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Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club Season 1 Review

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club Season 1 Review

Back in elementary school, Haruka, Makoto, Rin, and the younger Nagisa swam together in a relay and brought a championship home to their local swim club. Afterward, however, Rin moved to Australia to pursue his swimming at a prestigious school, his sights set on one day swimming in the Olympics. Haruka, who loved the water, stopped swimming, effectively dissolving the relay team; before too much longer, the swim club closed its doors altogether.

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Baby Steps: Episode 08-10 Review

Baby Steps: Episode 08-10 Review

A year has gone by, and Eiichiro is once again competing in the Kanagawa Junior tournament. He's made a lot of progress, but his third-round opponent this time is Miyagawa, the tournament's fifth seed.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 05-07 Review

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 05-07 Review

A ghost playing video games in your room will have a side effect on your electric bill, as Juugo finds out the hard way. After turning down an allowance from his father, he visits a secret club dedicated to helping students find a little extra work on the side.

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Baby Steps: Episode 05-07 Review

Baby Steps: Episode 05-07 Review

Eiichiro's first tournament is here, and he's matched against the fifth seed! He may not realistically stand a chance, but he's not going to go down without a fight, or without gleaning copious amounts of new information. After the tournament is over, he must determine what to do with what he has learned, both in competition and in practice.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 02-04 Review

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 02-04 Review

The self-proclaimed "master detective" Tensai Ikkyu and her maidservant, Daruku, enter the island school, hot on the trail of the treasure stolen at the end of episode one. They cross paths with Juugo Yama, their suspect, and the trio joins the school's Adventure Club, tasked with hunting down Nanana's lost cache.

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The Recession is Over, and You Should Thank the Fangirls Part 2

The Recession is Over, and You Should Thank the Fangirls Part 2

It's also easy to say we should thank the male fans who bought Dragonball Z fifteen times over and buy the premium boob-shaped box sets of harem series, but I don't believe they were enough on their own to stem the tide of the industry's downturn, and they certainly weren't the only viable sustaining customers in the companies' minds. And this holds true both for North America AND Japan.

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The Recession is Over, and You Should Thank the Fangirls Part 1

The Recession is Over, and You Should Thank the Fangirls Part 1

2014 has been an immensely landmark year for the North American anime industry, particularly as of May 16th, when Viz announced the streaming and home video rights to Sailor Moon. To get a better glimpse of how and why this is a big deal, we need to take a look at where we were a decade ago.

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Short Peace

Short Peace

In "Possessions," a traveling artisan gets lost in a storm and seeks shelter in an unkempt shrine in the middle of the forest. "Combustible" follows two childhood friends as they grow up and apart. "Gambo" is a white bear demon being hunted by a renegade samurai. When he meets the last daughter of a village being terrorized by a large red demon, the two are able to understand each other and he sets off to set things right. In "A Farewell to Weapons," a team of weapon diffusers is sent to neutralize and dismantle leftover weapons from a war that has left Tokyo decimated. When the hunt moves underground, an old subway line becomes the crucible to determine what men and machines are really made of.

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Baby Steps: Episode 02 – 04 Review

Baby Steps: Episode 02 – 04 Review

I found myself at several points thinking to myself what all the sports anime tropes are. The early ultimatum-based skills test, the final chance to succeed before being forced to quit the sport forever, the academics suffering because Our Hero is pouring himself into his newfound love....Nope. Not here.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 01 Review

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: Episode 01 Review

Nanana Ryuugajou was a special girl - she and her friends together tracked down some of the world's most ludicrous treasures. However, one day, in her apartment, Nanana was killed. Ten years later, Juugo Yama moves to the man-made island Nanana called home and only has enough money to rent her former room...which she still haunts to this day.

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Picross 3D

Picross 3D

A solid block of small cubes with numbers on them sits before you. Somewhere in this solid block is a form – a dog, a castle, a person, anything. You spin it around, and deduce what cubes must either be or not be a part of the final solution, and delete all of the extraneous ones to move on to the next puzzle.

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Baby Steps: Episode 01 Review

Baby Steps: Episode 01 Review

Eiichiro Maruo is a first-year high school student, and he’s at the top of his class. In fact, he’s known as “Ei-chan” (A-chan) for his grades and his painstaking meticulous notes. After deciding to join a sports club to balance his otherwise sedentary academic lifestyle, he settles on taking advantage of a free trial at the local tennis club. Little does he know that one year from now, he’ll be competing in the Kanagawa Junior Tennis Circuit!

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From Up on Poppy Hill

From Up on Poppy Hill

I went into this anime not really knowing what to expect. I had heard that Goro Miyazaki’s sophomore effort was better than his first, and that it was potentially the script written by his father, anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, that made exceeding the level of Tales of Earthsea an assumption rather than a question. I don’t know if all of that is true, but regardless, From Up on Poppy Hill took a now-standard crop of anime and general film tropes and turned them into an emotionally intense, immensely relatable film.

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Yuyushiki: Final Review by Miki

Yuyushiki: Final Review by Miki

Yui, Yukari, and Yuzuko are in their first year of high school, and haven’t found a club to join yet. They’re stopped while wandering the halls by a flyer for the “Data Processing Club,” and their homeroom teacher, who happens to be the advisor for this club, comes across them and asks them to join. Unable to resist the teacher’s cuteness (or breasts, depending on the member of the trio), the three girls agree. Their club meetings consist of sitting at computers and randomly searching for information on the internet on any variety of topics, but the range of their friendship stretches far beyond the confines of the tiny club room, their school grounds, or the sheer absurdity of Yuzuko’s mind.

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Danganronpa The Animation – First Impressions

Danganronpa The Animation – First Impressions

Danganronpa: The Animation has finally hit the summer season, and this much-anticipated anime has a lot of hype to live up to...Thus far Danganronpa has been...mediocre. I already know some of the plotline for Danganronpa, and while that knowledge is intriguing, this first episode isn’t great at selling its story to me.

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Arata: The Legend – Episode 10 Review

Arata: The Legend – Episode 10 Review

After Lord Kannagi loses his Hayagami, he decides that his best course of action is to travel with Arata Hinohara and guide him to rule the world, even if the Earth boy doesn’t know if he wants to do so. They enter the land of Lord Yorunami, but before they progress any further, Kannagi tests Arata’s mettle....

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Karneval – Episode 7 Review

Karneval – Episode 7 Review

Things are going two small steps forward and one step back for Karneval. Like Valvrave, this show tries to be too many things at once, and the Circus/Karneval motif is still largely tacked on for stylistic and filler effect.

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Valvrave the Liberator: Season 1 Review

Valvrave the Liberator: Season 1 Review

Much of humanity has migrated into space, and three clear factions have formed, associated with different Earth powers: ARUS, which holds its own via negotiation; Dorssia, which functions as a military state; and JIOR, a much smaller neutral nation that finds its power in its economic prosperity. Haruto Tokishima is a student at Sakimori High School, a private institution in Module 77 of JIOR’s space colonies. He is going about his daily life as war rages between the other two factions, about to confess love to his childhood friend, Shouko Sashinami, when the colony falls under Dorssian attack, breaking JIOR’s neutrality. A mech housed beneath the school is accidentally launched to the surface level near Haruto, who climbs aboard and is asked an unsettling question by the onboard computer: “Do you resign your humanity?” His answer grants him pilothood of the mech, known as a Valvrave—but what is the extent of the human cost of his decision to defend his fellow students, and how is the now-isolated student body supposed to carry on with no clear authority in place?

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Symphogear G – First Impression

Symphogear G – First Impression

Some time long ago (before people saw things in color, apparently), there was a lab where subjects were put through harmonization tests with Relics in order to return the power of the Relics to human control. Like the Japanese laboratory, not every subject survived unharmed… or possibly alive at all.

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Genshiken Niidaime – First Impressions

Genshiken Niidaime – First Impressions

Genshiken: 2nd Generation doesn’t miss a beat. The running commentary on the events in the show is back, and so is the relatability of the new characters to the viewer.

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Otakon 2013: Kaoru Kurosaki Exclusive Interview

Otakon 2013: Kaoru Kurosaki Exclusive Interview

On Sunday of Otakon 2013, Vice Commander Miki was able to meet Novelist Kaoru Kurosaki for an exclusive interview.

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Otakon 2013

Otakon 2013

Otakon delivers a diverse, fun, and incredibly smooth-running festival with con-goers from around the United States - and beyond - celebrating Japanese culture and art through interactive panels, competitions, and other events.

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Otakon 2013: Chiaki Ishikawa Exclusive Interview

Otakon 2013: Chiaki Ishikawa Exclusive Interview

On Friday of Otakon 2013, Vice Commander Miki was able to meet Singer Chiaki Ishikawa for an exclusive interview.

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The Eccentric Family: First Impressions

The Eccentric Family: First Impressions

The city of Kyoto, from the days it was founded as the capital of Japan, has involved a mix of tanuki (racoon dogs), tengu (mystical crows), and humans. It is this mix and the way they interact with each other that has allowed the city to continue on as it has into modern day.

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Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist: First Impressions

Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist: First Impressions

William Twining’s family has it all - wealth, British noble lineage, large estate, genius heir at a prestigious school - until his uncle makes some bad investments and loses everything of value in the house except Kevin Cecil, the family’s loyal butler. Lurking behind a locked door in the basement, however, is a summoning circle that brings the Demon Duke Dantalion over to the real world when William’s blood is spilled on it, activating a millenia-old contract....

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Yuyushiki: Episode 10 Review

Yuyushiki: Episode 10 Review

It’s business as usual for Yuyushiki, though the lesser characters show up more often in this stretch of episodes and get some more development… until they don’t show up in episode 10 at all.

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Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 10 Review by Miki

Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 10 Review by Miki

The makeup of the Gargantia and the direction of the series take a significant turn over this span of episodes. Relics from Earth’s distant past inform Ledo’s understanding of how humanity reached the point of his own situation, and they weigh heavily on him.

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Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 10 Review by Miki

Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 10 Review by Miki

Valvrave is still very much a balancing act, with this spread of episodes bouncing from aspect to aspect of the show. Episode 8 was largely Dorssian backstory with some action, 9 was student development development with some action, and 10 was all school life and virtually nothing else.

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Attack on Titan: Episode 10 Review by Miki

Attack on Titan: Episode 10 Review by Miki

After some fancy strategizing by Armin and a startling revelation about what could be humanity’s best chance against the Titans, the last two episodes largely take place in the exact same corner of the city in one of the stupidest standoffs in anime history.

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Karneval: Episode 4 Review

Karneval: Episode 4 Review

After being taken into Circus’s care, Gareki and Nai try to find out more about Nai’s bracelet and end up discovering more about Nai himself instead. Afterwards, more of Gareki’s past is revealed, and we discover little to nothing else new about the eponymous Karneval.

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Arata: The Legend: Episode 7 Review

Arata: The Legend: Episode 7 Review

The shape of events in Amawakuni after the loss of the princess is becoming clearer as Akashi, one of Kannagi’s fellow Shinsho, starts trying to gather other Hayagami as his own. Arata Hinohara figures out more of his role, and how he’ll go about fulfilling it.

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Arata: The Legend: Episode 4 Review

Arata: The Legend: Episode 4 Review

Arata Hinohara, in the place of the Amawakuni Arata, is captured and charged with the murder of the princess and sentenced to a prison island (along with Kotoha, the girl from Arata’s tribe) where random executions keep the populace there on edge.

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Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 07 Review by Miki

Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 07 Review by Miki

After episode 4, the show was meandering in all kinds of directions. Was it a mech show? Was it just a sci-fi school rom-com? It finally has meshed the two together into what this show should have been from the beginning.

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Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 04 Review by Miki

Valvrave the Liberator: Episode 04 Review by Miki

Valvrave isn’t a very good roller coaster. It’s a buffet of sorts, a smattering of servings of different tropes and themes, and the chef preparing the feast is only good at one or two of the offerings. There’s isn’t a really good sense of whether or not this is a mech show, a school drama show, a politics show, or a mysterious powers show.

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Attack on Titan: Episode 07 Review by Miki

Attack on Titan: Episode 07 Review by Miki

The security forces at Wall Rose, the middle of the three walls protecting mankind, are surprised by a renewed Titan attack, sending the newly commissioned forces into battle. As usual for Titan attacks, the human forces don't fare very well.

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Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 7 Review by Miki

Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 7 Review by Miki

The low-key, meandering plot hits its lowest and highest notes thus far in these episodes, and Ledo finds his place on the ship thrown into genuine uncertainty.

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Attack on Titan: Episode 04 Review by Miki

Attack on Titan: Episode 04 Review by Miki

Three episodes later, humanity has been forced inside the next of three concentric walls, Wall Rose, since the outermost - Wall Maria - was completely overrun by the Titans. Eren, Armin, and Mikasa have made their way through military training along with a partially colorful group of other students.

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Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 4 Review By Miki

Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: Episode 4 Review By Miki

It’s been a slow but impressive learning process for Ledo – but he’s finally getting the hang of the culture and the language. He’s made faux-pas that have put the Gargantia in jeopardy, he’s taken the care to learn from those mistakes and fix them. Uttering his first words in the Earth language was a particularly endearing moment as well.

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Yuyushiki: Episode 04 Review

Yuyushiki: Episode 04 Review

It’s been a slice-of-life slog for Yuyushiki, but an ADD one to be sure. Most of the humor, as the show goes on, involves equal parts totally random gags, the pink and dark-haired girls fawning over the blonde one and their teacher, and the search-engine free association I was hoping would be the focus of the show.

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Valvrave the Liberator – First Impressions by Miki

Valvrave the Liberator – First Impressions by Miki

The year is True Calendar 71. Humanity has moved 70% of its populations to space colonies known as “Dyson Spheres” (no, they are not styled after vacuum cleaners), and on the neutral colony of JIOR, at least, things seem to be at peace. However, teenage agents from an aggressing force invade the colony and the academy found there in search of some sort of secret base.

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Yuyushiki – First Impressions

Yuyushiki – First Impressions

Without being aware of too many of them, I get the feeling that “slice-of-life school club comedies” are a dime a dozen now. After Azumanga Daioh set the standard for the genre (well, without the club bit) in the early 2000s, it’s difficult to call the rest true “copycats” – they all explore different clubs, even if the style of humor is largely the same. It’s not like a ton of these all run concurrently, so it’s kind of like a burger that you keep ordering over and over again. It was great the first time, and it’s still good the other times, except for the occasional bad lettuce or old bun or something like that.

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Karneval: First Impressions

Karneval: First Impressions

Suffice to say, the ringleader and his sidekick, a blonde martial artist with a bulletproof cloak, are members of a secret defense organization called “Circus,” butts are kicked, the hostages are freed, and more is discovered by the viewer about the organization the Lady in the beginning was working for, which Circus was sent to investigate in the first place but arrived too late. The first few minutes were interesting, gripping, excitingly scored, and all-in-all a very fine piece of directing, and the rest of the episode tied itself up plot-wise with the absolute neatest of bows, while still leaving the ends of the ribbon trailing off for you to follow for later episodes.

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Arata: The Legend: First Impressions

Arata: The Legend: First Impressions

One boy named Arata is tasked by the matriarch of his tribe to stall for time at the ceremony to become the next princess of the fantasy world of Amawakuni so a more suitable candidate can be found. The other is a first year high school student bullied and betrayed by his “friends,” first back in middle school, and now by someone else he trusted.

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Ketsuekigata-kun!: First Impressions

Ketsuekigata-kun!: First Impressions

A narrator begins the Blood Type Quiz and asks which blood type doesn’t show their feelings when in love. What follows is a series of VERY short scenes, giving each anthropomorphized blood type a chance to show their characteristics.

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Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: First Impressions by Miki

Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: First Impressions by Miki

Coming from the mind of Gen Urobochi, the creator and scriptwriter of recent fan-favorites Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet has big shoes to fill, and in its first episode does an admirable job of doing so. Ledo is a pilot for a group of humans that have built a space colony far, far away from Earth, which now only still exists as a rumor (Battlestar Gargantia?)

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Attack on Titan – First Impressions by Miki

Attack on Titan – First Impressions by Miki

The Titans have largely been dormant, or have stayed away from the city, for a century. The city guards are ridiculed as freeloaders, but at least the Recon teams they send out to observe the Titans have some respect... until one day, a Recon team returns battered with several missing members.

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Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Archaeology professor Hershel Layton and his young apprentice, Luke, receive a mysterious letter. The contents mention a complicated threat to London, but a future London, and the letter is written by Luke 10 years from now! Being true gentlemen, how could the pair turn down a request for help? Following the future Luke’s directions, Layton and Luke are transported to a city overrun with corruption that is like nothing they could have ever imagined – and the criminal overlord is Layton himself!

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Robert Axelrod Exclusive Interview, A-Kon 21

Robert Axelrod Exclusive Interview, A-Kon 21

Interview with Voice Actor Robert Axelrod at A-Kon 21

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3×3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon by Miki

3×3 Eyes: Legend of the Divine Demon by Miki

Pai disappeared four years ago, yet Yakumo has never stopped searching. But once he finds her, he discovers that Pai is living as a normal high school student. She has no idea who he is... or who she was. To restore her memories, they must travel to the land of her origin. But is Pai suffering from simple amnesia, or is there something more sinister afoot?

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3×3 Eyes by Miki

3×3 Eyes by Miki

Yakumo has been alone ever since his father ran off to study demons in Tibet four years ago. Then one day on the way to work, he comes across Pai, a mysterious girl who presents Yakumo with his father's skull, along with a note from said father. It explains that Pai is a Sanjiyan, an immortal demon, and the last of her race. He asks that Yakumo aid Pai in her search for the Statue of Humanity, which can turn Pai into a human.

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Vampire Knight

Vampire Knight

When Yuuki Cross was 5 years old, she was attacked by a vicious, mad vampire and saved by the intervention of a gentle, young vampire named Kaname. After the incident, she was adopted by a pacifist vampire hunter named Kaien Cross who sought to open a school to help vampires and humans coexist peacefully. Now attending the high school her father dreamed of, alongside another victim of a vampire attack adopted by Cross, Zero Kiryuu,,the two students police the school grounds for their adopted father and headmaster. The vampires, student-led by Kaname himself, and humans attend separate classes, vampires at night and humans during the day, in order to help keep space between the blood-hungry and their potential prey. On top of this already volatile situation, secrets lurking in the past threaten to shatter the delicate peace Yuuki’s family has fought to build.

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Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

It is December of the year Universal Century 0079, and 11-year-old Alfred Izuruha is living a normal life on the neutral space colony Side 6. The One Year War has raged on outside the colony walls, but the Zeon forces catch word that the Federation is working on a new Gundam mobile suit for their war effort at a secret base on Side 6. Bernie Wiseman, part of the first Zeon attack on the colony, crash-lands after flying over Al’s school. After classes are cancelled for the day, Al hurries to the crash site where he briefly gets to meet the downed pilot. Bernie is soon reassigned to a Special Forces unit heading back to the colony and upon his return, Al happens to see him again and tracks him down. With his commander’s approval, Bernie befriends Al and brings him along to help with his work. Time is running out, however, as Christmas has been set as the deadline for the Gundam’s destruction, and failure means the obliteration of the entire colony.

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Death Note

Death Note

One day, genius high school senior Light Yagami spots a notebook that has fallen on the ground with the title “Death Note” written on the cover. He’s certain that the notebook and the rules scribed inside are some kind of joke, but the idea of being able to cleanse the world of its filth by simply writing the names of criminals is too good for Light to dismiss so easily. He tries the notebook, and shockingly, it works. The public loves Light, who they’ve nicknamed “Kira,” hailing him as a hero. The police, led by Light’s own father, and L, the greatest detective in the world, have to stop the vigilante slayings and bring Kira to justice. However, with no evidence or leads, whose “justice” will prevail?

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Dropped! – MPD Psycho [Manga]

Dropped! –  MPD Psycho [Manga]

Some people stop watching an anime or reading a manga for several reasons. Sometimes it’s because a title is just so nightmarishly bad that they can’t bear to watch the rest of it to completion. Sometimes it’s because there are just too many episodes/volumes that it seems insurmountable. I stopped reading MPD Psycho for neither of those reasons.  For anyone that’s never heard of MPD Psycho, here’s the basic rundown, at least...

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Baccano!

Baccano!

Twenty characters, two nonconsecutive centuries, one giant story.1711 – A shipload of alchemists sailing on the Advenna Avis summon a devil that gives them the Grand Panacea, the prevention and cure to every human ailment – including death. Where the elixir and the immortals wind up after that is anyone’s guess…1930 – The Prohibition is in full swing, and the transcontinental train The Flying Pussyfoot.....

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