Shuriken Sentai Ninninger


2-shuriken-sentai-ninninger I’m going to make a change to this blog. In an effort to be more topical I’m going to post reviews of certain series as soon as I finish them. This will prevent my backlog of reviews from increasing and allow me to give my opinions of shows and movies while they are still topical. Today, its time to look at the 39th entry in the Super Sentai Franchise (I know it ended months ago but I’ve been busy).

The Last Ninja, a great warrior who defeated the evil Kibaoni army is looking for a successor. His grandchildren, Takaharu, Yakumo, Nagi, Fuka, and Kasumi are all candidates to inherit the title. Together they must strive to improve their ninjality (the power which allows someone to do ninja skills), fight the now released Kibaoni army, and search for the ultimate weapon, the sealing shuriken. Together they are known as the Shuriken Sentai Ninnninger.

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This show is a mess. All its aspects have problems. Let’s start with the sentai. They all fall into the trap of not out growing the initial character stereotypes they are introduced with. Takaharu is wild, Yakumo is smug, Kasumi is smart, Nagi is helpful, and Fuka is innocent and clumsy. The best ranger is Kinji the Starninger who shows the best growth as an individual and conquers the (literal) demons of his past. Also, despite it being a family sentai they really don’t feel like a family. Unlike Magiranger where there were multiple flashbacks to the members growing up and bonding as kids, this series doesn’t have nearly as many or any to help you understand their family bond. Frankly the show is insisting they are family but you don’t feel it as you watch it.

The mecha are weird to say the least. The main robot is a weird combination of vehicles which should not be associated with ninjas including a train and a dump truck. The later combinations are a bit better once they come together as a final form but the first and main robot takes far too long to get used to.

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The villains are the saving point of this series. The commanders are least as all of them look stunning and are formidable opponents who give the sentai a run for their money. The individuals monsters of the week are some of the worst creatures ever. These things are worse than the Trinoids of Abaranger and those things had the excuse of being three elements fused together. This show has no explanation for some of the lamest designs since the T-rex Dopant from Kamen Rider W.

The comedy aspect which comes from trying to keep the series more light in the beginning doesn’t work either. The jokes just aren’t funny. An episode or two, such as the episode where its played out like an RPG game is funny but overall the humor doesn’t play well.

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The last and final aspect which doesn’t work is the Ninja aspect. They just don’t feel like ninjas. Probably because of their insistence on rampaging and not hiding which is actually the teams personal motto. The poor attempts at humor probably is what killed the feeling of this team being true ninjas.

You weren’t entertaining Ninninger at all. You started okay but crashed hard and still had too many episodes to go to your ending. Eventually, I was begging for you to end. It’s painful enough with you being a bad series but now whenever the studio says they are going to do another ninja themed sentai, we will always be wary of getting another show like you coming out.

RATING: D

Geneshaft

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What happens when a show focuses more on character designs and its heavy handed message over the fact that they have a giant robot they can pilot? You get a show like Geneshaft which presents a future with giant robots that I don’t want to be a part of. It should be obvious that if a fan of mecha writes that and the series doesn’t involve aliens bugs crushing humanity then the show probably isn’t going to be good.

The world has become ruled by genetic engineering and woman outnumber men. Mika is a young woman with a white gene type and thought to be inferior by others. In order to fight a mysterious alien race known as The Rings, a ship called the Bilkis has been tasked to investigate them. Mika becomes a member of the crew but has to deal with the fact her captain’s actions resulted in the death of her friend.

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The first main problem with this series is it bites off far more than it can handle. The series deals with topics such as selective gene manipulation and what type of society these actions create. This could have been the focus in a series by itself but then issues such as people devolving into beings with less emotion who don’t feel attachment because they can easily be cloned back to life is also thrown in. These subjects are dealt with in a 13 episode series where there is a giant robot and an enemy alien race trying to destroy Earth. This is far too much to handle in such a short amount of time.

Another major problem is the show has no “outside man.” There is no character to look at what is going on with this advance society and say how mixed up it has become. There is an episode where characters from the past are transported to this future, make the claim of how strange the society has become, and then disappear by the end of the show like it never even happened. Again, this could be the plot of the whole series but they use it in only one episode and don’t address it the rest of the show.

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Now the flaws of this series could be redeemed if it had superior designed robots and outstanding mecha battle scenes. Sadly it doesn’t. The Shaft (a perfect description of the overall design of it) is a bare bones robot with one large cannon in its chest and that’s about it. The robot is plain metallic grey color (the photo is from a later episode when the Shaft is reacting to one of The Rings, which is why is gold) and looks like it is a wire frame bare bones model design no one took the time to go back and fix after they wrote the original idea down on paper. That’s what this feels like, a half finished product that no one took the time to correct and polish to make it any better or worse then the finished product.

This show really didn’t need a giant robot. It should have just had a crew of people going out into space with someone who was cryogentically frozen to awaken from the past to look at the bland and calculated way of life society has become and express the importance of feelings such as love and compassion. Because if the characters can’t get caught up on attachment and are working to repress emotion, why should the audience be expected to attach any feelings of their own?

RATING: D+

Macross: Do you remember love?

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Time to return to the wonderful world of Macross. I’m looking forward to the new series, Macross Delta but it will  have to wait until later this year. For now we find ourselves still in “retelling” month and looking at a movie which retells the original Macross series and asks the important question, “Do you remember love?”

Out in the solar system, the spaceship, the Macross is out exploring when it is attacked by Zentrati forces. Helping to fight against them is Hikaru Ichijou, a pilot who finds himself falling in love with the young idol named Lynn Minmei. Things get turn upside down when Hikaru and his commanding officer Misa Hayate get thrown from the ship. As they struggle to survive the two grow closer and may have found the way to defeat the Zentradi by harnessing the power of love.

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This retelling is a masterpiece that adds a great deal to the original show it was based on and does so while looking so good in the process. The visuals in this movie are incredibly detailed to the point each missile with its vapor trail is lovingly hand drawn (rumor has it if you pause at the right moment you can see they drew one missile as a Budweiser can) and the landscapes are detailed in a way which conveys distress and hopelessness at just the right moments. Its truly a sight to behold.

The characters also have a bit of an alteration from the TV show. Minmei isn’t as annoying as she was in the show and you can feel the struggle with the result of the love triangle between her, Hikaru , and Misa. Also, they managed to squeeze in some time for Mira and Max’s relationship but sadly one character doesn’t have any change and once again Roy Fokker still meets with a very traumatic fate. Why can’t he just stay alive in one version and retire to private sector with Vanessa on his arm?

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The movie does have a few plot holes which are never properly addressed.  This has led to questions like “Did Mira shrink or did Max enlarge?” and “Why does an ancient alien song sound like 80s pop?” Still these little nitpicks don’t distract from the overall enjoyment of the movie and has some really memorable moments which mecha fans have been treasuring for years. The film is a quality piece of animation for not only fans of giant robots but fans of anime in general. Now if we could just get a physical media release of it in America. Are we asking too much for that to happen?

Two entries down and two to go on the first themed month. So far the entries have been successful in retelling the series properly. Next week though we find one that doesn’t succeed in properly recreating the feel of the show at all. Look forward to it crew.*

RATING: A-

*I’m thinking of addressing my readers as crew. Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Comment and let me know.

Rahxephon: Pluralitas Concentio

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Welcome to my first themed month. Every post in this month of January will be dedicated to the theme of “Series retelling.” These movies take the plot of the original series they were based on and retell them in a short condensed movie. The first entry in this theme month is Rahxephon.

Ayato Kamina and his young girlfriend have been separated by the Tokyo Jupiter Incident, which cuts off Tokyo from the outside world. Ayato is approached by a mysterious woman named Haruka who leads him to the giant winged robot Rahxephon. Now Ayato must use the Rahxephon to fight the Dolems send by the Mu, who caused the Tokyo Jupiter Incident and find a way to reunite with the love of his life, Mishima.

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Since the month is about retelling the story, evaluating whether its a good or bad retelling should come first. Overall, it does a pretty good job retelling the story of Rahxephon. The mysteries don’t get as much time to drag out as they did in the TV show. Still they make sure to focus the important beats of the original story and add some very interesting scenes.

Speaking of interesting scenes, the love story between Ayato and Mishima is the main focus of the movie. Though their romance was a subplot in the original series, focusing on it really helps to showcase just who important it was to the overall plot. Also, the two of them are a cute couple and their love is very entertain to watch develop. Small spoiler but the two of them make love. Personally, I find this refreshing as not all anime couples get the option of having the aspect of an adult relationship without it become some kind of ecchi fanservice comedy or straight up hentai.

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Sadly, the studio didn’t add any new mecha to the film. Would have been nice if they had added one movie exclusive robot for a new fight scene. They do make sure to include a few of the better fight scenes form the show but probably could have benefited from one just one more fight.

Overall, this is a good movie to watch. All fans who enjoyed the Rahxephon series should make it a point to watch this film. This was made at the point in time when many thought that Studio Bones doing a mecha anime was always going to be a recipe for success. Sadly, shows like Heroman and Captain Earth have made it so fans must be a little wary before diving head first into one of their shows. Still, Bones still has a pretty good track record and I become hesitatingly optimist every time I hear they are doing a giant robot series.

There we go. the first entry in the “retelling” theme month.  If you like the theme let me know and I’ll work on adding more theme months in this blog’s future.

RATING: A-

Colossal News: Shin America, Cancelled?!

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I’ve got some news bits so its time for another, COLOSSAL NEWS!

First up more news on the King of the Monsters. Godzilla’s film from Toho Studios coming out in 2016 has a title. It will be called, SHIN GODZILLA (New Godziila). Not very impressive but still good to hear that things are moving ahead. There is also rumors that if things go well with King Kong’s new film, Skull Island, the two foes could go team up in the future. Fingers crossed on that one.

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Next up, the kickstarter worked! Team America has reached the goal to outfit their robot for their fight with Japan. The Megabots new concept looks is like something out of G-Gundam. Not in a good way. Still, the giant robots will fight so we have that going for us.

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Finally, Pacific Rim 2…is cancelled?! What mockery is this? Announced early this week, Pacific Rim is on indefinite delay which could become a cancellation. The reason? Money. Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are having a financial look at the film and fear it will not be feasible or a good idea to keep going. I couldn’t disagree more and think they should get off their butts and give me more Jaegers but that’s me. Hopefully this will be resolved in the near future and we won’t have to worry about this hiccup in the road to get more giant monsters from director, Guillermo Del Toro.

That’s it for now. As always people, LIVE LARGE!

Knights of Sidonia Season 2

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It’s time again to return to the space colony of Sidonia as it traverses the heavens in search of a new home for all humanity. The entire time they find they must fight against the alien race known as the Gauna whose mission seems to be the destruction of all mankind. This is the plot behind the series Knights of Sidonia, a show that easily won me over with its first season. Now the second season has been released but does the story keep up with the intensity it had previously?

After the events of the first season, Nagate Tanikaze is now known through all of Sidonia as an Ace Pilot. Elsewhere his rival, Kunato becomes infected with a Gauna parasite in the lab of the legendary scientist Ochiai. Under its control Kunato kidnaps the Gauna recreated Hoshigino and begins running experiments on her. The pair soon emerge as a pilot and Gauna the size of a robot who now calls herself Tsumugi. Tanikazi must continue to fight against the enemies invading outside and the growing threat inside the colony of Sidonia while learning more about the incredibly friendly giant Tsumugi.

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The second season doesn’t waste time. That summary comes from only the first two episodes of this new season. The Gauna/Human hybrid who talks like a polite young lady is introduced in the first episode in the heat of battle. The ending of the second episode alone is jaw dropping and is so intense I dare not any spoilers talking about it. We also see Isane choose a gender but considering she was set up a long time ago to be Tanikazi’s love interest this should be no surprise to anyone. There is character growth here and I am all for it.

The newest cast member to be introduced, the Hybrid, Tsumugi really steals the show. She’s a sweetheart, innocent girl who happens to be as big as a giant robot and uses a penis shaped appendage to interact with others. I know how odd that sounds but trust me she really is a fascinating character. Her innocence adds to the charm of the show and allows a much needed break from the intensity of parasites plotting a conspiracy that will affect the future of all of Sidonia.

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The show does increase its comedy incidents but the drama increases as well. I mean the moments with the ever growing love triangle can be frustrating at time but then in the next scene the Gauna are attacking and people are getting destroyed because the menace is just too great. It does feel like a roller coaster at times though with all of the up and downs that you go on as the viewer which is a negative against it.

Unfortunately, the season finally doesn’t wrap up any thing and still hints that there is a lot of story with these characters left to be told. I’m looking forward to more but sadly I don’t know when the 3rd season is coming. The series is a lot of fun and with a solid finale it could very well be one of the greatest Mecha shows in the history of anime. For now though it still has some faults and gets the same rating as the previous season. Watch it but its still missing the bump needed to call it a masterpiece.
RATING: B

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

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Fish out of water stories in Mecha animes usually follow a specific formula. What happens is that a person from a “normal” world falls through a portal and arrives in a world where Giant Robots are more common place. This series is much different. In this show, the character brings his own Giant Robot to the party.

Ledo is an Ensign with the Galactic Alliance who is paired with the giant robot, Chamber. Together the two of them work to destroy the alien race called Hideauze who’s goal is to eliminate humanity. During a mission he is knocked into a wormhole and awakes up on Earth. Here, the people live a much different life and are at first hesitant on welcoming the strange visitor with a giant robot. A young messenger named Amy helps him to adapt to their way of existing and shows him that their is life outside of the battle field.

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The set up of this anime is the most interesting part of the series. Here we see a world this is basically a more pleasant version of Waterworld (Yes, the Kevin Costner flick). Unlike that film though everyone is very vibrant and full of energy and color instead of dirty, drab, and antisocial. The world also has kind of a steampunk feel to it which I know will get a lot of people interested in knowing more about

The characters in this series are very fun and offer a unique perspective. Ledo who only knows how to be a giant robot pilot for combat but for the most part such skills are not needed in this world. He now has to learn how to get along in this new world and be able to help the new friends that he makes. Amy is the energetic girl who helps Ledo to get accosted to this new world, teaches him compassion, and also thinks that he is pretty cute. There’s is a more sweet than passionate romance. Also, support characters like the feisty salvager Bellows helps to give support to our two main characters and are also interesting on their own. A viewer will easily walk away from this series with a favorite character.

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The robot of this series is a character himself. Chamber acts as a translator for Ledo as he gets used to the language on the planet. He also offers the whole, “AI learning about humans” aspect that is sweet in this case. He kicks a lot of butt but is sadly overpowered on this new planet. Its only later in the series that he actually gets a decent opponent but it takes a while to get to that point. One more fight where he actually had a challenge would have been nice.

What I really like most about this series is that its so self contained. Yes 2 OVAs have been created since but they aren’t necessary to fully enjoy this series. Its a simple 13 episode series that tells a good story about a young solider, his giant robot buddy, and the cute messenger girl that wants to be his special someone. Its the kind of mecha series that is approachable even to those who aren’t fans of giant robots. One of the biggest difficulties that anime fans (and more specifically mecha anime fans) face is being able to recommend a show or movie that isn’t heavy or requires explanations before watching. This one is easy to pick up, enjoy, and its currently on Netflix. Grab a friend and check it out.

RATING: B+

Valvrave the Liberator

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You’d think Sunrise as a studio wouldn’t need to make any more robot series. After all they are the studio that makes all the Gundam shows. Still, despite a near monopoly on mecha, they eventually make other series in an effort to launch a new franchise. Though they may never be as enormous of a franchise as Gundam they are still entertaining in some extent as long as they have a draw that sets the series apart from others, memorable. The draw of this series: LOTS of blood.

Haruto Tokishima is a boy who is just trying to live an ordinary High School life and let his crush, Shoko, know how he feels. His world is thrown upside down when enemy forces from Dorssia attack the Module that he lives on and almost kill Shoko. Thinking she is dead, Haruto enters into the Valvrave, a mysterious red robot that allows him to fight off the Dorssia horde. After the battle is over, he is approached by the Dorssia spy L-Elf, who shoots Haruto repeatedly in the chest killing him. Haruto revives a few minutes later and sinks his teeth into L-Elf’s neck…which ends the first episode.

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This show starts out extreme and doesn’t slow down at all. It has something of a “Game of Thrones” feel to it, a series which has a reputation of killing of large portions of its cast dying in order to advance the story. Likewise, the anime doesn’t mind killing a few of its characters quite often to advance the plot (a lot more in the second season but that’s a review for another time). The new form that the Valvraves (yes there is more than one) gives to their pilots allows them to be hurt a lot but survive from it, which explains why Haruto is able to survive after being shot in the chest in the first episode. That aside, there are characters that won’t even make it out of the first five episodes.

The robots are very unique. Much like a series like Gundam Wing, each of the suits is a powerhouse on its own with its own special abilities that distinguishes it from others. Haruto’s own robot does an impressive energy attack that allows him to destroy an entire fleet of ships with a swing of his sword. They are also given an interesting weakness in even though they are self powered, if the robot gets too hot it will shut itself down. Very interesting way to cap very powerful machines.

The use of social networking is actively addressed in this show. From the students using it to gain support to Haruto’s phone being overrun with friend requests after its revealed he is the pilot of the giant robot, the anime does a nice job showcasing what would happen when a world with giant robots has something like Facebook. One of the other pilots, Saki, uses social media to help to restart her career as an idol once after she makes her transformation. The show uses social media to also point out how fast information can travel and how the world can be aware of what is going around at a moments notice.

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The show, especially its first season was an intense ride that had me going the entire time. I was watching this show as soon as it dropped on Crunchyroll. The show is action packed and has some very interesting Mecha designs. I do wonder though if the series has truly become noteworthy though. I mean the show ended back in January of 2014 and I haven’t really heard that many people scream their love of it since it ended. Was it just a flicker in the dark or are more people holding it close to their hearts then I know?

Rating: A-

Full Metal Panic

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As I’ve said mixing genres can be very tricky. You would think just from the description that a “Comedy mecha series set in high school” would not be a good idea because it sounds ludicrous. Well it is ludicrous, and hilarious, thrilling, touching, memorable and a whole lot of fun. This is the series known as as Full Metal Panic, a show that truly is the full package.

Sousuke Saga is a member of an elite secret military organization known as Mithirl who works to defend the world from the shadows. TO protect a young girl who is believed to be the target of a terrorist organization, Sousuke enrolls in her high school. Unfortunately, Sousuke doesn’t exactly fit into Japanese High School life and becomes a major annoyance to the young girl named Kaname Chidori. Just as it seems as if Kaname can’t take any more of Souske’s behavior, the bad guys come for her and Sousuke it there, ready to jump into a giant robot to protect her. Who says there’s no good guys in the world anymore?

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The characters of this show really make it stand out. Sousuke is clueless but a very competent solider. Kaname is an easily angered tsundare (A ruff exterior, sweet on the side type), but the anger can sometimes can justified given that Souske’s first thought is usually to reach for his gun, even in school. Still, the fact that Sousuke is so impulsive and one to make things blow up on a regular basis is what what makes this show so entertaining. The supportive characters such as Kurtz Weber and Melissa Mao are also great and help add to the story. I even enjoyed Tessa Testarossa, despite the fact that I am well aware that she is a rather annoying character to some fans.

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The mecha of this series are very unique. The show seems to showcase that every country has its own designs and different suits. A suit from Japan would be different from one in Russia. Still, its the main guys themselves who get some of the more impressive suits. I still think that the Arbalest (pictured above) is a one of my favorite suits throughout history. Hmm, that’s a list I should probably put together one of these days.

I know that I would heavily criticized if I didn’t mention the relationship between Kaname and Sousuke. There really isn’t anything that I could say that hasn’t been said a million times before by bigger fans then myself. They are adorable together, Sousuke does her best to try to protect her, even though his best sometimes makes Kaname very annoyed at his actions. They are one of the most entertaining Anime couples out there. I like many would probably squeal with delight if they actually animated a scene of the two of them kissing. Someday maybe it will happen.

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Getting around to reviewing fumoffu (even without giant robots) and second raid. I’ll give it some time though and hopefully by the time I get done reviewing all three series they will finally get that newly announced Full Metal Panic: Another done. Come on people, don’t leave me hanging.

Rating: A

Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure


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Mixing genres is not always a successful endeavor with anime. For every time they successfully mix action and comedy like with Slayers, we get show like a forgettable show like Pretty Sammy which tried to mix comedy with the Magical girl genre. So a mixture of genres like harem comedy and Giant Robots could go either way but thats the set up we are given in Dual!: Parallel Adventure. Whats the result of such a mixture?

Kazuki Yotsuga is a boy who keeps seeing visions of Giant Robots fighting intense battles that no one else can see. He is approached by his classmate, Mitsuki, the class princess who takes him to meet her father who finds Kazuki fascinating as he has been researching alternate universes. Subjecting him to an experiment Kazuki is transported to the other dimension and finds himself able to control the Giant Robots that he finds there. Now he fights to find a way home while becoming the most eligible bachelor in this new dimension.

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The characters respresent the standard troupes with harems from back then. Kazuki is the clueless guy who all the girls love, Mitsuki in the princess who denies she love him, D is the emotional awkward girl that tags around like a puppy, and Yayoi is the older woman who looks to him like the prince that saved her. Yes these characters are cliche now but back when I first watched it they were fun and made the series entertaining to watch. I also can’t help but enjoy the Moe, sweet girl that is Mitsuki Rara. She’s so adorable compared to the tsundare of the regular Mitsuki.

The giant robots to this series are the real weak point of their series. The main robots are mainly knock off s of the Evas from Neon Genesis Evangelion (complete with the type of weaponry they use) while the enemy machines look like your standard evil robots of death black, long armed, and hulking. The final robot that Kazuki pilots Zinv is impressive because of the fact is has laser blasts and has light hawk wings (making it have the connection tot he Tenchi Muyo universe that the director famously created). Still, I wouldn’t find myself created. I still wouldn’t find myself buying any of the model kits for this series anytime in the near figure.

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Dual succeeds in mixing his genre but sadly it just doesn’t have a huge fanbase. Sure it was run on Techtv/G4 TVs (whatever you want to call it) but fans didn’t add it to their essential anime list. Instead we watched i once and forgot about it. Don’t believe me? There hasn’t been another release of the series since its initial release by the now defunct Pioneer/Geneon company. So sad. Its not a bad show at all. Just forgotten thought the test of time, licensing, and sales. Maybe if we are lucky Funimation will pick it up and people can finally stream it when they get a chance.

Rating: B-