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Anime Review

Jujutsu Kaisen Spoiler-Free Review

Japanese Title: Jujutsu Kaisen (TV)
Year: 2020
Episodes: 24
Studios: MAPPA
Adaptation: Jujutsu Kaisen
Genre: Action, Demons, Supernatural, School, Shounen

Jujutsu Kaisen has all the great makings of a good anime. Great visuals, characters, premise, and soundtrack. Everything fits so damn well together and every element complements each other making this anime such a joy to watch.

Jujutsu Kaisen without giving much away, is a shounen anime about Cursed Spirits and Sorcerers. The protagonist, Yuji Itadori is a physically gifted high school student living a relatively normal life. One day, he unknowingly picks up a cursed item and hands it over to his fellow classmates. Some unfortunate events down the line, Itadori swallows the item to gain power which results in him becoming a vessel for the curse.

As a fan of One piece and of Luffy, it is very easy for me to dig Itadori’s “don’t give a fuck” attitude. Starting off as a relatively easy-going, high-spirited kid, the death of his grandfather and his parting words makes Itadori realise the importance of life. This motivates him to eat the cursed finger of Sukuna (the king of curses) to obtain enough power to protect his friends from suffering an improper death. While he is level headed and composed at most times, he can become very emotional and impulsive when witnessing unfair and cruel behaviours. All in under one episode we are given his personality, origin, and his motivations which helps him become an interesting and complex character.

The story grabs the viewer from the very beginning with an intriguing hook – the protagonist has been abducted and is said to be executed by an unknown individual. The high stakes keep the viewer on edge as the story switches to a more light-hearted tone while also building the dangers of possessing cursed items. All this tension explodes when a curse attacks his friends and Itadori is faced with a dilemma of whether to protect them or run away.

Jujutsu Kaisen is one of the most beautiful looking I have ever watched. Not only is it extremely aesthetic, but also fluid and stylistic. The camera movement is experimental with amazing tracking and POV shots. The shake effects make every punch and hit feel impactful and as if you’re part of the action. The great choreography ensures the viewer doesn’t get lost with what is happening around them. The Curses have terrifying sound effects befitting of their designs and mannerisms. During action sequences, the dark orchestral music complements the frightening tone of the series.

Recommendations: If you enjoyed this anime, consider watching Naruto as it is heavily inspired from the series.

I rate this anime 8/10.

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Anime Review

Castlevania Spoiler-Free Review

For fans of the supernatural genre, Castlevania has it all –  Vampires, Monsters, Monster Hunters, Magicians and Sorcerers. Based on a video game and manga of the same name, the story is about the vampire Vlad Tepes exacting revenge on the citizens of Wallachia for executing his wife, Lisa. Causing mass genocide by unleashing all kinds of horrifying monsters into Wallachia directly from hell itself, Trevor Belmont, a monster hunter attempts to stop him in his tracks.

As it is an American cartoon, the voice acting is perfectly casted and incredibly well done with believable performances all around, reminiscent of Hellsing Ultimate (another anime about vampires). The realistic art style supports the mature tone of the series which is already riddled with gore and violence.

The storytelling is immersive and can make you feel like you’re playing an rpg video game as the main cast visit different locations and interact with the local residents discovering new information and challenges they must overcome. This is quite intentional as the cartoon was primarily adapted from an action-adventure game. There is never a dull moment to be had as there are a great deal of interesting characters, each with their own goals and motivations along with concurrent events occuring in different parts of Wallachia which keeps the story fresh and compact.

While the animation can feel lazy and stiff at times, it kicks up a notch during action scenes displaying some of the most beautifully choreographed fight sequences in anime. Effects of fire, water and other elements are especially well animated and the use of lighting and colour adds a cold and grim atmosphere to reflect the severity of Dracula’s actions.

On a negative note, some intriguing plot threads I would have liked to explore more thoroughly had been skimmed through to make room for the primary story. The story can feel quite rushed as there were far too many characters to address in 4 seasons. In contrast to earlier seasons, ordinary citizens who are the primary victims of the ongoing war between humans and vampires are given no room for dialogue. Feeling detached from these ordinary citizens hurts the actions of the protagonists as their primary goal is to save these people.

I rate this anime 8/10

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Anime Review

Castle in the Sky Spoiler-Free Review

Japanese Title: Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa
Year: 1986
Episodes: 1
Studios: Studio Ghibli
Adaptation: Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi

Castle in the Sky Spoiler-Free Review

A ground-breaking and stunning visual masterpiece.

Review

Castle in the Sky is an epic fantasy adventure following a brave pair of adolescent orphans, Sheeta and Pazu on a quest to discover the mysterious castle, Laputa. On their journey, the children encounter some troublesome, slap-happy comical band of pirates and maniacal government agents.

The dazzling visuals are sure to transport any viewer into the dreamy wonderland designed by Hayao Miyazaki. The stark contrast between the industrialised steampunk constructions and the beautiful dynamic natural landscape in the world of Laputa creates a very stand-out unique feel – which has managed to inspire countless animated movies including WALL-E and Up.

Every Sci-Fi design, whether it’s airships or towns leave a sense of wonder as to whether they could exist in reality due to the sheer amount of detail that’s put into them. Characters are simplistic yet easily distinguishable as their outfits are reflective of their lifestyle while their mannerisms flow in a subtle yet unique way that synchronizes well with their personality.

The two hour thrilling atmosphere leaves minimal room for dialog due to the plot-driven nature of the narrative, so qualms about character depth are fair. While there are hints of character motivation, the information is certainly lackluster and unimaginative. However, this doesn’t mean the characters are dull. In fact, Pazu and Sheeta’s actions are inspiring as their brave hearts never falter while encountering many dangerous obstacles. Pazu’s willingness to dive head first into danger for his friends are some of the greatest moments in the anime.

I rate this anime 9/10.

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Anime Review

Great Teacher Onizuka Spoiler-Free Review

Japanese Title: Great Teacher Onizuka
Year: 1999
Episodes: 43
Studios: Studio Pierrot
Adaptation: GTO
Genres: Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen

great teacher onizuka Review

Turn this on if you’d like to learn some hard-earned lessons about how to live your life to the fullest.

Review

An unorthodox teacher attempting to teach children about the value of friendship over studying is a far cry from any original premise, however, Great Teacher Onizuka isn’t attempting to be anything revolutionary. GTO is quite simply, a what-if scenario.

What if your teacher tried to understand your internal struggles? What if he was approachable and relatable? What if he tried his best to ensure your school life was full of happy memories so that when you’re older, you can look back and say, “Those were the happiest moments in my life.”

Eikichi Onizuka, much like the standard shounen protagonist, manages to teach important and valuable lessons about life while also being an idiotic and perverted goofball. He may appear to be quite careless and absent-minded but when it counts, he is the most dependable teacher to have by your side. Students are depicted as real human beings with real problems rather than ungrateful “brats” acting out their selfish desires.

This is only the tip of the iceberg because while GTO is able to craft very real and intricate personalities, it’s also an unadulterated comedic gold. The expectation vs reality parallel between Onizuka’s perverted fantasies and his reality make for some of the most hilarious moments in the anime. Not to mention his pure stupidity allows troublesome students to play countless pranks on him.

I rate this anime 10/10

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Anime Review

Perfect Blue Spoiler-Free Review

Japanese Title: Perfect Blue
Year: 1998
Episodes: 1
Studios: Madhouse
Adaptation: Perfect Blue: Kanzen Hentai
Genres: Dementia, Drama, Horror, Psychological

Perfect Blue is a flawless anime about the diabolical nature of the obsessed and irresolute mind.

Review

Perfect Blue follows the story of a celebrity on her transition from an innocent idol to a mature actress. Unfortunately, her transition isn’t as simple when she begins to realise she’s gradually losing her grip on reality and her identity. Perfect Blue is a narrative that manages to be quite relevant today, perhaps even more so in this modern age of social media.

Celebrity life isn’t something that’s taught and can come quite unexpectedly. It’s appropriate to say that one must be mentally prepared and have a strong sense of self-worth and pride to keep stern at both positivity and negativity. An unresolved individual is sure to be consumed by the brutality of internet trolls and obsessed admirers.

Amongst the constant disarray and confucius predicaments in Mima’s (our protagonist) life, there is a clear motif put forth by the director that highlights the ramifications of not knowing oneself. While this is a perfectly satisfactory topic to talk about, Satoshi Kon manages to go deeper by calling attention to the importance of understanding the clear distinction between one’s public persona and their private life, which is a topic more relevant today than it was 20 years ago.

I rate this anime 10/10.

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Anime Review

Fighting Spirit Spoiler-Free Review

Japanese Title: Hajime no Ippo
Year: 2000
Episodes: 75
Studios: Madhouse
Adaptation: Hajime no Ippo
Genres: Comedy, Sports, Drama, Shounen

Hajime no Ippo Review

Hajime no Ippo is a beautiful anime about the journey to becoming the best version of yourself. There are many lessons in this anime that are sure to be of some value to anyone that’s watching.

Review

Hobby is something one does for leisure and entertainment while passion is something one cannot live without. Full devotion towards a certain goal or achievement is the essence of passion and such is the narrative of Hajime no Ippo, the road to success.

The road to success is tough. Self-doubt and uncertainty are only a few of many struggles one must face on his journey. Ippo is no stranger to this. Bullied all his life, unable to develop friendships and also just, really wimpy. But this all changes when he meets a boxer and finds his passion and love for boxing.

There are certainly quite a few anime that fall into the “sport” or “action” anime category, however, while they go for the cool factor or even enter the supernatural realm, they fundamentally lack character depth. Hajime no Ippo manages to go deeper, displaying how passion and concentration can change one’s outlook on life with a more content and cheerful eyes, how an individual can go from having absolutely zero friends to having worthwhile and meaningful friends, and how he can realise he’s capable of much more than he once thought possible.

So much care is taken into every character that fights in the ring. It is not just Ippo that is trying to become number one in the professional world. Everyone has trained for their own goals and motivations. Whether it is to make money or a promise they made to a loved one, they have given it their all for a moment to shine in the ring. It all culminates in the stadium where the one that has not only trained harder, but also has the spirit and drive to rise above and beyond that will ultimately attain victory.

I rate this anime 10/10