Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 11

Sep 20 // Anthony Redgrave
The show kicks off with Umaru expressing the most common of desire, a craving for pizza. It's a feeling familiar for most young adults, but motherly Taihei isn't having any of it because of the lack of nutrients in a Chicago slice. Ebina pays a visit to the Doma household to give them a bag of rice called Akita Komachi. This isn't the run of the mill Walmart rice, but high-grade short grain rice from the Akita prefecture. The show even captures the bag decal sporting the Akita Komachi mascot emblazoned on the front. Even though Taihei puts his mastery of cooking to good use by whipping up a luncheon for Ebina and Umaru, he doesn't use the rice to it's strengths. A quick Google shows that Akita Komachi is best in portable foods like Onigiri. The next two stories are bad. First up is Umaru trying to decide on what snack to get at a grocery store while Taihei has to attend a meeting and introduce a proposal. The two are vaguely connected and only come back together at the end so the majority is focussed on Umaru's internal debate. It's a lot wackier by the inclusion of lots of chibi Umarus doing the Umaru debate about junk food. It loses a lot of the show's charm by not incorporating any of the show's grounded reality since it's Umaru running rampant inside her own head. If you like chibi Umaru then this would be ok for you. This is followed by food adventures with Ebina and Umaru. The problem here is not with the characters. This high school duo is my favorite pairing third to Taihei's work buddies and the Doma siblings, but there's just no substance in this segment. It's literally them eating parfaits. There are freeze frames with the camera panning across the two of them eating for 3 minutes. No animation just freeze frames. To make matters worse, this whole episode has a lower quality of animation. It's made clear in this story as the freeze frames and close-ups show the disproportions in their facial features especially with Ebina. Her boobs get a lot of limelight in this episode too but sadly this highlights the problems with having a large bust such as clipping issues with the rest of the body. Before Umaru gets to relish in the Japanese summer she must first endure the rainy season. Fortunately for her it only lasts 2/3rds of a story and there is Kirie to accompany her through the misery. Taihei attempts to brighten the mood by listing the positives of rain but ultimately resorts to telling them the summer is right around the corner. There are hints of a beach trip, but this is saved for another time. The brief Sylphynford appearance in this episode helped me learn two things; in Japan they have Hagan Daaz in crane games and that there is a correct way to eat tub ice cream. The show goes as far as explaining the first step; licking the lid. Hey, what about the other steps? Have I been doing it wrong the whole time!?As I said there is not much to this episode except food. I'd advise not watching this on an empty stomach or if you have an uncontrollable urge for frozen dairy confectionery.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Ebina and Umaru vs. Food
The one word to summarise this week's episode is Food. There is lots and lots of food on display here. To be more specific it's ice creams to welcome the Summer period to the show, even though in real life we are saying goodbye to the warm weather and hello to falling leaves and Pumpkin Spice Latte's.  Himouto! Umaru-chan

Week Ender - Universal Century Edition

Sep 19 // Red Veron
[embed]34282:5061:0[/embed] "Winners Forever" Anime: Gundam Victory Continuing with the 90's J-rock of its time, this ending song is quite good and catchy.   [embed]34282:5062:0[/embed] "Believe in the Starry Sky" Anime: Zeta Gundam The Gundam series loves using current pop music for its soundtrack and the song confirms that this one is very much form the 80's.   [embed]34282:5063:0[/embed] "10 Years After" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam 8th MS Team A fun ending that stays true to the real "boots on the ground" angle of the show. The song compliments the ending well being about looking to the future with someone after everything currently going through the present.   .[embed]34282:5064:0[/embed] "Forever Amuro" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam A pretty emotional ending while pretty solemn, it's captures the show's theme about being "real robot" show and leaning more on realism than fantasy like other robot shows of the time.   Is there an ending from the Universal Century that you like that isn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna see!
Week Ender photo
Real Robots
Many people remember opening songs from the Universal Century Gundam series fondly but not many remember the endings songs as much. I admit that I am one of those many since a lot of the UC series aired before I was born or I...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 19-23

Sep 18 // Nick Valdez
Episode 19 Takeo's mom has been pregnant on the sidelines, and it finally comes to a literal head in this episode. Takeo's been concerned with his mom's health ever since she told him about it (even if he's the one who's always reckless with his body), but she's maintaining a high level of activity despite his wishes. She's tough, and Takeo knows it, but he can't help but worry. After saving another pregnant woman from a fall, his mother feels a pain in her side and ultimately goes to the hospital. Takeo understandably freaks out and after running frantically and carrying his mother to her hospital room, Takeo's left to worry on the sidelines. After some consoling for Suna, he calms down and after retrieving a charm from Yamato wishing a safe delivery, Takeo's mom gives birth to the adorable giant baby you see above. In case you were wondering the show wouldn't crack a joke about that, Suna notes that she's the biggest baby in the room. It's actually the cutest and funniest thing.  Episode 20 This is my favorite episode to date. When Takeo laments that he never gets chocolate from a girl on Valentine's Day (and notes that Suna always receives tons of chocolate along with one from a secret admirer each year), he remembers Yamato and suddenly freaks out. Beaming with happiness, his friends corner him and ask if there's a way they could hang out in a huge group with Yamato's friends like they did at Christmas. During the group date, Yamato gives everyone chocolate cookies and Takeo's constantly wondering when he's going to get his special Valanetine's chocolate from Yamato. He's depressed when he thinks he won't get one, suddenly realizes he should've appreciated the cookies, and he acts like a giant, adorable idiot the entire episode. Of course, Yamato shows up with some kind of giant chocolate mountain and Takeo blows a super kiss from a couple of floors up. It's a good year for them both.  Ugh, this show is so cute I can't stand it.  Episode 21 During my last recap, I noted how Sunakawa is not only disinterested in women, but romance in general. He's clearly in tune with emotions as the show's proven that he cares about Takeo (going so far as to not date any of the girls who secretly joked about Takeo behind his back), but he's never pursued anyone for himself. It's a forward thinking asexual person that I hope wasn't the writer's happy accident. Anyway, the first person to challenge this and show a definite romantic interest in Suna is Yukika, a girl who's had a crush on him for ten years now. Her major flaw, however, is her crippling shyness that keeps her from actually approaching Suna in any way. the only way she's expressed her love is through Valentine's chocolate throughout the years with a note reading "I don't need anything, I just want you to love me back" or something to that effect. When Takeo and Yamato finally convince Yukika to approach, she suddenly blurts out a confession and Suna oddly agrees to go out on a group date.  While this episode tests my theory, it also posits that none of the girls were unique enough to have a relationship with a main character. Yukika's got all of the design of a new main character (silver hair, personality traits, uh, love?) but I never quite dug her. I actually found her quite annoying and way too stalkery to actually lead to a healthy relationship. Regardless, this episode's hilarious because Takeo's radar like senses always spotted Yukika.  Episode 22 While the last episode challenges Suna's bachelor lifestyle, this episode highlight's Suna's greatest quality and, potentially, his biggest flaw. You see, he's such a nice guy that he's willing to put everyone else's happiness ahead of his own. While that may be an anime staple, Suna's is actually kind of tragic. You see, as the group all go out to the zoo, Suna's just humoring Yukika the entire time. He doesn't really react to anything (except to Takeo, which Yukika points out later as a sign that he's truly interested in someone), and rather than it resembling traditional shoujo love interests, it actually adds to Suna's mysterious nature. We're never really sure what he's thinking and in fact we don't really find out till episodes end when he ultimately (and understandably given that she watched him from the shadows for ten years) declines Yukika's love. He gives her a notebook, and she loves that she even got to spend some time with the object of her affection. Of course, there was some weirdness in the middle when she freaked out on Suna since he had no interest in her. That only cemented how annoying she was. I'm glad it didn't really work out.  Episode 23 As a sort of palette cleanser, this episode is a light affair that returns to Takeo and Yamato's relationship. When Yamato gets a job at a bakery in order to better learn how to craft desserts, Takeo gets jealous for the first time in the series. When a handsome looking patisseire, Ichinose (always a hilarious ring of a traditional shoujo protagonist), mistakes Yamato's interest in cakes for an interest in him, he eventually challenges Takeo's relationship. He runs to Takeo and asks if Takeo really belongs with Yamato and states that she deserves someone more alike to her. Takeo, for the first time in the series, doubts himself and thinks Ichinose might've had a point. The episode ends as Takeo stands on shaken ground for the first time. Will Takeo actually give up on his relationship with Yamato? Nah, probably not. But this is an intelligent way to bring Takeo's untraditional nature and design in the genre to light. And it'll most likely bring about a good end to the season, and more likely, the series.  I'm not ready for this show to end, but as no sequel season was announced, I'm pretty sure the next episode is the last. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when it's over.
Annotated Love Story!! photo
I love this show so much
Have I told you that My Love Story!! is my favorite anime of the season? Although I jumped into these annotations majorly late, I've been glued to the screen each week just waiting on the latest release. It's the most fun I'v...

Neon Genesis Impacts photo
Neon Genesis Impacts

Animator Expo's third Eva short is all about music and friendship

Evangelion has never been this cute
Sep 18
// Salvador GRodiles
Another Evangelion-related short has invaded Animator Expo, and its impact is surprisingly cuter than the usual stuff we expect out of the series. Instead of focusing on the Eva pilots and the folks at NERV, "Neon Genesis Imp...

OP Up! Universal Century Edition

Sep 16 // Red Veron
[embed]34276:5052:0[/embed] "Stand up to the Victory" Anime: Victory Gundam A really good song that reflects the time it was made in the early 90's with the very J-Rock song of its era. Nicely animated opening as well.   [embed]34276:5053:0[/embed] "Shine in the storm" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team A different take on the series, focusing on the boots on the ground, this entry takes a good look at the war from the perspective of a military unit of the Earth Federation. Adds more 'real' to the 'Real Robot' genre that Gundam started.   [embed]34276:5054:0[/embed] "It's not Anime" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ I have not seen much of this entry but I remember it fondly because of the song in the opening with the lyric saying that this "is not Anime".   [embed]34276:5055:0[/embed] "Fly! Gundam" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam The opening of what started it all, this one has a very 70's song. Though it may look similar to all the other robot anime shows of that era, Gundam differentiated itself by not having super powered weapons that bordered the fantasy and that the robots themselves only felt like tools used as weapons along with the realities of war.   Is there a Universal Century opening that I didn't include here that you love? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS! I would love to see it!
OP Up! photo
This is Gundam
The Mobile Suit Gundam has been around for generations and is a household name in many Japanese homes. It is no wonder, since there have been many entries in the series in TV, movies, and in print form. Collectively know...

Annotated School-Live! photo
Annotated School-Live!

Annotated Anime: School-Live! episodes 4-6

Zombeh -eh -eh -eh -oh -oh -eh -yaaaa
Sep 14
// Nick Valdez
Last time I talked about School-Live! (which was a bit ago, sorry), I noted how much I loved how its cutesy art clashed with its dark world. Despite how seemingly annoyingly cute it is, it grabbed my attention and never let g...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 709

Sep 14 // Anthony Redgrave
Doflamingo relinquishes his grasp on Bellamy stating cryptically that Bellamy has always been free. This prompts the show to divulge into Bellamy's past and get a few more uses out of the Jaya arc footage. Bellamy was always the asshole realistic pirate that wasn't disillusioned by the sense of adventure or grand treasure One Piece. He looked up to Doflamingo's ruthless attitude and sought to fly under his banner. Unperturbed by the threats of Diamante and Trebol's aggression, Doflamingo agrees to the young pirates wishes but we later learn that Doflamingo doesn't take lightly to weak members.  Flash forward to Luffy's encounter with Bellamy in Mocktown and his humiliating defeat at the hand of Luffy's one punch. The Jaya arc felt like there was a lot more going on apart from the immediate story line. There was Bellamy's crew (an associated pirate crew of the much stronger Doflamingo family), Blackbeard's introduction (with Ace hot on his heels), and the parallels Bellamy's bar fight with Luffy have with Shank's bar fight against Higuma at the very start of the series. Only now are we starting to see how all those individual events are connecting together which is a very cool for a long time fan. Anyway's after Bellamy's defeat he is fortunately given one more chance by Doflamingo in the arena to win the Flare Flare fruit. As we all know Bellamy's luck doesn't improve culminating in him being betrayed by his master and freed by a former enemy.  Despite being rescued by Luffy, Bellamy chooses the use the last of his energy to execute his signature move; Spring Hopper on Luffy. And here I was thinking Bellamy would become an ally and help Luffy up to the roof using his springs. I can't imagine it ending well for Bellamy given his track record. On the other side of Dressrosa, Gladiators continue to fight against Executives and we also get a fight finished in this episode! Yes! I'm so excited that there is one less fight to see. Big giant Hajrudin was usually seen being crushed by Machvise over and over again. Unlike the other fights where the combatants actually traded blows, Machvise could outmaneuver the giant but also hit him really hard with his power. The show does a great job in making you feel the pain and strain that Hajrudin goes through and this translates well when he starts getting second wind and fights back. The epic clash during the climax is classic One Piece making you feel the moment Hajrudin pushes against Machvise's attack. If Hajrudin does survive this encounter he'll be needing one hell of a doctor to patch him up. Also after the graphic nature of last week's episode I expected Machvise to look like the cheese on top of a pizza before it's been heated but that's just the gore hound in me. Next week, we are going to get a lot more gladiator fights (sigh I know) but this time it's with Baby 5 against Sai. I don't really care about Sai in this fight, but I do love seeing Baby 5 get more screen time. To me, her dependency personality quirk makes her an entertaining character to watch and it was funny to see her announce these feelings to a bemused Sai. She's one of the few villains in this show that I'll root for because she's so utterly adorable. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
The Bellamy Biopic
This week you won't hear me raging about how the plot pacing of this episode is back to the tip toeing filler filled monotony that Dressrosa is becoming quickly known for. God knows I've done enough of that in the past few Annotated Animes. Because this episode was pretty good since the first half is entirely about Bellamy and his back story. 

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 16

Sep 13 // Anthony Redgrave
I've noticed that the last few episodes framed Kyon as the main character rather than the titular Nagato Yuki. He is the one to deliver the opening lines and the episodes follow him and his awkwardness around Nagato. Summer is halfway over and he still hasn't gotten over the confession Nagato had made before she had disappeared. But since he's in possession of a Y chromosome, the thoughts and feelings nonsense is best suited bottled up until Summer is over. With some Haruhi interference, Kyon finds himself meeting with Nagato a lot more and still struggling to talk to her about anything. I think the show displays this awkward behaviour very well through Kyon's internal dialogue. Many times I have internally chastised myself for not speaking up or acting strange in front of a lady of interest making Kyon's struggles understandable. The activities of baseball batting and bowling aren't particularly interesting to watch as there aren't many gags during these activities. They are used to show the lack of interaction between Kyon and Nagato compared to earlier in the series when he was very friendly towards her. There is also a lack of Asakura intervention and Asakura in general in this episode. No overly mothering tendencies or calming Haruhi down. She is more of a background/ side character than one of the main leads. An Asakura redemption with her accepting the impending relationship between Kyon and Nagato and being more forceful with Kyon to interact with Nagato would've brought her arc full circle instead of being pushed to the side in the last episode. Haruhi is another character who's arc goes forgotten too. As the fireworks festival is in full swing, Kyon drags Nagato away from the group to finally clear the air. The show subtly hints at Haruhi accepting her defeat in pursuing Kyon, but I felt that this wasn't fully explored as an option. Throughout Nagato Yuki-chan, there were hints that Haruhi had some history with Kyon and it was the source of conflict in the Valentine's day arc. Only in the last few episodes does this resurface as Haruhi remembers more about John Smith helping her write messages to the aliens implying feelings for Kyon. This is why it doesn't feel complete as Haruhi doesn't pursue Kyon or make any indication of her feelings known. The two characters didn't spend enough time together so bringing it back up in the last episode makes the arc feel incomplete.  As Kyon runs through the crowds and fireworks, he pours his heart out to Nagato about everything. His feelings, the reason he's been acting weird lately, and that yes with time he would've grown to like Nagato too. It's a very sweet scene made more poignant at the glimpses of the new Nagato smiling at Kyon's reply to her confession. Unfortunately, this is not for the titular Nagato as Kyon's entire speech is completely muffled by festival noise. I was honestly expecting Kyon and Nagato to get together by the end of this episode or at least admit their feelings for one another amongst the colours of fireworks but alas romantic closure isn't anime's strong suit. At least one version of Nagato Yuki is happy. The episode concludes with a post credit sequence continuing the tradition of linking Haruhi's and Nagato Yuki-chan's universes together. Some fans will like this reference but if you're like me, you'll groan at its implication. As a fan of Haruhi, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I could get back into watching a show set in a different genre. I grew to like the show's art design, re-familiarise myself with their comedy, and the light-hearted premise encapsulated all the fun aspects of the previous series. An ending like this is expected; everything returned to the status quo so if it were to be picked up again there can be more of the same i.e. light hearted adventures with the same character quirks and relationships. Fans of the Haruhi series may want to watch an abridged version of this show; first few episodes to get an idea of the characters again, skip to end of episode 10/11 for the real disappearance and then finally maybe this final episode to close out Nagato Yuki's confession. You'll get the drama, some laughs, and a lot of classic Nagato Yuki. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Closure for some
As the summer fades from 2015 it does so with Nagato Yuki-chan marking the finale for the show. The foreshadowed fireworks festival is finally upon the Literature club, but Haruhi still hasn't had her fill of Summer activities so you can expect more wacky antics in this episode before the series is finished.

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 10

Sep 12 // Anthony Redgrave
Another fun heart warming multi-story episode in this week's Himouto! Umaru-chan kicking off with illness! Umaru spent too long on the computer last night (like we all do) with the AC on. Taihei doesn't have time to pamper Umaru at home due to work commitments so leaves Umaru to suffer at home with a fever. Much to Umaru's delight this doesn't impede her ability to veg out in front of a back-lit screen making a full recovery the day. In a twist of fate, Taihei ends up getting the same massive fever prompting Umaru to be Mother for the day. I mentioned last week that I love learning about Japanese culture through anime, but this week's episode makes me question the credibility of some of its content. I can see the benefits of excessive sweating as a cure for an illness but using a green onion like a suppository is more akin to a fetish than a traditional cure.  Moving on, Taihei prepares dinner and presents a selection of Japanese food for Umaru to eat. This show knows how to display contemporary Japanese cuisine that gets my mouth salivating every week. Umaru channels her inner Shin-chan and refuses to eat green peppers due to their bitter taste. Next day's lunch time finds her favourite dish; Hamburger Steak packed into her bento but it's made using the left-over green peppers infused into the patty. Ebina is impressed these culinary skills that Umaru claimed as her own causing a guilty Umaru to act like a tsundere when she returns home. Also, Kirie has probably the most adorable bento boxes ever!  The show's main theme is Umaru gets what she wants. It is rare that she has an unhappy ending and generally Taihei is happy to comply with his sister's wishes. But I think a lot of the show is Umaru learning to appreciate the hard work Taihei puts in to make her happy. It's something we can all relate to living in the modern world of convenience and being engrossed in the fast non-stop lifestyles. A lot of favours become expected and appreciation becomes diluted. I'm glad there are episodes like this one in Umaru-chan that allows Umaru some redemption and appreciate the efforts Taihei goes through to make her happy. It makes the protagonist a much more likeable instead of a bratty moe blob. The next two segments are heavily Umaru focussed with little to no side character interactions. They're good but the weakest part of the episode. The first of the two is fun to see as Umaru discovers that breaking the router means no internet. It's strange how a high school Ace would have extremely ditzy moments. Maybe it's the blonde-ness coming out? Next is Umaru visiting the world's most quiet and well-stocked manga cafe in the world.  As always the last segment that focusses on Taihei is the best of all the stories this week. It takes place during his high school days when he was the class genius and spare time were spent with the dumb best friend Bomber and overly forward Kanau. The interaction's that Bomber and Kanau share arguing and vying for Taihei's attention is hilarious. Kanau has some savage put-downs and Bomber's wackiness helps keep things entertaining throughout. While visiting a new arcade after school, they all try their hand at a 100 yen crane game. As well as being an entertaining moe culture show, Himouto! Umaru-chan will also teach you various crane game techniques.  This show is consistently entertaining every week by never focussing on one character for too long or a setting. Even though Umaru is the main star, the side characters are interesting enough to hold their own for one or two segments. I don't think there is a side character that I massively dislike and having their big personalities in the show helps ward off the fatigue of Umaru's bratty tendencies.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Umaru RNA
This episode has made me realize that Umaru is the female version of Crayon Shin-chan. They're both drawn in a chibi style and most episodes are about them getting away with throwing temper tantrums and demanding selfish wish...

Week Ender - Cyberpunk Edition

Sep 12 // Red Veron
[embed]34264:5043:0[/embed] "Distant Scream" Anime: Serial Experiments Lain A show that has complex themes about humanity and technology sure has a nice and chill ending. Not quite light, but it offers a bit of a nice breather after each episode. It also implies a lot of things but I don't want to spoil anything. Also, there is this totally creepy french-made website about this show out there that totally freaks me out with its weirdness.   [embed]34264:5045:0[/embed] "In Time" Anime: A.D. Police This ending features a very 90's J-Rock song that goes pretty great the sexy (yet tasteful) women in sleepwear. No surprising that this show has some fanservice being a prequel spinoff to the very fanservice-y Bubblegum Crisis series. I could totally listen to this ending's song for ages being that it gives me all the warm fuzzies from being a 90's J-rock song.   [embed]34264:5046:0[/embed] "All Alone With You" Anime: PSYCHO-PASS A pretty nice ending, offering simple visuals with a nice (literally visual) twist. Great song by EGOIST to accompany the focus on Akane, the main character. Good balance with the light and dark in this ending for the show.   [embed]34264:5047:0[/embed] "Lithium Flower" Anime: Ghost in the Shell: STAND ALONE COMPLEX I am rather fond of this ending, I was exposed to it constantly on Adult Swim when I was getting back into anime around 10 years ago. A great song to contrast the opening electronic song in Russian. That static stills in the ending also offer a bit of a bit of a different glimpse into the show's characters in other settings.     Is there an ending from a cyberpunk anime that I didn't include here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Light in a Dark Dystopia
The science fiction subgenre of Cyberpunk can be dark and depressing but it doesn't mean that it is always in that depressing state. Humans simply cannot live in that manner constantly and there will breaks, and it also not e...

GIRL photo

Check out the latest short by ME!ME!ME!'s Director

Colorful crazy flowers everywhere!
Sep 11
// Salvador GRodiles
Hibiki Yoshizaki (Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~ and ~Tsuki ni Naku~'s Opening Episode Director) is back with another insanely surreal Japan Animator Expo piece (slightly NSFW) that features Daoko's lovely voice. Un...
God Eater Resurrection photo
God Eater Resurrection

Behold your next look at God Eater Resurrection

Now with more story
Sep 10
// Josh Tolentino
God Eater might be the hot new anime this season, but in the world of gaming, God Eater 2 is already a couple of years old. What Bandai Namco has on its hands is a problem of synergy. After all, folks turned on to ...

OP Up! Cyberpunk Edition

Sep 09 // Red Veron
[embed]34253:5037:0[/embed] "Guardian Angel" Anime: Texhnolyze So, does anyone know anything going on with this show? Besides the summary on wikipedia, everyone I've asked about this show has said "nobody ever knows".     [embed]34253:5036:0[/embed] "Abnormalize" Anime: PSYCHO-PASS A newer show that explores a high tech dystopia that deals with the psychological state of people. Quite terrifying.     [embed]34253:5038:0[/embed] "Y'know" Anime: Bubblegum Crisis 2040  A remake of a classic from the late 80's this one was one of the first to explore the robots gone rogue.     [embed]34253:5039:0[/embed] "Rise" Anime: Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG I love this opening. It's in mostly Russian and uses a bit of english. Quite a unique song with great visual style that has been copied a lot to this day.     Is there a Cyberpunk anime opening that I missed on here? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know! 
OP Up! photo
High tech, Low Life
Cyberpunk is a great science fiction subgenre that many manga and anime have explored in the past. Summed up as "High Tech, Low Life", the genre mixes tech far more advanced than our own in a broken down world. Often having d...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 17-20

Sep 09 // Nick Valdez
Episode 17 When Souma goes back home to the Yukihira Diner for Summer break, he finds out his hometown has been struggling a bit thanks to a super shopping center, Mozuya, opening close by.  After re-reuniting with his childhood friend Mayumi (who has a crush on him, of course), Souma learns a little bit more about the Mozuya shopping center. Thanks to its specialty karaage (a type of meat chunk covered in different spices and sauces) recipe and ability to cater to tons of different people by the train station, Mozuya has been stealing his hometown's business. Mozuya's manager, Kinu, realized they were scoping the competition and completely revealed the recipe to Souma since she was so confident that they'd never be able to beat out her karaage. Seeing her so cocky, Souma directly challenges Kinu and states that not only will Yukihira make better karaage, but his hometown's shopping district will take back all the business.  Souma enlists the help of Ikumi Mito since she's the meat master, and must figure out a recipe that not only grabs traveler's attention but represents his shopping district as a whole.  Episode 18 After going through several types of karaage types and delivery systems, the trio devise a way to wrap the karaage into some kind of mobile burrito. The shopping district beats Mozuya and gets all the business. That's really all there is to the episode. The "Karaage Wars" arc is short, lame, and only serves to introduce a new key player, Eizan Etsuya, the ninth seat of Totsuki's Elite Ten and his mastery of the business world. It also serves to completely introduce the Autumn Elections as Souma's told he was one of the sixty chefs selected.  As you can probably tell by how brief this is, I really don't like this arc. It felt unnecessary then, and it's unnecessary now. Makes even less sense in an anime adaptation since there's very little progress involved. Characters don't move forward, the ninth seat isn't at all interesting, and Souma's just being Souma so he succeeds with little challenge. Let's just move on.  Episode 19 The Autumn Elections finally begin! Totsuki's Elite Ten sat down and handpicked sixty students, separated into two groups of thirty, to compete in front of the culinary world's elite. All of the main characters are obviously selected along with a few new rivals: Miyoko Hojo (who forms a rivalry with Tadakoro based on the news of her Shokugeki and disappointment that she was helped by Souma), Nao Sadasutka (a creepy girl who stalks Erina), Kurokiba Ryo (Alice Nakirki's right hand), and Akira Hayama (a chef with a specialty nose who can cook just be scent alone). Only the best eight dishes will make it to the next round, and with the task of making a curry dish, Souma and Tadakoro seek out the help of someone his dad recommended, Professor Shiomi, since she's good with spices. After some hilarious introductions and posturing, Hayama pretty much becomes Souma's biggest rival to date.  I love how Food Wars! pokes fun at the genre. It constantly interrupts big posturing (and has made ridiculing Takumi Aldini's rivalry a running gag) and undercuts a lot of the show's serious tone. You never forget how ridiculous all of this is, and I'm glad the anime has embraced all of this. Sure the constant chibi reactions reek of a smaller budget, but it's still good.  Episode 20 After taking a month studying different spices and curry techniques, the Autumn Elections finally, finally start up. Students are separated into two groups of thirty and only four from each group will advance. Group A includes hopefuls like Souma, Hayama, and Kurokiba, while Group B has the Aldini brothers, Alice Nakiri, and best girl Tadakoro. Nothing much else happens since this is also pretty much filler, but we at least get introduced to the judges, the Sendawara sisters, who're huge in the curry business, and there are some spots of notable prep work that'll come into play later on (like Nao's super toxic brew and Kurokiba's personality shift). It also pushes Hayama into the spotlight again since he's labeled as the strongest contender. It's a bit of a lark considering we haven't met him until now, and all this pushing rings false but whatever. It's such a shonen trope I just can't stand it sometimes.  Finally, finally, the good stuff is picking up. Next chunk of episodes we'll find out why Souma was asleep, see some crazy dishes (and their reactions), and the tone of the entire series is about to shift to something a bit quicker in pace. Can't wait. 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Spice of life
In the last annotated recap, I couldn't stop talking about how great the next arc, the Autumn Elections, was going to be. It's the manga's best to date, and if the anime plays its cards correctly, it's going to be the show's ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 708

Sep 07 // Anthony Redgrave
Even though Law ended the last episode by landing a hit on Doflamingo, it doesn't appear to have any effect on the antagonist. No weakened moves, sluggish movement, or even any visible damage. The Heavenly Demon shrugs it off just like he shrugged off Luffy's attack earlier. Law and Doflamingo continue their one-sided epic fight as the combat is heavily weighted on Doflamingo's side. At this point he is toying with Law, making snide jabs at his devotion to Corazon as he gleefully dodges and parries everything Law has to throw at him. Despite Trebol regaining control of his body, he doesn't lend a hand in the fight choosing instead to mock Law from the sidelines. Things don't look too fresh with Luffy's fight either as the string Doflamingo continues to hide behind Bellamy. Nothing we haven't seen before. We do feel Luffy's frustration in this fight as he just wants to punch Doflamingo one more time and yet his philosophy prevents him from harming Bellamy even though they have had a rocky past. I was getting sick of Luffy's pacifism in this fight as it was always one step forward and one step back because of Bellamy's interference. So I was glad that this episode finally ends this back and forth with Luffy punching the shit out of the String String double. It was extremely satisfying see a mock Doflamingo made of string split apart and crumble to the floor. Hopefully next week we can see that happen to the real Doflamingo. After weeks and weeks of absence, we finally progress ever so slightly with the Pica-Zoro fight. And by progress I mean it's almost the same as before; Zoro slashes Pica and mouths off about his high pitched voice, the Doflamingo minions call him an idiot as Pica gets pissed and becomes a bigger Pica. This time Pica channels the Titan in the post-credits scene of the Attack of Titan second season anime series which does look really cool. I wonder if could make multiple copies of himself out of stone so the castle can resemble Mt. Rushmore with just Pica's face representing all the presidents. One Piece is a series that I don't associate with overly violent imagery. The closest it got to gruesome was in Marineford with Whitebeard's face being blown in half although it was a lot tamer in the anime version and Ace suffering the worst fisting of all time. But this episode's climax was worse than both of those things. I know that it has happened before in One Piece but the big difference here is that it shows the direct aftermath. I really hope that character isn't out of it completely because that person is one of my favourite. It'll be interesting to see that character cope with it or will Oda magically find a way to reverse/ fix what has happened once Luffy has Gomu Gomu no Bazooka'd Doflamingo into oblivion?  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Attack on Pica
So we're back again in Dressrosa with pirates, dwarves, marines, and gladiators all trying to topple the World Noble turned pirate turned Warlord of the Sea. I didn't think things would get exciting but this episode proved me wrong with none stop action and little deviation away from the characters we love.

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 15

Sep 07 // Anthony Redgrave
The show has skipped over the highly pressured and stress filled exam season of High School life and now it's time for the summer holidays. With Haruhi at the helm of the Literature club, their summer activities will be completely unrelated to reading or even associating with books. Instead, it is a beach visit thanks to the rich friend and associate of the club Tsuruya. Whenever the show/ Haruhi wants a massive set piece or a trip to exciting places in Japan Tsuruya is always the answer. It's a bonus she brings the fan service too in the form of Mikuru.  At the beach, they do the usual activities of showing off the ladies bikinis, swimming, and watermelon breaking. Nothing out the ordinary if you have seen any other anime beach episode. During the holiday, Kyon's little sister is along for the ride but she isn't what I remember from Haruhi. Previously she was a cute tag along, content on sitting in the background looking very sweet and adorable. Here she is just what Kyon describes her as, a brat. Definitely doesn't work well in her favour as she acts spoilt throughout.  Yuki is back to being her reclusive and shy self, absorbed in the glow of the PSVita rather than partaking in the beach activities. Yellow bikini Asakura orders her to play with Kyon and it transpires to some incredibly boring filler. The scene shows the ball being passed from Yuki to Kyon as silence lingers in the air. We feel the same as Kyon as the awkward silence is very apparent whilst Yuki feels joyful at the seclusive play session with her crush. However the awkwardness isn't translated well as the silence and repeated animation made this scene feel boring, as if they were padding the episode's run time rather than showing the conflicted feelings Kyon has for Yuki knowing that she likes him. As I watched the ball fly across the scene time after time, it reminded me of Endless Eight.... The second half moves the group away from the beach and into the mountains for bug hunting and late night ghost walking. It's a typical Haruhi led game so Haruhi wins and Kyon loses thus getting a penalty in the form of an X on his forehead that is swiftly removed in the next scene. Winning games was common for Haruhi in the previous series as a depressive turn for the girl could lead to world destruction which is why I think a lot of the characters catered to her best interests. A happy Haruhi means a safe world. But this is Yuki's world so why does Haruhi still win? Is she really that good at all the wacky stuff she puts the rest of the club through? The ghost walk was the final activity that would've been un-eventful if it weren't for the finale. I thought that this episode was taking a step back for Kyon and Yuki's relationship. They were no longer talking as much, both had different opinion's on each other, and I thought they had lost the initial spark that had me invested in seeing them get together. It's the penultimate episode and if nothing happened here I assumed everything would be crammed in the next episode or it would end with nothing being accomplished except for some nice times together. I'm still leaning on the latter as it's an anime and it is rare to see love interests end up together at the very end. What this ending brings is a small chance that everything will be resolved in the next episode. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] tsuruya
Nagato Yuki photo
Beach Time Fun
The beach episode has come later than I expected for a slice of life high school romance anime. Usually, it'll be mid-season to serve as fan service-y padding and an excuse to put the female characters in bikinis since a beach is the only socially acceptable place to wear a bikini outside of an RPG. 

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 9

Sep 07 // Anthony Redgrave
It begins with Kirie trying to make cookies for Umaru and also chibi Umaru known to her as Master aka Umaru's little sister. Unfortunately, Kirie is as good as cooking as she is not looking super creepy at the back of class staring at Umaru. Her daydreaming causes the first batch to burn which means she can daydream for hours. Instead of dumping the burnt batch like a sane person, she wraps them up instead and intends to use them if the next batch is bad. Out of all the girls on the show Kirie is the most polarising for me and I think that is the show's intention. She can be adorable whenever she doesn't have the dark leering face and her actions are blissfully awkward. She is motivated by good intentions, but they come off as unnerving because of her appearance. This is shown when she visits the Doma household after Valentine's only to spend the day with Taihei instead. A very long and awkward day. Chocolate making doesn't stop there as Umaru and Ebina have a go too. Unlike Ebina and Kirie, Umaru's chocolate are not intended to be given out but instead to satisfy the female desire for chocolate that occurs every millisecond. Herr experimentation of having chocolate with a popular Japanese beer snack embedded is even weirder considering most westerners have never heard of these things. I think Umaru has a bright future as a Snack Chef or hosting a YouTube Cooking show with a moderate to large cult fan base. It wouldn't be Himouto! Umaru-chan without an appearance from the hyperactive Sylphynford. In this episode, Umaru dons her gaming persona UMR and responds to a desperate call from her rival to rendezvous at the local anime shop. It wasn't a cry for help but rather a cry to say the latest merchandise is here! We are then treated to girls shopping but it's not for boring stuff like clothes and accessories because that was done in Episode 5. Instead, it's cool stuff like anime and games. This is the best segment of the episode as we learn a bit more about Sylphynford's character and that she has a dual persona she keeps hidden from her brother. A nice call back to her bizarre behaviour in the gaming finals. There are a lot of these contrasting similarities theme running through this show that I really like. Finally, we end on a Phoenix Wright spoof with Umaru and Taihei. The case is who consumed the last pudding cup left for Umaru. A large part of this section is just spoofing the popular DS game and it's goofy seeing how serious they're taking the whole case. Ironically it is Taihei that is pushing this Phoenix Wright reference and not Umaru. You can probably already guess the real culprit before the trial starts so it's inaccurate in the fact there is no miraculous turnabout.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] Sylphynford
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Valentine's comes late for Umaru
Anime is a great way to see the differences in culture and Valentine's is a perfect example to see the contrasts. Here in the UK, the exchange of a $2 pre-written card is the modern way of courting that special someone on Val...

Week Ender - Big Sword Edition

Sep 05 // Red Veron
[embed]33794:4704:0[/embed] "Mask" By Aqua TimezAnime: BLEACH  This show has plenty of swords of all sizes, and it just so happens that the main characters has a big one as well. Pretty unique looking weapon that looks like an gigantic kitchen knife without the handle. [embed]34242:5032:0[/embed] "Waiting so Long"Anime: Berserk  A weird but pretty rad song that has its charm with the engrish singing and lyrics. It's got that 90's grunge rock going on that suits the dark mood of the show.   [embed]34242:5031:0[/embed] "Fukai Mori"Anime: Inuyasha  I never really got to watch much of this show but I do remember the big sword of the main character. I am also fond of this song because I always caught it at the end of Adult Swim and it sounded really good.   [embed]34242:5030:0[/embed] "Ruined Land"Anime: God Eater This season's newest show based on a game that has been long overdue for an anime adaptation for a long time now has some huge swords. These swords aren't just swords but are also big guns that also turn into large monster mouths that take a bite out of the enemy.   Did I miss any anime that features big swords? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
It's how you use it
Oversized weaponry is a common sight in action anime and manga, it's always fun to see large and unwieldly swords or guns be used in a manner that would be impossible in real life. Who doesn't want to feel all strong and powe...

The Ultraman photo
The Ultraman

Animator Expo's Ultraman short is chock-full of toku goodness

The courage you gave me was 110 Million!
Sep 04
// Salvador GRodiles
As Ultraman X continues to rock the airwaves with its hero that fights bad guys with his sweet-looking monster armors, the Japan Animator Expo project has united with the Giant of Light to bring us a short that'll make any Ul...

OP Up! Big Sword Edition

Sep 03 // Red Veron
[embed]34230:5025:0[/embed] "FEED A"Anime: God Eater TV I am really happy that an anime adaptation of this game finally hit airwaves. The game has been out forever and I always loved the visual style and the designs of the game. While this opening isn't as stylish as the video game openings, this one is still catchy. I don't know, it might grow on me. I'm just super excited that I'll be able to see cosplay from this show now. [embed]34230:5026:0[/embed] "BLUE BLAZE"Anime: BlazBlue Alter Memory I love the visual style of the games this anime is based on and the characters are just really good. Well, the main character of the show has a big sword as a weapon and is voiced by Tomokazu Sugita, who is my favorite voice actor. But yeah, those are the only two reasons I put this on here. [embed]34230:5027:0[/embed] "Black Rock Shooter"Anime: Black Rock Shooter TV An anime based on a popular fan art based on a vocaloid computer program mascot that is featured on a song based on the aforementioned fan art that is used as the song in the opening. Did you understand that sentence? Yeah, it's confusing but all you need to know is that the character has a big sword gun and a long katana. [embed]34230:5028:0[/embed] "TELL ME WHY"Anime: BerserkOf course a selection of anime about characters with huge swords is not complete without Berserk. Just go read the manga. It's hella dark.Did I not feature an opening from your favorite anime with HUGE SWORDS?! SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND TELL ME ABOUT IT. 
OP Up! photo
Totally not compensating
Yeah, I know what they say about characters with big swords and how people make that joke ALL THE TIME, and how it's totally not tired at all. Totally. But think about how exciting big weapons look on the page of a manga or a...

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 8

Aug 31 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode begins with snow falling on Tokyo and Umaru getting really excited. She's excited because it's an excuse to laze around the house as if she needed an excuse to do so. Taihei complies and offers to bust out the kotatsu if she is willing to clean up her mess. With the room clean and kotatsu set up, Umaru promptly falls asleep despite the many many warnings from anime kotatsu users about catching a cold. I never understood this. Everyone seems like they're toasty and warm once they get into a kotatsu so why would they be at risk catching a cold? The show explains that the top half is at risk as the bottom half is the only part that is heated in a kotatsu and that makes sense, but anime has shown the characters looking really warm and relaxed. Wouldn't their top half be shivering and pining to be inside the kotatsu. Anyways isn't it scientifically proven that you cannot catch a cold from just being cold? Either way, I'm really glad the show explained the origins of this warning. I love it when shows explain Japanese culture stuff.  All of Umaru's friends are shown enjoying their own kotatsu and it's nice to see the title giving attention to the side characters. Since Bomber had been introduced as Kirie's brother there is a lot more of them interacting.  We transition to Christmas where Umaru is patiently waiting for her brother to come home. It's another Umaru gets lonely without her onii-chan but when he comes home it is heart warming and nice. Also, Kirie is there because she was on the way. Judging from the snow on her head I'm guessing she was waiting outside for quite some time. I assume she's back to her stalking ways, but that doesn't make sense as she has already made contact with Umaru and they're shown to have a good relationship with each other. Why wouldn't she just go and visit Umaru?  Bomber celebrates the upcoming new years with the Doma family as they laze around and watch TV. Here is the product placement/ snack shilling/ culinary part of the show. It's one of my favourite segments as the way Umaru and Bomber talk about Japanese food makes my mouth salivate. It also helps that the food looks pretty good and the crunch of the chips is satisfying to hear. As the New Year rolls around Umaru and Taihei visit the shrine and make their wishes. Unfortunately for Umaru she had forgotten her New Years resolution inciting a massive scold from Taihei. As her defence, she never stated a time or date for starting the resolution therefore it isn't binding. Well played Umaru, well played... There is a subplot in this episode around side character Kanau; Taihei's and Bomber's boss at the company. She's the pink haired chick that was overtly hitting on Taihei in an earlier episode. Here she is seeing if Taihei had any plans for the Christmas period but turns down his invitation to go drinking with Bomber and him like they use to. Even though she has a tough no-nonsense demeanor like Erza from Fairy Tail or Hana from Nisekoi, there is a definite innocence behind the facade that's adorable when you see it. [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Snow, Kotatsu, Shrines and New Years
Just as Nagato Yuki-chan is entering summer, Himouto! Umaru-chan is entering winter as this episode features all the anime tropes of bringing out the kotatsu, visiting the shrines, and a good ol' colourful party that makes ou...

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 ...

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. 

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 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.

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 Mermaid An 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 premiered 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 would help educate locals on different kinds of table games aside from the table versions that anime has tapped into in the past. There are a lot of interesting game play elements in poker: the bluffing, the psychological warfare, the many different poker hands, playing styles, etc. This sort of storyline would be relevant today, and appeal to pop culture trends with poker still one of the most participated sports in the world. Currently there are over 60 million active players engaging in gameplay per week across the world, which shows how popular this could potentially become.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.   [Images courtesy of Twilightpirate94, hecate93, and Hika-ritsu)  
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...

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