Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues – Mini Review

It Was Interesting

Mr. Tonegawa:  Middle Management Blues, or just, Tonegawa for short, was a show I watched from the Summer 2018 season more out of obligation than because I genuinely wanted to. My relationship with the original series that this is a spin-off of, Kaiji, is a somewhat rocky one. You can view my thoughts on both season 1 and season 2 of that series to get the full picture. Still, this promised me comedy and Tonegawa is a character I liked so there was some hope for this series. Did it manage some laughs and did I like it? Let’s find out!

For those of you who may not be familiar, Tonegawa follows one of the antagonists from the original Kaiji series. He’s the number two man for a (sort of) evil loan-type organization know as the Teiai Corporation. His job is to keep the crazy president of the company happy, but it isn’t easy since he is into seeing the darkest parts of humanity in increasingly sick and twisted ways.

Don’t let that fool you though, this is a comedy for the most part. While Tonegawa certainly straddles the line with some rather dark comedy, especially if you’ve seen Kaiji’s first season, it is overall a fairly tame affair. Really, the show is at its best in these moments but they are far-and-few-between.

When an episode landed, say episode 3 for example, it really landed. However, most episodes were only minorly funny or simply wholly uninteresting. Still, there is a charm here that kept me watching in spite of all that. While it felt like a slog across its 24 episodes at times, there would be streaks of good episodes or that one thing that made watching worth it each week.

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If you haven’t seen the show, what do you think is going on here?

Part of this is enjoying all the nods to Kaiji. Even though I wasn’t a big fan, I do really enjoy referential works that I get. There are a lot! Some of them make scenarios in the original very absurd, to the point where you’d never be able to take them seriously, and others were just respectful nods.

At the halfway point I was having a decent time. Then the show decided to pivot and it really suffered for that. It decided to incorporate some season two stuff and follow a different character who is, for one, less interesting, and two, somebody you shouldn’t like at all if you’ve seen Kaiji’s second season.

Image result for Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management BluesNo longer a comedy, instead it became a foodie’s dream show. It wasn’t like these episodes were terrible but this show was supposed to be about Tonegawa, right? I don’t want to follow Ootsuki. They do bring it all together at one point, but it really wasn’t enough to justify the lengthy diversion.

By the homestretch, it does focus again solely on Tonegawa but these were among the least interesting episodes. It even had the audacity to throw itself a party for the last episode. You know what though? I was fine with it. Part of me was relieved that the show was finally over but the other part of me thought that Tonegawa had earned its ending. The show had fun, wanted you to have fun watching, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for.

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Some quick thoughts that didn’t make it into the main review here. The various, “Zawa, zawa’s” and iterations thereof, were all done by different actors each episode. I liked that. This is by far one of the biggest things that is unique to Kaiji and having this much dedication and attention put to making this really standout even more in this series was a very good touch.

Furthermore, the opening changed quite often to reflect things that had occurred from episode-to-episode. While you probably won’t catch them at first, by the end of the show it is like night and day with the amount of little things that have changed with time. It’s an underutilized treat when animators go that extra mile to really make a show stick out just that much more. I was impressed.

I could only find the dub trailer, but it captures some of the spirit rather well

While I wouldn’t say this show was all that great, I did enjoy it. Somehow, it was better for me, even if a lot of it just wasn’t all that interesting. Tonegawa is something that die-hard Kaiji fans NEED to watch, and if you’ve never seen Kaiji, it may spark some interest. However, it really is something made for fans and I can respect that.


What are your thoughts on Tonegawa and were you a fan of Kaiji? Let me know in the comments below. If you’d like to support the work I do here please consider hitting my donation button and tossing a few bucks my way. Lastly, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to read this and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Freaky Friday 4 of 4 – Happy Sugar Life

The Best Anime of the Summer 2018 Season

Happy Sugar LifeI’ve held off on reviewing Happy Sugar Life for some time now and some of you may have been wondering why I hadn’t reviewed it yet, especially since I reviewed everything else I watched during the summer already. That’s right, I knew it was a good fit for Halloween reviewing so I saved the best for last. Hitting the number two spot of my favorite anime so far, here’s why you should give Happy Sugar Life a watch. Continue reading “Freaky Friday 4 of 4 – Happy Sugar Life”

Angels of Death – Mini Review Part 1 of 2 (Episodes 1-12)

Is She an Angle or is She a Witch?

Image result for angels of death animeThis review is a bit of a more unusual one since I’m having to split it into parts. Episodes 1-12 of Angels of Death finished airing for the Summer 2018 season but it still has four more episodes to go starting early October. These first twelve episodes are largely setup for whatever the final four episodes have in-store for us.

The premise of this one is that a young girl, Rachel Gardner wakes up in a strange building. There she is attacked and analyzed by various, “residents” of this bizarre structure. After her first encounters with a Dr. Danny and scythe wielding serial killer, Zach, Rachel longs for nothing more than death. She teams up with Zach in order to escape and have him make her wish come true.

Each string of episodes has the gang exploring a new floor and dealing with a new person. Zach yells and hits stuff and Rachel uses her brain to solve problems. Rachel begs to be killed and Zach tells her to smile. Rinse and repeat.

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Angels of Death is an adaptation of a video game of the same name. I haven’t played it but it has good reviews and people really seem to like the story. This had me pretty excited for the anime. With a solid first episode, the show really declined in quality for some time following that. It wasn’t until Zach was given some depth, and eventually Rachel required to be the sole person in the spotlight, that the show really managed to do anything interesting.

With J.C. Staff at the helm for this one I can say that there are some really great moments visually but things are bogged down quite a bit by trying too hard to emulate the game experience. There are a lot of dry and dreary moments of not a lot going on. The world even has video game mechanics in it that just feel out of place. For a lot of people this is going to be a deal breaker.

I wouldn’t say this show is bad but I wouldn’t say it is good either. It is competent at the best of times and mediocre at the worst. In this slower season though, it made for a decent watch to slot between things I was more excited about.

Perhaps the most standout moments of the show came in the form of the Zach’s backstory and witch trail . Zach really needed fleshing out and given more of a role beyond yelling, being stupid, and hitting stuff. It actually made him a sympathetic character. The witch trail was far more interesting as it looked into Rachel’s character and presented some of the more dynamic moments in Angels of Death (both visually and between its characters).

One other aspect of the show that I particularly enjoy is the ED and the presentation of what the next episode will be. Generally the music is pretty standard, with an alright OP that rises just above that, but it isn’t particularly good. As for the title card and other such fare, it is really standard. The eyecatch looks good but it isn’t impact. Something about the ending works really well and is kind of something you just have to take my word on or experience for yourself since explaining it with text is kind of impossible.

 

As it stands, these twelve episodes weren’t fantastic and I’m largely going to be finishing the series just for the sake of completing it rather than for finding it compelling. The final episode gives you a, “revelation” in presenting something that shouldn’t be one for the audience and because of that I’m not really sure what the show can really do. The story seems like it only has one straightforward way it can go but maybe I’ll be wrong on that. We’ll explore that in part 2 though.


What did you think of Angels of Death? Was this one you stuck with or did you decide to duck out early? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to support me and my work here please hit the button below. As always, thanks for reading and hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

 

Jacob’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2018

May is around the corner, which – in Hollywood terms – means that summer is about to start. As always, there are movies to look forward to, whether they are potential blockbusters, trips of nostalgia, or an Indie flick destined to become a critical darling (and a possible awards contender), I am here once again to give you a more in-depth look at my top 10 most anticipated films scheduled to release in the summer of 2018! As always, on with the countdown!

Continue reading “Jacob’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2018”