Anime Adrenaline! 2023 Spring Season Edition
In 2020, I published my first book Anime Adrenaline and since then I have written more geeky things. I have received support, some good reviews, and inspiration to continue writing about that which I love in this world--Anime! It has been a wild ride and I am not getting off of it any time soon.
The world of anime is vast and more and more are coming out of studios faster than most fans can keep up! I am no exception, my head spins at the staggering amount flying at me faster than a missile, and with the new 2023 Spring season upon us, here are three anime that I have watched the first episode of and give my initial thoughts. So strap in for a new season, you're about to get another hit of Anime Adrenaline!
When Freddie Mercury sang to us in his exquisite voice asking the simple question, "Who wants to live forever?" Many, myself included, shook our heads in exuberance and didn't stop to consider the consequences of such a question. After watching a movie like Zardoz, however, I definitely decided against immortality--but that movie sucked. Do you know what didn't suck? Hell's Paradise. and if the first episode is any indication, this anime just might be a contender for the best of the spring 2023 season.
So what is it about? Gabimaru, the main protagonist of the story, is a fearless shinobi, an assassin that sneaks in the shadows and is so heartless and cold in his execution that he has been dubbed "Gabimaru the Hollow." With an edgy moniker like that, he must be a real badass. In fact, Gabimaru is so badass he is prosecuted by a daimyo and is sentenced to death but there is one tiny problem--Gabimaru can't die. From the first minute of the episode, several vassals to the daimyo attempt all sorts of execution methods against Gabimaru only to fail. Beheading by Katana? his neck is so strong it breaks the blade. Being burned stabbed by spears while tied to a post? The spears don't work either. How about burning at the stake? surely he would be consumed by the flames, right? Nope! doesn't even singe his clothing. Got it, being pulled by two oxen would do the trick, tearing him apart limb from limb! The poor beasts collapse from exhaustion, leaving Gabimaru intact.
It seems like nothing can kill this man, and much to the chagrin of the daimyo--and the confusion of Gabimaru--nobody can understand why. That is until Gabimaru meets a foe who shows him that he is, in actuality, quite mortal and this sends a shiver down his spine. Being the only one who can kill Gabimaru, she strikes a deal with the forlorn assassin at the behest of the shogun. He must venture to a mystical island with other condemned criminals to retrieve a magical elixir that grants the user immortality and offer it to the shogun. If Gabimaru does that, not only will he be given a full pardon for past crimes, but he will be reunited with his beloved wife.
Showcasing severed heads in the first shot of any series is a bold move and that is the best adjective I can give to Hell's Paradise--bold. Everything from the animation and the subject matter is intent on grabbing the viewer's attention. The opening theme animation is like being on a feudal Japanese acid trip with an absolute banger of a song to accompany it. The series visuals themselves are well put together, but there were moments where--in all honesty--I believe they dropped the ball and there seemed to be some frame rate quality issues. However, to the regular viewer, they won't be too noticeable to take away from the overall quality of the animation.
Plot-wise, there are hiccups, because the plot at times feels overly rushed instead of briskly paced. But then again, this could be taken as a case of 'the double-edged sword.' On one hand, it is rushed but on the other, there is no meandering nonsense; viewers know who the main character is, his problems, his call to action, and what to expect from the series. Not an easy task to pull off in a twenty-two-minute run time.
Personally, I enjoyed the experience, and if the rest of the series can keep up this energy I am sure to tune in every week to see what Gabimaru will be up to next.
The Dangers In My Heart
Ah, adolescence, that annoying and angsty age bracket where every small thing becomes an end-of-the-world scenario and brooding is the national pastime. Yes, My Chemical Romance said it best, "Teenagers scare the livin' shit out of me." And there is one teen who you should be scared of the most because he has an evil plan.
Kyotaro Ichikawa is a bad kid, who, in his own words, "I am seriously messed up." He spends his time alone, reading anatomy books so he can come up with the best way to carve his fellow students. He likes reading about serial killers, murder, and all other manners of gruesome activities. If the Addams Family had a Japanese branch, he'd be the male version of Wednesday Addams. Well, at least that is the vibe that he wants to give off, and while making haphazard plans of "killing" the school's pretty girl, Anna Yamada, he quickly finds out that--much like him--she has unusual quirks of her own and (outside of her perfect girl mask) she is a dork.
I will state that I am not a fan of romantic comedies, I view them as smarmy wish-fulfillment that--more often than not--don't make me laugh but I tend to roll my eyes. But when something like this comes along, I am more willing to give it a shot because I can relate. Some of us--when having to do time in the correctional facility that is high school--were like Kyotaro. Being an edge lord was a badge of honor for me growing up and I look back with cringe at some of the things I did when I was younger and to a degree, therein lies the charm of this anime. It takes the trope of the edgy teen and slaps it across its head, "Don't take yourself too seriously! You're a dork and you know it."
Goodness gracious, I cannot begin to state my doubts about this one. I say that with a big cheesy smile on my face because My Home Hero does everything in its power to have viewers take it seriously but--as far as I am concerned--falls flat on its face. This is an anime that exudes the passion of a crime thriller classic such as The Sopranos or Alfred Hitchcock Presents but lacks the talent and writing ability to even stand upon the shoulders of such giants. Those looking for a seedy thrill should look elsewhere, but on the other hand, if you are looking for some unintentional laughs in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way, this anime is a must-see.