Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 5

May 18 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that Gold Storm does right, it’s that it continues to establish continuity between its episodes each week. Even when a segment feels like a side-story, its key moments somehow manage to link the chapter to the main plot. Hell, I never expected for that one girl from episode 1 to return recently, since she seemed like she was just a random victim. In a sense, this type of format can make a program fascinating, because it lets people ponder on which characters’ll become important later on. This following issue may not affect the show’s quality, but I found it strange that the girl’s sister resorted to fooling around with guys to help her raise money to study abroad. Couldn’t she have gotten her younger sister to sign up for a grant, scholarship, or some other form of financial aid? I guess the show’s staff was trying to convey the concept of going through great lengths to help someone-- even if there were better alternatives to cover this situation. Either way, the scenario helped pave the way for Ryuga and Rian to catch on about the recent increases in Horror activity in the vicinity. Going back to what I said earlier, the way how Gold Storm handles its story allows us to feel amazed when a empty slots gets filled by a new puzzle piece, which works well in taking its viewers along for the ride. While Zinga and Amily haven’t become appealing villains yet, the mystery behind their plan to give Ladan more power is what keeps us on our seats each week. As long as the show keeps linking the Horror activities to their actions, then their first encounter with Ryuga and Rian should lead to a good breaking point in the story. If Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkess' twist is anything to go by, then the Destroyer of World's actions should leave us with a shocked expression. Gold Storm may have not given us a cool-looking Horror suit, but this week’s design is at least a step in the right direction. While the creature was a beefed-up guy with monster arms, the staff’s detail on the man’s face made it seem like his monstrous form was about to jump out of his skin. Since the franchise’s suits are supposed to give off a scary movie vibe, I’d say that episode 5 managed to fill in this requirement, which acts as another beacon of hope. But hey, the big dude made Ryuga’s fights look cool, as they got the right shots and choreography techniques that make a fist fight between a muscular person and a normal-built dude look spectacular. Based on the program's progression so far, Garo’s sixth series is slowly feeling like the franchise we all love, which is a good sign that this'll be a good installment for the franhise. To add to its positive elements, you know a series is promising when the hero partakes in a well-shot game of darts. In actually, any sport or competitive activity could work as well. As we start to see minor characters and events link the show’s main plot together, Garo: Gold Storm Soar should start reaching new heights in the next episode. If the suits show their face again, then we might have a huge winner here.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
When helping someone goes wrong
Back when I said that Garo: Gold Storm Soar had potential, I wasn’t fooling around. With each passing episode, the show continues to shine brighter than before. As we start to see the series' various story elements come together, the big mystery continues to leave us intrigued. From the looks of it, the franchise is still in good shape.

Asian Kung Fu Generation photo
Asian Kung Fu Generation

A Daily Dose of Music: Asian Kung Fu Generation


They blew it up!
May 18
// Anthony Redgrave
I've always been a big fan of Japanese Rock from The Pillows to SCANDAL but I've never taken any formal Japanese language classes except for the random words picked up from anime. So when a new track comes out by J-Rock old ...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episode 19

May 17 // Josh Tolentino
But let's not blow things out of proportion: Six good episodes outweighs a seventh less-good one, but it's hard to imagine that anyone but a Type-MOON fan with an *ahem* an especially hard lore-boner would get maximum enjoyment out of this week's installment. Given the need for Ufotable to fill some time I honestly hadn't expected the show to move straight ahead to Shirou's showdown with Archer. In a way it hasn't, since the episode saves the actual fight for next time, but I had assumed from the epilogue of episode 18 that episode 19 would be shifting focus to some sideline event while the Rin Rescue Rangers™ made their way to Einzbern castle. This was not the case. Instead, we skip straight to the main event, or rather the opening to it, as the squad arrives to confront Archer, though the primary confrontation that occurs here is of the conversational variety. If Rin's dream-time monologue gave viewers an insight into Archer's state of mind, this installment's lectures get deeper into the facts of Archer's past - and by extension, Shirou's (possible) future. At this point it's been long enough since I first played Fate/stay night to know how much of what's revealed here is new or expanded information, but they certainly get into much more detail than the Unlimited Blade Works movie ever managed to, exploring the circumstances of Rin's summoning Archer, his nature as a "Guardian" (an unusual type of Heroic Spirit), and to hearing the motivations for trying to murder his past self straight from the horse's mouth. The results, while intriguing for the dedicated fan, delve perhaps a little too deep into the weird rules of Fate creator Kinoko Nasu's "Nasu-verse" than is productive, especially not for the more casual, Fate/Zero-originated audience Unlimited Blade Works seemed designed to cater to. It doesn't help that what's actually said doesn't really make it clear just what Archer is, either. I'll take a stab at it, though. At some point in his future (detailed in the cold open), Shirou made a deal of some kind wth a big ol' CG effect, agreeing to become a Guardian in exchange for the power he thought he needed to fulfill his ideal of saving people. Except that as a Guardian, Shirou (now Archer) was more akin to a force of nature, an agent of balance. And forces of nature are rarely known for their compassion and life-preserving qualities. The tension between the merciless mandate of Guardianship and the broken little boy that just doesn't want anyone to cry took its toll, leading to the Archer of the present, now possessed of the belief that things would be better had he never existed, or at least never stuck to his heroic ambitions. But of course, Shirou won't ever give up on his ideals. It's who he is, for better and worse, and Archer knows it. Hence, the goal of murdering his past self. Honestly, it's a powerful conceit, and gets straight at the heart of Fate/stay night's three scenarios and their exploration of one's relationships to one's ideals and dreams. Unfortunately, it's all too caught up in Nasu's love of esoterica and oddball fantasy rules, and the strong core message gets drowned out the way Ufotable's digital effects can sometimes drown out the nice 2D linework (I'm looking at you, guy who adds too much damn smoke to all the fight scenes!) We also catch up with Rin, who suffers quite roundly. First there's sexual harassment from Shinji, who's even more of a dipshit here than he was in any previous take on Fate, then the reveal that Kirei was not only alive, but also murdered her dad back in Fate/Zero. And she's tied to a chair, and her Servant turned out to be a real tool. Being Rin is suffering. If there's anyone who comes out ahead here, it's Lancer and his fanbase. Ufotable's been especially kind to the Hound of Culann, giving him no shortage of badass moments in recent episodes, and even laying the groundwork for a fun little Rin x Lancer ship. If you've ever wondered why Fate/Extra's version of Rin showed up to the Grail War with Lancer in tow rather than Archer, their interactions from the last few episodes should make that particular story angle a no-brainer. But, as many fun little asides there are in this installment, it's hard to avoid the impression that Unlimited Blade Works is trying to run out the clock a little. There's more elegant ways to go about conveying this information, but unfortunately, the show's scheduled for several more episodes. [Watch Unlimited Blade Works on Crunchyroll!]
Unlimited Blade Works photo
Where You See Yourself In 10 Years
Ufotable's take on Unlimited Blade Works may be in many ways the Fate/stay night adaptation fans always wanted, but it's not without its sticking points. Besides the usual caveats that can be attached to a prop...

Ibuseki Yoruni photo
Ibuseki Yoruni

Political struggles dominate Animator Expo's 22nd short


Age gates are now a thing
May 17
// Salvador GRodiles
It's hard to believe that Animator Expo's latest short (NSFW), "Ibuseki Yoruni," decided to implement an age gate, since their previous titles like "ME!ME!ME!" didn't have this feature. My guess is that it might be connected ...

Week Ender - Cry Edition

May 16 // Red Veron
[embed]33848:4745:0[/embed]"The Big Dango Family"Anime: ClannadI have not seen Clannad yet. Apparently this ending song makes people really sad. I am sorry.[embed]33848:4744:0[/embed]"Secret Base ~The Thing you Gave Me~ (10 years after Ver.)"Anime: AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That DayA song that just hits you right there after each episode. Slowly builds up to that ending that you know is approaching closer every episode.[embed]33848:4743:0[/embed]"Brave Song"Anime: Angel Beats!This song ended each episode (except for the last one) and capped off each episode with a bittersweet note. This song just starts to feel heavier as the show went on, especially in the later episodes when we get to see more of the character's back stories.[embed]33848:4742:0[/embed]"Ichiban no Takaramono" (My most precious treasure)Anime: Angel Beats!This is the song that the show ends on and just doesn't take you on a ride on the feels train, it runs you over with it. The song accompanies the usual ending but with a different twist and a slow pang of loneliness creeps over you as each character in the picture fades away. Still makes me cri evritym.Did I miss an anime ending that makes you sad? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I WANT TO SEE!
Week Ender photo
Never Ending Tears
If this week's OP Up! openings stir up emotions of sadness in you, then this week's endings on Week Ender will be sure to make you feel even more of those feelings. Endings do have more impact than openings since they're the ...

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger photo
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger

It's Judgement Time: Dekaranger to return as a V-Cinema


Chu Chu Chu Deka Deka!
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh my. Right when it felt that Hurricanger was going to be the only Sentai show to get the 10 Years After treatment, a new beacon of hope has surfaced for toku fans. Seeing that it's been ten years since Tokusou Sentai Dekar...
Your Lie in April photo
Your Lie in April

Feel emotions again with Your Lie in April OVA


Get Rekt, Emotions. AGAIN
May 15
// Red Veron
I know many of you are still trying to get over the ending Your Lie in April and the wound still fresh in your hearts, why don't take a look at a more simpler time? News of a 23rd anime episode just hit and instead of an epil...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Take a break with the sailor scout loungewear


I'll fight evil in comfort and style
May 15
// Anthony Redgrave
Being a self proclaimed connoisseur of Japanese culture, I know that the iconic sailor uniform is a epitome of youth, coming of age, senpai worshipping, and fighting evil by moonlight. There have been many different variation...
Steins;Gate photo
Steins;Gate

Grab a Dr. Pepper: Steins;Gate gets a release date for Europe


Just in time for the Summer
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; May has arrived and it turns out that PQube's release of Steins;Gate for the PS3 and Vita has been pushed to June 5 for Europe. While it's unfortunate that we won't get to experience the Future Gadget Lab's adven...
Katana photo
Katana

So there's a katana made out of meteorite


The power of the heavens
May 14
// Hiroko Yamamura
There's not much cooler than a traditional forged Japanese katana. That is of course, unless there a katana made out of meteorite iron! Guess what? There is. So yeah, if you happen to be visiting Tokyo Skytree anytime soon, I...

Japanator Interviews: SCANDAL

May 14 // Hiroko Yamamura
SCANDAL interview photo
OMG it's Rina!
As you probably already know, we are huge fans of SCANDAL at the Japanator office. The Osaka based all female band have been tearing up Japan since coming together back in 2006. They've come a far way from their days performi...

Music photo
Music

A Daily Dose of Music: Old School Thursdays


SCANDAL rock!
May 14
// Hiroko Yamamura
This week we're not taking the Japanator time machine too far back. We're only taking a seven year trip this time, back to 2008 with SCANDAL's break-out hit Doll. It's amazing to see how much the Osaka ladies have developed ...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE - Final Fantasy Type-0 HD


A Chocobo Dies
May 13
// Red Veron
Tonight, I'll be playing a couple of hours of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. I haven't been able to play much of this title since launch and I'll be starting from the beginning. So join us tonight for some magical teens in military school fantasy tonight!Stream starts at 11PM Central. Our Twitch site is: http://www.twitch.tv/japanator

OP Up! Cry Edition

May 13 // Red Veron
[embed]33834:4734:0[/embed]"Aoi Shiori"Anime: AnoHanaOh boy, a show that I watched in a weird time of my life where I was not the happiest and this one really got to me that I haven't gotten around to seeing the movie version. The opening song gives already takes you down on a feels trip and preps you that this show is not going to happy-happy. Wait for this weekend's Week Ender where I have this show's ending song which is takes you on a more intense feels trip.[embed]33834:4735:0[/embed]"My Soul, Your Beats!"Anime: Angel Beats!An original anime project that ended earlier than it should, Angel Beats! still makes me cry (inside) every time I hear the surprisingly great music that it has for a show about a weird school and angels. I found this anime years later on a streaming service while trying to get over something and this one really got to me. Even if sad stuff isn't your thing, the great soundtrack may win you over.[embed]33834:4736:0[/embed]"Ebullient Future"Anime: Ef ~ A Tale of MelodiesA lot you probably haven't seen this one. Ef is a great collaboration between the anime studio SHAFT (Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari) and one man feels train conductor/anime director Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days) with Shinkai's amazing music wizard Tenmon.This one started out as a visual novel (yes, that's why it's sad) but got an adaptation for an anime and still packs the emotional punch with that great team behind it. Beautiful and emotionally evoking shots with breathtaking music make this one a must-see for those who want something sad yet beautiful.[embed]33834:4737:0[/embed]"Hikaru Nara"Anime: Your Lie in AprilTOO SOON. TOO SOON. I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS ONE YET. THE PAIN IS STILL TOO REAL. NOPE.Did I not put your favorite sad anime opening up here? THEN SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!! I WANT TO SEE IT AND CRY WITH YOU, BABY!!!
OP Up! photo
Liek Evrytiem
Anime is a powerful medium that uses visuals and sounds that can evoke many feelings and some of those feelings can get you a little choked up. Whether it be the music or the characters in an anime, we associate many feelings...

Blow off photo
Blow off

AKB48 find out who is the best at blowing


Mmmmm cicada
May 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
Oshima Ryoka and Mogi Shinobu of AKB48  faced off during a new episode of AKBINGO! This time, it was their cheeks, lungs and taste for insects that was put to the test! Which gal was better at blowing! Who enjoys the crunch of flying protein?

Impressions: Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches

May 13 // Red Veron
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches starts off with Ryu Yamada, a high school delinquent type of guy who’s bad at school and gets a lot of heat from the teachers for it. After a scolding from a teacher, he runs into Urara Shiraishi at the stairs, a diligent female honor student who always seems to have her head buried in a book. Yamada tries to take a bit of his frustration on her by cutting her off while going up the stairs but trips and falls onto her. Yamada awakens later to find out that he’s switched bodies with Shiraishi. Later on, Yamada and Shiraishi learn more about this body swapping and find out that Yamada has the ability to switch bodies with anyone he kisses on the lips. Yamada and Shiraishi are then roped into reviving the Supernatural Studies club by Student Council Vice President Toranosuke Miyamura and are joined by supernatural phenomenon fan Ito Miyabi.In the club, the members learn more about Yamada's ability and each other through the body swapping hijinks by using it in many ways, by using it to their advantage in different situations (mostly for their gain). They also start to uncover what really is going on with Yamada's 'ability' and those who may know and posses other abilities as well. The supernatural bent of the show is implied by the title but don’t let that deter if you want a comedy set in a school with a story. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches has no supernatural creatures, superpowers, flashy or fancy visuals in it. The show maintains a grounded feeling having the supernatural powers be subtle whenever it is used by the characters. It makes the show feel more like a comedy than one about supernatural abilities.The voice acting is my absolute favorite part of the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches anime. The body-swapping aspect lends well into showcasing the great talent and vast vocal range of the voice actors. For example, Yamada being in Shiraishi's body has Shiraishi's voice actress doing her most loud tomboyish voice, which is vastly different from her portrayal of Shiraishi's calm and cool demeanor. All the actors do a great job and you can easily tell the difference in the characters while not in their original bodies. The great acting further enhances the comedic situations that arise in the different body-swapping scenarios. As you would expect from a show that has some cross-gender body swapping via smooching, there is fanservice in this show. At the most, it's characters in underwear, keeping it tasteful. Plenty of kissing to go around which includes guy-on-guy lip locking for those of you who like that thing (for those who don't like that, don't worry as it's played off as comedy too).I enjoyed the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches manga and I was impressed by this anime adaptation, it looks really good and the voice acting is great. I love the opening and ending sequences; the opening has a simple storybook-inspired look and gives you a nice glimpse at the many characters in the show. I also love that opening song, "くちづけDiamond" (Diamond Kiss) by WEAVER, which is a sentimental love song about a kiss and a promise that has a pop-y ballad feel. Not the typical kind of song you'd have opening a show about supernatural body swapping high school students. The first few episodes don’t really get into the ‘witches’ part of the story, but more on introducing the primary characters with some of the secondary characters. I’ve read the manga and wonder how far they’ll get into the story, since they are moving at a slow pace. I worry that we won’t get to see all of the seven witches or have enough time to show them off properly.I like how they handled this adaptation and I’ll be definitely follow it and it has been a while since I read the manga. I would definitely recommend this one for those looking for a school comedy with a bit of a different twist.
Yamada x Seven Witches photo
Freaky Witchy Friday
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is the latest work from manga author Miki Yoshikawa, whose previous popular work was Yankee-kun and Megane-chan (Known in some territories as Punk Flunk Rumble), a comedy about a delinquent g...

Music photo
Music

A Daily Dose of Music: Perfume


You need to relax
May 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
It's Wednesday, which means you probably deserve a chance to relax a bit. What better way to kick your shoes off than with some soothing tunes? This week the ladies of Perfume are back with the charming new number, Relax in ...
Events photo
Events

Huzzah: Anime at the Alamo: San Antonio and Texas Toku Taisen are holding a contest


Free goods for two lucky winners
May 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Now this is what I call good news! It turns out that Mecha Gorilla, the masterminds behind Anime at the Alamo: San Antonio and the Texas Toku Taisen, got a sponsorship by IELLO Games. In commemoration to this event, the group...
Attack on Avengers photo
Attack on Avengers

Behold, the Attack on Titan and Marvel crossover nobody asked for


Titans Assemble?
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
I've been getting back into reading comic books of late, the fabled "ame-comi" from across the Pacific, and one fun part of American comic book culture is the practice of "Free Comic Book Day", when comic stores and publisher...

Is New Japan Pro Wrestling the new WWE?

May 12 // Soul Tsukino
Since the closure of both Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling and Paul Heyman's Extreme Championship Wrestling 15 years ago, TNA was viewed as the number 2 company, the "alternative" to the WWE. Started by Jeff Jarrett and his father Jerry in 2002 and having been run by Dixie Carter and her family for nearly as long, TNA strived to set itself apart from the WWE for years. Notable concepts like the 6 sided ring, the X division, and the various concept matches they have created over the years were an attempt to set themselves apart from what Vince was producing. But, try as they might, TNA never really made a dent. The company struggled to turn a profit since the beginning. They had some high profile departures within the last few years with long time cornerstone A.J. Styles leaving after TNA failed to agree to a new contract, along with stars like Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels. They lost their long time business partner in Spike TV and have settled on being aired on the much less carried Destination America channel, a move that has cost them up to 2/3rds of their regular audience they had beforehand. And although they have done some of their "special" events on Impact, their weekly show, they haven't aired a "live" pay per view show since last October (and that event itself was pre recorded from Japan). Impact Wrestling has lost a lot of its visibility among wrestling fans since the beginning of the year. In my mind it's no longer the number 2 company in the United States, and it's not really as big an alternative anymore. If this is the case, then someone would need to step up and becoming the true alternative to the WWE's megalith. And New Japan Pro Wrestling is fast on its way to becoming it. Granted, NJPW isn't there yet. However, They have many of the stones in place to build themselves to be. They've had their stars appear on shows for Ring of Honor. Sure, that isn't exactly headlining Wrestlemania, but it is a big start. Having Jeff Jarrett help bring over their biggest event of the year, WrestleKingdom, to American pay per view with Jim Ross doing English commentary was another huge step. If you are going to show off your wares, then show them the absolute best show you produce. Jim Ross, along with Matt Striker, explained the context of every match, the importance of every title, and the magnitude of the event for English speaking fans in a way that made for a great introduction to the product. Soon after NJPW made a big step in getting a weekly show on the AXS cable network. Although this wasn't a first run show like a Monday night RAW, it was a very well produced show highlighting the biggest matches of New Japan in the last few years. Host Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett blew me away with their commentary of these matches. They made the matches not only seem important, but they brought a level of credibility to the action more than anyone in the WWE or Impact have done in decades. The show did so well in its first season it has already been picked up for a second (That premieres at the end of May) But the biggest thing going for NJPW that makes it a big alternative to the WWE is that it too has an online archive that rivals the WWE Network. This past January when #CancelWWEnetwork was trending on Twitter after the disaster that was their Royal Rumble event, who was the first to step up and tell people to spend their money on their service? NJPW.  NJPW World obviously isn't for everyone, but there is a sizable portion of wrestling fans that are increasingly cynical and resentful of what the WWE has done in their corporate atmosphere. With American exposure, a weekly TV show to gives a informed spotlight to the action and its stars, and a 24/7 archive streaming service that isn't beaten over your head every two seconds, what's left for NJPW to become a true alternative? A first run show, even if it is on a slight delay, would probably ideal, but that might be a while off. Having AXS carry entire  NJPW special events might be closer to achievable.   AXS does very well with its live MMA coverage and bringing that to NJPW wouldn't be that much of a transition. Also, carrying events on tape delay would bring in a sizable audience as well. Some well-placed ads on the USA network during RAW or other similar types of programming and you have a bigger audience than what currently follows the product.  Unlike Impact or Ring of Honor, NJPW has the funds and the influence to make things like this happen. So with NJPW, the sky's the limit as to what else they can bring to American shores. They already have a great foundation, now is the time to build on it and give the WWE something to think about. WWE has grown complacent since there is no real threat to them here. Vince, and by extension the WWE, thrive better in a competitive atmosphere.  Any kind of challenge a big player like NJPW can bring would make the WWE stand up, take attention, and bring out the best in them as well. The past has shown us that when the WWE is on their game, the entire industry benefits. And right now, it sure could use it. NJPW brought back popularity of pro wrestling in Japan a decade ago, it's time for them to bring it to new heights in the U.S. and give the WWE a run for its money.  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
NJPW's presence in the U.S. grows
Being a fan of professional wrestling in the United States, you've got choices. Of course there is the biggest game in town in Vince McMahon's WWE, who have dominated the market practically  unopposed since 2001. Behind ...

Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger photo
Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger

Henshin Ninpou: Cellphones and shinobi unite in Cyber Ninja Tekkaraiger


True ninjas never miss their dates
May 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Is it me, or has there been a ton of ninja-related content in these past few months? With Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, Ninja Slayer, and the upcoming ninja-themed toku series, Hayate, the warriors who hide in the shadows ...

Annotated Anime: Unlimited Blade Works episodes 16-18

May 11 // Josh Tolentino
The pain train's next destination, of course, is the newlywed's paradise of Kuzuki and Caster. The most successful pair of Grail War participants this time around finally meets their end, but not before some of the best action of the season so far, as Shirou and Rin take the fight to their foes, with some unexpected help from Lancer. In fact, Lancer practically steals the show, his gruff Irish charm causing Shirou to get all possessive of his new girlfriend. After seeing both DEEN and even the game continually give Lancer the shaft in terms of characterization (there's a reason his Carnival Phantasm incarnation can't stop dying), having Lanceer  Everyone gets a chance to show off (though Kuzuki shows off by practically feeding Shirou his own ass), but the marquee attraction is the big ol' fight between Lancer and Archer, and it's a doozy. Once again Ufotable does Lancer some small justice by emphasizing just how good a fighter the guy in blue tights really is, and how powerful his Noble Phantasm, Gae Bolg, can be. Indirectly, this also makes the fact that Archer had planned out the whole engagement even more impactful, as to hold back when the other guy is playing for keeps isn't usually a survivable strategy. Rin's fight with Caster is also a treat, if only to see Rin get right up in Caster's face, right as the witch was monologuing, and punch the piss out of the mature lady. The show may have worked hard to make Caster a more sympathetic antagonist, but damn, it does feel good to see her get knocked on her ass. Atsuko Tanaka, Caster's voice actress, has turned gloating into an art form, and seeing that act taken down a peg is immensely gratifying. But, as is written, the final blow goes to Archer, who had been planning to ambush Kuzuki and Caster from the start. His latest betrayal of people who trust him is given more weight here, as well, as in the Unlimited Blade Works movie it was shown as a storm of swords flying out of nowhere. Here, even Kuzuki gets a final, ineffectual blow in, as if to twist the knife into the sides of Caster's fanbase.  Following that up is the big reveal: Archer is Shirou from the future. But, of course, every Fate fan already knew that part, and Ufotable all but spells it out through flashbacks, lengthy character analyses delivered by Rin's dream sequences, and Saber saying, out loud, that Archer is Shirou's "...". If it wasn't clear before, it sure as hell is, now.  We also get the much-anticipated use of Unlimited Blade Works itself. Archer's wasteland of an inner world is full of copied weapons, and since Shirou is Archer, it's the place where takes the first step on the road to becoming the person he will be. This is where Ufotable cheated a bit, by opting not to animate that bit where Shirou deflects a rain of swords through the power of discovering his abilities, but then again, the time it actually was animated didn't turn out quite so well: [embed]33802:4730:0[/embed] I'm willing to let it pass, on that. Besides, there's some good payoff right after, in the form of a deeper conversation between Rin and Archer. Whereas in even the game the bond between Rin, Archer, and Shirou seemed somewhat taken for granted (a bad situation considering that Rin isn't the obvious love interest out of Fate/stay night's shipping selection), here it gets shape and texture. Like seeing Archer "sell out" his old Master, as if to punish her for having the temerity to read him like a book. Even Gil could tell, and when he takes notice, you know you're probably not in the best position. Next week...I actually don't know. We've a few episodes left before Unlimited Blade Works has to wrap up, so only time can tell just how Ufotable have managed to fill in those gaps.
Unlimited Blade Works photo
They've Got The Touch
The last time we checked in with Unlimited Blade Works, we'd seen the lengths Ufotable was willing to go to give the passing of Ilya and Berserker the gravitas that moment deserves. It worked, for the most part, though t...

Annotated Anime: Plastic Memories episodes 4-6

May 10 // Josh Tolentino
But first, the egg's on my face. Last time I wrote about the Plastic Memories, I had declared it largely uninterested in exploring its more science-fictional aspects, more specifically the "big questions" raised by its premise of Giftias as android companions. I was wrong. Well, sort of. The last three episodes don't quite explore the concept per se as instead reveal more of the world around the characters of the SAI Terminal Service. Given that this is a work of fiction rather than, say, a documentary, that's how you start grappling with questions of any kind. And it works! Sort of. It works because we're finally shown more of the show's darker side. This is where I was most wrong. I predicted that we wouldn't be seeing much in the way of the good old "androids gone berserk" trope at work in Plastic Memories. After all, if SAI was confident enough to sell Giftias as surrogate children, parents, and lovers, surely the androids were safe enough not to go nuts and kill all humans.  But...nope! Isla and Tsukasa's toughest case yet - retrieving Marcia, a Giftia's that's been little sister to an orphaned little boy - doesn't just pull at the heartstrings, but reveals much more immediate consequences to not retrieving a terminal Giftia in time. Overdue Giftias don't just lose their memories and personalities, but also risk becoming "Wanderers", androids that walk around with their physical limiters off, prone to harming themselves and others in a fit of robo-mental-breakdown.  Honestly, if there's one aspect to this that doesn't quite jive, it's that people would wait so long to retrieve a terminal Giftia. If Wanderers posed such a threat - and they do, judging by the way a Wanderer was responsible for most of Michiru's backstory as well as ending Kazuki and Isla's partnership - then the retrieval deadlines for a Giftia would be much farther from their actual expiry date. You know how milk or food will usually be just fine to eat for a couple of days even after their listed "best by" date? Imagine that, but farther ahead for Giftias. Furthermore, retrieval should be a much more compulsive action. In fact, given the damage just one Wanderer can do, it's likely a cop or government agent would be the one to retrieve your Giftia, not a couple of teens with smiles on their faces. That aside, it's an interesting angle, especially considering that up to now no one's ever questioned the inherent goodness of being with a Giftia. I suppose that questioning the central premise of the show would be a bit too meta and potentially self-destructive for Plastic Memories to risk exploring. Can't blame 'em. But ultimately, Plastic Memories feels more like a show about mortality and confronting loss than a show about androids and their place in society. The central metaphor certainly supports that reading better than any more traditionally sci-fi approach. That metaphor: Retrieval as the impact of terminal sickness or death, gets underlined in episode 6, as Tsukasa finally gets the big news: Isla will be gone in just over a month. This being a love story, of course, brings us at last to the foregone conclusion of the show: Tsukasa wants to be with Isla. No tiny amount of time, or effort on her part to stay a distant machine, is enough to break that kind of fairytale relationship. Now, it'll be up to the pair to see how she reacts to the news.  [Watch Plastic Memories on Crunchyroll!]      
Plastic Memories photo
Let's Go A-Wanderin'
A month and change. That's actually a very short time, when you think about it. For example. I haven't written a recap of Plastic Memories in almost three weeks. That's about half the time Isla's got left on her android clock, and with the latest three episodes, we're just about ready to start plumbing the show's potential depths.

Fan Expo Dallas photo
Fan Expo Dallas

Heading to Fan Expo Dallas? Come have dinner with Godzilla's staff


Be sure to have a roaring appetite
May 10
// Salvador GRodiles
You know. Meeting your favorite industry people at a convention may be cool and all, but nothing beats the idea of having a meal with the folks you admire. Speaking of which, Fan Expo Dallas' giving people the chance to ...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episode 5

May 10 // Nicole Helmeid
He hands him off to Sunakawa who once again gets the praise for Takeo's actions. Takeo borrows Suna's comically-small gym clothes and the three eat cake in the park. Takeo thinks to himself how pure Yamato is- nothing like his former-wrestler mother which is a hilarious and perfect family background for his character. Later the couple takes a stroll to see the stars and when Yamato mentions how secluded they are in the park- seemingly hinting at the romantic situation. He interprets it as fear of being alone together and declares he won't lay a hand on her until she is "all grown up." Suddenly, a love rival appears?!   In an unexpected turn, Sunakawa's beautiful older sister Ai comes home for a visit and is distraught upon learning Takeo has gotten a girlfriend. Hey- it wouldn't be shoujo if there wasn't a love rival! Her brother had no idea she had feelings for Takeo and she proceeds to throw a tantrum. She demands to meet the new girlfriend to judge her character. Sunakawa and Takeo head to the park to meet Yamato while Ai secretly follows them. Ai senses something is bothering Yamato, who has mixed up sugar with salt in her latest batch of cookies and seems to be a bit on edge. Ai declares to her brother that Yamato is hiding a secret from Takeo and wonders whether she is cheating on him. Takeo finally notices something is up when Yamato tries to tell him something on their walk home but instead just says goodnight. In an attempt to understand her, Takeo turns to teen girl magazines at the convenience store. Ai comes across this scene, as passersbys take photos of an oblivious Takeo, and offers to help talk to Yamato for him. We'll have to see if she uses this as a chance to drive a wedge between the couple. [You can watch MY love STORY!! on Crunchyroll with new episodes every Wednesday.]
My Love STORY!! photo
A Rival Appears
After last week's explosive episode in which our seemingly super-human protagonist saved two of Yamato's friends from a burning building, we are back with Episode 5. With the title "I'm Dense" this episode deals with Takeo m...

Anime Expo '15 photo
Anime Expo '15

Sweet: LeSean Thomas and Thomas Romain to appear at AX '15


Double Thomas Xtreme!
May 09
// Salvador GRodiles
As LeSean Thomas (Black Dynamite: The Animated Series Season 1 and 2's Supervising Director, Legend of Korra Book 1's Production Artist) and his team continue to work hard on Cannon Busters' pilot, the guy's appearing at...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live - PT: Silent Hills Edition


Watch Red scream in terror
May 09
// Red Veron
Watch me, Red Veron, certified scaredy cat when it comes to horror games. Heck, even the tension in certain scary themed video games can drive me away. The news of the removal of P.T., or the secret "Playable Teaser" for the...

Week Ender - Sports Edition

May 09 // Red Veron
[embed]33817:4726:0[/embed]"Start it right away" by HyadainAnime: Kuroko No BasukeI forgot how fun this ending is and have totally fallen behind with this show. I think basketball is a great sport that translates well to anime with all speed, technique, the direct one-on-one nature of the plays. I am really glad to see the sport see a resurgence in anime and manga, and I like how all the pretty boys in this one is attracting women to the sport.[embed]33817:4727:0[/embed]"Ah Yeah"Anime: Haikyuu!Great song with a more retrospective style with clips of stuff that happened in past episodes. Normally I don't like those but the song totally sets up the right mood for looking back.[embed]33817:4728:0[/embed]"Sekai ga Owaru Made wa"Anime: Slam DunkA slower rock ballad song that is sooooo 90's that it's great (for people like me). Minimal animation but does the job well.[embed]33817:4729:0[/embed]"Blaze Away"Anime: EyeShield 21Because a reader brought up this show in the OP Up!, I just had to include this one. I did watch this show waaaaay back in the day but dropped it when they were in Houston (which is where I lived) and got turned off at how they portrayed it as some Japanese suburb (dumb reason, right?). But I did remember liking this ending a lot and how it felt like a 90's Japanese rock song that they had in a lot of anime back in the day.Did I miss something? What is your favorite sports anime and sports anime ending? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
Week Ender photo
Final Quarter Play
More anime sports stuff come your way with this weekend's Week Ender! Sports anime and manga have been around for decades, the stuff you see in today's stuff are built upon decades of refinement and tradition. Using contempor...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 4

May 08 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that the Garo franchise does well, it’s the world-building aspects in regards to the Makai Knights, Horrors, special realms, and all the other toppings that make up the show’s various settings. To an extent, this is one of the aspects that makes the series’ side episodes shine, since it rewards the viewers for being invested in the franchise. In regards to this week’s adventure, Daigo Akizuki’s introduction helped show off Ryuga and Rian's growth as characters. Sure, it wasn’t a big conversation, but it felt that Daigo's interpretation of Ryuga and Rian was similar to how they were in Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. In a sense, this episode conveyed the two heroes’ resolve in prioritizing on the important matters during a mission, such as saving lives and what not. Basically, it’s an extra little reward for those who enjoyed following Ryuga and Rian’s development. Perhaps the big surprise this week was that Daigo’s Makai Knight Armor was an actual freaking suit, which means that Amemiya’s likely saving the costume designs for Gold Storm’s major heroes and villains. Better yet, the staff’s decision to give the guy a bulkier suit compliments the warrior’s axe fighting style. To top it all off, the emerald green color acts as the final ingredient to gives the design a badass look. Interestingly, Giga the Beast Body Knight was originally featured in a Garo pachinko game called Makai Kessen Gaoh. That being said, it’s great to see that the show’s steam used a design from the pachinko machines in the toku series, since it gives us the chance to see these characters in action. While there wasn’t a powerful Horror causing trouble in the city, the group’s fight against a horde of normal creatures helped change up the Golden Knight suit on CG Monster-of-the-Week action that’s been going on for three weeks. Hopefully, this type of thing’ll happen in future episodes. That way, the viewers can be blown away by the stunt work done by the actors that are in and out of suit. For now, Daigo's fight scenes in his human and Makai Armored Form left us with some impacting moves, which increases my hopes in him returning later on. When it seemed that Garo: Gold Storm Soar was going to follow in the same footsteps as Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, the program’s team showed us that viewers are still getting their taste of well-made suits. Even though we were only treated to a new Makai Knight suit and a bunch of recycled Horror costumes, the action that was done with these suits made up for it in the long run. One thing for sure, this scenario was a tasty appetizer to keep us full until the major story with Ladan starts to kick in. Since the plot's beginning to show a transition between episodes, the payoff should be worth our time.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Hurray for more actual costumes
It may’ve been unfortunate that the latest Garo series hasn’t featured any new amazing Horror suits, but that isn’t stopping the show from bringing us a new costume. Once again, Keita Amemiya might be the gu...

Iconic Field photo
Iconic Field

Aw, Snap: Iconic Field shows off Eva Mecha Designer's cool artwork


Sounds like a good time
May 08
// Salvador GRodiles
Talk about an amazing turnaround, people. After the Japan Animator Expo project hit us with a remix and a making-of video, their 21st piece, "Iconic Field," graces our eyes with Ikuto Yamashita's (the Evangelion ser...

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