Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 707

Aug 30 // Anthony Redgrave
So we continue the One Piece tradition of fight scenes incorporating devil fruit powers while the characters make faces at each other and occasionally spouting exposition in the hopes of provoking a reaction. The show has finally started to colour in Doflamingo's string attacks making them really stand out. It makes them easier to see, but it doesn't fit the lethal nature of his power. I actually liked it when they only showed the light glimmering off the string as it looked like cheese wire or garotte wire. It's thin, mostly invisible, and incredibly deadly. The multicolour string thing he has now looks too cheesy to take seriously.  Since this is a return to the Dressrosa battlefield, One Piece decides to re-introduce all the main players and who they are fighting in the second half of the episode. This feels like padding as nothing new is shown and for long time viewers this is a waste of time. While the Doflamingo-Law fight and Luffy-Fakemingo-Bellamy fight have some good animation and choreography especially from the former, all the auxiliary fights are too brief to mention. They all do one attack and then a reaction face. It's really hard to tell if anyone is winning or losing a fight since this exchange of blows is not shown to affect anyone in the long run. The next episode it could the same person getting hit or the opponent getting hit, the fight doesn't appear to have progressed.  The second half of the episode is not worth watching unless you completely forgot about names of the Doflamingo family executives and would like a refresher. This arc is failing to do simultaneous fights in an engaging way because I don't care enough about the other fights occurring, or should I say I don't care enough about the other fighters fighting. An arc that did multi-fights correctly was Enies Lobby. Each Straw Hat took on a different CP9 agent and each fight was spread across a few episodes so there was some padding like in this arc. The conflict against CP9 was engaging because I knew the stakes were high to save Robin and I cared about each Straw Hat, even Franky who was a dick to them for most of Water 7. And it was entertaining since every character was unique and they were not afraid of expressing their personalities even in a life or death brawl. I don't feel the same way about the gladiators here since they were portrayed as enemies initially and their redemption was too quick for me to fully understand their character. If the Straw Hats were fighting an executive alongside a gladiator, it would me feel more sympathetic since I'm more familiar with the Straw Hats and I won't be adverse to rooting for them. But right now I don't care if they win or lose just as long as they do it quick so we can spend more time with the main story.  At least in this episode we get a better understanding of what the D. family is. Even though I despise the long drawn out nature of this arc, there is a lot of interesting One Piece lore being explained. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Back to Dressrosa...
After a couple of awesome flashback episodes, this week returns us to current day Dressrosa where exciting battles are going on, While the animation and fight scenes are fantastic, the same plodding pace makes a return reminding us all why we hate this arc. 

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 14

Aug 30 // Anthony Redgrave
  The bibliophilic Nagato Yuki hasn't been struck off the show as of yet as she converses with her lazier self about the events that had occurred after she was hit by the car. It's nice to see these two characters interact as the contrasting personalities with the same appearance re-enforces that they are two different people using the same body. I wish there were more scenes like this. We learn that despite this interaction occurring, Nagato will not remember it when she finally wakes up thus causing it to be semi-pointless. She does reveal the confession she had made to Kyon, and the old Nagato takes it very well surprisingly. (I guess hearing it from yourself is a form of self-discovery). On the opposite side, Kyon has not forgotten the confession and continues to have mixed feelings about his relationship with Nagato. Normally Kyon has warm interactions with Nagato but in this episode he plays off every interaction quickly and cooly. He doesn't want to spend time with Nagato at all and gets by with as little interaction as possible. The awkwardness of the situation is understandable as it's a classic "I know that she knows but she doesn't know that I know, but she told me she knows" that punctuate many soapy dramas on the television box. The situation isn't lingered upon too much as Haruhi makes her triumphant return and proclaims from now on the club will be celebrating Tanabata. The show doesn't explain what this celebration is so it's up to the audience to do Japanese culture homework via tangential learning. From the episode, I gathered it's a celebration originated from two gods that were lovers and people celebrate it by writing wishes on bamboo. It's an excuse to the get the club back to their fun having ways and for Haruhi to feature as a big part in the second half. Koizumi and Asakura start to exchange Oxbridge pleasantries over their wish writing choices. Both of these characters display polite, courteous behaviours and just from this one interaction I started to think they'd make a cute couple. (Oh god, have I really started to ship characters in this anime!?) Haruhi, having discovered the awkward feelings Kyon has Nagato confronts him about them. Strange seeing that she wasn't present for the last 4 episodes so she should be in the dark/ confused about a lot of the details. The lighting and colours in this portion of the show are dark and kind of menacing. Haruhi's fringe casts a dark shadow over her eyes making her look like a killer or an eroge protagonist. However, the dialogue doesn't match this mood as Haruhi states bluntly that Kyon shouldn't worry too much about it. There is an internal aspect to Haruhi's dialogue as she starts to remember when a young Kyon had helped her write a message to potential aliens 4 years ago on the school grounds. I'm quite confused. Wasn't Kyon a lot older when he helped her out or was that only canon in the Haruhi series. Also why would young Kyon use the name John Smith? He didn't time travel like older Kyon so there is no need to hide his identity. I think Haruhi knows Kyon was the John Smith from the past and has started developing feelings for the guy thus bringing the show back to; who will Kyon end up with. But if this was true about identity confirmation then why didn't Haruhi have a stronger reaction to meeting Kyon again back in episode 3? Was she hiding these feelings really well or were they a recent occurrence that she had just remembered? There's too many questions that need answering you just made it more confusing Haruhi! [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Awkward morning after...
And we're officially back to normal high school life with Nagato Yuki-chan. This episode returns to the literature club hanging out and having jokes at Kyon's expense with a dose of Haruhi to liven things up. Watchers may be ...

Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V's last commercial gives the bride away


Plus mecha nostalgia with Kojima
Aug 30
// Josh Tolentino
Everyone knows Japanese commercials are delightfully zany, often bordering on surreal in a way that usually doesn't help much to sell the product itself. Thankfully for the world, Metal Gear is just as zany, perhaps mor...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time to loot Ys II's Shrine


Riches await those who love to bump
Aug 29
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] During last week's stream, I was able to return Adol to his human form. Thanks to this accomplishment, I've been left with a key that's capable of opening most of the d...

Strong Style: Two Title match Terror!

Aug 29 // Soul Tsukino
  IWGP Tag title: Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows) vs. CHAOS (Okada/YOSHI-HASHI) We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match. Backstage words from Okada and Gedo saying they will win with YOSHI when they fight the champs again. Some words from Nakamura feeling frustrated that Fale had beaten him, and he only got to the finals of the G1 (ONLY?!?). He talks about Fale improving as a wrestler and being a very big guy with explosive power from the Tongan's time in rugby.   IWGP Intercontinental Title: Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura This is a big rematch for the title from a match shown last season. Nakamura beat Fale to win the new Japan Cup and then beat the big guy again during the G1. Fale has the Young Bucks with him, that's never good. They stare each other down during the introduction. Bell rings and we get this puppy going. Fale shoves Shinsuke around, but Nakamura gets some knees to the gut and getting a front face lock. Fale just lifts him into the corner, but backs away. Shinsuke gets Fale to the ropes and does that weird belly face rub thing (and I'm surprised Fale doesn't just clobber him right there). He gets Fale down in a leg lock, but Fale gets a headlock. Fale gets a tight looking headlock before being shot in the ropes, but it goes nowhere. Fale goes in the ropes again and bulldozes Nakamura down. Mauro makes quick mention here of his old broadcast partner in Stampede Wrestling, "Bad News" Allen Coage. Tough guy right there. Nakamura gets back in it with some knees and a dropkick to the big guy. Nakamura smiles to the crowd and gets in the good vibrations kick. Fale, however, dodges the big kick and gets Nakamura outside the ring. Into the guardrail for Nakamura before Fale sends him to the post. Nakamura just barely gets back in the ring but ends up right in the hands of Fale. Fale goes for the pin but only gets two. He then gets Nakamura into an abdominal stretch and stretches Shinsuke out. Fale then STANDS on Nakamura's back and tries for another pin. Back from a break, Nakamura rebounds with some punches, but a face rake and he is back down. BIG slam by Fale and goes for the splash, missing. Nakamura moves again for a corner splash and kicks Fale in the face a few times. Nakamura drives his knee in Fale but doesn't get a pin. Nakamura gets a knee to Fale's face and a face lock, but Fale muscles out of it with a throw and then a splash followed by the old avalanche in the corner and a Samoan drop. Nakamura gets a spin kick and then the backstabber but then tries to get Fale up in a back suplex, not a good idea with a bad back. Fale gets the suplex and then goes for the over the shoulder backbreaker before just dumping Nakamura to the mat. Fale goes for the Bar Luck Fall, but stalls for some reason and Nakamura escapes. Fale gets on him for a Boston crab the looks more like a walls of Jericho hold since Fale is so tall. Nakamura gets the advantage with a rear choke and the Booma ye kick to the back but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura goes for the Booma ye but gets speared for his trouble (more like run over by a truck). Fale tries to grab onto Nakamura but Shinsuke goes for an armlock, one punch ends that quick. Fale goes for the Grenade, but Shinsuke gets out and lands some flying kicks and a Booma Ye from the ropes, but only two. Shinsuke knees him in the head and goes for the finish, but Fale grabs him in a side suplex. Back from break as Fale is climbing the ropes?!? He goes for the 747 splash and finds the pool empty. Nakamura gets in some elbows, but Fale is fighting back. Duel now wth forearms. Nakamura is getting freaky, but Fale gets the torture rack into a high backbreaker. Fale hits the Grenade, but Nakamura kicks out! He goes for the Bad Luck Fall, but Shinsuke slips out, gets Fale down and hits the Booma Ye. He goes for it again by Fale dodges but walks right into it again, and then gets hit AGAIN. Fale is out as Nakamura gets the pin and wins back the title! Nakamura is presented the title before giving us some words. He asks the crowd what he should do next. YEAOH! Some words backstage from the champ and still asking what he should do with the belt, he says that the belt is more than just a belt but represents a fighter's will. Studio words from the champ as he says that Fale was at his heaviest and that as the match went on, he knew Fale was running out of gas. He talks about he only uses the belt as a toy, but that it brings interesting wrestlers with it and he likes that. The show closes with a few words from Mauro as we head out for the week. I gotta admit, the main event didn't seem to do much for me. It was alright for being a big guy vs. smaller guy match, but really Fale was just way to slow and plodding to make the match as exciting as the action on this show has been. The crowd seemed kind of dead during the whole thing and didn't respond to very much of anything either. I wonder if they felt the same way that Nakamura was probably going to win the belt back, making Fale's title reign largely to make him look like more of a contender during the G1 Climax tournament. Never the less, I thought the tag match was good. Sure the ending was a little predictable but the wrestling was straight on and both teams worked well together. The heavyweight division of the tag teams seems to get overshadowed by the Jr. tag team division, but those guys can put on some good matches as well. In all, not a terrible show, but probably not the highlight of action from this season either. Next week we go back to the Sumo Hall for two weeks of exciting action! We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
IWGP IC and Tag Titles on the line
NJPW on AXS TV finishes out our look of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have two big title matches with the IWCP Tag titles and the IWGP Intercontinental title up from grabs. Both matches tonight also featured Bullet Club vs. CHAOS fights so they both should be good. So let's go back one more time to the Kobe World Hall!

Bureau of Proto Society photo
Bureau of Proto Society

TRIGGER and Rikka's latest short is a great love letter to classic movies


Reality and fiction are about to collide
Aug 28
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, I had this idea in my head about how the world would analyze fiction in the next one thousand or million years. One of my ideas was that archeologists and historians would use them as the basis for new mytho...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 706

Aug 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Corazon, for some reason, is still alive and trying with all his might to make sure Law survives this ordeal. As Law awakes he is greeted by Corazon's creepy smile that will bring about more nightmares than comfort in dire situations. Vergo, apparently confident that Doflamingo's birdcage would ensnare the two targets decides to fight with his fellow Marines against the Barrel pirates. As the Doflamingo family slowly approaches, Corazon runs decoy after hiding Law under his mute spell so he doesn't give away his position. From here it is awesome after awesome after awesome material. The show wraps up everything it has to say about Corazon in this episode allowing the audience to finally understand Law's affection for the Doflamingo sibling. But the show also spends some time with Doflamingo in an excellent mid-episode focus. Doflamingo had just gunned down the captain of the Barrel pirates and then stares pensively his flintlock. We are treated to a flashback to his first familial murder using the same weapon. We know the Corazon's fate at Doflamingo's hands but we also know Doflamingo's passion for family. Killing Corazon would mean exterminating the last of his bloodline and this contemplation mid-way through the episode shows the conflict of ideals that's running through his mind. This slow sobering section amidst the frantic chase is a big part of Doflamingo's character, building him up to kill his own brother. We get a few of these explorative moments with Doflamingo and it makes us somewhat sympathetic to some of his actions thus not being a villain for the sake of evil. The Doflamingo family finally catch up to Corazon and soften him up for the boss to deliver the final execution. However considering that Corazon has already survived multiple gunshot wounds, a Haki beat down from Vergo, and a kicking from the rest of the family, would Doflamingo's bullets really put him down for good? Maybe they're imbued with Haki... Corazon's fate is linked to death but there's a twist in the favour for Law. It's a convenient save for the little survivor and it doesn't feel forced like how heroes are saved by death traps thanks to good timing just because One Piece's nature. Tragic incidents occur to the good guys every other day so any fortunate circumstances get a free pass from me. I'd like to think of it as One Piece karma. Eagle-eyed One Piece bookworms would know that this flashback story is also connected to the past another supernovas making the One Piece world more dynamic and connected. This is one of the rare episodes of the show that make the show worth watching after 700+ episodes. Without the knowledge or experience from all those other episodes, it wouldn't have the same hard hitting effect. It's hard to explain it anyone that hasn't seen it but you'll talk endlessly about it to those who have. It's an episode that makes One Piece such a well crafted show. It can perfectly mix action, drama, comedy, and tragedy in 10 minutes without feeling disjointed and contains themes that are telegraphed from the framing and the way characters act.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Here comes the water works
I don't think I've seen such a good episode of One Piece in recent memory. It's not just good, it's great! It's better than the whole Rebecca storyline, Dressrosa stuff, and anything that was done  after the time-skip. It ultimately delivers on why Corazon is such a big part to the Dressrosa story and the origins of Doflamingo-Law connection/ feud. 

Street Fighter V photo
Street Fighter V

R. Mika butt bounces her way into Street Fighter V


Double Butt Bounce Finisher!
Aug 27
// Anthony Redgrave
We've all wanted it and finally Capcom delivers. The blonde show boating pro wrestler Rainbow Mika finally makes her return to the cast of World Warriors since her debut in 1998 with Street Fighter Alpha 3. R. Mika is also t...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 15-18

Aug 27 // Nick Valdez
Episode 15 Although I've conceded the fact that MY won't have the kind of big emotional breaks I'd see in a more nuanced romantic story, that doesn't mean there's a lack of tension. It's kind of nice to watch something that's so low stakes, every molehill seems like a mountain. The latest stake is the introduction of a new love rival, Saijou, a classmate of Takeo's who's really bad at athletics. When she gets swept up in a relay, she asks Takeo to help train her. In classic Takeo fashion, he's super cool and supportive (and eventually wins the relay with no problems) and Saijou falls for him. All the while Yamato (thanks to input from her friends) catches on to Saijou and is constantly worrying over Takeo. But good ole' simpleminded Takeo sees Saijou as nothing more than another classmate. As Saijou calls him out after school in order to confess, she chickens out and asks Takeo to be her teacher instead.  Episode 16 Since this is as close to a conflict as I'd expect between the two of them, it has to be mined for as much as it can. Thankfully, the whole thing only lasts two episodes as a lesser anime would've stretched it out to at least three. That's sort of the show's best quality and biggest flaw. There's just nothing getting in the way of Takeo and Yamato's burgeoning relationship, so there really isn't any room for outside development. While that leads to some great decisions like having them form a relationship in the first episode, it's a greater effect of the Shoujo genre's flaw. In this episode Saijou is still trying to make advances on Takeo after she tells him she likes him just as a "person," and as pure hearted as Takeo is, he takes it literally and completely ignores her advances. Yamato is worried, but Takeo tells her not to worry because he's not popular with girls (instead of saying he really loves Yamato). When Saijou confesses again (during a particularly well crafted shot), Takeo turns her down and realizes why Yamato was so worried. After a pleasant scene, the two reconcile.  Best part of this episode? Sunakawa comforting Saijou. He always seems so cool and collected (and a great flip on a traditional Shoujo protagonist), but he's in touch with people's emotions. He seems asexual himself, but that doesn't mean he's checked out. It's pretty neat.  Episode 17 Even though I just went into this whole thing about the story not allowing for outside character developments, here comes "My Christmas." As Takeo and Yamato's friends Kurihara and Nanako confess their feelings to their respective friends, the two decide to cheer their friends on and take a back seat in this episode (even if it's their first Christmas as a couple). Since Kurihara is not used to talking with women, he ends up pushing Nanako away with constant jokes. Basically, he's trying the kindergarten tactic of picking on the girl you like in order to get attention (this doesn't work, gentlemen) and it's failing hard. After Nanako is finally fed up and Takeo gives a rousing speech, Kurihara climbs a giant Christmas tree in order to grab its top star (that's said to instantly make two people a couple, or something like that). Then the two reconcile and it's all back to normal.   I didn't quite like this episode. I may complain that the show doesn't explore others well enough, but if the other character's lives aren't engaging, I don't really care.  Episode 18 I'm a little sad it took so many episodes to get to this point, but it's finally happened. Takeo and Yamato kiss! It's also my favorite episode up to this point. It's Takeo's birthday (and also New Year's Day), so Yamato makes it her goal to make it Takeo's best yet. After hearing from Sunakawa that Takeo doesn't want to kiss until Spring (and calling back to one of the best gags of the series, Takeo stealing a kiss from Sunakawa), Yamato decides to push forward and kiss Takeo sometime on his birthday. This episode's full of romantic and well crafted scenes, and has a particularly deft hand with the lighting. It's all so well done, Madhouse just knocks it out of the park here. Story wise, not much happens other than Yamato and Takeo furthering their relationship a bit, but it's just so damn cute. It reminds me of why I fell in love with this in the first place. It's a return to the awkwardness, and I can't help but revel in it.  Truth be told, it just brings up a lot of memories for me. I'm 6'4, so I've always towered over girls I've dated and I've had to take the position above a few times. Just seeing it here warms me up inside.  I hope MY Love Story!! runs for more than 24 episodes, or announces a second season soon, because I don't want this to end yet. 
Annotated Love Story!! photo
Takeo x Yamato forever
I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. But it's been such a long time since I've been drawn to a romantic anime since they've all pretty much become the same thing. It's either an inappropriate relationship, an appropriate but b...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 17-19

Aug 27 // Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to Gold Storm's staff for having multiple events from previous episodes that seemed unrelated come together. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In this case, the show's recent big twist was obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series since their motive involves freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that improved the main villains' character was that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the very people they tried to save. At the same time, it added a new layer to Gald and Haruna’s backstory, since the intersection between the two groups predicaments increased the show's drama levels. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. As a person who enjoyed the franchise's third series, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff decided to reuse Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll inhabit Ladan. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Miki Nanri being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good closing to his journey wouldn’t be too bad right now. You gotta hand it to a show when it pieces together multiple events that seemed like they had nothing to do with each other. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In Gold Storm’s case, the big twist was rather obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series, since their motive involved freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that sets the evil duo apart is that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the people you tried to save. This event was an example of the show’s staff to flesh out the main villains before the program comes to a close. At the same time, it spiced up Gald and Haruna’s story; thus making the drama even juicier. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. All in all, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff had to resort to reusing Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll become Ladan’s ruler later on. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Rian’s actress being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good send off wouldn’t be too bad right now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
I am GARO!
Once again, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is treading into climatic territories that make us think that we’re in for a final clash. Obviously, these moments are only meant to set the stage for the true finale, but the climatic ...

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 7

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
Like all the other episodes, this one is again broken up into different story bits mixing up the lazy Umaru with the delicate perfect school girl form. I found that once you're tired of her chibi form the bishonen face will appear and everything is alright. Dammit! Have I fallen into Umaru's moe trap like her brother does every episode? Was this the studio's plans all along? Conspiracy theories aside, this title continues to entertain because it is always changing. It brings more of the characters together instead of introducing more to the cast and doesn't use the same slightly varied gags. The first segment is typical Umaru exploiting Taihei for her own gain. In this case, playing the guilt card so hard that it forces Taihei to search through garbage for missing auxiliary pieces of a Miku Migu figurine. I really dislike when Umaru throws these temper tantrums. It takes me back to when I used to watch Rugrats and Angelica would become a force of nature with her fits. To me it's not cute or adorable, it's embarrassing considering we see the thankless jobs Taihei does all the time for Umaru. She does get her comeuppance and in doing so wraps up the story in a warmer fashion than if she was directly punished. It's a nice ending that highlights the strong bond Taihei and Umaru have for each other. Then Ebina, Taihei, and Umaru go out for Ramen together. The ramen in this series looks really good. It might be because I'm writing this while cooking dinner, but Ebina's mini ramen looks awesome! I'd totally eat that. Also, Ebina continues to be the Mikuru of this series by struggling to break the chopsticks in half in an adorable fashion.  Taihei gets a segment this episode and it explores his tireless life as a Salaryman with his working bud Bomber. The gag at the mixer is amazing. Nothing really technical and it's actually quite predictable but the timing and facial expression changes on Bomber is fantastic. To cut things short, Bomber has a misunderstanding, meets chibi Umaru, gets creepy, and concludes with a revelation for the audience making the whole world of Himouto! Umaru-chan smaller. This is probably the worst segment of this episode, but it has some tough competition. Umaru in her video game alter-ego UMR takes a trip with her rival friend Sylphynford to an old Japanese sweet shop. A simple premise but it's my favourite segment so far in the whole of the show. It has warm bright colours, cultural references to the sweets of Japan, and a nice character revelation. It reminds me of my favourite K-On episode where Ritsu takes Mugi around town and they end up at an old Japanese sweet shop. Nothing groundbreaking, just two friends shooting the shit and hanging out. It also helps that they are moe schoolgirls being adorable. Finally, Taihei rounds off this episode by following a cat down a road leading to somewhere familiar. And again it's a nice set-up that provides some character depth to Taihei and his strong family ties. Matching these themes with the warm glow of the setting sun after work helps push the nostalgic imagery.  A gag slice of life show about a wunderkind leading a double life as a lazy slob should be enough to carry it through a season with jokes alone. But Himouto! Umaru-chan goes for something more making it similar to the old Keroro Gunso anime. They were both at their core wacky jokey cartoons, but they sometimes slowed the pace down to explore themes of family and familial love that made you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] 
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Mini Ramen!
I love when anime directly references stuff in real life and Himouto! Umaru-chan is one of the better titles to do it. They don't go for the subtle nod or the direct reference with the name bleeped out. Nope, this show goes a...

Annotated Anime: Bikini Warriors episodes 4-8

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
We're back to the 4 minutes of fan service poorly veiled as an RPG spoof show and these next few episodes are more accustomed to my taste. I mentioned last time that I did enjoy the shameless fan service of the show, but the unfairness that lead to the protagonists being left in undesirable situations was a turn-off. Fortunately, this was been replaced by tentacle monster tom foolery which would be worse if they are not swiftly saved mere minutes later.  On the story side, they continue with the RPG tropes with the first two episodes focussing on how poor the party is. If they were playing an RPG properly then money would never be an issue and monsters would be one shotted due to tireless min-maxing, but that's just me. A mayor refuses passage to a dungeon for the party until they run errands for him. Everyone apart from the Warrior thinks it's beneath them so it's up to the red head to do all the bizarre tasks from dog watching to fighting a tentacle monster. It reproduces the bullshit stuff you have to do in RPGs or any other games for that matter to get something that was not worth getting. At least the ending has justice being served. In the following episode, the party is too poor to afford a new staff for the Wizard so they go on a massive sale of all their items. From the treasures they earned at low level to the piles and piles of potions and elixirs stored for a rainy day. RPG fans would get a kick out this episode as I'm sure we have all been there trying to scrounge the last bits of gold to afford the next weapon upgrade. The girls even resort to selling their used Bikinis to the men of the town and the Wizard's prove to be the most popular. I would make a comment regarding the extremely youthful appearance of the Wizard compared to the rest of the party and Japan's fascination of youthful purity as a sexual desire but it's shown that these consumers would rather wear the rags. I'm guessing the Wizard has the smallest cup size so it fits them better? Then comes an episode that is entirely censored Austin Powers style. I have nothing else to say about that. Episode 7 is about how the party first meets with the Dark Elf. In the tavern or the hero recruitment center, they encounter the dark buxom warrior proclaiming she was the real deal. Apart from their talents in magic, martial arts, and knowledge accumulated throughout the decades, they're also excellent braggers, not batting an eyelash whenever they something wrong. Even when the Wizard and Paladin are getting licked over like a fudgesicle, she refuses to see the downsides of her pitiful spells. Even though I'm not drawn to the Dark Elf (I'm a Wizard man) I really liked her confidence. She's a bullshitter and her arrogance carries this episode through to the end. It ends on a cartoony cliff hanger that doesn't get resolved because cartoons (unless you're Space Dandy) Lastly, we are introduced to two new characters; the Hunter and the Valkyrie. Both ladies are interested in joining the party of bikini warriors, but there is only space for one. The Hunter and Valkyrie are very different people. The Hunter is accustomed to roughing in the wild and is versatile in making monsters into "edible" food. To her credit, the food doesn't knock our heroes out after consumption making it more edible than mystery food X from Persona 4. The Valkyrie is a strong fighter that was hand picked by God. Because of this strong accolade she butts heads with the party since they don't ride horses. It culminates intoa "fight" between the Valkyrie and the Hunter to deem which one is better, but it's honestly too embarrassing to recount and ends in potential lesbianism. Although I liked the look of the Valkyrie, I thought the Hunter would be a better fit in the group. She has a wilder personality compared to the current group and the Valkyrie's arrogance and superiority traits can already be seen in the Dark Elf. Bikini Warriors is what it is and I don't think it'll be any more than that. As a side note, I like how the Paladin is hinted at as more sexually forward than the rest of the party by the way she drops hints of wanting to sell her body. Nothing ever comes of it, but I think it's funny that a Paladin (often a warrior for a holy or religious sect) is the most inclined to do indecent activities.  fudgesicle
Bikini Warriors photo
I don't know what else to expect
Boobs, crotch shot, potions, bra, string bikini, hero's journey, slime monster, tentacles, grinding, objectification, RPG trope, and nudity.  If you disagree with three or more of the above words then Bikini Warriors is sadly not for you. If you agree with all of the words above then Bikini Warriors was made for you.

Yakuza 5 photo
Yakuza 5

Yakuza 5 is a big package of a small slice of Japan


Like A Dragon
Aug 26
// Red Veron
If you've ever wanted to experience a small slice of urban Japan from the comfort of your own home, the Yakuza video game series has always been known to be the best game for the job. I find myself excited for big AAA games l...

OP Up! Mobster Edition

Aug 26 // Red Veron
[embed]34207:5006:0[/embed]"Gun's & Roses"Anime: Baccano!I haven't seen much of this show but this show links it up with Durarara!, another work by the same author Ryogo Narita. Set in the 1930s New York, this one features some characters in the mafia with some fantasy elements thrown in for a different twist. Totally diggin' that jazz song in the opening, totally matches the show.[embed]34207:5007:0[/embed]"Magenta Another Sky"Anime: La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia Cool character designs, love the suits and that rockin' song to get pumped up to. Based on an otome game, I didn't really watch beyond the first episode but like the visuals of the show a lot.[embed]34207:5008:0[/embed]"Romantic Summer"Anime: My Bride is a MermaidAn over the top comedy about a teen boy who has to marry a teen mermaid girl just so he won't be killed for knowing the existence of mermaids. Did I also mention that the teen mermaid girl's family happens to be an underwater Yakuza family? Crazy setting for a crazy show and the opening shows the craziness of this ridiculous romantic comedy.[embed]34207:5005:0[/embed]"Renegade"Anime: Gangsta.This show just preniered this season and I haven't gotten around to see it but that opening is one super stylish one. Using minimal black in white with one color is a favorite visual style of mine. I might have stayed away from this one thinking it might be a reverse harem type of show like Arcana Familigia above but seeing this opening has changed my mind and I will check it out.Did I not post about your favorite mobster-related anime opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! BONUS VIDEO:[embed]34207:5009:0[/embed] SO EXCITED FOR THIS GAAAAAAME 
OP Up! photo
Organized Crime
Japanese mobsters, whom we call in the west as "The Yakuza" is referred to in Japan as 'violence groups' by normal people and are not seen in a favorable manner. Though that hasn't stopped Japanese entertainment in portraying...

We need more anime based on table games, Japan!

Aug 26 // Moe Janai
Series concentrating on table games have gained enormous popularity in the past few years. There’s the aforementioned Akagi, which is about high-stakes, borderline-weird mahjong games (think cooking shows like Yakitate! Japan where characters experience exaggerated reactions after eating delicious food). There’s also the spiritual twin of Akagi, Kaiji, which is just as crazy as the former but with more insane wagers included in each episode. Besides anime, there’s also manga that centers on traditional table games and gambling like Liar Game, Gamble Fish, Life is Money, and Tobaku Haouden Rei. One thing that’s definitely missing, however, is a series that concentrates on poker, which has become the most popular mind sport in the world and is now gaining quite the reputation in Japan.Apart from the fact that many Japanese travel abroad just to be able to participate in world poker tournaments, Japan is now currently in the middle of talks about legalizing the construction of casinos in the country. An anime about poker would be timely, and show the locals a different kind of table game apart from the table versions that anime has tapped into in the past. There are a lot of interesting gameplay elements in poker: the bluffing, the psychological warfare, the many different poker hands, playing styles, etc. An anime that tapped into the world of poker would surely be interesting to watch, as it hasn’t been done before. Despite Japan not having an anime about poker yet, that’s not to say that a representation of casino-based games in Japan has not been done before. There used to be a manga called Poker King, but it only lasted 6 volumes, probably because it was released during a time when the card game wasn’t that popular among the Japanese.  More anime about gambling will possibly help move forward the talks on Japan's casino legislation. Just like how some of Japan’s social issues are discussed through prose, poems, and live-action drama, anime creators can take a jab at the casino legislation issue and help officials decide by discussing important aspects of the industry. It could be a feature on the life of employees working in a casino, how a gaming establishment helps drive tourism, or how big poker tournaments bring partnerships to multinational companies. The possibilities of featuring the different angles of the casino business through anime are endless. In addition, gambling-related anime can also help people understand that casinos aren’t just about wagering money. Just like any other business, it also answers its social call by conducting charitable acts and fundraisers. There are plenty of news articles now that show casinos under a positive light, and anime programs that highlight such articles will help inform the public on what casinos can do to the community and the country as a whole. The table is set for more card games to be turned into anime. Three years ago, Naoya Kihara became the first Japanese player to win a World Series of Poker bracelet at the sport’s most prestigious event, instantly garnering him celebrity status in his own right. His success also piqued the curiosity of the locals. Add the fact that Japan is now seriously thinking about legalizing casinos in the country, there’s no better time to release new anime titles based on actual card games.
Table Game Anime photo
Because anime must have no limits!
Japan's anime artists have a knack for turning ordinary, everyday things into a hit. You see, cartoons in the U.S. are all about superheroes trying to save the world. But in Japan? There are so many creative genres that en...

IMDB photo
IMDB

IMDB's list of top anime reads like 'Ask an American'


But of course it would be, I guess?
Aug 24
// Josh Tolentino
There's nothing like a big ol' debate about what counts as "the best", and even anime - perhaps especially anime - are no stranger to this particular type of nerd catnip. Everyone's got their own little "toplist", including t...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 6

Aug 24 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 6Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: June 2, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) Thank goodness for a new opening and ending theme that chimes in a few episodes into this set. I found that "Earth Orchestra" was starting to drag, as it was easily the longest-running opening theme from the entire series. This set opens with the rockin' "Don't Cry Anymore" with some fantastic hand-drawn scribbles overlaid on an often-spunky sequence, which was refreshing as we work our way towards the final stretch of the series. We're looking at Set 6 of a planned seven, so things are starting to work towards a conclusion. The melancholy closer, "Positive," is also a nice change of pace.I start by mentioning the opening and closing music because, six sets in, people should know what they're getting themselves into. In case you're considering starting with Set 6 for whatever reason, though, Ranma 1/2 is considered to be one of the best anime series the '90s had to offer, combining comedy, lovable characters, and a gender-bending gimmick that has our hero, Ranma Saotome, turning into a woman when splashed with cold water. Various characters are in love with the male and female Ranma, many of whom are also cursed and turn into various sorts of animals when exposed to cold water. Ranma is the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, and lives with his father at the Tendo residence, where he is betrothed to the tomboyish Akane Tendo, the object of many of the male characters' affection, hence creating several overlapping love triangles.The series has progressed without any overarching plot or structure, but what I love about this season is that we're really starting to see the affection growing between Ranma and Akane. Whereas in past seasons we've seen the two mostly showing hints of jealousy, but overall seeming not overly thrilled with one another, the jealousy and outright care they demonstrate towards one another is much more apparent. I'd argue that the jump between Set 5 and 6 may even be a little jarring, but with only one more season to go, the growing love between the two characters has been long overdue. Set 6 has a number of memorable episodes that should keep Ranma fans happy as they surpass the 130 episode count. In this season we're introduced to an elderly man who runs a long-abandoned student store hidden within Furinkan High School who is constantly spouting false tales about how Furinkan High School played into historical events like wars in ancient feudal Japan and even World War II. He appears in two episodes and is a great addition. We also get more of the high school loner and voodoo practitioner, Hikaru Gosunkugi, who is still trying to steal Akane away from Ranma, first by imitating Ranma and attacking women around campus to ruin his reputation, and later by placing enchanted paper dolls of Ranma and Akane that are intended to grant his wishes but often have unintended effects.Some of my favorite episodes include one in which Genma Saotome, Ranma's father, is upset that Ranma has stolen his sweets, and decides to disinherit Ranma in favor of his rival, Ryouga Hibiki, leading up to an epic showdown between the two. Another sees monsters from ancient scrolls unleashed, included a scribbled panda bear that is in love with Ranma, and is ridiculously funny. Another two of my favorites feature the perverted grandfather, Happosai, back at his underwear-loving antics in one episode where he's terrorizing a nearby town while hiding in a pot, and another that seems him physically stuck to Ranma's chest when a student-teacher submission pill goes wrong, to comical effect. Lastly, the power-hungry student Tatewaki Kuno becomes even more obnoxious when he becomes substitute principle of Furinkan High.As far as Ranma and Akane's relationship, both two-part episodes featured in this set center around this, with the first featuring Ranma and his companions rescuing Akane from the clutches of a demon in a typical damsel in distress storyline, and the second featuring a promise that Ranma has made to Ukyo, another female character, and how he must get out of that promise to remain with Akane. There's a Christmas episode that sees the two sharing gifts, and another where Akane is injured and Ranma struggles to show his affection.  I really enjoyed many of the episodes from Set 6, and know series fans will too. Towards the end of the set, we get into what acts as the final season of the show (recall that the set order has been reconfigured with this re-release), and we get a peek at new opening and closing themes along with a series-first change in commercial bumpers, which is interesting to see.We reviewed the Blu-ray version, which houses a commemorative post card and episode recap book. There's also some extra footage on the final disc that includes interviews with Viz Media staff about the Ranma series and a blooper reel which are both nice additions.With one set to go, my enjoyment of Ranma 1/2 is still going strong. I'm looking forward to Set 7, but already keeping an ear out to see if Viz Media will consider re-issuing the OVA and three animated films, as I know I'm going to want more when this series is through.In the meantime, if you haven't watched Ranma 1/2, I highly recommend it, and Set 6 is particular is a high point for the series. Feel free to share your favorite Ranma memories below!Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  [This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher]
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Don't you know? It's love!
Yes, there's still more Ranma 1/2 to be had. Viz Media has graciously re-issued the series on DVD and Blu-ray, which is a real treat because past DVD re-issues were fetching ridiculous prices at conventions and online.Set 6 f...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 13

Aug 23 // Anthony Redgrave
It's the end of exam season and the primary literature club members decide to take their president out for the day to celebrate. Asakura passionately suggests a theme park while Kyon asks Nagato where she'd like to go. They end up going to a used book fair to satisfy the bibliophilic Nagato much to Asakura's insistence on the theme park. Don't worry Asakura I'll take you to a theme park. How's about the new Banksy one Dismayworld? We may have to queue for a while to see the cynically satirical construction of the modern world, but I'm sure it'll be worth the inflated ticket price. In the mind of Nagato she is still struggling with her identity. A re-occurring dream of her spectating past events causes Nagato to think that her old self is coming back. Even Kyon and Asakura think that Nagato is reacting a lot more like her old self rather than the tightlipped monotone alien from the Haruhi series. But this isn't a good thing, at least for Nagato. Having become accustomed to the smiles and pleasures of having friends, the new Nagato is afraid of disappearing only to be replaced by the old Nagato. Which explains the dreams. New Nagato has always been there, inside old Nagato, watching but not touching. I think there are also more personas of Nagato too judging by they change clothes in a bolt of static during the dream sequences.  The second half of the episode focuses on new Nagato's last day in this world. After the next night, the old Nagato will reappear and everything should be back to normal. So she spends the day with Asakura and finishes in front of the library with the book she checked out last episode. As the sun sets she recollects about her new found feelings for Kyon and the fact she couldn't express them before she disappeared. Then he calls. The rest of the episode rolls on like a classic romance film scene. Kyon hastily rushes to Nagato's location as the phone call conversation is played over the top. If there are any anime fans out there who have ever been really frustrated at the fact no-one ever confesses their feelings in anime despite their similarities and mutual feelings then this last part of the episode is extremely cathartic to watch.  This wasn't the best story arc of the series. A lot of the time it was slow, didn't have the comedy or charm of the earlier episodes, and was akin to the mysterious elements of Haruhi that nearly put me to sleep by the amount of explanation needed to understand them. The new Nagato was a nice call back to the previous series whether it's canon or not. I like to think it is and the Nagato from Haruhi's series had a little adventure into the Yuki-chan universe. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Return of Nagato Yuki
I was listening to a podcast where they were discussing our media's obsession with trilogies. Every new IP has to be a trilogy or at least series that builds on the existing product. However nowadays it's more like trilogies ...

Persona 4 photo
Persona 4

Insert Coin Clothing shows off their Persona 4 range


Funky Student approves
Aug 23
// Anthony Redgrave
Anyone that has played Persona 4 will know that every day is great when you shop at Junes. The store that had become the HQ for the Investigation Team now has an official wearable merch courtesy of Insert Coin Clothing. Inser...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal bumps his way through Ys II's floating island


Many demons are about to get burned
Aug 22
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] After successfully bumping Ys I's last boss into oblivion, I took my first step into Ys II's world. Based on the way how Adol's new spells work, it looks like he has an...
Week Ender photo
Week Ender

Week Ender - Urobuchi Edition


Dark and Depressing
Aug 22
// Red Veron
Is your weekend going well? I hope so, because this week's selection of endings for Week Ender is from anime that was worked on by writer Gen Urobuchi. For those not familiar with Urobuchi's works (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, ...

Review: Attack on Titan: Part I

Aug 22 // Josh Tolentino
Attack on Titan: Part I Directed By: Shinji Higuchi Produced By: TOHO Pictures Premiere Date: August 1, 2015 (Japan), August 17, 2015 (Philippines), September 30, 2015 (US), October 20, 2015 (Canada) Licensed By FUNimation (NA) It's worth pointing out that in making the film, TOHO and Higuchi were given effective carte blanche by Isayama himself create their own thing, with only the barest guidance on how best to respect the world of the manga. That in mind, just how close they came in the final product will largely depend on what Attack on Titan means to each individual viewer. Fans of the manga's intricate world-building and the layers of mystery and culture surrounding the history of the world and the nature of the Titans themselves will find the movie sorely wanting in that respect. Gone is the vaguely German setting of the original, replaced by the Japan of some indeterminate future. Ruined Japanese tower blocks dot the pastoral landscape, hemmed in by walls constructed by human artifice, littered with wrecked helicopters and other modern contrivances. Little is said about the Titans' mysterious nature, the strange rules regarding how to fight them and why they do what they do (eat people) are waved away with the narrative equivalent of a disinterested shrug. The plot is also kept simple in this first part: The Titans breach the wall, and a year later, Eren, Armin, Sasha, Jean, and a handful of new characters join the Scouting Corps on a mission to recover Japan's last explosives, in order to use them to seal the wall and reclaim precious farmlands.  Against this straightforward narrative backdrop, Higuchi opts to have the Titans speak through their actions, and such action it is. The film takes the implacable violence already in the source and ramps it up to a grotesque extreme. Showers of gore and streams of blood accompany every Titan kill, the camera only cutting away at the bare minimum needed to keep the movie from being banned outright. By that virtue, and thanks to the fact that few scenes linger long enough for it things to get truly uncomfortable, it's not quite at the level of gratuitousness in true shock-horror, or, say, the finale of Blood-C, but it definitely goes farther than the original. The squeamish should consider themselves advised. The creepy resemblance Titans have to regular people is also emphasized, as most of the Titans are represented by TOHO's venerable specialty: People in suits. As a result, the sight of a horrific people-eating giant monster that looks exactly like the kind of old biddy one might imagine running a vegetable stand in some rural Japanese shopping arcade lends the film, yet still unsettling, tone. In its way, Attack on Titan is an alternative take, not just on TOHO's classic kaiju filmography (and a genre in which Higuchi is a celebrated veteran), but also on the days when a giant creature flick was considered a "horror" film. Attack on Titan takes more modern conventions of horror and scales them up to make once again contemporary the style of movies like Them! and The Day The World Ended. It's an impressive achievement considering that these days most viewers aren't scared by monsters they can see. Attack on Titan also succeeds on the action front as well. Though the scenes featuring the  Omnidirectional Maneuver Gear look a bit cheap to eyes that have seen five mega-budget Spider-Man movies, the action is at its best towards the back quarter, when the Titan suit actors really get to cut loose against a few more sizeable targets.  Unfortunately, other, less welcome traits of classical horror films also manifest in Attack on Titan, like paper-thin characterization and hoary old "sex-is-death" tropes. The original manga's cast was heavy on stereotype in the beginning, as well, but Eren and company at least had space to grow and develop as the chapters went on. 98 minutes simply isn't enough to do anything more than draw in the broadest of strokes. Worse still, some of the more substantial changes from the source are unproductive, and in the case of Mikasa, practically amount to character assassination. Attack on Titan was always unusually strong for its field when it came to having compelling female characters, and Mikasa was one of the best. To see her reduced so in the film is disappointing, to say the least. On the other hand, Satomi Ishihara gives a standout performance as Hans (aka Hanji), who's so close to her manga and anime counterpart she almost feels out-of-place. Of course, there's always the chance that the next scheduled film, Attack on Titan: End of the World, will pay off more, now that the setup has been properly delivered here. That's the hope, at least, for fans who still believe the movie can hew closer to the source in time. At the same time, though, Higuchi's effort does a passable job as its own thing. I guess the issue at this point is wondering how much better it could be if it weren't.
Attack on Titan Movie photo
Giant-sized
Attack on Titan is not much like Attack on Titan. Less confusingly, Shinji Higuchi's live-action adaptation of Hajime Isayama's smash hit manga is not a very faithful one. Though there are superficial similarities,  in m...

Kill la Kill photo
Kill la Kill

From birth to Kill la Kill, Mako Mankanshoku's life is revealed by Sushio


Everything is adorable
Aug 22
// Anthony Redgrave
Trigger's Kill la Kill was a fantastic romp through a not so typical Japanese school and the cherry on top of this anime sundae was the adorable Mako Mankanshoku, the underachiever that always has your back. Recently characte...

Strong Style: New Japan brings a double header of pain!

Aug 22 // Soul Tsukino
Tanahashi opens the show for us this week. Togi Makabe vs.Hirooki Goto I like this match, Makabe may be bigger, but Goto isn't going to back down. Makabe is still sporting a broken jaw from the tournament, but he will fight through it. As they make their entrances Josh and Mauro make reference to Neil Degrasse Tyson, kid you not. These guys have a history and breaking each other's faces going into this match. Sounds like this match is going to hurt. They exchange hard elbow hits to the face. A few shoulder blocks go nowhere. Finally, Goto gets a hard clothesline right to the throat before rolling to the outside. We have a jump cut as both men are back in the ring. Goto goes for a hard kick, but Makabe catches his leg and drills Goto with a clothesline. Makabe scoops up Goto and lands a powerslam before smashing another clothesline to Goto and then sends him to the other corner and hits another clothesline. Makabe hits a northern lights suplex before trying for a back suplex only to hit Goto with ANOTHER clothesline. Outside the ring and hitting the barrier again. They get back in the ring where they exchange counters to counters that finally ends with Goto dropping Makabe onto his knee, hitting Makabe right on the back of the neck. Back from a break with Goto with the advantage, but with a bloody nose. Makabe goes to the corner, but Goto eats a boot. Makabe gets hit with a clothesline, they get up and both try for a clothesline, but Goto gets hit so hard he gets knocked for a loop. Makabe lands the Death Valley Driver and goes to the top, but caught by Goto. He knocks Goto down, but Makabe ends up in a fireman's carry leading to another knee to the neck. Makabe kicks out of a pin attempt as both guys are hurting. Goto hits the reverse version of the knee to the neck but can't put Makabe away. Suplex try as Goto can't lift him up. Makabe gets in some hits, but Goto hits the headbutt. Makabe hits some strikes to Goto's face and hits a suplex but can't get the pin. A clothesline to Goto and he gets set on the top, going to the spider suplex, but Goto blocks it. Makabe reverses things into a german suplex off the top and then hitting his King Kong kneedrop and getting the pin. Damn, MY jaw hurts after watching this match. Makabe gives us some words about how Goto deserved the beating he got for going after his jaw. We get some words from Tanahashi about still having a grudge against Shibata and facing off against him twice before since he returned to New Japan. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata This will be awesome. These two had a stellar match a number as weeks back as part of the G1 Climax, now they don't have to worry about any points or anything other than each other. We've covered the story before, with Shibata being part of the "new 3 musketeers" with Nakamura and Tanahashi, but then leaving to go fight in MMA. He came back with bitter feelings against him from those that thought he should have stayed but has been whooping ass since then. Time to fight! The crowd is behind Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes for the leg, but Shibata gets the headlock and then goes for an armbar. They get to the ropes and Tanahashi SLAPS Shibata.  Yeah, they don't like each other. Hiroshi goes for a dropkick, but Shibata blocks and then goes for the penalty kick but Hiroshi ducks. Hiroshi gets some elbow strikes in the corner, but Shibata gets some in return. They are just trading forearm strikes with evil intentions. Tanahashi goes to the second rope, but Shibata gets the dropkick sending him out. Mafia kick right to Tanahashi's face. Shibata hits the barrier but comes out fighting, but meets an elbow to the face. This is just a fight now outside the ring and both guys make it in the ring at the count of 19. Back in the ring they resume striking the crap out of each other. Finally, Tanahashi goes down. Shibata gets a quick figure four leg lock and they are screaming at each other in the position. Tanahashi tries to strike out of it, but Shibata doesn't care. Tanahashi gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Shibata works over Hiroshi with some kicks, but Tanahashi hits a flying forearm and a low dropkick. Hiroshi hits a second rope somersault senton. He gets Shibata in the corner and Hiroshi just starts slugging Shibata with forearms in the corner, but Shibata hits the mafia kick to the face! Shibata gets in more kicks and cracks his knuckles just glaring at Tanahashi (A scary sight) before blasting him with strikes in the corner. Shibata hits the cross ring dropkick and knocks the bats from Tanahashi's belfry. Back from break as Tanahashi grabs his leg and Shibata lands some nasty shots to the chest before Tanahashi rips Shibata's leg with a dragon screw leg whip. Shibata briefly goes for the anklelock but float to a chin lock, back standing up Shibata goes for a kick, but Hiroshi blocks it and just slaps Shibata in the face. Tanahashi catches Shibata's leg in the ropes and rips on it again. Hiroshi goes for something and gets hit with a suplex, only for Shibata to roll through it and land a second suplex before hitting the penalty kick. Shibata's leg is hurt and he can't go for the cover. He goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi hits a sling blade and then hits another one before going for his High Fly Flow, only to land on Shibata's knees. Shibata goes for the sleeper, but Tanahashi rolls through it and goes for a roll up, only to get caught in the sleeper. Shibata goes for the penalty kick again but whiffs it. Tanahashi gets the cloverleaf leg lock in, but Shibata gets to the ropes. Tanahashi gets a dropkick to the face, but both guys are spent. Back from break with both guys struggling to get up. They just trade forearms and SCREAM at each other to fight on. More elbows before Hiroshi slaps Shibata AGAIN and sends the fighter to the mat. Shibata replies with a SPINNING BACK FIST. Shibata goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi lands the leg whip again. Tanahashi lands a nasty dropkick to the face of Shibata and heads up to the top before hitting the cross body and then lands the High Fly Flow and wins! Good Gotch this was a battle! It finished third in the match of the year voting, and I wonder what people had to do to top this fight. Tanahashi looms over his fallen opponent, but Shibata gets back up, they go face to face ,and after some conversation, shake hands in respect. Both men they just went through hell but what they made was a work of art. We get backstage words from Tanahashi talking about his 10 years in the sport, and wondering that Shibata must have had a tough 10 years to produce that kind of match. He then reveals that Shibata told him "Thanks for saving New Japan Pro Wrestling" and Tanahashi feels that Shibata finally feels fulfilled in pro wrestling and that he is enjoying it now. Studio words from Tanahashi talking about how wrestlers don't like to include fans in the wrestlers disputes but that the fans made the match special and that Shibata's message was special to him. He talks about how they have respect and greet each other backstage as we close the show. This was an amazing show. Even with just two matches both delivered and the commentary, while getting a little odd in the beginning debating about Pluto, was spot on when the action started. Great week of action from this show and we've got more to come! Togi makebe vs. Hirooki Goto
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Two fights full of venom.
Welcome back as Strong Style once again is in Kobe this week for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take a look at the second part of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have qa doub...

Endless Night photo
Endless Night

Michiko & Hatchin Director's new short takes us to the ice rink


In which figure skating gets to shine
Aug 21
// Salvador GRodiles
To this day, some of the best Animator Expo pieces have been the animated music video. Compare to most of the project's segments, these anime shorts tend to have a beginning, middle, and end to their stories. Mind you, there ...
Avengers face masks photo
Avengers face masks

Avenge your pores with Marvel superhero skin-care masks


Justice just got a new complexion
Aug 21
// Josh Tolentino
The heroes of Japanese anime and manga have it easy. Thanks to the typical art style of the medium, most protagonists never have to worry about facial blemishes or the state of their pores, because they have none! Real people...

OP Up! Urobuchi Edition

Aug 20 // Red Veron
[embed]34182:4993:0[/embed]"Heavenly Blue"Anime: Aldnoah.ZeroI love the grand epic feeling that Kalafina brings to anime openings, they've had their songs featured on previous works by Urobuchi prior to this anime and they are a great match. I work out to this song because it really gets you pumped up for action, which you probably wouldn't expect something from a group like Kalafina.[embed]34182:4994:0[/embed]"Karma"Anime: Phantom: Requiem for the PhantomAnother show on my anime backlog or 'Pile of Shame', this one got added to my ever growing list after I found out that Urobuchi had something to do with it. I am not really into super serious anime but have enjoyed some of Urobuchi's works so I'll be watching this one soon. [embed]34182:4995:0[/embed]"To the beginning"Anime: Fate ZeroAnother one I need to get to watching. Performed again by Kalafina, this one still brings in that grand epic feeling that washes over you unlike no other. Having Kalafina do the opening just bumped this up on my watch list. [embed]34182:4996:0[/embed]"Enigmatic Feeling"Anime: PSYCHO-PASS 2Pretty cool opening but nothing can really top the opening song "Abnormalize" from the first season even though this one is from the same artist but it isn't just the same. Though the stylish as hell visuals in this opening makes up for it.Did I forget your favorite anime written by Urobuchi? Don't kill me out of nowhere! SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! BONUS:Kamen Rider Gaim (Yes, Urobuchi wrote the main story. WTF?) [embed]34182:4997:0[/embed]
OP Up! photo
THE UROBUTCHER
If you look at a few popular shows in the last few years, you're gonna notice that one name pops up a lot when it comes to anime that feature heavily dark tones. That name is Gen Urobuchi, whose body of work will consist of f...

SUPERBEAT photo
SUPERBEAT

SUPERBEAT: XONiC will be Playstation TV compatible


Music gaming on the big screen
Aug 20
// Red Veron
Rejoice, big screen rhythm music gamers! SUPERBEAT: XONiC will be compatible with the tiny wondrous box that is the Playstation TV! Now you can play with a big screen with a controller if touch screens aren't your thing. This...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 12

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
So Nagato and Kyon are in the library. Since this new Nagato is a bibliophile she floats through the aisles of books before resting on one that catches her fancy. While our smart mouthed Kyon clashes with a bespectacled librarian despite other patrons calling out for their mothers or giggling over books and not getting reprimanded. As closing time approaches Nagato is still reading at the same spot Kyon had left her, she is determined to continue to the last second of opening. We learn that the new Nagato, along with a greater affinity for books is a lot more determined and forward with other people. This brings about a nice scene where Nagato does her best pout to try and convince Kyon to return her book that ultimately results in a library card being used.  This interaction between Kyon and Nagato is very similar to what happened in Haruhi except in that series it was Kyon narrating over animation of himself struggling to convince Nagato to move from the library. The show is great at re-creating and re-doing past scenes from the Haruhi series to represent the alternative universe idea of Nagato Yuki-chan. After revealing the existing library card in Nagato's possession, there is a flashback to how Nagato met Kyon which was in the same library. In classic romantic novel fashion, Kyon sweeps Nagato off her feet by stealing her book and checking it out at the desk along with setting her up with a library card. What a hunk! Also, Kyon's sister makes a long awaited appearance. Now I'm just hoping we get to see Shamisen in this series.  As the second half of the episode starts we get more hints at the August fireworks festival earlier in the series cause my speculation glands to start secreting. It also follows Checkov-san's Firework Festival; if there is an introduction of a summer festival in a romantic anime series there needs to be a major flag event between the two leads. This half also gets really meta as Nagato starts to flashback to key scenes from the show; the Christmas party, star gazing, and giving chocolates during Valentines, but she isn't viewing it from Nagato's perspective. Instead she is an observer, watching Nagato as she does all these tasks despite our new Nagato being in control of past Nagato's body. There is a piano motif that plays through these scenes that screams to be Gymnopedie no. 1 by Erik Satie. This track was a major thematic track for the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya that sort of serves as a prequel to this series.  I seriously love Gymnopedie; it's slow, warm, mysterious and embodies Nagato's cold exterior in front of her inner human emotion. An appearance in this show will be welcomed with open arms by me and will also help tie the film and this together in terms of musical theme. The piano score that replaces it is serviceable to as to convey the confusion Nagato is feeling when watching these flashbacks but isn't memorable despite following the similar crescendos and decrescendos of Gymnopedie.  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nagato Yuki photo
I am thou, Thou art I
Hey Haruhi fans, remember when Kyon bunked off looking for paranormal stuff and spent his afternoon in the library with Nagato instead, only to get scolded by Haruhi? Would you like to watch it again with a different art styl...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 705

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep, this haki imbued body of pure muscle doesn't waste any time hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping. This makes Vergo stupidly confident as he leaves the clown and the child to die slowly instead of tying them up and leaving them for the family to find.  As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is upbeat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep this haki imbued body of pure muscle and haki doesn't waste any time in hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping including Law and Corazon if they could get passed Vergo. As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is up beat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Bad Luck Favours the Bad Guys
Has anyone else noticed that Swallow Island not only looks like a Swallow from a boat if it is looking at it from the right angle but also looks like a Swallow from birds eye view too? It's funny how coincidences just work in...


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