JapanaTen: The Golden Rules of Durarara!!

Jul 16 // Anthony Redgrave
10. Nothing will top the first opening of Durarara!!   Baccano had one of the greatest openings in modern anime. The theme of changing points of views and how it all their stories intertwined was prominent in the opening and it did it to one of the jazziest beats this side of Cowboy Bebop's "Tank!". Then Durarara!!'s opening happened and it got you psyched for the show ahead. Maybe not the most fitting of songs since a lot of Durarara!! is walking around and talking especially during Mikado's parts but damn is this song good. The latest openings have a more muted style to match the darker stories going on at the time so it never got me excited to see the show as Theatre Brook's opening. I loved the bright colors, the frenzied rapid cuts between each character, and that incredibly strong drum beat that crescendoed with the guitars and vocals. All of these make for a fantastic opening that still hasn't been topped.  9. There will be an explanation episode Like Baccano before it, Durarara!! likes telling its story in media res. Mikado might be a proxy for the viewer since he's experiencing all this for the first time too, but Ikebukuro is a city with an expansive history that's itching to let out its secrets. You may be confused about why a character is acting oddly or who the hell this new character is but it won't be for long as an exposition episode is right around the corner. It can feel like an exposition dump at times so it would be nice to see more hint dropping in the main story rather than just in Izaya's story. 8. You will always be confused with who's who in the Dollars chat room A lot of Durarara!! is based in the Dollars forum with the main characters talking amongst themselves but using alias's. It gets very Death Note-y when you have to decipher not only who's who but who knows who's who and what they think of them. My personal confusion stems from Izaya having a girl icon and his icon color his not matching his outfits color scheme despite all the other's displaying this trait*, and the dubbing. The dubbing opts for vocalizing the wrong voice actor to read the on-screen text of another person. x2 Sho does it better by finally having the right voice actor chime in at the appropriate time but to add dramatic effect, the point of view character will sometimes read the chat logs out loud making you extremely confused on who's saying what. Fortunately, some nice Redditors directed me to this diagram explaining the whole thing but without it I'll still be lost on who the fuck Kanra is. (*Apart from Anri also who wears blue like Mikado due to their school uniform but we do find out explicitly that she is the red icon so it's fairly easy to remember that) 7. The Japanese text and Russian script won't be translated I'm thinking this is a dubbing problem more than a subbed one. Most of the on-screen text is never translated, not even the Japanese subtitles for when Simon is conversing in his native tongue. This is extremely frustrating during the finale of Durarara!! when Simon and Izaya talk entirely in Russian and the dub audience has no idea what they are saying. Celty also gets a shaft in this regard considering that some of her phone texts aren't spoken prompting the viewer to read it to add drama or it's arbitrarily not translated. Again x2 Sho improves on this by translating a lot more kanji including the title screens but mid-way through they decided to stop only to pick it up again for the final few episodes. Is this Funimation's subtle hint for the audience to learn Japanese? 6. Seiji and Mika will do something totally irrelevant So far there have been three arcs in Durarara!! and only once have they had an active role. And yet they still get top billing along with the rest of the cast in the Durarara!! openings. They should've been replaced by Horada at least in the second opening considering he was quite obviously the villain of that arc. You could argue that Mika teaching Anri and Erika to cook in x2 Sho is important as it leads to one of Izaya's more human and childish moments, but ultimately this couple serves no purpose at all outside the first arc. 5. An enemy will become an ally Or in the case of Masaomi, friend becomes enemy becomes friend again through redemption. Durarara!! has some of the most charming characters in anime thanks to their voice actors, writing, and character design so it's really hard to dislike anyone in the series. This makes their change of heart even sweeter as we can root for them despite their misdemeanors in the past. Anri takes responsibility of her Slasher powers, Rokujo mellows out after his brawl with Kyohei, all we need now is for Izaya to stop being a dick and the circle will be complete.  4. Retconning the first episode The first episode was a brilliant introduction to the crazy world of Durarara!!. But Masaomi's relationship and knowledge seem to precede himself, most glaringly his interaction with Kyohei's gang. In the first episode, they are relatively friendly to one another except we know now that they once rival gang members that had shakily reconciled over the kidnapping Masaomi's ex-girlfriend. Something like that would not manifest itself as a friendly wave upon meeting on the street. Another would be the dissolution of many color gangs when they clashed at Saitama. We only know of two color gangs; Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares and they dissolved after Masaomi quit due to said kidnapping. Either we still haven't seen this clash in a flashback or Masaomi needs to keep his mouth shut before he retcons anything else in Durarara!!. 3. Simon's sushi will flip-flop between really good to horrendously bad I'm willing to put a lot of stock in Simon. He's a really friendly guy, strong, dependable, and is very passionate about his sushi. Even Mikado, Anri, and Masaomi look genuinely excited to go in every time the first opening ends. Except we learn that their cuisine is very hit and miss. In the OVA Kasuka passionately compliments the dishes but when Kyohei and Masaomi congregate there to air out some dirty laundry they're practically sick after the first bite. Russia Sushi, you will be one of Ikebukuro's many, many mysteries. 2. There Will Be Blood Baccano References Isaac and Miria appear as part of the Dollars in the first arc so does that mean the billboards showing clips of Baccano actually just showing a documentary of the past? Another one of Ikebukuro's many mysteries. 1. Shizuo Heiwajima will always save the day If anime has taught me anything it's that 90% of life's problems can be solved by simply beating the hell out of it. That's Shizuo's bread and butter and he's damn good at it. Durarara!!'s modern world setting makes you think that; silent takedowns, bureaucratic paper cuts, and blackmail would be the biggest dangers in Ikebukuro, but apparently it's running into Shizuo on a bad day that tops the shit list. So it's a good thing that Shizuo is always on the right/ good side of the story. He was introduced as a person not to fraternize with but if you stick with this guy there's a good chance you won't be slashed, beaten up, or kidnaped. No Durarara!! arc is complete without Shizuo kicking ass and destroying public property.   And that's my ten. What other golden rules do you have for Ikebukuro's Strongest Anime?
The Rules of DRRR!! photo
Living For The City (of Ikebukuro)
I picked Durarara!! back up last month and it became a fast favourite amongst my weekly lineup. The colors, the violence, the fantastic English voice direction, and the air of supernatural elements mixed in with the heavy urb...

Million Arthur photo
Million Arthur

It's time for war: Square's Million Arthur game is now available


Who wants to become Camelot's King?
Jul 15
// Salvador GRodiles
We're in the middle of July and GAMEVIL has released Square-Enix's Million Arthur game on the Android and iOS. To be more specific, it came out on July 14, but you get what I mean. In light of this day, the company uploaded ...

OP Up! Fast Edition

Jul 15 // Red Veron
[embed]34065:4931:0[/embed]"Reclimb"Anime: Yowamushi PedalNow that I think about it, cycling isn't about going fast. It's also about endurance but hey you still need to get there first at the end. So enjoy this opening about bicycles and dudes in tight shorts.[embed]34065:4932:0[/embed]"Sonic Drive"Anime: Sonic X Sonic was created in the early 1990's to appeal to kids who had outgrown Mario using Sonic's 'attitude' and this opening embodies all that spirit. Surprisingly it has more 'tude than the US adaptation's opening. I'll have that at the bottom of this post.[embed]34065:4933:0[/embed]"Around the World"Anime: Initial DThis anime has become synonymous with eurobeat music, which suits the high-octane and blood pumping race drifting. [embed]34065:4934:0[/embed]"Mach GO GO GO"Anime: Mach GO GO GO (Speed Racer) Nothing beats the grand daddy of all anime about going fast. The opening music sounds familiar since it was adapted into the Speed Racer recognizable theme song.BONUS VIDEO[embed]34065:4935:0[/embed]Sonic X Are there openings that are about going fast that I didn't include? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
GOTTA GO FAST
This week's OP Up! is all about going fast! So less time reading nonsense preamble to all these openings and let's get to it! LET'S GO!Are there openings that are about going fast that I didn't include? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna know!

G-Tekketsu photo
G-Tekketsu

Rejoice? The next Gundam series gets Anohana's Director and Writer


The Gundam We Saw That Day
Jul 15
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: GundamInfo posted a recap video of the show's press conference, which can be watched below] Now this is what I like to call an unexpected turn of events. During the live stream for the next Gundam series, Mobile Sui...
Ultraman X photo
Ultraman X

Simulcast GET: Crunchyroll nabs Ultraman X


In which toku fans are given more hope
Jul 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; I think it's safe to say that 2015 is a great year to be a tokusatsu fan. Last week, Shout! Factory announced Dairanger's North American DVD release, and Crunchyroll has now revealed that they're simulcasting Ult...
Nintendo photo
Iwata was 55
[Update: Developer legend and Nintendo General Manager Shigeru Miyamoto issued a statement in reaction to Iwata's death, saying that he was "surprised at this sudden news and overcome with sadness."] In a brief statement issu...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time for more Chantelise


Watch out for friendly shopkeepers
Jul 12
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is now over, but you can watch it right here.] Now that Sal has mastered the ways of the Night Driver in Chroma Squad, the guy returns to his adventures in the world of Chantelise. Little did he know, his ...
Yu-Gi-Oh! photo
Yu-Gi-Oh!

SDCC '15: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' uncut episodes are now on Crunchyroll


Believe in the heart of the cards
Jul 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; the folks at 4K Media Inc., the company that handles the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise's license and marketing, have announced at Comic Con that Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is now on Crunchyroll in its uncut glory. As ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 701

Jul 12 // Anthony Redgrave
Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are on a raid. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned over time from the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighboring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story to scenes from Flevance and it's surprisingly easy to follow despite these changes. Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story becoming more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  However, I cannot feel the same way when Law pulls this face. It's the same face as Luffy when he lost Ace back in Marineford. I always relate it to an "oh I'm comically scared face" rather than I'm completely and emotionally broken. The rest of the Straw Hats have relatively conserved shocked and sorrowful expressions when compared to this white-eyed huge mouth facial feature.  In the next episode, we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. I'm really looking forward to this episode as we'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Marijois.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are on a raid. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned over time from the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighboring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story and scenes from Flevance. The pacing is steady and easy to follow despite the changes to scenery and Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story. She becomes more and more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  However, I cannot feel for the losses Law is experiencing when he pulls this face. It's the same with when Luffy lost Ace back in Marineford, I always relate it to an "oh I'm comically scared face" rather than I'm completely and emotionally broken. The rest of the Straw Hats have relatively conserved shocked and sorrowful expressions when compared to this white-eyed huge mouth facial feature.  In the next episode, we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. Doflamingo isn't such a bad guy towards his family and that's something I can respect. He berates Jora for scaring Buffalo and threatens anyone that would harm his biological brother. I'm really looking forward to this episode as it has been hinted at throughout this arc. We'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Marijois.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. I think it's an amplification of Robin's background but to a greater degree. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are raiding pirates. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned gradually over time by the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighbouring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story and scenes from Flevance. The pacing is steady and easy to follow despite the changes to scenery and Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story. She becomes more and more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  In the next episode we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. Doflamingo isn't such a bad guy towards his family and that's something I can respect. He berates Jora for scaring Buffalo and threatens anyone that would harm his biological brother. I'm really looking forward to this episode as it has been hinted at through out this arc. We'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Marijois. 
One Piece photo
Law has seen some S***
We've now entered the back story portion of the arc where tragedy is the dish of the day. No matter how pleasant and beautiful the setting may seem, the shit will hit the fan and the tear ducts will open once Mother Sea begins to play. I've never cried while watching One Piece, it so happens something gets in my eye when that song plays. 

First Impressions: GANGSTA

Jul 12 // Anthony Redgrave
GANGSTA has more in line with Panty and Stocking than 50 cent's thug life despite the title's connotation. The similarities with the rude, crude angels begin with partner mercenaries specialising in different weapons and having hearts of gold and end as it's an action anime rather than cartoony comedy. Nicolas and Worick are in the business of dealing death to enemies too risky for the police and being shouted at by the captain for their methods. A classic set up that would be tired if not for the interesting leads. Nicolas is the muscle and Worick is the silver-tongued negotiator making for an endearing duo that work well together. The show is not for the faint hearted as it's a mature show with a capital M. Drugs, murder, abuse to women, and bloodshed is present in each episode. The dialogue doesn't pull punches as it dishes out racial slurs, explicative insults degrading women and crude language making the show feel and sound like a violent dystopia. Fortunately, the show isn't all doom and gloom as the characters are very charming and colourful as mentioned before. The art style is warm to contrast with the majority of the characters decked in dark threads. Black shadow accent the unsavoury and rough nature of the show. The show's character design is attractive despite its thematically ugly world and I have not seen any major animation hiccups in the first two episodes. GANGSTA will be something I continue with during this season. I'm a fan of the action and the unpleasantness world is something I adore in fiction especially when they have likeable heroes that I can root for. The aesthetics are a beautiful topping on this delicious piece of anime.   [GANGSTA streams  on FUNimation] GANGSTA is more in line with Panty and Stocking than 50 cent's thug life despite the title's connotation. The similarities with the rude, crude, angels begin with partner mercenaries dubbed Handymen specialising in different weapon and having hearts of gold and end as this is more action orientated than cartoony comedy. Nicolas and Worick are in the business of dealing death to enemies too risque for the police and subsequently being shouted down by the commissioner. A classic set up in many works of fiction that would be overplayed if not for the interesting leads. Nicolas is the muscle and Worick is the silver-tongued negotiator making for an endearing duo that work well together. The show is not for the faint hearted it's a mature show with a capital M. Drugs, murder, verbal and physical abuse to women, and blood flows rampant in each episode. The dialogue doesn't pull punches when it comes to racial slurs, explicative insults, and degrading women making the show feel and sound like a violent dystopia. Fortunately, the show isn't all doom and gloom as the characters are very charming and colourful as mentioned before. The art style is bright and warm to contrast with the majority of the characters that choose dark themed threads. The show's character design is attractive despite the thematically ugly world and I have not seen any major animation hiccups in the first two episodes. GANGSTA will be something I continue with during this season. Although the story is still ramping up, I like the world and it's inhabitants. I'm a fan of dystopian worlds like Fallout and the main leads are likeable enough to keep me engaged with their exploits.
GANGSTA photo
Violence! Racism! Misogyny!
Truncated versions of words bug the hell out of me. I always hear it in my mind's ear being spoken by an loud spoken and arrogant individual; 'GANGSTA!' emphasis on the -STA part with a line a spit flickering from their ...

Review: The IDOLM@STER Cindrella Girls Season 1

Jul 12 // Jeff Chuang
The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls Season 1 Studio: A-1 Pictures Format: Streaming via Daisuki/YouTube Release Date: January 10, 2015 The idea behind Cinderella Girls as the next iteration of the franchise is that by opening the gates with a large swath and wide variety of characters, each player (or viewer in the anime's case) will invariably find somebody they like. It works for AKB48, so why wouldn't it work for anything else? I guess the question sits at the center of the Cinderella Girls experience. But that's in reference to the whole of Cinderella Girls, which, beyond the anime, holds itself as one of the pioneering and successful mobile games in Japan. It's not too different than, say, how thanks to the Rage of Bahamut mobile games, we got an sword-buckling adventure anime to go with. Where these two franchises diverge is the way how Cinderella Girls is just one head of a multi-headed hydra that makes up the IDOLM@STER franchise. Beyond the anime and the mobile game, we're talking about a mix of media, besides obviously the anime on home video. It includes also live events, radio shows, and the sub-unit CDs that the anime sells in an almost-direct way. When you watch each episode of the anime as an invested fan, there's a lot more to it than sitting back and enjoying the story. Of course, like any other type of fans, everyone gets on social media and chat about the latest episode as soon as possible (and thanks to Daisuki's prompt simulcast even I can do that to a degree). Easter eggs and other nods to the rest of the IM@S franchise often are the biggest cues for discussion among fans. What's more, new announcements and reveals relevant to the entire franchises sometimes happens within the latest episode of the anime. To take the last episode in the first half as an example, do you know Triad Primus? Just that scene between Nao and Karen sent some into frenzy, only because it's one of the more popular sub-groups within the game that was quietly done away with after New Generations was initially announced from the first Cinderella Girls anime promo. That's not even include more obvious ties like the weekly bonus audio drama in-game, or the freebie SR cards and other loot that go live in the proper Cinderella Girls game right after you finish watching the week's episode. The Japanese broadcast even reinforces its full-force consumer message through its self-sponsored commercials in the CM breaks of its own anime. That's a view from deep inside the rabbit hole. I think most of us out west don't care for it, at least at first. A lot of us out likely found out about the IDOLM@STER franchise first via the 2011 TV series, curio news reported from oversea fan being silly, or various MAD videos featuring IM@S. The line of games had been in the purview of hardcore importers, or people willing to think differently about iOS apps by paying the asking price on Shiny Festa. There may be an underground group of English-speaking, mobile game types that cling to the three major IM@S social games, but nowhere is that visible above the surface of the world wide web, so to speak. You had to dig down to find these Producers. When Bandai-Namco focused its mainline 765Pro IM@S products and events to point to and collaborate with the two social game platforms, some fans worried--the original characters (and their voice actresses) are not getting any younger--will this bring about a drastic change to the franchise? At the same time many Producers are simply getting familiar and are welcoming the Cinderella Girls. Under that context, our 346 Production idols are in a battle of their lives to find longer-term acceptance within this multi-head hydra of a family that is the IDOLM@STER. That road is not particularly complicated, thankfully. In the context of the Cinderella Girls anime, well, it's idol anime, where the audience come to enjoy cute girls singing catchy songs while doing cool dances. We also see at times how these girls fail and then overcome various obstacles, personal or otherwise. I think that really sums up the core idol anime experience. Of course, your mileage may vary, but everyone seems to have the best time together when the experience come together, each part of the idol concept firing on all cylinders. In the shadow of these daunting questions, I can safely say that is exactly the IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls that we got. But for those of us who are watching the show for what it is--A-1's animation featuring a new brand of animated idol--does it deliver? Will the extra baggage get in the way? It's the most important question, and one that I am now ill-suited to answer. One of IDOLM@STER's trademark themes has to do with people struggling emotionally that come together to face their mutual challenges. The performers and their producer have to come to term with their differences and opposing views to achieve their shared goals. Several times in the story so far, the problem in a particular plot arc may lie in the way how the Producer character fails to communicate with his charges, and vice versa. A lot of the times conflict arise because people have mistaken expectations or out of inexperience, and we see it across the board. In that sense, Cinderella Girls is an admirable vehicle to express these struggles. It's about overcoming them with uplifted feelings, and not so much ticket or CD sales. At the same time, given its progress at the half-way point, it is pretty difficult for Cinderella Girls to achieve even just a fraction of these objectives.  There are just too many characters, too many in-jokes, and too many thematic and story checkpoints that the narrative has to play things very directly. Mio's breakdown in mid-season, for example, became somewhat of a point of confusion because the story didn't take time to explain her mentality clearly. The way Dekorations got separated or how the producer was unable to explain himself to the cops is yet another. I guess these contrivances are not deal breakers, but discerning viewers might argue it adds to the pile of small problems that degrades the experience. The animation too, had its up and downs. At times Cinderella Girls anime looks sublime, such as the pilot episode. Sometimes, however, it looks rushed. The mid-point recap, as adorable as it was, is not exactly the best thing. (Producer's CV, Takeuchi, is only 17 years old! His natural voice is deeper than the Producer's voice.) I think to be fair, Cinderella Girls is a competently put-together production, but there were some seams showing throughout the series that might rub against the more picky viewers. When it comes to where rubber meets the road, so to speak, the dance and new musical numbers from Cinderella Girls are pleasing, perhaps even very exciting. Moreover, the series avoids a monster-of-the-week issue with enough unpredictability thrown in there. The girls are cute, and if one of them appeals to you, congratulations. What does it leave those of us who aren't warming up to any of them? I'm guessing the second half of the Cinderella Girls anime experience will continue to focus on some of these characters while introducing more. One of my pre-anime favorite, Anzu, played the role of a wise-cracker. Rin, Cinderella Girls's iconic cool beauty, didn't get very far besides the initial induction into the 346 fold. But at the same time, I'm not sure if that's enough of a carrot on the stick to keep those of us who are not into idols for idols's sake going forward. Maybe that's okay. For those of us ever become curious as to what IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls has to offer, the anime is a splendid gateway to become a patron of IM@S's multi-faceted castle of a franchise. Just be aware that not only there's a deep rabbit hole beyond it, there are also a bunch of pitiful creatures living off of said animation like yours truly, clinging on to every word and visual symbol. [This review is based on a streaming copy viewed by the reviewer.]
Idolm@ter CG Review photo
And it didn't even cover half the idols
What happens when you take one of the longest running media-mixed franchise about idols and give it new life? What happens when you take a mobile game money mill and try to develop its CCG-style characters? What is an idol? T...

SCANDAL photo
SCANDAL

A Daily Dose of Music: SCANDAL


Summer with SCANDAL
Jul 11
// Anthony Redgrave
The girls are back from their first world tour and are already producing more songs with their upcoming single Stamp!.  This music video reminds me of Spring breakers before they start to go crazy. Lots of Sun, lat...

Week Ender - One Piece Edition

Jul 11 // Red Veron
[embed]34051:4922:0[/embed]"Run Run Run"I like that this one shows off the cast as kids just running around like kids do,  then showing them sharing a meal and fighting over the last piece you think they would do before getting all their attention to their next big adventure.[embed]34051:4923:0[/embed]"Eternal Pose"This is the only ending I really really like. Set to a cool chilled rap with a slide show of the Straw Hat pirates and what they wore during the major arcs. It's a blast from the past seeing Zoro bandaged in a Hawaiian Shirt or Nami's dancing girl outfit. My favourite moments from each arc flashback into my mind when I see them again and it's incredibly nostalgic to see how far the Straw Hats have come on their journey.[embed]34051:4925:0[/embed]"Shining Ray"A simpler ending that doesn't feature much movement until the end, this one is more about a calm feel with characters waiting out a rain. Taking a moment to ponder about other things while out on an adventure. I like endings that show you characters from a show with constant action just take a moment to wait out a rain just like you and me.[embed]34051:4926:0[/embed]"Before the dawn"This ending is pretty fun, I've got a soft spot for endings or openings that just feature the characters of a show just chill' or having fun. It makes me feel better for characters in shows that feel like they're locked in an endless cycle of fights and never ending plots. Pirates need a break too, you know.Got a favorite ending that didn't make it on here? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS! I wanna see!!!
One Piece photo
700 episodes is a lot of Endings!
One Piece just reached its 700th episode and on this week's Week Ender, we're celebrating by giving you some One Piece endings for your viewing pleasure! When the first episode of One Piece aired, Clinton was still in the Whi...

Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

SDCC '15: Dairanger fights its way to North America


It's Fortification Time!
Jul 11
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The gang at Ranger Crew have confirmed that the series hits North America later this year.] Congratulations, people! Thanks to everyone who supported Shout! Factory's Zyuranger release, the company has announced at C...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 7

Jul 11 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Let's do an update on the points. Tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. Luckily since AXS covered day four last week, you haven't missed anything. Here is how the points stand. BLOCK A:   Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (4), Shinsuke Nakamura (4), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Tetsuya Naito (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (2),  Minoru Suzuki (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2). We start with a greeting from Tetsuya Naito before we get to the action. In a surprise, we get Frank Shamrock on commentary this week with Mauro. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale: Would have probably said this was going to be a one-sided match, but with Fale doing well in past tournaments, and his win of the Intercontinental title over Nakamura, This is more evenly matched than would meet the eye. A bit of a slow start as Fale just bulls around Tanahashi. Tanahashi counters a test of strength with an armbar and a headlock.  Fale yanks Tanahashi out of the ring and just tosses him around. We skip ahead as Fale goes for the Granade finisher, but Tanahashi counters. Both men end up outside the ring and Hiroshi hits a top rope dive outside the ring to the big guy, but Fale quickly recovers and smacks Hiroshi. Back in the ring Tanahashi gets the sling blade clothesline and then the frog splash, but Fale grabs him by the neck and gets off the Grenade finisher (Chokeslam/Asian spike combo), but Tanahashi kicks out. Fale goes for the Bad Luck Fall drop but is countered before he goes for the move and nails it and pins Tanahashi! Clipped, but what was shown it seemed like a typical WWE match more than anything. Fale isn't the greatest of technical wrestlers, but Tanahashi worked well with what he had.     Block A: Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:  Oh boy. Do not like Honma's chances here. Japan 's favorite underdog has no wins going for him so far in the tournament and  he's up against one of New Japan's top guys. Mauro points out that Honma is winless. Mauro actually for the first time mentions Nakamura's part in the tournament, including matches we didn't see. Shinsuke goes for his usual antics, but Honma isn't going for it. He gets Nakamura down and goes for the headbutt but misses. Nakamura gets a couple of harsh knees on Honma hanging off the ring apron. We jump ahead with Nakamura kneeing the hell out of Honma. Shinsuke goes for his favorite corner knee strike, but Honma jumps up and lands a clothesline. Honma gains the advantages and Honma lands his headbutt! Nakamura lands a kick to the side of Honma's head to regain the advantage and lands more knee strikes on Honma. We come back from a break where Nakamura has a face lock over Honma but Honma counters with a DDT. He hits Nakamura with a piledriver and juuust comes up short on the three counts. Nakamura regains the lead but runs right into a Honma headbutt and Mauro is going crazy for this one. Honma goes for the diving headbutt and misses (as usual), but gets back up for an exchange with Shinsuke but gets a knee to the jaw. Nakamura looks to finish things off, but Honma gets a roll up and nearly gets it! Nakamura lands 2 Booma ya knees to finally finish Honma off. However, the crowd starts a massive chant for Honma as he is carried from the ring! We get some words from both men as Nakamura tells everyone he is on a roll while Honma asks why he can't win a match. He makes some comments about winning the Intercontinental title and changing it to yellow. Well, the crowd loves him anyway so he has that going for him! Coming back from a break we get a few more words from Naito. He talks about not having pressure on him after winning the 23rd G1 Climax and that Okada and Styles were the ones he was looking for. He mentions that is the place he badly injured his knee so it has memories for him, but they are bitter.       Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada: Now this should be good. You have the 2013 and 2012 G1 Climax champions facing off. Okada is the leader of the B block, but after pinning the IWGP Champion last week, I'm convinced Naito can beat anyone in the block. We get both men's entrances as we are in main event territory now.  Naito is still sporting the bandage on his head. Shamrock gives some insight on what it's like to suffer an injury like Naito's knee injury and how it stays in your mind, especially going to back to the place where it happened. We come back from a break as the match begins. The crowd is loud for this one. Mauro tells that these men only have met six times, but they have split their matches. Naito starts in with an armlock, but Okada reverses it. They get to the ropes where Okada teases smacking Naito, but doesn't. Quick exchange ends up with Naito landing a dropkick to Okada's  face. Naito lands a bunch of elbows on Okada and then ASKS OKADA TO HIT HIM. Okada obliges. Naito Bushido to the max. Naito ends up outside the ring and Okada chokes him on the barricade before rolling Naito into the ring. Okada keeps the edge over his opponent with a kick to the face!    Ouch! Okada hits the DDT but only gets 2 on the pin attempt. Okada's approach seems to be methodical, even cocky. The crowd is just waiting for Naito to counter and he does with a dodge of a corner elbow and a hanging neck breaker on Okada. Naito gets BIG air with a missile dropkick. Okada counters Naito's corner attack and hits a knee to Naito's neck. Okada gets the flying elbow and goes for the Rainmaker pose and the finishing clothesline, but Naito counters with a spinning DDT. Naito hits the corner hanging dropkick and then a top rope frankensteiener on Okada. Naito nearly gets it with a nice german suplex. Okada tries to counter but is met with a Naito SLAP. Okada, however, grabs Naito for a tombstone and gets it, but when he goes for the Rainmaker clothesline, Naito counters, and counters again before landing a kick to Okada's head. Back from the break with both men down on the mat. they stumble up as these two just exchange smacks and elbows. Okada whips Naito into the ropes, but Naito hits a shoulder block and goes for the top rope, but Okada hits a sweet dropkick. Okada goes for the rainmaker again, but Naito hits another counter before hitting the stardust press and the win! Wow! We get some post-match words from Okada who is disappointed he won't win EVERY match in the tournament before being helped away by Gedo. In the ring Naito thanks the crowd for cheering for him. Mauro tells a quick funny story on how Naito is still an active member of the NJPW fan club since he was a kid Quick backstage words from Naito promising to win the tournament again this year We get some studio words from him about the match saying this match was to remind people that he too was capable of winning the tournament, not just Okada or A.J. Styles. The shows closes out with a nice tribute to The God of Japanese Wrestling, Karl Gotch, saying he would have enjoyed the match we just saw.     This was a decent showing in this episode. Frank took a little time it seemed to get warmed up but his commentary was good, sharing what he could in a field he probably doesn't have a lot of knowledge in (Ken Shamrock on the other hand...). Mauro finally making mention of other matches is a start, but think about this, Shelton Benjamin is the leader of the Block A group and hasn't even been mentioned yet on the show. The first two match were clipped but not nearly as bad as the Anderson match from last week. The main event was amazing and showed just how good NJPW can be.   Before we go, here is the action from each block you didn't see and the points at the end of the night. BLOCK A: Gallows beat Ishii, Smith beat Kojima, Shibata beat Benjamin Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (6), Shinsuke Nakamura (6), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Archer beat Tenzan, Suzuki beat Takahashi, Yano beat Anderson, Styles beat goto Tetsuya Naito (8), Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (4), AJ Styles (4),  Minoru Suzuki (4), Karl Anderson (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2).   See you all next week! BUT FIRST:  Let's do a little catching up heading into day 4. Once again I will point out in this tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. I won't bother with the specific results of days 2 and 3 but here are the point totals heading into this episode. BLOCK A:   Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points), Shelton X Benjamin (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Katsuyori Shibata (2), Shinsuke Nakamura (2), Tomohiro Ishii (2), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Tetsuya Naito (4), Yujiro Takahashi (2), Togi Makabe (2),  Toru Yano (2),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (0),  Minoru Suzuki (0). Seriously, The reigning IWGP Champion has only one win, and Suzuki doesn't have any? Still early, but that is really surprising. Now with that settled we will get to the action! We are welcomed by Shibata for the second week in a row as we kick things off   Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura V/S Yuji Nagata: "King of Strong Style" vs. "Blue Justice". Nagata comes out wearing an "Anti-Aging Hero" shirt. Love it.  As both men are trained in amateur wrestling as well as MMA, it leads to Mauro talking about a conversation he had with Samoa Joe about the influence of MMA in pro wrestling. The start off is slow, but we skip ahead where things are heating up. This match is not fast but hold and counter hold. Lots of kicks and strikes and blocks and dodges. Josh Barnett adds something here because he not only wrestled Nagata before, he had his debut against Nagata. The match ends with Nakamura hitting 2 Booma yae knees to the head and scoring the pin. We get some post-match words from Nakamura before going to break. Probably had a lot clipped, but you still got the general feel of how the match played out. Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. A.J. Styles: Naito may be smaller than most in this tournament, but he has shown on this program before that he can hang with the big guys. Doesn't get any bigger than the IWGP Champion. The story here is that Naito won last year's G1 and looking to repeat, while Styles wants to become the first gaijin winner of the G1. The match starts off with trading arm locks and headlocks to gain an advantage. Mauro mentions that Naito already has a bandaged cut on his head from Tora Yano. Naito gains an advantage and then messes with Styles by doing A.J.'s pose. Sure enough Naito's cut starts trickling blood. Both men get furies of offense, but Styles shuts Naito down with a poke in the eye. We skip ahead as now Naito is gushing blood, but still holding the advantage. Mauro gets bonus points from me for making a point to reference someone I admire, Gordon Solie. Styles nearly gets the Styles Clash on Naito, but Naito counters. Naito hits his Gloria suplex and then hits the top rope corkscrew for the WIN! Post-match comments from Naito saying that he respects Styles, but just beating him wasn't enough. He wants a title shot. Again, edited a lot but this match was still very entertaining to watch and a big surprise for Naito to pick up the win. Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson:  To say that "The Machine Gun" from the Bullet Club has an uphill climb here is an understatement. Block B top point holder taking on the bottom of Block B. Anderson attacks before Okada even finishes his entrance. We skip ahead as both men are outside the ring. We skip ahead again as Anderson is just mauling Okada. A lot of clipping here. Okada gets in a DDT to stop Anderson's offense.  We clip again as Okada lands the top rope elbow and goes into his Rainmaker Pose. He goes for the Rainmaker clothesline but gets caught in a Liger bomb. Anderson gets a top rope neck breaker (A cool move I've not seen before) and a Bernard Driver but can't put Okada away. Clipped again as Anderson goes for his finisher, the gun stun (Stone Cold Stunner) but is countered, countered again, and countered AGAIN before Anderson actually hits the move and gets the win! Wow, that easily is the most clipped match I've seen on this show ever. Anderson talks some smack in the post match. Okada and Gedo have nothing to say as they go straight past the press for the locker room. We get some in studio comments from Shibata before our main event. He talks about how this is an important match and we get some clips of Shibata and Tanahashi feuding when Shibata returned to New Japan in 2012. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata: Main event time! We got a good look at Shibata last week with the oddly emotionless way he destroys people with his MMA influenced style. Here he's taking on NJPW's golden boy. These two were once part of New Japan's "Three Musketeers" in 1999 along with Nakamura. We've got about 25 minutes left in the show, so hopefully this match wouldn't be the hatchet job the last one was. Tentative start once again and oddly Shibata is already sweating. Shibata SLAPS Tanahashi, like totally bitch slaps him. Tanahashi returns the favor. Yup, these guys do not like each other. The action picks up quick with each man dodging big strikes and kicks before Tanahashi leaves the ring. Shibata hurts his knee from a dive and now Tanahashi has something to target. Despite the injury, Shibata takes Tanahashi outside the ring and beats on Tanahashi including a running kick to the face. We come back from a commercial break with Shibata standing over Tanahashi. Tanahashi makes his comeback with an elbow before hitting a senton on Shibata. Shibata gets a knee to Tanahashi to regain the lead here. Shibata shrugs off a drop kick while in the corner before beating Tanahashi's head in with several elbows before hitting his sweet hanging drop kick. Tanahashi gets a forearm and then a german suplex, but Shibata pops right up and grabs a suplex of his own. Shibata goes for a kick, but Tanahashi catches it and goes for a few leg whips before putting on a cloverleaf leg lock. Josh mentions the lock is actually putting pressure on Shibata's good leg, not the injured one. Nice touch there from Josh Barnett. Small comments like that make this commentary more legit than anything else out there. After releasing the hold, Tanahashi just kind of stands there awkwardly, looking for a crowd reaction that isn't there and gets booed heavily for it. He lands the sling blade clothesline on Shibata before Tanahashi lands a frog splash. He goes for a second but Shibata gets his knees up. The crowd is chanting for Shibata loudly now. Both men trade forearms as it's a standoff.  Shibata lands a NASTY spinning backhand that literally smacks the sweat off Tanahashi's face. Shibata goes for the Go-To-sleep knee to the head, but it's countered, only for him to hit it again. he nails Tanahashi with a running penalty kick and scores the pin. The two men begrudgingly shake hands before Shibata calmly leaves the ring and walks to the back in his typical style. Post match Tanahashi is on the floor in pain as he questions the last 10 years of his career. Shibata pretty much agrees. In the studio, Shibata talks about how much the match was important to him before we close out the show for the week. That main event was incredible, no denying that. Even more than last week though, the weakness of having a one-hour show covering this big of a tournament shown through. The Anderson/Okada match was clipped to death. Also, I get the idea is to focus more on the action, but they make little if any mention of the points each man holds going into these matches which may not be a huge deal, but kind of leaves out part of the story. Saying that,Mauro and Josh were spot on tonight and made the show that much more enjoyable to watch. In keeping track of things,  here is the action from each block you didn't see and the points at the end of the night. BLOCK A: Kojima beat Fale, Benjamin beat Smith Jr., Ishii beat Honma. Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (4), Shinsuke Nakamura (4), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Suzuki beat Tenzan, Yano beat Goto, Makabe beat Archer. Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Tetsuya Naito (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (2),  Minoru Suzuki (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2). And with that, I hope all of you American readers have a great July 4th weekend. And those of you looking to just have fun, take a lesson from the Florida Brothers. You don't have to be born American to enjoy the holiday, just American at heart.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Day 5 from G1 Climax 24
Back again this week as Strong Style takes a look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV's coverage of the G1 Climax 24 tournament. So far we've seen some great matches selected from the tournament's action. Tonight we look at ...

Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

SDCC '15: Power Rangers Dino Super Charge gets an electrified teaser


Unleash the Power!
Jul 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Saban got the rights to Power Rangers again, I felt that their latest installments were disappointing. Samurai could've been a decent show, but the terrible acting direction held it back. Right when it s...

Final Impressions: Plastic Memories

Jul 09 // Josh Tolentino
Unfortunately, I've got my critic hat on here, and Plastic Memories ending well (more on that in a bit) doesn't exactly excuse an almost infuriatingly bland middle. Indeed, the would've been a much tighter, more riveting experience as a six- or eight-episode miniseries, but the need to push things out to twice that length has left the show stretched thin, both emotionally and narratively.  Therein lies the good news, though: Plastic Memories' ending almost wipes out the bad feelings of before because it's honestly a lovely piece of bittersweet (emphasis on the sweet) closure. It helps because the show, early on, put the kibosh on any idea that Isla's fate could be avoided somehow. There's no bargaining with death in this story, which makes what little time she has with Tsukasa all that much more precious, even when it feels like it's being squandered on teenage blush-antics (see episode 7). That aside, though, it pays off, as the last several episodes see Isla's true importance being revealed. No, she's not some kind of ultimate weapon, nor is she special or destined in the way someone like Chobits' Chii was. She's just a Giftia with a gift for empathy and a way of bringing people over to her way of thinking. As it turns out, it was Isla's compassion and love both for the Giftias she retrieved and the people who owned them that changed this branch of the Terminal Service. It's established that they're the only ones who go full-in on the therapy and touchy-feely side of separating a Giftia from its owner, and that's because Isla convinced Kazuki and the others to that philosophy. That's why it works in Plastic Memories' larger context. Isla may have only had 9-ish years in the world, but her legacy lives on in the compassion and empathy of the Terminal Service branch she worked with. She's made her mark on the world and the people around her. That goes for Tsukasa, especially. It's not often that a show that opens with something as cliche as "love at first sight" pays off, but it does here. Well, sort of. It works here thanks again to the inevitability of Isla's passing. Seeing Tsukasa force a smile and watch his resolve start to crack, as he spends their final date trying to bargain with fate, makes up for the fact that this love story started with her seeing her moping in an elevator.   Lastly, it works because it knows when, or rather, how, to quit. Let's take another series about letting go: Anohana. That show's characters spent almost the whole story in varying states of denial, none of them able to get over the loss of their friend, and finally saying goodbye by screaming it out to the heavens. It's over-the-top, and while it did work for some folks, it left others cold for the intensity of that melodrama. There's no screaming at the end for Plastic Memories. Only a girl who gets to spend her last moments with the boy she loves, knowing that everything's alright in the world, and perhaps hoping that someday they might be reunited.  That's all well and good, but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't quite wipe out Plastic Memories' other structural problems. Narratively, the show was about as clumsy as Isla was in her android dotage. In fact, the last two or three episodes were accompanied by no less than four different montage sequences. And let's not even get into the fact that the show would've been much more interesting earlier on if it had explored things from a less tiresomely teenage point of view. But, perhaps that's not the point anymore. Plastic Memories is about going out with the good bits in mind, and the ending certainly makes a much better impression. And if that's to be Isla's legacy, it'll be all good.
Plastic Memories photo
Remember She
Plastic Memories ended well. For a show that's all about what people leave behind, about legacy, about leaving the world with a lot of good memories, and about literally ending on an up note, that's the best outcome one could ask for. 

Mega Ran photo
Mega Ran

Aw snap: Mega Ran and Mighty No. 9 team up for a sweet deal


Mighty No. Ran anyone?
Jul 09
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be up to date with Mega Ran's music, but there's something amazing about the way how the guy tells an engaging story while he raps. Whether it's his tunes about the Blue Bomber, Final Fantasy VII, or other neat top...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 6

Jul 09 // Anthony Redgrave
Kyon may be quick with the comebacks, but he's lacking in the conventional intelligence department. With exams on the horizon, he seeks assistance from Asakura which causes a misunderstanding from Nagato because of their increased contact. Fortunately, the misunderstanding trope does not smother the whole episode as the show outright says that it's a misunderstanding straight after the suggested relationship. This is something some anime shows need to catch onto *cough* NISEKOI *cough*, instead of overexaggerating the reactions and wasting whole episodes of building up misunderstanding.  Haruhi and her lapdog Koizumi make an appearance having been granted official access to the North High school grounds under Nagato's absent minded request. Being from a prep school Haruhi states she is leagues ahead of Kyon and Asakura which brings forth a Mathematics challenge between the two rival schools. Yep the main conflict is down to an algebra 'solve for x question'. I've been out of high school for half a decade, and I swear it was never this difficult. The saviour surprisingly (or unsurprisingly if you consider she is still the same person) is Nagato Yuki as she answers the question without writing anything down. Her method is something to be desired as she will not be scoring marks for jotting down the random garbage that starts spewing out of her mouth. Honestly, I was not expecting that from a love stricken PSVita addict.  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] Kyon may be quick with the comebacks and wise enough to ask the right questions, but he is sadly lacking in the intelligence department. With exams on the horizon, he seeks assistance from Asakura since she is a paragon of studentship. Cue misunderstanding from Nagato Yuki because of their increased contact and everything is resolved. Fortunately, the misunderstanding trope does not smother the whole episode as even this series has caught on and outright says that it's a misunderstanding. This is something some anime shows need to catch onto *cough* NISEKOI *cough*.  Haruhi and her lapdog Koizumi make an appearance having been granted official access to the North High school grounds under Nagato's request. Being from a prep school Haruhi states she is leagues ahead of Kyon and Asakura which brings forth a Mathematics challenge between the two rival schools. Yep the main conflict is down to algebra solve for x question. I've been out of high school for half a decade, and I swear it was never this difficult. The saviour surprisingly (or unsurprisingly if you consider she is still the same person) is Nagato Yuki as she answers the question sans working out. Her working is something to be desired as she will not be scoring marks for jotting down the random garbage she starts spewing out. Honestly, I was not expecting that from a love stricken PSVita addict. 
Nagato Yuki photo
Hot for Teacher Asakura
We are nearing the half-way point of Nagato Yuki-chan and so far it's been very good. I really like the familiar elements and emphasised comedic moments when comparing it to Haruhi. A lack of Asahina dials down the uncom...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 700

Jul 08 // Anthony Redgrave
It seems that this episode is self-aware of the significance of 7 as the title shows up in the 7th minute. That means more than a quarter of this episode can be skipped. No, wait that's a lie. After the 10th minute, we return to the main action with Luffy, Law, and Doflamingo. The first 10 minutes were retreads old Fujitora dialogue from three episodes ago. Man, they were really padding for time with this one. Do yourselves a favour and skip to the 10-minute mark because I'm sure they'll repeat the marine talk in a later episode if you still don't understand their motivation. Finally, we begin the backstory between Law and Doflamingo which may be very significant as one of them may join the Straw Hat's if deemed tragic enough. Turns out Law's devil fruit has the death-defying ability to grant immortality at the cost of the devil fruit eater's life. But Law doesn't have any interest in this ultimate power thus putting him in dire straits with Doflamingo. We get a flashback to 10-year-old Law seeking acceptance into the Doflamingo family. He gets beaten on mercilessly by a younger Diamante and Trebol while kid version's of Baby 5 and Buffalo laugh at his misfortune. The family accepts children and have no qualms in kicking the shit out of them either. This shockingly equal treatment speaks volumes of Doflamingo's philosophy.  In the last few moments of the show, we get glimpses of Doflamingo's brother Corazon. He looks like One Piece's version of the Joker even more than the pirate with the epithet 'The Clown". It fits with his rather unpredictable personality of being extremely clumsy yet intimidating from his fits of violence towards children and absolute muteness. Psychotic tendencies must be a genetic trait.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] It seems that this episode is self-aware of the significance of 7 as the main title shows up in the 7th minute. That means more than a quarter of this episode can be skipped. No, wait that's a lie, after the 10th minute we return to the main action with Luffy, Law, and Doflamingo. The first 10 minutes were retreads of what Fujitora had said three episodes ago. Man, they were really padding for time with this one. So do yourselves a favour and skip to the 10-minute mark because I'm sure they'll repeat the marine talk in a later episode for those that don't understand their motivation. Finally, we begin the backstory between Law and Doflamingo which may be very significant as one of them may join the Straw Hat's if deemed tragic enough. Turns out Law's devil fruit has the death-defying ability to grant immortality at the cost of the devil fruit eater's life. But Law doesn't have any interest in this ultimate power thus putting him in dire straits with Doflamingo. We get a flashback to 10-year-old Law seeking acceptance into the Doflamingo family. He gets beaten on mercilessly by a younger Diamante and Trebol while kid version's of Baby 5 and Buffalo laugh at his misfortune. The family accepts children and have no qualms in kicking the shit out of them either. This shocking yet equal treatment speaks volumes of Doflamingo's philosophy.  In the last few moments of the show, we get glimpses of Doflamingo's brother Corazon. He looks like One Piece's version of the Joker even more than the actual clown of the show Buggy. It fits with his rather unpredictable personality of being extremely clumsy yet intimidating from his fits of violence towards children and absolute muteness. Psychotic tendencies must be a genetic trait.
One Piece photo
Tragic Backstory Time
Whew! 700 episodes. I can still remember starting One Piece nearly a decade ago. Back then there were no official streaming sites so I had to go by Youtube episodes that were chopped up into 3 bits. I was inspired to watch it...

OP Up! One Piece Edition

Jul 08 // Red Veron
[embed]34044:4913:0[/embed]"Bon Voyage"Although it may not be the most flashy openings One Piece has had, I think it nicely encompasses the themes explored throughout the show. This opening touches upon each Straw Hat's backstory, the camaraderie they find as part of the Straw Hats, and the freedom they have as pirates. The downside is that we don't get to see any butt-kicking action.[embed]34044:4914:0[/embed]"Kokoro no Chizu"My mind jumps straight to this opening when thinking One Piece apart from the Engrish We Are! There is so much here that I love. The colours, the action, the upbeat song that is synched to the visuals, and being paired to one of the strongest arcs in the series.[embed]34044:4915:0[/embed]"Jungle P"From this intro onwards, One Piece started to extend their intros to two verses instead of the one+ chorus. I assume it was to pad out each episode so they didn't have to show as much per episode. Anyways this is another strong intro even if it's let down by the appearance of Brook and Luffy destroying a civil service boat. [embed]34044:4916:0[/embed]"We Are Special"Yep, we had to have We Are somewhere on this post. I went for the latest as the visuals are easier on the eyes. It's a funky rendition with the visuals being updated to feature more of the Straw Hat's Rogue Gallery. [embed]34044:4917:0[/embed]"Fight Together"After the darker turn of events that were occurring in the show and the previous sombre opening One Day, Fight Together was what we needed as fans. It contrasted the gloominess and depressive feeling of being separated from loved ones with the passion and determination to grow stronger to protect them. This intro is also better than the entire Post-War Arc episodes dedicated to each individual Straw Hat.So which one is your favorite One Piece opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! Let us celebrate some One Piece love together!BONUS VIDEO[embed]34044:4918:0[/embed]
OP Up! photo
700 episodes is a lot of Openings
Having 700 episodes in 16 years, the One Piece anime has amassed quite a collection of openings and endings throughout its run. So this week's OP Up! and Week Ender selections are special, as we celebrate 700 episodes of One ...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece anime filler arcs

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Boss Luffy Historical SpecialsOut of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats are re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in this fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all, but they were one of the fillers I always enjoyed whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc)Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters in the show that can be badass, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to make the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking show, taking the viewer step by step from raw materials preparation to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land ArcI would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses' appearance hidden until the reveal making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret IslandJust like direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies are like hour long episodes. In most cases, the main drama stems from the Straw Hats having a falling out before regrouping to fight in the finale. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas that makes it an interesting One Piece movie. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different.  3. Omake: Report Time and Monster TimeThese Omake shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats about the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins and Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's NavelThis is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is an activity pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, newly joined Sanji cements himself as a new powerhouse by drop kicking a massive octopus, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew in hilarious ways, and there's a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. It's a fun little episode that sparks the feeling of adventure rather than the mission/objective lead arcs like Alabasta and Impel Down.  1. Davy Back FightThis is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip the entire game section. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime version adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light but they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. It's great to see the Straw Hats use their unique abilities in unorthodox ways to win each game. The filler does go against the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls without turning into his monster form. But that shouldn't stop you from watching this arc. One Piece is about having fun on the high seas and the Davy Back Fights has that in spades. The whole arc has a nice green grass, blue sky pleasant fun vibe that makes it perfect to turn your brain off and see your favourite characters play, fight, and enjoy themselves before things get serious in the next arc.  7. Boss Luffy Historical Specials Out of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in a fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all but they were one of the fillers I did enjoy whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc) Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters that can be badass, friendly, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to cook the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking how taking the viewer through step by step from raw materials like grinding together spices to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land I would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses appearance hidden until he was revealed making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island Just as many direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies can be considered longer episodes. In all cases there is one point the Straw Hats have to have a falling out before regrouping to fight once more. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different as it's my favorite of all the filler movies so far. A close second would be Clockwork Island Adventure because of wedding dress Nami. 3. Omake: Report Time and Monster Time These shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats explores the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins. Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's Navel This is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is something pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, it has Sanji showing off his stuff against big ass monsters cementing himself as a new powerhouse, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew and a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. 1. Davy Back Fight This is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip it. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light and they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. The filler does go against some of the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls but if you can get passed that then the Davy Back Fights is one filler you don't want to skip.
One Piece photo
700 episodes makes for a lot of filler
Today I'm here to count down the top 7 animated fillers in One Piece as part of the 700th episode celebration. To make this list, it can be anything animated with One Piece slapped on it, from movies to omake. However, if Oda...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece storylines

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Little Garden ArcAfter Vivi was discovered to be the princess of Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes the list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. From this arc, you see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power, for example, is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! This arc has a lasting effect on Zoro as his amputation escape plan can still be seen on his shins. This was played off as a gag but added a sense of futility and desperation Vivi, Zoro, and Nami were going towards to escape.  6. Thriller Bark ArcI think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores many horror tropes including; the ghost ship, zombie, and skeletons. Very fitting considering One Piece has a maritime setting, well except the zombie part. Like Little Garden, I love the main villain Gecko Moriah. One Piece fans first heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers, appearance etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy in the whole series just before his defeat. 5. Davy Back Fight ArcI am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs, but I really like it just because it's silly fun. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja rivals so it makes sense that there is a universal gambling game in the One Piece world. This arc has team up fights with superb action, great jokes, and it's awesome to see each character use their special abilities to win each event. There are too many shonen shows that lose their charm by taking themselves too seriously and dramatically increasing the stakes as their series continues. One Piece never loses sight of it's childish roots and celebrates it with this arc.   4. Arlong Park ArcI felt that this was the last arc before the Straw Hats headed onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown was more like filler. Arlong Park explores Nami's past and showed the evil effects pirates had on many islands and towns. The crews before would destroy, bully, and abuse townsfolk but not to the extent Arlong did to Cocoyashi. The whole arc felt depressing, dark, and unpleasant and made even worse by Nami's betrayal and her tragic backstory. However, it also makes her redemption and Luffy's involvement even more satisfying as it plays out. The walk to Arlong Park with Overtaken in the background is probably the most badass moment in the whole show. There's no action, no fancy animation. Just walking with determination for justice and sake of their nakama. 3. Impel Down ArcI'm going to say it; I wasn't affected by Ace's death. He was a cool character with a cool power, but his action in Alabasta wasn't enough for him to be endearing. His death didn't come as a tearful gut punch but more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down, however, was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces were re-introduced, impossibly difficult enemies were faced, and best of all, villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak so it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggling to keep up with Luffy. 2. Enies Lobby ArcThis whole saga was perfect. Water 7 was hot off the heels of the fun carefree Davy Back Fight despite the scuffle with an admiral and the Straw Hats were enjoying spending their new found wealth from Skypiea. But underlying cracks begin to grow bigger and bigger in the form of a hidden history between Nico Robin and the world government, Franky's backstory and the elephant in the room, Going Merry's condition. What I like about Enies Lobby is that it wrapped all of this up but didn't bog us down with tiresome explanations. The action was fantastic as an added level of drama was layered on with Robin slowly edging towards the Towers of Justice. CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5) were brilliant as the main foes due to their colorful contrasting personalities that foiled the Straw Hat's own personas.  1. Skypiea ArcWhenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was nowhere the episode count of later arcs. Skypiea was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien land, rich in history and lore. This was emphasised with the different races of Skypieans and Shandia and their different customs too. Montblanc Noland's backstory framed the arc and was  so powerfully tragic that when Mother Sea started playing I started bawling like a baby. It was a story of friendship, loss, misunderstanding, and broken promises, concepts that really hit home for me. The visual themes in this arc were gods, angels, and manifest destiny. All interesting concepts that I liked seeing in One Piece fashion and helped ground me so the whole setting wasn't too alien. The Straw Hats bring their comedy A game too in this arc; Usopp and Luffy breaking the fourth wall by singing Sanji's image song, Robin's dark humor and Zoro's Tarzan yell. Skypiea is an arc I will look back on fondly as it was a enclosed story within the saga. All the loose ends were wrapped up concerning Skypiea and you could follow it through from Noland's first landing to Luffy's liberation by ringing that golden bell.  7) Little Garden Arc After Vivi was discovered to be the princess of a Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes this list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. You can see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! I also love Zoro's determination to get out of a trap by attempting to amputate his own legs, scars of this incident can still be seen. 6) Thriller Bark Arc I think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores the ghost ship, zombie, and talking skeleton tropes. I love seeing what other tropes One Piece does and Thriller Bark combines all the creepy supernatural stuff into one. Like Little Garden, I love the big bad Gecko Moria. One Piece fans heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy about the new world before his defeat. 5) Davy Back Fight Arc I am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs but I really like it just because it's just silly. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja enemies so it makes sense that there is a big gambling event that pirate crews partake. One Piece does a phenomenal job in mixing the serious life or death battles and events with humorous interludes so we can catch our breath. Too many shonen shows lose this charm and become take themselves too seriously but One Piece knows when to ease up on the drama and hit the cheese button. 4) Arlong Park Arc I feel that this was the final arc before the Straw Hats went onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown arc felt more like filler, no major set piece battles just a quick stop with Buggy, Smoker, and cameo by Dragon. But Arlong Park was when the Straw Hats became whole with Nami finally joining the crew officially. Nami always felt sketchy, always leaving the crew to find treasure and using them to get her own way. This arc shows why she was doing this and why I thought Fishmen were all evil until the Fishman Island arc. Arlong is one hell of a bastard and his crew were one of the most intimidating the Straw Hats had faced. Not only was Zoro injured but Fishmen had the advantage as they were powerful on land but even more in the water. Nami's backstory is also one of the most saddest in the whole series which makes the conclusion of the arc all the more satisfying. 3) Impel Down Arc I'm going to say it; I didn't mind Ace's death. He was a cool character but wasn't endearing to me so it didn't come as a tearful gut punch and more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down however was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces re-emerged, impossibly difficult enemies had to be faced, and best of all villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak and it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggle to keep up with Luffy as he traversed the increasingly difficult Impel Down. 2) Enies Lobby Arc I think people were expecting this to be no. 1 and will be angry to see that's it at no.2. I do love Enies Lobby and still remains one of the best arcs. Water 7 was the perfect set up by adding the mystery between Nico Robin and her history with the world government, drama between Usopp and Luffy over the Going Merry, and the Franky's own tragic past. It all came together to a grandiose showdown between the Straw Hats and CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5). Each Straw Hat squared off against one agent in the hopes of freeing Robin and tension rose 10 ten fold as Robin was slowly transported towards the Gates of Justice and an impending Buster Call was issued. It all cumulated into non-stop action extravaganza that is only topped by: 1) Skypia Arc Whenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was no where near the lengths of later arcs. Skypeia was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien place rich in history and lore so we were experiencing at the same time as Straw Hats so everything felt fresh and exciting. There are a lot of little parts of Skypia that makes it my favourite arc. Montblanc Noland's backstory is the best tragic backstory because we were introduced to him as a fairy tale liar but gradually discover that was a fabrication making it even more unfortunate that no one will know the truth. I also really like the themes explored in this arc that of gods, angels, and manifest destiny. A highlight was when Usopp and Nami come face to face with Enel and they have to use their wits to escape. It perfectly mixes the tense moment of them dying at any moment with their laughable foolish attempts at escape.
One Piece photo
Sixteen years of the pirate's life
The Straw Hats have been through a lot in their 16 years on TV. Through smiles, tears, Gomu Gomu no's, and devil fruits I've sat through it all just to see a glimmer of that almighty One Piece. So to celebrate 700 episodes/ 3...

Hello Kitty Diving Suit photo
Hello Kitty Diving Suit

Hello Kitty diving suit is just in time for Shark Week


Dive into Hello Kitty...literally!
Jul 06
// Soul Tsukino
Sanrio has done it again! The company behind the world famous Hello Kitty character has gone to new depths to bring you the latest in Hello Kitty merchandise. Like below sea level deep. Yes, Sanrio, in collaboration with Osaka-based World Dive diving equipment bring you the limited edition Hello Kitty Drysuit collection.
Robot Wars! photo
Robot Wars!

Japan agrees to robot duel with USA


ROBOT FIGHT READY GOOOOOO
Jul 06
// Red Veron
Back in 2012, Suidobashi Heavy Industries of Japan introduced the world to the 'KURATAS', a big piloted robot mech and pretty much gave hope to anyone who ever dreamt of seeing piloted robots come to reality. Dubbed as an 'ar...

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 9-12

Jul 06 // Nick Valdez
Episode 9 Since the Aldini Bros did so well in the test (and used duck as their main ingredient rather than fish like the rest of the students), this motivated Souma to try something completely off the wall. Exploiting the rule that they could use any ingredient in the area, Souma decides to use Chef Inui's bag of chips. After some ingredient rummaging, Souma and Tadakoro (the best) make up some fish using the chips as breading. But as Chef Inui proves to be slightly absent minded, the two never find out whose dish was better. After some levity, we find out everyone from the Polar Star Dorm made it through the first day but then a harsher challenge appeared. Each student was tasked with serving fifty bodybuilders within an hour or they'd be instantly expelled. Souma naturally finishes the task quickly (thanks to all the experience of serving in his family restaurant), and ends up colliding with Nakiri as they both were humming along with the anime's ending theme. I love when shows break the fourth wall like that. It was a good sequence all around.  Episode 10 The first half of the episode dealt with fallout from the first day's challenges. The entire Polar Star dorm survived the evening test, and everyone is trying to rest a bit. Tadakoro's (the best) not confident in herself, so she's always afraid she'll mess up the dishes. We also learned a bit more about God Tongue Nakiri from Chef Doujima (who Souma meets in the bath), as we learn her skill is setting her out to be the top of the school. The second half kicks off Day 2 with Chef Shinomiya, the harshest of the Totsuki alumni judges for the camp. He's already expelled 30 students, and even expelled a student for using a scented shampoo on the first day. He's assigned them a recipe they have to duplicate, a highly technical French dish called the Terrine of Nine Vegetables (with nine veggies stacked on top of each other in a little cube with the same kind of texture).  He also forces them to work alone (and think of each other as "enemies") which hurts Tadakoro even further since she's relied a bit of Souma to this point. So she's left with some cauliflower that's begun to oxidize and fixes it with wine vinegar. But because she's changed the recipe (even if it tasted great), Chef Shinomiya fails her. When Souma calls him out on the poor ingredients, Shinomiya admits that he purposefully added spoiled ones to limits the students that'd pass. Then Souma challenges Shinomiya to Shokugeki and it gets mad intense! Ugh, Tadakoro is so cute though.  Episode 11 Although Tadakoro will always be my number one, Chef Inui is strongly vying for that top spot. Essentially a more evolved Tadakoro, she adorably argues Shinomiya's decision. As Chef Doujima hears of the Shokugeki, he forces Shinomiya to accept and now Souma and Tadakoro have to cook for their lives in an unofficial cook off to keep Tadakoro in school. As per Doujima, the Shougeki is set at two hours using leftover ingredients from Day 2's challenges with the Totsuki alumni deciding the victor. And more importantly, Tadakoro is made head chef who will decide the recipe. After some panic, Souma was able to calm her down and Tadakoro decided on a recipe. Thanks to some much needed levity (as the other alumni pick on Shinomiya) we learn a bit more about him too. After graduation he went to France and opened several restaurants and earned the moniker "The Magician of Legumes" because of his good use of vegetables.  Shinomiya serves his dish first, and it's a basic cabbage roll with high end ingredients. It's so good it leads to this week's header image. The last few episodes have been tense, and this one follows suit, but there's a good balance of comedy here. I laughed much more thn I have in the past. It's this kind of episode that brings me back week to week (and keeps me writing these chunks of summaries, haha).  Episode 12 Tadakoro serves her dish, a rainbow terrine (in order to show off her terrine recipe) with seven different combinations of vegetables and flavors. The alumni all like her dish so much, they alike her to a household yokai that delivers vegetables (since Shinomiya is the "Magician of Legumes") but unfortunately vote in Shinomiya's favor. But Doujima convinced Shinomiya to try Tadakoro's dish in order to understand why they favor her so much. Because her cooking comes with heart, which is something Shinomiya lacked and caused him to stagnate in his growth. So basically, the Shokugeki was all crafted by Doujima in order to give Tadakoro some confidence and to show Shinomiya that he can't continue coldly ignoring others if he wants his cooking to improve. It was a nice, light hearted ending to the arc.  Although Souma really didn't appreciate the loss. He hasn't lost anything to this point and it got to him. But seeing as how Tadakoro was happy, he'll let it slide.  That's it for this chunk! Next heap of episodes continues the camp and the start of Day 3. You know how we always have a few screencaps of each episode for you? Funny thing was that since I like Tadakoro so much, and that these episodes had a heavy focus on her, these were almost all Tadakoro faces. She's so adorable and the team always gives her good reactions. As for the little things, I don't notice them as much anymore. Now that the show has settled into a nice arc, everything seems more focused. The background noise isn't as wily, the characters are more developed, and there's far less intrusive fan service bits. Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma has definitely come into its own. 
Food Wars 9-13 photo
Tadakoro now, Tadakoro forever
Last time we left off, Souma and the other chefs were taking part in an annual Totsuki Academy camp where they have to pass a few tests. We're currently in the middle of the first test as Chef Inui wants pairs of chefs to coo...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal kicks his way through Chroma Squad's Rider Route


The Otaku Stone has awakened!
Jul 05
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] After going through a second playthrough, Sal has finally reached the point in Chroma Squad where he must make an important choice. For the sake of consistency, the guy...
Gundam photo
Gundam

AX '15: Right Stuf to release Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam, and more


Believe in the Sign of Zeta
Jul 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; during Anime Expo '15, the gang at Right Stuf have revealed the next phase of their Gundam distribution deal with Sunrise. This time around, the company plans to release Victory Gundam, Gundam X,&nbs...

Japanator's Summer 2015 Anime Preview Guide!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
New Series: [embed]33867:4893:0[/embed] Gangsta. Studio: Manglobe (Deadman Wonderland, Ergo Proxy, The World God Only Knows) Director: Shukou Murase (Ergo Proxy, Genocidal Organ) Broadcasting: July 1, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) One of my pet armchair-anime-historian theories is that the true successors to the hyper-masculine era of anime and manga in the '80s and early '90s, the heirs to the likes of Fist of the North Star and its ilk, aren't the "superhero" titles of the modern day, but gritty, crime-and-violence action franchises, of which Black Lagoon stands as current exemplar. That's just a fancy way of me saying that Gangsta., whose title and content seem to originate from two different facets of criminal pop culture, is after that crown, like Jormungand was not so long ago. While I have my doubts that it can make off with it, considering the high regard Black Lagoon still commands these days, the saga of two badasses who pull crazy jobs for both cop and crim alike, stands to be an enjoyable action romp. It's also out right now!   [embed]33867:4894:0[/embed] Chaos Dragon Studio: Silver Link (Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya, Watamote) Director: Masato Matsune  Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Hey, kids! You know what's cool? The works of Gen Urobuchi, Kinoko Nasu, Ryougo Narita, and Makoto Sanda, that's what! Their combined record of creativity boasts such titles Madoka Magica, Fate/stay night, Durarara!! and Record of Lodoss War. Therefore, Chaos Dragon, which brings all these creators under one project's roof, should be at least five times as awesome as any single one, right? Well, maybe. The "too many cooks in the kitchen" adage still holds true in most things, though there's no denying the appeal of wanting to see what results when you put a number of famous talents in a room, have them play Dungeons & Dragons, then adapt the transcripts into a real live anime series.    [embed]33867:4895:0[/embed] Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Persona 4 The Golden Animation) Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) The honor of this summer's first official simulcast debut goes to Rampo Kitan, which also happens to be commemorating a whole host of other occasions, including the return of detective-themed anime after a brief surge in popularity a few years ago (when you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting some kind of take on loli Sherlock Holmes), and the 50th anniversary of the death of Edogawa Rampo, a famous Japanese mystery novelist.  I've never been much of a fan of mystery fiction, so I honestly couldn't tell you if we're seeing much of Rampo's work or influences in Rampo Kitan, but he's an author of a similar era to Ango Sakaguchi, who wrote the book that another 2011's somewhat overlooked detective anime Un-Go is based on. Rampo Kitan appears to be angling to push similar buttons.   [embed]33867:4896:0[/embed] GATE Studio: A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Anohana) Director: Takahiko Kyogoku (Love Live! School Idol Project) Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) One of the most enduring and - I'll freely admit - fun thought exercises in nerd culture is trying to find out how people from the real world would fare in the many fantastical settings preferred by genre fiction. This usually takes the form of "If you lived in [Insert Fantasy Setting Here], how would you do?"-types of questions, but one particularly popular mutation of that exercise is pitting fantasy against reality, usually a bunch of dudes with guns and tanks against things like dragons, elves, and other magical creatures. It's a staple of everything from Reign of Fire to Pax Romana, even to recent anime like Outbreak Company and arguably the now massive "stuck in a game" subgenre. GATE is a slightly different beast, though, in that it tosses the real-life Japan Self-Defense Force trough a magic portal full of monsters, elves, and lolita mages. In fact, the promo visuals for GATE looks like a Call of Duty or Battlefield soldier accidentally got copy-pasted onto the box art of a Compile Heart JRPG. This could be an interesting watch, provided one tries not to look too hard at the potential for right-wing-nutjob-levels of subtext.   [embed]33867:4897:0[/embed] SHIMONETA: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist Studio: J.C. Staff (Danmachi, Food Wars) Director: Youhei Suzuki (The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, Aki no Kanade) Broadcasting: July 4, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Right as America celebrates its freedom from the oppression of the British, another world celebrates the freedom for high schoolers to run around telling filthy jokes and yelling about copulation, intercourse, and all the less-polite terminology for sexual congress between consenting adults. Expect to hear a lot of screeching, see a lot of fan service, and detect comically obvious subtextual criticism of recent "youth development" legislation with the potential to affect pop culture content.   [embed]33867:4898:0[/embed] God Eater Studio: Ufotable (Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Fate/Zero) Director: Takayuki Hirao (GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack, Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene) Broadcasting: July 3, 2015 (Streaming on Daisuki) Considering how much I got hyped up for Unlimited Blade Works, being excited about Ufotable's latest project, now that they're nominally free of the Nasuverse's clutches (at least until they start crunching on the Heaven's Feel movie), should be a no-brainer. And it is! I am indeed hyped, for God Eater is my favorite Monster Hunter competitor, and it's got a style all its own. In fact, it's just stylish enough and takes itself seriously enough that the Ufotable of this era is the perfect studio to pick it up. I'm already mildly optimistic thanks to their choice of a new, original protagonist to replace the canonical putz that is the manga-based "Yuu Kannagi". This new guy seems to be constructed more in the Eren Jaeger mold of being really mad at monsters, but it should at least make for more engaging character dynamics than the boringly earnest audience stand-in. Not that it even matters, given that the game's protagonists are fully customizable by default, anyway. In any case, if God Eater ends up being a lavishly animated action romp and no more, it'll have done its job perfectly.   [embed]33867:4899:0[/embed] School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!) Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Masaomi Ando (White Album 2, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse) Broadcasting: July 9, 2015 (Licensed by Sentai Filmworks) Three schoolgirls have an impossibly idyllic high school life. Everything is perfect, except for the fact that they're hallucinating, and in fact they're the only survivors of a zombie apocalypse and are trying to survive.  It's a deliciously weird premise that sounds right up the alley of the staff, many of whom are veterans from Gen Urobuchi's Nitroplus, an outfit long known for disturbing and tragic stories. Some folks are describing the manga this is based on as a real emotional rollercoaster (one that mostly angles down), but I'm not fully convinced of that yet. If nothing else, it does promise to be something outside the norm for typical "everyday life" fare.   [embed]33867:4900:0[/embed] Prison School Studio: J.C. Staff (Danmachi, Food Wars) Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls und Panzer, Shirobako) Broadcasting: July 10, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Five men. A thousand women. One high school. That's normally a setup I wouldn't pay a huge amount of attention to, and if I'm honest, I'm mainly interested in Prison School just by virtue of it's being attached to Director Tsutomu Mizushima. Pretty much every show of his that I've watched has ended up on my favorites list (though admittedly I haven't seen it all), and I see no reason to stop giving him opportunities to add to it.  Besides, the Prison School manga has apparently garnered a reputation as a hilarious (if divisive) satire of the whole "harem high school" concept. Here, the few men at a formerly all-girls school are treated less like kings (as is the common conceit) and more like prey, which, honestly, is the far more likely scenario.   [embed]33867:4901:0[/embed] Everyday Life with Monster Girls Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Tatsuya Yoshihara (Arve Rezzle, Yatterman Night) Broadcasting: July 7, 2015 Well, it took 'em long enough. Ever since a little comic called "Life with Lamia" made its way off Pixiv some years ago, I had been expecting someone to go and make a proper anime out of the whole "Monster Girl" conceit. As a natural extension of the whole catgirl phenomenon, it was inevitable, but I am genuinely surprised it didn't happen sooner. Unfortunately, though, besides the many amazing athropomorphizations of various mythical beasts and creatures, the show itself appears to be a standard harem/fan service rom-com. Not that anyone would expect that much different from a show titled "everyday life". Plus, that's, like, the whole appeal of monster girls anyway.   [embed]33867:4902:0[/embed] Actually, I Am (My Monster Secret) Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Zetman) Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto (Hero Bank) Broadcasting: July 6, 2015 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "Actually, I Am"...what? What is she? The answer to that question would depend on who you ask, and forms the central conceit of this season's other monster girl anime, as a milquetoast young man who can't keep a secret to save his life is charged with concealing the true, monstrous natures of his female friends from the general public. Fans of the less human aspects of the monster girl concept might be a bit disappointed initially, seeing as the monsters hinted so far trend towards humanoid types like vampires and aliens and things that aren't lamias or snake-women. That said, I'm getting a bit of a similar vibe here to Spring's Yamada-kun and Seven Witches, so that could end up a net gain.    [embed]33867:4903:0[/embed] Overlord Studio: MADHOUSE (My Love STORY!!, The Tatami Galaxy) Director: Naoyuki Itou (Digimon: Data Squad, Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge) Broadcasting: July 7, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Oh look, another anime where a dude gets stuck in an online RPG game world made real. How novel!  It's easy to dismiss this rapidly growing subgenre with a yawn, but I'd be lying if I said that the gamer within me isn't at least mildly interested. Besides, there does seem to be a bit of a twist in MADHOUSE's latest, with our lead not merely trapped in his game, but reincarnated into the role of the title's final boss, the titular, skeleton-bodied Overlord. That's a trope in and of itself, but hey, at least it's not yet another story about an ace gamer dude meeting with unending success as usual.   [embed]33867:4904:0[/embed] Snow White with the Red Hair  Studio: BONES (Captain Earth, Heroman) Director: Masahiro Ando (Sword of the Stranger, Blast of Tempest) Broadcasting: July 6, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Fairy tale deconstruction, thy name is "Snow White". Good old "Shirayukihime" is anime's go-to character whenever Glorious Nippon wants to take on the roots of western fantasy fiction. That said, there's not a whole lot here to promote the thought that this might be the next Ookami-san, either, with the Snow White in question being a red-headed commoner who flees a forced marriage to the local prince with the help of a young noble named Zen. Romance and fantasy tourism ensue. That actually works for me. After all, not every fantastical setting has to be milked for epic adventure, and some of my favorite fantasy anime are low-key explorations of an exotic land with a side of feelings, rather than rollicking action. And it'll be interesting to see BONES get back on that particular genre horse after a long time.   [embed]33867:4905:0[/embed] Sky Wizards Academy Studio: Diomedea (Kantai Collection, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!) Director: Takayuki Inagaki (Desert Punk) Broadcasting: July 8, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) You know that feeling you get when you look at an anime poster or even just hear its title and feel like you can predict the plot, characterization, and setting details from all that? And you're not cheating because it's one of those deliberately obvious light novel titles? That's the vibe I'm getting off Sky Wizards Academy right about now, with its story about a magical academy of (wait for it) Sky Wizards and the one disgraced ace wizard who takes on a class of misfit young girl wizards.  This, of course, is not to say that it can't be good or enjoyable, or even that my predictions will be wrong. It's just fascinating to see how even in a nominally creative industry you can still produce artistic works that just outwardly *scream* "product", if you get my meaning.   [embed]33867:4906:0[/embed] Charlotte Studio: P.A. Works (Shirobako, Hanasaku Iroha) Director: Yoshiyuki Asai Broadcasting: July 4, 2015 (Broadcasting on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki) Pay no attention to the Director credit on Charlotte (sorry, Asai-san), because the big name here is Jun Maeda, he of Key and Sad Girls in Snow. Maeda is like M. Night Shyamalan for anime feelings, in the sense that pretty much everyone who knows his name likes to think they know exactly what he's doing when he does things. Whether or not that notion is actually true doesn't even matter.  In any case, it's also big because Charlotte is Maeda's first anime original since Angel Beats!, with much of the same team at P.A. Works helping produce it. Personally I liked Angel Beats!. Cliche as it was I did derive properly satisfying feels from all the tragic backstory. Ironically, though, it was the romantic bits that I bounced off of. Perhaps it's a good sign for me, then, that the action-to-melodrama balance of the trailer leans more towards the former?   [embed]33867:4907:0[/embed] Classroom Crisis Studio: Lay-duce (Go! Go! 575, Magi: Adventure of Sinbad) Director: Kenji Nagasaki (Gundam Build Fighters, Gundam 00) Broadcasting: July 3, 2015 (Streaming on Daisuki and Crunchyroll) Despite the rather banal high-school-students-with-jobs conceit and its classification as a rom-com, Classroom Crisis might just be this season's show to get the sci-fi juices flowing. Sure, the kids are in high school and have jobs, but when the high school is on frickin' Mars, and the jobs are designing custom spaceships, then you've got my attention.   Sequels, Shorts and Other Notables I've never really believed in the concept of the "Summer Doldrums", but thankfully for anime preview writers who are running terribly late, this summer is strangely stuffed with sequels and short-form productions. Most prominent there would be the new Dragon Ball Super, the first actual sequel to the Dragon Ball Story in nearly two decades. I've never been much of a Dragon Ball person, but it is quite exciting to see that segment of the fandom get all excited again. Then there's the continuation of Durarara!! x2, with the Ten portion of that arc getting its due, ideally this time with the studio not forgetting to animate entire portions of the final episode. The divisive Gatchaman Crowds also gets a second dip, where people may once more fall in love (or hate) with the way Hajime talks. I think it's cute, for the record. Also of interest is Aquarion Logos, a quasi-sequel to Aquarion EVOL, which turned out to not be a sequel to Aquarion at all. Non Non Biyori, Wagnaria, To LOVE Ru, Junjou Romantica and Hetalia also get new seasons after a lengthy absence from the scene, as well as a third (!) season of Fate Prisma Illya, which I honestly didn't think possible. Then again, Symphogear is also getting a third season this summer, so I guess anything is possible if you IMASINE it. Idolmaster Cinderella Girls continues the saga of me almost regretting calling myself an Idolmaster fan when I just can't get into all these new cast members.  Short anime really have come into their own after treasures like Tonari no Seki-kun and, er, Sega Hard Girls, which means that there are even more of them around now across an ever-expanding line of premises. You've got the usual idol and everyday life fodder like Danchigai, Sore ga Seiyuu!, Million Doll, and Wakaba Girl, but also in the margins are weird things like Pillow Boys a show about body pillows turned into cute boys, and Wakako-zake, a show about Miyuki Sawashiro visiting pubs and getting plastered. Even cute-bait and boobs anime have made a jump to the short format, with My Wife Is The Student Council President! and Himouto! Umaru-chan and the so-obvious-I-barely-need-to-preview-it Bikini Warriors. Life is good if you've only got 5-10 minutes to spare in your life for anime-viewing. And that's most of what she wrote! What are you watching this season? [embed]33867:4893:0[/embed] School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!) Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom)
Summer Anime Preview! photo
The Heat Is On
The Summer is nigh and the sun is out, and you know what that means, folks: Huddle indoors and watch Japanese cartoons! Well, come to think of it, that's our solution to every season, but hey, we're probably biased. After all...

Week Ender - Love is Love Edition

Jul 04 // Red Veron
[embed]34027:4889:0[/embed]"Baby Romantica"Anime: Junjou RomanticaA fun and easy listening pop rock song to accompany some cute stuff with some men being all dramatic, all of which are targeted for the women (and men) who love the genre of boy's love.[embed]34027:4890:0[/embed]"Territory"Anime: Yuri Kuma ArashiA cute ending with a nice and cheerful song featuring a cute little bear dancing on the corner.[embed]34027:4891:0[/embed]"Click Your Heart"Anime: Love Stage!!Very adorbs ending with some pants confusing cuteness from the one of the MC and some boy's love teasing going on. Well done![embed]34027:4892:0[/embed]"Kiss (and) Love"Anime: Sakura Trick!!Pretty ample fanservice in this one with more sexy than the opening of this show.Is there a boy's love and/or girl's love anime endings that you love that I didn't put up on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wants to know!
Week Ender photo
Love has a Delicious Smell
Love is love! If two people want to love each other, then they should. I'm not in that relationship so it is none of my business. This weekend's selection of anime endings are all about girl's love and boy's love, and there a...


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