Tokyo Ghoul (2015)

In ‘Tokyo Ghoul’, college student Ken Kaneki has a chance encounter with a demon–a ghoul, a creature that possess human bodies, capable of producing limbs of organic matter and energy from the host’s back, which it uses to fight. Left in critical condition, Kaneki is only saved by organ transplants. Unfortunately for innocent Kaneki the donor was the host for the ghoul who attacked him and he awakes with the same hunger for human flesh. The demon is now within him. Frightened by his urges he does his best to suppress them, but unable to tolerate regular food he faces starvation–until he is taken in by other ghouls; ghouls who are managing their hunger by feeding off the dead. Walking a difficult path between his old human life and his new ghoul life Kaneki has to contend with possible rejection or endangering of his best friend, navigate the politics of ghoul’s gang-like structure and the vendetta they have against the ghoul personality within him, and avoid the Ghoul Investigators–a government department intent on hunting down and killing ghouls. And Kaneki isn’t just a ghoul–he’s a hybrid, which puts him in danger of losing his grip on what’s left for him, and make him a tasty morsel for other ghouls…

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Gurren Lagann

‘Gurren Lagann’ is set on an earth where humans live underground where the surface is a myth to many. The young boy, Simon, is a digger committed to his drilling after his parents were killed in a rock fall. He works mindlessly in his grief, expanding his subterranean village, thought of as an oddball by the others–except by the older boy, Kamina, who sweeps him up with his quest for the surface to follow in his father’s footsteps on the land above. When Simon finds a mechsuit gunman in the rock shaped like a head–Gurren–Simon and Kamina find the key to escaping their underground life. However, the surface is not what they expected, and they find themselves amidst oppressed humans resisting constant attacks from beastmen in their gunmen…

Many ‘Gurren Lagann’ episodes are formulaic, the artwork is the most caricature anime I’ve come across yet, and it can all be a bit silly… So why is it so awesome?!

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Black Butler (anime)…

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‘Black Butler’ is a 2008 anime following 12 year old Ciel Phantomhive on his hunt for those that killed his parents, aided by his supernaturally efficient and mysterious butler–the titular black butler–Sebastian Michaelis. Ciel has also determined to continue the Phantomhive business–not his family’s world-renowned toy company–but his parent’s work as agents of Queen Victoria. Ciel immerses himself in the criminal underworld of England as his parents had to protect Queen and country from threat. However, Sebastian Michaelis is not just one Hell of a butler–he’s a demon, bound by a contract to follow Ciel’s orders and help him avenge the death of his parents. In return, Sebastian will feast upon Ciel’s soul…

Sound dark enough? Well, I was drawn to this as it had been compared to ‘Bat Man’. I can tell you that aside from Ciel having dead parents, and being bent on revenge, it is nothing like ‘Bat Man’. In fact, as dark as it can and does get, it balances it with farcical humor. Take the first episode; Ciel and Sebastian work together to rid Ciel of a treacherous business partner–toying with him like cats with a mouse, and exacting haunting methods of revenge; Sebastian spends much of the episode trying to run the home despite an inept trio of staff who cause various domestic disasters. But does it work?

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Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985)…

This follow-up to ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ is set 8 years after the events of that series, which saw the fall of Earth’s enemy, the Zeon empire. The Earth Federation has created a specialist force, the Titans, set on hunting down the last of the Zeon forces. While the Titans are widely considered the hero protectors of the Earth Federation they are establishing themselves as a totalitarian military dictatorship over the colonies.

Elements within the Earth Federation forces recognise what is essentially a coup and defect, creating the Anti-Earth Union Group (AEUG) and soon the members of what was once one military force have to choose sides in a civil war.

Kamille Bidan, a colonial teenager, feels the brutality of the Titans himself and gets caught up in the struggle and into a Gundam when the AEUG and Titans fight in his colony. In the chaos Bidan secures a Gundam for the AEUG, and after the Titans use Bidan’s parents as leverage against him, he commits himself to fighting the Titans with the AEUG.

While the animation and characterisation of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ may not have been as sophisticated as the modern anime I’ve seen, I made allowances for its age and the complex and pretty mature stories which had made that first series an enjoyable watch. I was interested in seeing where this 50 episode run would take the characters we’d followed from the first series. There was a little thrill at seeing the original crew of the Whitebase in the opening sequence all grown-up, and I realised how fond I’d become of them. The opening music for the dubbed version is great by the way–would love to hear that played live. Would ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Zeta’ match or better ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’?

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Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)

If, like me, you were a child of the 80s then you’ll remember cartoons such as ‘He-Man’, ‘Transformers’ and ‘Thundercats’ as big part of your childhood. But do you have dim memories of ‘Battle of the Planets’ and the ‘Star Fleet’ puppet action series? If so, then you came terribly close to Gundam. Earlier this year, off the back of ‘Deathnote’ and ‘Attack on Titan’, my other half suggested we try ‘Gundam 00’, a recent anime show–and we loved it. My other half has since gotten into Gundam in a big way and I imagine I will be surrounded by plastic robots that he has spent weeks painstakingly piecing together and I must never touch for fear of breaking them. Turns out that ‘Gundam 00’ was just the latest iteration in a 36 year old run of series. So… we thought… why not try and watch them all?

So we started with the very first series ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ and its 43 episode run…

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Gundam 00 (2007) Review…

Just recently my other half has gotten into making Gundam model kits by Bandai. Gundam are giant robot mechsuits worn by humans to fight one another. What’s not to like about that?! Chances are that if you’ve seen ‘Transformers’ or ‘Starfleet’ (I loved that show when I was a kid!) you’ll be pretty familiar with what a Gundam looks like. He wanted to check out the Gundam anime that the models came from, and found that it had been running in various different series since 1979… Impressive legacy. But ‘Gundam 00’ 2010 was recommended as the most accessible so we gave it a go…

Was it any good? In a couple of weeks we had watched both seasons of it. And the movie which gives the series one last hurrah. Yeah–it was good! It’s a sci-fi tale set on a global scale, a complex story of an organisation trying to bring peace to the world–by targeting any government or terrorist group that has a part in war.

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