First Impressions: Bikini Warriors

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

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal bumps shoulders with Ys I's evil creatures


Ramming baddies has never felt this good
Aug 01
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] It's finally time for to change things up around here, and I figured that it's time for me to test my ramming skills in Ys I. Of course, I'll be testing my luck in...

Annotated Anime: GATE episodes 4-5

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

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 10

Aug 01 // Soul Tsukino
But First! Since this is the final night of the round robin part I'll break it down for you a little clearer. And I will admit up front I was wrong. I believed this would lead to a four-man final with the first AND second place from each block move onto the finals (as with a lot of New Japan's tournaments), but that is not the case. The top men from each block will meet for the final match with the two second place guys wrestling in a 3rd place match. Yes, I am baka for getting wrong the rules of a tournament held last year. Anyway, this is how we break it down: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14 points): A win tonight would eliminate Fale and Shibata. Holds the Tie breaker over Tanahashi (if both he and Tanahashi won).  Hiroshi Tanahashi (14 points): A win and a Nakamura loss would put him in the final. Katsuyori Shibata (12 points): A win and both Tanahashi and Nakamura loss would have him win the Tiebreaker over both as well as Fale. Bad Luck Fale (12 points) A win and a Tanahashi and Shibata loss would have him win the tie breaker. Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points): A win and he goes in no matter what since he'd win the tie with Styles AJ Styles (14 points): A win and Okada loss puts him in the final There, with that settled we are greeted with Okada to begin this episode. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura VS. Bad Luck Fale: If Fale wins than he is in the tie for at least the second place spot. Anything else and he's out. Also a revenge match for Nakamura as Fale beat him to win the Intercontinental title. Mauro and Josh bringing us the call tonight with a stuffed episode.  We start with a stare down. Fale goes for the avalanche and misses. We jump to Nakamura has the advantage, but Fale counters and hits the Grenade early. Fale goes to the top rope, but Nakamura jumps up with a kick and gives him a brainbuster off the ropes! Nakamura goes for a running kick and Fale spears him and goes for the Bad Luck Fall. Nakamura escapes and gets the big guy down with a sleeper. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma ya on the back of Fale's head before hitting a booma ya on the mat but only gets 2. Another booma ya and Fale is out for the 3.  Well, that was quick. I guess with 4 matches it had to be. Tanahashi gets to go to the finals.   Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Togi Makabe: Pretty much a formality as Togi is way out of the lead and A.J. Style is so far ahead no matter what, he's going to the finals. Styles made a hell of a comeback as he didn't start out very well in this with some big losses. A.J. bails as soon as the bell rings. Styles gets in and Togi gets an armlock before Styles bails again. Styles goes for some shoulder blocks and gets nowhere before he tries for a leapfrog and gets slammed for it. Makabe hits Styles in the corner but Styles counters and gets Togi out of the ring. Whip to the barricade and Styles jumps right over it and then hits Makabe. Cut ahead as Makabe hits a powerbomb on Styles. Styles seated on top and Makabe hits a german suplex right on Styles's NECK. Makabe climbs the top rope but decided against it before slamming Styles again. He goes up top again but misses. Cut ahead as Styles regains the advantage and put Makabe on top. Makabe gets a headbutt and Styles counters with a Pele kick. Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win. Again, cut down quite a bit, but not bad. Styles did his part to move on, let's see what happens. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.: This match pretty much means nothing now since Nakamura won.  Smith comes out with Taka Michinoku representing the Suzuki Army. Barnett brings up that Hiroshi may be underestimating Smith. Clip to chopping between the two. Hiroshi gets a few low dropkicks to get Smith down. Tanahashi with a leg whip sending the big guy down. Smith chucks Hiroshi over the top, but he skins the cat back in and drags Smith out. Hiroshi hits sliding kick before going over the rope to hit a plancha on Smith. "Gravity is a bitch."- Josh Barnett. Smith breaks the count and keeps on the attack before he hits the powerslam on the floor. Clip ahead as Smith gets Hiroshi down for 2. Smith hits a tiger suplex and NEARLY gets the three. Smith goes the bulldog roll, but Hiroshi gets the sunset flip and nearly gets it. Tanahashi gets a victory roll and another 2 count. Smith hits the bulldog bomb and GETS THE PIN? Wow. Did NOT expect that! Tanahashi is broken up in the back on the floor yelling in frustration. Kinda sucks knowing he got beat in a match that wouldn't have helped even if he did win. We get some words from Okada about this big match for him. He talks about the long tournament and losing to Karl Anderson and Naito, knowing he had to win tonight.   Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki: Same deal for Okada as it was for Styles. Okada will go to the finals and Suzuki has nothing to lose. That's... scary when you say it out loud. Suzuki comes out with Taka and glares at one of the photogs at ringside so scary I nearly pissed my pants. Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Back from the break as we get the bell. The crowd is hot for this one. Tentative knuckle lock up at first. Okada tries to mess with Suzuki on the ropes and Suzuki gets a quick armbar and then a knee to Okada and goes for the armbar on the ropes and KICKS Okada to the floor. That's what you get for trying to be funny with Suzuki. Armlock over the barricade as Suzuki is just being MEAN. Suzuki stares down Gedo but goes for another armbar on Okada. Kicks on the arm by Suzuki but Okada mans up and tells him to kick his arm. I should mention that Suzuki is stone-faced during all this. Suzuki ties up Okada in a knot before being broken from the ropes. Okada counters a charge with a kick and then hits a DDT, Okada gets a boot on Suzuki and finally gets the advantage. Suzuki suckers Okada in and punches him in the gut, but Okada gets Suzuki out into the crowd and gets a Randy Orton hanging DDT on the floor! Back in the ring with Okada going to the top and lands the flying elbow. Rainmaker pose cut short as Suzuki kicks the devil out of Okada. Kick right to Okada's injured arm. Armbar broken on the ropes again. Exchange of forearms leads to Suzuki getting the armlock again. At this point, I'm waiting for Suzuki to rip Okada's arm off and beat him with it. It's sound strategy, though. Take out his biggest weapon in the rainmaker. Also, Suzuki gets to hurt somebody. LONG armlock but Okada is not giving up! Crowd gets behind Okada now as he finally gets a foot on the ropes. Suzuki gets some strikes on the arm, but Okada gets the leg lock for his Red Ink submission finisher. Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes, but Okada gets his Heavy Rain slam (an F-5) Okada tries to whip Suzuki in but his collapses. He then turns around and hits a SWEET dropkick flattening Okada. Devilish bastard. Suzuki gets a rear naked choke as the crowd chants for Okada. Suzuki tries for the Gotch piledriver Okada sits out. He gets and knee and goes for the piledriver again but Okada gets the reverse into a falling neckbreaker. Both men are on their knees smacking each other with forearms. Back up for more forearms Suzuki ASKS to be hit and LAUGHS at Okada. I'm pretty sure the police in Japan have a special numbered code for when Suzuki is happy. Okada hits a pinpoint dropkick right on the back of Suzuki's neck. Okada tries for the tombstone, but Suzuki says no. Suzuki counters out of another suplex with an armbar but Okada counters with a Gotch version of the Tombstone. Suzuki gets up and gets out of the rainmaker with a straight punch to the face. Okada finally gets the rainmaker and scores the win! DAMN! Okada earned that one. He goes to the finals and will meet Nakamura for the tornament. Suzuki gives a scary rambling promo to the press. in the ring Okada talks about his next match again Nakamura. A few words from Gedo to finish it off. We get some words from Nakamura about the finals. Okada gives us some studio words about how tough the match was and looking forward to fighting Nakamura in the finals. The first 3 matches were clipped badly but were still enjoyable, but man that main event was a good one. Suzuki is just a wonder to watch and Okada made a really good opponent for him. Another entertaining show! Next week we get the 2 episodes as we look at the final show of the tournament in the season 2 finale of NJPW on AXS. I can't wait! Before we conclude tonight, I'd like to make mention the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper earlier tonight. Piper was THE villain of the WWF back in the mid-1980's. There wouldn't have been a Wrestlemania without him. I first saw Piper as a kid when he made his WWE comeback at Wrestlemania 5 but have since been able to see his whole body of work. His interviews are classic and hope that however the means that fans still get to enjoy his work. Been a fan of his style since I was a kid during all his runs with WWF/E and WCW. He was a man who was clear about his past and his issues, even to his own detriment, but he was someone who genuinely did not want to see the rest of the business make the same mistakes he did. He was and still is a treat to watch. Thanks, Roddy. I'll be damned if I didn't think of you showing up to the pearly gates and say these words: [embed]34105:4962:0[/embed]     See you next week for the season finale.   But First! Since we've skipped ahead let's look at the point totals in each block heading into tonight's action! Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14), Hiroshi Tanahashi (14), Katsuyori Shibata (12),  Bad Luck Fale (12), Satoshi Kojima (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points),Tomohiro Ishii (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (8) Yuji Nagata (8) Doc Gallows (6), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points), AJ Styles (14), Tetsuya Naito (10), Minoru Suzuki (10), Hirooki Goto (8), Toru Yano (8), Togi Makabe (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8), Karl Anderson (8), Lance Archer (6), Yujiro Takahashi (6). Block B looks pretty locked up while Block A is stillvery competitive! August 8th, 2014
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
On the doorstep of the finals!
Konnichi wa and welcome to Strong Style! The G1 Climax 24 tournament is almost over and the action is heating up. This week we skip ahead to day 11 of the tournament and the last day before the finals. Ton...

Hammerhead photo
Hammerhead

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


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

First Impressions: God Eater episodes 1-3

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

Dengeki Bunko photo
Dengeki Bunko

Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax releases Oct 6 in the west


Limited edition exclusive to US
Jul 30
// Anthony Redgrave
If you have ever wanted to beat up an anime character in locked one on one combat then maybe Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax is the game for you. Dengeki Bunko is a publishing company in Japan that helps release light novels li...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's latest details are to die for


Who you gonna call?
Jul 29
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, it's been known that the latest bug-eyed hero in the Kamen Rider franchise was going to sport a supernatural motif. While we've seen glimpses of the show's titular character as a toy and a few ...
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Do New Japan pro wrestlers kick out in their sleep?


Jushin Liger looks to find out!
Jul 29
// Soul Tsukino
A television show in Japan recently tackled a question of just how much fighting spirit runs through the being of your average New Japan pro wrestlers.

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 9

Jul 28 // Soul Tsukino
  BUT FIRST: Let's take a look where we are in the tournament point standings: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Block A is being led by Nakamura with a lot of guys nipping at his heels while Block B is once again a crap shoot. Things are getting down to the wire and both blocks are wide open. So with that in mind let's get to the fighting! Tanahashi gives us a greeting before we head to the arena. Block A: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma:  Oh dear. New Japan's loveable loser taking on the man who beat both of NJPW's top guys. Honma will give you a fight but well... I don't like his chances here. This feel like Honma's being sent to the gallows. Mauro runs down the records in the tournament for both guys. Bell rings and they jump right into bashing each other with forearms. This is intense!  The crowd responds to the fast action and are cheering for Honma!  We skip ahead a bit Shibata lands his running kick but is met with a running elbow. Honma goes for the running headbutt but misses. before he goes for it again and hits it this time. Honma is fired up as he whips Shibata in but gets met with a foot to the face, only to hit a clothesline anyway. Shibata regains the advantage and hits the hanging dropkick. Back from commercial with Shibata looming over a fallen Honma. Shibata gets a suplex, and Honma fights back. Shibata whips his opponent in but met with a headbutt!  Honma tries for a pin and doesn't get it. Honma goes for a Bernard driver as Shibata counters and gets a sleeper out of it.  Honma forces the break and Shibata goes for the penalty kick, which Honma catches. Shibata gives a bunch of rapid-fire slaps, Honma drops him with one mighty bitchslap to the face. Honma gets the Bernard driver and goes for the top rope diving headbutt, and misses. Both men are slow getting up. Shibata goes for the pin a few times before Honma hits a clothesline but doesn't get the pin either. Shibata gets a spinning chop that drops Honma. Shibata hits the GTS and the penalty kick before landing the pin and 2 more points. Shibata leaves as once again the crowd gives Honma an applause as he leaves. Some words from Honma post match where he admits he's not going to be the champion, but he will make sure people know he competed in the G1 Climax. Clipped, of course, but a fight none the less. Sure the outcome probably wasn't in doubt, but Honma manned up and took the fight to Shibata. Fun match! Block B: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada:   Mr. R rating vs. The Rainmaker. Takahashi is the NEVER Openweight champion here, but the belt is not on the line. A grudge match here as it was Yujiro who turned on Okada and CHAOS, costing Okada the IWGP Title. Yujiro attacks before Okada even gets to the ring. We get a couple of cuts as Okada gets the advantage with dropkicking Yujiro off the top turnbuckle. We cut again as Okada tries to suplex Yujiro, but he grabs the ref. With the ref distracted Yujiro hits the low blow. Takahashi hits a slam off the shoulder but doesn't get the pin. Yujiro goes for the buckle bomb, but Okada reverses into a 'rana and then dropkicks Takahashi in the back. Forearms are traded in the center of the ring. Good ol rake to the eyes to Okada but gets met with another Okada dropkick. Okada finally kills Takahashi with the Rainmaker clothesline and gets the pin. Post match words from Gedo and Okada. A reporter asks Okada if he feels better for beating Takahashi, and he simply answers "nope" before walking away. This match had some brutal clipping, but honestly seemed kind of tame with the build up. I expected a little more Crush, Kill, Destroy, Swag but then again, flatly crushing Takahashi had Okada making a statement as well. We get some words from Hiroshi Tanahashi about lingering injuries in his neck from the match with Bad Luck Fale before this match and that the matches with Shibata, him, and Nakamura were always exciting and tying with Nakamura in the match from last year weighed on him. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:  This is New Japan's version of Cena vs. Orton. These guys have met a bunch of times before and always put on a show. Mauro runs down the accomplishments of both men, even the fact that these two won a tag title together. The King of Strong Style vs. The King of the Air Guitar. The bell rings and things start slowly with some posturing. Arm works by both men and some basic headlocks and takeovers. Tanahashi goes for the arm, but Nakamura gets the leg scissors counter twice. Tanahashi  breaks up the basics with a kick to the gut,  Nakamura counters. This is pretty even. Tanahashi lands a dropkick to get the lead but Nakamura counters with a kick into a judo kick. Things go to the outside where Frank and Mauro talk more about Hiroshi's neck. Nakamura gets in some knees and goes to work on his rival. Nakamura focusing on the neck with kicks and knee strikes, but Tanahashi goes for the rebound. Nakamura goes for his favorite corner kick but Tanahashi counters. Hiroshi gets the advantage with some elbows before landing a senton for the top turnbuckle, only gets a two count. Tanahashi actually does the good vibration kick, but Shinsuke grabs a the foot and counters, before getting the good vibration kick into Tanahashi and landing some knees, getting a two count. Tanahashi gets a dragon screw leg whip on Nakamura. Back up both men trade elbows before Tanahashi kicks him in the knee. Nakamura gets a triangle choke that Tanahashi fights up from but goes back down.  Tanahashi stands up and kicks Shinsuke in the head before countering into a sweet cloverleaf leglock! Shinsuke gets to the ropes, but he is hurt. Tanahashi hits another leg whip as the crowd is getting into it. Nakamura hits a backstabber. He gets in a suplex and sets up for the Booma ya, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline. Hiroshi goes to the top but misses before Shinsuke hits TWO Booma ya knees Back from break with both men out. Both men drenched with sweat, forearm each other back and forth. This degenerates to just plain old slaps. Tanahashi hits the sling blade to the back of Nakamura's head before he hits the splash, he goes for another one, but Nakamura gets the knees up. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma Ya kick to the back of Hiroshi's head but doesn't get the pin. Ouch! Nakamura hits another Booma ya but again only gets two. The crowd is just waiting for the finish now. Nakamura goes for another kick, but Tanahashi gets a trip and goes for a surprise rolling bridge cradle (A move I seldom have seen since the 80s) and gets the win! Backstage words from Nakamura saying that while he lost, he is still in the hunt. We get some in-ring words from Tanahashi as he fires up the crowd and plays guitar. Backstage Tanahashi says he can't lost at this point in the tournament. In the studio, Tanahashi talks about using the rolling cradle on the anniversary of Karl Gotch's death. He mentions how much the crowds have been watchiing the G1 matches and wanting to win the tournament. We close with some words from Frank Shamrock before Josh Barnett comes back next week. This show was a big improvement in the way Mauro and Frank brought the importance of winning matches means now and puts more perspective on the whole thing. Shamrock's commentary was very good and brought a lot to the table, especially in talking about what it felt like to get hit with some of these moves. The second match suffered from some clipping but the matches were strong. Once again this episode shows me why this is the strongest hour of wrestling on American TV. To finish things off here are the matches not shown from day 8, and the update of points Block A:   Ishii beat Smith, Nagata beat Benjamin, Kojima beat Gallows Hiroshi Tanahashi (10), Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Katsuyori Shibata (10),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (8), Yuji Nagata (8), Satoshi Kojima (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6), Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Tenzan beat Yano, Goto beat Naito, Styles beat Archer, Suzuki beat Makabe Kazuchika Okada (10 points), AJ Styles (10), Tetsuya Naito (8),  Hirooki Goto (8), Minoru Suzuki (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8),  Toru Yano (6), Togi Makabe (6), Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). See you next week! Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Clash of the Titans
Strong Style is here again with your coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Looks like my Friday nights are going to be busy for a while as yesterday it was announced that more episodes of New Japan wrestling have bee...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal gets his revenge on Chantelise's last boss


It's time to taste victory!
Jul 27
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] With Chroma Squad's three story routes complete, Sal is ready to take on Chantelise's final boss again. Now that he's found a better defensive item, there's a slig...

First Impressions: Ultraman X episodes 1-2

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi/soft vinyl figurines). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-like monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone was enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the silly alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the show's segments. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can summon special armors through the use of the Cyber Monsters, digital creatures that are created from the data of the ones who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a bunch of different transformations, but it also lets the team experiment with the show's action scenes, such as the hero gaining the ability to fight with huge claws. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya toys mostly focus on the kaiju, this element might help them make the program's hero a more marketable character. Come to think of it, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host (or the Ultra Warrior using a human disguise) since the two Ginga shows and X involve a guy uniting with the Giant of Light through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another feature that can help Tsuburaya expand on the show's toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is usually used to pull older fans in. That and to sell toys of the previous enemies to the new generation of children. Also, the staff's decision to feature a creature that looks like Rodan crossed with a chicken is a nice way to add goofy elements to any action scene. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. Based on the program's first two episodes, the 3D models might be limited to the XiO defense vehicles. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, the segments ranged from being hilariously cheesy to dynamically entertaining. For example, Birdon's flying segment would've benefited from using a CG creation or having the suit actor flap its wings like an actual bird. Nonetheless, it served as a silly moment before Daichi unites with X. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it shows that relying on mostly practical effects can look great or limit the type of sequences that appear on screen. For the most part, the first two major fights played out nicely and X's new Monster Armors might liven things up even more. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show has gotten better with each passing episode. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series' neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip monster-themed armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we're in for an Xciting ride. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel] In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi toys). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora/group member ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-esque monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone is enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the goofy alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the segments on screen. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can change his fighting style through the use of the Cyber Monsters, which have the data of the creatures who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a ton of different transformations, but it also opens the doorways to more unique fight scenes. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya has been struggling with having variety in their toys for their titles, this element might push the franchise in a great new direction. Hell, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host since the two Ginga shows and this one have the guy unite with the Ultra Warrior through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another example of this show focusing on selling more toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is a decent way to pull older fans in. At least it was neat to see the classic beast in action since it looked like a goofy Rodan crossed with a chicken. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, it’s impressive to see that the company didn’t resort to using 3D models during the crazy scenes. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it’s a welcoming aspect that shows that traditional practices can still impress folks— even if they’re cheesy and campy. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show’s first two episodes hold up to where we can end up with a fun title. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle, which balances out nicely. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip special armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we’re in for a show that’s both exciting and excellent. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Xanidium Beam!
For a good while, my only experience with the Ultra franchise was Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends, which was directed by Koichi Sakamoto (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger and Ultraman Ginga S’ Director). Honestly, I&rs...

Week Ender - Virtual Reality Edition

Jul 25 // Red Veron
[embed]34080:4952:0[/embed]"Yasashii Yoake"Anime: .hack//SIGNMuch like the opening for this show, this ending is just sets itself apart with some abstract and minimal visuals featuring the characters.[embed]34080:4955:0[/embed]"Sora no Kakera"Anime: Dennou CoilI implore you to find Dennou Coil on the internet if you consider yourself an anime fan. This show summed up is a show that is a part Ghibli, part Ghost in the Shell with a splash of Satoshi Kon other-worldliness. So good.This is one of those gentle endings where we get to see a character just going through a changing landscape with plenty of varying sights and events unfolding in the background. I love the song with a soothing vocals and nice guitar playing. That doggy looks so derpy.[embed]34080:4954:0[/embed]"L.L.L."Anime: OverlordPardon me while I haven't had the chance to check out this show yet but I have heard of cool things about this show. I am totally digging this ending with that rockin' song and those pretty character art with that digital painting that looks really good.[embed]34080:4951:0[/embed]"Your Song"Anime: Log HorizonOne of my fave ending songs, this one just fills you up with the warm fuzzies and makes you feel all happy even though the episode ends in something that is nothing like the feeling that the ending evokes in the viewer.Is there an ending from a VR themed anime that I didn't include? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! 
Week Ender photo
COUNTERACTION RISING
This week's Week Ender is all about the Virtual Reality and the great worlds beyond that VR brings us that are great settings for fantasy action anime. There's always something interesting with characters from a world similar...

Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

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


Summer is about to become cool
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
At last, the Japan Animator Expo project has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming season. From the looks of it, the third installment sounds like it'll be better than ever. I mean, we get to see another Tsuburaya hero g...
Otakon 2015 photo
Otakon 2015

Otakon 2015 is upon us!


East Coast's biggest anime bash
Jul 24
// Jeff Chuang
Otakon 2015 is upon us! East Coast's largest anime con will roll out in full force tomorrow and throughout the weekend. As if it's easing its way into a 4-day event, Otakon's Matsuri even starred Back-On to perform some songs to get things going early. 

First Impressions: GATE episodes 1-3

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

Check out this year's top-tier Sumo fashion crazes

Jul 23 // Soul Tsukino
The Kesho Mawashi is a special ornate sumo belt worn by the wrestlers at the start of the day's matches. These belts can be a design sent in by fan clubs, the wrestler's sponsors, or just something the wrestler came up with himself. I've got to say that Takayasu wins with the Charlie Chaplin reference. I have no idea why he uses that image and looking around I can't seem to find an answer. But go him for being different. So let's see what the trendy Sumo wrestler is wearing for the summer shall we?     I've got to say that Takayasu wins with the Charlie Chaplin reference
Sumo Wrestling photo
The latest in Ceremonial Sumo belts
Thanks to a YouTuber Kintamayama and his wonderful sumo coverage, we got a rare look at the ceremonial Kesho-Mawashi, or entrance ceremony belts that the sumo wrestlers are wearing in the current sumo wrestling tournament held in Nagoya. Japan.

Secret of Evermore photo
Secret of Evermore

Celebrate Secret of Evermore's 20th Anniversary with a remastered soundtrack


Don't underestimate a dog's loyalty
Jul 23
// Salvador GRodiles
Oct. 1 may not be here yet, but that isn't stopping Sean Schafianski (Chrono Trigger: Jazz Arranged Version) from releasing his Secret of Evermore arranged soundtrack known as Secret of Evermore: Remastered Tracks. In t...

OP Up! Virtual Reality Edition

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

2020 Tokyo Olympics photo
2020 Tokyo Olympics

Plans scrapped for site of Akira's final battle


Futuristic biker gangs not to blame
Jul 21
// Soul Tsukino
The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, announced that the plans for the centerpiece stadium of the 2020 Olympic games have been completely scrapped and the development will start from scratch. The Prime Minister of Japan, ...
Boomslank photo
Boomslank

Rejoice! Five Boomslank shirts get reprinted


Now even cooler than ever
Jul 21
// Salvador GRodiles
If you're into wearing sweet-looking clothes, our friends at Boomslank have reprinted not one but five shirts. But that's not all folks; instead of re-releasing each apparel, P-Shinobi has updated "Airport," "Flag," "Live," "...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Sal suits up for Chroma Squad's Metal Hero Route


Crocodile Flash!
Jul 19
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The live stream is over, but you can watch it here.] The time has finally arrived, people; Sal is ready to add the finishing touches to the Japanatorger's final journey. Since he only has one more route left to finis...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 8

Jul 18 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a loss gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:   Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead. We get a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura as we head into this week's action. Block B: Minoru Suzuki vs. A.J. Styles: OH HOLY PURO GOD THANK YOU! *ahem* sorry. Like I said above, both guys had bad starts to this tournament but have picked up some wins to be back in the hunt to win this block. Suzuki has the rep of just being a mean son of a bitch while IWGP Champion Styles can go in epic ways. To say this was a match I am looking forward to seeing is an understatement. We are joined by Mauro and Frank Shamrock this week. Shamrock talks about meeting Suzuki when he was younger and how Suzuki used to just beat the crap out of him. Epic staredown to start. Suzuki with a hard chop as they aren't screwing around. Styles hits a dropkick and they are on the outside. We jump ahead with Styles kicking Suzuki in the corner. Styles goes for a flying hit, but Suzuki pulls the ref in. Suzuki Army member Taka Michinoku jumps in to start on Styles which brings out the Bullet Club and the Elite Squad out for a brawl that clears out of the ring quickly. Good.  Both guys wail on each other with strikes and knock each other down. We comeback from a break as both guys struggle to get up. Suzuki gets the lead here, but Styles kicks his way out of that. Styles holds the gun sign to Suzuki, but Suzuki grabs his hands and damn near breaks Styles's fingers. Styles goes for a spring board strike, but Suzuki gets a Fujiwara armbar while pulling back on his pointer finger! Told you Suzuki was mean. Suzuki gets him in a sleeper hold and goes for a Gotch piledriver. Styles fights out of it. Styles gets Suzuki into the Styles clash position, but Suzuki counters with an ankle lock! Styles reverses with an ankle lock of his own! Suzuki reveres into an armbar while pulling back the fingers. Damn dude, have a heart. Styles gets Suzuki up and hits the Styles clash! Styles is hurting as both men are up and exchanging strikes. These smacks sound like a rifle range. Styles hits the Pele kick before landing the Styles clash again and gets the win! Holy crap was that good! Considering this was called the 2014 match of the year I wasn't the only one to think so. I think I need a break. We get some words from both men after the match basically saying that their groups aren't finished yet. Block B: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Hirooki Goto: We haven't seen much of either of these guys on AXS's coverage of this tournament. While Goto started strong, both he and Tenzan have lost their last 3 matches so this battle is a must win for both guys.  Mauro points out that Tenzan is in his 19th tournament. He's been around a while but still keeps kicking butt. Strong lock up to start as Tenzan gets a headlock. These two are just bulling each other around. Tenzan levels Goto with Mongolian chops Tenzan goes for a suplex, but Goto blocks it. Tenzan gets hit with a knee to the head, but Goto can't get the pin. Goto forearms the crap out of Tenzan before they both start wailing with elbows to each other. Goto hits a headbutt to slow Tenzan down. Tenzan has the crowd behind him and he levels Goto with a few more headbutts. Tenzan hits the Tenzan driver but only gets two. Tenzan gets the Anaconda lock on Goto and hits the slam before Goto taps out! Wow. What a fight! That many headbutts in a wrestling match would have any American promotion wetting themselves in fear, but this is Puroresu. A fairly quick one, but full of action. We get some words from Nakamura. The story here is that these guys are both members of CHAOS. Shinsuke bings up the point Ishii is a tough person who faces guys bigger than him, but they have different styles so he will win. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii: Okay, call me surprised that this match is the featured main event. Nakamura, I get, but Ishii doesn't exactly light the world on fire. This is a battle of Strong Style as I expect these guys to swing for the fences in their moves. Lock up to start. Ishii doesn't seem phased by Nakamura's antics at all. Waist lock on Ishii but is reversed. They trade armlocks and after giving Ishii his trademark belly blow (not kidding here) Nakamura extends a hand but Ishii SLAPS Nakamura in response. Out of a break,  we have a stand off.  Ishii hits a stiff elbow, but Shinsuke responds. He gets Ishii in the corner for his kicks and Ishii grabs the leg. The story is here that both guys know each other well and counter each other before Nakamura hits a hanging DDT and gets in his Good Vibrations kick. Nakamura smacks Ishii around. The big guy ain't going for that and smacks Shinsuke right back. Nakamura gets a pin attempt but doesn't get the win. Shinsuke goes for kicks but misses all of them. Ishii counters and gets a SWEET superplex. Pin attempt only gets two. Ishii lands a powerbomb but still only gets two. Nakamura gets a sleeperhold, but Ishii gets right out of it. Shinsuke gets Ishii with a  falling powerslam! Didn't think he had that in him. Nakamura gets in the corner as Ishii hits a low dropkick!  Back to slugging it out until Nakamura hits a dropkick from the top rope, but the advantage vanishes with a MASSIVE clothesline from Ishii. Ishii hits a clothesline to the back of the head and gets a powerslam of his own. Ishii goes for a clothesline that Nakamura rolls through it into an armbar! After a valiant effort, Ishii gets to the ropes but his arm is gone. Nakamura hits a number of kicks, but Ishii runs him over with a clothesline! Ishii goes for a cover and only gets two! Back from a break as Ishii tries for a suplex,  Shinsuke counters. Shinsuke goes for the Booma ya but Ishii counters with a headbutt knocking Shinsuke stupid. Ishii goes for a corner charge, just to have Nakamura hit a kick to the head and hits the booma ya to the back of the head. Both guys are down now. Nakamura is first with a mafia kick to Ishii's face Exchange of elbows as Ishii tells him to bring it on and Nakamura does. Nakamura hits another Booma ya and a flying kick but Ishii kicks out! Ishii grabs a kick and counters with a headbutt, but Nakamura hits another boomya ya and wins the match! Damn! That was a good one. Ishii's shining fight, even if he lost. They shake hands and Nakamura raises Ishii's hand in a sign of respect. Crowd is chanting Ishii as he is on his hands and knees crawling back to the locker room. We get some in ring words from Nakamura and gives his trademark YEAOH! to the crowd. We get some backstage words from Ishii talking how special the match as. Nakamura gives his praise saying he was  a tough opponent. Back in the studio, Nakamura talks about it being strange fighting his teammate in the beginning but that it was a good match. He talks abnout saying he understands Ishii better now. This was a damn fine show. I have to wonder about the match order as I found it strange. All three matches were tough hard-fought battles and made for a real entertaining night. Now that Mauro brings up records of these guys and point totals, it makes each man's fight mean even more. Great Stuff! Before we head out for another week. Here is the action not shown from day 7 and the point totals  Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Nakamura takes the lead in A Block while we have a 3 way tie at the top of Block B. This is making these matches really important now and anyone can win this. See you next week! BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win  is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a lose gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:     Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B:   Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).   As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Day 7 and things are close!
This week Strong Style and AXS TV take us to the famed Korakuen Hall in for day 7 of the G1 24 tournament. Tonight's matches were held on August 1, 2014, and I'm looking forward to it! Before any of that though I'm riding hig...

Week Ender - Fast Edition

Jul 18 // Red Veron
[embed]34073:4940:0[/embed]"Mi-Ra-I"Anime: Sonic XFor a show about going fast, this ending features Sonic just chillin' and watching TV before being reminded to watch TV in a well lit room far from the TV.[embed]34073:4941:0[/embed]"Saihate no Parade"Anime: Over DriveFrom an anime about bicycle racing, this ending pretty rockin' with its song. Of course it features skinny dudes in tight bicycle shorts for those who love that sort of thing. For those who aren't into that stuff, there's a cute girl in a school uniform with some nicely animate skirt gently flapping in the wind.[embed]34073:4942:0[/embed]"Believe Yourself"Anime: IGPX This an anime about giant robots racing in a 60 mile track while trying to shoot each other to disable the opposing team's mech.[embed]34073:4943:0[/embed]"I'm Ready"Anime: Yowamushi Pedal A more recent anime about bicycle racing, this one is quite popular with the a female audience. Is it because of the tight shorts and pretty boys? Maybe. All I know is that the song is pretty good for pumping yourself up and  I will use this for working out.Did I forget any anime about going fast on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know about it.  
Week Ender photo
Pedal to the Metal
We're going fast this weekend for Week Ender! No, I am totally not making up an excuse to write the least amount as possible on here with the excuse that we are going fast and I have no time to write. No time to talk, LET'S GO FAST!Did I forget any anime about going fast on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know about it. 

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 8-12

Jul 18 // Salvador GRodiles
For a second, Gold Storm seem like it was going to lower its intensity levels for a while, but the show somehow managed to follow up nicely on Ryuga and Rian’s first major fight against Zinga and Amily. While there weren’t any big action scenes involved, it was great to see that the show was finally putting the spotlight on the mysterious Makai Priest known as Gald. In a way, his hatred for Makai Knights helped spice up the relationship between him and Ryuga. Sure, it wasn’t on the same level as Rei’s rivalry with Kouga in the original Garo series, but it served as a way to deviate from the typical scenario where a major ally joins the hero’s group right away. Perhaps the most interesting reveal is Ladan’s role in the story. In every Garo series, the final adversary always ends up being a super powerful Horror that’s basically on the same level of a demon overlord. Even though the idea behind the Golden Knight tackling a ridiculous adversary is always a sight to behold, it’s a nice sense of fresh air to see the main threat as a demonic tool this time around. At the same time, this information explained the reasoning behind Zinga being a cannibalistic Horror, which makes us question his true appetite. Because of this new angle, Gold Storm continues to be a great improvement over Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. Of course, you can’t have a good arc without some good old-fashioned character development. Surprisingly, one of the best one came from an episode that focused on Daigo. Part of it had to do with the staff deceiving the viewers into thinking that the Axe-wielding Makai Knight’s master was the child-eating Horror. All in all, the segment worked out nicely as there were many scenes where it seemed that Daigo was in peril. Best of all, the episode still manages to be relevant to the show’s main plot, another feat that the staff deserves props for. In regards to the show’s most recent costume designs, the Monster-of-the-Week that was sent to assassinate Gald’s younger sister sported a nice undead tree-like design. Because of the costumes’ branches and wooden features, the Horror looked like an evil Groot. On top of that, we had a creepy water Horror right in episode 12. From the looks of it, this might be a record for Gold Storm since we saw two suits in a row. While part of the creature’s suit felt like they glued some altered faces of the default Horrors, its design still had that scary feeling that many of the franchise’s non-human adversaries have. Accompanying Gold Storm’s recent development, the program’s choreography mixes it up in some interesting ways. Both Ryuga’s fight against the lighting and water Horror were two great examples of how to handle a scene where the opponent is hard to hit. Hell, the former makes me believe that Makai Knights are trained to endure electricity since a normal person would’ve been dead in less than a second. Then again, the main heroes from the previous Garo shows have been hit with deadly attacks when they were untransformed so we can assume that this element has been set in stone for a good while. On a more positive note, the sword sheathing moment between Ryuga and Zinga was handled well, Even though it only happened for a brief moment, I have to give the two actors and the action team some huge props for pulling a stunt like that— especially the part where they catch their sheaths while in the air. Based on their recurring showdowns, this might be a sign that the show’s final battle won’t disappoint us. Now that we’ve reached Gold Storm’s halfway point, I think it’s safe to say that nothing will prevent the series from losing its glow. Gald’s younger sister Haruna helped move the plot forward and the two characters’ backstory hints at Zinga being the one behind the destruction of their village. Combined with the segments about Daigo, things have been getting juicy lately. Since we’re getting a JAM Project opening theme soon, don’t be surprised if your body experiences a huge surge of golden energy. If anything, summer is looking better than ever now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Lightning never hits in the same place
It looks like Garo Gold Storm Soar is picking up from where it left off and things continue to get more real. Along the way, we get a tasty serving of story and character development that sheds more light on the show’s ...

One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece cast don denim for Jeanist contest


One Piece's next top model
Jul 17
// Anthony Redgrave
Japanese toy company Banpresto have made a website dedicated to finding out which pirate wore it best based on the popular One Piece franchise. Called Jeans Freak, the Jeanist contest allows fans, non-fans, and everyday inter...
The Garage photo
The Garage

Feast your eyes on The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's badass insect-themed hero


Get ready to learn about making toku
Jul 17
// Salvador GRodiles
The folks at Garage Hero may be busy with adding the final touches to Ayakashi Zamurai, but that's not stopping them from showing us some images of The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's hero. For the record, the sho...
Nier New Project photo
Nier New Project

Nier, of all things, gets a musical tribute (and a sequel)


"Song of the Ancients"
Jul 17
// Josh Tolentino
One of the least-expected bits of news out of E3 came from Square Enix, who were on a roll with that Final Fantasy VII remake announcement. Of course, that particular project had long been rumored and treated as somethi...

Final Impressions: Unlimited Blade Works

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

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...


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