anime

Review: Kantai Collection - Kancolle - Season 1

Jun 21 // Anthony Redgrave
Kantai Collection Studio: Diomedea/ Doga KoboRelease Date: January 7, 2015Format: Streamed via Crunchyroll Story-wise, Kantai Collection has had a lot of breathing room when drawing from its game counterpart. The game's main draw were the fleet girls, each one unique in their appearance, personality, and often drawing from anime stereotypes. The game had little to no story but had lots of different fleet girls that needed to be managed and micro-managed. So the anime focuses on the little destroyer that could, Fubuki. She is a new recruit to join the fight against the Abyssal fleet that had mysteriously surfaced. Even though it was advertised as a light-hearted slice of life moe school girl anime, Kancolle mixes in drama, suspense, and action moments that can satisfy the manlier viewer's palette. This title is also a period piece making many references to the Pacific Theatre; from Battle of W island (Battle of Wake Island) to all the fleet girls being based off real world battle ships e.g. Fubuki is based off a Japanese Destroyer Fubuki. However, history buffs may scoff at the inaccuracies depicted in Kancolle but for the average viewer it may provide a rabbit hole of interest into the naval campaigns of WWII. Attention to detail is one of Kancolle's greatest strength though they do blur the lines in this regard.  The mood is never confusing because of its superb pacing. Each episode allows viewers to revel in the banter and gags at the naval base, watch as the battle unfurls from plan to operation, and grow closer to each character as the episode concludes. It follows this formula so the mood flows cleanly between each scene. This cycle is toned down during the middle of the season to give way for a beach episode and a curry cook-off. The latter isn't necessary for viewing but provides the moe fan service that many viewers would be expecting. This formula wouldn't work as well if the fleet girls weren't all charming in their own way. Partly because of their visuals making them all look attractive but also their amplified personalities. Kongou is the loud big sister type with an obsession for the unseen admiral and verbal English tics. Her brash head-strong personality coupled with random linguistic interchanges would come off as annoying, but the latter is a delightful reference to her real world British roots. The fleet girls even wear their personalities in the heart of battle, I really liked how Naka (self-proclaimed idol of the fleet) would exclaim "Please no more autographs" when she was getting attacked. It's these little character points that make all the fleet girls endearing.  The visuals in Kantai Collection are excellent. Like with most school girl anime, all the characters look beautiful and cater to a variety of moe subgenres. Although they do go overboard when there are girls that are battleships and act like animals!? On the animation side, they do a wonderful job converting static 2D portraits from the game into moving anime characters, and then pulling those characters into CG for the battle scenes. I only realized they went CG once the stereoscopic shots of girls firing the cannons made it abundantly clear. The designs are kept wonderfully consistent so nothing looked out of place when they switch between animation styles.  The whole premise of Kantai Collection is interesting as it brings novel ideas to the table. Turning girls into battle ships or vice-versa seemed like a strange concept but they fleshed out the details to make it more than just a throwaway slice of life in disguise. It doesn't copy the game but draws elements from it. For example; in every school girl anime there has to be a bath scene because fan service. But Kancolle makes it a prerequisite as each girl has to take a bath to repair the damages they have sustained. Instant repairs (a rare item in the game) comes in the form of specialized water making the link to the game subtle and not shamelessly promotional. Even the "excessive eater" gag has its place as the larger ships require more energy to run so have to eat more than smaller ships. They never don't explain why they have to exercise though... I went into Kancolle because it looked like a fun dumb slice-of-life about girls that happened to be ships. When I finished the short 12 episode season I was surprised by how good it was for a school girl anime. It didn't overstay its welcome with excessive fan service so the 12 -episode length was just the right on the money. Viewers that have a tolerance or preference towards anime school girls should definitely give this one a run through on Crunchy Roll.  [This review is based on a streaming version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense] Battle of W island
Kantai Collection Review photo
Anchors A-moe
Kantai Collection, often shortened down to Kancolle for the more efficient speaker, has a bizarre premise. It's strange that a veteran anime viewer like myself had to double-take on Kancolle's premise; battle ships that live ...

Cyborg 009 vs Devilman photo
Cyborg 009 vs Devilman

Aw snap: Cyborg 009 and Devilman collide in a new OVA


Sounds like a match made in heaven
Jun 19
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh wow, now this is what I call an unexpected turn of events. It turns out that the new Cyborg 009 anime is a three-episode crossover OVA with Devilman. Actas (Kotesushin Jeeg and MazinKaiser SKL's Animation P...

OP Up! Foodie Edition

Jun 17 // Red Veron
[embed]33964:4823:0[/embed]"LIVE for LIFE ~Ookamitachi no Yoru~"Anime: Ben-ToAn over-the-top show about fighting over discounted supermarket boxed lunches sounds as good as it's ridiculous premise. Think of a battle anime but people are fighting over cheap dinner but with martial arts moves and other techniques.[embed]33964:4824:0[/embed]"Comet Cloud"Anime: Yakitate!! JapanAn anime about a boy out to make a national bread for Japan who also happens to have "solar hands", where he has hands warmer than that of a normal human's hands. A fun and educational show that happens to also be a competitive shounen action show but fighting is done through cooking.[embed]33964:4825:0[/embed]"Dramatic"Anime: Honey and CloverNot exactly a show about food but this opening features some appetizing food as well as it is fun to watch.[embed]33964:4826:0[/embed]"The Song of Hope"Anime: Food WarsThe latest of this season about cooking and competing in making food in a cutthroat cooking academy where the main character is a genius teen cook. The food is drawn very deliciously well, as well as the pervy depiction of women (and men).Did I not feature your favorite anime about food? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know!
OP Up! photo
Ittadakimasu!
Who doesn't love food? Food is a universal thing that people love and anime has tackled the subject of food for a long time. From cooking food to appreciating food, anime has done it all, and even more when you check out this week's selection of openings. Enjoy!Did I not feature your favorite anime about food? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know!

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episodes 1-3

Jun 15 // Anthony Redgrave
This anime is a lot different from its ancestor The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Taking centre stage is the stoic blunt alien Nagato Yuki. Except in this version, she is a regular girl that likes food, her PSVita, food, the new member Kyon and did I mention food? If you've seen The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya then you'll be already acquainted with this bizarro world. Not only has the lead changed but so has the genre and mood. These first few episodes are about the literature club preparing for a Christmas party in the club room and fulfilling Yuki's secret desire for turkey because she likes food. Each episode has a strong romantic overtone with a comedic smothering. It places itself firmly in the romantic comedy genre completely eliminating the supernatural mystery of the former series. That is to say, it's not good. Nagato Yuki, although not my ideal lead, is a lovable girl that you root for and Kyon is the same nice on the surface, sarcastic underneath high schooler as before. Ryoko Asakura has a bigger role in this series as the motherly mentor of Nagato. The gags she's involved in are absolutely brilliant making her my new number one! Other SOS Brigade members trickle into the show although not a lot of time are spent on them. Haruhi and Koizumi are part of a different school so they are only introduced in episode 3, and Mikuru is permanently stuck to Tsuruya. Their personalities and thankfully original English dub voice actors are intact which helps the transition from Haruhi to Nagato Yuki-chan. Reuniting with the familiar voices has the same feeling as seeing old friends, they may look a little different, but they are the same person underneath. This doesn't apply to Nagato Yuki as she has a completely new personality. I find it really jarring when I hear the voice actress flit between the familiar monotone speech pattern to her new emotionally volatile identity.  The bottom line is that fans of Haruhi will be split on this one. The change in genre, mood, and art style may be too much of a departure from the previous series, but the familiar voice cast and characters may be enough to pull you through. I'm in the latter camp. It's not what I was expecting, but I'm enjoying the light-hearted tone of the series so far. A large part of the experience is missing without Kyon's snide remarks peppering the chaos but this is Nagato's show now, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here. [Watch the disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
We're not in Haruhi's Universe anymore
Boo hoo hoo! Woe is me and my fellow Haruhi followers. Why hath she forsaken us? We had endured the endlessness of endless eight, the confusing broadcast order, and she had shone her blessings on our torture with a stell...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 697

Jun 15 // Anthony Redgrave
Working backwards, the episode concludes with Law and Luffy finally making it to Doflamingo's now destroyed throne room. The pink Warlord states that he is disappointed at the revelation that the pirates have arrived to kick his ass. After placing a bounty on Law and Luffy's heads, why wouldn't they want to kick his ass? Does Doflamingo think they want to negotiate after he had put them through hell!? This all points towards the Dressrosa arc finally wrapping up, unless Luffy gets horribly injured then we will have to sit through the recovery and journey stages all over again a la Impel Down. On the outside Usopp's commission to Kanjuro is finally complete after a few episodes in the making. While this was happening, bounty hunters scale the wall on Kanjuro's crudely drawn ladder. King Riku, Tank, Hack, or Kin'emon don't do anything to stop them from reaching the top showing that One Piece characters are really really dumb if the camera is not on them. This rule in universal unless you're Sanji. The rest of the episode focusses Usopp struggling to make one of the most pivotal shots in the whole arc. Previously, the show made these feats appear easy for Usopp since he is gifted at sharpshooting. It was like his version of Zoro's swordsmanship or Nami's navigation skills. But this episode takes time to explore his doubts and anxieties if he misses, even going as far as to do a fake out to throw off viewers. It does an excellent job at showing Usopp's psyche when he's under pressure and has a great pay off. The revelation near the end is absolutely priceless.  I won't divulge anymore in fear of spoiling one of the best episodes of One Piece I've seen in a while. It's a return to blending intense butt clenching action with comedic breaks in-between that made me fall in love with One Piece.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Mainly filler but still good
Nope that's not a typo. It's a word I just made up now to describe this episode of One Piece. Friller (adjective) def. To be mainly filler but is still entertaining to watch. May not be limited to the thriller genre. Portmant...

Touhou photo
Touhou

Memories of Phantasm's fifth episode blasts its way to YouTube


Watch out for Mandragoras
Jun 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Summer is around the corner and Manpuku Jinja has uploaded Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~'s fifth episode on YouTube. Compare to the project's previous segments, this one decides to focus on the co...

Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episodes 46-47

Jun 14 // Josh Tolentino
Indeed, I was right, and we are forced to bid a fond farewell to the greatest JoJo of all, old Joseph Joestar. Yeah, I said it! Joseph was the best JoJo. He had the right combination of bravado and valor that few heroes since have been able to match. I'll qualify that statement by admitting I haven't read Diamond Is Unbreakable, which a friend tells me contains some surprises, so this opinion is subject to change. But still, Joseph's my favorite. Of course, his grandson is no slouch, either. In fact, after Dio takes out both Joseph and sadly murders poor Kakyoin (who only in death got the character development he needed), it's practically Jotaro's show all the way through. And he acquits himself with aplomb, being the only one of the whole quintet to press Dio, despite The World's seemingly unbeatable time-stopping power. In fact, the fight quickly changes from a straight power contest - exemplified by Jotaro and Dio's dueling punch barrages - to a game of cat-and-mouse, as Jotaro struggles to cope with The World's power and find an opening to attack Dio through. For his part, Dio actually comes across as far more vulnerable than he's usually made out to be. It's fitting, given that it was Dio's hubris and overconfidence that did him in back in Jonathan's day, so he's in full "twice-shy" mode during this first half of the fight. Taken by surprise that Jotaro can move - if only a little - during The World's time stop attack, Dio takes few chances, standing off from range with throwing knives and trying his damnedest to make sure Jotaro isn't just playing possum. Again, the classic Joestar cleverness manifests, with Jotaro's hilarious magazine armor, because of course he would choose magazines as armor, he's such a street punk. Between that and Dio's cautious probing, the fight takes on the character of a true high-level duel, where the real challenge is less in executing techniques than it is in predicting which techniques your opponent will use. Fighting game enthusiasts call it the metagame, and here it's in full play. The first round goes to Jotaro, who goes above and beyond with the possum-play and scores a Mortal Kombat-style X-ray attack on Dio's head. Which would've ended the fight right there if not for a timely escape, right back to where the pair left Joseph's body, and right on time for Dio to top off out of the elder Joestar's jugular. This is where the real Dark Souls Stardust Crusaders begins. [Watch JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on Crunchyroll!]  
Stardust Crusaders photo
No country for old Joestars
I really didn't want to have to do this recap, because we're right up against Stardust Crusaders' endgame, which means that the bodycount has to rise. And really, who likes to watch people die? Don't answer that!

Monogatari photo
Monogatari

More toothbrushes featured in Monogatari short stories


What is onii-chan doing to my sister?
Jun 13
// Anthony Redgrave
The Anime Monogatari Series Heroine line of books is something I desperately want translated. Each one focusses on a heroine from the anime Monogatari and includes interviews from voice actors, production ...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 5

Jun 11 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 5 Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: March 3, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) I'll open by saying that 100 episodes in, Ranma fatigue does tend to set in. Fortunately for fans, however, Set 5 contains some of the most entertaining and hilarious episodes yet. That's a good thing, because at just over the half-way mark in the series, there really needs to be something compelling to keep fans wanting more, and this season rarely lets up. There isn't much that I can say is new in this season. You get the same cast of lovable characters, starring the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, Ranma Saotome, and his fiance, Akane Tendo. The two are promised to each other by their parents, and thankfully in this season, we start to see that the two are actually starting to fall for one another. The art style holds up well, and the music ranges from appropriately quirky to downright moving. Perhaps taking some of our past reviews to heart, the episodes in this set have been cut to feature only one opening theme, "Earth Orchestra" (which first appeared at the end of Set 4) and the same closing theme, "Hinageshi." In case you've forgotten, the premise of the show is that Ranma is under an ancient Chinese curse that causes him to change from a man into a woman when splashed with cold water, and back again with hot water. Various other characters are afflicted with similar curses, and the majority of the supporting cast are in love with Ranma in either his man or woman form or Akane, leading to some crazy love... hexagons? Maybe even octagons. They're joined by a great cast of characters, including Akane's protective father, Soun Tendo, Ranma's free-loading father, Genma Saotome, Akane's sisters, and Soun and Genma's master, the creepy undergarment-stealing Happosai. So on with some of the standout episodes of the set, which includes a brand new array of bizarre martial arts styles. There's Marial Arts Tea Ceremony, wherein Ranma is kidnapped and promised to the charming heir and must fight her way to freedom, the Good Ol' Days Style of Martial Arts, a nostalgic bunch who challenge Akane and use nursery rhythms and old toys in their matches, Martial Arts Shogi, where Genma Saotome's cheating catches up with him and gets him and the cast stuck in a life-sized Shogi match, Martial Arts Dining, which is a hilarious insult to French people and Westerners in general with its outrageous eating competition, and Martial Arts Calligraphy, where Ranma is refused a challenge due to his terrible handwriting. Crazy martial arts styles aside, there are a lot of fantastic episodes. In one, the family wins a raffle for a free stay at a hot springs resort, only to find something lurking in its waters. In another, Ranma comes to use one of Happosai's enchanted bandaids that causes him to fall in love with all the show's female characters, and in the aforementioned Martial Arts Dining episodes (the only multi-episode arc featured in this set), the focus on food and the ridiculousness of the eating style the Westerners use is absolutely hilarious. Ryouga has a Western-style adventure protecting the ranch of an old man and his daughter, whom Ryouga falls in love with, Nabiki takes a joke too far and feigns affection for Ranma in a bid to steal him from Akane, and a new student, the exceedingly clumsy and akward Gosunkugi places hexes and curses on Ranma in an attempt to steal Akane away. My favorite episode of all, however, is "Case of the Missing Takoyaki," which is a who's-done-it tale where each character tells their portion of the story leading up to a hilarious conclusion. The last thing I'll note is that we reviewed the limited-edition Blu-ray version, which contains "extras." This time this comes in the form of interviews with cosplayers and anime industry professionals about their experiences collecting Ranma 1/2 paraphernalia, which is interesting, especially when multiple people bring up the SNES Ranma 1/2 game and one interviewee discusses the early days of the Internet. There are also trailers for other Viz Media products and the opening and ending themes as well. In all, this set is as over the top as ever, and that's why I think fans of Ranma 1/2 will be re-energized and ready to delve into the final two sets after watching it. I was as tired as anyone going into the 100th episode, but the latter half of this set is so good that I can't wait for more. Fortunately we won't have to wait long, as Set 6 has just been released, so watch for our review soon. Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Just what Doctor Tofu ordered!
And onward we go! Ranma 1/2 Set 5 breaches the 100-episode mark, and as I've noted in past reviews, if you've made it this far, you've likely passed the point of no return. Watching such a lenghthy series is a serious investment, and fortunately while Ranma 1/2 doesn't really have much overarching plot to advance, it somehow continues to be wildly entertaining. Let's dig in, shall we?

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 696

Jun 10 // Anthony Redgrave
All the Law gushing in the preface is reference to the fact that they are able to free Law in this episode, but not before Rebecca gets beat down by Diamante. She is able to stand on her own for a few scenes against the Aerosmith lead singer, but ultimately resorts to the Joestar family's secret technique. There is a moment in this episode where she drops the key to Law's cuffs, causing me to groan at the idea of a whole episode looking for it. Fortunately this is not the case. Even more fortunate for Rebecca, a soldier's promise is never broken as Kyros swoops in to save the day. For a guy with one leg, he is surprisingly spry. Luffy and Law are not far behind as they finally reach Level 4 but not before they are snapped up by a pursuing Headcracker Doll. If you have been watching One Piece as long as I have, you will be well versed in the amount of times a main character suffers a killing blow, only to miraculously escape in the last minute. It's a shonen tradition, and it is shown again as the two pirates are eaten before reaching Rebecca.  But just like a magic trick reveal, the cuffs are unshackled and the pirates are fine. Finally, after piggy backing on Luffy for the past dozen episodes Law is back. And he doesn't waste any time using Room to teleport himself and Luffy into Doflamingo's castle. Law has one of the most versatile devil fruits in One Piece except for Luffy's plot convenience powers.  Before I leave you Japanators for another week I want to mention that this week's episode was riddled with piss poor art. It's something I'm used to overlooking week on week but this time they really did a number on Rebecca. This usually occurs whenever they are running long on an arc and when the next arc starts after the filler, there is a notable improvement. Considering the manga isn't out of Dressrosa yet, we have got a bumpy ride ahead of us. 
One Piece photo
Free Law! Free Law! Free LAW!
When Law came on the scene I did not trust him. I didn't even trust him even when he allied himself with the Straw Hats before the time skip. Gradually through the Punk Hazard Arc he grew on me, but there was still this uneas...

Ghost in the Shell photo
Getting hype?
We're only a couple weeks away from the premier of Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, in Japan, so you can expect promotion to be kicking into high gear. If you're still on the fence, you probably might be interested in the ...

OP Up! Making Music Edition

Jun 10 // Red Veron
[embed]33936:4801:0[/embed]"Hit in the USA"Anime: BeckA pretty fun opening featuring some iconic Americana with a fun song entirely in english. Despite the grammatical errors, it's still pretty catchy and fun to sing.[embed]33936:4802:0[/embed]"Utauyo!! Miracle"Anime: K-On!My favorite opening from this show, it combines a frenetic pace with an equally energetic song while not forgetting to be cute. This opening also captures the feel of the spirit of high school girls with the silly things they do in the opening.[embed]33936:4803:0[/embed]"Allegro Cantabile"Anime: Nodame CantabileMy favorite opening out of this week's selection, this one is has it all: a lively and catchy song, attractive visuals all in a neat a simple opening. Great show that I urge you all out there to check out.[embed]33936:4804:0[/embed]"Dream Soldier"Anime: Sound! EuphoniumThis season's anime that's creating all that buzz (I'm behind a few episodes so I dunno what's going on. A feast for the eyes, from Kyoto Animation, the same studio that brought us K-On! (featured above), this opening just shows how refined they've become in making their openings.Did I not feature your favorite musical instrument-related opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna HEAR from you. HAHAHAHAHAHA.BONUS VIDEO[embed]33936:4805:0[/embed]
OP Up! photo
Making sweet music together
This week's OP Up! is all about them bass. Well, not exactly but it features anime openings that have musical instruments and the people who make that music. Anime, being a visual and auditory medium, definitely adds to a sto...

RWBY photo
RWBY

RWBY heads east with Japanese voice cast announced


It's also a gun
Jun 10
// Anthony Redgrave
Rooster Teeth has expanded massively in the last few years. Not content with Western domination with their hit shows; Red vs. Blue, Achievement Hunter, and up coming fan supported film Lazer Team, they are now preparing to re...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episode 22

Jun 08 // Josh Tolentino
Alas, friends, there is none. Fans of Rin will have to content themselves with a really good angle on her socks, as her plan to get Shirou ready to face Gilgamesh in the final battle involves some shirtless German. Speaking German, I mean, not a shirtless person-from-Germany, much as some fans might prefer that particular scenario.  In any case, the episode is quite obviously the calm before the storm. Gilgamesh and his apocalyptic plans are out in the open, and he's co-opted Shinji's pathetic body to serve as the vessel for the grail (which, incidentally, has a new design for this series and looks way cooler than the fleshy pustule it used to be portrayed as). And while Rin and Shirou do the (non-sexual) deed to transfer him enough mana to use Unlimited Blade Works in the coming fight, we get Ufotable's own take on the famous/infamous "CGI dolphins" scene. For the uninitiated, such a scene was common to the all-ages adaptations of Fate/stay night, with abstracted "diving through memories" scenes replacing all the hot sexing. In DEEN's adaptations, the scenes involved stiffly animated dragons (for Saber) and dolphins (for Rin). Ufotable's version is...neither. Rin's "dolphin" here is more of a greenish amoeba-thing. I guess it's a little less cheesy than a dolphin, but ultimately it's no less obvious that they're covering up for the absence of doin' it. Oh, and there's some memory work establishing just where Rin developed feelings for everyone's favorite ginger boy, and it seems to be rooted in a never-ending attempt to successfully complete the high jump in middle school. Which brings us to where I'll be leaving you this week, with this clip that whole scene reminded me of: [embed]33927:4795:0[/embed]
Unlimited Blade Works photo
Wait...those aren't dolphins
This one's likely to be a short recap as Unlimited Blade Works downshifts, in preparation for the final two episodes. Instead, I invite viewers whose main experience with the Fate franchise is via Fate/Zero to ...

Feast your your eyes on Donuts in Anime on Nat'l Donuts Day

Jun 05 // Red Veron
BONUS VIDEO ABOUT DONUTS:[embed]33922:4789:0[/embed]
Natl Donuts Day photo
Don don donuts!
Today is National Donuts day in the United States of America and of course a country known for eating too much would have a day celebrating a fried sugary pastry. However, the love for donuts (or Doughnuts) transcends nationa...

Squid Girl x Splatoon photo
Squid Girl x Splatoon

Ain't Squiddin': Splatoon x Squid Girl is the crossover to watch


The deal is inked
Jun 05
// Josh Tolentino
It looks like Splatoon's the game to take the world by storm this year. Nintendo's paint-themed squid-kid shooter's quickly barged its way into the gamer hivemind on a spray of bright paint, and you know what that means: Cros...

OP Up! Workplace Edition

Jun 03 // Red Veron
[embed]33912:4779:0[/embed]"May I help you?"Anime: Servant X ServiceFrom the same author of Wagnaria (originally titled Working!! in Japan), this one is about civil servants helping out citizens. Of course, this one wouldn't be interesting if the cast weren't all eccentric and/or interesting in their own ways. A very fun show that you can probably show non-anime fans.[embed]33912:4780:0[/embed]"Kajiriki no Ringo" (A half-eaten apple)Anime: Denki-Gai no Honya-sanIt just had to happen sooner or later, but here is a show about otaku who work in a manga bookstore in Akihabara, which is considered a mecca for anyone who likes anime and manga. You get your cast of different characters each with their own unique quirk that is just an endless resource for comedy.[embed]33912:4781:0[/embed]"A Colorful Box"Anime: ShirobakoThe surprise hit of last year, this show pretty much brought back a studio from a bunch of recent failures. So what does an anime studio that had a bunch of misses do? They make an anime about making anime and how it isn't so easy trying to make one. Surprisingly enjoyable even if it takes a while to get going, this one is a must see for any person interested in how anime is made and would love to see creatives at work.[embed]33912:4782:0[/embed]"Someone Else"Anime: Working!! OPFrom the same person that went on to make Servant X Service that is also featured in this week's selection, this is a much zanier workplace comedy that features people working in a chain restaurant. Very fun show with two seasons already made with a third one coming soon. Highly recommended.Did I forget to include an opening from your favorite workplace anime (or one that features a workplace)? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW BECAUSE I THIRST FOR THAT KNOWLEDGE!
OP Up! photo
Workin' for a livin'
When I'm not watching anime about magical girls or giant robots, I like to watch slice-of-life anime featuring seemingly normal people get into comedic situations. A subset of these slice-of-life anime just happen to be set i...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 20-21

Jun 02 // Josh Tolentino
And honestly, it's almost sad, come to think of it. Ufotable have done a stellar job so far with Unlimited Blade Works, not only making an adaptation that actually manages to outdo the original game by deepening and strengthening its ties to Fate/Zero, and thereby enriching the "Nasu-verse" as a whole (unless you're one of those types that regards Fate/Zero as a mistake, at least). Unfortunately, the need to fill out 24 or 25 episodes has undermined the integrity of this last leg of the plot, adding in stretching where the story simply couldn't take any more padding out. Where filling in the little spaces in the canon with flashbacks and "side material" used to work for things like Caster's backstory or Ilya's relationship to Berserker, here feels like Shirou and Archer repeating themselves endlessly.  In part that's due to the fact that this debate isn't new. Idealism vs. Cynicism is one of the foundation conflicts of heroic anime storytelling, and Idealism, here represented by young Shirou and his determination to be a hero, no matter what it will cost him, always wins out. We know what happens here, even if we've never played the game or read the Wiki spoilers. At the same time, the bedrock of the conflict isn't what really matters here. This is where this particular attempt to adapt Unlimited Blade Works really shines: Ufotable's slight tweaks to the pace of the encounter, as well as keeping its canonical resolution (rather than the truncated version we saw in Studio Deen's 2007 feature) make the conflict all the more clear and comprehensible.  Even being able to read the original (translated) text back in the day, I always found the Archer-Shirou conflict a bit hard to pin down, particularly with regard to the relationship between Archer's motivations and Shirou's fixation on self-sacrifice. I'm not sure whether to blame it on the translator or Nasu's style of prose, but being able to see it play out in front of my eyes helped me understand just why Archer turned out the way he did, and just how much Shirou needed to beat the self standing before him. It especially helped that the whole thing was juxtaposed onto Saber's own internal conflict, and her own desire to avoid her heroic destiny. In that way it served as a bit of a coda to the game's original "Fate" scenario, which is unlikely to get its own Ufotable-produced series at this point. That said, from the most important perspective, namely that of a viewer joining the party through Fate/Zero (certain sectors of the otaku internet would call such a person a "secondary"), this does look like a lot of nonsense that should've ended when they started playing that awesome Aimer insert song. But they didn't, and inadvertently drained the otherwise great character work of much of its power.  Secondaries do get their own payoff, though, besides seeing a Lancer-class character act with great nobility and heroism once more: The emergence of Gilgamesh (who Saber amusingly calls "Archer") as the true final boss of this piece. He goes full Ultron here, declaring his intent to purify the world of all those unworthy to be ruled by him, and then gives Shinji more than he ever bargained for.  We're in the final stretch, though I really can't imagine how they're going to be able to keep this thing rolling another three episodes. Given what's about to happen next, I can only hope Ufotable find something as better than CG dolphins to represent the proceedings.
Unlimited Blade Works photo
Fight The Future
And here we are: The fight that defines the whole of Unlimited Blade Works: The final battle between Shirou Emiya...and Shirou Emiya, or rather, Shirou Emiya's future self, as Archer, the embittered hero. It goes about as wel...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 6-8

Jun 02 // Nick Valdez
Episode 6 In this episode, we learn a little more about Totsuki Academy's numerous cooking clubs and how the "God Tongue" Erina uses her status as one of the ten best students in the school to get what she wants. Because it needs to set up the next bunch of episodes, this one is mostly exposition and ultimately feels lacking. Souma stumbles on the Don Research Society, which focuses on a rice dish with various meats on top, and discovers that it's the next club Erina wants to take down. Erina sends Mito Ikumi, who's nicknamed "Nikumi" and whose specialty is meat dishes (and layered with all sorts of jokes). I'm not a particular fan of her design although you could argue that it also goes with the overall parodical nature of the show as her design hearkens back to a late 80s bikini under a shirt vibe. Souma challenges Mito to a Shokugeki duel where he'll get expelled if he loses, and Mito will join the Don RS if he wins. The rest of the episode is a nice change of pace at the Polar Star dorm's garden, and lets Tadaroko shine a bit.  All of the technical problems I noted in my initial First Impressions post are still here, but they're not as abrasive as they were before. I'm sure it's because of a lack of major activity.  Episode 7 Okay, so this is the show I've been waiting for. Gone is most of the fluff, and it's all boiled down to hardcore cooking action. As Souma and Mito finally start the Shokugeki, Mito reveals her prize possession, a chunk of Grade A5 meat (very expensive). Souma counters with some cheaper grocery store meat. Through the episode the commentary from the crowd helps to elevate the admitted lack of action. But it's basically told in the same format you'd find in reality shows like Iron Chef where the chefs aren't really moving all that much but the commentary from the judges helps to elevate the visuals. Since this is a Don battle, Mito presents a Don using her super wagyu beef and her entire focus was on making the meat great. But Souma presents an all around better Don (with his focus pointed more toward the rice and making sure the dish has a sense of unity), and ultimately wins the duel thanks to his secret plum additive.  After their Shokugeki, Mito seems to have developed a crush on Souma. And Souma is offered the Don RS's head position, but hilariously turns it down. When summarized, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of plot to the episode but that's what is so great about it overall. The theatrics of the series finally make sense and the Shokugekis are far more palatable than they are in the manga. I hope this continues to be the trend going forward.  Episode 8 With his first official Shokugeki under his belt, Souma and his reinforced confidence are subjected to Totsuki's outdoor training camp. Each year that Totsuki does the camp, the first year class is cut in half thanks to a hefty amount of grueling challenges that can get you expelled. After introducing some Totsuki alumni who'll judge the challenges (including Chef Shinomiya, who sent a student home based on his smelly hair product). The first challenge puts Tadaroko and Souma in a pair as Chef Inui (who amazingly stated she wanted to eat the oh so cute Tadaroko) tasks them with cooking a Japanese cuisine dish made from ingredients the cooks can sparse from the area around them. Basically, it's a task based on the mentality that no challenge should stump a chef as long as he keeps a level head. The challenge also introduces a new rival with the Aldini brothers, a pair of twins who look nothing alike and can cook some fine Italian cuisine.  The rest of the episode is dedicated to seeing the brothers craft their duck dish. A dish that incorporates traditional Japanese ingredients into Italian recipes like salsa verde. That's where this anime's shonen qualities kick in with exaggerated knife work and accented backgrounds that really make the cooking pop. I kind of wish these were seen more during the last episode, but since we're supposed to believe that the brothers put their dish together with a quick pace it's understandable.  It'll be interesting to see how Souma's flair for the dramatic is sparked by this display, and if the show continues to follow the manga as closely as it has, the next episode is going to be hilarious. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the show's pace (as a lot of the show's plot is hindered by a bit of filler each episode) since it feels like we could've had the entire first challenge within a single episode. But maybe that would've been too much. What do you think? 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Is Souma don for?
With the first five episodes, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma had to establish its wacky as all get out world. Goofy sexualization, heightened environment, and basically had to make sure you could accept this culinary world seri...

Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episode 45

May 31 // Josh Tolentino
It might even be a badly edited translation (tsk tsk, Crunchyroll!) that accidentally makes Polnareff sound super-duper racist, even. Really, modern writers don't refer to "white" as good or "black" as bad so directly, anymore. Heck, even a simple, "light" vs. "dark" word-swap would've sufficed without accidentally triggering controversy! All that aside, though, it's time! Dio is among us, and all the remaining crew (R.I.P., Iggy and Avdol!) are doing their damndest to....run the hell away from him. Now there's a final boss strategy! Speaking of remembering how old JoJo's is, it's these moments, right in the path of the hype train setting up to deliver hot Dio action, that remind me just how long this venerable franchise has been around. After all, most anyone familiar with dank memes or other artifacts of internet and otaku culture through the last decade or two will likely know exactly what Dio Brando can do. Hell, thanks to stick figure flash cartoons I knew what Dio could do before I even know who Dio was! The surprise is gone, to put it plainly, but that doesn't mean we won't get anything new out of this. For one, I never realized that the crew's battle against Dio would begin like this. Having never seen the original Stardust Crusaders OVA, I had assumed that the last few episodes of the series would be a non-stop gauntlet as Dio tore through the team on the way to the inevitable showdown with Jotaro. Except that's not what happened, and now the vampire and his ultra-powerful stand are chasing Kakyoin and Joseph across Cairo's rooftops, following a hilarious driving sequence and a number of hints as to the nature and "rules" governing Dio's fearsome ability. Naturally, it's entirely logical for the fight to have begun this way. Unless you're writing Bleach, fights don't happen for no good reason, and splitting the party to gather information about their final foe is sound strategy.  I'm just hoping the strangely subdued next-episode preview this week doesn't mean Kakyoin's going to eat it next week.
Stardust Crusaders photo
The Cold Stab of Fear
As well as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has held up after all these years, there are occasionally moments when you realize just how old it is. It could be a general feeling, like the absence of some more post-modern tricks o...

Rapid Rouge photo
Rapid Rouge

Suit up for Animator Expo's futuristic samurai short


Don't mess with the samurai hacker
May 31
// Salvador GRodiles
When it comes mediums that feature cool-looking armors, I can't help but to fall in love with the designs as I dive into the piece. During the Japan Animator Expo's 24th short, Daisuke Onizuka (Eva 2.0 and 3.0's CGI Director)...

Annotated Anime: Plastic Memories episodes 7-8

May 29 // Josh Tolentino
I am, of course, being facetious: It's terrible, and symbolizes pretty much the entire "against" argument for having Plastic Memories be a love story instead of, say, an essay series on the rights of potential future android companions like I secretly crave. I made that face, and wanted to yell at my screen "BITCH you do not have TIME to get your butt flustered about your girl touching your BOXER SHORTS. She will be DEAD in under a MONTH. GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT."  Honestly, I do like a sappy romance as much as the next lonely nerd, but seeing these cliches play out, only to be followed up by a bog-standard "I want to take her on a date, but what should I doooo~" episode - a template that Plastic Memories already used in episode 3 - is singularly enervating. Thank goodness, then, that episode 8 not only furthers the romance angle in a more interesting way, but also goes full-on sci-fi, raising interesting issues about the premise  and the world of Plastic Memories, and linking it back to the core love story.  The issue at hand is what happens to Giftia androids after they get retrieved. Up until now, a retrieved Giftia was as good as scrapped. Tsukasa, Isla, or any other Terminal Service person comes over to put the Giftia in that weird coffin-thing and off they go, case closed. Except Giftia owners do have other options, like what amounts to what people in the real world call a "refurbishing" - a new OS and personality are inserted into the Giftia, and life goes on. The issue, of course, is that the new OS effectively makes the Giftia an entirely new person. That's the case with Andie, a Giftia from a different Terminal Service branch, who used to be Olivia, a childhood friend to Eru, the mechanic. Except Andie is not Olivia, though she has the same face and ample bust.  Now, by now anyone with even a cursory interest in SF can see the kinds of fun dilemmas arising from these new facts, as well as the questions raised. Just what happens to Giftias that are released by their owners at the end of their lifespans? Does the company sell them off again, with new personalities, to new customers (like one would do to a used cellphone, wiped and factory-reset)? It must be real hard for someone to see a person who looks exactly like the child, lover, or friend they knew for nine years, except that person...isn't. And let's not even get into the kinds of philosophical problems it raises if we agree on Plastic Memories' base thesis - that Giftias are as much people as any human.  Just trying to think about all these weird questions makes the show worthwhile, which just makes it all the more disappointing that its actual attempts at romance are so bland and cliche-ridden. Tsukasa makes his big confession, and surprise, surprise, Isla can't handle it. This is the kind of song and dance routine we fans of sappy romance anime have been dealing with since Love Hina, and it's kind of a bummer that we haven't grown that far past it. As the rest of the episode shows, there's other, more interesting ways to go about this cliche.
Plastic Memories photo
Face of Love
This face right here. That was pretty much what I looked like when episode 7 opened, with the ever so interesting gag of seeing Tsukasa freak the eff out about Isla doing his laundry for him. It's an amazing scene, one unprecedented in Japanese animated romance stories, surely!

GITS photo
GITS

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie shows off its new trailer


Oooh action
May 29
// Hiroko Yamamura
I can't say that I was all that enthralled with Ghost in the Shell Arise. It really felt like we were retreading familiar water, and the sharp deviation from Masamune Shirow's designs were jarring. I'd go as far as saying I ...
Squid Girl photo
Squid Girl

Squid Girl celebrates Splatoon release


Match made in inky heaven
May 28
// Anthony Redgrave
Today marks the release of Nintendo's messy 3rd person shooter Splatoon for the WiiU. At Japanator we are excited to get our hands on this game but so is Squid Girl author Masahiro Anbe who has made some nice cross over piece...

OP Up! Magical Girl Edition

May 27 // Red Veron
[embed]33887:4761:0[/embed]"Danzen! Futari wa PreCure"Anime: Futari wa Pretty CurePreCure is an magical girl series that's been around since 2004 and has become the girl superhero counterpart to the live action Kamen Rider series for boys. Also has a following of creepy adult men.[embed]33887:4762:0[/embed]"Synchrogazer"Anime: Senki Zesshou SymphogearNot quite a traditional magical girl show but still follows certain elements found in the magical girl genre. This show adds crazy over-the-top action and a music motif where the girls sing while they fight to activate their powers.[embed]33887:4760:0[/embed]"Connect"Anime: Mahou Shoujo Madoka MagicaThe show that brought the magical girl genre to more audiences with its dark tone and stylish action. Madoka has spawned many imitators trying to marry the usual light and fluffy magical girl themes with more grim realism and not many have met the same success.[embed]33887:4764:0[/embed]"Innocent Starter"Anime: Magical Lyrical NanohaA series that has a dedicated following and has spawned multiple seasons, this series still is going strong with TV anime and movie adaptations and even a new currently-running series.[embed]33887:4765:0[/embed]"Sailor Moon Theme"Anime: Sailor Moon (US Dub)You know this opening.BONUS VIDEO:[embed]33887:4763:0[/embed]This promo video designed for distributors is for a canceled US remake of Sailor Moon. Referred to as "Saban Moon", referencing the similar style of how the adaptation of Power Rangers by the company Saban, this show has a mix of live action and original US animation. Did I not mention your favorite Magical Girl anime opening? SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, YO!  
OP Up! photo
Magical (Middle School) Girls
The magical girl genre has been around for decades and has experienced a bit of a renaissance as of late. It has now reached a wider audience with targeting audiences outside of young girls with different shows adding in diff...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! Episodes 6-7

May 27 // Nicole Helmeid
When Ai and her brother confront Yamato about her secret, Yamato launches into a list of Takeo’s physical traits that get her heart racing. I was dying of laughter as her and Ai agreed on all of his good points while Makoto shrinks into the background. Yamato’s big problem was that she wanted to move forward on the physical side of her and Takeo’s relationship, but fears it would crush his “pure” vision of her. Ai is a little shocked but gives her the confidence to tell Takeo exactly what she wants. Ai is still struggling with her love for Takeo, I think she knows he is the happiest he has ever been. She is full of regret for not telling him how she felt sooner and is still incredibly jealous of Yamato. Yamato and Takeo finally clear up the misunderstanding and Yamato also confesses she lied about how she found his place in the beginning and also left her cell phone behind on purpose. I find it really cute that her big lies and “impure” thoughts are still so sweet and innocent. It’s really refreshing that a show of this typically-drama-filled genre can be so lighthearted. Takeo feels the pressure to be a good man for Yamato and is embarrassed to have messed up something as simple as hand-holding. He comes to Suna with a request- teach him how to kiss. Suna obviously refuses but Takeo cannot be stopped.  He traps Suna and puts saran wrap over his face because that makes it "OK" in Takeo's eyes. The episode cuts away and ends right as the kiss is happening, to the dismay of any fujoshi watching this series (myself included.)   In episode 7, Takeo is recruited by the Judo club to help with a tough match. He agrees without realizing it would cut-down on his time seeing Yamato. But in her usual sweet manner, she cheers him on and meets him after practice to deliver rice balls. There was a bit of filler in this episode with a training montage- but with the great animation, the overlay of text messages between Takeo and Yamato, and a few gags thrown in (like his mother using him as an ironing board) it was still very entertaining. Takeo told Yamato not to meet him after practice anymore since the area had warning signs for gropers. But since he isn’t the most eloquent man, he simply tells her not to come rather than explaining why. This worries Yamato so she goes to visit Sunakawa. Suna is now a master of interpreting Takeo and Yamato, so he calms her down and she realizes it must have been a misunderstanding. The day of the judo match arrives and Takeo’s opponent (who looks like a character out of Cromartie High School) declares Takeo has already lost since he has a girlfriend. Someone sounds jealous! When it is Takeo's turn to fight, the two school’s teams are tied. His opponent is pretty evenly matched and there are a few moments where Takeo falters. Usually Takeo has ridiculous superhuman strength so I’m glad he was paired up with a character that could produce an exciting match. Takeo eventually wins with a toss, to the amazement of everyone in the crowd. Even the stoic Suna is impressed.  The next episode is Titled "My Friend" so I'm hoping something good happens to Suna in return for his loyalty and devotion to Takeo.   
MY Love STORY!! Ep 6-7 photo
Communication is key
Yamato is still in turmoil over a secret she can’t tell. 

Tatsunoko photo
Tatsunoko

Live in Los Angeles? Q Pop's holding a Tatsunoko Tribute Art Show


Gatchamaaaan
May 27
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something wonderful about seeing a place hold an art show to commemorate the greatness of certain things. Whether it's a beloved franchise or a show that many folks grew up with, the best thing about these events is s...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 694

May 26 // Anthony Redgrave
From last week's episode, Luffy and the tag alongs are still fighting the giant soldier nutcrackers that seem to be invincible. All the gum gum attacks and blade of beauty slashes can't seem to keep these monstrosities down. And that might be partially because the girl with the Toy Devil Fruit has regained consciousness. There is an excellent scene where she is presented sausages by long nosed henchmen despite her new found fear for 'stick shaped' things. Its funny because One Piece's 'red shirts' are almost always generically drawn characters and never have a defining feature like a long nose but they all seem to have congregated around Sugar in that one moment.    Robin's jump squad are ambushed by Gladius who is able to bring down Robin and Bartolomeo but Rebecca escapes to the Level 4 with Law's key. Unfortunately Law is stuck on Level 3 so we have to wait even longer before Law can stop whining like a bitch and become useful. Finally, things are starting to be set up for some great fights as Robin orders Luffy's group to continue so she and the Straw Hat fanboy take on Gladius and the rest of the nutcrackers. Again not much happens in terms of plot in this episode but there are a lot of set ups for future instalments. I can't wait to see Usopp display his god like sniper ability since its always so damn rare and team up fights are always great to see. Even though it was filler, the team up fight with Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple is still a personal favourite.
One Piece photo
Are we still in Dressrosa?
The Dressrosa arc had the potential to be one of my favourite arcs. The main bad guy was the enigmatic Donquixote Doflamingo, it carried on from Punk Hazard so we got to have more Law, and Dressrosa is a great locat...

Annotated Anime: Stardust Crusaders episodes 38-44

May 25 // Josh Tolentino
Indeed, the last six weeks of Stardust Crusaders have been all about "carrying on". Carrying on into the scary house where your mortal enemy resides. Carrying on past your enemy's toughest minions, no matter their tricks and powers. And sadly, carrying on even when you've lost friends. Indeed, after a pitched battle between Iggy, who takes a hit and learns the meaning of getting even in his fight against Dio's evil, Stand-using pet bird, the team finally enters the lair of the beast, only for Joseph, JoJo, and the newly returned Kakyoin to be separated into a confrontation with D'Arby the Younger, kid brother to the gambler from before.  Like his brother, D'Arby the Younger gambles for souls, but doesn't need to cheat nearly as directly, thanks to his Stand's power to predict the actions of his opponents by reading their souls. The contest, this time, is one that's near and dear to my heart: Video games! Playing knock-offs of F-Zero and RBI Baseball, Kakyoin unfortunately botches his return by getting his soul taken...again, leaving JoJo to once again leverage his unflappable nature to pull off another epic bluff. If this sounds familiar to you, it should, as practically beat-for-beat the encounter unfolds in a similar way to the Elder D'Arby's fight, all the way down to the D'Arby being driven nearly nuts by JoJo's win. Worse still, David Productions missed a golden opportunity to add some their own flair to this otherwise true-to-source adaptation: They could've used sweet retro graphics to show off the games, instead of falling back on boring-ol' regular CGI. Remember, Stardust Crusaders takes place in 1989, just as awesome pixel art was saturating the game market.  Sadly, those are minor quibbles compared to the underwhelming nature of the fight itself. The original D'Arby confrontation played out in a cool way, but the plot need not ahve been reused so quickly. Then again, had I known of the tragedies about to follow, maybe I'd have stayed in that status quo for longer. I blame Vanilla Ice. Vanilla Ice is Dio's last Stand-using minion, and thanks to his black hole of a Stand, inflicts the greatest casualties the team has suffered yet.  Avdol, sadly, dies a sudden, unexpected, and violent death, eaten from toes to elbows by Vanilla's Stand, nothing but a pair of hands left. And as if to rub insult to injury, Vanilla even beats poor Iggy to death. The kicker here, is seeing them both depart the coil in some kind of spirit form. I don't think they're coming back, and I already miss 'em. Rest in peace, Avdol and Iggy!  
Stardust Crusaders photo
All Ye Who Enter Here
Well, it's been weeks since we last checked in with the Stardust Crusaders, a group name, which, come to think of it, doesn't make all that much sense in the grand scheme of things. I mean, sure there's a "Star" in "Star Platinum", and Egypt has a lot of dust, as well as a few Crusades, but...well, I guess it does make sense, after all. So let's carry on, then!    

Memoirs of Amorous Gents  photo
Memoirs of Amorous Gents

Animator Expo's 23rd short adapts another Moyoco Anno manga


Gentlemen can be perverts too
May 23
// Salvador GRodiles
We're getting close to the Japan Animator Expo project's final stretch, and the latest piece ends up being another adaptation (slightly NSFW) of a manga by Moyoco Anno. Just like the previous piece that adapted her work, "Mem...

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