Although I have reviewed these anime titles in the past, the release of their box sets compels me to toss around a few words. Surely, as the heading suggests – and, again, the title of my new book –, whose day isn’t inundated with girls, guns, beasts, and even a few lacking the social skills?
Welcome to the N-H-K: The Complete Series
2009 TV Series (episodes 1-24). Director: Yusuke Yamamato. 600 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $69.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Join the agoraphobic world of Sato. It’s a small Tokyo flat overrun by garbage, empty beer cans, take-out containers, and a computer generating a continuous, 24-hour feed of internet porn. But Sato’s condition isn’t his fault. Oh No! He’s the unwitting victim of a grand conspiracy formulated by the heinous N-H-K organization.
But wait! There’s hope. Can Misaki, the seemingly naïve girl next door, save him from a hygienically challenged life of internet depravity?
Depression, anxiety, fear, girls, fantasy, desire: this is the N-H-K. And I love this show. It’s a dramatic comedy that reminds you how anime is often not a good synonym for cartoon. After all, when trying to balance failures and dreams, to be is not a question. It just blows. Welcome to the N-H-K artfully conjures up life and the necessity of laughter’s lightness.
Black Lagoon: Complete Box Set
2009 TV Series (episodes 1-24). Director: Sunao Katabuchi. 660 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $69.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Before he found himself a hostage of the Lagoon Company, Rokuro Okajima was the quintessential, lowly businessman: all tie no balls. Now known as Rock, he runs the South China Sea as a very bureaucratic mercenary for the Black Lagoon outfit. Alongside Dutch, Revy, and Benny, Rock now lives with paperwork in one hand and a gun in the other.
Like I’ve said before, Black Lagoon is the A-Team on crack. Their adventures are like booth babes at a Con; you can’t look away and you wish you were on the team. Better yet, in this anime we not only have guns, but a few girls that’ll make you overlook that sleek M107 .50 caliber long range sniper rifle. Between Revy’s short shorts and her buxom, gun toting nun rival, you’ve got fan service and great action.
So, get your gun fix on, and live vicariously through the Lagoon Company. You won’t be disappointed!
Ghost Hunt: The Complete Series
2009 TV Series (episodes 1-25). Director: Akira Mano. 600 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $69.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Mai Taniyama is a high school girl with a penchant for the supernatural. Her budding psychic powers have put her on one path and one path alone: the Shibuya Psychic Research team. This band of mediums, priestesses, monks, and exorcists travel the land using cutting-edge technology to probe the darkest, paranormal mysteries.
Okay, I’m still not entirely sold on this series. Some episodes hold my attention; others recall my worst filler nightmares. Basically, Ghost Hunt is at play in the fields of the horror/suspense genre, but it just isn’t that scary. Again, it’s Scooby-Do revisited.
However, Ghost Hunt is aimed at an early teen audience. I think it’ll find great success there.
Red Garden: The Complete Series & OVA
2009 TV Series (episodes 1-22). Director: Ko Matsuo. 600 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $69.98. Distributor: Funimation.
Kate, Claire, Rose, and Rachel may walk the streets of Manhattan as debutants, but this isn’t Sex and the City. This murdered quartet has been unknowingly resurrected to slay the demonic beasts emerging in the city. And that makes them as dangerous as the heels and skirts they wear! Hmm, is it possible to maintain your hair, a boyfriend, and commit brutal murder with a baseball bat?
As I’ve said before, Red Garden is Gossip Girl in hell. And I like it like that! If you’re going to give me teenage gossip and supernatural beasts to kill, then at least give me a story arc worth following. Red Garden gets it right. Action scenes set aside, each character must negotiate her former aristocratic life with the new murderous one. More importantly, each must race toward the ultimate revelation: they’re already dead! This dramatic and gritty management of a perfect life and an unwanted death is an epic win. It’s the story, stupid!
Oh, one other thing. Kudos goes to the artistic team behind Red Garden. They push anime’s aesthetic boundary to create something truly unique.