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!

Hell's Paradise

        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." 
        In a world where there are so many "gritty reboots" and "subversive takes on beloved properties," it is nice to see something that goes back to the basics of romantic comedy--and this is coming from someone who doesn't even like them! Speaking of other personal preferences, it is easy to see from the first episode that there is more than likely going to be a budding romance between Kyotaro and Anna, and their silent interactions in this first episode are adorable. I don't want to jump the shark on this one, but all things considered, this little off-beat comedy is off to a charming start. 

My Home Hero


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.
         Tetsuo Tosu saved his daughter's life after killing her abusive yakuza boyfriend. Because of that, he finds himself caught up in the world of organized crime. All wishes and hopes of a normal life are thrown out the window, because although he is a 47-year-old weakling, Tetsuo will do anything to ensure that his family is safe from the clutches of the Yakuza. 
        First things first: this series is butt-ugly! The animation and character designs look as if the studio was twenty years behind the leaps and bounds that anime has taken within such a time. Here we have a series that is released in 2023 with jerky animation frame rates, and sloppy character models that fit more at home with a low-budget show of the early 2000s. But the merit of an anime should not be placed only on its aesthetics. After all, there are several anime out there where the visual quality is less than stellar but have a fantastic plot. My Home Hero is one of those, right? Right? 
        The plot of this first episode is laughable with a slapdash and hackneyed series of events. Two prime example of this is hot Tetsuo finds out his daughter is being abused. He merely walks home and hears a group of thugs talking about a girl, the main thug, who just happens to be the guy his daughter is seeing, boasting about how he "punched and kicked this one girl five times." His buddies, caught up in rapturous glee over a story about domestic violence ask what her name is and he says, loud enough for neighbors to hear, "Oh yeah, the bitch's name is Reika." B-but, MY daughter's name is Reika! Is that why she met me for lunch and had bruises on her face? This farce and a cheap shot of an explanation are exactly how the plot unfolds and as someone who has seen my fair share of excellent crime dramas, such a shortcut usage of plot devices is embarrassing to watch. The cardinal sin of this crime drama is that everything is an act of telling the viewer what a character is thinking or doing, instead of SHOWING the viewer such things. 
        The next example of how this series is a mess is when Tetsuo kills Reika's abusive partner by smashing his face in with a rice cooker. The whole scene is melodrama at its most hilarious, going from zero to one-hundred quick complete with a choir and red monochrome visuals. This is shocking! This is important! And gosh darn it, we want you to care! The animators more than likely had this thought process while penning this stinker to paper, but I for one could only roll my eyes and hold back a snicker. 
        I had fun though, not because this is a good series by any stretch of the imagination but because it's an unintentionally funny work of melodramatic pretentiousness that should be seen to be believed. Your mileage may vary, but I think I'm going to check in for a bit longer. I'm a sucker for a so-bad-it's-good story! 





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