Jujutsu Kaisen

One thing that (fighting) shounen anime can do so well is stretch a fight (or a contest) over several episodes – and Jujutsu Kaisen fits that bill for me, and yet my favourite episodes were probably the more self-contained ones.

Jujutsu Kaisen (2020)

And so the drawing together of the main cast, the investigations and especially Nanami’s episodes stood out most for me.

I loved the premise too, especially as a fan of supernatural stuff, and while the action sequences were ace, I do have a few niggles to report. While the ‘bro’ joke oscillated between amusing/overplayed/all the way back to maybe amusing again, I do find myself growing weary of a trend that seems to exist within and beyond anime: the zero progress per season.

Okay, I’m exaggerating.

But I’m referring to the huge battle at the end of every season that doesn’t come close to defeating even the first Big Bad, no matter how visceral or satisfying the actual scenes or blows themselves are. (That same Big Bad usually can’t manage to defeat newbie heroes either… but that’s a trope for another review :D).

And in a way, once you buy in to the series, that sort of thing never matters.

And in time too, I tend not to care too much, because I’m more interested in seeing the main characters grow and succeed.

And there’s a great deal of growth, usually accelerated, for the leads and in particular for Yuji. And he has that lovable goof vibe which is fun too. Actually, as the series continued it was interesting to see the writing team rope in Nobara to a similar role.

(Just quickly also, having hammer and nails as weapon caught my eye, certainly not something I see a lot of in anime).

Another double-edged blade I guess, would be Ryomen Sukuna.

I finished this season with the sense that he and Yuji did not have enough screen time together.

Of course, there needs to be stuff left over for future seasons. But still, I felt that only allowing them a few scenes together, or at least limited interaction, both weakened the central narrative (as it had to take a few long detours to introduce the wider cast) and at the same time, also heightened mystery.

Basically, I wanted more, because those scenes held the most tension for me.

But that also means that I now have something else to really look forward to – keen for another season!

4 Stars

OVA Week – Day 7: Dragon’s Heaven

Welcome to the final post for OVA Week.

There will be another OVA Week, perhaps next month – but so far, I’ve still got to find a few titles to include in the seven new reviews. At present, I’m hoping to feature suggestions of Getter Robo, Vampire Princess Miyu and Darkstalkers 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed this feature and if you have a suggestion, I’m still keen to hear ’em.


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Dragon’s Heaven (1988)

Two things about the Dragon’s Heaven OVA stand out most, I think – first being the live-action, scale-model opening, and the second being the Moebius-influenced style of manga artist Makoto Kobayashi, upon whose work this OVA is based.

As usual, I can’t discuss the quality of this anime as an adaptation, but the story is a straight-forward war story told very quickly, with a lot of action and attention paid to the robots.

What caught my eye most was definitely visual style, with the anime’s designs right after. That isn’t to say that the characters don’t work, but with only 20-odd minutes of animation, the time is mostly spent on scene-setting and battles. There are a few passages devoted to dialogue, ones that function beyond exposition, but for the most part I think Dragon’s Heaven excels at the visuals. (As many OVAs can).

Above, I do mention “battles” but they’re usually a little short – you could say that some are pretty much explosions because the ‘dragon’s fire’ that main characters Shaian and Ikuuru use is really mammoth stuff.

Speaking of Ikuuru, she reminded me of a more snarky Nausicaa in some ways, but like her partner, she doesn’t have a character arc or a whole lot of impact beyond the confines of the plot.

While the detail and care that has gone into the models at the beginning of the OVA is very clear, I don’t know if Dragon’s Heaven would have suffered without it. On the other hand, that’s part of what’s so fun about the era – creators seemed more able to just try stuff out.

And finally, it’s interesting to have a largely non-human cast, and both hero Shaian and villain Elmedain have designs that seem unlike a lot of other robot-focused anime, but I think you might be disappointed if you seek this OVA out hoping for a multi-faceted story.

Instead, I think it’s worth seeing at least once anyway – just for the art design and animation alone, and I definitely add this to my list of anime where I wish there had been more.

4 Stars

OVA Week – Day 6: Open the Door (Tobira wo Akete)

Day 6 already!

So, if you’re new to ‘OVA Week’ here at the heap, basically speaking, I’ve got some dot points on the OVA form itself, and then the review.

Hope you enjoy these and again, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Open the Door (Tobira wo Akete) 1986

In the past, portal fantasy/isekai anime didn’t always use video games as the medium or impetus for the main characters to leave their home world, and this time around it’s more of a summoning actually… a small fact that’s probably most important toward the end of the film. 

Open the Door is a full-length release but it doesn’t quite evoke the word ‘epic’, despite having the lead characters raise an army and despite including both a fair bit of travel and several battles. It’s not quite as ‘fun’ as an adventure-film either.

Nor is it full of angst, precisely.

It really has a tone that I’m struggling to describe. And I don’t want to suggest that the movie comes across as being so little of any one genre or mood that it actually ends up evoking none of them, either.

Nor do I want to say that things are rushed, though the anime could have been expanded into a short series with little trouble, I reckon.

What I do think Open the Door features is an interesting combination of sword & sorcery and a mix of shoujo/josei aspects, not limited to the leads being college students.

Here’s the premise from MAL:

In modern day Tokyo, three university students, Negishi Miyako (Neko-chan), Saiki Haruka, and Yamagishi Keiichiro, have magical powers that make them feel like outcasts. They come together one night and are transported to another world. They open a massive door and Neko finds that she is the Princess Neryulla, who must defeat the evil Duran III to free her people.

Having the main characters be university-aged seems like a hallmark of some older anime, and it was nice to see Neko operate in a pretty confident and competent manner, compared to her potentially being clumsy or merely a damsel, while at the same the story doesn’t show her as a rash hot-head either.

Especially welcome perhaps, considering how easily she takes to her new role of saviour in an unfamiliar world – or also how skillfully she deals with the advances of Saiki the ‘player’.

But before I get to some spoilers, I want to cover some dot-points:

  • Of the supporting cast, coming in closer to the ‘hot-head’ archetype is Dimida, who was definitely one of my favs
  • As was shapeshifter Keiichiro, who had a fun Wizard of Oz kinda design, too
  • I did enjoy the vague ‘He-Man’ feel to some designs of the supporting cast
  • Around the mid-point or so, there’s a reflection scene where Neko is smoking a cigarette in the fantasy world, and for me it worked really well to remind us that she’s from our world. Not a huge thing, just something effective that I liked
  • And finally, I have to mention that there is an actual pillow fight in this film – I reckon it’s meant to function as a ‘girls-bonding’ moment but it’s possibly just an excuse to animate feathers 😀

All right, time for a spoiler before I wrap up this review.

I mentioned the summoning aspect to Tobira wo Akete earlier, which is sort of how Neko and co all end up in the fantasy world.

This is revealed during the villain’s monologue, where the audience also learns the motivation for his action – and it’s basically boredom. Which just seems a little flat to me – I mean, “I was so bored that I tried to start a new war” doesn’t really impress 😀

More, it doesn’t make too much sense – for instance, if Duran was so hard-up for war and death, he could have gone around colonising other parts of his world, could have started plenty of conflicts at home, instead of spending 500 years searching for a physic girl from another world to use as a pawn.

… but all that aside, I still enjoyed this OVA/feature film and while the budget/animation isn’t on the scale or quality of a similar text (in terms of genre and era), like say Arion, it’s still above plenty of average TV series from the decade in terms of visuals.

Maybe not a gripping storyline, but the characters stood out enough for me to say I enjoyed it and most fantasy fans probably would too, along with fans of the era and overall 1980s aesthetic.

3.5 Stars

OVA Week – Day 5: Riding Bean

The week of OVA reviews is slowly winding down – but it isn’t over yet 😀

As with all previous posts, I’ve included a quick overview on the form itself, before posting the actual review.

Hope you enjoy these and as I mention each time, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Riding Bean (1989) is a direct precursor to Sonoda Kenichi’s Gunsmith Cats and that is clear in so many details, of course – from names to cars and themes etc, but the differences are probably more interesting.

Of course, there’s still loli crap present. It could be argued that Semmerling reveals the true depths of a villain’s depravity but part of me just doesn’t buy that motive on the part of the film – it feels like a cry for attention for being ‘out there’, especially within the context of the rest of the OVA.

Still, if you enjoyed Gunsmith Cats for the car chases and shooting, then Riding Bean will deliver.

Here’s a bit of the plot from Wikipedia:

The anime follows one day in the life of Bean Bandit and Rally Vincent, as they find that they have been framed for the kidnapping of Chelsea Grimwood, the daughter of Mr. Grimwood, President of the Grimwood Company.

The ‘case’ that Bean and blonde-Rally are trying to solve has a good share of twists and surprises, and a satisfyingly big (but over-the-top) finish. Bean’s car itself has more than a few surprises, so if you’ve never seen this OVA, keep an eye on the “souped-up custom-designed car ‘The Buff’ (based on a Ford RS-200)”.

One other thing that caught my eye was the hyperbolic cop, Lt. Percy, who functions as perhaps the perfect caricature/parody of an 80s action-hero cop… or, some real life police officers.

And it might not have been intended as a parody at all, which would be disappointing, in fact. (His wrecking-ball-approach to everything he does could be read as biting satire at the least).

Having said all that, I’m glad I’ve finally seen Riding Bean now but I don’t think it’s one of my favs and I prefer Gunsmith Cats overall.

3 Stars

OVA Week – Day 4: Sorcery in the Big City (Itazura Majo to Nemuranai Machi)

OVA Week continues!

You can find a quick overview on the form itself below, then the actual review. (This time, the review is actually for an ONA).

Hope you enjoy these posts and as before, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Sorcery in the Big City (Itazura Majo to Nemuranai Machi) 2017

I do wish Sorcery in the Big City had been a bit longer – it was fun and had some nice, flashy action sequences to perhaps contrast with the moe elements. When I think back on it, I mostly remember it as a feel-good short film that focuses on Christmas and a little on family.

Released back in December of 2017, it’s an ONA from Sanzigen with nice CGI, some at times dazzling lighting and fun character and costume designs too. 

One thing I liked a lot was the fact that while main character Akari has lost her teddy bear, she doesn’t precisely end up being the one to find and rescue the toy (Apple), it ends up being the other way around, for the most part. 

Connected to the above, I also found it nice to see a little tweak on the “bringing toys to life at Christmas” choice, since in this case, that’s the actual source of danger.

I do wonder whether Akari’s partner drifts in and out of racial stereotype territory – as does our MC, perhaps. I hope I’m off-base, but I dunno. It’s also probably not too hard to see lazy cliches about police mixed in with some copaganda elements too. It’s actually a really odd mix.

Elsewhere, the scene-setting is really detailed – if a little quiet at times, but I suppose that’s part of the Christmas fantasy.

I also wanted a little more screen time for the true villain, and also probably more on the post-climax wrap up… but as I mentioned before, it’s a short and the focus on being uplifting was always meant to come first.

3 Stars

OVA Week – Day 3: Twilight of the Dark Master (Shihaisha no Tasogare)

Four more days of OVA reviews after this one!

There’s a brief overview on the form itself below, before I get to the actual review.

I hope you enjoy these and as I mentioned before, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Twilight of the Dark Master (Shihaisha no Tasogare)

Twilight of the Dark Master is a pretty dark OVA released in 1997 US / 1998 JPN, at a time some years after the peak of the direct-to-video format.

Even so, it’s mostly exactly what you might expect from an OVA – extra detail in general, extra detail on the violence and nudity, with some of it gratuitous but here, not exactly falling into the realm of modern shock-horror either.

And there is a story. And some great animation and use of colour and light at times too – not just via the general high-level from many OVAs, but there was one sequence in particular that was pretty compelling. Not because it was the greatest thing in the world, but because it was just really effective.

I think it’s the mix of flicker, of slow-motion, and the use of muted and also selective colour, that brought things together – I wonder how much of it was computer-assisted via layering, possibly? Seems like a lot of work to get everything in place.

The story follows the conventions of a revenge* thriller mixed in with some procedural, magic, horror and cyberpunk aspects too, and has at least a couple of surprises to go with the wide range of genres.

Now, that might sound like a lot going on, and it is, but I enjoyed the mix.

Today, director Akiyuki Shinbo would probably be best known for March Comes In like a Lion. Obviously, something such as a previous work by Akiyuki, The SoulTaker, is a far closer comparison in terms of content, when it comes to Twilight of the Dark Master.

In the end, I’m not sure how much of the visuals I can attribute to Akiyuki Shinbo or storyboard artists, verses manga artist Saki Okuse, but from the composition to lighting to framing, it’s definitely all well-above average for me.

So too, some of the character designs, which have both detail and some range. (Again, I mention this to contrast what seems like one of my more recent pet peeves – anime with characters who all look generally quite similar).

Now, this OVA is most definitely not suitable for the younger viewers out there – although, I doubt Twilight of the Dark Master is on the radar for that age group anyway.

(Or perhaps, on anyone’s radar for the most part).

I must note that for all the things I enjoyed about the OVA, Twilight of the Dark Master suffers a little from its reliance on low-key lighting and some pandering, but maybe more than that – as the ending just wasn’t as strong as the rest of the short film.

Ridiculously, I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is… maybe the shift in scale? It feels too sudden for me. If you’ve seen this one, that might make sense. Or maybe not!

4 Stars

OVA Week – Day 2: Scoopers

Onward – six days left of OVA reviews!

As before, I’m starting with a brief overview on the form itself, before jumping into the actual review and will follow this format for each of the seven posts.

Hope you enjoy these and as I mentioned a few posts back, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Scoopers (1987)

Monkey Punch obviously created more than his Lupin stories, though I think in works like Scoopers (or Cinderella Boy for another example), some similarities in design and tone are front-and-centre.

To an extent, there’s even a little of a cyberpunk-Lupin feel to this short film. Maybe even a touch of Jurassic Park – well, if only in terms of a key setting, perhaps. But I’m jumping around a bit, so here’s a brief note on the plot instead:

A plucky reporter and her android cameraman/bodyguard try to save the world from a madman with vast, vast technological resources. Simple enough, right? Again, not a problem for me.

Leads Yoko & Beat make a good pair and their adversary Mr X is certainly doing his best to be the ‘menacing gentleman’ type but for me, his wide variety of henchmen actually do better.

Admittedly, Mr X really does throw all kinds of stumbling blocks the way of the heroes, from helicopters, androids and hallucinations, Greek gods/mythical creatures and evil super computers too. And while a sense of fun holds everything together, I think the mix could easily irritate some viewers.

Not me however, but I will add that Yoko was, for all her toughness, prone to cries and shrieks a fair bit. It’s also unclear to my why Beat has been programmed to perform occasional acts of sexual harassment but here we are, I guess.

Is this OVA worth seeking out? Probably if you’re a big fan of Monkey Punch (or Lupin, I guess) or more likely, as I often seem to say, if you’re a fan of the era. Because it is 100% the 1980s from top to bottom!

Otherwise, Scoopers might not bring you a whole heap of enjoyment.

3 Stars

OVA Week – Day 1: Relic Armour Legaciam

Here we go – seven days of OVA reviews!

I thought I’d start with a brief overview on the form itself, before jumping into the actual review (and will probably follow this format for each of the seven posts).

Hope you enjoy these, and as I mentioned a while ago, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂


  • An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
  • Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
  • No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
  • To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
  • Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
  • Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
  • First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
  • The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent

Relic Armour Legaciam (1987)

At the very end of this OVA I saw a message from the production company that was something like “see you again” and it made me a little sad. Because there was no ‘again’, at least not yet, and it’s been thirty-five years already.

And I absolutely would have watched another installment!

Relic Armour Legaciam actually ends on a really good story beat on the other hand. Even with only 50 minutes to tell the tale and set up the world and characters, the anime does the job. I was quickly invested in the team’s struggle to remain free, as the story soon slipped into the chase/hide portion of the plot.

At the same time, the bigger mysteries of the deadly heatwave and strange tower were set up nicely, with some back-story provided too. It was definitely enough to have me keen to learn more about the people involved with the first, seemingly disastrous expedition to the tower too.

Of course, antagonist Felmis has plans to stop the heroes, and after a pretty fun mech battle, Alcia and co are able to head for the tower… at which point the film finishes, sadly.

Before I finish, I want to add that I really liked the designs, especially of the Legaciam itself, and the Han Solo feel courtesy of Zeno was nice too. It was cool to hear voice acting that was rough and boisterous for the kids also, though I don’t know how I’d go with an entire film of them talking.

Does this stand out amongst the many, many OVAs out there?

Or even the many mecha OVAs from the 1980s? I doubt I could say, since I just haven’t seen enough of either. Probably your enjoyment (or lack of) this one will hinge upon your tolerance for unfinished stories* and classic anime.

3 Stars

*Typically one of my least favourite things… but not here, as it turns out.

Infinity Train Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train

Infinity Train Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train (2020)

After really enjoying the first season of Demon Slayer I was keen to see how the premise and characters would work under the constrictions of a film.

And there was definitely a lot I liked about the main storyline, a nice progression of obstacles for Tanjiro, some good tension (especially on the train itself), but I finished the film with two responses above all.

First, would Infinity Train have been poorer without the side plots following Zenitsu and Inosuke?

Quite clearly, some of their scenes bring brief moments of levity, but for me they didn’t offer enough overall. (However, that doesn’t mean I think that they didn’t work at all either).

Secondly, by the end, most of the drama had transformed into melodrama for me. Which in and of itself isn’t always bad thing necessarily, but I think here, with Kyōjurō and especially for his last scenes, it was all just drawn out too long.

I still enjoyed Infinity Train overall and just like during season one, the use of colour was pretty dazzling – even if the subtler moments were just as distinctive.

I reckon you should watch this (if you haven’t already, of course) before beginning the Entertainment District Arc, since there is some great follow-up in terms of Tanjiro’s emotional state, things that are mostly missing from the movie (of a necessity perhaps).

Once again, the visuals were ace – especially the final fight, but I guess I wasn’t as enthralled by the narrative and/or narrative structure.

3 Stars

Blackfox

Over the last couple of years here in Australia we’ve had a few streaming services disappear, swallowed up by one another etc, the end result of which being that I now have access to and/or little choice but to use Crunchyroll.

Which is obviously better than no choice at all.

Blackfox (2019)

But more importantly, as a consequence of those changes I have now seen a few seasons of shows and also films I would not have otherwise had a chance to watch quite so easily.

Blackfox is one example, and while it’s not in my top ten films, I liked it a fair bit.

The action was fun, it was bright and clear and I liked the character designs and the costumes too. It’s animated and produced by Studio 3Hz who I recognise from Dimension W, Princess Principal (and the opening to Ys VIII), so if you’re familiar with those or other titles by the studio, you might get an idea of what to expect here.

Here’s some of the plot, adapted from MAL:

On Rikka’s 16th birthday, things are forever changed when a paramilitary group raids her family home in search of the drone technology. In the aftermath of the deadly attack, Rikka is now an ‘ordinary girl’ working as a private detective… but when night falls, she dons her grandfather’s fox mask and mercilessly hunts down those responsible for the attack.

From the above, you can probably guess at the combination of shinobi/kunoichi tropes and also sci-fi stuff too, with fun gadgets and serious threats to the safety of the city. And for me all those things worked a treat!

(If there isn’t one already), I reckon this would suit adaption into a game pretty nicely.

I enjoyed a lot of the interaction between Rikka and her roommate/friends, especially the wary ally she has in Mia, but if you give this film a look, I don’t think you’ll find any surprises in the archetypes being used throughout.

Black Fox might be aimed at a slightly younger end of the shounen-audience range in some respects, but at other times I thought I was wrong in that assessment. Hard for me to pin it down, I guess.

But if you’ve like to see a mix between a ninja revenge story with high tech gadgets bringing in perhaps a touch of something like Batman, while also retaining some coming of age themes, then this film might suit your tastes.  

3 Stars