Hey guys, it’s Naru here, and since I’ve been having a blast since coming back from hiatus, I’ve decided to cap off my June content by doing something I’ve always kind of wanted to do in the back of my mind, but never felt that I was up to the task of doing, and that’s giving you a list of my favorite anime of all time.  Keep in mind, this list is entirely subjective, these are the anime I enjoy, based on the level at which I enjoy them.  That doesn’t necessarily make them good shows, and I honestly wouldn’t recommend all of them, so brace yourself for a couple of embarrassing picks.

Also, I won’t be including movies, any series that’s incomplete, or anything with less than ten episodes to it’s name.  I’ve reviewed at least half of them(I think, too lazy to do the math), so I’ll try  to keep my reasoning brief for each entry, and I think the appropriate length would be about a paragraph each.  If there’s any you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on, then you can go to my browse page to look up the review, or if there’s no review, you can just ask me directly in the comments.

BTW, I used a meme generator to make the images I’m using, so there’s going to be an IMGflip watermark on each one, which I hope won’t get me in trouble.

First, some honorable mentions:
A Certain Scientific Railgun
From the New World
The Devil is a Part-Timer
Ouran Highschool Host Club

And now, onto the countdown!

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Every so often, there comes an area where crime has run rampant, becoming a scourge on the innocent people who want nothing more than to live there peacefully. In places like Townsville, Gotham city, Metropolis, New York City, Tokyo and others seem to be under a curse that attracts the worst of the worst to their streets, where they build their empires, corrupt the political systems, or just rain general destruction down on the population. There are many of these locations, all of which are really better off being avoided, but one town stands out among all the others. There’s one town where the light of hope has all but flickered out, and the concentration of evil in the form of gangs, super villains and horrible monstrosities has almost become the majority. This is Jack Knife Edge Town, and yeah. with a name like that, it’s no wonder things have become so bleak. In a town like this one, the only entity that can stand in the way of the forces of evil to protect the innocent is one man… No. One cop.

That cop is none other than Inferno Cop, who is really more a mass of sentient muscles than a man in a police uniform. Oh, and did I mention that he has a flaming skull for a head? Yeah, despite looking every bit like a hellspawn himself, Inferno Cop is the one man the criminal population fears, and he’s dishing out the kind of hardcore, bloody justice that would make Sleepy Johnny Estes jealous. Having lost his family to the Southern Cross gang, Inferno Cop wants both justice and revenge, and will happily fire his inexplicably explosive bullets at any being that opposes him, even hostages on some occasions. Unfortunately for Inferno Cop, neither avenging his family nor cleaning up the streets of Jack Knife Edge Town will be as easy as shooting a bunch of gangbangers, because there’s a lot more going on here than just your average every day criminal behavior. He’s going to have to fight giant monsters, cyborgs, judges, robot dinosaurs and the forces of heaven and hell themselves to bring this story to a happy ending. It’s a mad world out there, but is he mad enough to survive it?

Well, guys, it’s Studio Trigger time again. I talked about this company a few years ago in what turned out to be one of my favorite reviews from my collection, Kill La Kill. That and Inferno Cop are their first two titles, and also regretfully the only works from them that I’ve actually seen. I’ll eventually see Darling in the Franxx when it’s finished airing, how could I resist with the amount of controversy surrounding it, but for now, all I really know about them is their origin. Studio Trigger was established by former Gainax employees, including director Hiroyuki Imaishi, and information about their first official title… Titled Inferno Cop, if you haven’t guessed by now… has been hard to come by. I read in an interview that they were hired by a youtube channel to create a short length anime series, and after a few concepts fell flat, they eventually settled on an idea they thought nobody has heard of before… A cop who’s on fire and slays evil. That explains the show’s low budget, but there was another detail mentioned that I’m a bit more curious about.

Further down in the interview, Hiromi Wakabayashi states that the basic idea behind Inferno Cop was to put in as little effort or time as possible, and that each episode had to be completed in under two hours. I’ve tried to find some explanation on who mandated this, what circumstances dictated it, or any kind of reason why this was the rule, but in lieu of an explanation, I’ll instead say that Trigger responded to these limitations in a surprisingly inspired way. The animation in this series is a strange combination of high-definition sprites and stock visual effects like fire, explosions and blood spurts. I know people like to say that shows like Robot Chicken are just guys playing with star wars toys, but stop motion animation of any kind is a lot of hard work compared to that image. Well, that same difference in effort exists in Inferno cop, with their on screen motions looking like someone cropped an image and is moving it with his cursor compared to actual frame-by-frame animation.

Does that mean it doesn’t look good? Hell no. As relatively easy as it probably was to animate, Inferno cop looks awesome. Kill La Kill would occasionally move a character like they did in this show, and it was usually pretty funny, but seeing it done non-stop throughout the series is kind of a unique experience. It’s especially ridiculous when you see just how gritty, detailed and edgy the designs are, from the run-down, crumbled aesthetic of Jack Knife Edge Town to the masculine, testosterone-laden character designs that look like they were taken out of a vintage western comic book, being used in such a rudimentary way, there’s something about it that just works. The time and budget restrictions also lead to a lot of the characters having repeated templates and poses, with simple artistic and fashion-related changes distinguishing between the characters. Yet, somehow, it never looks cheap. Yeah, the characters are just still images being moved around(which looks hilarious in the racing episode), but there’s so much happening on screen at any given time that the effect is lost.

Well, that works just fine for the animation, but I’d like to think the music got a little more TLC from the producers, because it’s pretty awesome. There are several episodes that include commercials for the Inferno Cop soundtrack right in their run-time, and I would really like to snag a copy of it, because this show’s music is fucking tight. The music is a hard, fast blend of rock and techno, and I don’t air-guitar very often(or ever, really), but these tracks make it pretty tempting, especially with background tunes like Hell Dillinger and Chaser. There are some cool gimmick tracks like the Egypt-inspired Desert City, the ominous Theme of Southern Cross, and the swanky, swinging OZOMBIEDESUKA, but the real gems of the soundtrack are the vocal tracks. The song Die Hollen Polizei serves as both the intro and closing of the show, and it’s also used constantly as an insert song, which would be annoying if it wasn’t so awesome. My personal favorite, though, is Grue Elise von mir, a bona fide rock ballad that gets used for any ‘sad’ or ‘touching moment in the series, even though they’re kind of hard to take seriously.

Inferno cop never got picked up for an American release, which is a huge shame because I know that Funimation would knock it right out of the park, but they did manage to cast an actor for Inferno himself when his character made a cameo in another anime, Space Patrol Luluco. Christopher Sabat wound up being perfect for the role, as anybody could have predicted, but he hasn’t been able to touch the main series, unfortunately. The original Japanese voice actor was Junichi Goto, a newbie at the time who brought a tough and grisly-voiced performance that makes it sound like he was trying to channel Segata Sanshiro. He’s pretty damn good, as far as my English-speaking ears can tell. The rest of the cast was basically just a handful of guys doing hastily improvised voices, and they’re cast so repetitively that… I swear to God this is true… In the credits in the final episode, they actually fast forward through the cast listing, even though they still list every single character, important or not, meticulously crediting each role.

When I was first exposed to Inferno Cop, I really didn’t have any interest in it. I honestly didn’t even know it was anime… I thought it was Russian, or something. I knew made a brief appearance as an okay joke in an AMV Hell movie, and it made another brief appearance in a terrible reanimated clip in a Ponies the Anthology installment, but aside from those glimpses, I spent five years never having any reason to check it out… That is, until April of this year, when I volunteered at my local anime convention. They had me doing a bunch of odd jobs, but my last one was acting as host and head-counter for a couple of showings, the first among them being Inferno Cop(which got a two hour slot despite being an hour long with Fact Files). Having to watch it in a crowded room full of adults whose IDs I had to check, and being part of a group viewing experience, I’ll admit, I got sucked in. I was able to embrace the ridiculousness of it, warts and all, and it wound up being one of the highlights of the con for me.

Having said that, Inferno Cop is stupid. Like, it’s really stupid, a show full of randomness, logical inconsistencies, problematic elements, and an almost impressive number of cliches and deus ex machinas. If you’ve read my reviews up until this point, this would seriously not seem like something I’d ever be into. I mean, how can I have the gall to gush about this series when I very recently called Excel Saga lazy? And no, I’m not going to backpedal on anything I’ve said in the past, nor am I going to make up some bullshit about this show having depth, or some underappreciated metaphors or social commentary. Inferno Cop is exactly what it looks like from a cursory glance: It’s stupid nonsense full of bad writing and juvenile sensibilities. I’m not gonna deny the fact that just about every element that went into this series is something I’ve shat on other shows for doing in the past, so why am I being so much nicer to this one?

Well, there are two things Inferno Cop does right, and they’re both pretty important. For the first thing, let’s take a look at Magical Play, a show I was distinctly disappointed with, despite it being every bit as weird as Inferno. It was appropriately weird and full of batshit crazy ideas, and it created an unpredictable environment where anything could happen in it’s world of fluffy nonsense. Despite having all of this going for it, it got boring real fast due to a lack of direction and a tone that was always shifting in confusing ways. Are we here to see the girls getting into weird dream-like situations, or are we here to see a backstory, plot and earnest attempts at feels? Unlike Magical Play, Inferno Cop is whole-heartedly committed, making for a sense of consistency in the execution. It knows you’re just there to see what crazy thing it’s going to do next, so it never tries to be serious, it never tries to make you feel(it kind of makes fun of you for it, honestly), and it never loses focus of what it’s doing, tying it’s most entertaining element directly into it’s vague and highly forgiving plot threads.

And for the second thing it does right… I’ll be honest, this one feel like the more important one of the two, even though Magical Play actually did kind of nail it. There are several shows based on random lunacy that I just wasn’t able to stay interested in… I’m talking titles like Excel Saga, Hayate the Combat Butler, and Hare + Guu. Yeah, they were great at first, full of wild and exciting comedy that felt brazenly and defiantly weird, but as time went on, they just sort of lost their momentum. Once you’ve seen a little girl eating everything in sight, transporting them to an alternate Kirby-style stomach dimension, there’s really nowhere to go from there. Comedy styles can be overused, at which point they become predictable, after which they became dull. The worst part of Excel Saga was the part where you realized all it was doing was lazily parodying a bunch of genres with by-the-book observations and padding them out with weirdness. And Hayate jumped the shark so often that it just made people miss the manga.

But this leads me to the biggest thing Inferno Cop does right… It’s short. The biggest weakness of random nonsense comedy is that it has a shockingly poor shelf-life. The longer it goes on, the more exposed it gets, and the clearer people are able to see the method behind the madness. It’s not impossible to keep this kind of comedy effective for lengthy stretches, but you have to be working extra hard to keep the comedy fresh by reinventing it and taking it in new directions, like Baka and Test was so good at doing. This is why I’m not really on board with the new FLCL reboot… 6 episode FLCL was perfect FLCL. Inferno cop is only an hour long, and that’s WITH the fact files segments, which I actually feel are a necessary part of the experience. It’s because Inferno cop is so short that it never lags, and it’s able to jump from plot point to plot point like an anime speed-run without ever feeling overwhelming, and all the things it does that WOULD be ran into the ground by a longer run-time, like all the cliches, deus ex machinas and on-point Evangelion references, are able to leave a fond impression on us by only happening once or twice each. And on top of that, it actually manages to have a pretty satisfying conclusion.

Inferno Cop is available on Crunchyroll. It hasn’t been released on any form of physical media that I know of, not even a freaking Malaysian bootleg, but it damn well should. There’s also a series of in-between segments that I mentioned earlier, called Fact Files, which gives deliberately pointless information about what you just saw, and it’s totally worth your time. A second season has recently been announced, but hasn’t aired yet.

As much fun as it is to watch Inferno Cop, and as highly as I do recommend checking it out, it’s obviously going to run into a glass ceiling with me. It’s a good show that’s a blast to see, especially with other people, but there’s still so many more enriching anime titles out there, titles that a lot more time, effort and thought put into them, that I’ll always recommend first. I think the best way to describe the experience of watching this show would be that it’s like seeing two really close friends with similar tastes and interests just try to create a narrative on the fly, making constant attempts to one-up each other and make each other laugh, and even if you don’t get the story they’re coming up with, you feel like pointing out all of it’s problems would just be mean. Like, “why does a world-wide cruise have to be dirt cheap for Inferno Cop to ride it when he just won a million yen?” And the answer is “Shut up, we’re playing with giant robot dinosaurs now!” It’s no masterpiece, not even close, really, but it’s an experience I highly recommend having at least once. I give Inferno Cop a 7/10.

That’s right, I’m back, with one of the long time staples of this blog… A full-volume review of the newest incarnation of Rooster Teeth’s attempt at making their own anime! As usual, I’m not going into this with any real sense of structure, just gonna make it all up as I go. Before I begin, however, there are a few points I want to address.

1: There have been two RWBY manga released in Japan, and while I’m not gonna review them, I thought I’d give my thoughts on them here. The first one is mostly a retelling of the trailers, and it’s okay. There’s nothing really new or interesting about it, but it does it’s job, and I guess it’s worth a read. The other one is the first in an anthology series, and it’s awesome. It’s a slice of life featuring the main cast in different situations, and while nearly all of the art styles are easier on the eyes than the previous manga’s, the stories are also a lot more entertaining. That one I’d definitely recommend.

2: This new DVD/Bluray release is vastly different from the previous releases. This time, you can’t watch the volume as a film, you have to watch it episodically, with every single op and ed sequence preserved. They’re also unskippable, unless you’re really diligent about fast-forwarding. This does work in some ways, as I was speculating before how certain scenes would fare without episode breaks, but it also makes it a lot more difficult to judge the pacing of the volume… Something I suspect they took advantage of.

3: Remember a year ago, when I posted an editorial about how Rooster Teeth likes to steal things from anime? Well, to add to that, I’ve got a new one for you. Think about the relationship between Ozpin and Oscar: An ancient being is reincarnated into the mind of a small child, who acts as his avatar, can communicate with him, and can sometimes switch consciousnesses? It’s like Yugioh! It’s almost exactly like the bond between Yugi and the Pharaoh! If they didn’t steal this idea, then it’s a mighty big coincidence.

Anyway, getting back to the volume itself, it stands out in another way; It really doesn’t have a beginning. There’s really no inciting incident, there’s no strong opening to define the events that will follow… It feels like a continuation of the previous volume, which it is, but it feels more like a second half than a part 2. Which is strange, because volume 4 definitely had a definitive ending.

Much like volume four, this story is told through several different plotlines, each one featuring a different set of characters who only really interact between said lines once in a while. These plotlines start off with Weiss on an airship, Yang looking for Raven, Salem’s Lot plotting, RNJR and Qrow at Haven, and finally, there’s the menagerie storyline, featuring Blake, her family, Sun, and Ilia. Adam also gets some scenes, and Raven basically just exists in other peoples’ storylines.

However, in volume four, things were a lot more organized and consistent. The four main characters got their own storylines, while the bad guys and Qrow just kinda meandered while waiting to jump into them. Those main storylines didn’t all have action, but they were all actively moving forward and accomplishing important points for the narrative. In this volume, however, things aren’t really that well planned out. While Yang and Weiss’s storylines are moving forward, the rest of them are just kinda meandering, waiting for a cue to start picking up. This results in a good portion of the first half of this volume just feeling like a complete drag, with tone that’s all over the place, cuts between storylines that don’t gel with each other, and a ton of material that was clearly written in to keep it’s respective storyline relevant, but ultimately just winds up feeling like the kind of material that could have been left on the cutting room floor.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about this volume featuring a lot of ‘show don’t tell’ moments, and while I agree to an extent, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as they make it out to be. I mean, not quite as bad, but it’s still a problem. There are so many scenes where people explain things, and not all of them are badly written, but the sheer amount of them definitely over-shadows the ones that work. I thought the exposition scenes involving Oscar/Ozpin and Raven were handled really well, if perhaps a bit too wordy, and a little stuffed. The showdown between Adam and Sienna, on the other hand, could have been executed in half the time with a few small rewrites, and nothing would have been lost in translation.  Seriously, every other line, they were saying something that was just there to explain their relationship and history to the audience, and that all could have been skipped if they’d found a way to work Sienna into the story organically in volume 4. The same could be said for Ghira Belladonna’s entire speech early on, which accomplished nothing, and could have been held offscreen with only a few snippets of dialogue afterward about how it went and what he was trying to say.

Honestly, Blake’s whole spiel about her friends embodying certain words felt like a complete waste of time in retrospect, unless they were just trying to set something up in the future, or lay the clues for her being mildly autistic or something. We didn’t need to see Qrow looking for huntsmen, we didn’t need to see Blake and Sun looking for signatures, we could have easily just heard about those sequences in a few short snippets of dialogue while achieving the same effect. Hell, maybe then we could have had time to see something more interesting, like a stylized look at Raven and Qrow as youths, or some of Oz’s forms throughout the years, something to spice up the dialogue a bit.

And speaking of the dialogue, the other problem with this volume being so dialogue heavy is one that I found to be much more of a hindrance; The tone. From what I saw, there are very few scenes that contain more than one note. Most scenes are either light-hearted, action-heavy or dour, with little crossover inbetween. There are exceptions, mostly revolving around Raven and Vernal, but aside from that, there are some long conversations that needed some form of nuance to them. I mean, you can do small amounts of comic relief without pulling a Jar Jar, were you aware of that? When Blake and Ilia are angsting back and forth, could one of them maybe crack a joke or throw an insult?  Ilia’s only mode up until her redemption is “I have to do this,” even though when you take her backstory into account, she’d be perfectly justified in being a little more personally invested in the White Fang’s activities.

Or how about this; Does every single episode have to stop dead so somebody can make a speech? It’s annoying, and they rarely ever say anything we don’t already know. I don’t need to hear Ren gushing to know how important the main cast is to each other, or how much they’ve all grown. Ghira’s speech to the faunus just winds up cheapening the much more powerful and important speech his daughter gives later on. Ruby and Oscar’s heart-to-heart didn’t feel set up at all, and Oscar’s blow-up at her felt like it came right out of nowhere, and that’s WITH an understanding of his circumstances. Yang’s sudden meltdown over Blake is exactly that… It’s sudden, with her showing no signs that she’d even been thinking about Blake throughout all of volume four and five up until that moment, and it ends with the matter being resolved clearly and swept under the rug, when I really could have used some ambiguity leading up to their reunion.

The best moments in this stretch of the volume are the moments when storylines converge, making the over-all story feel less congested. Weiss converges with Yang, the two of them converge with RNJR, Raven converges the villains with RNJR, etcetera. When moments like this happen, the story gets tighter, and the focus of the writing gets a lot clearer. This eventually does streamline the story, and thank God, because things get a LOT better in the second half.

As the stories converge, and characters who were just kind of fucking around finally start to move into place, the importance of most of what we’ve seen so far becomes clear… And yes, I’m saying most because there was a lot of pulp this volume… But the final four episodes are glorious, full of action, high stakes, well deserved call backs and pay-offs, and a near-death tease that shook the world more than the ending of Infinity War(Don’t lie, you scoff now in hindsight, but when it first aired, you were worried and uncertain).

But I don’t feel like I can really talk about the ending without first talking about the message of this volume. Yes, there’s a message, and they lay it on pretty heavy throughout. It’s not a specific message, though, and I’ll admit upfront that it’s a bit on the generic side… It’s a message about doing the right thing, and holding the right values. It’s kind of all over the place in terms of what that means, but it’s still remarkably consistent. When you write a story with a moral message, it’s incredibly easy to fuck it up, either by coming off as too preachy, accidentally being hypocritical(How ya doin’, Deadpool 2?), or not backing up your point convincingly. Surprisingly, for all this volume does wrong, RWBY doesn’t fall into any of these traps.

Take, for example, the Faunus situation. We’ll ignore for now how little sense their oppression makes(although that’s been an issue since volume 1), and instead look at how the issue is being dealt with. Adam is working from a state of anger, and as Blake notes, spite. He wants to conquer the oppressors and oppress them right back, and he’s willing to go to any lengths to achieve this, even if means knowingly exaggerating the human threat by creating false-flag situations to drum up his peoples’ support. Blake wants to take the high road, to unite humans with faunus by saving them and protecting them, and purging the harmful individuals from their own ranks.

Realistically, either one of these approaches can work, but RWBY creates a scenario where Adam’s tactics backfire, people see him for what he is, and he winds up alone, with only his bull-headed anger left to rely on, and THAT gets him a thorough ass-kicking from Blake until he flees and tries and abandons the people whose loyalty he never saw as more than means to an end.

Raven is perhaps an even better example of this, as she’s shifty, dishonest, and fights for nothing other than her own survival, and her motives carrying a subtle echo of some of Roman Torchwik’s last words… If you can’t beat someone, don’t fight them. She doesn’t quite join the side she perceives to be stronger, but she does manipulate them to get the edge, sacrificing other people… People she was close to… Along the way, and hell, even Cinder makes a quip about her becoming a monster by killing the former Spring Maiden. Speaking of which, all of her scheming, all of her plotting and backstabbing, and all it leads her to is possibly the single greatest individual scene from the franchise thus far… A final confrontation with Yang, who gives her such a thorough verbal beatdown, calling her out on her bullshit in such a way that she actually convinces her to flee, and it all feels natural. None of it feels like part of a forced message, which is how messages are supposed to be delivered.

You don’t want to be a coward, or to act out of fear. History doesn’t look kindly on Benedict Arnolds, and neither does RWBY. You can run from your fears, or you can ally yourself with them, but they will catch up to you, and they will destroy you. It happened to Lionheart, it happened to Torchwik, and it could happen to you. You don’t want to act out of selfishness, because at the end, all you’ll have left is yourself, just like what happened to Raven.

The same thing could be said for acting out of anger or hate, though, and while there’s Adam to consider, Hazel is perhaps a more interesting case, as his hatred comes from a desire for revenge. He’s allied himself with Salem, not out of loyalty or a desire for power, but to get a chance to achieve satisfaction over the death of his sister. It doesn’t make logical sense to blame Ozpin for a decision that his sister made, but certain emotions know no logic… It’s not hard to assume that he felt powerless over losing her, and Ozpin is the only possible target for his frustrations. Of course, revenge is a self-destructive motivator, as shown by the harm he does to his body in pursuit of it, and the fact that he’s allied himself with killers to achieve it. There’s a reason that Blake’s storyline included a statement about forgiveness.

So what values does volume 5 promote? Well, once again, there’s forgiveness, as they showed with Ilia. Former enemies can become important allies if given the chance. It can also help you to find the sense of peace and purpose that eluded Hazel. Speaking of Hazel, there’s also selflessness, and the willingness to sacrifice yourself for the goodwill of others, which his sister fell to. But maybe the most strongly portrayed value is courage… This is kind of a basic idea, as I remember learning it from a freaking Mary Kate and Ashley movie when I was little, but true courage is when you’re afraid, and you don’t know if you’ll succeed, but you do the right thing anyway, as Yang said while verbally decimating her mother.

Of course, now it’s time for me to get on my soap box… This is all relevant to real life. Some of the worst experiences people can have are at the hand of other people acting in fear. We want to build a wall between nations because we’re afraid of losing our jobs. We separate children from their parents because we’re afraid of our laws looking weak. We ban travel from other countries because we’re afraid one or two of them might hurt us. We do any number of insane and horrible things, from discriminating against queer people to performing genital mutilation on children, because we’re afraid of what our respective Gods might do to us if we don’t. We refuse to stand up to dangerously unqualified leaders because it might weaken our political parties.

And that’s just fear.  Entire wars have been fought just for revenge, costing outrageous amounts of money and far moire lives than whatever incidents sparked those wars in the first place.  We hurt others for the sake of our own interests, and while never specifically calling any of it out, Rooster Teeth used this volume to make a statement about it. In doing so, it arguably accomplished more than any other volume has to date.

Anyway, getting back to the fun stuff, the animation is still great. There are a few shots and angles that I found questionable, and there are a few background shots where extras are just standing around blandly, but those are minor complaints compared to where RWBY came from. I’ve heard people complain about the fight scenes being awful, but I never really felt that either. They’re certainly different, with no flashy spectacle fights going on, but these things went away for something I consider much better; Story-telling. In this volume, and also in volume 4, the fight scenes are used to tell stories. There aren’t any of Monty’s trademarked ‘rule of cool’ fights, where everything just feels like extended animation demos, but there’s actual plot and story going on.

This allows them to focus on things that were missing from the action of the first two volumes, and which the third volume brilliantly transitioned into having… Suspense, stakes, and drama. As far as visual issues, I’ve heard people saying something about characters teleporting, but when you consider the most popular action sequence was a food fight where Nora launched Yang through the roof at an angle and she fell down straight in a location completely different from the direction she’d been launched in, I’m willing to accept a minor flub or two in a fight scene that feels ambitious and engaging. I’ve also heard complaints that Ruby doesn’t develop this volume, but she got a ton of development in volumes 3 and 4, and not every character has to develop in every volume.

Although the fact that she hasn’t asked Ozpin about her Silver eye powers is, I will agree, fucking stupid.

Once again, as much as I love about this volume, it doesn’t go down as easy with the poor way the first half was executed. Yeah, everything comes together more-or-less perfectly in the second half, but for a 3+ hour volume that’s made a fucking 4 hour volume by the inclusion of all the openings and closings, those first two hours can be tough to get through whenever it’s meandering or wasting time, which is far too often. The dialogue, again, needs a lot of work, as it’s not unsalvageable, but it can’t continue to be like this going into volume 6.

I know it may look like I’m being really hard on this volume, but the fact that I’m giving it these kinds of criticisms is a sign of how far along it’s come. In the first two volumes, I complained about the things that stopped RWBY from being good. In volume 5, I’m complaining about the things that are stopping it from being great. I believe it can achieve the greatness that it had in volume 3 again, even if this just wasn’t the right time for it. I give RWBY volume 5 a 7/10.


The year is 2019. It’s been 31 years since a mysterious explosion happened in Japan, which somehow triggered World War 3. In the current society, a version of the city has been restored, and dubbed Neo-Tokyo, not to be confused with Tokyo-3. But as it turns out, what was supposed to be a new haven for humanity has already become dilapidated and worn down, with the new government at odds with the people, sparking violently destructive protests that are in no way helped by the scourge of anarchistic youths waging war with each other one the backs of their motorcycles. See, this is why we can’t have nice things. Two of these gangs are called the Capsules, a handful of middleschoolers with the image of a pill emblazoned on their jackets, and the clowns, a gang of… Other thugs… Who wear weird masks and stuff. Existing somewhere between The Sharks vs. The Jets and The Bloods vs. The Crips, their rivalry is a notoriously violent one, and their fights have terrorized an already restless population.

In any case, it’s during one of these particular skirmishes that the Capsule Corps, led by the main character-ish young man named Kaneda, stumble upon a strange little Benjamin Button boy who inflicts another member, Tetsuo, with some sort of abnormality. The local government snatches up Tetsuo and the little geezer, and they disappear them to a secret facility to perform experiments on them. In order to rescue Tetsuo, Kaneda must work his way into a rebel faction in order to infiltrate the facility… But strange things are happening to Tetsuo, within whom a dangerous entity has begun to awaken, granting him power beyond his control… Power that attracts the interest of Button and his friends, who antagonize him in order to bring about his full potential. When Kaneda finally does manage to reach Tetsuo, what kind of reunion will await the two of them? Can Tetsuo be saved from the destiny that’s begun to develop around him, or is it too late for anybody to be saved?

Akira was animated by TMS, also known as Tokyo Movie Shinsa, one of the oldest known Japanese animation studios. They’ve produced not only anime over the five decades that they’ve been in operation, but plenty of western animation from their subsidiary company Telecom. I’ve seen a bunch of Telecom’s titles, with a particular highlight being the fucking Ducktales(Ooo-Wooo-Ooo), but out of their anime work, I’m honestly not that familiar with them. They’ve produced some iconic titles that have been around for impossibly long periods of time, like Lupin(the only installment of which that I’ve seen was The woman Named Fujiko Mine) and Detective Conan, which I only saw the first season. Beyond that, any title they’ve released is either something I saw very little of, or something I haven’t seen in over a decade, so it’s kind of hard to get an accurate grasp on them in regard to their oeuvre of work.

Whatever they’re like, they clearly had a ton of money to burn when they were producing Akira, and boy does it show. The animation in this movie is insanely fluid, especially for a title that was released in the late eighties. The quality is consistent throughout, but it only takes a few minutes to see that this isn’t your average production. Just as we’re dumped into the interior of a seedy, suspicious bar, we’re shown that not even such an arguably unnecessary visual as channels being changed on a TV is still given the kind of lavish treatment that would suggest that they really spared no expense with this one. To be sure, the movie then quickly moves on to one of it’s biggest highlights, the motorcycle race war… Yes, a literal race war… Between the Capsules and the Clowns, which may be one of the single most well-animated sequences in anime history. It’s several solid minutes of gritty dudes racing through town on their various models of bikes as they try to kill one another,r to varying and somewhat vague levels of success. This sequence is so fast and fluid that even the residual trails of their taillights in the night sky is beautifully present.

It’s weird looking back and thinking that an anime from 1988 could look as good as this one does, but it was just as weird for the world back then, as Akira was considered groundbreaking with it’s visuals. The kind of facial animations and fluid movements it featured were unimaginable at the time, even though they’re more or less commonplace today. Most anime of the time was stiff, with limited articulation and frozen faces with moving mouths, which made this particular piece all the more breathtaking. Now, having said that, it’s kind of understandable, but I just can’t help but feel they might have gone a bit too far overboard with this achievement, as the characters’ facial expressions are so over-exaggerated that it’s kind of hard to take what they’re saying seriously at time, but that’s just a nit-pick on my part.

Akira’s visual prowess doesn’t just limit itself to the fluidity of it’s animation, either. It’s also pretty well directed, with the man in the director’s chair being Katsuhiro Otomo, whom, if you didn’t know, was also the creator of the manga, so in terms of the presentation, nothing was lost in translation. His sense of direction isn’t perfect, as some of his action scenes can stray into a feeling of sensory overload, but there are moments in the government facility and especially in Tetsuo’s room that feel downright chilling with the way they’re framed. The backgrounds of Neo-tokyo are so extensively detailed that it’s almost sad how much of it you’ll miss if you’re not constantly pausing to check out the environment, with it’s variety of different buildings and gorgeous lighting effects. It almost feels like a real city, and one that you could actually imagine living in, thanks to the level of immersion it manages to hit. I’d keep going on this topic alone, but I’m struggling to find the right words to do it justice, and you kind of have to see it for yourself in order to appreciate it.

Although, to be perfectly honest, my favorite thing about Akira is the music, which is uniformly unconventional in it’s orchestrations, and carries a level of depth to it that kind of evades the story itself, as composer Shoji Yamashiro, which is actually the pseudonym of Tsutomu Ohashi, and while further work of his is hard to find, Akira is his most renowned project, and with good reason. The music for Akira is stunningly powerful, full of hard percussions and haunting vocal effects, some of which tell us more about a character and their arc than the story itself does. For example, the most popular track in the movie is probably Tetsuo’s theme, which uses bells and flutes to signify the titular character’s younger-brother relationship to Kaneda, showing frustration in the beginning while slowly becoming more unhinged and unsettling as it builds up to one of the most famous vocal spike notes in anime, the infamous DAAAAAA DAAAAAAA DAAADAAA that heralds the arrival of his powers later in the film.

The rest of the ost is just as creative, however. Kaneda’s theme isn’t as long or involved as Tetsuo’s theme, but the instrumentation is still like nothing I’ve heard before from an anime, as it’s decked out with lightning sound effects and shifting percussive beats that sound like they were taken from a traditional Japanese festival, complete with chants of Rasse-Ra, a chant used to welcome the summer. Other noteworthy tracks include Battle Against Clown, the battle theme for the opening gang war that somehow managed to take the sound of a guy breathing too hard and make it sound epic; Winds Over Neo-Tokyo, a tune that starts out slow and dreamy only to sound more ominous and carnival-y as it goes on; And Dolls’ Polyphony, a damn creepy track that’s used appropriately in the film, as it’s use of a female voice uttering the nonsense word “Perom” over and over again sounds like it was taken right out of a slasher movie, and that’s before the deeper male chanting starts to drown it out. All in all, I highly recommend picking up this soundtrack, whether you’re a fan of the actual movie or not.

To my knowledge, there are two English dubs for this movie… An old one, which was really awkward sounding and badly acted, and a newer one that sounds a lot more natural and human. The drawback is that while the old one at least managed to fit the insane mouth movements from the characters, the newer one doesn’t even try, which in turn makes the over-animation look even more obvious and silly. I don’t really think either dub is that great, but i kind of prefer the older Streamline dub, just because it sounds more interesting, even as terrible as it was. Don’t get me wrong, the Animaze dub had a cast of much more talented and well-respected actors, and they did act out the roles a lot better than their Streamline counterparts did, but like I said, the natural sound and grounded delivery doesn’t really feel like the right fit for the movie’s style of facial animation, whereas the Streamline one just feels like a better fit for this world.

Not to mention, as talented as the newer acting pool is, it’s not made up of the most compelling actors in the industry. The perfect example of this is Kaneda, the apparent star, who’s played by Johnny Yong Bosch, a highly talented actor who can give stellar, engaging performances when given the right material, but he has way too wide of a comfort zone, and once he’s in it, he falls right into typecasting hell. It’s a shame that he can be so boring at times, but here, he just sounds like a less interesting version of Ichigo. On a similar note, there’s Wendee Lee in the role of Kei, whose performance output is almost fifty/fifty in terms of quality, with just as many awesome roles as terrible ones, and since Kei isn’t that meaty of a character, she falls somewhere in the middle here. Michelle ruff, a personal favorite of mine, is wasted in the role of Kaori. The exception to this trend is Tetsuo, who’s played powerfully by Joshua Seth, a Digimon veteran who plays up his character’s youth and frustration, wearing his torment and rise to power on his sleeve. Either way, I’d still recommend sticking to the sub.

All right, I’m going to try to keep this brief, because I don’t really have all that much to say about Akira. To give this review a little background, I’ve never read the manga this movie was based on. Honestly, I don’t read that much manga in general. My reading is reserved for books, mostly by Stephen King, while I’m passing time on my lunch break at work. Yeah, I’ve gotten into a few series, but I can probably count on one hand the amount of titles I’ve read to completion, or at least to the point of being caught up. I’m sorry, but I’d rather absorb a story visually, where it takes less time and money to do so. Having said that, it means that I was essentially going into Akira blind, and taking it completely at face value, with no source material or outside information to explain it’s story, universe or world view to me. I’m reviewing this movie in a vacuum, as any title SHOULD be reviewed, and I’m not going to do any research to augment or explain the material. A good adaptation should do that for you. So how does Akira hold up under these conditions?

Well, frankly, this movie doesn’t make any fucking sense. From beginning to end, it doesn’t do any more than the bare minimum in explaining anything. To start right at the beginning, we’re told that Japan accidentally bombs itself(I won’t tell you how, as it’s a spoiler), and that this event was the spark that caused World War 3, and that the story takes place several decades after. Okay, so, how did World War 3 start? And yeah, I hear you guys saying “With that explosion,” but that’s not what I mean. How did Japan accidentally bombing itself lead to the third World War? That’s not a small detail. You know what a World War is, right? It’s a war where a group of allied nations fight against the rest of the world. Did Japan blame the explosion on another country? Who were it’s allies? Who were it’s enemies? Did it win? Did it lose? How long did the war last? How did it end? Did it even end? What was the death toll? You can’t just throw World War 3 into your narrative because it sounds cool, damn it, you have to explain that shit!

Okay, here’s another one: What are people protesting about? What is the government doing that’s got the people so pissed off? What’s the conflict there? Or here, I’ll give you an easier one: Who’s the guy we see leading the Benjamin Button kid through the crowd? Did he help him escape the facility? How? Or instead, I’ll tell you what… How did Tetsuo get his powers? We see him crashing his bike right in front of Button’s face, only to have it blow up between them, hurting neither of them… i mean, sure, Button was probably able to protect himself with a force field, but the explosion happened right in front of Tetsuo, who wasn’t even scratched. Was it contact with Button that triggered his change? Is that a normal side effect of interacting with Button? Can he just do that, or was Tetsuo a special case who just happened to have dormant apocalypse inside him? Was it the experiments at the facility that changed him? Is there some piece of equipment they have that gives people apocalypse tumors? Would all of this crap have been avoided if Tetsuo were released with his friends? Or died when his bike blew up?

I could throw it a bone if it had a cast of memorable characters, but guess what? I have no idea who any of these bastards are! I want to start by bringing up Kaori, because while she may not be one of the main characters, her role in the film is memorable for all the wrong reasons. She’s Tetsuo’s… Sister? girlfriend? Stalker? I have no idea. She’s barely in the movie, gets maybe five minutes of screen time, and her only big scenes are where she gets her face punched in and her top ripped off by a Clown member, and when she’s gruesomely axed off towards the end of the movie. Her only contributions to the film are suffering, dying, and adding two seconds of nudity to the film’s content rating, and it’s all so undeserved that it’s honestly kind of uncomfortable to watch. She had no reason to be in this movie. She’s not the only female character, but Kei is so underwritten that I’ve heard hardcore fans of the movie just refer to her in passing as ‘the female.’ She’s a terrorist, but why? What’s her connection to the government? What are her motivations?

And it’s a sad state of affairs that I have to say this, but speaking of Kei, who the fuck is Kaneda? Why am I supposed to be rooting for this person? What’s supposed to be so interesting about him? I think he’s the leader of the Capsules, right? And he’s just… Main character material, or something? What does he want with Kei? Does he just happen to spot “ooh, female,” and decide right on the spot that he’s going to get her out of trouble and pork her? Like, half the movie he’s just trying to get laid, and when he’s not trying to guilt her into it, he’s going up against armed adults in her honor. This is coming from an asexual person, mind you, but is a random girl who doesn’t seem interested in you really worth taking a bullet for? I get the whole devotion thing, but when your life is on the line, dude, there are other fish in the sea. You shouldn’t ally yourself with literal violent terrorists over someone until you’ve at least established a relationship with them.

I mean, okay, I tried to assume that he was just sniffing her ass because he thought getting involved with terrorists could help him to get closer to Tetsuo, but he would have been enacting this plan way too early for there to be a believable amount of desperation, and besides, he hounds her about turning herself in, going straight and dating him afterwards. That sounds a little counterproductive, don’t you think? And moving onto his relationship to Tetsuo, I didn’t know what kind of connection they shared until that random exposition dump at the end. Apparently they were orphans together. Up until then, I had no idea if they were friends, brothers… Even lovers could have been possible… or if Kaneda was just super dedicated to his gang members. The most fleshed out character is Tetsuo, but the only thing we get from him is his frustration over his connection to Kaneda. The changes that happen to him over the course of the film are it’s only, yes, only, source of character development. I’m sorry, but you need more than faces and names to have characters.

The only real concession that I can make for Akira is that it has a really well pronounced cool factor. Seeing gang wars waged on the backs of motorcycles against a vaguely post apocalyptic setting is really cool to see, and the movie would probably be better if that were all there were to it, but it gets so involved with it’s muddled, convoluted plot that it’s impossible to know what’s going on without reading the source material or making a ton of assumptions. It’s like this huge, thousand piece puzzle where none of the pieces fit. I didn’t even bring up the other two Benjamin Button kids, as their plans involving Tetsuo are so confusing and inconsistent that I’m hesitant to even call them spoilers. But like I said, regardless of what it was they’re actually trying to accomplish, their efforts still play into the movie’s cool factor, as they manage to bring us some truly trippy and surreal visuals when they’re using their powers to attack him in his room. It’s not much, but I guess if you’re just watching Akira for spectacle and it’s gritty adult tone, I can understand the appeal.


Akira is available stateside in a number of different home video releases, most recently from Funimation is a very cheap DVD/bluray combo pack. Other releases are available, such as the limited edition steel case that I’m currently borrowing from a friend. The original manga has also been available in numerous printings, with the most recent being from Kodansha comics back in 2009. Each volume is still relatively cheap, or you could splurge and spend a little more money on the box set. At the very least, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of the soundtrack Cd, which is available from Milan records, and is fairly inexpensive online.

I’m sorry, guys. i know this is one of the most popular anime movies in the medium, but I just can’t get into it. It’s not a terrible movie by any means… The pacing is really good, and it never gets boring. I’m the kind of guy who literally can’t stay awake through a single showing of Empire of Corpses, but I’ve never fallen asleep during Akira, which at least speaks to it having some kind of entertainment value. I understand that adapting a phonebook thick manga collection into a two hour movie isn’t an easy feat, but at the same time, I don’t want to have to look up footnotes and plot synopsis just to figure out what the bloody hell I’m watching. The version of the movie I watched had a sort of pop up feature that was designed to give you extra information at random points, but after like twenty minutes, all it had been showing me was a map and some Japanese text translations, and I was relying on THAT to try and be fair. I like movies that challenge me to figure them out, but not like this. For the animation and music alone, it deserves it’s place in anime history, but I guess I’m just not a fan. I give Akira a 5/10.


Harumi Kazuhito isn’t your ordinary bookworm. His entire life revolves around books. I know that may sound like hyperbole, but oh no, I mean that with complete sincerity. I also mean it literally, but we’ll get to that. For now, Harumi is a high school boy who has dedicated his life to the pastime of reading. He basically chain-reads, buying up books by the handfuls, burning through them at supernatural speeds, and hoarding every volume he finishes. He even refused to live with his family, opting instead to live in an apartment by himself so he could go to school in an area where the books he wants are able to come out slightly quicker. One day, while he’s reading in a cafe, a crazed robber bursts in and begins to wave a shotgun around. He threatens a young woman who’s distractedly writing away in another seat, and Harumi gets up to defend her… Not because he’s generally a nice person, but because he can’t stand to see a fellow book-lover get hurt. Yes, that’s how his mind works… Or, how it DID work, until the robber blew it out of his skull.

Now freshly dead, Harumi decides he can’t cross over to the land of the dead yet… He has so many books he still wants to read, including the final book from his favorite author, Akiyama Shinobu. He manages to pull himself back to the land of the living with the strength of this passion… So, like I said, his life literally revolves around books… But through some mix-up, he’s reincarnated into the body of a dog. A miniature dachshund, to be exact, who’s kept in a small cage in a pet store even though he’s not for sale(this is never explained). He’s soon adopted by the girl he rescued, as the connection they share has given her the ability to hear his thoughts(at least I think that’s the reason?), and she takes him home… To murder him. Until he finds out she’s really Akiyama Shinobu, she finds out he’s a fan of her work, and she inexplicably becomes sexually attracted to him. And as it turns out, these are not going to be the only extreme oddities in his life going forward, as the world around him just gets weirder and weirder. Good god, let’s just get this turkey over with already.

Studio Gonzo may have some acclaimed titles under their belt, what with the Fullmetal Panic franchise and arguably Linkin Park’s best music video having been produced by them, but when you tally their output together, the bad far outweighs the good. They’ve put out some visual wonders like Gankutsuou, but they’ve also let out some real clunkers like Gantz, and while Dog and Scissors, may not be THAT far down the ladder, it’s pretty close to the bottom. The animation is stiff and cheap in a way that’s honestly hard not to notice. They’re clearly able to save a lot of money with the fact that the central character, living in the body of a dog, is able to speak telepathically, without the burden of having to animate lip flaps, so all they have to do is repeat animation cycles when he’s on screen… Be it slight movements in his fur, or wagging the tuft of hair on his head… But this advantage becomes stale very fast, as it’s just a variation on the talking heads that make up the rest of the cast.

And speaking of the cast, I’ll be honest, the character designs look pretty good. If you’re just looking at still images, the series actually looks really crisp and pleasing to the eye. A few of the designs look a bit cliched, and they all look a bit standard, but they’re all pleasant to look at. Harumi makes for an adorable little doggy(which makes up for how intentionally bland he looks as a human), and maybe this is a matter of personal taste, but I love the design of his chop-happy new owner Natsuno. She’s like a grown-up version of Ai Enma who walks around dressed up like an extra from the Matrix movies, and I dig it, she looks really cool. I also really like the afro guy who runs the pet store. not only does his apron feature a clever Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure easter egg, he just looks like he’d be a really chill dude to hang out with. The backgrounds are also immaculately detailed, with shelves full of diverse looking books giving our characters’ collections their own sense of personality, and each character’s living space is detailed enough to add a new dimension to their personalities, especially in the case of Natsuno.

Of course, that doesn’t excuse the animation. Despite what the premise may have suggested, there’s action in this series, but considering how well it moves, you may as well just read the damn light novels. The only thing that looks like it had any real money put into it was the opening, which is fast moving, full of visual effects, and actually manages to translate the characters’ awkward movements into some really fun dance cycles. You’ve probably seen an anime where characters imitate dogs or cats by moving their half-clenched fists in a certain way to resemble paws, haven’t you? This opening features nearly the entire cast doing step-dances that heavily incorporate that kind of movement, and it’s so adorable you just can’t help but smile when seeing it. They also have doggy ears and tails, and as a possible result of the video’s fast pace, it’s disquietingly easy to not notice this the first time watching it. This video has no right to be as fun as it is, but at least it was SOMETHING to look forward to.

Of course, it probably helps that the song was also really catchy. It’s by Inu Musume Club, and it’s called “Wan Wan Wan Wan N_1,” and that may sound like gibberish at first glance, but there’s a really popular Japanese pun behind it. Wan is the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound a dog makes, which any American would call Woof or Bark. Wan also sounds like One, hence why the title begins with barking and ends with an obvious abbreviation for Number One. This actually isn’t even the only opening theme to employ this pun, hell, it’s not even the best one, as Working!!! actually did it much better, but leaving that aside, it’s a funny little footnote. The ending theme is almost as delightful as it’s op counterpart, with Natsuno flying a scissors-inspired private jet, her rival’s black-suited bodyguards expressionlessly dancing in tandem, and generally just a bunch of creative and funny imagery gets paired to a slightly more low-key but still catchy song with the bizarre name Lemonade scandal.

I wish I could tell you more about the music, but unfortunately, I barely noticed it at all during the show. I guess that means it was doing it’s job? I can’t remember ever hating the music… At least not as much as generally everything else… And I can vaguely recall tapping my foot to a few fun-sounding tunes. This is normally where I’d be looking up each individual track online, but I can only find one, by the name of Mieta Kibo, and god help me, it sounds absolutely divine. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s credited to one Akito Matsuda, who Wikipedia says WAS in charge of the music of the series, but since there’s only one track available online, I’d have to rewatch the show to hear it’s ost… And I’d rather stick a thumb-tack through my eyelid. Thankfully, he’s done the soundtracks to a lot of other recent anime, and now that I’m hearing some of it, I suddenly REALLY want to watch Sound Euphorium. His composition, as I’ve heard, was the one and only interesting thing about Glasslip, so Dog and Scissors’ music was probably just as solid.

The English dub is… Well, it’s weird, but hey, this is a weird show. It’s a mix of bizarrely enthusiastic standouts and adequate, okay performances, with thankfully no real duds to speak of. At the very worst, some of the casting choices are standard, just the actors we know coming and doing their thing, catching an easy paycheck off of a role that they were suited for. Chief among these is Blake Shepard, who I’m normally not a huge fan of, playing the lead role of Harumi, and while his delivery skews the line between hammy and wooden whenever his character is excited, he manages to nail it whenever he’s supposed to sound serious or sarcastic. And then on the other end of the spectrum you have Jessica Calvello, an actor who… Well, if you assign her to one of your characters, you’re pretty much bringing out the big guns, because putting her in any role but the lead is fucking overkill. Luckily, she’s playing one half of the titular pair here, and her penchant for hitting a wide range within one single character adds a level of insanity that makes Natsuno far more tolerable than her disturbingly subtle Japanese portrayal.

There are other actors, of course, and I’d like to bring up Luci Christian as a highlight because she put an absurd amount of effort into a suicidal self-blaming character… And the adaptive script is really good at localizing the dialogue without straying too far from the original intent, although it does fuck up once towards the end and make i sound like someone’s responding to Harumi’s thought-comments… But I really want to skip right to the second half of this review, because I have a lot to say about the writing and meat of this anime, and none of it is pleasant. So let me just say that the dub is good, and I’d highly recommend it over the sub, because the sub just sounds too grounded, which makes a lot of it’s more problematic elements harder to stomach. The dub gives it more of a wacky and bizarre personality, allowing you to mentally remove it from the harsher implications of a lot of it’s so-called jokes. Then again maybe that’s just me being dumb American and not appreciating the Japanese language or whatever. If you’re going to watch this, I recommend doing it in English.

Right, now that that’s over with, I’ve been holding this in for far too long. If I haven’t already given this away, Dog and Scissors is bad. Like, it’s really, really bad. It’s not funny bad… It’s not interesting bad… It’s the kind of bad that I only place among the worst of the worst, which, for me, is a list that not even School Days has been able to crack. I actually hesitated to write this review, and even thought about stopping a few times, because I honestly don’t think a review is necessary. This is the kind of show where you can immediately tell whether or not it’s worth watching… Yeah, it’s ironic that an anime revolving around books would be so easy to judge from a glance at the cover. In fact, here’s all you really need to know to get a feel for the series: A woman adopts a puppy because she wants to kill it, and then spares it because she wants to have sex with it. I know that’s not entirely fair, and it’s taking the scenario out of context, but it’s not inaccurate, either. That literally happens, and further details don’t do much to improve things.

Everything about this series… Well, aside from the music, dub and art… Is either stupid, confusing or awful. There is not one redeeming quality outside of those few production efforts. I could do an entire Inconvenient Questions post about each individual episode, but I won’t, because watching this show twice in my life was twice too many times, and I cancelled IQ for a good reason. Thus, I’m only going to focus on my biggest problems with this series. For starters, I failed to mention until now what the biggest connection between Natsuno and Harumi is. He can’t talk, being a dog, but she can hear his thoughts. This might not bother you, but it bugs the hell out of me… His thoughts aren’t treated like thoughts, but like regular conversation. She hears him as though he’s speaking. That’s not how thinking works. You never stop thinking. And yeah, you could SAY that she can only hear thoughts he sends to her, but this also isn’t true, because the only reason they met is because his thoughts, from elsewhere in the city, were distracting her, and she tracked him down.

Right there, it’s established that not only can she hear his thoughts without his consent or knowledge, but that there’s a long range, and she can’t shut it out, but there are possibly thousands of instances in the series that directly contradict this. Why does she ask him questions? Why does she ever think he’s lying about something? You can hear his thoughts! He shouldn’t be able to lie to you! Why do you each read a book at the same time, when you should just be able to hear him reading it? Did his thoughts distracting you from writing just stop? Did that problem go away the second you decided to not murder him? If you were able to track him down to the pet store he was being kept in(like a parrot), why do you EVER have to look for him in order to find him? I’m sorry, I really am, but this entire premise is so frustratingly inconsistent that I honestly found it distracting throughout the series. Even comedies… No, especially comedies… Have to take themselves seriously to enough of a degree that they pay attention to fucking detail.

Oh, and speaking of comedy, have you noticed how small Natsuno’s breasts are? Good, because I just spoiled at least 60% of this show’s comedy. The other 40% is largely made up of BDSM and animal cruelty. I don’t like speaking in absolutes, but I have to say this: In anime, jokes about a female character’s bust size are never, ever funny. I’m not saying that because such humor is sexist, or mean-spirited… although they are both of those things… I’m saying it because that is THE most overused joke in anime history. Characters bringing up cup sizes happens more often than tsunderes over-reacting to misunderstandings, and that’s saying something. The only time I can ever remember a boob-size joke being funny was in Yamada’s First Time, when Yamada was imagining what her best friend’s life must be like with big boobs, getting all jealous, but then we get a glimpse of said friend having to apply lotion to herself because of how much the damn things chafe. See, that was a clever subversion of expectations, and it’s an example of how hard a boob-size joke has to work to even be kind of funny.

Dog and Scissors relies heavily on this idea, but it doesn’t put anywhere near that level of effort into it. Despite the fact that he’s not into real live women, Harumi is constantly berating Natsuno on her bust, and even when he isn’t, she’s constantly seen obsessing over it. It gets to the point where I was seriously wondering why Natsuno didn’t just get a damn boob job already. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t promote a shallow image of beauty, and people look fine just as they are, but plastic surgery can help people who have confidence issues relating to their appearances. Natsuno’s a grown woman, she makes her own decisions, she lives independently off of her success, and she clearly has Seto Kaiba levels of disposable income lying around, so why doesn’t she just get some work done? Oh, right, because that would take away the one lazy-ass joke that this series keeps on dragging out of the dumpster to try and amuse us, to the point that even a dead horse would tell them to stop beating a dead horse.

And speaking of Natsuno, try to wrap your head around this; She’s twenty years old, hasn’t written anything since she was 19, and is implied to have a bibliography that would make Stephen King jealous. She’s written a ton of novels spanning all types of genres, and at least six of her books are thick enough to contain at least a few thousand pages each. By the time she was 19. Not only is she considered one of the three top best-selling authors(the words “In Japan” is never attached to this, so it’s fair to say they mean worldwide), but the other two, who we meet in this series, are also young ladies of a similar age. Hell, her most vocal rival spends most of her time as a pop idol! The world’s best selling authors are seriously three teenagers?  Did any thought go into any of this?  Even her threats to kill Harumi don’t add up to anything, as all she ever does is cut off portions of his fur, which grow back in less than five seconds… And yet he still acts terrified of her, every single time she attacks him. Hey, dumbass, she may say she’s going to cut off one of your ears, but I think you’re gonna be fine.

And honestly, even it’s focus on books and reading was completely shallow. All Dog and Scissors knows is that reading and writing are things. Possibly fun things. Possibly lucrative things. It knows they exist, it knows they’re important to people, but it has no deeper understanding of any of it. Not only do we never find out anything about Natsuno’s books outside of their titles and a seven deadly sins gimmick, we don’t even technically know if they’re fiction or non. Harumi is extremely pretentious, being that he loves to read, he deifies books, he defends books from critics, he judges people(even his own damn murderer) on whether or not they’re readers, and get this; He has no defined taste. This moron would probably get his jollies off reading the ingredients on a packet of McDonalds ketchup. This series knows as much about books as Adam Sandler knows about video games. We never find out what literature means to anybody, but it wears it on it’s damn sleeve.

And if any of you are holding out hope that the plot and mystery aspect might have something to offer, don’t. Harumi’s killer is found and dealt with so early that it can’t even be considered a spoiler. It turns out that after killing him, the killer had time to rob him before running away, and has been hiding in the second apartment that Harumi’s been keeping secret from his family AND his landlady. Chew on that for a moment. They find him, they chase him down, and it turns out he’s got Natsuno’s six thickest books hiding in his coat(even though they’d definitely be weighing him down and banging into his body while he was running), and he uses them as weapons in the worst anime fight scene since Master of Martial Hearts. She beats him, and gives Harumi the choice to either kill or spare him, all while I’m screaming “Neither! Call the fucking cops!” Oh, and we never meet his parents, we hear nothing of any funeral, he has no drive to get his life back, and we meet his sister, but… Hoboy. Had to dip into the incest shit, didn’t you? Bottom of the barrel wasn’t low enough?

Dog and Scissors is available on both DVD and Bluray from Sentai Filmworks, and it’s available both in dubbed and undubbed formats. The manga and light novel are not available stateside.

I’m not gonna lie, guys, this was a tough one to get through. The only reason I even bothered is because I was on hiatus for a few months, and I needed something especially bad to rage on. Thus, I figured, why not an anime where one of the biggest running jokes is the main character commenting about shit not making sense, while completely missing the bigger picture each time? Like I said before, the artwork and character designs are good, the music is serviceable and the opening and closing themes are awesome, but these are really the only things it has going for it, and they’re the only qualities that pull it up from a possible 0 score, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s wrong with it. It falls apart if you give it even one seconds worth of thought, which is why I have to wonder if the people who enjoy and defend it checked their brains at the door, or at birth. I don’t condone threatening violence against dogs with a pair of scissors, but this is one tail that definitely should have been cut short. I give Dog & Scissors a 1/10.

*Yang enters the room. Ruby is sitting on the couch*

Yang: Oh man, that was awesome!

Ruby: Hey, sis. Where were you?

Yang: Oh, nowhere special. I just saw Your Name.

Ruby: Really? Where?

Yang: At the movie theater in Vale.

Ruby: You saw my name there?

Yang: Yeah, I… What?

Ruby: Where was it, in the bathroom? I would think that if you saw my name somewhere it didn’t belong, you’d erase it for me.

Yang: No, that’s not what I mean. I saw Your Name.

Ruby: You saw my name.

Yang: No, the movie was called Your Name.

Ruby: They named a movie after me?

Yang: No, you don’t get it!

Ruby: You’re darn right I don’t get it, they should have done that ages ago.

Yang: They did not name a movie after you.

Ruby: So it was a coincidence?

Yang: The title of the movie was literally Your Name.

Ruby: Which is Ruby.

Yang: I can’t believe this.

Ruby: What kind of movie was it?

Yang: It was an anime movie.

Ruby: There’s an anime named Ruby?

Yang: No of course there isn’t, stop being stupid!

Ruby: I’m not being stupid, you’re confusing me! Are you doing it on purpose? Did Qrow put you up to this?

Yang: You know what? I’m out. Screw this. I’m done with this conversation. *sigh* I’m gonna go see another movie.

Ruby: What are you gonna see?

Yang: Call Me By Your Name.

Ruby: Okay, fine. What are you gonna see, Ruby?

Yang: I hate you so much!

Ruby: Love you too.

*Yang leaves, Weiss enters*

Weiss: What was that all about?

Ruby: I don’t know. We just had this really weird fight. Sister stuff, I guess.

Weiss: I hear that. Anyway, I’m going to a concert this weekend. Wanna tag along?

Ruby: Sure, sound like fun. Who’s on first?

As I should have mentioned in my updates post last week, I knew before I even had my future decided that if I came back, it would probably be in early May. I knew that the first anime I’d review would be Berserk, as I did flat out promise it, but I had a lot of ideas swirling around in my head about what my second review should be. For some reason, I was feeling incredibly stupid that day, and I decided to leave my fate up to the internet. I went to the most active Facebook group that I was a part of, and I posted an open poll, asking what title I should hit next.

Now, the option to close out Facebook polls so nobody can troll them is rather recent… I am, at the very least, ONE of the people whose complaints to Facebook lead to this change… But if you’ve dabbled in Facebook polls before, you’d know that the urge to troll open polls has only gotten greater since people were given said option. I knew this, and was fully aware of it, but I didn’t care. I wanted to get trolled. I wanted people to suggest some truly heinous and offensive, or notoriously unwatchable, anime for me to tackle, because I wanted to prove to everyone that I was back and ready for a challenge.

I didn’t add any options myself… I let people add their own options… And thus, I was expecting people to burden me with something like Bible Black, or Twin Angels, or Boku no Pico, or Black Butler… But no, that’s not what happened. I learned a very important lesson that day… Even if you can’t count on people to be assholes, you can always count on them to be stupid. Case in point, the title that won the poll in a landslide, earning at least 4X the votes of the second place option, was Cory in the House. Yeah, if there’s one redeeming quality of the human race, it’s that even when presented with the opportunity to be randomly cruel to someone, they’d still rather be rebelliously idiotic. I don’t know how I wasn’t expecting that.

Don’t worry, my *next* review will be of something heinous.

Now, initially, I was just going to ignore these results, and pretend the poll never happened. The second highest vote-getter was From the New World, a title I actually really like and respect, so I was just going to do that(and I still will, in the future). But then an idea hit me… Fuck it. You guys want me to review Cory in the House, then that’s what I’ll do. It’s an old Disney sitcom that’s only relevant because of a decade-old meme that nobody’s willing to forget about, but doesn’t that, on it’s own, make it part of anime culture? And I’ve reviewed non-anime stuff before, so whatever.

Only, here’s the thing; I’m not going to review it as an anime. I’ve done a little research, and that meta element of the joke has, on it’s own, been beaten into the ground, with nearly all of it’s youtube reviews and Amazon product reviews falling in line, like the very mention of it as an anime is the equivalent of Schwarzenegger impressions… Meaning, it’s a cheap, easy joke that nobody ever laughs at, and it’s rewarding solely for it’s trolling value. Although, I’ve gotta give some credit to the Youtube reviewer who went as far as to connect it to a murder conspiracy. Good effort. No, I decided right then and there that I’d review this title for what it was… An ancient Disney Channel sitcom. Because I hate the human race, and I really don’t think I’ve been showing it enough.

At least, that’s what I thought would happen, but as I would soon find out, this show is really hard to find. There was never a series DVD release, it’s not streaming on Netflix, I don’t have Hulu, and I am NOT resubscribing to TV service just for this. I asked for help online, but of course, all I got in response was trolls naming off anime streaming sites, because you’re all horrible people. I actually checked these sites, too, so I can especially say Fuck you to that.

I eventually found some of the series available on Dailymotion, but in poor quality… Sped up, zoomed in, and all that jazz. I also happened to find one lone DVD that happened to have 4 fan favorite episodes on it, so there, my goal was set. I wasn’t going to watch the full series… I mean, come on, guys, the video quality of that pirated Dailymotion stream is just too painful for me… I was going to watch the pirated first episode, as well as the ones available on the DVD, and hopefully, they’d give me an accurate feel for the series as a whole.

Before we go any further, if there’s anyone still reading at this point who want to make some joke about Cory in the House being an anime, this is where you sod off.  Sod right the fuck off.  I don’t know why I said sod off when I’m obviously perfectly capable of saying fuck, but whatever.  I’m owning it.

Besides, anime is only from Japan, and Cory in the House was animated in America! It doesn’t count!

There, I made a meme joke, and I hope you fucking choke on it.

Anyway, now that I’ve actually watched some of Cory in the House? Well, first of all, you have to take my opinion with a grain of salt, as I only watched the pilot episode and four alleged fan favorites, so if there’s some dark period to the series, I don’t know about it. But from what I did see, honestly, I really like it. I know, right? I’m as surprised as you are. I’ve never seen a Disney sitcom before, outside of the old TGIF line-up, and everything I’d heard about them had prepared me for unlimited cringiness and soulless acting from people who really didn’t want to be there, but I actually enjoyed this.

This is mostly on account of the lead actor, Kyle Massey, who plays the title character, House… Oh wait, that’s Hugh Laurie. Kyle Massey plays Cory, and damn if it if he doesn’t bring his all to the performance. He brings boatloads of energy, charisma and sincerity to the role, so much so that even when the jokes are at their lamest(which, to be fair, happens a lot), he still makes you want to laugh at them. The other main cast members do a hell of a job, too, having a lot of fun with their roles while still putting genuine effort into the material. Some of them were saddled with less than enviable gimmicks, like Jason Dolley, who had to play the stereotypical dumb best friend, but he still came out looking good, mainly due to the fact that his character had the essential benefit of also being laid back and likeable.

I mean, the guy playing Cory’s dad isn’t great, but he’s still way above what I’d normally expect from a Disney sitcom actor.

There are also a few guest stars, particularly in the episodes that I watched, and while they didn’t do anything particularly memorable with George Takei, it’s excusable because their target audience more than likely had no idea who he was. They gave a lot more focus to Raven and The Rock, because of course those names are going to resonate with younger viewers. Rocky had a pleasant reunion with his Game Plan costar Madison Pettis(Who I forgot to mention is also a huge star in this show), and Raven… I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen Raven, but apparently she was psychic? Whatever the case, she put forth just as much effort as Kyle Massey, and the chemistry the two of them together had me rolling.

And despite what I’ve been saying, the writing isn’t all that bad, either. I mean, okay, it’s obviously stupid. Like, dumber than a box of hammers, kind of stupid. But it still kind of works, in it’s own way. One thing I noticed that it’s particularly strong at is the element of planting and pay-off. The Rock episode is probably the best example, as there are almost a dozen things in it that come back later in surprisingly smart ways, but since I don’t want to spoil anything in that episode, I’ll talk about a plot line from the first episode, instead.

Early on, Cory shows us a bobblehead resembling the President, and say he wants to sell them as a product. Now, you might be noticing, this isn’t funny. At all. It just feels kinda weird. Who made that for him, and if he’s that pressed for a get rich quick scheme, how did he pay for it? It’s bad, but due to the show’s strong sense of pace, you quickly forget about it. Or, you would, except that it comes back. While Cory is stuck under the president’s desk(and is forced to lick his hand, pretending to be a dog, which is admittedly painful to watch), his assistant refers to him as “The boy with the bobblehead,” which the president mistakes as meaning that Cory has an actual physically deformed head. That would be funny on it’s own… Congratulations, you saved a bad joke, please teach this art to Mike Myers… But then, at the end of the episode, POTUS gives him a heartfelt speech, detailing his own childhood deformity(just go with it), and without Cory even realizing the mistake, it winds up tying in to the resolution of the episode.

I’m sorry, guys, but I’ve gotta be honest, this show is way too entertaining for it’s legacy to be the fact that a bunch of unimaginative trolls keep dragging it out as a dated meme. I mean yeah, like I said before, I only saw the first episode and a collection of popular episodes, so it goes without saying that I don’t know the series at it’s worst. Hey, for all I know, maybe Donald Trump makes a cameo. It happened in Drew Carrey.

So, to clarify, Cory in the House isn’t quite good enough to justify the hassle you have to go through to watch it, but if you can find a convenient way, go for it. It’s a pretty funny show, and I’d recommend checking it out.

But it’s not a fucking anime.

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