Anime ABC’s W is for Witch Hunter Robin

Perfectly Capturing a Bygone Era

While Witch Hunter Robin never appeared in the North American programming block, Toonami, it’s a show that perfectly captures the revival of the block in 2012. Having aired shows like Cowboy BebopGhost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, and others it feels like this would have been right at home. A slow burn show that attempts to provoke your thoughts while delivering moments of explosive action. Yet in spite of this, I can see why Witch Hunter Robin never quite reached these same heights. Continue reading “Anime ABC’s W is for Witch Hunter Robin”

Enter the Anime – Mini Review

It’s Not Even an Ad

Netflix released a “documentary” on August 5th, 2019 titled, Enter the Anime. The premise is simple enough, “What is anime?” and follows a newcomer to the industry, Alex Burunova, as she doesn’t proceed to do anything for approximately 50 minutes. If it had not been for this review, I would never have touched this film. Even in the first few minutes, it was so repulsive that I would have turned it off altogether. Yet here we are, as promised. Today I’ll be discussing Enter the Anime through the lens of a piece a marketing for Netflex, as it transparently seems to only exist to sell you on their shows (and it can’t even do that).

I’m going to be frank with you all. There is not a single positive thing I could say about this “documentary”. Even when it had something interesting to say, it was often cut off, impossible to decipher due to the hyperactive editing, or drowned in a sea of vapid nothingness. Just wanted to be upfront about that.

The thesis statement of this is to find out what anime is. It’s clear that the target audience is folks who have never seen an anime in their life, but it also expects the viewer to be familiar with the material as well. If I were totally new to anime, this would have turned me off to the medium entirely, and in the next few paragraphs, I’ll explain why.

First, Burunova constantly talks about how “clean” and pristine Japan is as a nation but then says that anime is made by these “deranged” individuals who are the fringe of their society. This is not only extremely offensive, and mindbogglingly baffling that this was ever released, it implies that there is this level of taboo to the medium.

She also takes every moment to be as edgy as possible. I hate the “fellow kids” kind of comments people make about things when people are genuinely trying to connect to multiple generations, but this was exactly that. There is a moment where they say that a character in Baki says, “I don’t give a fuck” and she follows that up by saying, “Unlike Baki, I do give a fuck”. Which I guess is an alright line if it weren’t ruined by things like, “The Instagram royalty of yore” or whatever that stupid line is.

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Oh right, guess I was a bit off, like it matters though…

Burunova is like this from minute one. She is a terrible narrator and host.

This is followed up by showing the most graphic content that Netflix anime has to offer. Seriously, nonstop. To the “documentary’s” credit, there is a very brief section on “cute culture” and how “anime is for kids”, but it comes so late in, and is so short, that it may well not even have been included.

Finally, the editing and presentation of any topic is just plain awful. It is so transparent that this is just a giant ad for Netflix anime, especially the CG shows (which is fine), that it goes as far as to undermine its entire premise in the opening minutes.

Let me explain, the first interview is with the Castlevania guy. You know, not a Japanese person or a show even made in Japan. I’m not one of those people who think anime is only something from Japan either, but this really undercut any credibility anyone might have for what’s to come, and not just for this reason.

The guy is a massive weirdo! He starts things off by telling the audience that he is a “time traveler” and wastes almost 12 minutes of the runtime talking about his DOG and Kanye West of all things. What does that have to do with anime?

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“Professional” editing…

Even when they do finally talk to some industry people, half of the “interviews” are just… nothing. The worst instance of this was when they left a phone call with Yoko Takahashi’s manager in the “documentary”, instead of talking about NGE (which they never even mention by name for some reason) or showing her performance beyond a few seconds. It was just bad.

Oh yeah! They even recycled footage in this 50 minute piece of garbage. Can you believe that? More than once too! There’s no substance here. One interviewee talked about how many people don’t know him because Netflix lets you skip OP’s and ED’s, but that is given like 2 seconds. Almost all of them laugh about the lack of sleep they get, as if it is some joke you need to “get” about the industry. It was frustrating to watch.

Ok, so what was the point then? Like I said, this is meant to push Netflix shows. I think that’s fine, but they don’t really show much off, and a lot of the things they chose were the edgiest and least accessible titles. Even just choosing from among their “original” properties, they really did not offer variety here. It made anime feel immature, hyper violent, and kind of obnoxious.

Furthermore, they chose almost exclusively CG shows, where much, or even all, of the product was not animated in 2D. Again, this would be fine except that just isn’t what anime is on the whole. Same can be said for the last point.

Also there was this strange focus on titles that haven’t even come out yet. Some not until 2020. This was really dumb, because when those things were stacked up alongside this train wreck, it didn’t make me want to watch them. Seriously, I have less confidence in some of these shows because they were in this “documentary”.

In a lot of ways, this would have been better as a mini series with proper time given to all its topics. The question of “what is anime?” is answered in a lot of ways: culture, food, style, etc… but ultimately settles on saying it doesn’t matter. It chooses to abandon its core premise to say “it brings people together” and “it gives a voice to the outcasts” but, I just couldn’t help but feel it was pandering. Void of all meaning. A genuine waste of time, and a massive mistake on the part of Netflix.


This is slightly longer than the max character limit of 1,000 words I set for these mini reviews, but this was just that bad. I tried to stay focused on the marketing angle, but I just couldn’t avoid airing grievances. Let me know if you liked this in the comments, please tell me how you managed to do that. Support my stuff via the Ko-fi button below. See ya in the next one folks.

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom – A Near Perfect Adaptation

The Best Bee Train Show I’ve Seen

Maybe you haven’t heard of Bee Train as a studio, but they have less than a stellar reputation. You probably have heard of Gen Urobuchi, known for such series as Psycho-Pass and Madoka Magica. So what happens when these two get together to adapt one of Urobuchi’s early visual novels? Well, you get Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, a dramatic tale of two assassins filled to the brim with twists and turns. Continue reading “Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom – A Near Perfect Adaptation”

Nadia: Secret of Blue Water – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… in SPACE!

Classic Gainax & Great!

If you know much about me, you’d know that my relationship with Gainax studios is a rocky one at best. While they have produced some great shows that I really enjoyed (Eva, Gurren Lagann, His and Her Circumstances), they have produced, more often than not, shows that I just couldn’t get into. Whether it be for subject matter, a lack of an ending, or something else, I just am not a fan overall. However, when something does land, it really does. That’s the case with today’s review:  Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. Continue reading “Nadia: Secret of Blue Water – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… in SPACE!”

3 Anime for Valentine’s Day – Romance is in the Air!

Looking for a Little Love?

Whether you are looking for an anime to cuddle up to with your significant other, or you’re ridding solo and just looking to fill that romance void, I’ve got you covered. Here are three anime that are perfect for this romantic time of year. Of course there are plenty more great shows aside from these, but if you don’t see your favorite title on the list be sure to mention it in the comments! With that, let’s jump right in.  Continue reading “3 Anime for Valentine’s Day – Romance is in the Air!”

Neo Yokio Christmas Special – Mini Review

Was it Good?

Image result for neo yokio christmas specialAs you may recall, I wrote a glowing review of Neo Yokio when it first premiered on Netflix in 2017. A lot of folks hated it, but I found it to be an uproariously funny series. When it was announced that a Christmas special would be made, I was stoked! Well I gave it a watch so let’s dive in and see if this was up to par with the original series or if something was lacking.

The general premise of the episode is that Kaz is sick during the holidays so he has Charles tell him a story. Initially it starts off as telling the story of Jesus, but Kaz quickly gets bored of that and some off-color humor about religion is tossed in (I didn’t really mind that, just putting out there because I know some people will care).

That’s when you jump right into the story proper. You tangentially follow Herbert, or as many of the characters refer to him as, “Sales Clerk” and the upcoming Secret Santa for Neo Yokio’s most eligible bachelors. Kaz naturally gets his nemesis Arcangelo and vice versa. In addition to all this, a new character is tossed into the mix, Kaz’s French aunt who is a memoir-ist, that isn’t liked by Aunt Agatha. There is also hints that Kaz’s family may have a dark past and that bigger plots may be at play than anybody realizes. Somehow, this is also a commentary on consumerism and Christmas in general too.

In a way, this has all of the conventional trappings of any other special for any other series. You have the callback to the Toblerone, references to events that transpired back in the main series, and most of it felt about as natural as this sort of thing can.

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However, it just didn’t quite feel quite like the Neo Yokio I love. The first point of criticism I have is that the characters did too much swearing. Now, I don’t really care when swearing is in a show, but it was so frequent, and often out of place, that it was rather distracting. Furthermore, there is just a LOT going on in this (just over) an hour special.

It felt a bit unfocused. Mind you, this doesn’t mean it was a bad special, but you were a fan of Neo Yokio’s core series, then this may leave you feeling like this wasn’t as good. All that said, there were certainly high points of praise.

For starters I loved Arcangelo’s goofy Christmas song, Kaz’s terrible rap, and the pseudo-philosophical Eva-like sequences related to The Pink. I also liked the direction they took Herbert for the story, even pushing him to the brink of suicide when people refuse to shop at the store due to Arcangelo’s, “Christmas challenge” and is subsequently fired. There’s just something about this absurd series getting super real that elevated it even higher than normal for me.

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As I mentioned, there are messages about anti-consumerism which contradicts the expectations one may have for a Christmas special. Ultimately, Christmas is just a part of the setting, only acting as a vehicle to deliver the obvious critique and set pieces that propel the narrative.

So was this as good? No, but I still liked it. If you weren’t a fan of Neo Yokio already, then this absolutely won’t change your mind. However, if you loved the series like me, then you’ll probably enjoy this, even if it doesn’t quite measure up.


Are you going to check out Neo Yokio’s Christmas special? If you already did, what are your thoughts? Let me hear your voice in the comments below. If you’d like to support my writing here, please click my donation button below as I really appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back here again soon at Jon Spencer Reviews!

The 30 Day Anime Challenge Day 11 – My Favorite Mecha Anime

Who Doesn’t Like Giant Robots?

30-day-anime-challengeWelcome to day 11 of the 30 day challenge where I’ll be discussing my favorite mecha anime. Before we dive into things here’s a quick reminder of the posting schedule for the month. We are now over a third of the way through so be sure to check out some of the previous days if you missed any. Now, I’m not the biggest mecha fan (sorry Scott) but I’ve seen my fair share. Let’s see what title I ultimately decided was my favorite! Continue reading “The 30 Day Anime Challenge Day 11 – My Favorite Mecha Anime”

Top 25 Anime Openings

nfzmig8When the OP is Just Right…

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve personally put an actual article up on here. So I thought I’d get back into the swing of things by celebrating some of my favorite anime openings. I’ve seen a couple hundred anime, so this list took some careful consideration to whittle down to just 25.

The list is in no particular order and the only rule is that the opening has to have come from a show I’ve seen. Other than that, no repeats for stuff I’ve reviewed outside of honorable mentions. Obviously this is just my personal taste, so if an OP you love isn’t on the list I probably didn’t see the show or just didn’t like the opening that much ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Continue reading “Top 25 Anime Openings”