Yuru Camp: Send the Chihuahuas

Yuru Camp is based off of a manga by Afro. Which I’m fairly certain is a circle’s name and not the name of the actual author. Afro is known for Anthology comics based off of works like Madoka, Sakura Trick, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka & Sansha Sanyou. I’m detecting a pattern and it has to do with lots of cute girls and heavy shoujo-ai. This may be a circle after my own heart. It was adapted into an anime by C-Station. C-Station is one of those studios I’ve never heard of. They’ve got a list of nine anime they’ve worked on, according to MAL and this is the first one I’ve watched.

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We open with young Shima Rin going on a solo camping trip. She stumbles across a girl sleeping near the camp site and thinks nothing of it, until late at night when the girl approaches her, crying because she overslept. This is Kagamihara Nadeshiko, a young lady who just moved into the area. Rin shares some of her pre-packaged camp food and lets Nadeshiko warm up by her fire until her sister arrives to pick her up. In a completely unsurprising coincidence, Nadeshiko has enrolled in Rin’s school. She quickly joins the outdoor club with Oogaki Chiaki & Inuyama Aoi. From there we basically get our cast of young ladies bonding over camping.

The only real issue I have with the story telling is that they kind of do the Tsuritama thing where they occasionally spend too much time on the mechanics of the outdoors activity. Although this series isn’t nearly as bad about it and does a better job of giving you small snippets that integrate well into the story instead of the long diatribes that series had. They do go on too long about camping equipment on a few occasions though. You’d almost think they were sponsored by an outdoor goods store.

With that relatively minor complaint out of the way, let’s move on to the positives. First off, this series is really relaxing and charming. It’s one of those anime that you just feel good watching. Rather like So Ra No Wo To. The snappy banter among the girls is superb. Saitou probably gets the best lines in the series in that regard. Maybe they figured they needed something to make her stand out since she doesn’t go camping most of the time and just kind of chats with the others using text messaging. The humour is really well executed and this series has a lot of strong comedic moments. I also appreciate that they address the financial barrier that people have to face when taking up a hobby like camping. And this series loves dogs, which I can appreciate. Not only does Saitou have a dog, but virtually every episode has incidental dogs somewhere. It even gets little details right like how chihuahuas don’t do well in the cold, like to burrow and wear bunny outfits for nefarious purposes.



The characters have a decent degree of complexity to them, which you don’t often see in cutesy slice of life works. They also mesh very strongly for comedic purposes. Which is part of the reason that the banter is so excellent. Even the incidental characters they encounter on their excursions tend to have a good degree of verisimilitude.


The artwork is really nice. The characters are done in a pretty typical moe style which may not be impressive but does look good, and the scenery scenes are absolutely amazing. The series is also really good at drawing dogs. Whether they’re just being encountered randomly or they’re being put in little outfits. The level of detail put into the camping gear is also pretty impressive but camping gear isn’t dogs so it’s not that important.

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The main cast is voiced by Takahashi Rie, Touyama Nao, Hara Sayuri, Hanamori Yumiri & Toyosaki Aki. All of whom are really good in this. I’ll also give Tateyama Akiyuki credit for doing a really good job on the soundtrack. You may recall that te did well with Kemono Friends too. The track in this might be a tad better.


There’s quite a bit. Rin and Nadeshiko in particular get a lot of moments, including sneaking into one another’s tents in order to sleep together, although in both situations there’s an explanation given beyond just them wanting to sleep together. There’s also some stuff with Aoi deliberately making Chiaki jealous.

Final Thoughts:

So, the writer for this clearly has a strong fondness for shoujo-ai, dogs and camping. Two of those things are interests we share but you’re not catching me out in the woods where some slasher film shit could go down and there are biting insects. All in all, though, I found this to be a highly endearing, enjoyable little series. If you hate the more cutesy slice of life style stories, it’s not going to change your mind. If you like them, even if only occasionally or when a really strong one comes along, chances are pretty high that you’ll enjoy this one. For myself, I give it a 9/10.


Ojamajo Doremi: Better Than It Looks

Ojamajo Doremi is a Toei animation original from the late 90s to early 00s. It ran for almost a year and had a whole slew of sequels. With this one, there is a good reason to be hopeful since Toei has done pretty well with magical girl series including both Sailor Moon and PreCure. Let’s see if this one can maintain the streak.



We open with our titular heroine, Harukaze Doremi, lamenting her status as the “world’s unluckiest pretty girl.” All because she can’t find a boyfriend at the ripe old age of eight. Please hold while I play the world’s tiniest violin for her. She stops by a strange shop on her way home and discovers that it’s run by an actual witch. Her discovery leads to the witch becoming a magical frog and Doremi finds herself taking on the role of her apprentice in order to return her to normal. She quickly brings her two best friends, Hazuki and Aiko, on board because she can’t keep it a secret properly. Antics ensue.

My big problem with this series is the over emphasis on romance. We have characters who are quite literally in the third grade, and one who’s in Kindergarten. And yet there’s a fixation in quite a few episodes on their nonexistent love lives. I have a ten year old niece. I’ve seen her and her friends interact. They still find it a bit gross when there’s romance in a television show. Kindergärtners sure as hell aren’t thinking about that and neither are a good 90%+ of third graders. If we’re being generous, we can call this an unrealistic element that the series wants to use for comedic effect. The problem there is that the “Doremi has a crush, again” episodes tend to be the weakest, least funny in the series. They pretty much all follow the same arc. Doremi pursues some guy. She and her friends use some magic to help him out of some kind of situation. He turns out to be interested in a different girl.

Aside from that, there is a lot to like about the series. Most episodes have a lot of strong, humorous moments. The series knows how to keep a strong aesthetic emphasising fun while still delving slightly into some more serious topics and handling them optimistically, but pretty well. It helps that the series has a good sense of which topics are serious enough that they can bring them in with some gravity without being so serious that they’re going to ruin the charming, fun aesthetic. That is, ultimately, the aspect I can praise it for the most. It is a delightful series to watch.


The cast is pretty simplistic. Which is fine since this is a more comedic work and it’s for children. The characters do have strong interactions. And one factor I do appreciate is the way the more antagonistic characters are given sympathetic traits. They aren’t just “the mean girls” or stereotypical bullies. Which is a bit refreshing particularly when you compare it to some other media for children where any antagonist is just evil for the evils. Although it is worth noting that there are no real villains in this. Which may explain why they went that route.


This is one element where I can’t give the series too much praise. The art doesn’t look terrible, but it does look very cheap. The character designs are basic with minimalist backgrounds. The various objects and effects are underwhelming. Even with the very basic art style, they still use a lot of stock footage for the magic. It’s like every episode had barely enough of an animation budget to buy a large pizza.



Toei did get an impressive cast for the series. We’ve got Chiba Chiemi as the lead and she sounds uncannily similar to Mitsuishi Kotono voicing Tsukino Usagi. Which suits the character because there are a lot of parallels betwixt the two. We’ve also got Matsuoka Yuki voicing a young transfer student from Osaka. Which she also did in Azumanga Daioh. Akiya Tomoko is just a delight and Shishido Rumi is really good. The worst I can say is that the characters can be overly exaggerated at times, but compared to other children’s media I’ve seen, this one is pretty mild in that regard. Oku Keiichi’s soundtrack is nicely composed and really fits with the aesthetic nicely.


There’s a bit. Hazuki looks at supposedly attractive ladies, I say supposedly because it’s hard to tell with the art style, with hearts in her eyes more than once. Their teacher and school nurse have more than a little chemistry. There’s also a young writer in their class and she seems to develop a bit of a crush on Aiko in one episode. And yes, the fixation on third grade crushes is still weird. The chemistry with the grown teachers is fine, though.

Final Thoughts:

Is Ojamajo Doremi as strong as the other Toei magical girl series I’ve seen? Well, no. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good anime. It’s enjoyable to watch. It has a strong vocal cast and it is really fun. I can appreciate that it’s more comedic and not a typical “save the world from the big bad” type of series. But when compared to Sailor Moon or the PreCure series I’ve reviewed, it’s better than Max Heart but, in general, isn’t as strong. Ultimately, I’ll give it a 7/10. If you want to watch a simple series that just focuses on having fun, I would recommend it. If you’re more interested in something with more of a story and more complex characters or you want really good artwork, this isn’t the series you’re looking for.

Ajin Series 2: Could be Better With Competent Art

I reviewed the first series of Ajin two years ago. It was okay but suffered from being under-developed in general and from having artwork that was bad enough to be detrimental. So, when we left off our antagonist, Satou, had gathered a group of Ajin in order to perform acts of terrorism under the guise of trying to win rights for their people. And our protagonist, Kei, had narrowly escaped capture along with another Ajin.

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We open with a brief recap of what happened in the last series. You know, in case someone decides to watch the second series without having seen the first. Satou unveils his intention to assassinate a list of people who he accuses of being involved with experiments performed on Ajin. Meanwhile, Kei comes to the conclusion that he can’t beat Satou on his own and decides to join up with Tosaki and the group who spent the last series hunting him.

The biggest flaw with this one isn’t that they rush from big plot point to big plot point without regard for things like pacing or developing their scenario. The biggest issue with this one is that, in the first half, very little happens. Kei and his companion join with the group trying to hunt Satou and then they spend a lot of time talking about how they should catch him while we cut to him either murdering one of his targets, bragging about murdering one of his targets or making plans to murder one of his targets. While I appreciate them trying to develop their situation a bit better, the execution is more than a little tedious.

And then when they finally get moving halfway into the series, it goes right back to rushing through plot developments. It’s like they can’t find a happy medium and the result is going from one extreme to another.

Once again, the series has some good ideas buried beneath the flaws in the execution. The bits where Kei tries to connect with his sister and his old friend, Kaito, are pretty good. Although they still haven’t given any compelling reason for Kei’s friendship to mean so much to Kaito. The parts where they explore Shimomura’s back story and why she has such a strong sense of loyalty towards Tosaki are pretty strong. The element of giving both sides of the conflict legitimate reasons for fighting breaks down a bit which actually results in questions over whether or not the conflict is worth it and multiple characters deciding it isn’t. Which I can appreciate. At least the series doesn’t fully Flanderize one side and just decide they’re all evil now.


I’ll continue to give the series credit for mostly having characters with realistic motivations and personalities that have enough to them to ring true. This series does run into a bit of a problem, however. In order to continue Kei’s ongoing conflict against Satou, they start showing a selfless side to Kei’s character. Which really doesn’t mesh with anything we’ve seen from him before and there’s not really a compelling reason for the change. It’s like they needed him to be less self-centred and more moral in order for the plot to work and, instead of developing his character in that direction naturally they just changed it.


The artwork continues to be pretty bad. This is a case where you might be able to make the art style work for a comedy. Gdgd Faeries has worse artwork than this, for example. But, when you’re trying to have a more serious dramatic work, art like this really detracts from it. Having characters move in stilted, awkward ways, including one unintentionally hilarious moment where people are supposed to be fleeing in terror but look like they’re trying to have a dance flash mob, really lessens the impact and makes it difficult to have a real sense of gravity in the situation.

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The acting continues to be a strong point. Miyano Mamoru, Ootsuka Houchuu, Komatsu Mikako and Sakurai Takahiro are all solid actors. We’re talking solid enough to manage to convey things in spite of having no help from the artwork in quite a few cases. Kanno Yugo’s music is pretty strong as well.


All we have in terms of romantic content is hetero normative. None of the same sex dynamics come across as romantic.

Final Thoughts:

Like the first series, this one is okay. If the artwork wasn’t distractingly bad, I might go so far as to call it good. But as is, I’ll give it a 6/10. If you can tolerate the art, and the pacing issues aren’t going to bother you too much you might enjoy it.

Bio Hunter: How Many Dumb Plot Points Can You Fit Into An Hour?

Bio Hunter is a Madhouse film from the mid 90s based off of a manga by Fujihiko Hosono. Madhouse has a bit of a mixed history with horror themed anime in general. They worked on Blade, which was okay. Death Parade, which was fantastic and Highschool of the Dead, which remains among the worst anime I’ve ever seen. So, this anime could end up anywhere on the spectrum.

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We open with a couple having sex. She seems disinterested and just wants something to eat. Guys, if your partner responds like that, I’m sorry but you need to work on your technique. Maybe communicate a little and find out what they would like you to do. But this nameless dude is an asshole so he doesn’t even think of that. Then her body breaks out into little faces and one of them rips his hand off.

We cut to a Professor doing a lecture while one of his students writes flirty messages to him. He and one of his colleagues are called by a bunch of shady looking people and they find the girl from before chained up and covered in little faces. Which renders the opening sex scene entirely pointless. Because everything important about it is reiterated in this scene. It turns out the Professors are involved in fighting against the so-called “Demon’s Virus” by using medicines and the infection suffered by one of them.

Here’s my first question, if they have medicines that can treat this then why does one of our protagonists have it? They never cover that in the film. They don’t even give us a throwaway line about how “his is too advanced” or something. We can have an entirely pointless sex scene but we can’t cover an important plot detail like that? Are you fucking kidding me?

But the narrative issues don’t end there. We have plenty of other things that just aren’t cohesive. For example, we spot a group of thugs trying to capture a young girl so they can find out where her grandfather is and, not five minutes later, they run her car off the road in an attempt at killing her. So, if they need her for information why would they do that? And if they don’t, then why bother her in the first place when all it does is draw attention to themselves? Did no one proof read this?

Then we have the effort at connecting science with fortune telling. Now, there’s a reason most writers use either magical elements or real science but not both because it’s difficult to justify magic using science and most people can’t pull it off. Bio Hunter is a primary example. Particularly when they meet the fortune teller and try to justify his craft as him “reading genomes” which is exceptionally stupid. Oh, and our infected scientist has the lamest possible way of detecting other infected. He tears up. You think he gets false positives if his mind wanders and he thinks about something sad? You think the Beast Wars episode Code Of Hero has just popped into his head and left him wondering whether he was tearing up because of that or because of the virus being present in someone else nearby?


The characters in this are a bit shite just in general. Koshigaya is just kind of a twat. Komada is one of those super angsty characters who we never really see in another mode so it has no impact when he actually has some reason to be upset. He’s not as bad as Shinji in that regard. He’s a bit more subdued about it, but it’s still terrible writing. The antagonist is just evil.

Then we have Sayaka. I want to talk about her a bit because she is indefensibly vapid. This is a character who finds herself in a car that’s going over a cliff, wakes up and never really questions why she and the other people are completely unharmed. Or why one of the guys doesn’t have a shirt anymore. Does she just assume that he was exposed to gamma radiation and transformed? Except instead of the Incredible Hulk he’s the Incredible Disappointment. His parents were right the whole time. In all seriousness, this isn’t something anyone, even a complete moron, would just accept. You were quite literally tossed off of a cliff in a car that’s now a fiery wreck. This is something we need a lengthy scene addressing. You can scrap that pointless sex scene for it.


The film doesn’t look good, frankly. A lot of the animation is just lazy, especially when it comes to conversational scenes. They can’t even be bothered to put any real effort into syncing the lip movements, when they actually have them, to the dialogue. The action sequences aren’t anything great either. They’re just generally boring. 3×3 Eyes looks much more impressive and it started airing four years before this. And strong artwork is usually something that Madhouse works have, even when they’re kind of shit, except for the aforementioned Highschool of the Dead which is overly focused on trying to arouse teenage boys and for this which isn’t that bad but is very low effort.

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About the best thing I can say for the film is that they got some capable actors. I know that Seki Toshihiko can be good. I know that Inoue Kazuhiko can be good. I know that Minaguchi Yuko can be good. I’ve heard them all deliver strong performances. They don’t in this. In this they just sound like they don’t give a shit. Which I can’t really blame them for. I don’t think the greatest actors in the world could take this script and sound invested. Amano Masamichi’s soundtrack isn’t bad. It’s just kind of mediocre. Which still makes it the strongest element of the film, sadly.


There isn’t any. Which is fine because what little romance they try to develop is pretty awful.

Final Thoughts:

Bio Hunter is a really bad film The script is a mess. The characters are annoying. Even the artwork, animation and acting are weak. And it’s not even executed in such a way that it’s at least entertaining to watch just to poke fun at. Ultimately, I give it a 2/10 and I’m tempted to go lower but I don’t think it’s that horrible. I do not recommend it.

October Bonus Review: The Thing

Since it’s October, I thought it appropriate to take a look at something horror themed for our bonus review. John Carpenter’s The Thing was not received well when it first came out in 1982. It was critically panned in such savage ways you’d think I had been alive and doing criticism back then. The odd thing about it is that, since then, it’s become known as a classic of horror. So, let’s take a look and see if we can figure out why that happened.

The Thing


We open with a Norwegian helicopter trying to chase down an adorable husky dog that’s running over the Antarctic tundra. The dog arrives at an American research station and they, naturally, come to its rescue. But the question remains, why were these Norwegians going to all this effort to try to kill a dog? The Americans decide to check their research station only to find it absolutely annihilated with some disturbing bodies straight out of an Ito Junji work. That’s when they discover the horrifying truth. The “dog” is actually a shape-shifting organism that absorbs other organisms into itself and takes on their forms. Now the scientists in the station don’t know who to trust versus who’s already the titular thing.

The worst thing I can say about the film is that some of the characters exit the story in kind of anti-climactic, abrupt ways. I wouldn’t say that’s worth severely panning the film over but it is something of a flaw.

In contrast, there are a lot of positive aspects to the film. It is very good at building up suspense and atmosphere. Right from the beginning, there is a subtle sense that something’s not kosher, and I’m not talking about Kurt Russell’s all shellfish diet, even before the evidence for what starts piling up. And one of the big factors that works in the film’s favour is that the major characters only see the Thing in its monstrous form when it makes a mistake or when they happen to walk in on it when it’s in the process of absorbing someone or something. And that’s much more effective than a monster that’s always in your face.

The scenario is quite ingenious as well. You could not make this scenario work anywhere besides a remote station in Antarctica. The Thing would have too many potential victims to realistically be stopped. There’s also an inherent sense of claustrophobia and paranoia that stems from having a small group trapped within a research station where they can’t escape and they don’t know who to trust. That makes for a strong source of tension. I also appreciate that the station’s crew, even though they are in a paranoid situation and don’t know who to trust, think rationally, make a lot of solid points during their discussion and work towards finding solutions. Save for one who figures out what the thing escaping could mean and goes slightly mad.


This is another element where I can be a bit critical of the film. There’s not that much to the characters in general. To its credit, they’re several steps up from the token casts you get in most slasher films but that isn’t saying much. A lot of them are just kind of flat. Try describing characters like Norris, Palmer, Fuchs or Copper and there’s really not much to say.

Cinematography, Visual Effects:

Some of you youngsters may not remember this, but there was a point where visual effects were done using make up and other practical methods rather than CGI. I know, it’s hard to fathom but it’s true. And in that realm, The Thing is pretty damn extraordinary. For 1982, these effects were absolutely top of the line. Even by today’s standards, they look a lot better than most CG effects I’ve seen. And Rob Bottin was in his early 20s when he was working on these designs.

It also helps that this film knows how to use gore strategically. It’s not over the top, excessive or otherwise miss-handled. It’s there when it should be there. The scenes are just really well done.

Acting and Music:

There are three performances that really stand out. Kurt Russell as MacReady, Wilfred Brimley as Dr. Blair & Keith David as Childs. Although it is a little odd hearing Keith David knock Voodoo when we all know he’s got friends on the other side. All three of those blokes are fantastic in this. Ennio Morricones music is really good as well. It has a good amount of impact.

Final Thoughts:

So, why did The Thing get so much vitriol? Honestly, I think it’s that ET came out shortly before it and people were upset over a harsher, more pessimistic view of aliens contrasting with that film. Because, in terms of quality, this is a really good horror film. One thing you have to credit Carpenter with as a director, he knows what tools he has to make a horror film work and he knows how to use them so they have an effect without going overboard. And this film may very well be where he was at his absolute best. It also had top notch effects, great actors and a superb script from Bill Lancaster. Yeah, it has some minor issues but it’s still an excellent film. And I give it a 9/10.

Hellsing Ultimate: Ultimately Not Very Interesting

Hellsing is a manga that ran from the late 90s to the late 00s. It was the brain child of Hirano Kouta, the same guy behind Drifters. And, since it’s horror anime month we might as well get in something about vampires. The original anime ran in the early 00s. The re-telling, which we’re looking at today, aired from the mid 00s to early 10s. And it was worked on by Satelight, Madhouse & Graphinica. Let’s take a look and see what happens.

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We open with the young heiress to the Hellsing family retreating from her uncle and his thugs. She makes her way to the basement where her father hid a secret weapon. That’s the vampire, Alucard. Totally not related to the world’s most famous vampire. Just don’t write the name out and look at it in a mirror. In any case, we cut to Totally not Dracula being sent to a small village where a vampire’s in the process of turning everyone into ghouls. Vampires in this series can’t be bothered with a masquerade or subtlety in general. If you wanted vampires who moved cautiously and intelligently you’d be watching Shiki. Alucard slaughters everything and turns the last survivor, Seras Victoria, into a vampire. Things progress from there as various threats move against Hellsing and them.

The biggest issue with this series is that it’s largely made up of mindless, over the top action sequences. Here are some evil vampires, action. Here are some Nazis, action. Here are some Catholic Zealots, action. It never takes time to let us really get to know our major characters or have some down time. Instead we go from more mild action segments to more extreme ones. What little e get for non-action scenes is either set up for the next series of action sequences or poor attempts at humour where the characters weapons talk to them as celebrity figures or some such nonsense. Ultimately, that doesn’t give any real incentive to give a shit about the characters or what they’re doing because the focus is squarely on the spectacle.

There are some more minor issues. The series is set mostly in London or other parts of the UK but the cars aren’t designed with the driver’s seat on the proper side for that area and all the cops are seen with guns. Now, if you’re American or Hirano this might surprise you, but police in the UK largely don’t carry guns. At all. It’s like he watched a bunch of American media and decided that the cultural stuff was probably close enough to the UK that he didn’t need to actually learn anything about the UK. This is also a series that loves to throw in references to sexual assault but clearly has no intention of doing anything with them. Almost like Hirano wants to be a bit edgy but doesn’t have the writing skills to handle that type of content in any type of reasonable fashion.

With all that being said, the series isn’t badly written. It’s a bit like an inferior version of Karas where we’ve seen the whole plot before and better executed but the big spectacle bits can still be amusing. Because it is always cathartic to see Nazis get destroyed. And I’ll give Haruno some credit for trying to have something of a theme surrounding the idea of immortality and monsters vs humans even if it isn’t written all that well.


This is part of the issue with the series. The characters aren’t that interesting. We have our over-powered protagonist. Our action girl sidekick. The leader and a bunch of other very stock characters. The only reason we really have to root for them is that they’re fighting Nazis and Zealots. Which is a clever choice on Hirano’s part, actually. Make the villains part of groups where you don’t need to do any real work to give them motivations because you can just make them antagonists and no one will care because they’re just natural villains. And that is kind of a necessity with this series because our protagonist is a literal monster.


I’ll give these three studios credit, the visual aesthetic looks pretty much the same throughout with the only real changes being the comedic scenes where they toss in artwork that looks like trash just to make it painfully obvious that it’s a joke. Actually, Drifters did the same thing.

Last week I gave Kakurenbo credit for not being one of those series that throws buckets of blood at you and just comes across as over the top and kind of stupid. This week we have the counter-example. Hellsing loves its excessive blood. Every time we see someone fatally wounded it just gushes out like they’ve got a pressurised hose in their bodies that just got pierced. I honestly don’t get that. Why do so many action-oriented things just toss in massive amounts of blood to the point where it loses any potential impact it might have had? Are there people who think the blood fountain thing looks cool? Is it that the violence is so excessive they think that they have to go over the top and unrealistic enough with it to avoid grossing people out? Is it just one of those tropes that got started with something popular and has been mindlessly parroted since? I haven’t the foggiest.

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They got some strong actors for this. Our completely ordinary vampire citizen “hero” is voiced by Nakata Jouji. So, not the first time I’ve reviewed an anime where he was a Count. Our other main characters are voiced by Orikasa Fumiko & Mizuhashi Kaori. Both of whom have a long list of strong performances. And, while this may not be among their best, they still do a fine job. Especially given how little they have to work with. Matsuo Hayato’s score is pretty good.


There’s a scene of Integra feeding Seras that’s a bit homo-erotic. And Not Dracula calls another man beautiful at one point. So, there’s a small amount.

Final Thoughts:

In the end, this isn’t a series for me. The emphasis on mindless, overblown violence isn’t something that appeals to me and, as a result, all the dumb bits are just grating. Maybe this will be one for you if you just want to see lots of blood and violence and you don’t particularly care whether or not your protagonist is ever legitimately challenged. For myself, I have to give it a 4/10. While I didn’t think it was bad per se, I did find it weak.

Kakurenbo: Why you don’t leave children unattended

The time has come to start horror anime month in earnest. First up we have Kakurenbo, a short film from 2005. It was done by Yamato Works, written & directed by Morita Shuuhei.



There’s a mysterious game of hide and seek played by seven children in fox masks. There’s just one problem. Every child who plays the game vanishes. Rumour says that they’re spirited away by demons or possibly creepy old guys with worn down ice cream vans. We see various groups. A pair of twin brothers, a trio, a pair of friends and a girl on her own. Giving us eight players for the game.

The biggest problem with the film is a very simple one. There’s a real lack of investment. The film isn’t long enough for us to get to know or care about the characters or what happens with them. The trio seem to be there for no adequately explored reason. The twin brothers never speak and have absolutely no motivation. The main pair have some motivation, to find the main protagonist’s missing sister. And while that is understandable at a basic level, it’s kind of weak in terms of getting the audience invested when you never see the siblings interact.

I will give some credit. Having a twisted area of the city where a bunch of children are fleeing and hiding for their lives is a potentially good set up. I also appreciate that the ending is allowed to be a horror ending. It doesn’t hold back or try to be nice and sanitised. So, that’s something.


I’ve already somewhat covered this, but the characters are really the big problem. In order for you to have a strong horror work, you have to get the audience to care about the characters. Spend some time with them, develop them and then put them in peril when you’ve built up that investment. In this, they try for a very short, clean narrative but in order to achieve that they sacrifice any potential for characterisation. You don’t give a shit what happens to these kids because you know virtually nothing about them. They’re simply too dull. Even if they aren’t actively obnoxious, it’s still a bit like trying to care about a slice of dry white bread that’s been left on the counter.


In terms of art, I’ll credit Kakurenbo with not falling into the too common horror pitfall of having a bunch of over the top gore and violence. Because, like I talked about with Elfen Lied last year, that’s not scary. It’s just ridiculous and quickly loses its impact. I may not give this film credit for being great horror, but I will gladly give it credit over the gore festival films that just have no sense of subtlety. And the Cel-shaded style does look pretty decent. Although it might not be the most suitable style for a horror work. The atmosphere around the city and the demon designs are pretty good.



The acting is decent enough. We have both Takeuchi Junko & Suzuki Masami in major roles. They may not be at their best in this since the characters are so mundane but they manage to turn out performances that are all right. Which is also how I’d describe the music. It’s okay.


None of these characters are developed enough to have interactions that come across as potentially romantic. I honestly don’t even know if these kids are old enough for that to be much of a concern with them. We seriously know that little about them.

Final Thoughts:

This is a horror film that might be effective for actual children who are used to media having under-developed one-note characters. If I were watching this as a ten year old, it would probably scare me. The problem is this isn’t a film intended for that audience. It looks to be made for the younger end of the shounen spectrum IE, teenagers. And with teenagers, I don’t think it’s going to work all that well. But if you want to experience the atmosphere and watch a bunch of children get chased down by demons, by all means give it a try. For myself, I’ll give it a 5/10. I’ve certainly seen worse horror, on many occasions, but I also can’t call this a good one. It’s just kind of middling.