Anime Review Roundup

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It’s been one of those fortnights, where it seems that everything I put in my DVD or Blu-ray player leans towards mediocrity. It sometimes gets to that point where I wonder if I’ve finally outgrown my hobby. Venus Versus Virus certainly doesn’t help in that regard. It’s one of the TBS shows that MVM are bringing to the UK this summer, albeit on DVD only. These are vintage shows, pushing fifteen years at this point, although two of the titles are veritable classics. This one isn’t. It’s a supernatural action show with a jargon all its own. Its spirits and monsters are called viruses, and the heroines do battle armed with bullets loaded with ‘vaccines’. It switches premise half-way through, and revolves around a love story with the emotional depth of Sailor Moon’s romances.

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Then sucker for punishment that I am, I put the Blu-ray of Girls Beyond the Wasteland on, harbouring a faint hope that it would be an improvement over the DVD, watching it the second time around. It certainly looks and sounds better as you would expect, but the show doesn’t improve in any way. It’s a missed opportunity in storytelling, setting up a premise that it fails to take advantage of, instead focusing on light and inconsequential character comedy hijinks, with a couple of episodes of light drama to change things up at the end. It’s much like most forgettable anime in this regard. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for Girls Beyond the Wasteland, there are plenty of similar shows out there that do hit the target they aim at. Click on the review for some suggestions.

This Week I’ve Been Mostly Rewatching...

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Moon Phase. And it had to be Moon Phase! It’s pretty decent the first time you watch it, but I’m on my sixth viewing at this point, and it’s lost that initial charm. It’s an early Akiyuki Simbo show, the visual genius behind shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the Monogatari franchise. The story follows a spirit photographer who discovers a young female vampire on a field trip in Germany, who bites him and tries to make him her slave. Only he’s immune, which infuriates her greatly to the point she follows him back to Japan and moves in with him. The two face plenty of mysteries as they learn about their respective pasts and how they are tied together.

Made around the time Simbo worked on Negima?!, Moon Phase is filled with all the visual quirks that he has come to be associated with, directorial flair, moody lighting, skewed compositions, and weird angles. But it is also replete with the silly gags that you’d find in Negima?!, plenty of wash-pans dropping on heads, and talking mascot animals, which detract from the story. Simbo is strongest when he has a narrative to back his style up, and that is lacking in Moon Phase, ultimately a case of style over substance, which wears off after a few watches, hence my lack of enthusiasm this time around. Here’s my review of volume 1. Moon Phase was released in 2007 over six DVD volumes by Revelation Films, Funimation’s ‘one-night stand’ between MVM and Manga, and it’s obviously deleted, although stray volumes are still available from e-tailers. Rather than hunt those down, it might be easier to import Funimation US’s Region 1 S.A.V.E. budget collection release.

MVM released Venus Versus Virus on DVD on May 30th. They also released Girls Beyond the Wasteland on Blu-ray and DVD in 2017.

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