WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS
Okay, so those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (and I mean both of you!) will have noticed that I haven’t posted my usual weekly review for a while. And that’s because, doing the job that I do (see the About tab for details) I am really busy right now. Yes, that’s right – I’m even too busy to write blog posts for my infinitesimally small audience.
That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped watching anime – well, not stopped completely. In the rare moments that I can squeeze in an episode or two, I am watching some current series and also have a feature or two lined up. So, in the absence of a review, I thought I’d fill you in on what I’m currently and may shortly be watching, and which, when I get a moment to breathe, will (possibly) be writing reviews for in the future.
1. Currently Watching
Blade Runner: Black Lotus
Set between the events of the original Blade Runner motion picture and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 (as well as ten years after the events of the highly recommended anime short Blade Runner: Black Out), Blade Runner: Black Lotus focuses on a young replicant female named Elle who fetches up in Los Angeles in the year 2032. Suffering from amnesia, she is only able to gradually put together the fragmentary pieces of her past, which reveal the horrific circumstances by which she came to be in the city. Aided by the mysterious Joseph and a black market dealer named Doc Badger, Elle sets out to discover who she truly is, take her revenge on those humans who regard replicants as nothing more than disposable “dolls” – and unravel the riddle of how she came to have a black lotus tattooed on her shoulder…
Arcane: League of Legends
A prequel to the League of Legends franchise developed by Riot Games, Arcane: League of Legends purports to tell the origin story of a number of the characters who feature in the game. Years ago, the residents of the undercity of Zuan rebelled against the privileged people living in the utopian society of Piltover: in the violent crackdown that crushed the rebellion, sisters Vi and Powder are orphaned. They are rescued by Vander, leader of the failed rebellion, who adopts them as his daughters (as well as two boys, Mylo and Claggor, whom he takes in as adopted sons). Living under Vander’s protection, Vi grows up to be an accomplished thief and housebreaker, while Powder struggles to develop her magical and alchemical abilities. One day, they rob the home of one of Piltover’s most renowned scientists; and despite the explosion that destroys the house, they manage to escape – though, unbeknown to the others, Powder has pocketed some magic crystals that are also an enormous energy source. But the repercussions of the robbery set in train a series of events that lead to tragedy, and to Vi and Powder ending up on different sides of a brutal struggle for power…
Komi Can’t Communicate
Komi Shōko is attractive and intelligent, and wildly popular with her fellow high schoolers – but she suffers from such acute social anxiety that she is unable to talk to her peers. Tadano Hitohito considers himself to be a very average student and a mediocre person – yet he has won a place at the prestigious Itan Private High School, where he tends to survive by staying inconspicuously in the background. However, when Tadano finds himself not only in the same class as Komi but seated next to her, he becomes both the centre of the other students’ jealous attention as well as her unwitting conduit to the rest of the world. As Tadano and Komi get to know one another and work out a means of communication using blackboards, notes, and text messages, he begins to realise both the severity of her anxiety and the depth of her longing for human contact. Tadano resolves to help Komi overcome her anxiety by enabling her to make 100 friends…
The Promised Neverland
Grace Field House is an orphanage where 38 orphans under the care of the “Mom” lead a relatively happy life, waiting for the day when they will be adopted and be able to live with a family of their own. 11-year-old Emma is one of the leaders among the children: cheerful and optimistic, she helps “Mom” by getting the children organised for mealtimes and assisting with various duties around the orphanage. Her two best friends are Norman, a near-genius who excels at the regular exams set for the children; and Ray, who is also highly intelligent, but inclined to be secretive and always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else. One evening, Norma and Emma inadvertently discover the horrific truth that surrounds their lives and that of the orphanage itself; determined to liberate all the children, they tell Ray the secret they have discovered, and the three plan their escape from the orphanage into the dangerous world beyond…
Based on the manga by Tsubasa Yamaguchi, Blue Period tells the story of Yatora Yaguchi, a popular high schooler who, while he superficially appears to be doing well, experiences deep feelings of frustration and meaninglessness. This all changes one day when he sees a painting by transgender fellow student Ryuji “Yuki” Ayukawa; fascinated by the piece, he is drawn into the world of art, and discovers his own latent talent in drawing and painting. Yatora joins the school art club, and then a prep school as he struggles to prepare for exams that might result in his acceptance to the Tokyo University of the Arts; and along the way, he not only learns more about art and what it means to be an “artist” (including his own capacities and limitations), but with the growing pains faced by all teenagers on the threshold of joining the adult world of work and higher education.
Taisho Otome Fairy Tale
Set in the year 1921 during the reign of the Taisho Emperor (1912-26), Tamahiko Shima is the second son of a wealthy industrialist. Apparently raised in luxury and privilege, Tamahiko struggles with his demanding and emotionally distant father; and when he is injured in a car accident (in which his mother is killed) and loses the use of his right hand, he is exiled to his family’s property in rural Chiba Prefecture and told by his father that he is effectively “dead”. Seventeen-year-old Tamahiko becomes a recluse; but his solitude is interrupted by the arrival of fourteen-year-old Yuzuki Tachibana, who has had her pleasant life at an all-girls’ school overturned by family orders to go and live with Tamahiko and (eventually) become his wife (she was effectively “bought” for this purpose by Tamahiko’s father, in payment for a debt owed to him by the Tachibana family). Thus disrupted, they must somehow adjust to life together, all the while overshadowed by the demands of family and social expectation, and by the unforeseen consequences of both natural disaster and the machinations of those who will stop at nothing to get their way…
2. On The “To Watch” List
In an alternate-reality 19th century Europe powered by steampunk technology, scientist Lloyd Steam and his son Edward discover an ultra pure mineral water which they believe can be developed into an unlimited energy source for steam engines. Their experiments, however, go horribly wrong, and Edward is severely injured, even believed by many to have been killed; but at the same time, a spherical device is created that may vindicate Lloyd Steam’s beliefs about the potential energy source. Lloyd sends the device to his grandson Ray, with instructions that he is to get it to the inventor and “father of railways”, Robert Stephenson; but the task proves both dangerous and difficult, as Ray is pursued by agents of the O’Hara Foundation, who want the potentially lucrative technology for themselves. Thus begins a deadly race to ensure the latent energy of the new device does not fall into the hands of the ruthless and ambitious, whose desire for power could turn a potential boon for humanity into a catastrophically destructive weapon…
In the near future, humans have developed android technology to the point where they look and behave exactly like humans. The technology has one flaw, however: after roughly nine years and four months, the android’s personality programming breaks down, casing amnesia, violent behaviour, and eventually resulting in the unit becoming adrift in society and a potential danger to humans. The only fix is to perform a complete memory and personality wipe that resets the android as an entirely new individual, with nothing of their previous character and identity remaining. This service is performed by the operatives of the SAI Corporation’s Terminal Services Bureau, who are divided into teams consisting of a human “spotter” and an android “marksman”. Tsukasa Mizugaki winds up as a “spotter” after failing his college entrance exams; partnered with a beautiful android “marksman” named Isla, the two begin to develop feelings for one another. But Isla is nearing the point where she must undergo her personality wipe if she is to avoid becoming a hazard to those around her; and together, she and Tsukasa must face the inevitability of what amounts to her premature “death”.
The Perfect Insider
Based on the 1996 novel Everything Becomes F by Hiroshi Mori, The Perfect Insider centres on Dr Sohei Saikawa, a brilliant but aloof professor of architecture at Nagoya University. Highly intelligent, detached, and uninterested in things like fashion or reputation, Sohei is admired by his first year student Moe Nishonsono, who has a crush on him; but he is completely oblivious to her feelings. Moe, for her part, is the daughter of Sohei’s old mentor, and possessed of excellent powers of observation and calculation – even if she has a tendency to sometimes reach extreme conclusions. One day, Sohei, Moe, and a group of students are invited to travel to an island that serves as the research lab of Dr Shiki Migata, a brilliant but reclusive AI researcher who spent much of her youth in psychiatric detention after she murdered her parents. While on the island, the lab’s director and Shiki’s uncle, Seiji Shindo, is murdered; thrust into the centre of the investigation, Sohei and Moe quickly realise that everything is not as it seems – and the smoke and mirrors mystery of the murder points to the horrific truth behind past events…
Part of a franchise that includes a 6 episode OVA series, a 12 episode prequel series, and two feature length films, Hakuoki is a 22-episodes-over-two-seasons anime series based on a video game originally developed by Idea Factory. Set during the latter stages of the Edo Period, it tells the story of Chizuru Yukimura, who travels to Kyoto in search of her missing father. When she is attacked by some apparently deranged men, she is rescued by the Shinsengumi – a corps of elite warriors who serve as a special police force for the Tokugawa Shogunate. When the Shinsengumi realise Chizuru’s identity and the fact that she is the daughter of the man who invented an elixir called the Water of Life (which turns people into murderous beings known as Furies, the same creatures who had attacked Chizuru), they decide to detain her as an aide in their search for her father. Eventually, Chizuru begins to develop a bond with the Shinsengumi; but this bond is tested when claims emerge that Chizuru herself is a demon, and that she and her father have been experimenting on the creation of a race of demons to conquer the world…
So there you have it, folks…what I am currently watching, and what I (might) be watching in future. So once this busy period is over, stay tuned for my thoughts and reactions.
Text © Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.