From the New World – the best anime

from-new-world-frontEvery couple of years you come across an anime series that ticks all the boxes; moving story, real dilemmas, fantastic yet believable, beautiful animation, well-developed characters, emotive soundtrack. ‘From the New World’, a new release from MVM Entertainment, is that series for me. I’ve watched my fair share of anime over what must be the last decade, so I’m fairly confident I can identify between a very good and masterful series. ‘From the New World’ just blows everything else I’ve seen out of the water (rivalling my much-loved ‘Kids on the Slope’ and ‘Full Metal Alchemist’).

‘From the New World’ is set in Japan a thousand years in the future and is a perfect blend of fantasy, slice-of-life and drama. People live in small, seemingly idyllic villages, and have developed telekinetic powers, rendering technology irrelevant. But not everything is as perfect as it seems. Children who lag behind in school mysteriously vanish and are forgotten by their peers, people are forbidden to venture beyond the barriers erected around their village, tales of monster cats and ogres terrify children and adults alike, and no one really seems to know how their idyllic society came into being. Five school children; Saki, Shun, Satoru, Maria and Mamoru capture a fabled ‘false minoshiro’ on a camping trip and learn the bloody history of their world and are drawn deep into a world of subterfuge, secrecy and unimaginable horror.

This series has the most fleshed-out and mature story I have ever come across, which probably isn’t surprising as it’s based on a famous Japanese novel of the same name. The novel was written by Yusuke Kishi in 2008 and won the Nihon SF Taisho Award but sadly doesn’t seem to have been translated into English. Fortunately, I think its anime adaption is flawless and can’t imagine anybody not enjoying it. I can’t reveal too much about the series without taking away a lot of the delight of you (the watcher) discovering things for yourself but I can at least pick out a few of my favourite things about ‘From the New World’.

EP211There are so many layers to the story and there is no shortage of twists and turns. One of the biggest reveals comes right in the last five minutes of the series, which really throws you and makes you question so much of the world. Children obviously play a very important part of the story, particularly how they are treated by the adult world. While our main characters start off as innocent twelve-year olds, we see them mature to fourteen years to their mid-twenties, which impacts their relationships with each other and the seemingly perfect world around them. Each character is fleshed out very well and unique and, while there are comedic moments, this is by no means a simplistic “high school romance” series. Some of the children are weaker and more selfish but this is what made them feel so real to me, and is the reason you’ll become so attached to them all.

from-the-new-worldThis brings me right onto my next favourite thing about the series; the world itself. It does have a Orwellian feel to it in that, while everything seems perfect on the surface, there are far darker forces at work beneath it. Having the main characters progress through this world from children to adults makes this even more effective. Then there are the legends of ogres and demons, who have supposedly not been seen for centuries but are a constant invisible threat, as well as mysterious creatures such as the ‘false minoshiro’ that should not have evolved in the short space of a thousand years. Finally, the monster rats, genetically-engineered creatures that serve humanity play an increasingly important role in the story’s progression. I became so invested in the entire world, which is as well-developed and clearly-thought out as fantasy masterpieces like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Name of the Wind’. Still, ‘From the New World’ is just rooted enough in the real world to be believable and feel that it’s not entirely on a different planet.

I’m warning you now, this show will probably make you cry but it’s worth it. ‘From the New World’ has immediately climbed to the top of my ‘favourite shows ever’ list and I urge you all to watch it for yourselves. It’s available from MVM Entertainment in two parts, twenty five episodes in all, and is well worth the money. Definitely one for the birthday/Christmas/impulse buy list!

Score: a massive 10/10!

Image source: MVM Entertainmentphotobucket, thenextthingblog

Double anime review: Accel World and Btooom!

Seeing as I have a few anime reviews to get through, I thought I’d try something different this week. I recently watched Accel World and Btoom! from MVM Entertainment, both series about video games and virtual worlds… so I thought I’d make them fight each other! We’ll go through a couple of key points about each series and give them ratings out of 10, then tally it up to pick a winning show.



Accel World is the brain child of Sunrise Studios (Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass) and Flying Dog (.hack, Sengoku Basara) set in the not-so-far future of 2046. Haruyuki Arita is a young boy who finds himself on the lowest social rungs of his school. Ashamed of his miserable life, he can only cope by indulging in virtual games. But that all changes when Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in school, introduces him to a mysterious program called Brain Burst and a virtual reality called the Accel World.



Btooom! is also from is also the product of Flying Dog and Madhouse Studios (Cardcaptor Sakura, Metropolis movie) and based around a video game. Ryouta Sakamoto suddenly finds himself stranded on a mysterious island, equipped with a day’s worth of provisions, a bag of bombs, a strange crystal embedded in his left hand and a huge gaping hole in his memory. But it doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on. Someone is attempting to recreate the ultra-violent Btoom! game in real life, and the island has been filled with an army of other unwilling players, each armed with one of the multiple variants of explosive weapons called BIM. There’s only one way off the island: kill seven other people before they can kill you! Can Ryouta repurpose his game based skills fast enough to survive?


In some ways, these two shows are quite similar in terms of plot as both revolve around teenagers’ obsession with video games and how it affects them in the real world.

Source: wegame

Source: wegame

In Accel World, teenagers wear special necklaces that hook them up to the internet and a virtual world where everyone has their own avatar. Some of them have a special programme called “Brain Burst” installed, which takes things to the next level with a virtual fighting game. The story starts by explaining the concept of the game, such as levelling up and clans, then moves on to virus and hackers. There’s a fair amount of plot and thematic progression, so each episode (26 in total) feels like part of a story and there’s very little filler, giving it a 7/10.



Btooom! has a slightly darker plot as the characters are uprooted from their normal lives and thrown onto an island where they have to kill each other in order to escape. There’s definitely a “Battle Royale”-esque element to it all and no shortage of insane people wanting to kill each other. You can’t escape and recuperate in the safety of the real world here, as you can in Accel World, which makes the whole scenario feel that much more hopeless and dangerous. All in all, a good action anime. For that reason, I’m giving Btooom! 8/10.


To be honest, I didn’t feel either series had exceptionally strong main characters. The main draw for me was the worlds in which they were set but everybody has different tastes.

Source: Gematsu

Source: Gematsu

Accel World has a more intriguing leading male character. Haruyuki is quite possibly the only fat main character I’ve come across in anime, which is quite refreshing. He starts off extremely whiny as you might expect but he does learn to stand up for himself eventually. Plus, his avatar in the online world is a pig, which is super cute.  The leading female character, Kuroyukihime, is your rather stereotypical ‘serious cool pretty girl’ – cut from the same cloth of a lot of other anime girls but certainly not a bad character in herself. The thing I struggled to accept the most about the whole series is actually her OTT confession of love for Haruyuki early on in the series. I appreciate anything can happen in anime but talk about an ‘odd couple’.

I actually preferred the secondary characters in Accel World, namely the other avatars such as Red Rider and Dusk Taker who I found a bit more three dimensional. If you’re not overly fussed about super developed characters but like seeing lots of different avatars fighting, Accel World is your kind of show. I’m going to give it a collective 7/10 for characterisation.



Btooom! really let itself down in terms of characters for me. For a supposed NEET, Ryouta is very good-looking and pretty well built, which made his character itself a bit more unbelievable. That said, he isn’t completely two dimensional in that he’s only ever angry or mopey and goes through a lot of emotions during his time on the island – angry, distressed, terrified, resolute etcetc. Our heroine Himiko, however, is a complete pain in the backside. There has never been a more useless and dim female character in anime. It’s very hard to take her seriously when her breasts (bigger than her head) are bouncing about every two seconds and, better yet, reflecting bombs and defying gravity.

To be fair, Btooom! only has 13 episodes to develop its characters whereas Accel World has 26 but I still felt it was lacking for good leading characters. Again, I preferred the secondary characters like the bumbling businessman Taira and mysterious Nobutaka. The anime is based on a still-running manga and, to its credit, ends mid-series so there is a lot left to be explained about characters in the series. Still, I can’t give it more than a 5/10.


Both series have very lovely animation and great fight scenes – always a plus!

Source: mediacache

Source: mediacache

Accel World’s benefitted from some well-known art directors. Nobutaka Ike worked on the likes of Paprika and Takafumi Nishima on Monster and Steins Gate. I particularly enjoyed the fight scenes, which were very sharp. 8/10.

Source: blogspot

Source: blogspot

I really loved the animation for Btoom! The island looks beautiful, the characters sharp and deaths gory without being over the top. For this, it draws with Accel World and gets a nice 8/10.


Accel World has a fantastic soundtrack, some of my favourite songs being ‘Silvery Wings’ and ‘Blood History’. There’s a big range of orchestral, jazz and guitar music thrown in there. It gets another 8/10 for this.

My favourite song from Btooom! is actually its opening theme, which really ‘gets you pumping’ as they say. I didn’t think the soundtrack was spectacular compared to Accel World, so will give it a 6/10.

And the winner is…

I’d heard good things about Accel World, so was keen to check it out when MVM released it. Overall, I enjoyed it and marathoned the whole series in three nights – a good sign. I’m one of those people who is drawn in by animation and music as much as plot, and for this reason the series wins with a collective 30/40!

Btooom! caught my eye from the beginning because of its plot and cool opening theme. The manga has very positive reviews but I feel the anime didn’t live entirely up to its potential because it only had 13 episodes to work with and had a girl with breasts that defied physics. If you like explosions and action anime, it’s still worth checking out with a healthy Sophie rating of 27/40.

WIN Hakuouki seasons 1, 2 and 3!

It’s my birthday this week and you know what that means – competition time! This one’s the best one yet and comes courtesy of the fantastic guys at MVM Entertainment, who’ve licensed one of my all-time favourite anime series, ‘Hakuoki’.

Up for grabs is not only the first season, but the second (‘Hakuoki Hekketsuroku’) and third (‘Hakuoki Reimeiroku’) as well! That’s almost the entire series, excluding the OVA, which you will also be able to buy in the near future. Read on for the review and details of how to enter…

Chizuru Yukimura has come to Kyoto looking for her father, a doctor who has gone missing. While there, she witnesses a fight between an Oni and the Shinsengumi. Taking her into custody, the Shinsengumi debates on what to do with Chizuru, when they discover that she is the daughter of the doctor for whom they are also looking. The Shinsengumi then take Chizuru along on their search after the missing doctor, from adventure to adventure.

The ‘Hakuoki’ anime series is loosely based on the history of the Shinsengumi, the ‘secret police’ of the late Tokugawa Shogunate and their struggle against the changing times as western culture permeates Japan. In terms of dates, characters and battles, its fairly accurate, which is good news for history fans. The whole demon thing obviously isn’t accurate but, compared to how ridiculous and over the top other ‘historical action’ series can be (*cough cough* Sengoku Basara) you can’t poke too many holes in it.

In case in wasn’t incredibly accurate by all the beautiful bishounen men on the DVD cover, ‘Hakuoki’ also sits comfortably in the romance category. The TV series is based on a Japanese dating sim video game, ‘Hakuoki ~ Shinsengumi Kitan ~ Demon of the Fleeting Blossom’. Samurai, romance, history? I’m sold!

The good news is this series isn’t just easy on the eye, although I’d definitely say this is one for the girls. It’s got action, great fight scenes, a decent historical backdrop, a fantastic soundtrack and beautiful art. The seasons develop well and each stand out on their own; where the first season sets the scene, the second gets a lot darker and ‘Game of Thrones’-esque, and the third is in fact a prequel to the first series. There are hours of viewing material in each of the DVDs and each episode brings you something new and different, so there’s no lull or time to get bored in between episodes. Out of the lot, season two is by far my personal favourite.

How to enter

Simply like MVM Entertainment on Facebook then leave a comment below this blog post telling us you’ve done so! Get your entries in by 7pm Friday 28 March. So, get liking, sharing and watching!

A massive thanks to MVM Entertainment for providing an amazing prize. You can check out their other fantastic titles here!

‘Another': anime review

another_animeSince I started studying for a Diploma last month, my anime-watching time has been somewhat reduced and I’ve been a lot more selective in my viewing habits. This was why I chose to watch ‘Another’, a recent release from MVM Entertainment, among all the other great shows available to buy at the moment.

‘Another’ is an unpredictable and, at times, heart-stopping paranormal horror story crammed into just 12 episodes. Right from the first episode, I was hooked and blitzed through the whole series in just two nights. The balance between concise story-telling and not throwing the entire plot in front of the audience in the first 20 minutes, a trap that a lot of short anime series fall into, is almost perfect.

When Kouichi Sasakibara transfers to his new school, he can sense something frightening in the atmosphere of his new class, a secret none of them will talk about. At the center is the beautiful girl Mei Misaki. Kouichi is immediately drawn to her mysterious aura, but then he begins to realize that no one else in the class is aware of her presence.

The less I elaborate on the plot, the better. This really isn’t just because I can’t be bothered to write a long review but because it takes a few episodes to fully comprehend what’s going on in the school and who all the characters are. All I will say is nothing is as it seems and the ending is impactful yet leaves the right amount of mystery, although I did see one or two of the plot twists coming. It is in fact based on a Japanese novel of the same name by Yukito Ayatsuji and, from what my internet research has told me, sticks very close to the plot, so that might also be a read too!

SceneI’m a big fan of the psychological horror anime series which have a good balance of gratuitious blood, hysterical school girls and comedy, like ‘Higurashi no Naku Koro ni’ and ‘Mirai Nikki’, so if you’ve enjoyed either of those shows ‘Another’ will be right up your alley. This show also wins extra points for some very creative deaths and, even if you can end up reading the comments in Youtube and spoil yourself (not recommended!), you’ll spend a lot of your time half-hiding behind a cushion.

The animation and soundtrack also add to the eerie ghost story effect, as does the mysterious character design for Mei herself. The only thing I didn’t like about the show was actually the way it was all wrapped up – I’m all for leaving some mystery but I was actually just confused, and a little bit annoyed. For this reason, ‘Another’ gets an impressive 9/10.

Arakawa Under the Bridge review

th (11)‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’ is one of those anime series that is so bizarre that it makes absolutely no sense, and yet there’s some deep hidden meaning behind the insanity that it actually makes a  great amount of sense. Does that make any sense at all? I thought not.

Right from the beginning, this show is crazy. The scene opens with Kou Ichinomiya, self-proclaimed ‘perfect’ heir to a great family business empire, standing on Arakawa bridge and having a long inner monologue about how he owes his success to his family motto: never be indebted to anyone. The shot pans out and we learn his trousers have been stolen and a girl has hooked them on her fishing line to save them, but he won’t take them back because then he’d be indebted to her. He then falls off the bridge and is saved by the girl, who says he can repay her by living with her under the bridge as her lover.

Welcome to ‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’. Leave your sanity by the door because you won’t need it.

This is really as far as we go in terms of plot, excluding the last few episodes which I won’t spoil for you, but this really isn’t a bad thing as what makes ‘Arakawa’ so great is its bizarre range of characters. Kou’s new girlfriend claims to be a Venusian, and therefore has no idea what having a boyfriend actually entails and seems permanently spaced out. The ‘chief’ is a kappa, at least we think he is until we see he is wearing a zip-up costume, but he continues to insist he really is a kappa. Hoshi has a bright yellow star shaped head, plays guitar and wears a tshirt that has ‘ore no tshirt’ on it (that more or less translates to ‘my tshirt’). ‘Sister’ is a war veteran dressed as a nun, and is in love with the beautiful farm girl Maria, who is an absolute sadist. Add to the mix two twins with tin cans on their heads and have escaped from a laboratory, and a man who can only walk on white lines, and it’s clearly pretty mental under the bridge.

However, the show actually made me question whether the people living under the bridge were all simply nut cases and outcasts of society, or whether Kou had stumbled across a fantastical world where the guy in the suit really is a kappa, or Nino really is a Venusian. The show never really tells you and you have to decide for yourself. There is an actual community down there and everyone has a ‘job’, from catching fish (monstrous Moby Dick sized) to running the bath house (which is actually just a tub) and Kou, ever the hard-working salary man, chooses to become a teacher to educate everyone. You can guess how well that goes.

‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’ is originally a manga series created by Hikaru Nakamura, and the Japanese animation studio shaft adapted it into an anime in 2010. The company has some pretty good credentials and is behind other popular shows such as ‘Maria Holic’ and ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’, although I’d say ‘Arakawa’ is a cut above these.

mvm-arakawa-frontUnusually, there’s no English language dub for the ‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’ anime series. You’ll get the original Japanese dub with the DVD and you’ll definitely like it, as the voice actor line-up is very strong and well-suited to the characters. Hiroshi Kamiya (‘sensei’ in ‘Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei’) voices Kou, Maaya Sakamoto (Ciel Phantomhive in ‘Black Butler’), Takehito Koyasu (Sasuke Sarutobi in ‘Sengoku Basara’) voices Sister and Tomokazu Sugita (Gin from ‘Gintama’) voices Hoshi.

This is one of those shows I’d show to someone if I wanted to demonstrate anime at its wackiest. My sister joined me for the odd episode as I was watching it over the Christmas break, and her reaction was pretty much “what the actual *expletive deleted* is this?” even though she kept coming back to watch some more. The madness of ‘Arakawa’ is definitely what makes it so magnetic.

If ‘Arakawa Under the Bridge’ sounds like your kind of watch, both it and its sequel series are available to buy from MVM Entertainment now! It’s a great one for the collection.

Score: 8.5/10

Image credits: animenewsnetwork, MVM Entertainment

C for Control: Christmas competition!


It’s competition time again, just in time for Christmas! This is your chance to win a copy of one of MVM Entertainment’s latest anime titles, C for Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility.


Kimimaro is a hard-working college student, juggling two part time jobs and studying to be a civil servant. His ambition in life? To have just enough money to get by comfortably. One night he is approached by a strange man in a top hat, Masakaki, who makes him an intriguing offer: receive a near-endless supply of money through loans leveraged against one’s future. Intrigued, Kimimaro  accepts his new role as an ‘entrepreneur’ and receives a mysterious bank card which, when used, transports him to the otherworldly Financial District. There, he battles alongside his Asset, Mshyu, against other people who have been drawn into the District. Those who win return to the real world to find great amounts of money in the banks. Those who lose go bankrupt and, in many cases, lose much more.

I was intrigued by C for Control because it is quite possibly the only series I have ever come across that deals with the very serious subject of economics. Admittedly, the seriousness disappears when you bring in the otherwordliness and Pokemon-style battles but there are some interesting themes running throughout the series. People’s obsession with and dependence on money, the lengths they are prepared to go to to earn it, and the god-like role money plays in everyone’s lives. Another nice touch is that when people return from the Financial District to the real world, they bring with them tainted Midas money which is then distributed through the entire country’s financial system. To Kimimaro and other entrepreneurs, the money is black but, to everyone else, it looks like regular cash. What affect does the Midas money have on the country? You’ll have to watch to find out.


With just 11 episodes, the cast is quite small but likeable. Kimimaro is your stereotypical regular-guy-who-is-just-trying-to-make-ends-meet-then-suddenly-everything-changes-like-oh-my-gosh-doesn’t-this-sound-familiar but keeps the show as grounded as it can be, given how there’s a magical bank in the background. Mshyu, the Asset, is fiesty and interacts/scolds Kimimaro constantly by talking to him through his bank card in the real world. Jennifer Sato is an International Monetary Fund (IMF) spy investigating the activities of the Midas bank and Soichiro Mikuni is the mysterious handsome stranger who tries to take on Kimimaro as an apprentice. Mshyu and Jennifer were my favourite characters although, as can be appreciated with just 11 episodes, they were quite two-dimensional but likeable all the same.

Other things in this series favour are the soundtrack (particularly the rocking opening theme), bold animation and one of the best English vocal castings I’ve ever come across. I watched the first five episodes in English quite happily and there was little lost in translation when I switched to subtitles. The themes of greed and money are particularly relevant in this day and age (especially when you live in the financial centre that is London) and, whilst the series might not tackle them in a conventional way, it does give you some food for thought.

All in all, this is a very good series and I’d give it a solid 7/10. I really recommend it!


Entering couldn’t be any easier: just like MVM on Facebook and leave a comment below this blog post by midnight Sunday 22 December. A winner will be selected at random and the DVD will be posted to you in the New Year.


Image sources: animenewsnetwork, MVM Entertainment, wallcg

Anime Christmas countdown!

Do you like advent calendars? Do you like Christmas? Are you wondering what great anime titles you can buy for your friends , family or yourself this Christmas? Good news, the blog’s going to be counting down to Christmas on Facebook. A different series will be posted each day, giving you plenty of ideas for what to watch and buy!

As it’s now the first day of Christmas, let’s kick the countdown off with a classic: Cowboy Bebop Collector’s Edition!


Make sure you like the blog on Facebook so you can follow the countdown!

Butterflies and dresses: Red Garden

mvm-redgarden-frontDue to my not having any internet for the last two weeks, Aisha has kindly stepped up to the challenge to bring you this week’s post. Enjoy her review of ‘Red Garden’, a new release from MVM Entertainment.

‘Red Garden’ brings back a lot of memories for me, it is a Japanese anime produced by Gonzo studios which originally came out in 2006. It was also a manga series in Comic Birz , 2006. The plot revolves around four random girls at the same school who become involved in a series of supernatural murders. One common factor links them, their dead friend Lisa. It has a real American suspense to it and aptly done so as it is based in New York.
After school announces Lisa’s death, the turn of events gets weirder for the main characters. They find themselves tired every morning without recollection of the night before. Then, for reasons unknown, the four girls are drawn by red butterflies that gather them in the same place. There, they are approached by a woman called Lula and her partner JC to tell them all that they are already dead.
Later, events are pieced back into their memory and they now have to work for their lives. They are revealed to be working for an organization called ‘Animus’. Lula also claims she has the means to eventually return them to their previous lives when their job is done. Their job is killing “monsters” – sounds easy enough, right? Get a gun…? Oh wait, they have to do it using their bare hands. This could get tricky. Lula and JC summon the girls sporadically, and they fight certain human looking “monsters” who then disappear.
What puzzles me is that the girls are chosen at random to do this and while they battle to survive, other girls are being killed and put into the same situation. No one is bothered nor to the authorities look into the many missing girls. The girls are at least realistically scared and untrained so they start from scratch; being scared out of their wits then accepting their fates and learning to battle or survive.
The  production of ‘Red Garden’ is interesting in that the producers employed a technique often used by animated productions outside Japan, but rarely used in Japanese industry itself. For example, adding the characters’ dialogue animation after the voices have been recorded. I noticed the synchronization is particularly evident in scenes where characters are singing.
red-garden006The art looks a bit grainy at times but I pay more attention to the ladies’ outfits, I do like they how have different outfits everyday, rather than living in the one outfit in their fantasy anime world. The music is quite jazzy at the beginning and end, which seems out of place when actually watching the anime with the talents of  LM.C and JiLL-Decoy association (JIRUDEKO).
OVA: Dead Girls
Also included in the boxset is an OVA called Dead Girls, originally released in 2007.  The four girls continue to wander in the world of ruin fighting as bounty hunters and this time they are after a specific wanted person. Carrying on their double lives, they encounter a  beautiful transfer student called Louise and she tries to befriend them. They also meet the handsome young man, Edgar.
‘Red Garden’ starts as a mystery anime, making me hold out for a shocking conclusion or great plot building. Sadly I was left confused and almost bored with the human ‘monsters’ and the point of the organisation.
The characters did not have much personality but at least they had fashion sense. Beautiful animation and music, teamed with a terrible story. ‘Dead Girls’ was a interesting addition but far from a saving grace of the whole series.
For more great reviews on anime, games and events from Aisha & the @animeukshow  team check out
Image credits: MVM Entertainment, canime
Next week: I’ll be taking a look at some strange Japanese drinks! For obvious reasons, no taste tests will be involved…

Pumpkin Scissors giveaway and review!


It’s time for another anime DVD giveaway, courtesy of the wonderful guys at MVM Entertainment! If you’re a fan of military series like ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ that have that perfect mix of comedy and emotional plot, ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is a must-watch. The competition details are at the bottom of this post, so I like to assume you’ll all do this properly and read the review first. Or, you’re sold by me comparing the series to ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ and you’ll have scrolled down already…

oland[2]‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is set three years after the end of a war between the Empire and the Republic of Frost, in which the Empire hastily signed a ceasefire and is now trying to rebuild a society blighted by poverty, corruption and plague. ‘Pumpkin Scissors’, a branch of the Imperial army, is charged with issuing war relief. This should involve mundane projects such as rebuilding roads and issuing rations but this all changes when they meet Randel Orlando, a former Anti-Tank Trooper. Orlando is the product of medical experiments of soldiers during the war and has the rather freakish ability to destroy tanks, so the platoon’s work suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous.

‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is based on the ongoing manga by Ryotara Iwanaga, which was originally serialised in 2002. The director of the series is Katsuhito Akiyama, whose most famous other works include ‘Guyver: The Bioboosted Armour’ and ‘Appleseed: Ex Machina’, so if you’re familiar with your anime you should have some idea of what to expect: giant weapons, action and super powers. Gonzo, one of Japan’s greatest anime production companies, is also behind the project, so that’s another big selling point for anime connoisseurs.

Pumpkin-Scissors2The thing I loved most about ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is the cast, which is pretty well-rounded and the source of the comedic relief. Alice L. Marvin is a member of one of the noble thirteen families who shirks off the lady-like role expected of her in favour of leading the Pumpkin Scissors platoon. Although engaged to another noble, she is constantly at odds with her two older sisters who keep trying to put her in pretty dresses. Orlando, on the surface, seems more like the BFG with a love for stray cats rather than a tank destroyer but, on activating the ghostly lantern at his belt, goes pretty crazy. His memories of the war and search for answers leads the second half of the series. The other two main members of the platoon are Oreldo, whose charm, handsomeness and lecherousness actually come in useful and save the day on several occasions, and warrant officer Matis, who only wishes he could be as cool as Oreldo but drives army cars pretty well. There’s also Captain Hanks, who is an absolute boss and enjoys antagonising the higher-ups, Stekkin, whose main role seems to be annoying me, and Mercury, a dog who delivers emergency messages and likes biting people.

So, what does ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ even mean? According to Alice, the troop must “face the threat of corrupt people who protect themselves behind lies, power, and money like the rind of pumpkin”, and their platoon must act like a pair of scissors cutting through those layers and delivering justice for the people. This message becomes a lot clearer as the series progresses and the extent of this corruption is revealed.

The first half of the series introduces our main characters and the setting, meaning that each episode tends to look at one mission or a particular character. It gets a lot more gritty in the second half when the audience learns a lot more about the war that took place three years ago and the scars it left behind. The reason for this transition is Orlando, whose mysterious past and certain members of the platoon’s initial suspicion of him drag Pumpkin Scissors deeper into the corruption right at the top of the army.

My only complaint about this series is that it ends on a massive cliffhanger and, as far as I’m aware, there are no plans for a second series. This, of course, means that if you really get into the story you will want to pick up the manga afterwards. There is, however, plenty of action, explosions, character development and comedy to make the anime an excellent introduction to the series. At 26 episodes, it’s a decent length to ensure the story is told properly and the audience are invested. I give ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ 8.5 out of 10!

OK, on to the bit you really care about…

MVD7073 Pumpkin Scissors Collection psCompetition details

We’re doing it slightly differently this time around, as I’ll be in the moors of Scotland next week and won’t be able to approve blog posts. Simply like MVM Entertainment on Facebook and send an email to with your name and postal address. Entries close at 9pm Sunday 22nd September and the winner will be contacted that evening. You must live in the UK to enter!

If you can’t wait that long, or want to support the anime industry, you can head over to the MVM shop and buy it now.

Image credits:  animenewsnetworkabsoluteanimeanimangacorner, MVM Entertainment

What conventions have taught me

So, Ayacon was beyond mental. Anime conventions tend to be like that, and I loved it. You can check out my photos over on the Facebook page, and feel free to tag yourself! Anyway, I thought I’d write a semi-informative blog post about the ‘important lessons’ I have learned at these conventions I have been going to on-off over the last few years.

I imagine a number of you have no idea what Ayacon is (in short, a three day convention filled with parties, cosplay and Japanese pop culture geekery) but, on the off chance you’re interested, I thought I’d share some ‘wisdom’, if you can call it that. For those of you who were at Ayacon, or have been to similar conventions yourself, I hope you appreciate some of these observations!

Next week, we’ll get back to the more serious stuff, I promise!

Make a packing list

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Almost all conventions are held in either a hotel or on university campuses. So, depending on which one your convention is at, you’d better make sure you’ve got everything you need. I personally always forget the little things like towels and clothes hangers, which will be provided for you if you’re in a hotel. If you’re in student halls though, remember that they will be completely bare! There’s nothing more annoying than unloading your suitcase and realising you have no towel, toothpaste and so on for the weekend. Of course, you can go out and buy these things, but who has time for shopping when you’re at a convention?

This brings me nicely on to my next two points. You WILL want to buy or at least bring with you the next two things…

Eating is pretty important!

001 (3)You’re running around like a hyperactive maniac, high on adrenaline, and there’s a good chance you’ll either forget to eat, or just have a bag or crisps for lunch and nothing else. I did this at my first convention and ate my body weight in home-cooked food when I got back, and subsequently got ill. Please, pack a bag of oranges or Nutri Grain bars or something!

Drinking all the alcohol on the first night isn’t the best idea

041 (2)Do you really want to be hungover Saturday and Sunday? No, sir, leave that until Monday! Most conventions have amazing parties, complete with geeky music and glow sticks. You will inevitably get drunk, and it’s an overall very safe environment to be drunk in because you’re surrounded by loving geeks and friends, but your stomach may not handle all that booze on night #1 and punish you for the rest of the weekend. I was at one convention a few years back, drank a load on the Friday night (having not drunk for months) and fell asleep at 10pm. You do not want to be that person.

Don’t cosplay for the winter in the middle of summer

I know a lot of hardcore cosplayers reading this will laugh at my non-hardcore-ness here, and will probably disagree with me. If you’re cosplaying at a convention, you might not want to wear a heavy leather jacket and black wig in the middle of August… Then again, if you’re part of a group, and you spent so long on that jacket that nothing could tear you apart from it, fair enough. At least carry a bottle of water with you!

There is not enough anime karaoke in the world

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Where else can you sing the themes from Pokemon, Attack on Titan or that strange forgotten tune from the 90s? At anime conventions, obviously. This is a staple event and is always fun, so make sure you drag your friends to this and get your requests in early… the queue is always long!

Cosplay chess should be a national sport

111 (2)I can’t explain how weird and wonderful cosplay chess. Imagine wizard’s chess in Harry Potter, then replace the chess pieces with cosplayers who act the part of their characters. I went along to Ayacon’s cosplay chess event and it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend for me. If done right, cosplay chess can be a laugh out loud event. I’m glad I was sat on the floor for this because I was doubled over a lot of the time. Where else are you going to see Korra (Avatar) chuck a bucket of water at someone all dressed in military uniform, or Ganondorf (Legend of Zelda) finally getting to be king? At cosplay chess, obviously.

Bring a spare memory card and battery for your camera

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This only applies to would-be photographers like myself. The pros have all their fancy equipment, whereas I suffered with camera envy with my tiny digital camera. If wearing a costume at a convention is not your thing, you can play photographer for the weekend instead. Just make sure your camera can handle it and don’t forget your charger!

The best bargains are found at the bring and buy

There’s always a dealers’ room at a convention, where you can stock up on collectables and snacks, or commission some amazing artwork from independent artists. If this all sounds too expensive, you can make some money by dropping all that unwanted anime and video game stuff off at the bring and buy table. The bring and buy is basically a very geeky car boot sale, without the cars, and geeks from all over the country bring their weird and wonderful stuff for the next geek to take off their hands. You can get some good deals on manga and DVD collections, figurines and art books, so put aside some cash for this one!

Fun fact: I made £50 at the bring and buy!

Panels are great


Shameless self plug of my panel description. I didn’t write it, as you can probably guess!

Go to a panel or, better yet, run one! Ayacon was the first convention where I held a panel, ‘Blogging about Anime and Japan’ and I’m glad to report it went off more or less without a hitch. There was a slight technical error on my part which involved the readjustment of a kimono but let’s ignore that. Thanks to everyone who turned up and supported me on the day, no less at 10am, and apparently someone was taking notes which amazes me. I also got a free mug out of it and a special events and press badges, which I was flashing around all day. I also went along to the Japanese Literature 101 panel run by the fantastic Storme. I’ve got plenty of new authors to check out now, so expect some more book reviews!

Panels are a great way of learning about a niche part of Japanese culture or win prizes, if there’s a quiz involved. You’ll be in need of some ‘down time’ with all that running around and excitement, so I highly recommend checking your con schedule and circling the things you want to go to.

Talk to everyone!

046 (2)Yes, even the people who aren’t wearing convention badges- they could be closet geeks to who just happen to live there and are confused and curious. This is your community, so make some new friends! You’ve got to be in the same building with them for three days, after all. Social norms don’t apply here, although that doesn’t mean you can get away with acting creepy. That said, there’s nothing wrong with randomly approaching someone you’ve never met before and striking up a conversation with them. That person could be your future new best friend, flatmate, or even girlfriend/boyfriend.

Oh yes, expect your friend requests to surge a bit post-con.

Be nice to the staff

Whether it’s pizza parties, drinking games, or costume pieces, that stuff’s going to have to get cleaned up post-con by the cleaning staff. You’re having a constant three day party and these guys are going to be so confused and hopefully amused, so give them a smile or a ‘thank you’ when you can. I felt bad about the state of my room, which was comparably clean compared to others’, but I still left a thank you note, half a bottle of vodka and my remaining satsumas for the cleaners when I left. I hope they appreciated it!

The amount of pain you feel post-con is directly proportionate to how much fun you had

336Self-explanatory. If you’ve got a raging hangover or unexplained bruises, you had fun. In my case, I slipped in a puddle of water in the kitchen and fell on my backside, then had trouble walking for the next three days. Make sure you bring some comfy flat shoes and pain killers in case of an accident!

Until next time…

I have no idea if I’ll be going to another anime convention – both because I’ve been to so many now and am saving up for an eventual Japan holiday, but I’ve have a lot of good memories and made great friends through them over the years. If you’ve not been to a convention but are now sorely tempted, here are a few that you can go to in 2014!

Kitacon (28-30 March, Hilton Birmingham Metropole)

Auchinawa (Glasgow – date and venue TBC)

Amecon (date and venue TBC)

Sadly, there will not be another Ayacon as that was the final one! Eight conventions in 15 years, done entirely on a voluntary basis is quite a feat. A massive thank you to all the staff, volunteers and attendees who made it a memorable weekend!

Finally, here is a really awesome video from TheElectroSpectrum, which captures the cosplay essence of Ayacon.