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Anyone who survived UK anime fandom in the early-to-mid-1990s, can effortlessly list the most prominent hits of the time — Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, most infamously Urotsukidoji. All released on VHS by Manga Video and marketed to the “beer and curry crowd” who wanted something lurid, noisy and violent to watch with their mates on a Saturday night.

I have great memories of that time — as a (far too) young teenager watching these bizarre animated shows, often on 2nd or 3rd generation copies with my friends. On particular friend had a membership at a video rental store close to his house where they chose not to question these lank-haired, spotty adolescents pretending to be much older than their obvious 13-years-of-age. …


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So when I volunteered to write something for this “first impressions” series, my favoured shows were already snapped up by my fellow writers’ sticky paws. Oh well, I thought, maybe it’ll be fun to review something I’ve never heard of. This “Hidden Dungeon” thing might be fun.” I held uneducated preconceptions that this might be some kind of whimsical, light-hearted magical adventure, and to be fair, the first minute did nothing to dispel my unwarranted optimism.

“This world is filled with dungeons,” intones the narrator, as the visuals morph from a foreboding cave entrance to a rushing river, a doom-laden sky to a roiling sea. We see a selection of mysterious edifices — an underground temple, a floating castle, a snow-bound citadel. Yes, yes — this is what I’m looking for, I thought.


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My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising

Here’s a fateful quote from my 10-month old My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising review: “The first part of 2020 has certainly been great so far for cinematic anime… I hope the rest of the year can keep up with this relative feast of theatrical Japanese animation”.

I’m sorry. I jinxed it. 2020 was my fault. A little pandemic cancelled all subsequent theatrical anime releases in the Western world and directly contributed to Demon Slayer: Mugen Train becoming the highest-grossing cinematic release in Japan, outperforming even Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Shinkai’s Your Name.


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Oh God. 2020’s almost over, and I’ve seen what’s coming in 2021.

What with an unprecedented surge of patient demand assailing the UK health service latterly, I’ve barely had time to think — let alone write the last couple of months. However, I have kept up with seasonal anime. Sometimes vegetating in front of the pretty moving colours at the end of a busy, stressful day is the best medicine. I’m happy to report that after a couple of understandably light seasons, Autumn 2020 has been excellent for anime. You can read my season-halfway article here if you missed it, otherwise let’s plough ahead. …


A further eclectic collection of collaboration commentary from past contributions to AniTAY reviews.

The Promised Neverland

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It seems you can never go too wrong with anime about suffering children. Grave of the Fireflies? Wartime horror and starvation — check! Neon Genesis Evangelion? Existential horror and self-destructive nihilism — check! Made in Abyss? Jolly adventure and brutal mutilation — check! Now, the Winter 2019 season hath unleashed The Promised Neverland with its bounty of child sacrifice, demonic child-flesh feasting, deep paranoia, and leg-breaking sudden violence.

As an avid reader of the manga, this was my most anticipated anime of the season and it most certainly does not disappoint. In fact, in some places it may even surpass its source material. The manga at times is dense, talky, and oppressive, as the story requires. Many scenes are extended dialogues or internal monologues that would not translate well to anime. By obfuscating the characters’ internal thoughts, the animators require viewers to rely on subtle cues like body language, facial expressions, scene composition, and music. In less-skilled hands, this could have fallen completely flat; however, in this instance, every episode is a perfectly constructed and tense 24 minutes that moves the story forward, answering some questions and asking more. …


A second helping of short anime reviews, this time taken from my contributions to AniTAY’s traditional quarterly seasonal anime collaboration articles. Note that each review was written mid-season, so my opinion of each was based only on the first half-dozen episodes available at the time.

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Gleipnir (Spring 2020)

Genre: Fantasy, Furry, Perversion

Where to watch: Funimation

Spoiler-free synopsis: Shuichi Kagaya is a shy high-school student who hides his academic ability to fit in with his peers. Unfortunately, peer acceptance becomes the least of his concerns when he inexplicably transforms into a grotesque furry mascot monster, complete with enhanced sense of smell and animalistic drives. Adding to his worries is fellow student Claire Aoki who not only threatens to expose his secret if he doesn’t do her bidding but also discovers that the huge zipper down his back opens into a moist, fleshy cavity into which she can enter and pilot him like a meaty, furry mecha. …


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Before the recent kinjapocalypse, when all AniTAY’s authors were forced to abandon ship, we frequently published “collabs” (collaborative articles), comprising short reviews of prominent anime from from multiple authors. These will all eventually be transferred to Medium thanks to the herculean backup efforts of our very own member Nan, but in the meantime I’ve aggregated a few of my contributions to some of the most recent of these articles. It’s a heady selection, so enjoy!

Deca-Dence


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It’s the end of AniTAY? Say it isn’t true! How can I expect to sleep tonight after this bombshell?

A whole year of anime is almost over, and what a weird year it’s been. Winter 2020 started well with shows like Get Your Hands Off Eizouken! and Somali and the Forest Spirit, only for the SARS CoV2 novel coronavirus/COVID 19 to derail many of the shows due to air in the following Spring and Summer seasons. Now that anime production has adapted to these new circumstances, the Autumn season is stacked. There is no way I have time to watch everything that looks interesting, but I have done my best, for your edification.

I have mixed feelings about this post, because it will be my final one on AniTAY.kinja.com, because our not-so-benevolent overlords at G/O Media, not content with mismanaging their core sites, driving away talented journalists and flooding the pages with endless advertisments, have in their infinite lack of wisdom announced at short notice the destruction and deletion of all kinja user and community blogs. From tomorrow, the individual user blogs at least will be inaccessible, AniTAY probably by the end of the month. I’m not going to get deep into the politics of this, but screw all of you herbaceous bottom-feeders. I hope you all become bankrupt. …


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The gang’s all here

Sometimes sharing a cherished pastime with your significant other can be a fraught experience. Common interests are essential to maintaining a healthy relationship over the years. How do you cope when they’re just not that into the stuff you like?

When I first discovered anime fandom back in the mid 1990s, it was an offshoot of the sci-fi scene in that it was a heavily male-dominated space, and generally anime was looked down on as “weird”, even by geeks. Now things are different, with female anime fans comprising a huge consumer demographic. …


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With my recent week’s holiday, what better to do than relax watching strange late 90’s anime with my increasingly bewildered teenage daughter? October in the UK is cold, wet and miserable. It’s not like anyone wants to leave their house at this time of year anyway, though our government’s escalatingly byzantine multi-tier lockdown rules make the concept of ill-considered outside autumnal ventures even more confusing and annoying than they were before. Am I allowed to visit my relatives right now or am I likely to be executed? Who knows? …

About

DoctorKev

Physician. Obsessed with anime, manga, comic-books. Husband and father. Christian. Fascinated by tensions between modern culture and traditional faith. Bit odd.

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