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First Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Apr 29 // Salvador GRodiles
With a limited timeframe of five to six minutes (not counting the show's opening and ending), each episode of Luluco seems to end right when the segment is about to reach its peak. One moment, our Main Heroine Luluco joins the space patrol to raise money to free her dad from a frozen state, which eventually led to her busting her first criminal. Then things end before we reach that huge bang that gives the segment a proper closure or cliffhanger ending— other than Luluco pointing out that the segment is over. Even though there’s nothing wrong with the show’s premise, every other episode lacked the sparks that piece everything together. In most cases, the audience barely has enough time to take things in. Perhaps the issue with Luluco is that Imaishi’s direction with the show doesn’t work for a five to six-minute format since TRIGGER’s previous shorts felt more complete, such as Inferno Cop. Then again, Imaishi’s direction with the 14th Japan Animator Expo short, “SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED,” showed us that he could handle a short so it might be that Imaishi and Akira Amemiya don't make a great combo— especially when you compare their collaboration to Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima working on a project together, such as KILL la KILL. Despite the pacing issues with Luluco’s running time, the folks at TRIGGER delivered nicely in the animation and art department. A good chunk of the show’s sequences show off some ridiculous levels of perspective to each character that moves on screen. Then again, this style is a thing that Imaishi and most of the veterans who came from Gainax apply to their animations so it’s something that we can expect from their major projects. To an extent, it reaches a similar level of randomness present in Gainax’s titles like FLCL. Combined with the simplistic array of colors spread across the cast's designs, Luluco’s presentation is one of the best things that the show has to offer. The title’s Panty & Stocking-like look matches the silly tone that the series is going for. I mean, we have alien Street Sharks-like characters and Over Justice, a guy who’s basically Inferno Cop with Kamina’s shades! The show's presentation has a ton of personality and it looks like TRIGGER just wants to use them to mess around while they have fun with their project. If there's another thing that Luluco has going for, it's the relationship between Luluco, Nova and Midori. The idea of pairing up a guy who wants to shoot everything in sight and a girl who was in charge of a criminal organization with a girl who only wants to save her dad worked nicely on TRIGGER’s side, as their interaction made way for some great jokes, such as storyboard joke during the fourth episode's launching sequence and the build-up to Luluco's reaction to the mission. While Luluco’s short length holds the series back a bit, the animation and cast still manage to hold the show together. With the way how the series is going, it might be a show that’s better to watch in one sitting than one that should be seen weekly. However, the next episode might be the one that’ll cause the anime to reach a new level since the newest character has a major connection to Luluco. After all, we just started season two so we can expect TRIGGER to hit us with a huge surprise. [You can Gun Morphing with Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll.]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
There's not enough time for justice
Whenever a show presents itself as a short, it’s important for the staff to establish a beginning, middle and end in the piece. If it’s a comedy, then the jokes have to be properly established so that the viewers ...

AnimeNEXT '16 photo
AnimeNEXT '16

Aw, snap: Rei Hiroe and ZAQ are heading to AnimeNEXT


Bullets and delusions make a great combo
Apr 28
// Salvador GRodiles
With almost a month left until June, it turns out that the man behind the original Black Lagoon manga, Rei Hiroe, and the singer of Love, Chunibiyo & Other Delusions' opening, ZAQ, are making an appearance at AnimeNE...

We brain-dove Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online, and came back with answers

Apr 28 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34881:5504:0[/embed] 1.) With the Stand Alone Complex subtitle, First Assault Online seems to be related to the Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex TV series. Does the game take place during a specific moment in the show's timeline, or its premise related to events in the show?   The game is inspired by the Stand Alone Complex TV series, but when we were watching the series, we were particularly excited by Episode 24 of Season One, in which Section 9 is forced to take on an opposing Special Ops team to clear their names. The episode really made us imagine what it would be like to fight together as a perfectly synchronized team like Section 9, which is what helped us decide to bring it to life in a team-based shooter. 2.) Players can choose which member of Section 9 to play as during a match, each of whom has a special ability or trait (like Thermoptic Camo for the Major). How did the team decide which special abilities to assign to which character? Were there disagreements?     We worked very closely with the anime creators and discussed what skills would match each character from the original anime. In result, the currently designed skills are in line with the original characters. We also designed these to add more excitement within the FPS game. We plan to consider these also when we design more skills in the future. Another part that we'll also consider is player feedback. We are all open to the players thoughts and would love to hear any great ideas.   3.) On menu screens and in-the game, players can view clips from the Stand Alone Complex anime series. Are there plans to add ways for player to view whole episodes or acquire the series to view on their own?   As we chose to make the game an FPS, we found that it was not easy to to deliver the feel of the original anime. Making the game an FPS might have been slightly easier, but we were most confident in making a FPS game and put our efforts into melting the original anime within our game.  We used these short cuts to give the fans something close to the anime and also make other players interested in the Ghost in the Shell story making the game more enjoyable.   4.) More recent works in the Ghost in the Shell universe have concentrated on Arise, a series set earlier in Motoko's career. Are there plans to add content related to the Arise series to the game?   We believe that both SAC and ARISE are great series. We think that more recent fans would be more familiar with ARISE and previous fans would be more familiar with SAC. If we have the chance, we would definitely like to add contents related to the ARISE series. We'll have to see what we can discuss with the anime creators. [Check out more of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online for free this weekend on Steam!] [embed]34881:5504:0[/embed]
Ghost in the Shell photo
A 'major' incursion
A team-based multiplayer shooter isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a Ghost in the Shell video game - the first thing is a Basset Hound simulator. But after that, Nexon and Neoples have done a p...

Golden Week PSN Sale photo
Golden Week PSN Sale

It's a golden time for Sony's Golden Week 2016 PlayStation sale


Try Gravity Rush, Yakuza, and Suikoden!
Apr 27
// Josh Tolentino
If you have an interest in cool Japanese things - and I'd wager you do, having visited this site and all - you might be aware that Golden Week, that most anticipated cluster of Japanese holidays, begins tomorrow, on April 29t...

What Would You Do? The Death of Goku

Apr 27 // Lindo Korchi
Unlike most of the, What Would You Do? scenarios that have been published to date, this one is really difficult. In my mind, I'd be placed in a dark place, consumed by negative emotions and thoughts; unable to rationalize in a logical way or perceive my situation in a clear perception. It won't be a good place. As much as I don't want to admit this, I'd have to rely on my family and friends to get by. I don't like the concept of relying on people 100% of the time as I think people should always have a backup. However, I'd say critical times are the exception. And thus, this would be it. But I don't like that either. It's as if my destiny is temporarily given to someone else to decide. Here's why: due to my ego leading to my father's death, I won't be me anymore. I'd have to rely on my inner circle to help restore the broken pieces. If not, then how much hope would I really have? While it's true that no matter the cause, I'm still in control of my life, decisions, and bare responsibility for myself. But that doesn't eliminate the unstable state of mind that I'm placed in. This is why we hear stories of people who've gone through devastating times in their lives who've stated that they wouldn't have made it through without their family. There's a reason for that. [embed]34978:5576:0[/embed] It's devastating events, like this, that temporarily remove logical control from a person to a degree, which can lead, and has led, to dark places. Thus, I'd focus on having a circle of individuals who truly care for me, so that if such an event happens, I can trust that they will help me through the journey. If not, I'll endure the long journey on my own and try to make it through, but the risk of making mistakes and losing myself increases. And I don't want that. In the end, people need people, no matter how "strong" or "independent" we think we might be. It's good to keep in mind. My question to you: what would you do?
What Would You Do? photo
Step Four: Think Deep
[Ed. Note: What Would You Do? is a new column run by our newest contributor Lindo Korchi, examining popular scenarios from anime to develop a proper plan of action (or inaction) for any situation.] When it comes to the Drag...

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

Apr 24 // Christian Chiok
The series began just like the very first case of the game began—showing off the murder and the culprit. Right off the bat, it already felt rushed and not as dramatic as the game. Afterward, the series introduces Ryuuichi Naruhodou, or rather Phoenix Wright for us English fans, riding his bike heading to his first case ever. While not part of the game, I liked this scene since it’s a common way to introduce the main character of a series.  Then we are introduced to “The First Turnabout,” also known as the tutorial case of the first game. The anime took a less dramatic approach by having a less intense background song during the introduction of the case. Not using the original game soundtrack, and well as using rearranged versions of some of the iconic tracks was definitely something many fans of the series, including myself, found bothersome. It made things feel less authentic. I know some people hate when they use CGI on anime but I personally thought that they pull it off well when they introduced the court. While many fans are complaining that the art style of the series doesn’t match the game, I personally have no complains with it. I do think that the art style is less serious than the game, but it doesn’t take away from the series. Then are introduced to Masashi Yahari, also known as Larry Butz, who is the accused of this case, childhood friend of Phoenix Wright, and the reason why Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney. While the first case does indeed reveal that Larry is the reason Phoenix became an attorney, the series did get a bit ahead of itself showing scenes of what is supposed to appear in latter cases. During the testimony cross-examination sequences, I really like the formats that they are using, but going back to the soundtrack issue, the lack of the original songs such as the famous testimony and cross-examination tracks from the game was disappointing and took away its identity. I did like that they added one of the wrong answers he usually says though. I thought it was a nice touch, especially with this being the first case. Being that the first case/tutorial case was actually short in the game, I felt like it was nicely adapted into the first episode, naturally any longer would have been highly unnecessary. Some stuff felt highly unnecessary like when the witness was pointing his finger at Phoenix, air emitted out of the witness’ hand this pushing down Phoenix, as well as Phoenix’s “Objection! scene, which the same thing again but this time with the witness, blowing his wig off his head. Nevertheless, that scene was great. Starting from the adaptation of the second case, “Turnabout Sisters,” is where the series felt a bit underwhelming since It feels a bit rushed. Starting from Episode 2, we got the main gist of it, such as the crime and the main dialogue with the involved characters.  What makes it feel rushed is that some of the extra details were excluded, which gives a better understanding of the overall case. Both Episode 3 and Episode 4 cover the main gist of the case—the two trials and the interaction with key characters of the case. Cross-examinations and testimonies felt rushed, and even a witness was removed. Things just happened too fast and it feels 25% of this case was removed. I did enjoy when Phoenix Wright was asking multiple questions to the witness though, something very common in the games to squeeze out more information. So far the series is a bit underwhelming, but enjoyable nonetheless. I just feel that it shouldn’t been rushed. If you aren’t familiar with the games, you can still watch it as it could be enjoyable but you aren’t getting the full set. 
Ace Attorney photo
Rushed & Underwhelming Trials
Growing up as handheld gamer during my middle school days, I played many games on the DS including the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. What made Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney more interesting than your average Visual Nove...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 2

Apr 22 // Jeff Chuang
Just so we're on the same page, it's a tradition in the Japanese navy to serve curry for a meal on Friday. It's gotten to the point that Yokosuka, famous for its naval bases, exports curry as its major local eats. You can buy this navy-themed eats in packs and take it home with you. Thanks to anime, manga and games like Kantai Collection, this marriage of curry rice and Navies continue in popular nerd culture. It would be criminally negligent for Haifuri to skip this massive opportunity to play up its moe side. And yes, even today, the cooks of each boat will make curry their own way, resulting a curry rice flavored based on the ship. This is why we have Harukaze curry in episode 2, named after the scrappy destroyer that carry our protagonists. In this week's Haifuri, Mike-chan and crew once again dodges certain death from an attacking boat that outgunned Harukaze's meager weapons. By running in circles while generating a lot of smoke, the Harukaze was able to sneak near the Admiral Graf Spee (a German cruiser) and deal damage to its hull, slowing it down enough so the destroyer can outrun the larger ship. In the process, Harukaze (or Mike-chan specifically) rescues an exchange student who was escaping the Spee on a runabout. As an aside it also turns out the runabouts on board these historic warships are all modern, jet-ski-like. As the episode ends, while our unfortunate students make the best of their poor and beaten ship, Shiro-chan gets an emergency call from the Musashi. The story is comfortably letting the action and character expositions drive our interests at this point, which is good. I think someone actually interested and engaged in Haifuri will need that extra time and attention before the story gets complicated, because the audience is likely still in a "who was her name again" phase of learning the crew. We might now know that the secretary character is a fun person with her acting and the first officer is has a bit of dere once she gets worked around to Mike-chan's bottomless genki. The doctor (I guess she isn't a real doctor?) is a weird one and the group dynamics between the bridge and engineering teams seem to be developing. There was even a shower scene. I suppose adding one more character to this group, at episode 2, is no big deal? The ending animation this time around shows us that there will be a group of characters that the show focuses on. One of them seems to be the girl from the German boat. In some ways it just affirms my concern that how Haifuri can successfully juggle so many characters, but at the same time I think one more person is not going to make any more difference. I think Haifuri has a tall, tall task of making something more compelling by the end of next week's episode. Arguably, on the surface, there's an unexpected war game happening on top of a moe style anime, but discerning viewers would demand more from this formula. But at the same time, there's a lot going on that the more interesting tidbits may get lost. I guess at the very least there's a lot of cute girls running a battleship to look at, and that might be enough. [Haifuri is on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki!]  
Haifuri photo
Curry on a boat
At the end of episode 1, Haifuri drops its full name and a cliffhanging curve ball--the protagonists are framed as traitors and attacked one of their own. It's good to learn that the second episode keeps up the pace and follo...

Review: Fafner: Exodus

Apr 21 // Salvador GRodiles
Fafner: ExodusStudio: XEBEC Zwei Viewed On: CrunchyrollPremiere Date: January 8, 2015 When people say that patience is a virtue, they are not kidding. From day one, Fafner Exodus moving forward, as Kazuki and the gang has adjusted to their lives after Soushi’s return during the end of Fafner: Heaven and Earth. Even though the new series takes place two and a half years after the movie, the show does its best to get its audience reacquainted with the main cast again. Unfortunately, the drawback is that the newer pilots from Fafner: Heaven and Earth gave off the least amount of impact, as their presence wasn’t as big as Kazuki and his friends. Luckily, this isn’t too much of an issue when most of the new gang was placed on the team that was meant to help a section of the Earth Forces who were interested in coexisting with the Festum. Thanks to this angle, the show’s first half mostly focused on the movie group who remained on the island to help the newer pilots and the folks who left to help the military group with their mission to communicate with a new Mir that was heading to Earth. All in all, this direction worked well in distributing the cast so that people could get acquainted with new characters. After all, this element is important since the show’s death scenes have to hit the viewers hard. Of course, none of the veteran characters were safe from this aspect, which conveys the risks that the gang has to go through to achieve their goal. While it took a while for the series to pick up, the payoff worked well since the show dealt with the idea of sacrificing one’s humanity for the greater good. Whether it was the Fafner upgrades that change the pilot's bodies or the inner conflict between the Earth military, Exodus place the main cast in more intense scenario than the previous shows. Hell, there were the losses turned the tides on some of the major events in the series. Through this format, the series dealt with the team facing off against other humans, which was a great change of events from the previous installments, as it placed everyone in a big corner. Due to the situation, it made the veteran characters and the new pilots question their own actions while they tried to find their own resolve in the big conflict at hand. Compare to the original Fafner series, Exodus’ animation quality has improved from its predecessor. While it wasn’t on the same level as Fafner: Heaven and Earth, the fights between the Festum and the Fafner units left us with some dynamic air fights, along with a few moments where a character’s finishing move felt fulfilling to watch. Since there were a few machines that fought similar to the ones of the deceased characters from the first title, it worked as a way to appease to those who’re interested in seeing how they would fight with Xebec’s current skills. While Hisashi Hirai’s style suffers from a case of his characters from different shows looking similar, the guy’s art has improved a bit— in comparison to his art in Gundam SEED and Linebarrel of Iron.  His designs may not be the best out there, but they work with what Fafner: Exodus has to offer. If anything, it showcases his improved skills from the Majestic Prince anime. Just like the previous Fafner installments, Angela returns to sing the show’s opening. As always, she manages to hit the high notes well in both “Exist” and “Dead or Alive,” with the latter featuring some aspects that likely paid homage to “Shangri-La,” the first series’ theme song. Hell, the same can be said about the ending themes since it complements the previous tunes when the show’s credits drop in. It may have taken a while for Fafner to get a new series, but the show’s resolution to the war between the humans and the Festum made it worth the wait for anyone who wished to see the story progress further. While the program brought us a conclusion to Kazuki and Soushi’s story, there’s still a chance that a new installment could happen one day. Despite Exodus’ first half trying to get us more acquainted with the new cast and the movie’s characters while they cram a bunch of important things into the story, the payoff turned out well when the series set the pieces for the ultimate showdown between the title’s factions. Most importantly, its ending was a great of example of how patience can reward those who’re willing to wait— even if most of the new cast’s development was a bit rushed in the beginning. [This review was based on a streamed version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense.]  When people say that patience is a virtue, they are not kidding. From day one, Fafner Exodus moving forward, as Kazuki and the gang has adjusted to their lives after Soushi’s return during the end of Fafner: Heaven and Earth. Even though the new series takes place two and a half years after the movie, the show does its best to get its audience reacquainted with the main cast again. Unfortunately, the drawback is that the newer pilots from Fafner: Heaven and Earth gave off the least amount of impact, as their presence wasn’t as big as Kazuki and his friends. Luckily, this isn’t too much of an issue when most of the new gang was placed on the team that was meant to help a section of the Earth Forces who were interested in coexisting with the Festum. Thanks to this angle, the show’s first half mostly focused on the movie group who remained on the island to help the newer pilots and the folks who left to help the military group with their mission to communicate with a new Mir that was heading to Earth. All in all, this direction worked well in distributing the cast so that people could get acquainted with new characters. After all, this element is important since the show’s death scenes have to hit the viewers hard. Of course, none of the veteran characters were safe from this aspect, which conveys the risks that the gang has to go through. 
Fafner: Exodus photo
Patience is a virtue
There’s something wonderful about seeing an older title receive a sequel after a very long time. It shows that the team was pushing hard to continue the story they set in place, and it lets the viewers see the program e...

Star Fox Zero photo
Star Fox Zero

Behold the glory of the Star Fox Zero anime


Barrel Rolls aplenty
Apr 20
// Josh Tolentino
Star Fox is back, folks! And it seems back in a way that explicitly recalls the glory days of SNES-based 3D games and peppy animal-people bloodlessly fighting other animal-people. If nothing else, that Saturday morning carto...

Annotated Anime: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable episode 3

Apr 19 // Josh Tolentino
The big reveal of the episode comes quite quickly, courtesy of what amounts to a director's cut edition of Josuke and Jotaro's interrogation of the defeated Angelo, who notes that, unlike the JoJos, he was given his powers by a strange man wearing a school uniform and wielding a gnarly-looking bow and arrow. It just so happens that the bow and arrow were last seen in the hands of Enya, Dio's confidant and the crazy old lady that Polnareff fought back in Egypt. It seems that someone's been going around handing out Stand powers to anyone that survives their gift, and that someone lives in Morioh. And, as it turns out, it seems that Koichi has come to a similar conclusion (minus the revelations about Stands) independently, thanks to a bit of good old-fashioned detective work. It's refreshing to see that people other than the principal JoJos are competent and capable, though again, given the intro, it's fair to conclude that Koichi will be part of the squad soon enough. In fact, that's likely what will be happening next week, as Koichi gets himself shot through with the very Stand-installing arrow, for the man in a school uniform is one of the Nijimura brothers, the younger of which, Okuyasu, is a Stand user himself. His Stand, The Hand, can "scrape" things into oblivion, and demonstrates the fact by essentially wiping objects, and even spaces from existence, leaving the things on the other side to close in and fill the void. The result is a cool teleporting punch effect that puts to shame a character with a similar gimmick that came out in one of the more recent chapters from Bleach.  Thankfully for our heroes, Okuyasu's kind of a dope, and goes down after taking a few flowerpots to the nads. Koichi remains shot through the throat with the arrow, and gets pulled into the house by Keicho, Okuyasu's brother and the man Jotaro and the rest have been looking for. We'll have to see next week just what the brothers' plans were for the Bow and Arrow, and why they'd need to go around giving Stands to all and sundry, but Diamond is Unbreakable is certainly picking up speed. It'll be interesting to learn just how Okuyasu turns face to become part of the squad later as well. [Catch JoJo's Bizarre Adventure simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]    
Diamond is Unbreakable photo
A Wild McGuffin Appears
In today's episode of Diamond is Unbreakable, the plot thickens a tad, shedding more details on just why Morioh is so boned. Similarly, we meet a new foe who will, given the way the OP sequence goes, will be a member of the squad before long.

Week Ender - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

Apr 16 // Red Veron
[embed]34943:5562:0[/embed] "Junshin Always (純真Always)" Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World A very pretty ending with all the soft colors and pretty patterns. We also get the cuteness of the characters from the show.   [embed]34943:5563:0[/embed] "Hey! Calorie Queen" Anime: Dagashi Kashi Saya and the other chick are really nice in this ending. It takes on an Alice in Wonderland motif with Saya being Alice and she looks absolutely cute. The other chick is dressed up as some other character I don't know. The song is absolutely cute as well.   [embed]34943:5564:0[/embed] "Be My Steady" Anime: Prince of Stride: Alternative I love this ending. The use of a few colors but using shapes and simple visual effects just totally give a striking effect. I really like that red and black with some white thrown in and the whole thing looks like a K-Pop boyband video.   [embed]34943:5565:0[/embed] "Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Youna" Anime: ERASED An ending that starts out simple then gets some great visuals, though lacking in detail, the outlines and few details are brought out by the pretty colors. A lot of the imagery also has meaning behind it that relates to the show.   Are there endings or openings that you loved from last season? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Yo.
Week Ender photo
All Them Colors
I am really digging the use of a lot of colors in openings and endings lately, it's a trend I am fully embracing and wish that the creativity with the new style leads to more beautiful eye candy. This week's selection of endi...

First Impressions: Kabaneri of The Iron Fortress

Apr 16 // Yussif Osman
Ikoma is an engineer, so that's a nice change to soldier or 'guren' titan hunter. And at least in the first episode he has no special ability apart from his ingenuity, he builds a weapon that can pierce the iron heart of a kabane and after becoming infected, manages to halt his transformation. I'd like to add here, that that is an incredibly graphic scene and I applaud how bold the studio was willing to be with it. But as far as Ikoma goes as a character, it might be hard to tell the difference between him Eren and Yuuichirou. That's not to say I don't like that archetype, but they're all basically young men in a post-apocalyptic world, desperate to survive and punish the enemy, whether that's titans, vampires or kabane. But actually, I enjoyed spending time with Ikoma more than I did with Eren or Yuuichi. There are subtle differences. Ikoma isn't driven by a bloodlust against the enemy in the same way he predecessors were, rather he seems driven by a wish define the kind of person he is, to become 'someone I can be proud of', so in the first episode this materialises as someone who can fight back and make up for being helpless when it seems someone he cared about was killed by kabane and in the second episode this this means being someone who will save others, even though he's been rejected by them. I realise he's still basically the same character as his predecessors but the creators are at least trying to explore the archetype, enough so that I'm able to like this character the most out of their creations. The next question, is do we actually want more of the same? And I argue yes. Teturo Araki, director of Attack on Titan was brought back for a reason. Wit Studio have proven finally with Kabane that they do this kind of story very well, creating a fantasy thriller which is exciting and has a high level of intensity, so even if I feel I've seen this before, I'm looking forward to seeing how it will play out this time. And that is the appeal of these kinds of stories, whether that's the Walking Dead or Attack on Titan, discovering how the survivors will not only find their way out of the crisis, but how it will affect them. When writing The Mist, Stephen King emphasised that the story isn't about the monsters in the mist, but about the monsters in the mall, i.e. the survivors themselves. So like Attack on Titan, Kabaneri covers such issues as fear and paranoia and how they affect us as a society, an issue I dare say is quite relevant today. As for how humanity will get out of this mess, again the answer seems to lie with people with special abilities as revealed in the second episode, i.e. the kabaneri, Ikoma being one such being. These are half human, half kabane hybrids who seem to be invulnerable as well as possessing heightened reflexes, speed and strength. I feel like I should come down on the series for using this anime trope, were it not for the human dynamics we've been given quite early on. We have the proud and furious Ikoma, the mysterious Mumei and the homicidal if not honourable Kurusu, tempered by the level-headed Kibito, serving the naïve Ayame. I know what you're thinking, aren't these just the characters from every anime I've ever watched? Well my answer to that is yes, but I think the issue with this show isn't that it's bad because it's not doing anything different, but that it is good because it's doing what we know well, so well. It's a good anime as far as we know anime. My hope is that the 'Iron Fortress' of the title refers to the train they find themselves on in the second episode, I do love my claustrophobic thrillers and think it would make for some tense and compelling storytelling in this apocalyptic setting. I'd like to end on a note on the animation style which I really enjoyed. We have what looks like an animation style from decades ago coloured and stylised in a never before seen, modern way. And unlike say Naruto, it is consistent. As such, the show looks stunning and aids in supporting a solid viewing experience. I think this summarises what I want to say about my first and second impressions of Kabaneri, it is good, it gives us more of the same but it does so well, making us want to know how it will play out this time and reuniting us with characters we know and love.  
Kabaneri First Impression photo
More of the same? Thankfully, yes!
So what can we expect from Wit Studio this time around? Well, more of the same - don't take that as a criticism, it's an observation. Wit Studio has brought us a number of post-apocalyptic stories, where humanity is on the br...

First Impressions: Haifuri

Apr 14 // Jeff Chuang
Haifuri is an original anime with a large cast of female-only characters. This is something that didn't strike me at all until it was all over, but thanks to that cue, it makes the Girls und Panzer comparison work. Given this element, the play-militaristic take on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, the evoking of WWII-era war machines, and your go-getter cast of characters with a wide variety of schticks, it's inevitable to make that pairing. What bothered me about Haifuri, or rather, High School Fleet, is that fat cat Isoroku. It is a reference to Isoroku Yamamoto, who is probably the most well-known WWII Japanese military commander to the west, as he created the blueprint for Imperial Japan's plan to defeat the USA as the commander of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Well, I guess people do and can look with a sense of romanticism for legendary commanders of their enemy, so many years later, but are we ready to look at Isoroku similar to how we feel about The Desert Fox? Perhaps. I'm guess there's a joke there that I missed, with the whole fat cat at sea thing. I think that is neither here or there, however. The story drops the viewer right in the middle of action half way through the first episode. Like the marketing material, Haifuri episode 1 has a gap where in one scene we're playing out your usual moe high school hijinks, and then in the second half of the episode we're already playing a game of World of Warships, except with teenager girls busy shouting commands to automated systems that simplify the running of a WWII-era destroyer so 30-some-odd kids can do what hundreds of trained sailors did. Maybe World of Warships is not the best game analogy...Spaceteam? It sure seemed fun and not so much a matter of life or death, even if it kind of was. But there is that WoWs aspect to Haifuri. On one hand we have ancient refitted junk naval cruisers that are over a century old, on the other hand we have sleek futuristic ships blasting autocannon rounds and missiles (and can be operated by one person). If the story is about our adorable protagonists bonding over their naval trials, where Girls und Panzer shined, then the focus wouldn't be on the boats or the fact that they're on a boat, or even Isoroku and the other military otaku nods, but hearty, solid character development. And that just brings us back to the fact that Haifuri has dozens of protagonists onboard the Harekaze. The official English website has a helpful page that gives you a little profile on each one of them, as keeping them straight beyond the first handful will be difficult at this point. The captain, Mike-chan, looks up to her dad, who also captains a ship. Shiro-chan, who is her second in command, plays the straight man in the bridge bunny comedy scenes. The rest of the cast are full of eccentric, if oddly well-trained, characters that would not make up any normal high school class. But I guess that's not the point. What is the point is that this first episode was both fun and well put-together. Throwing the viewer a nasty curve ball at the end helps to drag us to the next episode, since mutiny isn't a term you'd expect from this genre--although it does occasionally happen in other shows of this kind. It would be safe to say that I'm at least curious where Haifuri will go next, even if it isn't exactly in uncharted waters. [It's on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Daisuki!]
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She's on a boat
Keeping up with the news, one thing that I knew about Haifuri before watching the first episode was that it's about a bunch of moe high school girls working as some kind of sea patrol. The soft designs and color schemes on th...

OP Up! - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

Apr 13 // Red Veron
[embed]34942:5552:0[/embed] "Naked Dive" Anime: Myriad Colors Phantom World I really like the pixellated square look that this opening employs as well as using it in a mosaic censorship effect that gets me excited when they use it to tease viewers with the nakedness of the characters. Also then colors, not as saturated as some of the other openings here but still great.   [embed]34942:5553:0[/embed] "one-Me two-Hearts (ワンミーツハー)" Anime: Divine Gate I don't know why but I always laugh my ass off when I see that part near the beginning of the opening when one of the main characters looking through a window with his hand pressed up against it. I know it's supposed to allude to something sad in his past but I just find it funny. Yes, I am a monster. I do love this opening's use of colors while still not as bright as other openings that tries to follow the latest trend of using a lot of hypercolors.   [embed]34942:5554:0[/embed] "Beat your heart" Anime: Bubuki Buranki This opening always has me looking forward to the part where they introduce the bad guys right after introducing the good guys. The opening introduces the good guys looking all cool and shows of a bit of their character while the bad guys are shown off to be kicking the protagonist's butts. It always makes me laugh.   [embed]34942:5551:0[/embed] "Re:Re:" Anime: ERASED An opening that instantly had me jamming after few seconds and I soon realized why: the song is from 2004 from the band Asian Kung-fu Generation and I've listened to the song for hundreds (if not thousands) of times. This opening too is simple but full of symbolism and does something super clever later. Are there openings that you loved from last season? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Yo.
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Last Season's Best (to me)
The new season is here and last season is sooooo last season but that won't stop me from looking back at some of the openings that I really liked. A lot of shows have taken inspiration from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and t...

Final Impressions: Myriad Colors Phantom World

Apr 12 // Nick Valdez
One thing I could never fault Phantom World for, thanks to Kyoto Animation's style and love of fluid animation, was its visuals. Regardless of where the story didn't go, the show remained watchable due to how pretty everything was. KyoAni isn't necessarily at the top of the production game, but most of the time their style is a saving grace. For example, one of the main gags was how many times Haruhiko found himself flung across spaces. A common trope, for sure, but these throws rarely looked the same twice. It's just a shame that the fights never quite lived up to their potential. Phantom World was never really focused on fights, so when some of them end up looking super great I was starved for more. But in the same breath, anime adaptations can't rest on visuals alone.  For the entirety of its run I couldn't quite figure out what Phantom World wanted to accomplish. At some times it seemed like a show that wanted to tell a story about kids dealing with Phantoms (and to a lesser extent, deal with the destinies unwantingly placed upon them), then it became a monster of the week show, then a few episodes focused on a singular gag, and then in some sort of last ditch effort, it tried a serious and emotional arc toward the end. Like I had been fearing all along.  In the final three episodes, a super phantom named Enigma began attacking ability users and stealing their powers. Since phantoms weren't successfully built into a credible threat through the season, it seemed weird to suddenly ramp up the tension this way. It's a clearly rushed endgame ringing hollow as we're told that this particular phantom poses a threat when others were clearly treated as jokes before. But the major through line of this final arc was Haruhiko's missing mother. Apparently she walked out on him years before and suddenly Haruhiko's depressed. Even when the show had multiple opportunities to bring up this backstory (such as the episode where Izumi was afraid of what her parents might think of her phantom hunting) or invest any time in Haruhiko at all (so he could at least develop beyond the guy who delivers exposition). Anyway, as Enigma wreaks havoc across the town she accumulates all sorts of neat abilities. Including the ability to pose as Haruhiko's mother.  In the midst of all this, as the rest of the phantom hunting club believes they're talking with Haruhiko's mother, they reveal they all had a bit of a crush on Haruhiko. Once again, there was very little build up to this little development but thankfully that never quite becomes the focus. In fact, the series ends without any of those cliched romantic entanglements anyway. The final battle itself passes by without much fanfare and Haruhiko saves the day by fully summoning the cutesy phantoms he's used in the past. So I guess all the character evolution I've wanted from the series was saved for Haruhiko himself. I'll admit I'm being a bit harsh since KyoAni is at least trying to salvage the series at the end, but it's such a disappointing foray overall. Each week things just kind of happened. It's even hard to summarize the final couple of episodes because there's not much more than a logline's worth of material in each. Everything is so hollow, it's like the series wanted to embody the textbook definition of "Phantom." A lingering spirit of a good premise.  When all is said and done, there's no real reason to search out Myriad Colors Phantom World for yourself. It never quite figured out what kind of series it wanted to be and that confusion kept it from becoming something truly engaging. You can try and argue that it's some sort of "turn off your brain" entertainment without a real message, but it was clearly trying to tell a story at its end.  Besides, why would you seek out a form of entertainment that offers you nothing but background noise? If you're looking for cheap entertainment there are plenty of anime that provide that already. Shows that know you're watching them because of stuff like cool visuals and do their best to provide just that. We as an audience deserve something better than a show with an identity crisis every week. 
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Myriad of rushed conclusions
If you've been following along with my occasional thoughts on Myriad Colors Phantom World, you've no doubt noticed how many times I've gone back and forth on the series as a whole. While folks in the comments suggested that I...

First Impressions: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable

Apr 10 // Josh Tolentino
It starts with the beginning. Previous JoJo's parts - or at least their animated versions - invariably began with some kind of epic setup scene: Phantom Blood opened on the carriage accident that first tied together Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando's fathers, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead to their battle. Battle Tendency started at the expedition that discovered the Pillar Men, who would be the prime antagonists for that arc. Stardust Crusaders began as Dio's coffin was pulled from the depths of the sea. Diamond is Unbreakable starts with breakfast. A hand prepares a hearty meal of bacon, eggs, and toast as a radio DJ greets the morning in the small town of Morioh. It's all well and good until the music starts to distort, revealing that the hand isn't actually attached to anyone. I've yet to see the significance of this grotesque tableau, but the shift in tone and presentation for this part in the JoJo's saga is clear enough to see. Diamond is Unbreakable focuses more on characters than events, where Morioh, its environs, and the people outside the main cast are just as significant as the superpowers and battles to come. In fact, there's little sense of crisis in the initial episode, a style unprecedented for JoJo's so far. Phantom Blood traded in scenes of domestic bliss, sure, but the feeling of fateful tension ran through every such occurrence. Here, there's little to do but play "Getting to Know You", with Jotaro and young Koichi serving as our lens for seeing the JoJo of 1999, Josuke Higashikata. Apparently the love child of old Joseph Joestar, the 16-year-old high-schooler is the 28-year-old Jotaro's uncle, technically. To be honest, he doesn't make the best first impression. Other than resorting to violence at the first mention of his weird hair, he's less obviously heroic, kowtowing to bullies in a way that no previous JoJo would countenance - at least until they insult his do.  As he rolls into his first fight, with the murderer/rapist Angelo and his Stand Aqua Necklace, we see more of what he's capable of. There's a level of quick-thinking and misdirection at work that recalls the creativity of old Joseph, but his personality and character are as yet a bit undefined. No matter, though. As I mentioned, Diamond is Unbreakable stands out for having a much stronger presence from minor characters. Josuke's mom is a treasure on par with Lisa Lisa in a series that's had a paucity of compelling female presences. His grandfather, an aging policeman, serves as an Uncle Ben of sorts for Josuke by dying to strengthen his heroic resolve, but like uncle Ben, his presence can't be discounted. And of course there's Jotaro, in a snazzy white outfit and playing the role of elder mentor to the young bucks.  Morioh itself seems to be a star of sorts in Diamond is Unbreakable, as well. Where all the previous parts preferred to play the jet-setter, traveling abroad quickly and never halting the journey, it seems this portion of the Bizarre Adventure will be taking place close to home. This ought to be an interesting development, one that seems to foreshadow the appeal of even other media, like the Persona games. It's a bit early to pass judgment as yet, but so far Diamond is Unbreakable  seems quite solid, both as a JoJo's show and as a departure from the aspects of the brand that have risked feeling trite after many, many episodes and chapters of development. I can't wait to see what's coming to town next. [Catch more of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on Crunchyroll!]
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A Crazy Diamond in the Rough
I honestly didn't know what to expect going into David Production's latest phase in adapting the epic JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, Diamond is Unbreakable. Besides some background details gleaned from Wikipedia and the...

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure photo
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo Part 4's 8-bit ending theme will heal all of your wounds


It's time to crack open the cherry cola
Apr 09
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that Studio Megaane is an impressive person when he releases a chiptune version of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable's ending theme within the same timeframe that the anime's tune made its debut. I gu...
RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Digimon Song Performer Kouji Wada passes away


A great singer has left our side
Apr 08
// Salvador GRodiles
It's time for a moment of silence, as Kouji Wada, the guy who sang most of the themes from the Digimon franchise, has left our world on April 3 at the age of 42. The cause of his passing was due to cancer in his upper pharynx...

What Would You Do? Becoming a Ghoul

Apr 08 // Lindo Korchi
Becoming a ghoul....well, that's something different. Due to realizing I'll live an entirely distinct life from my peers, I'd panic. But one of the main concerns that come to mind is food. That's when the shocker will really begin to set in. I'm telling you, in all honesty, if I'd go to the local small shops to have some baozi, dumplings, or fried rice and I despised the food, I'd suggest you run away. You'll definitely hear vocals at a whole new level as I sink into falsetto exclaiming, “NOOOO!!” While I can easily make this post dedicated to the food challenges, along with how it'll drive me crazy, it's best to just move on. At the end of the day, I have to live with my current reality. I have to find a way to discover the positive aspects of my new life and, fortunately, I've found a few. I'd bravely enter the mountains, jungle, or forest and simply live life to the extreme. As a human, I'm unable to do such. I can't just walk up to either of these three places and say “bring it”, I'd eventually die within a matter of weeks – and that's at best. The possibilities of being devoured by a bear, bitten by a snake, constantly living in fear, and starving to death are very real scenarios. Very. Real. But as a ghoul, that's not the case. If a bear tries to devour me, it's going to be a sad day for the bear. I'm x amount of times stronger and faster than the average human and can easily wipe him out – making the bear my meal. If a snake attempts to bite me, I'd literally laugh. I got bitten by Rize Kamishiro and survived, there's no way a snake's bite can bring me down. With the knowledge, strength, and confidence that I have to be able to survive on my own, the notion of living in fear won't exist. [embed]34918:5545:0[/embed] I can live a peaceful, free, and adventurous life in the mountains, jungle and forest. I won't have to deal with the problems of government, society, or daily drama. Nor the nuisance of consuming processed food as all my supplements will be raw, natural, and healthy. I can survive on my own, provide myself some sort of shelter, hunt my own food, and explore without many limits. The only time I'd really go to the city would be to catch a plane to another country and explore its nature and wild side of life -- and I'll fit in just fine. Speaking of, I'd likely hit up Aokigahara in Japan to check out the territory and its mystique atmosphere. Maybe that's when fear will begin to creep in. Interesting indeed. Now putting that aside, what would you do in such a situation? [Image credits courtesy: Umibe] [embed]34918:5545:0[/embed]
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Step Three: Take it Slow
[Ed. Note: What Would You Do? is a new column run by our newest contributor Lindo Korchi, examining popular scenarios from anime to develop a proper plan of action (or inaction) for any situation.] Previously, we had to con...

Dragonball Z photo
Dragonball Z

The New Day goes Super Saiyan at Wrestlemania 32


Complete with tails!
Apr 05
// Soul Tsukino
Sunday night, World Wrestling Entertainment put in it's annual biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania. The 32nd wrestling event took place from Dallas Texas's AT&T Stadium and was announced to have an attendance of 101,7...

JapanaHow: How to unite with your waifu

Apr 01 // Salvador GRodiles
The most important thing to take into account during this process is that your waifu only exists in the second dimension. Since we fall into the category of disgusting 3D beings, the first step is to create a version of ourselves that could live in the anime and/or manga world. But wait, how does a real person accomplish this task? Well, the easiest way is to have yourself immortalized into a doujin manga where you and the lucky 2D girl end up hooking up in a glorious relationship that transcends all life in the entire freaking universe. If you lack the talent to create this scenario, then you can always hire a skilled artist to cover this step. To those who lack the money to pay someone to do this, you can always hold the person hostage and force them to create the award-winning romantic tale about you and your waifu. Sure, this option is illegal, but it's very important for someone to do what they can for the sake of true love. Another option is that you can believe in the you who believes in you until your hand subconsciously draws the scene in the style that’s similar to your waifu’s creator/parent. However, this might make it hard for you to capture the right lines and forms that give your girl the beautiful appearance that you adore. Since my art skills are a bit below average, I won’t be able to provide you all with the proper steps to create the right illustrations that’ll do justice to your waifu's best assets. If your comic speaks out your true feelings, then your waifu will materialize in front of you, as she gives you a huge kiss for your hard work. This will result in the two of you embracing each other so hard that she shall be immortalized on your body. Luckily, this form is temporary so your 2D beloved shall get her privacy when she needs it. If you want to summon her again, then you can activate this mode with a special figure that captures her true beauty. Best of all, it’ll come with a mecha musume feature that lets her become a weapon. That way, you can defend yourself before you call her to your side. For those who aren’t happy with this process, the next segment involves jumping into the nearest rocket or spaceship you can find, so you can head into space. Once you’re there, you’ll likely encounter a mysterious destructive alien force that’ll kill you while it’s on its course to Earth. Depending on how close you are to your waifu, there’s a chance that she’ll unite with you, which will result in your resurrection— as long as you have faith in her. Of course, the catch in this method is that you have to transform into your beloved so that you can save the Earth from large monsters and giant space invaders. On top of that, your waifu's soul will reside in your body, which might make most folks sad since they won't get to embrace her physically. For the last method, I guess you could always open up a detective agency with your waifu. When the time to apprehend the culprit arrives, you two could use your matching belts to merge into a hero that has the two of you controlling both halves. Before I forget, the only place where you can get these belts is in a suspicious building that's located in any city that resembles Chicago. Like with the first step, you’ll have to get her to join the physical plane; otherwise, you won’t be able to turn her into your special partner. With all said and done, I bet all of you're wondering why my methods involve teaming up with your waifu to become a single entity. Well, the truth of the matter is that both parties need a strong motive to strengthen the bond between a 3D person and a 2D individual. One of the biggest factors that can push someone to achieve this goal is to battle a group of evildoers who intend to ruin the world that blesses us with the privilege to interact with our one true love (a.k.a. our beloved waifu). [image by makacoon]
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Never doubt the power of 2D
Whenever things get rough, you can always count on your waifu to help you out of any rough situation. Whether you’re trying to escape from a large ruin or about to face defeat against a powerful opponent, these 2D ladie...

JapanaHow: Tips for Bathing Your Catgirl

Apr 01 // Josh Tolentino
1.) Assess your Catgirl's needs Every Catgirl or Catboy is different, and this goes for grooming as much as personality. Before beginning the bath, ask yourself a few questions: Is your Catgirl a human with cat ears or a human-shaped cat? What type of coat do they have? Is their fur confined to the head and scalp or does it extend downward into a set of clothing-like strips on the body (also known as the "Felicia" cut)? The answers to those questions can influence everything from the type and quantitiy of shampoo called for to the need to use soap or other human-targeted bathing tools. 2.) Make your Catgirl want to bathe This step may be difficult, and will depend on your Catgirl's personality, as well as your relationship to your Catgirl. Playful Catgirls may be happy to take a bath with you, and in cases where you are your Catgirl's master (or they your maid), they may be obliged to follow your commands. More adventurous or headstrong Catgirls may need more cajoling, or even a bit of trickery to get into the bathing state of mind. Try placing favored treats, precious gems, or high-level equipment in the bathing area to attract them to the location. 3.) Do not ambush your Catgirl This is important. Catgirls, like cats, have keen senses and a hunting instinct, and can become violent if shocked or cornered. It is unlikely that a mere human would be able to take them by surprise. Furthermore, ambushing a Catgirl, even with the best of intentions, can be interpreted by authorities as harassment, coercion, or even assault . A Catgirl's consent is required before any bathing takes place.  4.) Comfort your Catgirl when it's over This can be a fun and engaging activity for both of you. Catgirls may be cold after bathing, and will likely want to stay warm as they dry out. Pet or stroke your Catgirl gently (within the limits of the law), and be rewarded by appreciative mewling or cooing. [Special thanks to WikiHow, Sketcher2007, Kedama, Mako Tatekawa, and Hisashi Kawata]
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No need for a cat-astrophe
Hello, and welcome to JapanaHow, our new semi-regular How-To column covering the basics of life once you've Made Anime Real.  If you're one of the growing number of people who've Made Anime Real, you may find yourself th...

HOW TO MAKE ANIME REAL

Apr 01 // Red Veron
ANIME photo
SECRET NINJA ARTS
[Editor's note: We deeply apologize for this unauthorized post. An unknown individual identifying himself as "DJ DarkShadowEdge789" broke into our offices and made this post and video. We will keep this post up for evidence.] DJ DARKSHADOWEDGE HERE WITH A SPECIAL ABOUT TO MAKE ANIME REAL FOR YOU WATCH MY VIDEO PLEASE

Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide!

Apr 01 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]34850:5522:0[/embed] Mayoiga Studio: Diomedea Broadcasting: April 1, 2016  Mayoiga might be a dark horse of this spring, and not just because original anime productions tend to be the dark horses in these adaptation-dominated days. For one, it's got some notable talent behind it, including Tsutomu Mizushima, director of my two favorite anime of the last two years (Girls und Panzer and Shirobako), and Mari Okada, the popular but divisive screenwriter of Ano Hana and Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Second, this story of people visiting a mysterious, uninhabited village after signing up to a weird bus tour is an actual crowdfunding success. The anime industry has met with mixed results from its flirtations with crowdfunding campaigns, but this is one of the few times a full-featured seasonal series has made it onto the airwaves.   [embed]34850:5523:0[/embed] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable Studio: David Productions Broadcasting: April 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Need I say more? It's JoJo's! The next step in David Production's lengthy plan to adapt all the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga continues into the roaring '90s, starring a new fellow named Josuke Higashikata. Diamond Is Unbreakable is a wide favorite among JoJo's fans, even beyond the better-known Stardust Crusaders. I myself will admit that I haven't read the original manga version, so Josuke's small-town Stand-wielding adventures will be new to me.   [embed]34850:5524:0[/embed] Terra Formars: Revenge Studio: Liden Films Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) I never quite cottoned onto Terra Formars, despite its tonal similarities to the parts of Attack on Titan that I liked. That said, it did turn out to be an alright, properly absurd edgy battle show, one whose other positive qualities ultimately outweighed the super racist-looking designs on the Martian roach-men. Perhaps the fans saw past that as well, because if certain rumors are true, it's due to the show's solid performance on foreign streaming services like Crunchyroll that Terra Formars is getting a new season at all. As for me, I'm looking forward to the ways they plan to weaponize obscure insects and animals in a recreation of a modern-day, Japanese take on the old Visionaries cartoon.   [embed]34850:5525:0[/embed] Ace Attorney Studio: A-1 Studios Broadcasting: April 2, 2016 Ace Attorney or Gyakuten Saiban, as it's known in Japan, is perhaps the greatest evidence both for and against the practice of localization, i.e. adapting content to suit the culture and language it's being sold to. I love the Ace Attorney games. They're are all pretty well-written and practically ooze character and charm. The problem is is that this anime is called Gyakuten Saiban. I'm attached to some schlub lawyer named "Phoenix Wright" and his pals "Mia Fey" and her sister "Maya Fey". I don't know "Ryuuichi Naruhodou" and his friends. Still, stories are stories, so we can hope that it carries over well enough,   [embed]34850:5526:0[/embed] Macross Delta Studio: Satelight Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 Wow, has it really been seven years since Macross Frontier? I would've thought they'd be less content to sit on it the way they have, considering that every year brings a new Gundam or two, but here we are. I've actually been avoiding contact with Macross Delta and its new story of mysterious diseases that can only be cured by the power of song, Valkyrie-piloting idol groups, knightly Valkyrie orders. Still, based on the lengthy previews available online, things are looking up.   [embed]34850:5527:0[/embed] Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear Studio: Kinema Citrus Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 This one isn't quite another Polar Bear Cafe; The miko in question isn't the bear, but a human named Machi, tending to the shrine where the bear, Natsu, is worshipped. The twist here is where the bear is the worldly one: Machi's a complete bumpkin with no knowledge of the modern world, and Natsu's great bear knowledge includes the vagaries of society, technology, and rice cookers. Kinema Citrus is on a roll of sorts with the warm family comedies after Barakamon, and they may be playing to their strengths with this show.   [embed]34850:5528:0[/embed] Joker Game Studio: Production I.G.  Broadcasting: April 5, 2016 (Broadcasting on Crunchyroll) Japan doesn't have the best track record for exploring its imperial period, but recent stories like Night Raid 1931 and portions of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu have been braver about exploring this more modern, more divisive period. Joker Game, an espionage-themed mystery thriller set just before Japan joined World War II, appears to be taking after Night Raid 1931 in its tone and premise. With a Ghost in the Shell director onboard, we could be looking at a cool, historical take on Standalone Complex, or at least Arise.    [embed]34850:5529:0[/embed] Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Studio: White Fox Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) A young Japanese high school student living an ordinary life gets dropped into a strange and unfamiliar world. Sound like seemingly every light novel adaptation ever made? You wouldn't be wrong, but Re:ZERO's twist will either make or break the show: Time rewinding. Ordinary high-schooler Natsuki Subaru returns to the moment he arrived in the other world whenever he gets killed, remembering everything that happened up to that point. It's more All You Need Is Kill/Edge of Tomorrow and Groundhog Day rather than ERASED or Steins;Gate, and while that storm of names obviously means the gimmick isn't nearly as novel as it could be, some solid direction and writing could make the show sing in a way most others in its genre don't.   [embed]34850:5530:0[/embed] Kiznaiver Studio: Trigger Broadcasting: April 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Some of the luster may have come off of the Trigger brand since the cute-but-forgettable When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace and the divisive Ninja Slayer, but the studio's still around, and still has a ton of talent. As for the story itself, I find its central idea of a weird system that links people together by having them share their wounds on a physical level seems a bit on the nose as a way of securing world peace. But hey, we don't have that in real life, and the world's definitely not at peace, so what do I know?   [embed]34850:5531:0[/embed] Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Studio: Studio DEEN Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 (Streaming via Hulu) Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto has one joke, and it's that the titular Sakamoto is the best. The best at what, you ask? Everything. He's just super awesome at everything he does and seems to know it. That's a problem when the premise anchors something serious like Sword Art Online (ha!) but it's golden when it's the core of a gag show. Already in the trailer I'm seeing it as something like Mahouka through the lens of Cromartie High School or Tonari no Seki-kun.  Studio DEEN has been on a hot streak lately with arguably the best show of last season and solid comedies like Konosuba, so let's hope they can continue the trend.   [embed]34850:5532:0[/embed] Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Studio: Wit Studio Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 A lot of fans were disappointed when it was announced that the next season of Attack on Titan would be delayed to give time for the manga to build up more material. This new project from Studio Wit and the Attack on Titan team feels like them trying to fill that void. I'm not even being facetious: Kabaneri looks like an off-brand Attack on Titan, set more in a steampunk early-Meiji-period Japan (called "Hinomoto") than a quasi-European countryside. Mankind lives in walled cities called Stations and travels in ironclad armored steam trains to escape the threat of giant, iron-skinned zombie-men called Kabane. Sound familiar? I thought so.  That's not necessarily a problem, though. The animation looks good, the character designs pleasantly retro, and to be frank the Attack on Titan template is far from completely exhausted. Besides, I wasn't that hot on Attack on Titan myself, so having Wit try their hand at something original in that vein might be a good way to see just where my problems with it lie.   [embed]34850:5533:0[/embed] My Hero Academia Studio: Bones Broadcasting: April 3, 2016 (Streaming via FUNimation) Now here's the hype monster. My Hero Academia is the big Shonen JUMP hit of its time, and excitement to see BONES - a studio known for top-shelf animation - adapt the manga has been through the roof. I'll admit that I have yet to read a chapter of the thing despite having a subscription to JUMP, but as a reader of western superhero comics, the premise has me intrigued. On the surface, it's bog-standard "earnest boy protagonist" stuff, but seeing Midoriya strive to become a hero as the only unpowered boy in a school full of superpowered kids ought to be engaging. And the presentation is up there with some of BONE's best.   [embed]34850:5534:0[/embed] Bakuon!! Studio: TMS Entertainment Broadcasting: April 4, 2016 "Cute girls riding motorcycles" would be the quickest way to describe Bakuon!!, and...well, I'm having difficulty saying much more than that. To its credit, though, I am getting a sort of Girls und Panzer vibe from it, in that the show (or its trailers, at least) seems to understand that "cute girls" and [insert subject matter] are equal parts of the whole when it comes to making widely entertaining moe, rather than simple fodder for otaku. Not even a favorite moe show of mine, K-ON!, truly understood that.   [embed]34850:5535:0[/embed] Bungo Stray Dogs  Studio: Bones  Broadcasting: April 6, 2016 Osamu Dazai. Doppo Kunikida. If you know those two names, but don't know anything about Bungo Stray Dogs,  then congratulations: You're more familiar with Japanese literature than most outsiders, or are capable of using Wikipedia.  In any case, Bungo is more than just a nickname frustrated Destiny players use for their developer of choice, but also the key to understanding this mystery detective show. The names above are code names, drawn from the history of literature, and the people bearing those names have powers apparently related to the works of those authors. It's like having a guy in your squad named Chuck Palahniuk who suffers from a split personality and is really good at beating people up and not talking about it. If nothing else, Bones appears to be aiming to make this one its marquee production, putting director Takuya Igarashi on it. Among other things he helmed Star Driver and Captain Earth, two shows that were very pretty, if not always narratively satisfying.    [embed]34850:5536:0[/embed] Kuromukuro Studio: P.A. Works Broadcasting: April 7, 2016 Given that P.A. Works made its name on personal, often high-school-based fantasy soaps, you'd think they'd spend their 15th Anniversary making one of those. I can't say I'm unhappy to see that they're instead making what looks to be a samurai mecha anime.  Kuromukuro's premise is fairly standard for the times, in which a time-lost samurai gets transported to an alternate 2016 in which mecha are standard equipment in life and industry. What's less standard is the involvement Tensai Okamura, director of Darker Than BLACK and writing staff that had a hand in Moribito.
Spring 2016 Anime Preview photo
New blooms, new shows!
It may be April 1st today, but it's also the start of the Spring Anime Preview, which means that folks can have fun with boisterous humor and anticipation for the latest in Japanese cartoon goodness. This is Japanator's Spring 2016 Anime Preview Guide! Head on below for a roundup of the most notable anime series of the quarter, and tell us in the comments about what you're planning to watch!

Final Fantasy XV photo
Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV to get Anime and CG Movie


A Decade in the Making...
Mar 30
// Red Veron
I am sure that I am not alone in anticipating the super sexy looking Final Fantasy XV, and earlier tonight, Square Enix held a special event titled "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV" and they announced many new things about the hi...

Final Impressions: Haruchika: Haruta and Chika

Mar 29 // Soul Tsukino
After getting through all of the episodes, though, I feel like this show didn't quite deliver on its potential. Now don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this show. It's cute, knows when to put in some adorable humor along with serious topics, and had some compelling characters. But its execution and delivery were uneven and seems like it was being held back from it only being 12 episodes.  Breaking things down, you have GREAT episodes like the first four episodes, but then you had some weird episodes like Naoko's aunt's weird story and the episode with Motoko and the piano. The Miyo episode about the Rubix cube and her dead brother laid out a great mystery and have good clues leading up to the ending, same with Naoko's debut episode, while you had some episodes mysteries just come out of nowhere and not make much sense, like they were tacked on to have a mystery for the episode like the dog mystery. I liked the characters that are in this show. Chika shines as the star here. She has a Usagi Tsukino like quality of being in way over her head, but still does the best she can for her friends, even if she doesn't have a clue what is going on half the time. Haruta makes a good foil for her as the smart person that seems to figure things out quicker than anyone else and keeping Chika from getting too out there and hopefully on target.  But the problem lies with the other characters. Miyo, Muren, Akari, Naoko, and Kaiyuu all had time devoted to them to introduce them but then were immediately put in the background. Only Naoko got any more focus on her once she was introduced. Meanwhile, you had the club president and the Twins sitting there the whole time and never got much of character development or inclusion at all. They had to have motivations to be there as well. I'm not sure if the books delve into these characters anymore, but I felt disappointed they didn't get time of their own on the show. Visually This show is great. I love the animation style and even when the show had it's more "anime" moments it didn't get too cartoony with its art style. The multicolored eyes helped set this show apart for more as it makes the characters seem more alive and full of spirit for me. Great work. In the end, it feels like a show trapped by its short length and even its concept. I think with a full 26 episodes and scaling back on the mysteries this show could be a great slice of life show. Give it space to explain more into the characters and their motivations. Give stories time to play out without having to cram everything into such a short time. And showing us more of Chika, Haruta, and the others doing silly things outside of some convoluted mystery that ends up not amounting to much in the end. But for all its flaws, it's still a cute and enjoyable show.   After getting through all of the episodes, though, I feel like this show didn't quite deliver on it's potential.   Now don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this show. It's cute, knows when to put in some adorable humor along with serious topics, and had some compelling characters. But it's execution and delivery was uneven and seems like it was being held back from it only being 12 episodes. Breaking things down, you have GREAT episodes like the first four episodes, but then you had some weird episodes like Naoko's aunts weird story and the episode with Mokoto and the piano. The Miyo episode about the rubix cube and her dead brother laid out a great mystery and have good clues leading up to the ending, same with Naoko's debut episode, while you had some episodes mysteries just come out of nowhere and not make much since, like they were tacked on to have a mystery for the episode.   I liked the characters that are in this show. Chika shines as the star here. She has a Usagi Tsukino like quality of being in way over her head, but still does the best she can for her friends, even if she doesn't have a clue what is going on half the time. Haruta makes a good foil for her as the smart person that seems to figure things out quicker than anyone else and keeping Chika from getting to out there and hopefully on target. But the problem lies with the other characters. Miyo, Muren, Akari, Naoko, and Kaiyuu all had time devoted to them to introduce them, but then were immediately put in the background. Only Naoko got any more focus on her once she was introduced. Meanwhile you had the club president and the Twins sitting there the whole time and never got much of character development or inclusion at all. They had to have motivations to be there as well. I'm not sure if the books delve into these characters any more, but I felt disappointed they didn't get time of their own on the show.   Visually This show is great. I love the animation style and even when the show had it's more "anime" moments it didn't get to cartoony with it's art style. The multicolored eyes helped set this show apart for more as it makes the characters seem more alive and full of spirit for me. Great work.   In the end it feels like a show trapped by it's short length and even it's concept. I think with a full 26 episodes and scaling back on the mysteries this show could be a great slice of life show. Give it space to explain more into the characters and their motivations. Give stories time to play out without having to cram everything into such a short time. Ad showing us more of Chika, Haruta, and the others doing silly things outside of some convoluted mystery that ends up not amounting to much in the end. But for all it's flaws, it's still a cute and enjoyable show.
Haruchika photo
The story of love, music, and mysteries
What an interesting trip Haruchika has been. The concept of two reunited childhood friends trying to save a school club by solving mysteries was an interesting one from the start and a good hook. The fact that it was based on...

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 11 & 12

Mar 27 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them! As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (a reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will see what it is) and plays. It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard. The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually, they find the answer to the key but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show. To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time, that information seemed like an aside. Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best-written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of where things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point. Episode 12 The finals of the competition are next week so everyone is nervous. However, something pops up that makes Haruta and Chika panic as it looks like Mr. Kusakabe may be leaving them.  The episode opens right up with the class advisoer meeting with two men. With his snooping we find out that Mr. Kusakabe is being offered a conductorship for a big orchestra again. Haruta, of course, is devastated ad Chika isn't thrilled either., but they keep the secret to themselves. However, Haruta wants to tell Mr. Kusakabe how he feels before the teacher leaves. This leads the two kids to follow him. The mystery they solve is the big one. You find out why Mr. Kusakabe ditched his conductorship that has been an underlying theme of the entire show. You don't get any specifics, but you get enough to know why he did what he did. No dramatic reveals or clues or anything, but the ongoing mystery is solved. The show then runs the credits but there is still a third of the show left. We see everyone pcking up and going to the regional contest and we see them play. It's a really touching moment in the series as you see POeople in the crowd calling back to previous episodes and harkens back to the past episodes. Miyo's parents are there holding a picture of her and her brother together, Muren's parents are there, Naoko and her aunt are there, the reporter and Matoko are there too. After that, we find out the results. Not going to spoil it, but we also find out Mr. Kusakabe's decision as well as Naoko's feeling as well. If you followed the series up until now, this part of the episode is the most emotional of the entire series. Whatever they were lacking up until this point in the episode, the after credits scenes more than makeup for. It's not the best series finale I've seen. Heck, I don't even think it's the best episode of this series, but at the same time it's not terrible and it does wrap things up without being nightmarish bad like the Magikano ending or something similar. Its pacing is a little weird. Heck, I'd have put all the stuff with Mr. Kusakabe in the last episode with Motoko and I think it would have played out better, but for what was giving, it was all right. We pick up a little bit after the first round of the competition from the last episode. The Brass Band club has made it through City and prefectural competition and is now at the regional Class B competition level. Good for them!   As the club is waiting for practice they are met with a strange woman. After Naoko finds that the piano they have to practice with is out of tune, this woman, named Motoko, challenges Naoko to make something beautiful even after finding out the piano isn't up to snuff. She then pulls out a musicaa (A reed instrument with a keyboard on it, pay attention to the opening of this song and you will se what it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB1Q-PfUvN0)   It turns out this woman has a link to Mr. Kusakabe, making Haruta jealous immediately. She's the granddaughter of his music teacher. We find out there is a mystery surrounding a piano that belonged to her grandfather and that she was the only one told about the key to its keyboard.   The "mystery" here isn't nearly as heavy as some of the others have been. Eventually they find the answer to the key, but comes completely out of left field with little clues leading to it. But this episode seemed more than just the mystery as  Motoko and Naoko form a weird bond that you only find out the true depth of until nearly the end of the show.   To be honest I'm not quite sure what this episode was trying to accomplish. We do find out some more of Mr. Kusakabe's past in this, and that he wasn't always the nice kind hearted teacher he is to the Brass band club, but at the same time that information seemed like an aside.   Not a terrible episode, but probably not the best written episode. The resolution comes out of nowhere with no hint of wear things were going and the point of the episode is a muddled and not quite clear. Let's hope the finale is more on point.
Haruchika photo
The end of the song
We've come to the end of the line for Haruchika as we look at the last two episodes of the short series. How will things end and what mysteries will get solved. Let's take a look.

Week Ender - Adapted Drama Edition

Mar 26 // Red Veron
[embed]34890:5506:0[/embed] "Last Piece" Anime: Great Teacher Onizuka This property has multiple live action adaptations which take a lot of liberties with source material. I haven't seen many of them but I did see the anime that waters down the content because there are certain things they can't show in an anime on television back when it aired. Maybe if we get another anime adaptation, it can be much closer to the manga.   [embed]34890:5507:0[/embed] "Sagittarius" Anime: Nodame Cantabile One thing I do love with the anime adaptation of this property is the great soundtrack that just wasn't live action drama. The anime was produced by JC Staff, the same studio that adapted Honey and Clover which also has a great soundtrack and beautiful animation.   [embed]34890:5508:0[/embed] "Split" Anime: Honey & Clover The only thing I liked about the live action adaptation of this show was really good ending song "Canvas" performed by Ken Hirai. I would've featured it but the overprotective Japanese music companies make it hard to have the actual ending up on the internet.   [embed]34890:5509:0[/embed] "Shissou" Anime: Ouran High School Host Club I love this anime but not the drama. To be fair, I never gave it a chance but the trailers not as good. The live action trailers made the show look like it didn't have much of a budget and for a story were rich people are involved, you may wanna make them look rich.   [embed]34890:5510:0[/embed] "Akai Coat" Anime: Arakawa Under the Bridge I remember watching the first few episodes of the anime and found the whole thing to be super ridiculous. Then a few years later, I hear a live action drama adaptation for television was developed and I just had the most puzzled and surprised look on my face. I also got the same look again on my face when I heard about a live action film adaptation the following year.   Is there an anime adaptation that you love over the source material or other adaptations? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
ANIME MADE REAL
When they make a manga or novel into live action, there will always be differences. Either they take away something or add something, it will always be different. Then there are are manga or novels that are so insane that you...

FLCL photo
FLCL

Praise Atomsk: New episodes of FLCL are incoming


Thanks, Toonami
Mar 25
// Josh Tolentino
If you're an anime fan of a certain age, you're probably going to find this news quite exciting (or perhaps terrifying): New episodes of FLCL are on the way!  For the uninitiated, FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) was a G...

Final Impressions: Oshiete! Galko-chan

Mar 25 // Anthony Redgrave
A very different episode for the finale of Oshiete! Galko-chan. We are taken to the start of the second year where cliques are already starting to form; there's the Gyaru (the popular students), honour students (I guess we know them as preppies), and finally the outsiders which are the people that don't exist in those two categories. In this show that means they're the students that like heavy metal and horror movies. However "Otako" doesn't exist in any of these groups, not even an outsider as she finds reading by herself far less troublesome than socialising, also known as the Oreki philosophy. And then she meets "Galko".  The origin story of how the three friends became friends is something I didn't think we needed exploring for a slice of life anime about asking and answering questions. Anime viewers are accustomed to wacky and weird people socialising together without needing an explanation, let alone spending half an episode to explain and show it. For a show like Galko-chan, it works as a thematic closure. "Galko" is the walking talking definition of misinterpreted stereotyping. In a class full of these stereotypes, "Galko" is always shown to look one way but react in another and even though we see her as a saint or a deeper character behind all the makeup and fashion, she too falls in the ways of stereotyping other people.  The origin story takes up the majority of the episode with the second half only briefly completing "Galko's" character arc of making it to class on time if that can be counted as an overarching series character arc. This episode has a typical slice of life ending. Students head home with the promise of more fun ahead. It's an ending I detest personally as it leaves the series open-ended without anything gained or lost. Oshiete! Galko-chan was a good show to keep me occupied throughout the winter season. The show didn't retain its signature question answer format opting for more character introductions in the latter episodes which I found a little disappointing but I did enjoy the overall light-hearted take on more mature topics in a slice of life anime. The short episode length was also nice as they didn't overstay their welcome with filler or fan service. The show knew how to keep everything succinct and snappy and the bright colorful palette of visuals meant it was fantastic to watch. I'll be eager for a second season or OVA of this show. Oshiete! Galko-chan is a great little anime with an interesting concept, beautiful designs, and a great pace. I picked up some interesting facts while watching this show making it hard to say anything bad about entertaining education. Even if it's facts about Female Hygiene, the genito-urinary system, and breasts.  Things I learnt from watching Galko-chan It's not even their real names! I feel like I've been lied to the whole series "Ideology as Learned from a Cat" sounds like a really interesting read but I feel that it's just a book full of Garfield strips The return of "Galko's" sister as a start of a model magazine called "GAL AGE". Very interesting cover model choice since it's a lady with no eyes I kinda want to know what pill "Otako" received. Is it paracetamol, Ibuprofen? Common painkillers I would've thought "Otako" would know about "Ojou" is a sneaky third wheeler "Galko's" observation skills are very impressive. Detective Conan eat your heart out "Galko" may have come to class early to talk but then she falls asleep. One step forward and two steps back. [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll] [Watch Oshiete! Galko-chan on Crunchy Roll]
Oshiete! Galko-chan photo
When Galko met Otako
Slice of Life with a school background is a genre that is overplayed in anime. Used to capture the youthful adolescence of an endless high school as characters transition from immature teenagers to adults often fails in ...


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