OP Up! Urobuchi Edition

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

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

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

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 705

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

First Impressions: Himouto! Umaru-chan

Aug 15 // Anthony Redgrave
The show focuses on the perfect beautiful student Umaru Doma. She is incredible at athletics, academics, popular, sweet, cute and basically the ideal school girl. However, she has a secret that only manifests itself when she comes home. In reality, she is an ultra slacker otaku with borderline hikikomori tendencies if it weren't for the weekly Jumpu and arcades that need visiting on weekends. This is a literal transformation as she goes from moe student to chibi Crayon Shin Chan straight after crossing the threshold of the door. Only her older brother and guardian knows of this secret, but some characters have come dangerously close to discovering it. As a premise, it's quite an interesting one. A lot of anime have otaku characters and they wear their nerdy hobby on their sleeve thus being shunned as outcasts or played for laughs. In the case of Umaru, she has to constantly hide her passions due to her already preconceived image as a sweet feminine student darling. It's also great to see her transform from her selfish home self to her cute outdoor self whenever she wants to get something out of her brother. Most of the time she is in her indoor mode, eating snacks and drinking lots and lots of cola. I'm not an expert, but the amount of cola she drinks a day is evidence of addiction. I'm surprised she doesn't get any shakes or withdrawal symptoms when she's at school.  Since Umaru is based in a high school, the supporting cast is mainly other high school girls that Umaru interacts with. First is the ditzy one Nana Ebina who is basically Mikuru from Haruhi right down to the big chest, next is the hyper competitive Sylphynford Tachibana who is like Tsubasa from Haruhi without the fang, and finally Kirie Motoba the misunderstood girl who doesn't share the likeness with any Haruhi character. Most of the time these side characters are played for laughs due to their extreme personality quirks. If anyone has seen the anime Working!! it's exactly like that. Whenever the set up to a joke is being played out you can accurately predict how each character will react making some jokes to be too predictable and overplayed. This was also the downfall of Working!! as the second season had no new material. Himouto! Umaru-chan is balancing this fine line after seven episodes and it's keeping my attention due to the consistent parody of video games.  I think the bottom line is Himouto! Umaru-chan is if Lucky Star was put in a blender with Working!!. The show works well as a comedy and the art style is very appealing to look at. The only downsides apart from the longevity of the same jokes being used over and over again is that Umaru may not be very likeable in her indoor form. She's lazy, bossy, selfish, and spoilt and watching her cry about wanting more cola or money for a game makes me think back to the cries of toddlers in supermarkets when they reach the sweets aisle. On the plus side they're bringing more characters into the fold so they're no longer one note characters. I'm especially liking Kirie opening up to the Doma family and integrating with Umaru's other friends.  [Cover from Person of Leisure at Pixiv][Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
The Otaku Jekyll and Hyde
Himouto! Umaru-chan is an anime series I never intended on starting this summer but seeing that I'm now writing an extremely late First Impressions it certainly did catch my fancy after the first few episodes. Himouto! Umaru-chan

Week Ender - Vampires Edition

Aug 15 // Red Veron
[embed]34158:4983:0[/embed]"Walk no Yakusoku"Anime: ShikiHere's an anime I've been wanting to watch but keep forgetting. I finally looked up the synopsis and found out it's set in the 90's so I'm definitely checking it out soon. I totally dig this song.[embed]34158:4984:0[/embed]"Strike My Soul"Anime: Strike The BloodI often refer to the studio behind this anime as "poor man's SHAFT" (but in the best way possible) and this ending shows that well. It's simple and still has creative ways to give it some visual flair even with minimal animation.[embed]34158:4985:0[/embed]"Shine"Anime: HellsingThis song is so 90's. I love it. Pretty great to unwind to after an intense episode.[embed]34158:4986:0[/embed]"scaPEGoat"Anime: Seraph of the End: Vampire ReignCool rockin' song that starts out slow and builds up suits the post-apocalyptic along with characters doing cool poses in the rubble. What dumb song title.[embed]34158:4987:0[/embed]"Still Doll"Anime: Vampire KnightI kinda liked the manga but never really liked the low budget anime adaptation. I did like this ending, nicely drawn and very minimal (in keeping with the budget). I like that eerie feeling song matches the visuals.So what's your favorite anime that features vampires? IF I MISSED ANY, FEEL FREE TO SHAME ME AND SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND TELL ME I SUCK.   
Week Ender photo
They Suck
For this weekend's Week Ender, we continue to look at some Vampire-themed anime endings. Vampires have this appeal to people, with power and strength with a side of mystique. So what's your favorite anime that features vampires? IF I MISSED ANY, FEEL FREE TO SHAME ME AND SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND TELL ME I SUCK.  

Bubu & Bubulina photo
Bubu & Bubulina

Animator Expo's 27th short is a colorful treat

Cartoony visuals everywhere
Aug 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever the Japan Animator Expo project pops out a decent piece, a stronger one takes its place. In this case, Takashi Nakamura's (Robot Carnival's "Nightmare" short and Tree of Palme's Director) piece, "Bubu ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 704

Aug 13 // Anthony Redgrave
Just as Law and Corazon start bond the amber lead poisoning that has been slowly killing Law begins to get serious. He collapses unresponsive to Corazon's cries just after Doflamingo's call via Den Den Mushi. Turns out Doflamingo has found a cure for Law's disease in the form the Opi Opi fruit which he would like Corazon to eat. The fruit is being held by the pirate Diez Barrels hoping to sell it to the Marines for a tidy some but before the exchange the Doflamingo family plan to steal it for themselves. Corazon being a Marine spy and brother to Doflamingo plans to double-cross them both and steal the fruit to cure Law. Turns out it cannot be used to its full potential if the user doesn't have any medical knowledge. We also get full confirmation here that if a person eats two devil fruit that they die as Corazon reasons he cannot eat it despite the intention to heal Law with its powers. But this could be complete superstition passed on from pirate to pirate as we saw earlier Blackbeard get the Yami and Gura fruit powers albeit behind a curtain. People in One Piece do mention giants, floating islands, Government super weapons, and Ohara being myths and they're all real.  The episode is a desperate struggle for Corazon to retrieve the fruit from Diez Barrel's crew before Law dies. With high stakes and slim chances this episode kept me on the edge of my seat. Corazon's power isn't amazing as demonstrated in an interlude of Corazon showing off his power to Law. It's small moments like these that make One Piece still one of the most charming shonen shows on-air. Corazon isn't a goal driven psychopath or an all serious mentor, he's a guy that wants to save Law but also make him happy.  The episode's finale is Corazon utilizing his devil fruit power to steal the Opi Opi fruit from right under Diez's nose. This is quite possibly the only time the Calm Calm fruit would be the most useful fruit ever apart from the Clear Clear fruit. Just as he enters the home stretch, forced clumsiness befouls the clowned hero as he stumbles into enemy hands. What happens next will require a lot of suspension of disbelief if he survives. I found it incredibly hard to fathom when Brownbeard got blasted in the face from point blank range by the Yeti Cool Brothers in the Punk Hazard arc and still survived, but this is like 10 times that.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Corazon the Clown
Corazon reminds me of that weird uncle everyone has. The one that comes around for the holidays, always gives you awesome presents, tells great stories, but is also just plain weird. You were scared of him when you were younger cause he was all up in your face but now you've grown to accept him as an eccentric individual. That's Corazon. 

OP Up! Vampires Edition

Aug 12 // Red Veron
[embed]34148:4974:0[/embed]"X.U."Anime: Seraph of the End Let's start off with one of the newest shows about the vampires and post-post apocalypse setting. A standard shounen action show with an interesting setting, this one is set after a virus kills all humans over the age of 12 and vampires have taken all the young survivors as a source of food. As these young survivors get older, many of them organize to fight back against vampires using forbidden magic. Oh and adopted brothers find themselves on opposing sides for drama reasons.[embed]34148:4975:0[/embed]"SPIRAL"Anime: Blood-CA favorite opening of mine from a show that didn't turn out so well, this opening and its song was the best part of the show since it showed off the good stuff. We get to see the heroine Saya, show off her gentle side to contrast her bloody red monster slayer side in this opening. Couple that with the awesome song, we get a song that gets your blood pumping for some bloody action that is plentiful in this show.[embed]34148:4976:0[/embed]"Strike the Blood"Anime: Strike the Blood A guilty pleasure of mine, this show is a supernatural action show with light harem comedy. Also them lolis. There's some elements that I like about these supernatural action shows, organizations using magic in modern day settings along with modern technology. This show has a lot of what I like.[embed]34148:4977:0[/embed]"Logos Naki World"Anime: Hellsing Here's one from the early 2000's US anime boom that a lot of older anime fans remember and love. This opening has that late 90's/early 2000's serious anime opening feel with the almost minimal music video feel to it. That song is pretty great too. I totally need to rewatch this one and the new adaptation.So what's your favorite anime that features vampires? IF I MISSED ANY, FEEL FREE TO SHAME ME AND SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND TELL ME I SUCK. 
OP Up! photo
No Sparkling Allowed
What is it with Vampires? Whether they're the hero or villian (or both), the creature of the night has always had great appeal in all forms of fiction. Is it the eternal life? Is it the romanticized portrayal of these creatur...

First Impressions: School-Live!

Aug 11 // Nick Valdez
School-Live! follows the School Life Club, four girls who are living within school grounds named Yuki, Yuri, Kurumi, and Miki. The show opens with Yuki, a bright and optimistic young girl who's the typical anime protagonist. She's a bit airheaded, lazy, but genuinely enjoys school. But there's also something very special about Yuki, and that's what sets the show in motion. You see, the girls are victims of a zombie apocalypse. After an outbreak, the girls were forced to live in the school in order to survive. Within the first couple of episodes, we don't know the extent of the outbreak other than its damaged the entire school and the four girls (and their teacher, which Yuki refers to as "Megu-nee") are the only survivors. The awesome thing is that you wouldn't know all of this from the outset.  As the first episode follows Yuki, everything seems fine. There are other students, the school is pristine, and like as mentioned before, everything about Yuki screams "typical." But that image shatters fast when you realize Yuki's just living in a huge daydream. When the apocalypse is revealed halfway through the first episode (so I'm not spoiling it for you), it's actually shocking. This show's pretty good about hiding things. Although some of the hints are heavy handed (like how Miki refuses to acknowledge anyone other than Yuki during the classroom scenes), there's an attempt to save most of it for an emotionally charged finale. Seeing the delusional Yuki talking to herself in a bloodstained classroom makes for a terrifyingly gripping image. The series also adds a bit of darkness into its opening CV from episode two on. You'll have to see it just to absorb how truly jarring it is.  Like the better zombie media out there, Live! is more about the survivors dealing with a changing world rather than the zombies. It's just in place of adults, it's little anime girls. I thought the art would push me away at first (since I'm still not used to the sexualization of young girls in these shows), but the use of bright color awesomely clashes with the gritty material. It's entirely unique to the series, and I don't think I can find that aesthetic anywhere else. That's most likely why Yuki's world looked so inviting at first. There's a sense of displacement seeing these girls interact with the zombies. For the first time in a while, the zombies feel more disturbing than not because they clash so much with the character design. Seeing the cutesy frames of these characters twisted in a dark fashion is an accost to the viewer. Live! is just full of great little design choices like that.  As for the story itself, the setting is at least groundbreaking if nothing else. I'll give a lot of credit for skewing the age of these survivors (it's been a long time since I've seen zombie media focus on a child's perspective), but it runs the risk of growing stale. Yuki's delusional state is definitely the anchor of series, and the first three episodes explore this, but I want to learn more about why she ended up that way. I'm waiting for the inevitable fallout where Yuki's forced to accept that zombies are real, and that'll either be thanks to an attack or someone close to her finally breaking the news to her. I'm also curious as to how far her delusions extend. Is Megu-nee real? Does no one listen to her as a joke or is she made up in Yuki's mind as well?  I guess the overall darkness of the show took me by surprise. Although I knew it was going to be a heavier type of show going in, seeing it in action is something else all together. I got to hand it the production team, Sentai Filmworks, on this. Since this is adapted from a manga I'm sure the story's pretty much the same, but I've been taken aback by the visual choices here. It's changing opening CV, the girl's designs, the zombies highlighted by shading rather than blood, it's all so wonderful to take in.  School-Live! looks so good, it's got me interested in the story. That's never happened to me before. This is all new territory for me. 
School-Live Impressions photo
Life with the afterlife
Zombies are played out at this point. Numerous movies, television shows, comics, manga, and anime have been churned out each tackling the genre but failing to do anything interesting for a long time. Each piece of zombie medi...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episodes 6

Aug 11 // Anthony Redgrave
Again this episode is split up between the present where Nicolas and Doug were successfully stabilised by Nina after Worick had dragged their asses to the surgery and the past with Young Master Worick and Nic trying to co-exist with the increasing anti-twilight hostility. The flashback sequences are the show stealers in each episode as they convey much more emotion than the action driven present. GANGSTA carefully peppers these flashbacks without giving away the full story and mixes them into the story of the present to help explain the Handyman's relationship with one another. The show makes the point that despite the difference in their social standing they still share the same miseries and hardships.  Worick having enough time to collects his thoughts talks to Nic about the big bad behind the massacre and the motive behind Monroe's hit. Before Worick leaves for the office to find out what happened to their new secretary he states that he doesn't want to abuse the 3 laws to control Nic again. This shows that Worick is Nic's master and if an order is given by Worick, Nic cannot disobey. I'm guessing in the finale we'll see what happens if a Twilight does disobey a master. Dog tags aren't robots as far as I know so there isn't a self-destruct and they don't seem honourable to commit suicide. The only group have any control over the Twilights as a whole is the Guild run by Gina so I'm guessing she'll be responsible for any rogues.  Back at the office my prediction at the end of last annotated anime was correct, it was the kind Dr. Theo looking to check up on Alex. Turns out she was under the effects of withdrawal symptoms of a drug that pimps used to control their prostitutes. Think of it as the GANGSTA version of heroin or cocaine with the disposition of schizophrenia causing Alex to hallucinate about her former pimp Barry. Personally I would've liked to see a supernatural element with a ghost Barry haunting Alex. Whenever he was on screen the lighting and colors had all the elements of a supernatural horror so it would've lent itself well to that genre. Worick gets a lot of great parts in this episode as he fixes Alex with some good ol' shonen violence (or a headbutt) ironically hurting himself more than her. My favourite part is how nonchalantly he plays off Alex coming onto him and immediately starts to bitch about what a shitty day he has had.  [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation]
Gangsters have feelings too
GANGSTA continues to entertain week on week and this week is no different. I was going to write about how it still continues the trend of being slightly too vague to follow coherently until I gave up midway through my fi...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 11

Aug 10 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode opens with a recap of last episode narrated by Nagato (H) in a similar manner as Endless Eight, lots of reused footage with different framing. We learn that Nagato (H) is aware she has hi-jacked Nagato (D)'s body but is having problems with the memory side of things. Fortunately, she is still in tune with Nagato (D)'s feelings and can act accordingly when interacting with Kyon and Asakura. Mother bird Asakura takes this news very well considering her friend has a completely new personality and chooses to treat the new Nagato in the same way as Nagato (D) until Nagato (D) resurfaces. With the blessings from the hospital, Nagato (H) is discharged to continue treatment at home and attempts to live the life of the previous Nagato (D). See what I mean by confusing. The first quarter of the episode has the same muted tone as last episode to match Nagato's new personality. The next half is more in line with the fluffy slice of life comedy expected from the show complete with comedic facial reactions and friendly smiles to counter hardships. However, the elephant in the room prevents the show from recapturing the spirit of a high school rom-com. Nagato is no longer Nagato so the beats and timing of each gag take a pause to see whether Nagato (H) would react the same as Nagato (D). In this way, the show does a grand job in exemplifying the disappearance part and how it affects the characters on the show. I think introducing Nagato (H) was a good choice. A lot of the romantic elements in anime tend not to lead anywhere and constant hinting/ near misses puts me in the frustrating situation of wishing the show would shit or get off the pot. Another 9 episodes of will they/won't they would get old unless it was backed up with some solid comedy, so introducing a familiar face helped mix things up. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] The episode opens with a recap of last episode narrated by Nagato (H) in a similar vein as Endless Eight, lots of partially reused footage with different framing. We learn that Nagato (H) is aware that she has hi-jacked Nagato (D)'s body but is having problems with the memory side of things. Fortunately, she is still in tune with Nagato (D)'s feelings and can act accordingly when interacting with Kyon and Asakura. Mother bird Asakura takes the news very well considering her friend has a completely new personality and opts to treat Nagato (H) in the same way as Nagato (D) until Nagato (D) resurfaces. With the blessings from the hospital, Nagato (H) is discharged to continue treatment at home and attempts to live the life of the previous Nagato (D). The first quarter of the episode follows the same muted tone as last episode to convey the tone of uneasiness of Asakura and Kyon to Nagato's new personality now that they have deduced it is no longer Nagato (D). The next half is more in line with the fluffy slice of life comedy expected from the show with facial reactions to dramatic situations and friend's supporting each other emotionally. However, the elephant in the room prevents the show from recapturing the spirit and feel of the whimsical nature of a high school romcom. Nagato is no longer Nagato so the beats and timing of each gag take a pause to see whether Nagato (H) would react the same as Nagato (D). In this way, the show does a grand job in exemplifying the disappearance part and how it affects the characters on the show. I think introducing Nagato (H) was a good choice for the show. A lot of the romantic elements in anime tend not to lead anywhere and constant hinting/ near misses puts me in a frustrating situation wishing the show would shit or get off the pot. Another 9 episodes of will they/won't they would get old unless it was backed up with some solid comedy so introducing a familiar face helped mix things up.
Nagato Yuki photo
The real disappearance
I never thought I'd miss the new dopey Nagato Yuki but I really do. It's going to get confusing talking about the two Nagato's so I'll label them as such; the new Nagato to this series will be Nagato (H) as she...

Comedy Skit 1989 photo
Comedy Skit 1989

Experience Animator Expo short 26's twin-related hijinks

The Showa era of comedy is back, baby
Aug 07
// Salvador GRodiles
Is it me or was this week's Animator Expo short a bit weak on the humor side? Who knows, it might have to do with my lack of experience with Showa era comedy skits. Then again, "Comedy Skit 1989" made me giggle during so...
Splatoon photo

Behold the glory of Splatoon's Squid Girl gear

Coming soon to everywhere!
Aug 07
// Josh Tolentino
It's happening! Everyone's favorite cephalopod-children combat painting simulator, Splatoon, is getting the long-awaited crossover with everyone's favorite cephalopod-conquest documentary, Squid Girl. Scans from the latest is...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episode 5

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
I asked for action in the last annotated anime of this show and action I received. Nic goes toe to toe against the young dog tag Doug and although the enemy may not have Nic's brute force he can definitely out manoeuvre our deaf protagonist. The animation isn't the best during these sequences as the level of detail is toned down as seen in the screenshots making the characters reveal their amiibo derpy faces. Even though Monroe is being targeted by Doug he remains unfazed and chooses to make bets on which Dog Tag will come out on top considering they are the same rank. We gain a better understanding of how Twilights fit in the town of Ergastulum. Dog Tags are feared for their brutality and subsequently barred various outlets like restaurants creating a class divide. But the show hasn't really emphasised the negative sides of being a Twilight. Nic has been respected for most of the show and his only weaknesses seem to be susceptibility to downers. Apart from that he is a cold-hearted killing machine dispatching gangsters easily. The negatives of taking too many uppers have not been shown and have been working well for the deaf swordsman as it mutes the pain caused by Doug. This episode introduces a guild made up of Dog Tags under the leadership of Ginger. They seem to be a big deal as they easily put a stop to Doug and Nic's fight and even disarm Worick without any struggle. I like how they introduced these girls as a threat and indicate the Dog Tag/ Human relationship will be unstable without guild intervention.  Dog Tags start to become allegorical in this episode as each of them is bound to three laws if they are to stay in the town. If you've seen I, Robot it's basically that. I wish they were more original when it came to thinking up rules for a master-servant relationship, but it's difficult to argue with one of the best all-encompassing sets of laws to represent this dynamic.  Throughout this long day, Alex has been laying about at Handyman HQ having hallucinations about her former pimp Barry who was killed in the first episode. It's actually pretty interesting to see a former prostitute go through these panic attacks as most anime heroines live the life of Riley once they have been rescued. In the final stretch there are some great horror moments leading to a cliff hanger ending.  My guess, it's the doctor.  [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation]
Did a quick google search for 'GANGSTA' before writing this piece and it turns out that the first two results are for the manga and not the thuggish lifestyle of urban America. Japanese animation and manga industry is cu...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 703

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
Along with the greatest shit eating grin in the whole of One Piece, Corazon sits down with Law and talks vaguely about the D. legacy and how his brother is probably the evilest thing ever conceived. Law isn't having any of it and threatens to tell Doflamingo of Corazon's selective muteness. Coinciding with the muteness theme, Corazon possesses the devil fruit power of muteness too. Devil Fruits come in two varieties; they are either vague enough to mean the user can do anything related to its broad definition of the power or they are too specific so they are extremely useful in one instance. In this case he uses it to talk to Law without anyone else hearing them including a curious Baby 5 and Buffalo. As Donquixote pirates prepare to leave the town Corazon kidnaps Law determined to find a cure for his Amber Lead poisoning much to Law's chagrin. This episode also sets up the beginning of Vergo's infiltration of the Marines. Vergo was the previous Corazon in the family before the present one took over meaning Corazon is a rank not a name. It's strange that the Marine's wouldn't recognise Doflamingo's previous right-hand man and would allow him to transfer to G-5. I guess Vergo is ridiculously good at avoiding the camera like Sanji. But Vergo isn't the only backstabber in this flashback as Corazon holds a Commander rank in the Marines working directly under Sengoku. Again considering Doflamingo has so many connections it's strange that he is unaware of his brother's actions against him.  The rest of the episode follows Corazon has he frantically searches hospital after hospital for someone to cure Law's disease. Of course, everyone has eaten the lie that Amber Lead poisoning is contagious prompting the Marines to hunt down Law and Corazon. We get some insight into Law's personality and why he joined with Donquixote. After Flevance, he was rejected because of his disease but was accepted into the Donquixote family thus prompting a large amount of respect and gratitude to Doflamingo. Corazon however made him relive the days he could not make human contact causing even more pain on Law despite Corazon's primary motivation for finding a cure. This episode also brings to light Corazon's personal interest in Law and it's far more interesting than the family D. stuff I mentioned before.  Another great episode this week. Whenever One Piece is out of Dressrosa the story becomes more interesting, better paced, and generally more entertaining. Thankfully there is more of this in the next episode.   [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Corazon does it for the D.
Today I like to make a shoutout to user Japanator reader Confuseddalek. Corazon really shines in this episode and we get to see why Law thinks so highly of him. Sadly we also get more vague information about what the infamous...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 10

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
Because the hot springs episodes may have been a bit too racey and fast paced for regular Nagato Yuki-chan watchers with the inclusion of Haruhi, episode 10 slows the pace way down. Even though our heroine had escaped the crash relatively unscathed, Asakura goes super protective mother bird mode on her discovering new injuries every minute. Even if the physical injuries are relatively minor, Haruhi watchers will be familiar with the state that Nagato has reverted to which compliments the slower pace of this episode. For a while I thought it was because of shock from the car incident and it would take the collective efforts of the literature club to pull her out of this funk. This episode reminds me of the Digimon Adventures episode Home Away from Home where Tai gets to return back to Tokyo without his friends. It's vastly different from all the episodes before it with a muted tone and feel making it slightly eerie. At the literature club, Kyon tries to make conversation with Nagato but is greeted with the same specific answers as Asakura. This new Nagato does have a penchant of reading french books like The Mystery of the Yellow Room which Kyon has a hard time engaging with. How is Kyon going to get it together with Nagato if he doesn't understand the language of love? I loved the ending of this episode as it has me hungry for more. I was really tempted to watch the next one subbed just so it'll quench my curiosity. If you were thought Nagato Yuki-chan was too lackadaisy slice of life then this episode will revitalise your interest in the series even if it's quite slow. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Wait, you can add cheese to curry?
Whenever I'm watching too much anime I tend to see anime in my anime. Like characters looking like other characters from other anime series' or storylines that have been covered by older anime. In this case, it's the Toyota A...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 13-16

Aug 03 // Nick Valdez
Episode 13 For the final day of Totsuki's survival camp, students are challenged to serve some kind of egg dish to 200 people within 2 hours at an all you can eat buffet. The major push of this episode goes toward introducing two new rivals, Alice Nakiri and her henchman Ryo Kurokiba. Since Alice is related to Erina, they have quite a fierce family rivalry (which leads to some funny introductions between the two and Souma), but Souma pays them no mind and ends up developing an egg souffle. But Erina quickly looks down the idea and notes Souma is making a huge mistake, When Souma gets placed next to Erina in the serving area, he's quickly dominated by Erina's eggs benedict dish covered in dry fish egg powder. The other students seem to be faring well, but Alice's egg dishes are completely ignored since they look like plain eggs served different ways. But Souma's dish is also struggling. No one seems to be choosing his souffle and they're collapsing fast.  Episode 14 Finally realizing what Erina was talking about the episode prior, Souma stumbles when he sees his egg souffles crumbling and ignored (since buffet goers usually don't eat every food when they're prepared, a souffle was a bad idea since they don't hold form for long). After taking a brief pause, Souma decides to draw in 190 customers within the final 30 minutes of the task. Jumping into this impossible task, Souma decides to live cook each of the dishes in order to draw attention. This episode had the slickest cooking animation I'd seen yet. To reflect his massive task, and how fast he was going, Souma was accent with speed lines, quick edits, and it was the right kind of flashy. This show has trouble at times since it wants everything to look slick (since cooking isn't exactly full of action), but thanks to this sequence we get all the action we need. Souma was able to complete his servings barely before the buzzer sounds. As we check in with the rest of the students, we learn Erina served something like 400 dishes, Alice (whose egg dish actually was meticulously calculated through science cooking) served 300, and everyone else managed to make it through the task. After some celebration of the final task of camp, about 2/3 of the students who first attended camp made it through the week. Souma then realizes he's glad he came to Totsuki Academy in the first place.  Episode 15 With the Totsuki survival camp over, it's time to head into the next arc, The Autumn Elections. After Souma and Erina miss the bus home, they have a chat about the Autumn Elections which will serve to get their name known to restaurant owners and chefs. That's also why the survival camp exists as sort of a preliminary exam for the Elections. But as the gang returns to the Polar Star dorm, an unexpected guest shows up, Souma's dad Joichiro. Souma then learns some interesting things about his dad: he travels worldwide and cooks, he was a former Elite Ten member at Totsuki (the ten best cooks in the school), and he and Dojima were once members of the Polar Star dorm and their Shokugekis helped expand the dorm to what it is today. At the end of the episode, Joichiro challenges Souma to a Shokugeki in order to see how much Souma has/hasn't grown.  And with a new direction for the series, we also get a new opening sequence. Highlighting some folks we haven't met yet, and playing around with how wacky its visuals get, this opening is fun and intense at the same time. But I think I prefer the first opening's song. Also, maybe because the show's spent a huge chunk of its budget, there were plenty of shortcuts here. The animation surely taken a hit, but that's okay given that it's not necessary until we get to bigger scenes.  Episode 16 As Souma and his dad enter a new super early morning Shokugeki, they get the household caretaker Fumio, the nudist Isshiki, and a poor sleepy Tadakoro to be the judges. To reflect how early it was, Fumio decides the challenge will be a breakfast dish that invigorates the three for the day ahead. Souma creates an apple risotto, an interesting choice given that apples would be hard to cook within a risotto. But thanks to some apple juice, the risotto is filled with the right kind of flavor and ultimately leads to the image above. But Joichiro unleashes his worldly strength and produces an all vegetable ramen (one he perfected working with a vegan monk), and resoundingly wins the challenge. Which makes that 0/490 for Souma, and it also explains why Souma's never nervous for anything since he's been trying to overcome his dad's strength all these years.  Remember when I mentioned how action lines can be used weirdly two episodes above, that happens a ton here. Have fast moving backgrounds clash with the static characters in an attempt to make them feel like they're being adequately animated is a cheap ploy. And it's certainly a lack of budget seeping through. I hope it's being saved for the Elections themselves. If it's anything like it is in the manga, it's gonna be sooooooooooo good.  I'll try to keep these closer together once the Elections start, so hope you'll keep reading! 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Shokugeki no Soma is quickly turning into the highlight of my week. The only problem with covering a Shonen-type series like this is that each episode isn't very substantial on its own, but the overall package is compelling e...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episodes 6-9

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
Those expecting lots of T&A in this trilogy will be sorely disappointed. We spend more time looking at the bare chests of Kyon and Koizumi than the girls. These episodes feature more Haruhi and Koizumi as they drag the North High Literature club around the tourist sites. Haruhi brings the selfish bold headed charm into Nagato's meek world and it comes as a nice change of tone from the lovey dovey storyline. Laughs can be found in each episode from visual gags to Kyon being treated like shit throughout the trip. I especially liked the boy's interaction with one another as Koizumi is played off as an extreme version of himself from Haruhi which means some uncomfortable situations for Kyon.  Despite Haruhi energizing the show, the first episode has the pace of Aunt Jane's Japan Holiday slide show. They spend too much time going to different sites, messing around in the gift shop, praying at the shrine, and even on who sat next to whom instead of pushing the story along. The show had slowed down and I don't think it can handle more characters than Nagato, Asakura, and Kyon at once. There are fewer character interaction and more time on what they're doing which proved to be charming but meaningless. Asakura gets some character development in this trilogy as we finally understand her fear of getting Nagato with Kyon. However, these set of episodes contain almost no drama. Whenever it gets to be an interesting moment it is immediately diffused in place for a joke thus losing all tension.  Ultimately I think these episodes can be skipped. Viewers that pay attention to this show will already know why Asakura is worried about Nagato's relationship and if they don't then a synopsis search online will clear it up. They are nice distractions but don't provide any information that we have not seen before. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
The Hot Spring Trilogy
We've now hit the middle of the season so it's time for some fan service-y filler episodes. In Haruhi they went to Koizumi's beach house to solve a murder, in Nagato Yuki-chan they're heading to Tsuruya's Hot Springs under th...

Annotated Anime: GANGSTA episodes 3-4

Aug 03 // Anthony Redgrave
We know already that Nic is a deaf mixed race killing machine and is feared in the town because of his dog tag. But we don't know that much about Worick apart from his faux pirate appearance. Episode 3 introduces Worick's other job as a Gigolo. Yep, good looks can't be wasted in Ergastulum as his past had caused him to enter the sex trade from an early age. Unlike Alex, Worick isn't strong armed into continuing this profession which makes for an interesting comparison between the two. The Handymen don't only deal death and sex but also drugs, Twilight drugs to be exact. This drug is a critical part of the story as Alex and Nic make their rounds through the city emphasizing the necessity and reach the drug has on the town.  The next episode explores how Nic met Worick. We find that Worick was educated as a young man and Nic was assigned as his bodyguard. Like all great duos they didn't initially get along due to Worick feeling sour for receiving a disabled bodyguard but they do warm to each other. Or should I say, Worick cools off about Nic's disability. I find with GANGSTA's story telling a little hard to follow at times. This might be intentional as it's gradually feeding information to the viewer as showing its whole hand would ruin the big reveals but it's hard to grasp the lore when there are multiple names used interchangeably i.e. dog tags, Twilight, Twilight drugs. That's when I have to resort to wiki to set things straight but potentially ruin major plot points. The episode ends with Nic engaging with another dog tag of the same rank. I'm really hoping the next episode opens with some action. GANGSTA has shown it's got an interesting world and it would be a cherry on top of a blood filled sundae if it has some great fight sequences.  I wonder if they're gonna meet a dog tag that Nic doesn't have to slice and dice? [GANGSTA streams on FUNimation] Ergastulum
That's Nic's Girl
I tend not to look too deeply into a new anime series' before I watch them. If I'm a late comer then I'll do a quick wiki search to get a feel for the show before diving in but apart from that I came into GANGSTA like a sprin...

Attack on Titan: Junior High preview released

Aug 02 // Soul Tsukino
The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first day of the school year ceremony. A guest arrives to watch over the ceremony. The reaction is one of surprise. But as you can see things stray a bit from how these events played out in the original. Yeah, this is gonna be a different kind of Titan series.. I mean THIS is the school they are going to: It looks like the Industrial arts wing of Hogwarts. I mean the titans are still scary. But I have a hard time seeing this series having people chewed in half or having met their end going face first into a giant tree. But fear not! This little preview DOES show there is a lot of eating going on. I just D'awwwwed. I bet you did too, be honest. The series looks to be released sometime in October of this year, so in the meantime see this preview of the adventures of Mini-Erin and all his buddies. [embed]34116:4965:0[/embed]     The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first-day school ceremony.
Attack on Titan photo
But will Senpai notice them?
The mega-popular anime and manga series Attack on Titan has played host to several spin-off stories from the series. Now you can add one more to the list with Attack on Titan: Junior High, where things get slightly smaller, a...

Nisekoi: Who has the best claim to Raku's Heart?

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
All the suitors without keysIf Nisekoi had made anything clear on Raku's true love it's that he had given her a key. This is bad news for Tsugumi and Haru as they don't have or have not revealed their keys in the show. Relationship wise they are also the furthest from Raku and are indirectly linked via another love interest; Tsugumi is Chitoge's bodyguard and Haru is Kosaki's younger sister. They may have their fantasy crushes on the young master, but he only sees them as friends. I guess friend zoning exists in anime as it does in real life.  3) Onodera KosakiIt pains me to put my favourite girl at the bottom of this short list, but there isn't enough hard evidence to support her claim. Kosaki only has her key and a vague history about playing with Chitoge and Raku as a child. But the show does present her as the most likely candidate. Raku and Kosaki have romantic feelings for one another and they the share the most "flag" moments throughout the show's two seasons. Their relationship can be compared to Persona 3's protagonist and Yukari Takeba from Persona 3, it is strongly hinted but not canon if you choose not to pursue her in-game. Raku's flashback to the promised girl always depicts her with brown hair and since Onodera is the only girl with dark brown hair this can be another strong indicator. However, hair can be dyed and flashback images always change depending who tells the story (especially if it's a teenager talking about their extremely young adolescence) so this cannot be counted as strong evidence. I'll get to the picture book evidence a bit later. Until Kosaki takes Miyamoto's advice and womans up she will be stuck in last place.  2) Chitoge KirisakiThe only one that is in a relationship with Raku even if it's a fake one. Chitoge has a strong claim as Raku's true love starting with their history as recounted by their parent's. The Bee Hive and Yakuza have had dealings in the past so it is likely that Raku and Chitoge had met before. Kosaku only really remembers her middle school days with Raku and her mother doesn't recognise Raku when he starts working there over summer. But Chitoge's parents do recognise Raku as the boy that Chitoge had played with as a child on multiple separate occasions. This means she had met and interacted with Raku in the past before they had met again in high school years later. In the latter half of the second season, Chitoge's ribbon leads onto a key item; the picture book that connects Chitoge, Kosaki, and Raku. Young Raku liked the girl wearing a ribbon in the picture book so Chitoge asked her mother Hana for one. The same ribbon can still be seen on Chitoge as it represents her love for her mother, but previously it was to impress young Raku. In the finale of the episode, the same picture book could be seen in Kosaki's room. If we're being cynical it could be a coincidence that Kosaki had the same book but it doesn't explain why a teenage high school girl would still have it in her room. My best guess is that she kept it close because of sentimental value or she still uses it on a regular basis seeing that it is out and not stored on the bookshelf.  What puts Chitoge at number 2 occurs mid-way through season 1 as she attempts to open Raku's lock with her key and it breaks. According to the Nisekoi Wikia, Chitoge possesses "immense strength" and "astonishing amounts of sheer power". Even though these adjectives cannot be quantified it can be assumed that she has the power to break a thin bit of metal like a key with her fingers. A wrong turn inside the lock could break the key using her strength, but it's more likely is that it doesn't fit. Opening Raku's locket is the definitive piece of evidence for being the chosen girl regardless of everything else and if the key doesn't fit then you're not the one.  1) Marika TachibanaAs a character Marika fluctuates up and down my favourites list. She is the spoiled Veronica to Kosaki's sweet girl next door Betty but isn't afraid of putting in 110%. She's sneaky, very flirtatious, and a tad bipolar but also very genuine in her feelings for Raku. She's not after money, status, or superficiality and is completely infatuated with the boy because of her memories of him. In fact out of all the girls she has the best memory of the boy and why she is in love with him. Her flashbacks are detailed, numerous, and even though we don't see his face, his blue spikey hair is recognisable. Just like Chitoge their families have had a history of previous dealings with one another. Even Raku's father states that Marika is Raku's fiance before they have even met. Excluding the possibility of senility that comes with old age, Raku's father would have a decent memory to support the proposal whether it was from Raku himself or an arranged one between Police and Yakuza.  The problem is that Raku doesn't feel the same way towards Marika as he does towards Kosaki or Chitoge. There's never a moment where Marika captures his eyes and instead the gendered stereotype roles are reversed with Marika pursuing Raku. Raku is actively uncomfortable with Marika's advances but appreciates her company and friendship. The show definitely hints at Raku falling for Chitoge gradually because of their unique relationship, but it's never shown for Raku and Marika.  If effort could be considered then she would be ahead by a landslide. Giant sculptures of Raku made out of chocolate, rigorous training to become the perfect girl for Raku, and in an extremely sweet scene the end of an OVA saving penny by penny for Raku's dream house that he drew with Marika when they were younger. Her efforts go beyond those of Kosaki and Chitoge but are mainly played off for laughs without the impact having an effect.  Getting back to brass tacks there are two pieces of evidence that put Marika in the top spot. She has a key (although it hasn't been tested yet) and an old photo showing them together with Raku's father. This supports Raku's father's testament on Marika being the girl Raku was going to be engaged to. This is the closest we have come to locking down who Raku's chosen girl is due to her past connections with Raku supporting solid evidence in the form of a photograph, witness testimonies to the engagement, and strong memories of the pair interacting in the past. The picture book that bind Chitoge and Kosaki together is missing but to me it just says that Raku liked the girl in the book, he doesn't say the girl looked like the promised girl or any connection to the promised girl. The book may have inspired the locket and keys idea but without more information about this book I cannot draw any other conclusions. With the second season OVA coming up maybe we'll be getting some more information on Raku's true love. I'm still a huge supporter of Marika at this point, but I have a feeling it'll wrap up with Kosaki and Raku in a Hollywood ending. I would love to see a fan voted ending a la visual novel with a good, bad, individual girl and harem endings.  So who do you think will end up with Raku? Will there be another key contesting for Raku's heart? Put a comment below cause I love to hear your theories and thoughts on this. 
Nisekoi photo
Best Girl Battle Royale
Nisekoi is a series that was a chore for me to watch especially during the first season. Too many overreactions over misunderstandings that dragged each episode out to its obvious conclusion. There wasn't a massive amoun...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 702

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The Doflamingo family were world nobles living in Mariejois, but the patriarch decided to leave to give his family a more humble life. It could be he was under the impression of "the grass is greener on the other side" but when you live in Mariejois also known as the Holy Land of One Piece I don't think you can get any greener grass. Sadly the Doflamingo family are not seasoned veterans of the property market as they move into a village that absolutely hate the World Nobles. It's not like the family did anything wrong or were misunderstood by the villagers leading to a tragic backlash. The people living around them loathe the world nobles for their history of slavery and treatment towards the outside world. Like a tumbling snowball, things go from bad to worst as the Doflamingo family are forced into hiding and are hunted on a daily basis by the residents of the North Blue. This is where another episode would've helped viewers empathize with Doflamingo as we can already see he and Corazon had had a rough childhood, but it was all crammed into the first half of this episode. Literally the patriarch of the Doflamingo family introduces himself to the villagers at the market and is immediately attacked. No provocation, no misunderstanding, just pure hatred.  Back in the present Corazon covers for Law despite the latter's attack on the former and much to Law's surprise he is accepted into the Doflamingo family. The proceeding montage of Law bonding with the other family members is nice as we finally see some happy moments amongst an enemy crew. It's nice to see that these villains aren't one-dimensional killing machines, but they value each other's presence and companionship. The way the episode is presented helps me understand Doflamingo more as a person. He maintains the ruthlessness of a World Noble but values his family that he had lost to commoners thus having no remorse for slavery and absolutely hating anyone thinking they are above him. This makes it even more intriguing why he ended up killing his brother and father.  The episode concludes with Law stating his real name and adding himself to the list of D. members. Corazon also speaks and sparks the beginning of how Law became indebted to Doflamingo's brother. Corazon's voice is badass and didn't think it would fit a goofy violent guy dressed as a clown. It's sad knowing that we won't hear that voice for much longer as I think he will meet his demise in the next two episodes.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Yep this one's pretty good
Doflamingo remains one of my favourite One Piece villains. Despite the shit I had to put up with in Dressrosa it is all worth it to see the good episodes. Doflamingo has one of the more interesting backstories of all the characters in One Piece and I love how you can see how it had directly affected his personality and actions. 

First Impressions: Bikini Warriors

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The answer is "Yes, but not at 30 minutes apiece". The archaic simulacra of fearsome adventurers wearing nothing more than a napkin worth of armor is played for humour purposes rather than an epic adventure. Standing at 4 minutes each the first episode sets the tone by having our heroes, only being defined by their class or in the case of the dark elf her race wiping on a dungeon due to their impractical outfits. One shopping trip later they are back dungeoneering with better gear but still in their revealing unmentionables and succeeding this time due to the "higher stats" of the armour. And that's it. Each of the three episodes explores a fantasy RPG trope from ungrateful kings to adventurer's rights to plunder any home. These are one note gags so it's good that they had the courtesy of limiting each episode to 4 minutes instead of padding it out a 30-minute episode with fan service. That is not to say Bikini Warriors is light on the cheesecake. I think I spent most of the first episode staring at the Warriors crotch area and not because I'm a red blooded male. It's because they re-use the same shot of her getting knocked back with the camera fixated on the genital region about 4 times. Every episode ends with the leads being humiliated in some way, sometimes it's karmically just and others it's maliciously cruel. If it were a more adult show there would be a lot more un-consensual things that occur after the credits.  I'm all for a cheeky tease and a wink from la belle du jour, but some of the endings of Bikini Warriors leave a sour taste in my mouth. I know it's an acquired fetish but when it's just to get the girls out of their already revealing outfits and into nothing without it feeling fair or consensual makes me feel uncomfortable.  The leads are varied and have some nice character designs and differing personalities. The pink haired warrior is cursed with the wet blanket personality and uninspired character design channeling the spirit of Tyris Flare from the Sega Genesis Golden Axe series. The Wizard is the child of the group but has been gifted with a sizable rack like the rest of the cast. I would think a flat chest would suit her character better, but I guess you won't get the same effect in a bikini. Rounding out the party is the ditzy Paladin and an older sister Dark Elf.  If it weren't for the short run time I wouldn't have given Bikini Warriors a watch in the first place. It's a condensed fan service heavy show that doesn't require a huge commitment to follow each episode and it'll be interesting where they will take the show once they start running out of fantasy tropes. 
Bikini Warriors photo
They're Warriors In Bikinis
I think we are all aware of the ridiculous concept of armour for females in a fantasy setting. As males level up they get to wear more extravagant armour while the ladies are rewarded with higher statistical armour but is represented as beach wear rather than fighting gear. It's a silly trope that is still used to this day. But can there be an interesting anime based off it? 

Annotated Anime: GATE episodes 4-5

Aug 01 // Josh Tolentino
When last we left Itami and his scouting platoon, they'd just blown the crap out of a giant dragon with a rocket launcher and timely help from Chuka the naked elf and Rory Mercury, the goth-loli demigoddess that's taken a liking to the "Warriors in Green". As the squad returns to the newly-built SDF base built on Arnus Hill (and an attractive and defensible star shape, to boot), Itami inadvertently takes a centrally important role once again, thanks to his decision to take in native refugees. The brass are still figuring out what to do about the "Special Region", and those with a mind for geopolitics are contemplating the implications of Japan's access to new, virtually untouched real estate. Will the soldiers Glorious Nippon have to gird their loins, not just to fight the locals, but against people from their own world?  That's the question looming over episode 4, and where GATE tips its political hand just a bit. Maybe this sort of logic - added to the portrayal of non-Japanese Earthlings as craven opportunists - prompted folks to declare it a work of right-wing nutjobbery. And while that characterization is doubtless crude, I'm inclined to think the offense is coming mainly from Americans unused to seeing America portrayed as being real "sinister", at least not alongside the Chinese. Crude characterization is what it is, but so far GATE's distrust of foreign powers is hardly unusual and fits (albeit awkwardly) in the premise of a more "realistic" contemplation of cross-dimensional relations. Foreign policy critiques aside, the incident makes Itami look more appealing as a protagonist. I've always had a soft spot for those sorts of Tylor-esque, Is-He-An-Idiot-Or-A-Genius types, and Itami fits the bill to a tee. He might just be far more cunning than anyone (at least, anyone from his side of the gate) is willing to give him credit for, and that's how he'll be the one to end up changing both worlds before this is all over. The episodes also catch up with the refugees, all amazed by baths, food, Daikon radishes, MOPP suits, earth movers, and the practice of saying "itadakimasu" before meals. Chuka the elf seems to be acting as if her father is still alive (you never can tell with elf magic), and is also quite out of sorts about how to repay the soldiers for their aid. Thankfully, some dragon scales turn up, lest the girls have to resort to taking up The Oldest Profession. The show also takes some time to catch up with the hilariously named Pina Co Lada, princess of the Empire that sent the soldiers through the Gate the first time. She's on her way to find out more about the Warriors in Green, and has been caught up defending the city of Italica from bandits that just so happen to have once been members of the Empire's allied armies. Y'know, the ones the Emperor sent to get killed by the JSDF so as not to pose a threat to the depleted Imperial forces. Incidentally, Italica happens to be where Itami and co. show up to sell their scales. Come to think of it, the more interesting story in GATE right now is less about how the people of our world deal with the discovery of the Special Region, but how the people of the Special Region deal with the disruption caused by their interactions with our world. It may have been the Empire that first sent its troops to rampage through Ginza, but by and large the world most changed by that war isn't ours. Over on the other side, most of the furor lies in political maneuvering and question as to finding out just what the JSDF is doing on the other side of the Gate.  Compare that to the impact of the JSDF's incursion on the Empire. The Empire lost most of its army, as well as nearly every noble leader. The Emperor sent his own allies to slaughter under the JSDF's guns, to put their armies in the same dire straits as his. Villages like Coda and towns like Italica were left leaderless, barely able to defend themselves against bandits. It's an interesting dynamic to see in anime, and perspectives from this angle of the less-powerful are all too uncommon, even if the current storyline, which has Pina cooperating with Itami's squad to break the siege of Italica seems like it's just going to be used as fodder to demonstrate the soldiers' moral superiority once again. Where GATE has been stumbling seems to come from the same place as those ridiculous kill counts from the earlier episodes. The need to demonstrate the dramatic difference in power between the modern-day soldiers and their quasi-medieval opponents has ironically undermined the show's own premise somewhat. It's the same with GATE's ostensible dedication to some form of realism. And I'm not just talking about its 2ch-level grasp of geopolitics, either. For example, why are the press back on Earth so in-the-dark as to what's happening on the other side, when Itami is apparently able to update his favorite light novels via broadband internet? Can't someone just email the soldiers or send a TV signal through as well?  Further, how could anyone say the JSDF's made "peaceful first contact" with the natives when the first thing they did upon crossing the threshold is slaughter a whole generation? If the Special Region is anywhere close to the real-world's population levels around the medieval age, losing 100,000 able-bodied men, not to mention most of the Empire's ruling class, would have far more dire consequences. Chances are the people of Coda should've run screaming as soon as they heard of the Warriors in Green coming, Fire Dragon be damned.  That all sounds like nitpicking, and it definitely is, but in fairness, it's GATE that first asked us to do it with its very premise. We can hardly be blamed for complaining when a story that claims to be realistic doesn't match up to what we know from our own lives.  This isn't to say that it's all for naught. GATE is a fun and engaging watch so far, but a little more verisimilitude would be welcome. [Catch GATE on Crunchyroll!]        
GATE photo
Eh, It's A Living
I like GATE so far. Far from earlier rumors seemingly trumpeting it as "Japan's Tea Party: The Anime", the show has been a thoughtful and interesting take on a topic close to my nerdy heart. And with some of the action r...

Hammerhead photo

Animator Expo's 25th short is ready to smash things up

It's Hammering Time!
Jul 31
// Salvador GRodiles
It seems that I was right about the Japan Animator Expo project returning this week since their latest short is up on their site. Since this is the first episode of the series' third season, it's fitting for the 25t...

First Impressions: God Eater episodes 1-3

Jul 30 // Josh Tolentino
The good news is, that visually, God Eater is one of the best-looking shows I've seen in years. And it's not just getting by on style, either. Ufotable, as is their way, has created a technical tour de force with their newest series, using multi-layered shading and coloring techniques to create a unique look for God Eater, as well as finally make an anime where CG creations - in this case, the Aragami monsters and large parts of the backgrounds - don't stick out like a sore thumb.  That doesn't sound huge on its own, but considering the way CG is employed in most traditional 2D anime, it's significant. The few shows to do it well were often all-CG (like Fireball Charming or, err...Sega Hard Girls) or kept the 2D and 3D portions carefully separated (like Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and Etotama). Even Ufotable itself never quite managed the blend with last season's Unlimited Blade Works adaptation. They kept mostly to digital effects, and the CG still looked awkward and out-of-place when used for things like Caster's skeleton warriors or that red water pouring out of the Holy Grail. In most 2D shows, you can usually tell when something's been modeled someone CG comes in just by looking. Whether it's slightly flat colors or an unusual slowness (or smoothness) to the movement, being able to spot the CG in an anime is the "Conspicuously Light Patch" of its age.  To be perfectly honest, that's still technically true in God Eater. It's easy to tell that the Aragami are mostly done in CG, and it's more evident when both monsters and people are on the screen together. Still, the blend on display is better than ever, to the point that after watching the stream on Daisuki, I deliberately sought out a higher-resolution version of the broadcast to see for myself. God Eater just looks that good. More's the pity, then, that the narrative portions of the show simply don't live up to the lavish visuals. In fact, many of the fears some Ufotable fans had about the studio's ability to take on a "heavy" narrative show after five years adapting Type-MOON's "Nasu-verse" for the screen have proven at least partly true so far. Without the dense (and more importantly pre-existing) fiction of the Fate franchise to back it up, God Eater comes across as an Attack on Titan clone where righteous anger has been replaced by a dreary, somewhat undeserved sense of self-importance. It's not all Ufotable's fault, of course. God Eater compared favorably to Monster Hunter in the story department mainly by virtue of actually having a story. As a TV series, God Eater faces much stronger competition, not least of all Ufotable's own stellar work expanding Unlimited Blade Works, just weeks ago. I'd have hoped that they'd be able to make God Eater's world seem less threadbare than in the game, but instead the early results actually seem more stilted than before. In a bitter irony, the game versions of the characters actually seem livelier than in the anime, despite the anime having more "cutscene" in the first three episodes than in the entirety of the game itself. The setup is simple: Ravenous monsters called "Aragami" have destroyed most of humanity, which now hides behind large walled cities under the administration of FENRIR, which employs "God Eaters", warriors that gain superhuman ability when infused with Oracle Cells (the same ones as in the Aragami). God Eaters wield massive weapons called God Arcs to defend mankind's last sanctuaries against the monstrous hordes.  Lenka Utsugi is a newly recruited God Eater in FENRIR's Far East branch. Quite, stoic, and obsessed with taking vengeance upon the Aragami for eating his loved ones, Lenka's a "New-type", who can wield a new, transforming variant of God Arc. His can turn from a massive sword into a massive gun. Being talented, though, makes no substitute for experience, and Lenka's impulsiveness quickly gets him into trouble, forcing the veterans of the 1st Squad, including laid-back badass Lindow Amamiya and his pals Soma and Sakuya to bail him out. Naturally, the kid's got that "something" about him, and by episode 3, Lenka and the squad are working together, and meeting Alisa, another Russian New-type who's got a great hat and, judging by the underboob, might have had the rest of her outfit chosen by her creepy scientist mentor/father-figure. I'm not the kind of guy to go drawing parallels to Attack on Titan When everyone an anime features gross monsters and the people who fight them in a bleakly-toned story, but in this case the parallels are warranted, and unfortunately leave God Eater wanting. The raw anger and passion that underpinned the mood of Eren Jager's saga is here replaced with a dull kind of stoicism. Lenka's strong-but-silent demeanor may be an improvement from the goofball harem tediousness of the God Eater manga's lead, but not by much, and certainly not enough to make Lenka a better lead overall. Worse, points of characterization and flavor that helped the game set a mood in spite of a barebones plot are excised or missing in action here. Story points that might have made God Eater feel less, for lack of a better word, generic, like the privileged status of the God Eater corps or other dynamics, are nowhere to be found, leaving a by-the-numbers "soldiers at the end of the world" moodiness in its place. To be fair, it's still early going, and the show is already forging some newer territory by using flashbacks to the apparent origin of the Aragami and its involvement with FENRIR's higher-ups. It's a sign that Ufotable is beginning to plumb deeper into the lore, which has historically been a strength of theirs as opposed to natural-feeling characterization. Events are moving at a good clip, too, skipping over some of the game's high school shenanigans (at the time used to lazily deploy exposition without spending on animation), so it might not be long before all of it takes a more intriguing turn. Still, there's no avoiding the sense here that some opportunities to make God Eater a more vibrant setting have been missed, and I've no doubt that at least some viewers not hooked on the visuals were turned away by this early narrative blandness. Heck, I'd probably drop the show if I weren't already interested in seeing my favorite MonHun clone get some love.
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No Free Lunch
I've said time and again that God Eater is one of the best - if not the best - attempt yet by competing publishers to take a sip out of Capcom's giant Monster Hunter milkshake. With God Eater, developer Sh...

Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

Here's a quick sample of Animator Expo's Third Season

Summer is about to become cool
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
At last, the Japan Animator Expo project has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming season. From the looks of it, the third installment sounds like it'll be better than ever. I mean, we get to see another Tsuburaya hero g...

First Impressions: GATE episodes 1-3

Jul 23 // Josh Tolentino
Of course, future episodes of GATE could prove me entirely wrong. The game of subtext is a perilous thing, and if you can find strange ultranationalist right-wing readings in everything from Mahouka to Knights of Sidonia to Attack on Titan, a show that openly stars members of the actual Japanese military (or "Self-Defense Force" if you want to get technical) is even more vulnerable to that kind of examination. Still, based on the evidence at hand, GATE is a perfectly serviceable fantasy with an interesting nerd-catnip hook. It's the hook that does more work than any one aspect of the show thus far. After all, for about as long as fantasy fiction has existed as a genre, people have been wondering how the medieval, swords-and-sorcery mores of your average Tolkienesque would match up against the grim products of the military-industrial complex. Put plain, we've always wanted to see how Gandalf, Frodo, or Sauron might fare against a machine gun, tank cannon, or jet fighter. If you think that sounds likes a simplistic sort of thrill to base an anime on, you're right. "Guns vs. Dragons" is only a few steps removed from "Boobs" on the scale of primal urges driving creativity, but that doesn't mean thought can't be put into its execution, and on that front, GATE does deliver. A portal opens up in the middle of a Ginza thoroughfare, belching out tens of thousands of orcs, ogres, pig-men, quasi-Roman soldiers, and assorted fantasy staples to wreak havoc on Tokyo's innocents. The man in just the right time and place is 33-year-old Youji Itami, an off-duty soldier and doujinshi-loving otaku, whose training helps save lives just in time for the army to repel the invasion. Fast forward three months and a new Prime Minister (I like this particular off-hand joke about how long it takes to get things done) wants to flex Glorious Nippon's muscle by sending a couple of divisions of Self-Defense Force troops through the titular "Gate", to secure a place on the other side and force the dastardly invaders into negotiations.  One incursion and a second slaughter of fantasy troops later, and Youji is placed in charge of a recon team assigned to probe the countryside on "hearts and minds" duty, which is where the story begins proper, complete with a dragon fight, elf-lady rescue, and the requisite encounter with a gothic lolita (named "Rory", no less) demigoddess. This is the point where GATE reveals itself less to be some strange creature born of secret militaristic urges than a spinoff of the now monolithic "trapped in another world" subgenre of light novel adventures. It is kissing cousins less with preachy alt-history explorations like Zipang or The Final Countdown than with genre, er..."classics" like Familiar of Zero, Sword Art Online, and even Log Horizon.  Its closest relative would be Outbreak Company, though the otaku pandering in GATE is so far limited to portraying Youji and his pal as unashamed geeks and pushing the story into familiar harem-assembly patterns. Already you can see the shape of the show's romantic polygon as the taciturn wizard, bouncy elf, saucy goddess, and normal fellow-human girls take their places in the roster. Honestly the main thing that distinguishes GATE's storytelling has been in the soldiers themselves. Given that creator Takumi Yanai was formerly in the JSDF, it's hardly surprising that the story would be friendly to "the troops", but in light of that history, it's also telling about just which parts of the service GATE is happiest to play up. While the blowout victories against the natives is predictable, the shows spends most of its time showing off Youji and his comrades less as warriors than public servants. Most of the soldier glory shots in the opening sequence are of folks in uniform generally being helpful, pulling carts out of ditches and giving rides to refugees fleeing a dragon attack. Youji himself displays an unusual (for typical portrayals of soldiers, at least) wariness of force and its use, refusing to call for backup to avoid risking innocents or provoking the enemy, and generally being a laid-back, intuitive leader. The shades of Irresponsible Captain Tylor And Yang Wen-li are welcome, and help defuse the potential for jingoistic chest-beating in the early goings. Even the enemy gets comparatively sensitive treatment, with the rank and file types portrayed more as victims in a power play wrought by craven leadership (on both sides of the Gate) than bloodthirsty savages. If there's one thing that doesn't quite square with this even-handed treatment, it's in the abject slaughter and seemingly effortless victory of the modern forces. I mean, sure they've got machine guns and artillery support, but it just doesn't feel right that they're effortlessly gunning down a hundred thousand troops in a single night's battle. By all logic the mere first round of shelling and gunfire should've balked the enemy into routing or stalemate rather than to just dumbly march into the bullets, no matter how foolhardy the generals. I'm not any kind of realism purist here, but the body count just seems unnecessarily inflated to make the disparity in force more dramatic. Besides that, GATE shows a lot of potential to be a fun and eminently watchable bit of summer anime. With a bit of luck, it won't get too bogged down in the less compelling harem wish-fulfillment aspects, further capitalizing on its hook and sensitive characterization.
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Hellish Dragon v. Hellfire Missiles
Confession time: When I first set out to write about GATE, I was actually prepared to defend it. That's a weird stance to take with regards to a program I had yet to even watch, I'll admit, but I really was about to get all p...

OP Up! Virtual Reality Edition

Jul 22 // Red Veron
[embed]34079:4947:0[/embed]"database"Anime: Log Horizon 2A really great show about what would happen if people were trapped in a VR MMO game. No, this isn't about the main character being super strong and crushing everyone that faces him (Log Horizon features real character development). This one is more than that, it features politics and some social consequences of what might happen in such a setting.[embed]34079:4948:0[/embed]"Prism"Anime: Dennou CoilA definite must watch for anyone who likes anything Ghibli and the works of Satoshi Kon with a light dash of Ghost in the Shell. This one is about a near future where kids have augmented reality glasses and it has been long enough where urban legends have sprung up about AR technology. Combining the imagination of children with the world that this new advanced technology offers creates an amazing setting that is almost magical but still heavily grounded with reality.A cannot recommend this one enough. Try to find this show.[embed]34079:4949:0[/embed]"Obsession" Anime: .Hack//SignOne of the first and most popular anime dealing with virtual reality and being trapped in such a world (Or "The World" is the .Hack series. Part of what we would call a "multimedia experience" nowadays, the franchise spanned more than just anime with video games, manga, novels, card games, etc.[embed]34079:4946:0[/embed]"Ignite"Anime: Sword Art Online 2The main character is strong. There are boobs. There is a guy called Death Gun and has a gun that causes death. A lot of people like this show. I like the opening songs.Did I miss any anime about Virtual Reality? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna know!  
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Living in the Database
They weren't kidding when they said that the 90's is back, one promise of that decade was this exciting new technology called "Virtual Reality". This technology promised to take humans into new worlds beyond our imaginations ...

Final Impressions: Unlimited Blade Works

Jul 16 // Josh Tolentino
Except here, by virtue of Unlimited Blade Works' big reveal, we know that the journey of Shirou Emiya has only just begun. Here, after the world has been saved from a big hole spewing red jelly, and a jerk with blond hair's been taken down a few notches, only here is where Shirou Emiya continues down the path to becoming his ideal self.  It's worth pointing out that that self, not even a day before, had been hell-bent on killing him, but Shirou doesn't care. He doesn't care that Archer, the man he would become, wanted nothing more in the world than to un-become, to kill his younger self before he could suffer the pain of learning the true cost of sticking so doggedly to his ideals. That's a price that, here in episode 24, Shirou Emiya is willing to pay. But we knew that already. Shirou's heroic resolve here isn't in question, and it's been the true ending of this scenario since its time as a visual novel. The boldest thing about 2015's take on Unlimited Blade Works is the very last episode, which is an epilogue, and as far as I can remember, is almost entirely new material.  Set months after the final battle, the last episode explores the rest of the "True End" scenario, where Rin and Shirou have graduated from high school and are studying at the Clock Tower in London, headquarters of the Mage's Association. There we catch up with Shirou's not-so-great fashion sense (ew, green cardigan?!), Rin's new hair, and Luvia Edelfelt, a side character from the not-quite-canon spinoff/expansion, Fate/hollow Ataraxia. Brief words are exchanged with Fate/Zero survivor Waver Velvet, and a visit is paid to the alleged grave of King Arthur himself at Glastonbury Abbey. That's all well and good, and frankly not enough anime series actually have a decent denoument, preferring to end things right after the climax and saving the cooldown for the credits. But the most important thing here is hearing Shirou opt out of enrolling at the school, instead opting to do...whatever it is he planned to do next in his quest to become a Hero of Justice. Rin not only expects, but supports the decision, allowing him to drag her around for a change. It's a Big Development because at the traditional end of Unlimited Blade Works, we're filled with hope that the future can be changed, that Shirou would grow up differently, and become someone other than the Archer that would die for his beliefs and spend a purgatory enslaved to an unfeeling cosmic force, every moment confronted with the impossibility of his dreams.  And yet here, we see him consciously, deliberately, rejecting that potential outcome. Here, he's choosing to take another step down the road to becoming the white-haired, dark-skinned, red-clad cynic that seemed to hate everything that he became. At the same time, though, that's where all the difference lies. Shirou himself, through the crucible of confronting his own future, has chosen to accept it, judging the consequence to be worthwhile. He knows how impossible his dream is: A world where no one will ever have to suffer. But he's judged the struggle to put it into being to be worth the pain it will cause him, and possibly the compromises he'll be forced to make. That might sound fatalistic, but contrast his self-awareness here to the essential tragedy of his father, Kiritsugu. All his life, Kiritsugu made those compromises while searching for a miracle with the power to undo the need for sacrifice. Finding out that that miracle didn't exist was what broke him. Shirou faced the same challenge, but thanks in part to seeing - and fighting - his own future, as well as knowing how it turned out for dear old dad, chose to accept that cost. It's an interesting contrast to other, similar stories, especially once you try reading it - as so many other anime can be read - as a parable on growing up and learning to live with the hypocrisies and compromises of adult life. So many heroic stories reward protagonists for never compromising on their ideals. The takeaway for the teenaged Japanese audiences is to highlight the virtue in sticking to one's own guns, and never to accept the old men who undermine one's resolve with platitudes about "how the world works".  Here, though, Unlimited Blade Works, and more specifically this particular adaptation of it, shows another side of that resolve, acknowledging the truth about ideals: That they come at at price, and are often impossible to achieve, and that the true heroism lies not in simply holding those ideals, but to seek them all the same in the face of that impossibility, and to judge the price worth paying. 
Unlimited Blade Works photo
The Life After
And so the hero's journey begins. That's actually the weird thing here, as in these kinds of stories, most heroes are "born" at the beginning of the tale. A Link To The Past's hero is born when a green-clad youth leaves ...

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