure was well worth the journey. As Mr. T would say, “I pity the fool who doesn’t watch this series!”

Friday, February 8, 2019

Double Decker! Doug and Kirill: Season One

Age Rating: 14 and up
Rating: 8 out of 10
Episode Count: 13
Genre: Comedy, Parody, Action, Crime Drama
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis: "The city state of Lisvalletta. Two suns rise above this city, and the people here live peaceful lives, but in the shadows crime and illegal drugs run rampant. Among them is the dangerous, highly lethal drug "Anthem" which casts a dark shadow over the city. The SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit specializes in cracking down on Anthem. This unit operates in two man "buddy" teams in what's called the "Double Decker System" to tackle the problem. Doug Billingham is a seasoned investigator, and joining him is Kirill Vrubel, whose abilities are mysterious and unknown."

Hue's Review:

If you read my Best of 2018 Year End Special you already know how I feel about this show. Whether you checked out Double Decker before or after hearing me crown it as the year’s best comedy, or are reading this now in hopes this will help push you over the fence about it, in all likelihood the predominate question on your mind is less, “What makes Double Decker worth watching?” and more “Why on Earth does she consider this one of 2018’s best series?”

Granted, it’s perpetually pulling plot points out of its…private places. Its characters treat each other like…well, a word used in its ending them song, but I’ll say garbage. And its idea of imparting upstanding ideals through its slapdash side stories is so over-the-top it’s hit the stratosphere.
It’s contrived, melodramatic, bombastic, flamboyant, derivative, and just generally ridiculous, and while those are all qualities that would normally make a series a pathetic failure in my eyes, they’re exactly what makes Double Decker an undeniable success.

What makes Double Decker’s story work so well is that it’s both self aware and completely oblivious all at once. The show itself knows it’s full of…we’ll go with garbage again, yet its characters continue to remain nonchalant amidst the nonsense that ensues in every episode. The casts unwavering commitment to whatever scene is currently playing out, is partially what makes Double Decker’s unique brand of comedy possible. On top of that, it gives the opportunity to bring other elements aside from comedy into the overall narrative without feeling overtly forced.

It’s Level E disguised as Tiger and Bunny. A parody of epic proportions pretending to be a buddy cop crime drama. I’m self aware enough to know my sense of humor tends to run on the warped side…laughing my way through Die Hard taught me that. So as happy as I was that Double Decker effortlessly got me rolling on the floor and splitting my sides, I was equally worried about whether it would be able to appeal to an audience with a normal sense of humor and working moral compass.

I thought it would turn into a misunderstood genius, born before its time, but to my surprise and delight it was embraced and encouraged far more than it was belittled and battered! Although, now that I’m thinking about it, Double Decker really could have won the title of most under-appreciated series of the year, as well as Best Comedy, given the fact there were so few consumers cunning enough to buy what Double Decker was selling.

  • Crisp animation you can’t complain about
  • Characters you’ll learn to love while laughing at
  • Intriguing story with twists, turns, and loop-de-loops a psychic wouldn’t see coming
  • Straight up toe tapping, head bobbing OSTs
  • Stimulating fight sequences
  • Outlandish sense of humor
  • Outstanding English dub

As unequivocally hilarious as this series is, you wouldn’t think it would be able to endear you to its characters as their used more as punch lines than people, but it does. I viewed each member of the SEVEN-0 team as actual individuals, just doing their jobs and living their lives, albeit in a universe where even the most serious of sentiments are immediately overturned by some snappy sarcasm, quick quip, or indiscriminant (yeah right) natural occurrence. Trust me when I say, this buddy cop parody will interrogate your funny bone, while tackling your heart into submission.