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

Puppet Princess (Karakuri no Kimi)

This is a typical OVA in some ways – violence and nudity (or the threat of rape being passed off as ‘comedic’), all predictable things about certain anime genres, some of which have certainly come to tire me after a couple decades.

Puppet Princess (Karakuri no Kimi) 2000

That isn’t to claim Puppet Princess is terrible, or that I think it’s impossible to take on serious themes in anime either, but Puppet Princess feels too casual with its application of that content for me.

I should talk about the story sooner or later – but first, Puppet Princess almost seems bit of a warm up for Karakuri Circus, especially when it comes to the puppetry (which was probably the best aspect of the anime).

An adaptation of Kazuhiro Fujita’s one-shot manga, it’s a straightforward but still at times exciting story of vengeance. Rangiku (the Puppet Princess) recruits warrior Manajiri and together they seek and eventually take on Lord Karimata, who murdered her family.

There are a few fun surprises, especially toward the end, and the art and animation works for me, though this 2000 OVA won’t deliver things you might be used to if you favour modern action sequences and techniques.

Is it worth chasing down?

Maybe if you’re a fan of Kazuhiro Fujita or the era of production perhaps, or just if you really love swords and shinobi.

3 Stars