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Annotated Anime: Owarimonogatari Episodes 2-6

Nov 08 // Anthony Redgrave
Episode 2-3: Sodachi Riddle The opening to each Monogatari arc fits in with the theme, belle du jour, and style the arc is portraying but rarely do I find myself watching them all the way through. Sodachi Riddle is one of the rare exceptions where I really liked the opening. The jazzy instruments, mezzo-soprano vocals, and reflective imagery invoked a mysterious detective vibe, perfect for what the arc had in store.  The story does take us back to the present with Araragi meeting with Sodachi after two years. She has mysteriously come back to school after Araragi had solved the case in the last episode. Thinking the past was behind them, Araragi tries to strike up a friendly conversation with the former class president. It's odd to see Araragi being formally friendly. Normally his sullen look is only broken by an appearance of a loli character or Senjougahara. The sudden change in color from the corridor's warm inviting orange to cool mysterious blue once in the classroom stages the uncertainty of how Sodachi is going to react to Araragi's presence. Suffice to say it's not a friendly reunion. So much so that Senjougahara intervenes putting Sodachi out cold and leaving Araragi to solve another mystery. The story continues with Ougi in tow as Araragi dives back into his past and the origins of his relationship with Sodachi. Ougi's presence is great as she is always one step ahead of Araragi, probing and pointing into Araragi to the right direction. Her friendly personality and helpful demeanor in pushing Araragi makes us completely forget about her ghostly appearance. The arc ends nicely with the main puzzle solved and leaves enough strings curiously un-tied to help lead into the next arc.  Episodes 4-6: Sodachi Lost It's time to tackle the present problem of Sodachi tardiness. But who does Araragi choose as his partner in crime? This is the basis for the first episode of Sodachi lost as we have two contenders; newcomer Ougi or dear sweet Hanekawa. Ougi has already shown her deductive prowess in the first few episodes so she should be the obvious choice. However, we have known Hanekawa longer and she is one of the best at socializing amongst the Monogatari cast. It is also worth noting that Hanekawa is class president so is responsible for the wellbeing of her student body. This would've been a dramatic choice that needed to be made if it weren't for the series tradition of starting each arc in media res.  It doesn't suck all the drama out of the moment. The verbal catfight that ensues between Hanekawa and Ougi is great with the backdrop of congested traffic and factories spewing smoke amongst a red sky framing the entire scene. I really liked how Ougi interacts with Araragi in this scene too. The way she persuades and worms her way into Araragi's head confirms our suspicions that she is one not to be kept too close.  The middling episode of this arc is verbally draining. You may need to prime your eyes for fast subtitles if they are out of shape. Araragi and co. arrive at Sodachi's new residence and confront her about her tardiness. This spills into Sodachi's past, her outlook on life, and why she hates Araragi and her past connections with him. We learn lots about this girl and there aren't a lot of light moments here. Her past is dark and explores domestic violence, neglect, and jealousy. These themes have been explored with other girls in the series but none that refused Araragi's aid. There has been no mention of oddities at this moment so all the bad things happening to Sodachi is real. No external forces requiring exorcising, no supernatural beings, Sodachi was born into a harsh environment making her suffering hit harder than the others. The episode concludes with Sodachi burying the hatchet with Araragi and only returning to school if they can find her mother.  The mother search doesn't require much traveling. Ougi rendezvous with her sempai taunting Hanekawa at her lack of an explanation for her mother's disappearance. Ougi's manipulative nature almost gets to Araragi as she will explain it all if Araragi begs for the answer. Hanekawa makes Araragi refuse the request and asks for 10 seconds to figure out the answer. It's the most intense 10 seconds hair was you will see in anime. I know that last sentence doesn't make much sense and it doesn't make much sense in the context of the anime either, but it does look really cool. Now both the heroines know the answer and it's just us and Araragi that are still in the dark. What follows is both girls giving out various hints hoping to lead Araragi and us to the answer. It's a really good part of the episode as it got my brain working trying to decipher the various hints being spewed out at lightning speed. The answer is equally as dark as the episode that precedes it. The ending to Sodachi Lost takes up the second half of the episode 6 and is filled with warm cozy visuals and Araragi's nonchalant voice recapping the aftermath. The final scene is open-ended allowing for viewer speculation on what was written on the letter. Personally I think it's a thank you in the form of a mathematics problem that only Araragi was able to decipher thanks to his practice with Sodachi.  [Watch Owarimonogatari on Crunchy Roll!] her friendly personality and helpful demeanor in pushing Araragi 
Monogatari photo
Hanekawa's boobs > Ougi
Since I've been behind on recapping Owarimonogatari, I was planning on writing a recap every time an arc had finished. This plan would've been perfect as it gave me more time in between each write up to catch up on other stuf...

Week Ender - Hidamari Sketch Edition

Nov 07 // Red Veron
[embed]34457:5155:0[/embed] "Ryusei Record" Anime: Hidamari Sketch x 365 A simple ending for the second season, this one is still full of nice visuals that still shine even in their simplicity.   [embed]34457:5156:0[/embed] "Sakura Sakura Saku: Ano Hi Kimi o Matsu, Sora to Onaji de"" Anime: Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu This is my favorite ending that is a tie with the one from Honeycomb (the last one below), it features the new characters for the first time and just continues the studio's use of nicely done minimal visuals with great music.   [embed]34457:5157:0[/embed] "Nora" Anime: Hidamari Sketch x SP This is a cute one with Yuno sleeping soundly while her friends drop by. Why doesn't this girl lock her door? What?   [embed]34457:5158:0[/embed] "Yumo Gumo" Anime: Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb I absolutely love this one. Full of color and a beautiful song, this one has Yuno sleeping again for half of the thing. I really like the lovely kimonos that sway in the wind that makes this ending such a gorgeous sight.   Is there a slice-of-life anime ending you like? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
We Must Go WIDER
Hidamari Sketch is a show I would recommend to people who like SHAFT (Bakemonogatari, Puella Magi Madoka Magica) and would want something a bit more subtle than their usual outrageous stuff.  It still has a the...

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 5

Nov 05 // Josh Tolentino
The first test of the week, of course, is Saitama and Genos' application to join the Hero Association, the NGO that regulates hero activity in the world of One Punch Man. And what an application it is!  It's easy to get distracted by the visuals and the awesome punching, but another thing that I find great about One Punch Man is its particular take on otherwise western-style superheroes, in part because the whole premise of a "Hero Association" (and even that name!) is so very Japanese. I mean, of course they would rearrange the whole concept of superhero adventures into something managed by a thoroughly bureaucratic process! Having recently taken the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, I could see the shades of it permeating the wholet testing montage (minus the athletic stuff). Sure, we've seen similar twists in the likes of Tiger & Bunny and even Zetman, but it's One Punch Man's interpretation that strikes me as particularly resonant with Japanese culture. I can only imagine how much more resonant it might be with the people who do live over there.  Naturally, once it's over, Genos gets himself catapulted to S-rank hero, while Saitama's poor written testing is rewarded with a C-rank. Between the orientation seminar led by one Snakebite Snek, an A-class jerkface, we see the world of the Hero Association is just as consumed with office politics, factionalization, and hazing the new guys. That's emphasized further with some new material, an impromptu meeting with none other than Amai Mask, celebrity, top-rank A-class hero, and apparently a kingmaker of sorts in the Association, one who's got his eye on Genos. For Saitama, on the other hand,  seeing what used to be a hobby turned into a day job might not be the best thing. It's an interesting thing to point out, as anyone who's ever tried to make a living off  a thing they used to do for fun has experienced. It's not all world-building and highly Japanese superheroics, though. This episode contains my favorite battle of the whole series: A sparring match between Saitama and Genos, with Genos going all out to try and push his "master" and reveal some secret to his power. There's some really great stuff in this fight. Of course, much of it thanks to the manga and Yuusuke Murata's lavish artwork, but there really is something to see it in motion. Madhouse even adds a few embellishments that help push things even further over the top. It's good that we're finally getting more hints of the real substance of One Punch Man's world, in addition to the visual splendor and hilarity of seeing Saitama win at (almost) everything. It took a bit of time, but this episode taps most deeply into the things that have made the manga such a hit with so many people. [Check out One Punch Man on Daisuki and Crunchyroll!]
One Punch Man photo
Passing the test
Things start to pick up in the animated chronicle of the man who Belive In Justice and Hold A Determination To Fist*, as the theme of this week's episode is "testing", whether against bureaucracy, your teacher, or yourself. Let's get some udon when we're done! *Symphogear is the 2nd best punching anime this year *Sorry, Symphogear reference

Cowboy Bebop photo
Cowboy Bebop

Watch this Cowboy Bebop script reading video, Space Cowboy

Toys in the Attic
Nov 03
// Red Veron
Anime purists often argue that subtitled anime is the best kind of anime and snub all dubs, but there is an english anime dub that is almost unanimously loved by all anime fans: Cowboy Bebop. When Cowboy Bebop was brough...

First Impressions: Anitore! EX

Nov 03 // Anthony Redgrave
Anitore! EX can best be described as an anime exercise video made into four-minute episodes. It's those "Get Fit with (insert washed up celebrity here)" videos that plague the discount bins and supermarket media sections except in anime form. Each episode has a different set of exercises and a different girl taking you through them. Of course, if you're not motivated by the tsundere flat chest, maybe the spunky gluttonous one will get you motivated to do some push ups. There isn't much story from each episode but according to the wiki page each girl is an aspiring idol wanting to improve their physique through exercise routines.  Each episode is shot in a POV style with the viewer taking the form of a training partner. I think you are supposed to do the exercises alongside the video. Except since I'm always taking screen shots and trying to read dialogue that mainly consists of "don't forget to exhale" and "hopefully it'll make my breasts bigger too", it's not too effective as an exercise tool. Also, the girls get tired after doing ten reps. I'm not talking just a little winded but sweaty and struggling for the last rep. These girls have a long way to go if they want to achieve that perfect beach body for Summer 2016.  The animation and art style, for the most part, is nice. The girls don't have the most original designs or personalities, but it works for the short duration of each episode. They cater to a specific moe and they all look nice while they work out. The camera has an eye for the female form but thankfully doesn't linger for too long to be part of ecchi territory. The chibi versions of each character are cute and adorable for cheering on the girls as they work out and providing practical tips during each exercise.  There isn't too much substance here. The details on each exercise are minimal and provide a basic explanation on the muscle groups they work out. If you've been on the fence about the concept of working out but have never pushed up or squatted in your life then maybe this is worth a watch. However, I cannot stress that 'maybe' enough. Personally, I've been wanting to add more exercise routines to my repertoire so the 4 minutes episodes filled with cute anime girls isn't a bad investment every week. Just don't be expecting some high or even low-brow stuff with this anime.  [Anitore! EX streams weekly on Crunchy Roll] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
Anitore! EX photo
Get on the Summer body early
There has always been sports anime around that I can never get into. Either I have no interest in the sport or the drama part takes too much away from the sport that I like, or the show is more interested in showing off ...

RIP photo

Voice Actress Miyu Matsuki passes away

Goodbye, Yoshinoya-Sensei
Nov 02
// Red Veron
Miyu Matsuki, who recently went on hiatus due to a case of pneumonia around 3 months ago, tragically passed away last October 27 at the young age of 38. Yes, 38 is young and to lose someone so talented whose work you enjoy be...
Gundam photo

Raise your flag for Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans' chiptune opening

Mars has gone retro
Nov 01
// Salvador GRodiles
With a new Gundam show airing this season, it was only a matter of time until Studio Megaane would use his amazing skills to give Barbatos a retro upgrade. Once again, the guy did an amazing job with capturing the essen...

Annotated Anime: Attack on Titan: Junior High episodes 2-4

Oct 29 // Soul Tsukino
All right, now that the fangirls have stopped screaming, we are introduced to Levi. He is an upperclassman at the school. After taking down a titan so easily, Eren wants to know what club this sempai belongs to so he can learn how to take down titans so easily. But first we see why Armin has been so holed up. He is a weak and sickly little boy who has a Linus-like attachment to his favorite futon blanket. His house is kept at a blazing hot temperature so he doesn't catch a cold. Suddenly Levi bursts into the room and steals Armin's futon before he runs away. Instantly Armin starts sneezing. Even though he is wearing cat pajamas. We catch up to the others and it seems that their attempts at joins clubs have all been disasters. Sasha's run in the culinary club didn't go well since she ate all the ingredients, and the sports clubs all are ruined by titans. They start talking about a super secret club that is trying to change and get rid of the titans, but it is hush-hush. Of course, they find the club room easily and well advertised. We get to see some of the older classmen who are members of the Attack Junior High Scout club, including Oluo who always seems to bite his tongue, Petra, and the ever bonkers  Hange. Eren wants to see Levi again, so the best way to get Levi to arrive? Putting an empty plastic bottle in a trash bin. Levi shows right up and after some begging and pleading, Levi makes them all members of the secret club. Except that the club is unofficial and secret so the school puts them all on wall cleaning duty instead. Episode 3 In this episode, we look at Annie. She doesn't like Eren since he declared he liked cheese burger steak during the opening ceremony, making everyone laugh at him. Annie likes Chee-burg too but doesn't want anyone to know. I'm only guessing, but it makes it sound like in Japan, cheeseburger steak is something for little kids and that junior high students would've grown out of eating it. Annie lies and tells everyone she likes mozuku seaweed. The class dodge ball tournament is coming up and since Annie on a different team than Eren, she vows to crush him, Eren doesn't know why. Each of the classes is split into an A team and a B team. Jean heads up class 4's A team and Annie heads Class 4's B team. Things don't look good for Class 4's A team as Eren hasn't shown up. The rules are that everyone has to play and the team has to cover up that Eren isn't there from Mr. Keith. As a result of being separated from him, Mikasa doesn't have the will to move. Sasha is constantly eating (improving her dodge skill but taking away her hands to catch anything), and Conny doesn't even know what he's doing as he hands the opposing team the ball before being eliminated from the first match. Somehow they survive the match and the team watches as Annie's team crushes their opponents. Class 4's A team tries to dress Jean up as Eren so they won't get in trouble with Mr. Keith, but Annie tells them that if he doesn't show up for the match, she'll tell him anyway. Finally, Eren arrives and instantly Mikasa is revived. The battle goes down as people are eliminated one by one. Eventually, it comes down to Eren and Mikasa against Annie. She uses to advanced technique to keeping hitting Eren with the ball, but since Mikasa keeps recovering the ball after he is hit, he doesn't get eliminated, just gets the crap beaten out of him. Eren asks why Annie hates him so much and she confesses her reason. Eren and Annie make up as the others all applaud. Suddenly the ball taps Annie on the head as Conny finally learns the rules of the game and wins it for class 4. Later at lunch Eren drops his only chee-burg on the ground, so Annie give Eren hers. Mikasa gets made and keeps shoveling fish and veggies in his mouth so he wouldn't pay attention to Annie. Jean speculates a love triangle has been made.  Episode 4 It's time to start cleaning the outer walls! For Eren and the gang, it's the first day of the wall cleaning club that they were shoe-horned into in episode 2. The wall cleaning club once had 100 members, now it's only down to the club president, Rico. So it's up to the first year students to keep the club going!  Each person is assigned a scrub bucket with supplies and are told to clean the windows of the school building. No one likes being there, but since all the human clubs are full, they'd be stuck joining titan clubs instead if they quit. Jean is especially mad since everyone laughs at them and tries to quit, but Rico comes swooping in on the omnidirectional mobility gear and hits him. Instantly everyone falls in love with the new gadget and are told they'd have to work hard to earn the right to wear them. They rush back into the building and clean the windows so well it blinds Rico, who says that even though they are first-year students, he is going to teach them. In a plotline that seems oh so familiar, everyone seems to get the hang of the gear almost instantly, except Eren. He has a moment of existential crisis over being told he'd be kicked out of the club if he couldn't learn to use the gear (Uhh... first year students weren't supposed to be using them anyway. What's the problem?) Until the club advisor, The drunk school janitor Mr. Hannes shows up and straps the gear on, not noticing the belt is damaged and crashing into Jean and the others. Eventually everyone sees the gear is broken. Rico blames Mr. Hannes for it, so she wouldn't look bad. When given a fixed set of gear Eren accomplishes being able to stand upright in it. We then see WHY there is a wall cleaning club in the first place. Yup, Titans are also graffiti making bastards. Eren runs out to try and attack them, but it doesn't end well. See, he only is able to balance in the gear, but Rico hadn't trained him how to properly use it yet.   Overall these three episodes picked up right where the first episode left off. They are fun, cute, and the plot isn't complex. I especially like the work done on episode four with how they were able to parody such an iconic scene from the source show, but still make it work for this universe. As "Weird" Al Yankovic once said of his work, doing original ideas is tough, but parody is even harder. These episodes did a great job at looking at some of Eren's friends and showing some of their funny quirks on top of Eren's adventures. And since I've made it clear who my favorite character is, here is a count of the things Sasha was eating in these eps. An entire box of "sticks" that she nearly choked on, At least 3 yams, at least one baked potato, a bowl of ramen, and a carrot. Surprisingly she didn't eat a thing in episode four. That's no good for a growing young lady like herself! Get her a sammich before she faints! Still love this series and these episodes only made it easier to like it. All right, now that the fan girls have stopped screaming, we are introduced to Levi. He is an upperclassmen at the school. After taking down a titan so easily, Eren wants to know what club this sempai belongs to so he can learn how to take down titans so easily.
Attack on Titan: Jr high photo
Lessons in life, love, and chee-burg
Episode 2 has Eren and the gang wondEreng about the long absence of their classmate Armin. Seems Armin doesn't like to go out in the cold so he hasn't been to school all winter. Eren gets tasked with going to Armin's house to...

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 4

Oct 27 // Josh Tolentino
I am, of course, being facetious here, though the focus of this week's episode is definitely on villains, in particular the redundantly-named "Speed O'Sound Sonic", a sadistic, slender ninja man with a penchant for smiling like a crazy person whenever he gets his blood up.  Like our guy Saitama, he's mainly looking for a challenge, but unlike our guy Saitama, he's a true villain, chopping people's heads off at the slightest provocation with his ninja skills. Fans of the manga will note that Sonic is effectively the series' first true, enduring, antagonist. Though that's not saying a whole lot considering the relative thinness of One Punch Man's plot, knowing he'll come back someday lends the show a sense of continuity that wasn't present in the first three episodes. Also, Saitama accidentally punches Sonic in the junk, in a scene that shows off just how much Madhouse was enjoying animating the sequence: We're also introduced, ever so briefly, to Mumen Rider, the cyclist for justice. Considering his positioning in the intro sequence, as well as the surprisingly long scene and detailed animation he gets, even non-readers might be suspecting a recurring role in store for him. Spoiler alert: They're right! Besides the glorious junk-punishment meted out to the speedy ninja, we're treated to yet more spiffy takes on the manga scenes, such as a series of hyper-accelerated beheadings, courtesy of Sonic, and the local villain Hammerhead powering up his Battle Suit like the Dragon Ball villain he resembles. Even Genos gets some extra screentime, as the anime foreshadows a future, potentially gorgeous-looking battle in a coming episode. Finally, Saitama himself takes the next step in heroing: Making it a job. He used to be a "hero for fun", but starting next week, he'll be seeing life through the eyes of a professional, registered super.  [Check out One Punch Man on Daisuki and Crunchyroll!]          
One Punch Man photo
The Lowest Blow
So, it turns out that Madhouse's big twist in their adaptation of the wildly popular One Punch Man would be to turn Saitama into the villain! Who'd have thunk it?! No true hero would stoop so low as to punch a vulnerable enemy in the junk, after all. Dick strikes are the preserve of craven knaves alone!

Week Ender - Time Travel Edition

Oct 24 // Red Veron
[embed]34407:5114:0[/embed] "The Twelve Time-Governing Covenants" Anime: Steins;Gate A cool song with very minimal visuals that still gives you that impact in a show with a lot of twists and turns.   [embed]34407:5115:0[/embed] "Honey Honey Honey" Anime: Punch Line A show where the world will end if the protagonist sees a girl's panties more than twice. A visually pleasing ending with lots of color and cutesy character design.   [embed]34407:5116:0[/embed] "Kimi ga Iru Basho Anime: Occult Academy A live action ending that is okay and it may have been a sign of some budget problems this show may have had since it felt like it had to be wrapped up in half the amount of episodes.   [embed]34407:5117:0[/embed] "Hare Hare Yukai" Anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Yes, there is time travel in this show. A ten year old show that any anime fan should watch, this show is one of the most influential shows in anime history. This show has a bit of everything and should please many of you.   So what is your favorite ending from an anime that features time travel that isn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Great Scott
Since this past week was a celebration of the date that was prominently featured in the movie Back to the Future Part II and the 30th anniversary of the first Back to the Future movie, the selection for this week's ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episodes 713+ 714

Oct 24 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode kicks off right where the previous had ended. Nico Robin had just captured Cavendish before he could attack her. Subduing the blonde swordsman, it is revealed that his violent personality is called Hakuba and is a lot more aggressive than Cavendish. The reveal isn't played dramatically but instead for laughs. Cavendish desperately tries to regain control of his body, Hakuba wrestles against Robin's restraints, and Bartomeleo tries to understand what the hell is going on. The humour isn't dragged out as Gladius takes advantage of the situation by placing a bomb on the mountain side. Bartolomeo is placed in a difficult defensive position that puts him or Nico Robin at risk. I think if I didn't like Bartolomeo, this fight with Gladius would've been disappointing. Bartolomeo was another character that was rather polarising when he was first introduced since his character design and personality mimicked a minor antagonist. This soon turned around once he started fanboying over Luffy and any other Straw Hat he saw. There was little action or kinetic energy between Bartolomeo and Gladius, but the tension and drama are present making it a suspenseful episode. I really liked the ending of this episode as a result of the fight. An executive goes down, Bartolomeo has his moment of epicness, and Robin is finally where she needs to be to help Rebecca.  Episode 714 brings us back to the Tontatta's campaign to rescue Princess Mansherry. The episode isn't spent too long on the actual rescue process i.e. Leo and Kabu running through the castle to find her and more on why Doflamingo had captured Princess Mansherry.  Princess Mansherry is the eater of the Heal Heal fruit which is a devil fruit that makes studying for medicine obsolete. Jora having been healed previously, tries to force Mansherry to use her power on the defeated executives. For me, it isn't the drama that lies with an executive coming back and causing the defeat of an ally, it's the idea that this arc may be prolonged because they have to fight the executives again. It's an unfortunate reason since it implies I'm not enjoying watching One Piece or I wouldn't enjoy more of it, but this does also heighten the tension in this episode. Jora discovers that Mansherry doesn't have to use her powers voluntarily as a tear from her eyes can heal anyone it touches prompting her to beat the dwarf princess. It's an uncomfortable scene, more so than the savage beatings seen in the fights that have caused disfigurement, blood shed, and even death.  The finale of the episode was decent wrapping up the Tontatta campaign and moving back to the fight with Luffy and Bellemy. I'm hoping the show keeps ups this pace and shows Franky's fight with Senor Pink soon. Every clip we have seen looks absurd when taken out of context and it's been so long sine we checked into the fight that I barely remember what the context is! [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Cavendish 'Two Face' Dent
Cavendish is a good character for One Piece. His character design is nice and provides some fan service for the lady viewers who'd prefer the prince characters over the overly macho Zoro. Cavendish isn't just eye candy e...

Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Tie the knot with Sailor Moon Marriage Certificates

Perfect for the cosplay wedding
Oct 24
// Anthony Redgrave
Boring old marriage certificate forms can now be made a lot prettier with the Sailor Moon inspired designs. Konin Todoke is an online certificate service that provides legislated documents for marriage and family registration...
Nisekoi photo

Nisekoi OAD trailer previews Raku's married life

Every girl is a winner
Oct 23
// Anthony Redgrave
The 21st volume of Nisekoi will be releasing with a limited edition containing an anime DVD. This DVD adapts the spin-off manga Magical Patissier Kosaki-chan into a second episode using the short stories from the 19th, ...

Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie

Oct 22 // Christian Chiok
Boruto: Naruto the Movie Studio: Pierrot Licensed by: Viz Media Release Date: August 8, 2015 (Japan), October 10, 2015 (North America) The movie already starts off with lots of action, featuring Sasuke fighting with both Momoshiki and Kinshiki in the ruins of Kaguya Otsutsuki's palace. From that battle scene alone, you can already tell how well the movie’s animation will be and it’s a great way to get the audience hook to the movie. Just like Kaguya, Momoshiki and Kinshiki Otsutsuki’s goal was to recollect all chakra and create it into a new chakra fruit, which would grant unlimited power, eternal youth, and immortality. However, they don’t have any affiliation with Kaguya as she created the White Zetsu Army in order to fend off against them should they ever attempt to steal her chakra. Throughout the movie, it is easily noticeable that Konoha has evolved technologically as the use of computers is pretty frequent. However, was stood out the most, and what basically was an important part of the movie, was the forearm device called Kote made by Katasuke. Kote allows the wielder to use any jutsu of their choice, without the use of chakra, as long as they had the scroll to use the sealed technique. Kote suggested that he wanted to introduce the device Chunin Exams but Naruto considered it cheating and denied his request. [embed]34393:5113:0[/embed] When Katasuke brought up the device to Boruto, he denied his request and he told him he wasn’t going to be entering the Chunin exams anyway. But after discussing about the Chunin exams with Sarada, and with her convincing him to enter be telling him that it was a way to show off to his father, he decides to enter. Even though Naruto has reached his long-term goal of becoming Hokage, the movie still shows that the character has so much to learn as he continues to prioritize work over family obligations, especially when he sends a shadow clone to his daughter's birthday dinner.  When Boruto finds out, he states that Naruto was luckier than him, reasoning that a dead father is better than one that neglects his children. Later that night, Boruto meets his father’s enteral frenemy and rival Sasuke Uchiha. Boruto being aware of that, he begs Sasuke if he can become his student and hopes he educate him about Naruto's weaknesses. Sasuke stated that he will take Boruto as his student under the condition that he can master the Rasengan, an attack that even Naruto struggled to perfect. Given the condition, Boruto goes to Konohamaru and asks him to teach him the Rasengan, which took Boruto a few long days to learn. When he finally approached Sasuke to tell him he learned the Rasengan, Sasuke notes that it’s far too small then smacks the Rasengan from Boruto’s hands as it slowly flies at a tree and disappears before it can make contact. Boruto storms off the scene with a sad look on his face and headed directly to Katasuke, the creator of Kote. With Katasuke’s initial plan to introduce Kote during the Chunin Exams, He wants Boruto to pass the Chunin Exams using Kote. Even with his father banning the use of Kote during the Chunin Exams, Boruto still decides to use it because he's tired of relying on his teammates and wants to achieve victory by himself. However, during the first round of the Chunin exams, he doesn’t use Kote, but was able to pass the round thanks to his teammates. Naruto later finds out and congratulates his son via e-mail. With Boruto excited after receiving recognition from his father, he decides to use Kote on round two, which he successfully passes and Naruto instead congratulates him in person, Naturally, this makes Boruto extremely happy. Unfortunately during the third round, Naruto catches him using Kote and later confronts his son in front of the entire village, confiscates his forehead protector and states he will never become a Shinobi. When Naruto scolds Boruto and tells him they will talk after the exams, Boruto angrily replies that they will never talk as Naruto is too busy being Hokage anyway. A few moments later, both Momoshiki and Kinshiki arrive to the scene with the goal of extracting the Kurama from Naruto. Unfortunately, Boruto made matters worse by using his Kote since the Otsutsuki absorb chakra-based jutsu. With Momoshiki gaining that power boost, Naruto was forced to sacrifice himself and was pulled into their dimension. After learning that his father is still alive and afraid of what could happen to his father, Boruto regrets all the resentful thought he was towards Naruto and accompanies Sasuke and the visiting Kage into the other dimension to save him, in order to make things right. During the fight in the other dimension, clearly the highlight of that moment was the teamwork between Naruto and Sasuke, especially with the beautiful done animation and the combination of both Perfect Susano’o and Kurama. After an intense battle, Naruto was weakened so Sasuke suggested that Boruto and his father combine their Rasengans. After creating the gigantic Rasengan, with the help of his shadow clone and Sasuke, he obliterates Momoshiki. However, the most important part of that scene to me was when we see Boruto and Naruto smiling at each other while combining their Rasengan. At the end of the movie, Boruto and Naruto reconcile their differences as Boruto respects his father and Naruto spends more time at home. The following morning after the battle, Boruto and Naruto fist-bumped and asked the other to do their best as they left for a mission and for work respectively. That final scene was special as it shows how much their relationship has built up as father and son, especially when they first-bumped. The movie concludes with Boruto, Sarada, Mitsuki, and Konohamaru going on a mission to capture a panda that is running loose in the village. Overall, this movie exceeded my expectations. The story isn’t exactly the best, especially because both the villains and their motivations were boring as they were the same as Kaguya’s. However, I did enjoy the character development shown for Boruto, and the relationship build-up with his father, Naruto, was really heartwarming. After seeing his father battle throughout the movie, and he understands how hard Naruto was worked to become Hokage, not only that but, after learning what Boruto has been through, he learns that Boruto still needs his father. Additionally, I really disliked how Momoshiki wasn’t really a threat and the battle was one sided on Boruto. Even Toneri in The Last put up a bigger fight against Naruto. However, the latter was more of a love-story if anything. In addition to the character development, I would also recommend this movie based on the animation and the fight scenes as well. The fights in the movie easily match those in the Dragon Ball series and watching it in theaters only made the experience even better.  With the new generation of Shinobi, it would great to see more of them in action. Personally, I really want to see Sarada follow the path of Hokage while Boruto follows Sasuke’s path, and protects the Hokage, as stated at the end of the movie. I really appreciated how Kishimoto switched path with their children, how Sarada holds Naruto in a higher pedestal while Boruto holds Sasuke in a higher pedestal. Naturally, both still love their father very much. I would definitely recommend the movie to any Naruto fan. Even though I believe other material related to the franchise may come in the future, the movie was a nice way to wrap up the story of Naruto. [This review is based on a theatrical screening of the film attended by the reviewer.] [embed]34393:5113:0[/embed]
Boruto Narut Review photo
A touching story about father and son
Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place several years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, in which Naruto has become the Seventh Hokage of Konoha and formed a family of his own. However, even though Naruto has already reach...

OP Up! Time Travel Edition

Oct 21 // Red Veron
[embed]34401:5109:0[/embed] "Doraemon no uta" Anime: Doraemon The granddaddy of all anime that has time travel. This one involves a robot cat from the future being sent to the present to Nobita. The robot cat named Doraemon, is from Nobita's grandson because Nobita is such a screwup which led to his grandson being poor in the future.   [embed]34401:5110:0[/embed] "Unisonia" Anime: Buddy Complex This one involves time travel and potential yaoi fan art fodder coupled with giant flying mechs. Some weird time travel paradoxes but I enjoyed the first season's mech fights.   [embed]34401:5111:0[/embed] "Flying Humanoid" Anime: Occult Academy Another one of those shows that had its episode count cut in half which ruined its potential with its nice setting. This one involves an apocalyptic future sending a guy back to the past to prevent the opening of an inter-dimensional gate that lets alien invaders through and taking over the planet. It also takes place in a school where occult stuff happens. A great setting that melds science fiction and fantasy that could've been something great.   [embed]34401:5112:0[/embed] "Hacking the gate" Anime: Steins;Gate A great anime based on a visual novel that takes advantage of its visual novel format. VNs can feature multiple paths based on different choices that lead to different outcomes. The anime adaptation does choose one path from the VN and also integrates the multiple paths and "bad end"s into one story quite nicely. I highly recommend this one if you feel like getting into a time travel anime.   Is there an anime that features time travel that is not on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Make like a tree
Today is October 21, 2015. The future date most known as the date that the protagonists Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in the1988 film Back to the Future Part II. If you've been around the internet today, everywhere...

Gundam the Origin 2 photo
Gundam the Origin 2

Have your first lengthy look at the next episode of Gundam: The Origin

That Artesia, she sad
Oct 21
// Josh Tolentino
It looks like the hot, shirtless boys of Iron-Blooded Orphans aren't the only game in town when it comes to Gundam. There's also the undying chronicles of the Universal Century, which Bandai will never abandon so long a...
Iron-Blooded Orphans photo
Iron-Blooded Orphans

Annotated Anime: Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans episode 3

When Iron Flowers Bloom
Oct 20
// Josh Tolentino
Back when first wrote about Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, I noted that the show's more morally ambiguous, grittier approach seemed to set it apart from its peers in mainline Gundam fiction. As of the latest episode, that sentiment continues to hold true.
One Punch Man photo
One Punch Man

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 3

Get Fit with Saitama
Oct 19
// Josh Tolentino
One Punch Man? More like One Punch Per Week Man, am I right? The Fall season's prettiest show continues into its third week, as Saitama and Genos head out to confront their first real enemy, the House of Evolution. Will this be the week that Saitama needs more than a single blow to fell his foes? Spoiler Alert: Nope!

Week Ender - Dating Sim Edition

Oct 17 // Red Veron
[embed]34382:5101:0[/embed] "Pinky Johns" Anime: Yosuga no sora A fun and colorful ending that has a ridiculous tone that does not seem to suit the show and rather make light of the heavy stuff. If you've seen the entire show, they totally make fun of the final arc's ending.   [embed]34382:5102:0[/embed] "Smile F" Anime: Photo Kano I love this ending song. Instead of each girl/voice actress getting their own song, they all sing the same song and it differs slightly but I do like them all.   [embed]34382:5103:0[/embed] "Confession (Tsukasa Ayakuji version)" Anime: Amagami SS+ This second season of this show tries something new by having the voice actress each having their own interpretation of one song. I love this style and the visuals in this ending featuring all of the girls.   [embed]34382:5104:0[/embed] "I won't forget" Anime: Kimikiss Pure Rouge I don't remember much of the endings on this show but this song sure is nice. A simple ending with cropped stills from the show goes well with the song.   Is there an ending from anime based on a dating sim on here that you like that isn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Harem ending is best ending
The great thing about Anime based on dating sims offer a multitude of waifus for you to fawn over (Otome game themed post coming later this month for those Otoge fans!) and use as a reason to fight random people on the intern...

Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episode 2

Oct 15 // Josh Tolentino
Earlier on I mentioned that the main problem I could forsee with this adaptation of One Punch Man would be that Madhouse would be unable to sustain production at the level needed to deliver the kind of visual, well...punch needed to do the source justice. As much as I do like One Punch Man, its joys are more presentational than narrative in nature. Yusuke Murata's excellent grasp of space and eye for detail make ONE's simple (but effective) story stand out.  We enlightened souls of the 21st century tend to privilege "the writing" above any other yardstick in pop media, but presentation matters, especially in visual media like anime and manga. That's why it's important to read things like Kevin Cirugeda's excellent article on appreciating good animation, even if you yourself don't plan to become a "sakuga otaku" yourself.  The short-wordcount version of what I just said is that as of this week, One Punch Man still looks 'effin gorgeous, with particular flair in today's fight scenes. This is a good thing because looks matter, and One Punch Man as a manga is great partly because it looks so good. This is where I'm also reminded that a very faithful adaptation of a manga isn't always a good thing, particularly in shows where detailed plotting is not the primary draw. Long story short? One Punch Man's pace is p-l-o-d-d-i-n-g. The stretching of time isn't as obvious or blatant as the kind of padding out that goes on in the likes of the Naruto anime or anything like that, but it's clear that Madhouse are being fairly deliberate in their choices of how much content to cover in each episode. The result is, for folks that look for more substantial narratives, feels stretched a bit thin. One unfortunate side effect of this necessity is that the ways in which One Punch Man evolves past its original schtick aren't as obvious here. People can read manga faster than they can watch a TV show, and the advantage is that the initial, simple jokes are over with quickly. Even if Saitama's struggle to find a worthy fight is gone over again and again, it passes by without a chance to grow truly irritating. That's not quite the case here, and some more impatient viewers are more than likely already going "Look, I get it, he's invincible and can't lose, alright? Let's move on." Thankfully, the second episode does move on, by introducing none other than Genos, the blond cyborg who is pretty damn awesome. In many ways, he'd be the kind of character to anchor his own damn show if Saitama weren't the star. He's the archetypal badass anime/manga protagonist, and the show has a lot of fun with his overly elaborate (and repetitious) backstory, his shtick in the episode recalling shades of Yuki Nagato's famous "I'm an alien" monologue from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  It would be one thing if Genos were merely a gag character, a one-off encounter solely meant to poke fun at the tropes of fight manga. But such things are for lesser series. In fact, thanks to a great fight against animal-hybrid villains from "The House of Evolution", Genos looks to be a continuing presence in One Punch Man, and to good effect. At the risk of spoiling anime-only viewers, it's on his robotic shoulders - as well as the shoulders of other characters coming later - that much of One Punch Man's enduring qualities rests on. They provide what Saitama alone cannot, and it's in that style of fully utilizing the potential of the genre even as it mocks it mercilessly - that the source has garnered as much appeal as it has. [Get mosquitos to bug out on Daisuki!]
One Punch Man photo
Convenient Signage in the Aftermath
Welcome to the latest recap of One Punch Man, the only anime series that probably doesn't need a recap, for so obvious is the plot, am I right? As it turns out, not quite. A fair bit goes on in today's installment, and while deviations from the source are few, newer viewers may find the latest developments engaging.  

OP Up! Dating Sim Edition

Oct 14 // Red Veron
[embed]34374:5097:0[/embed] "Aozora Loop" Anime: Kimikiss: Pure Rouge A super cute opening that makes you want to fall in love with the saccharine visuals and song. This adaptation tries to get around the multiple heroine routes by adding two male protagonists and even a rival. This one has it's own story and borrows some elements from the game. Totally doesn't do justice to the source material.   [embed]34374:5098:0[/embed] "Reflectier" Anime: True Tears This adaptation has nothing to do with the game of the same name. It has its own original storyline, characters, and art style.   [embed]34374:5099:0[/embed] "Koisuru Lens" Anime: Photo Kano This adaptation takes a note from the next anime featured in this selection by featuring the multiple routes in arcs with the heroines but have a common starting point with the first four episodes being a prologue to the different arcs.   [embed]34374:5100:0[/embed] "i Love" Anime: Amagami SS My favorite anime adaptation of a dating sim, this anime just devotes small arcs to each heroine. This style gives each heroine proper screen time and character development, it even adds to the other arcs in small ways. Photo Kano, the anime right above this one in this selection, borrowed this adaptation's style and this style really does justice to the source material.   Is there a dating sim adaptation anime that you like that wasn't featured on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Variety is the spice of life
Dating sims adapted into anime is nothing new. Unlike other video game genres adapted into anime, dating sims tend to offer a more structured story than most but things get complicated when the dating sim has multiple heroine...

First Impressions: Durarara!!x2 Ten

Oct 12 // Anthony Redgrave
Durarara!!x2 Ten picks up immediately after the last episode left off. The Toramaru-Dollars conflict had been quelled and with Shizuo's intervention the two Russian assassins had been apprehended. The previous cour had ended on a cliffhanger with Izaya being stabbed in the back (literally not figuratively) by the mysterious Jinnai Yodogiri. Fortunately, eager watchers don't have to wait long to see the aftermath as the first episode is dedicated to how people are reacting to this news.  Getting back into this series can be a daunting task. There are so many different characters, plot threads that are interlaced within one another it feels like you would need to rewatch the first half of this season. I've never been a fan of rewatching the openings of anime every week since the opening only needs to be watched once to see the new visuals and hear the new song. But, Durarara!! retains the tradition of incorporating small flashbacks and reminders of events gone by into the opening and it is often related to the same episode allowing viewers to caught up with the plot. It's extremely abridged, but the cherry-picked sound bites and clips shown do an adequate job in keeping me up to date on the happening's in Ikebukuro even if they were referencing events from the first season.  So far x2 Ten has been fairly mellow and slow in terms of the plot. It comes hot off the heels of a massive gang war so characters are taking it easy before the next big event. These first few episodes focus on some of the secondary characters like Mizuki Akabayashi and the Seiji/ Mika storyline. Like all Durarara!! protagonists newcomer Mizuki is a very charming and likable goon of the Awakusu largely in part to the incredibly strong voice acting. I was surprised by how much I grew to like Mizuki from that one episode seeing him only as an unimportant Lieutenant for the Awakusu in the previous cour. The big break out of these first few episodes was Mika. I had mentioned before that I don't have any interest in Seiji/Mika/Namie love triangle thing in Durarara!! as their actions rarely affect the overarching plot of each series. The Mika episode helped demonstrate the importance of her presence in the story as she is a lot stronger and smarter than we had anticipated. When we consider Ikebukuro's internal political manipulation that goes on behind the scenes, Mika is another person we need to be looking out for.  A more interesting love triangle has emerged this series between badass Shizuo, Verona the Russian Hit girl, and Akane the mob boss daughter. Shizuo is as aloof as any other harem protagonist, but his lack of social skills make sense due to his history. Shizuo isn't lumped in with the spineless harem protagonists because he doesn't display the pathetic horniness combined with ignorance towards overtly romantic cues. His job is a violent one so he keeps people at a distance wanting to keep his friends and family safe but isn't heartless enough to brush them off when they want to say 'Hey' or come to him for help. This new love triangle has a great dynamic between the girls and Shizuo; Shizuo acts as a mentor for both of them but at the same time the girls' primary motive is to kill Shizuo.  The look and feel of Durarara!! are part of its core appeal and it has not changed one bit. I've always liked how everything was extremely colorful and dynamic. The animation and art direction have been very good up to now, both staying consistent and smooth. At the start Mizuki's episode during an encounter in the bathroom, there is a very large drop in quality with crappy looking characters but this is an isolated incidence. In the audio department; the voice acting is still amazing helping to engross you in the charming delights and dangers of Ikebukuro and the heightened emotion in each scene is backed with strong melodic choruses from a familiar soundtrack.  After taking a whole season respite from the city, it's good to be back. [Watch Durarara!!x2 Ten on Crunchy Roll] internal political manipulation that goes on behind the scenes
Durarara photo
Never mess with Shizuo Heiwajima
The release of Durarara!!'s second cours dubbed started broadcasting last month and it went completely under my radar. 5 episodes in and I've become reacquainted with the denizens of Ikebukuro and the thin line called destiny that intertwines all of their actions together. 

Gundam Iron Blood Orphans photo
Gundam Iron Blood Orphans

First Impressions: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Steel Yourself
Oct 11
// Josh Tolentino
Another year, another new Gundam series. My interest in Sunrise and Bandai's flagship has waxed and waned over the years, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm rarely attracted to the "mainline" shows that make up the core ...

Week Ender - BONES Edition

Oct 10 // Red Veron
[embed]34353:5091:0[/embed] "Himitsu Kichi" Anime: Eureka Seven The kind of ending with a nice song that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling with visuals to match. Not much is going on in the ending but showing off the characters just looking off into the sunset is just perfect.   [embed]34353:5092:0[/embed] "Tsuka Akari" Anime: Darker Than Black A gentle song that is badly needed for such a serious show. The kind of song that gives you a break from the show while still maintaining the look of the show.   [embed]34353:5093:0[/embed] "Heart Realize" Anime: Noragami There are two kinds of ending songs: Those that wind you down and those that wind you up. This one belongs to the latter while still being cute and showing off the cute and gentle side of the show's heroine.   [embed]34353:5094:0[/embed] "Motherland" Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist A beautiful song and IT HAS A DOGGY ON A TYPEWRITER. Also lots of Winry for you to thirst over.   Is there an ending from a BONES anime that you like that isn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
BONES photo
Who ya calling a shrimp?
BONES is just one of those studios that have a wide variety of work: from fantasy to dark drama to giant robots on hoverboards, the studio has an even more diverse work than those aforementioned things. Along with that divers...

Cassette Girl photo
Cassette Girl

Twilight: Animator Expo's 35th short pays homage to a classic Gainax title

The Format War return
Oct 09
// Salvador GRodiles
The Japan Animator Expo project's third season has released its final announced short (slightly NSFW), and they managed to end it with a huge bang. For the finale, Hiroyasu Kobayashi (The Rebuild of Eva movie series...

OP Up! BONES Edition

Oct 08 // Red Veron
[embed]34352:5087:0[/embed] "Rewrite" Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist One of my favorite openings of all time, this awesome action-packed opening has great fluid animation with a rockin' song by on of my favorite band Asian Kung-fu Generation.    [embed]34352:5088:0[/embed] "Gravity" Anime: Star Driver A crazy anime that people keep recommending me to watch, this visually pleasing opening doesn't even begin to scratch the ridiculousness of the show.   [embed]34352:5089:0[/embed] "Papermoon" Anime: Soul Eater Another great opening by BONES, this second opening is a bit more action-packed and still really stylish that embodies the show's cool look.   [embed]34352:5090:0[/embed] "Days" Anime: Eureka Seven The studio's original show that made the studio even more popular with it's recognizable giant robot on a giant hoverboard.     Is your favorite BONES anime opening not on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Giant Hoverboards
If you took a look at all the shows that the anime studio BONES' body of work, you're gonna notice that they make stuff that looks a bit 'different' compared to the rest. By that, I mean they look stylish to varying degrees o...

Final Impressions: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Oct 07 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, the Autumn Election preliminaries were nearly over. Group B finished their turn and Alice Nakiri, Arato Hisako, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadakoro are the first four to advance to the actual competition. When we last left Group A, Ryo Kurokiba made his mark by taking first place with 93 points and the rest of the Polar Star dorm, while good, struggled to reach that height. At episode's end Akira Hayama stepped up to serve his dish,  weird curry souffle looking thing that spewed all sorts of tantalizing scents when punctured (that he called a "fragrance bomb"). And with the finale, we learn why it's so effective. Thanks to a mix of holy basil and yogurt (to balance out its pungent nature) his curry throws the judges for a loop. After some reaction shenanigans, they give his dish 94 points, with two of the judges giving a max score of 20 (it's important to note the spread was 18/20/18/20/18). But right as Akira was celebrating his win, Soma revealed that he too worked on a "fragrance bomb" type of meal.  Learning from his past losses and mistakes (such as losing to his Dad a few episodes back and nearly failing the buffet task with his omelets during the boot camp), Soma slyly combines the two efforts as a way to get back at his past self. Serving curry rice inside of an omelette pocket, he's managed to learn all about spice from the few days he learned about curry from Akira. Like how Akira balanced his spice with yogurt, Soma made a mango chutney in order to give it a bit of sweetness. Unfortunately, the dish wasn't enough to earn the top spot and Soma nets 93 points. But three of the judges rated his dish higher than Akira's, however (so it's 19/18/19/18/19) thus deepening their rivalry. That brings Group A to a close, and seven students are confirmed for the finals. Then the kids all celebrate, though Soma vows to work harder in order to claim victory. There's an eighth student to be revealed later (though the episode doesn't say this), and he's such a huge part of the semifinals, I'm sure they're saving his reveal for the next season. If there is one.  Although I had a lot of fun with the series overall, I'm pretty worried about the future of the show. Community members MSJ and RoboYuji pointed out that my complaint of cutting everything short was unfounded, and I'll admit that I didn't consider that the show would need filler in order to give the manga time to get further ahead. I'd hate to see what a filler arc would like since the official filler here (whatever the heck the "Karaage Wars" was) was pretty garbage. But since the manga has gone far past the Autumn Elections already (and has a more natural endpoint) it feels like we've been shafted since we're cut off before the actual fun of the show starts. But then again, that's just me being greedy. I just like the premise so much, I wanted more of it. I mean, what's the point of having two completely different title sequences if you're going to cut it off now?  There are bigger elements at play here since the show most likely didn't have the biggest audience (and a sequel season rests entirely with secondary sales), it's been rife with budget problems from the get go (as lots of shortcuts were taken with the animation and sound design was particularly spotty early on), but the property's so much fun. It just feels like Food Wars is ending right when it hit its groove.  But given my biggest problem with Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was there wasn't enough of it, I guess it wasn't so bad after all. 
Final Food Wars  photo
"Happy to serve!"
I first found Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma through manga. Although I fell out of touch with the anime for several years, I've been periodically reading manga through that time. One of my favorites turned out to be Food W...

First Impressions: Heavy Object

Oct 07 // Josh Tolentino
The first five minutes of Heavy Object's opening episode are enough to hang out the "military otaku only" sign, with a barrage of exposition about how, even though it's the future, people just can't stop fighting. This is backgrounded by fancy sci-fi imagery of laser-propelled space shuttles getting blown out of the sky by missiles, and warships and planes launching explosive strikes.  All of that gets eclipsed by the arrival of the first "Object", a giant ball-shaped war machine that gets nuked on its very first day in combat, and still comes out swinging, annihilating the attacking army. From then on, war changes into an Object-oriented arms race, with the world's power blocs competing to get their own Objects, and using the invincible weapons as the centerpiece of all future battlefield action. Virtually all other materiel becomes obsolete, with entire battles decided by a duel between two Objects, with few casualties on either side. Wars become "clean" thanks to the dominance of a single category of weapon. This new battlefield dynamic affects every up and down the chain, which is where the lead characters - the hilariously named Qwenthur and Havia - come in. They're just two grunts, relegated to shoveling snow in Alaska, maintaining an airbase no one will use while Objects are in play. Qwenthur wants to become an Object engineer, and seems to have struck up a friendship of sorts with their local Object's pilot, a blonde loli referred to only as "The Princess". Havia's serving thanks to pressure from his noble family. Both are at the bottom of the totem pole, as ground troops are obsolete in the face of Object-based warfare. It's an interesting premise to start from, not least because the Objects themselves are about as far as possible as one can get from the stereotypical image of Japanese mecha. They're literally giant balls of armor covered in guns, like some demented fan of Gundam's RB-79 Ball took control of the boardroom at J.C. Staff when the time came to decide which shows to animate. It's also got a somewhat interesting angle going for it. After all, it's a rare war story that focuses on the characters who get "left behind" at the rear line. Then again, any military otaku worth his MREs would know that the very notion of war being "clean" and things as fundamental as infantry being outmoded by what is essentially a gigantic tank is preposterous, even for anime. Knowing that, the most likely scenario is our seeing Heavy Object's plot aim to poke holes in its own presumptions, that war can be just as hellish from the cockpit of a 50-meter death ball as it is in the trenches. Well, that's the hope at least. If nothing else, the episode ends on something of a down note, with Qwenthur staring at the shattered remains of The Princess' Object, dreading the prospect of having to fight the enemy Object without backup. That's no picnic, and seeing how he and his deal with the challenge should set the tone for the rest of the show. [Check out Heavy Object's simulcast on FUNimation!]    
A Weighty Topic
Stop me if you've heard this before, but this show is about a piece of military hardware, invented at some undetermined time in the future, that changes the very nature of warfare forever. Practically invincible on the battle...

First Impressions: Owarimonogatari

Oct 06 // Anthony Redgrave
It's a jump back in the timeline from Hanamonogatari and a jump forward since Tsukimonogatari as we join our favourite half vampire Koyomi Araragi still enjoying his days as a high school student. The audience is launched straight into the episode with talk about a Euler's identity and how it is the most amazing mathematic formula ever made. It's plucked straight out of a textbook and would put anyone to sleep if this weren't Monogatari. Taking an abstract concept and linking it into the story in a tangential way to make it seem smarter forms the basis of the Monogatari story telling style. Lots of discussion over different things made entertaining because of the visuals and sharp writing. The first few minutes of this show is a great litmus test to see if Monogatari is a series you can put up with, if not then I suggest Nekomonogatari since that's got a lot of Tsubasa Hanekawa fanservice. The bulk of the episode is a locked room mystery that spirals into a whodunit mystery with color commentary provided by Araragi in his nonchalant style and the mysterious belle du jour Ougi Oshino piping in with probing questions. Araragi's interactions with the different girls of the series is a highlight as he has a totally different dynamic with each of them; overly nice to Hanekawa, on edge with Senjougahara, and tough with his sisters. It's interesting to see him interact more with a character that isn't played off as sexualised. There are far less panty, chest, and poses from Ougi and more on her interaction with Araragi. Ougi is a mysterious character and sometimes we question whether she is a female. The ambiguous nature of Ougi in the story is complemented by her androgynous character design. Always appearing sounding like she's one step ahead of Araragi, her demeanor puts us on edge as she probes Araragi through the mystery.  Since 90% of the episode is spent in a classroom trying to solve a mystery the writing and art have to be on point to keep the episode from dragging. The plot does move along at a steady pace and doesn't linger too long at any one point or repeat/ reiterate the same point over and over. In fact, little is needed to be repeated as the writing and dialogue are at a pace where the story is always moving forward. Viewers not accustomed to this steady stream of words may find a new best friend in the pause button as even seasoned Monogatari veterans like myself still needed to tap the pause more than once to keep up. Throughout the series, the focus has always been on the girls and their oddities. Each oddity effects one girl and Araragi is often the man to guide them through their troubles, but we know very little about the man. Despite having Ougi as the main female lead, it is Araragi who is in the spotlight for character development and this is very welcome addition into the series. We may still have to wait until 2018 for Kizumonogatari, but this provides a deeper understanding on the half vampire lead.  I mentioned before that pausing the episode to catch up with the rapid fire text is a requirement, but it's not just to understand the story. It's to fully appreciate the art direction and cinematography of the episode. An empty classroom as a background can be monotonous especially to those of us that have gone through 18 years of schooling, coupled that with endless streams of dialogue it may be a one-way ticket to snore town USA. But Shaft has the alchemic ability to change these mundane environments into a visual ecstasy. The color schemes of the room are always changing, matching the mood and beat of the plot making the objects pop with contrasting colours and making backgrounds ooze with character. A key scene midway through the episode as chaos erupts in the classroom as it's filled with silhouettes and clashes of chairs and tables. It's effective in conveying the absolute carnage happening in the room despite the verbal debate reality. Another really cool visual was how it represented the other classmates as floating kanji. It's a really smart way of conveying the sense of bizarreness that comes with oddities in Monogatari and also a way of cutting down on designing characters.  The big reveal at the end of the episode was fairly predictable and it's nice to see Tsubasa making another appearance. If I could criticise this episode it would be that there was a lack of comedy throughout. It was a serious episode with little to no gags. I hear that Ougi Oshino will be the main antagonist throughout this season and I can't wait to see how that pans out. She treads the line between welcomingly cute and disturbingly intense at the flip of a switch.  [Watch Owarimonogatari on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Monogatari photo
The return of Arararararararararararagi
Like Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays that I like to celebrate maybe once or twice a year and the same holds true for the release schedule of the Monogatari series. Last year's holiday season brought the four-par...

Final Impressions: MY Love STORY!!

Oct 06 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, Yamato got herself a part time job at a bakery over spring break, hoping that she'd be able to pick up some tricks of the trade. But much to Takeo's chagrin, the head patisserie Ichinose (who, as the show likes to point out, has all the qualities of a traditional shoujo protagonist) has a crush on her and vows to Takeo that he'll tell her after taking first place at his big baking competition. So Takeo spends the first half of the final episode dejected, and this is entirely a new feeling for Takeo. As he questions whether or not he should actually be with Yamato, he gets steady reassurance from all of their friends that Yamato chose to date him because he's so great. And it's not like the audience needed reassurance as we've seen his greatness throughout the entire series. It completely makes sense for the kind hearted (but not completely pure hearted, as I'll discuss later) Yamato to fall in love with Takeo, a guy who'd happily sacrifice his own well being to help someone else find happiness. And that's put to the test here in the finale, as well.  When Ichinose realizes he's forgotten his baking tools, Yamato asks Takeo for help. Being the big goof that he is, he runs all the way to the bakery and to the contest without a second thought (only reflecting on helping Ichinose win after all the craziness settles), catching Ichinose by surprise. After Ichinose wins, he confesses to Yamato (right in front of Takeo like a damn goob) but Yamato rightfully turns him down. She explains that she's never really felt the same way (thus clearing up the only major problem with this beat as we never really know what she's thinking during all of this) and genuinely loves Takeo. After some loving awkwardness, Takeo calls Yamato by her first name, Rinko, and the two clumsily shuffle off into the future.  I didn't enjoy this final arc since it was the first time it was about Takeo alone, rather than the two working out relationship stuff, but I won't really let it hinder my enjoyment of the overall package. As community member John Seiler helped point out, this show is one of the few available that reveals different types of love. My Love Story!! is technically everyone's love story as I'm sure there's any type of relationship you can cling to. There's the fast developing Kurihara and Nanako, the already established of Takeo's parents, the teacher student dynamic between Saijou and Takeo, the crippling shyness leading to idolization between Yukika and Sunakawa, the unrequited love of Suna's sister and her admirer, and the nearly asexual Sunakawa who just wants to avoid all of that together. While the focus is given to Takeo and Yamato's central relationship, we're always given little peeks into these outside loves so no one feels left out. And it's all just so it hammers the main message home, that there's never one right way to love.  My Love Story!! felt more personal than not, because for the first time, I legitimately felt that a show was trying to tell my story. As a towering man of 6'3 and 300 pounds, any girl I've ever been interested in has been smaller than me so I know all too well what Takeo went through. His awkwardness that made him stand out from his friends, his inability to believe that someone would actually have feelings for him, and being so hilariously inept at relationships that he couldn't figure out how much Yamato wanted to take their relationship further. That's also a great part of this series too. Although Yamato's meek demeanor would perceive otherwise, she's always been the more active one. You'd expect her to be fall into the shoujo traps of the "pure hearted maiden," but that hilariously went to Takeo. Neither character ever acted the way they were expected to, and that's what makes a great watch.  Couple that with the show's use of color, outrageous reactions to things (as Takeo's many faces and forms led to quite a few laughs), and its ability to hit that sweet spot of romance and comedy on more than on occasion, My Love Story!! was the best anime of the Spring and Summer seasons. It's a love story everyone'll love. 
Final Love STORY photo
"Suki da"
Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, as I'm sure I've said this in the past, but I'm a sucker for good romantic comedies. While there isn't exactly a big list of films I could point to, there are definitely a boatloa...

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