Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 706

Aug 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Corazon, for some reason, is still alive and trying with all his might to make sure Law survives this ordeal. As Law awakes he is greeted by Corazon's creepy smile that will bring about more nightmares than comfort in dire situations. Vergo, apparently confident that Doflamingo's birdcage would ensnare the two targets decides to fight with his fellow Marines against the Barrel pirates. As the Doflamingo family slowly approaches, Corazon runs decoy after hiding Law under his mute spell so he doesn't give away his position. From here it is awesome after awesome after awesome material. The show wraps up everything it has to say about Corazon in this episode allowing the audience to finally understand Law's affection for the Doflamingo sibling. But the show also spends some time with Doflamingo in an excellent mid-episode focus. Doflamingo had just gunned down the captain of the Barrel pirates and then stares pensively his flintlock. We are treated to a flashback to his first familial murder using the same weapon. We know the Corazon's fate at Doflamingo's hands but we also know Doflamingo's passion for family. Killing Corazon would mean exterminating the last of his bloodline and this contemplation mid-way through the episode shows the conflict of ideals that's running through his mind. This slow sobering section amidst the frantic chase is a big part of Doflamingo's character, building him up to kill his own brother. We get a few of these explorative moments with Doflamingo and it makes us somewhat sympathetic to some of his actions thus not being a villain for the sake of evil. The Doflamingo family finally catch up to Corazon and soften him up for the boss to deliver the final execution. However considering that Corazon has already survived multiple gunshot wounds, a Haki beat down from Vergo, and a kicking from the rest of the family, would Doflamingo's bullets really put him down for good? Maybe they're imbued with Haki... Corazon's fate is linked to death but there's a twist in the favour for Law. It's a convenient save for the little survivor and it doesn't feel forced like how heroes are saved by death traps thanks to good timing just because One Piece's nature. Tragic incidents occur to the good guys every other day so any fortunate circumstances get a free pass from me. I'd like to think of it as One Piece karma. Eagle-eyed One Piece bookworms would know that this flashback story is also connected to the past another supernovas making the One Piece world more dynamic and connected. This is one of the rare episodes of the show that make the show worth watching after 700+ episodes. Without the knowledge or experience from all those other episodes, it wouldn't have the same hard hitting effect. It's hard to explain it anyone that hasn't seen it but you'll talk endlessly about it to those who have. It's an episode that makes One Piece such a well crafted show. It can perfectly mix action, drama, comedy, and tragedy in 10 minutes without feeling disjointed and contains themes that are telegraphed from the framing and the way characters act.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Here comes the water works
I don't think I've seen such a good episode of One Piece in recent memory. It's not just good, it's great! It's better than the whole Rebecca storyline, Dressrosa stuff, and anything that was done  after the time-skip. It ultimately delivers on why Corazon is such a big part to the Dressrosa story and the origins of Doflamingo-Law connection/ feud. 

Street Fighter V photo
Street Fighter V

R. Mika butt bounces her way into Street Fighter V


Double Butt Bounce Finisher!
Aug 27
// Anthony Redgrave
We've all wanted it and finally Capcom delivers. The blonde show boating pro wrestler Rainbow Mika finally makes her return to the cast of World Warriors since her debut in 1998 with Street Fighter Alpha 3. R. Mika is also t...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 15-18

Aug 27 // Nick Valdez
Episode 15 Although I've conceded the fact that MY won't have the kind of big emotional breaks I'd see in a more nuanced romantic story, that doesn't mean there's a lack of tension. It's kind of nice to watch something that's so low stakes, every molehill seems like a mountain. The latest stake is the introduction of a new love rival, Saijou, a classmate of Takeo's who's really bad at athletics. When she gets swept up in a relay, she asks Takeo to help train her. In classic Takeo fashion, he's super cool and supportive (and eventually wins the relay with no problems) and Saijou falls for him. All the while Yamato (thanks to input from her friends) catches on to Saijou and is constantly worrying over Takeo. But good ole' simpleminded Takeo sees Saijou as nothing more than another classmate. As Saijou calls him out after school in order to confess, she chickens out and asks Takeo to be her teacher instead.  Episode 16 Since this is as close to a conflict as I'd expect between the two of them, it has to be mined for as much as it can. Thankfully, the whole thing only lasts two episodes as a lesser anime would've stretched it out to at least three. That's sort of the show's best quality and biggest flaw. There's just nothing getting in the way of Takeo and Yamato's burgeoning relationship, so there really isn't any room for outside development. While that leads to some great decisions like having them form a relationship in the first episode, it's a greater effect of the Shoujo genre's flaw. In this episode Saijou is still trying to make advances on Takeo after she tells him she likes him just as a "person," and as pure hearted as Takeo is, he takes it literally and completely ignores her advances. Yamato is worried, but Takeo tells her not to worry because he's not popular with girls (instead of saying he really loves Yamato). When Saijou confesses again (during a particularly well crafted shot), Takeo turns her down and realizes why Yamato was so worried. After a pleasant scene, the two reconcile.  Best part of this episode? Sunakawa comforting Saijou. He always seems so cool and collected (and a great flip on a traditional Shoujo protagonist), but he's in touch with people's emotions. He seems asexual himself, but that doesn't mean he's checked out. It's pretty neat.  Episode 17 Even though I just went into this whole thing about the story not allowing for outside character developments, here comes "My Christmas." As Takeo and Yamato's friends Kurihara and Nanako confess their feelings to their respective friends, the two decide to cheer their friends on and take a back seat in this episode (even if it's their first Christmas as a couple). Since Kurihara is not used to talking with women, he ends up pushing Nanako away with constant jokes. Basically, he's trying the kindergarten tactic of picking on the girl you like in order to get attention (this doesn't work, gentlemen) and it's failing hard. After Nanako is finally fed up and Takeo gives a rousing speech, Kurihara climbs a giant Christmas tree in order to grab its top star (that's said to instantly make two people a couple, or something like that). Then the two reconcile and it's all back to normal.   I didn't quite like this episode. I may complain that the show doesn't explore others well enough, but if the other character's lives aren't engaging, I don't really care.  Episode 18 I'm a little sad it took so many episodes to get to this point, but it's finally happened. Takeo and Yamato kiss! It's also my favorite episode up to this point. It's Takeo's birthday (and also New Year's Day), so Yamato makes it her goal to make it Takeo's best yet. After hearing from Sunakawa that Takeo doesn't want to kiss until Spring (and calling back to one of the best gags of the series, Takeo stealing a kiss from Sunakawa), Yamato decides to push forward and kiss Takeo sometime on his birthday. This episode's full of romantic and well crafted scenes, and has a particularly deft hand with the lighting. It's all so well done, Madhouse just knocks it out of the park here. Story wise, not much happens other than Yamato and Takeo furthering their relationship a bit, but it's just so damn cute. It reminds me of why I fell in love with this in the first place. It's a return to the awkwardness, and I can't help but revel in it.  Truth be told, it just brings up a lot of memories for me. I'm 6'4, so I've always towered over girls I've dated and I've had to take the position above a few times. Just seeing it here warms me up inside.  I hope MY Love Story!! runs for more than 24 episodes, or announces a second season soon, because I don't want this to end yet. 
Annotated Love Story!! photo
Takeo x Yamato forever
I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. But it's been such a long time since I've been drawn to a romantic anime since they've all pretty much become the same thing. It's either an inappropriate relationship, an appropriate but b...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 17-19

Aug 27 // Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to Gold Storm's staff for having multiple events from previous episodes that seemed unrelated come together. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In this case, the show's recent big twist was obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series since their motive involves freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that improved the main villains' character was that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the very people they tried to save. At the same time, it added a new layer to Gald and Haruna’s backstory, since the intersection between the two groups predicaments increased the show's drama levels. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. As a person who enjoyed the franchise's third series, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff decided to reuse Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll inhabit Ladan. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Miki Nanri being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good closing to his journey wouldn’t be too bad right now. You gotta hand it to a show when it pieces together multiple events that seemed like they had nothing to do with each other. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In Gold Storm’s case, the big twist was rather obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series, since their motive involved freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that sets the evil duo apart is that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the people you tried to save. This event was an example of the show’s staff to flesh out the main villains before the program comes to a close. At the same time, it spiced up Gald and Haruna’s story; thus making the drama even juicier. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. All in all, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff had to resort to reusing Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll become Ladan’s ruler later on. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Rian’s actress being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good send off wouldn’t be too bad right now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
I am GARO!
Once again, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is treading into climatic territories that make us think that we’re in for a final clash. Obviously, these moments are only meant to set the stage for the true finale, but the climatic ...

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 7

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
Like all the other episodes, this one is again broken up into different story bits mixing up the lazy Umaru with the delicate perfect school girl form. I found that once you're tired of her chibi form the bishonen face will appear and everything is alright. Dammit! Have I fallen into Umaru's moe trap like her brother does every episode? Was this the studio's plans all along? Conspiracy theories aside, this title continues to entertain because it is always changing. It brings more of the characters together instead of introducing more to the cast and doesn't use the same slightly varied gags. The first segment is typical Umaru exploiting Taihei for her own gain. In this case, playing the guilt card so hard that it forces Taihei to search through garbage for missing auxiliary pieces of a Miku Migu figurine. I really dislike when Umaru throws these temper tantrums. It takes me back to when I used to watch Rugrats and Angelica would become a force of nature with her fits. To me it's not cute or adorable, it's embarrassing considering we see the thankless jobs Taihei does all the time for Umaru. She does get her comeuppance and in doing so wraps up the story in a warmer fashion than if she was directly punished. It's a nice ending that highlights the strong bond Taihei and Umaru have for each other. Then Ebina, Taihei, and Umaru go out for Ramen together. The ramen in this series looks really good. It might be because I'm writing this while cooking dinner, but Ebina's mini ramen looks awesome! I'd totally eat that. Also, Ebina continues to be the Mikuru of this series by struggling to break the chopsticks in half in an adorable fashion.  Taihei gets a segment this episode and it explores his tireless life as a Salaryman with his working bud Bomber. The gag at the mixer is amazing. Nothing really technical and it's actually quite predictable but the timing and facial expression changes on Bomber is fantastic. To cut things short, Bomber has a misunderstanding, meets chibi Umaru, gets creepy, and concludes with a revelation for the audience making the whole world of Himouto! Umaru-chan smaller. This is probably the worst segment of this episode, but it has some tough competition. Umaru in her video game alter-ego UMR takes a trip with her rival friend Sylphynford to an old Japanese sweet shop. A simple premise but it's my favourite segment so far in the whole of the show. It has warm bright colours, cultural references to the sweets of Japan, and a nice character revelation. It reminds me of my favourite K-On episode where Ritsu takes Mugi around town and they end up at an old Japanese sweet shop. Nothing groundbreaking, just two friends shooting the shit and hanging out. It also helps that they are moe schoolgirls being adorable. Finally, Taihei rounds off this episode by following a cat down a road leading to somewhere familiar. And again it's a nice set-up that provides some character depth to Taihei and his strong family ties. Matching these themes with the warm glow of the setting sun after work helps push the nostalgic imagery.  A gag slice of life show about a wunderkind leading a double life as a lazy slob should be enough to carry it through a season with jokes alone. But Himouto! Umaru-chan goes for something more making it similar to the old Keroro Gunso anime. They were both at their core wacky jokey cartoons, but they sometimes slowed the pace down to explore themes of family and familial love that made you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] 
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Mini Ramen!
I love when anime directly references stuff in real life and Himouto! Umaru-chan is one of the better titles to do it. They don't go for the subtle nod or the direct reference with the name bleeped out. Nope, this show goes a...

Annotated Anime: Bikini Warriors episodes 4-8

Aug 26 // Anthony Redgrave
We're back to the 4 minutes of fan service poorly veiled as an RPG spoof show and these next few episodes are more accustomed to my taste. I mentioned last time that I did enjoy the shameless fan service of the show, but the unfairness that lead to the protagonists being left in undesirable situations was a turn-off. Fortunately, this was been replaced by tentacle monster tom foolery which would be worse if they are not swiftly saved mere minutes later.  On the story side, they continue with the RPG tropes with the first two episodes focussing on how poor the party is. If they were playing an RPG properly then money would never be an issue and monsters would be one shotted due to tireless min-maxing, but that's just me. A mayor refuses passage to a dungeon for the party until they run errands for him. Everyone apart from the Warrior thinks it's beneath them so it's up to the red head to do all the bizarre tasks from dog watching to fighting a tentacle monster. It reproduces the bullshit stuff you have to do in RPGs or any other games for that matter to get something that was not worth getting. At least the ending has justice being served. In the following episode, the party is too poor to afford a new staff for the Wizard so they go on a massive sale of all their items. From the treasures they earned at low level to the piles and piles of potions and elixirs stored for a rainy day. RPG fans would get a kick out this episode as I'm sure we have all been there trying to scrounge the last bits of gold to afford the next weapon upgrade. The girls even resort to selling their used Bikinis to the men of the town and the Wizard's prove to be the most popular. I would make a comment regarding the extremely youthful appearance of the Wizard compared to the rest of the party and Japan's fascination of youthful purity as a sexual desire but it's shown that these consumers would rather wear the rags. I'm guessing the Wizard has the smallest cup size so it fits them better? Then comes an episode that is entirely censored Austin Powers style. I have nothing else to say about that. Episode 7 is about how the party first meets with the Dark Elf. In the tavern or the hero recruitment center, they encounter the dark buxom warrior proclaiming she was the real deal. Apart from their talents in magic, martial arts, and knowledge accumulated throughout the decades, they're also excellent braggers, not batting an eyelash whenever they something wrong. Even when the Wizard and Paladin are getting licked over like a fudgesicle, she refuses to see the downsides of her pitiful spells. Even though I'm not drawn to the Dark Elf (I'm a Wizard man) I really liked her confidence. She's a bullshitter and her arrogance carries this episode through to the end. It ends on a cartoony cliff hanger that doesn't get resolved because cartoons (unless you're Space Dandy) Lastly, we are introduced to two new characters; the Hunter and the Valkyrie. Both ladies are interested in joining the party of bikini warriors, but there is only space for one. The Hunter and Valkyrie are very different people. The Hunter is accustomed to roughing in the wild and is versatile in making monsters into "edible" food. To her credit, the food doesn't knock our heroes out after consumption making it more edible than mystery food X from Persona 4. The Valkyrie is a strong fighter that was hand picked by God. Because of this strong accolade she butts heads with the party since they don't ride horses. It culminates intoa "fight" between the Valkyrie and the Hunter to deem which one is better, but it's honestly too embarrassing to recount and ends in potential lesbianism. Although I liked the look of the Valkyrie, I thought the Hunter would be a better fit in the group. She has a wilder personality compared to the current group and the Valkyrie's arrogance and superiority traits can already be seen in the Dark Elf. Bikini Warriors is what it is and I don't think it'll be any more than that. As a side note, I like how the Paladin is hinted at as more sexually forward than the rest of the party by the way she drops hints of wanting to sell her body. Nothing ever comes of it, but I think it's funny that a Paladin (often a warrior for a holy or religious sect) is the most inclined to do indecent activities.  fudgesicle
Bikini Warriors photo
I don't know what else to expect
Boobs, crotch shot, potions, bra, string bikini, hero's journey, slime monster, tentacles, grinding, objectification, RPG trope, and nudity.  If you disagree with three or more of the above words then Bikini Warriors is sadly not for you. If you agree with all of the words above then Bikini Warriors was made for you.

Yakuza 5 photo
Yakuza 5

Yakuza 5 is a big package of a small slice of Japan


Like A Dragon
Aug 26
// Red Veron
If you've ever wanted to experience a small slice of urban Japan from the comfort of your own home, the Yakuza video game series has always been known to be the best game for the job. I find myself excited for big AAA games l...

OP Up! Mobster Edition

Aug 26 // Red Veron
[embed]34207:5006:0[/embed]"Gun's & Roses"Anime: Baccano!I haven't seen much of this show but this show links it up with Durarara!, another work by the same author Ryogo Narita. Set in the 1930s New York, this one features some characters in the mafia with some fantasy elements thrown in for a different twist. Totally diggin' that jazz song in the opening, totally matches the show.[embed]34207:5007:0[/embed]"Magenta Another Sky"Anime: La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia Cool character designs, love the suits and that rockin' song to get pumped up to. Based on an otome game, I didn't really watch beyond the first episode but like the visuals of the show a lot.[embed]34207:5008:0[/embed]"Romantic Summer"Anime: My Bride is a MermaidAn over the top comedy about a teen boy who has to marry a teen mermaid girl just so he won't be killed for knowing the existence of mermaids. Did I also mention that the teen mermaid girl's family happens to be an underwater Yakuza family? Crazy setting for a crazy show and the opening shows the craziness of this ridiculous romantic comedy.[embed]34207:5005:0[/embed]"Renegade"Anime: Gangsta.This show just preniered this season and I haven't gotten around to see it but that opening is one super stylish one. Using minimal black in white with one color is a favorite visual style of mine. I might have stayed away from this one thinking it might be a reverse harem type of show like Arcana Familigia above but seeing this opening has changed my mind and I will check it out.Did I not post about your favorite mobster-related anime opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! BONUS VIDEO:[embed]34207:5009:0[/embed] SO EXCITED FOR THIS GAAAAAAME 
OP Up! photo
Organized Crime
Japanese mobsters, whom we call in the west as "The Yakuza" is referred to in Japan as 'violence groups' by normal people and are not seen in a favorable manner. Though that hasn't stopped Japanese entertainment in portraying...

We need more anime based on table games, Japan!

Aug 26 // Moe Janai
Series concentrating on table games have gained enormous popularity in the past few years. There’s the aforementioned Akagi, which is about high-stakes, borderline-weird mahjong games (think cooking shows like Yakitate! Japan where characters experience exaggerated reactions after eating delicious food). There’s also the spiritual twin of Akagi, Kaiji, which is just as crazy as the former but with more insane wagers included in each episode. Besides anime, there’s also manga that centers on traditional table games and gambling like Liar Game, Gamble Fish, Life is Money, and Tobaku Haouden Rei. One thing that’s definitely missing, however, is a series that concentrates on poker, which has become the most popular mind sport in the world and is now gaining quite the reputation in Japan.Apart from the fact that many Japanese travel abroad just to be able to participate in world poker tournaments, Japan is now currently in the middle of talks about legalizing the construction of casinos in the country. An anime about poker would be timely, and show the locals a different kind of table game apart from the table versions that anime has tapped into in the past. There are a lot of interesting gameplay elements in poker: the bluffing, the psychological warfare, the many different poker hands, playing styles, etc. An anime that tapped into the world of poker would surely be interesting to watch, as it hasn’t been done before. Despite Japan not having an anime about poker yet, that’s not to say that a representation of casino-based games in Japan has not been done before. There used to be a manga called Poker King, but it only lasted 6 volumes, probably because it was released during a time when the card game wasn’t that popular among the Japanese.  More anime about gambling will possibly help move forward the talks on Japan's casino legislation. Just like how some of Japan’s social issues are discussed through prose, poems, and live-action drama, anime creators can take a jab at the casino legislation issue and help officials decide by discussing important aspects of the industry. It could be a feature on the life of employees working in a casino, how a gaming establishment helps drive tourism, or how big poker tournaments bring partnerships to multinational companies. The possibilities of featuring the different angles of the casino business through anime are endless. In addition, gambling-related anime can also help people understand that casinos aren’t just about wagering money. Just like any other business, it also answers its social call by conducting charitable acts and fundraisers. There are plenty of news articles now that show casinos under a positive light, and anime programs that highlight such articles will help inform the public on what casinos can do to the community and the country as a whole. The table is set for more card games to be turned into anime. Three years ago, Naoya Kihara became the first Japanese player to win a World Series of Poker bracelet at the sport’s most prestigious event, instantly garnering him celebrity status in his own right. His success also piqued the curiosity of the locals. Add the fact that Japan is now seriously thinking about legalizing casinos in the country, there’s no better time to release new anime titles based on actual card games.
Table Game Anime photo
Because anime must have no limits!
Japan's anime artists have a knack for turning ordinary, everyday things into a hit. You see, cartoons in the U.S. are all about superheroes trying to save the world. But in Japan? There are so many creative genres that en...

IMDB photo
IMDB

IMDB's list of top anime reads like 'Ask an American'


But of course it would be, I guess?
Aug 24
// Josh Tolentino
There's nothing like a big ol' debate about what counts as "the best", and even anime - perhaps especially anime - are no stranger to this particular type of nerd catnip. Everyone's got their own little "toplist", including t...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 6

Aug 24 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 6Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: June 2, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) Thank goodness for a new opening and ending theme that chimes in a few episodes into this set. I found that "Earth Orchestra" was starting to drag, as it was easily the longest-running opening theme from the entire series. This set opens with the rockin' "Don't Cry Anymore" with some fantastic hand-drawn scribbles overlaid on an often-spunky sequence, which was refreshing as we work our way towards the final stretch of the series. We're looking at Set 6 of a planned seven, so things are starting to work towards a conclusion. The melancholy closer, "Positive," is also a nice change of pace.I start by mentioning the opening and closing music because, six sets in, people should know what they're getting themselves into. In case you're considering starting with Set 6 for whatever reason, though, Ranma 1/2 is considered to be one of the best anime series the '90s had to offer, combining comedy, lovable characters, and a gender-bending gimmick that has our hero, Ranma Saotome, turning into a woman when splashed with cold water. Various characters are in love with the male and female Ranma, many of whom are also cursed and turn into various sorts of animals when exposed to cold water. Ranma is the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, and lives with his father at the Tendo residence, where he is betrothed to the tomboyish Akane Tendo, the object of many of the male characters' affection, hence creating several overlapping love triangles.The series has progressed without any overarching plot or structure, but what I love about this season is that we're really starting to see the affection growing between Ranma and Akane. Whereas in past seasons we've seen the two mostly showing hints of jealousy, but overall seeming not overly thrilled with one another, the jealousy and outright care they demonstrate towards one another is much more apparent. I'd argue that the jump between Set 5 and 6 may even be a little jarring, but with only one more season to go, the growing love between the two characters has been long overdue. Set 6 has a number of memorable episodes that should keep Ranma fans happy as they surpass the 130 episode count. In this season we're introduced to an elderly man who runs a long-abandoned student store hidden within Furinkan High School who is constantly spouting false tales about how Furinkan High School played into historical events like wars in ancient feudal Japan and even World War II. He appears in two episodes and is a great addition. We also get more of the high school loner and voodoo practitioner, Hikaru Gosunkugi, who is still trying to steal Akane away from Ranma, first by imitating Ranma and attacking women around campus to ruin his reputation, and later by placing enchanted paper dolls of Ranma and Akane that are intended to grant his wishes but often have unintended effects.Some of my favorite episodes include one in which Genma Saotome, Ranma's father, is upset that Ranma has stolen his sweets, and decides to disinherit Ranma in favor of his rival, Ryouga Hibiki, leading up to an epic showdown between the two. Another sees monsters from ancient scrolls unleashed, included a scribbled panda bear that is in love with Ranma, and is ridiculously funny. Another two of my favorites feature the perverted grandfather, Happosai, back at his underwear-loving antics in one episode where he's terrorizing a nearby town while hiding in a pot, and another that seems him physically stuck to Ranma's chest when a student-teacher submission pill goes wrong, to comical effect. Lastly, the power-hungry student Tatewaki Kuno becomes even more obnoxious when he becomes substitute principle of Furinkan High.As far as Ranma and Akane's relationship, both two-part episodes featured in this set center around this, with the first featuring Ranma and his companions rescuing Akane from the clutches of a demon in a typical damsel in distress storyline, and the second featuring a promise that Ranma has made to Ukyo, another female character, and how he must get out of that promise to remain with Akane. There's a Christmas episode that sees the two sharing gifts, and another where Akane is injured and Ranma struggles to show his affection.  I really enjoyed many of the episodes from Set 6, and know series fans will too. Towards the end of the set, we get into what acts as the final season of the show (recall that the set order has been reconfigured with this re-release), and we get a peek at new opening and closing themes along with a series-first change in commercial bumpers, which is interesting to see.We reviewed the Blu-ray version, which houses a commemorative post card and episode recap book. There's also some extra footage on the final disc that includes interviews with Viz Media staff about the Ranma series and a blooper reel which are both nice additions.With one set to go, my enjoyment of Ranma 1/2 is still going strong. I'm looking forward to Set 7, but already keeping an ear out to see if Viz Media will consider re-issuing the OVA and three animated films, as I know I'm going to want more when this series is through.In the meantime, if you haven't watched Ranma 1/2, I highly recommend it, and Set 6 is particular is a high point for the series. Feel free to share your favorite Ranma memories below!Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  [This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher]
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Don't you know? It's love!
Yes, there's still more Ranma 1/2 to be had. Viz Media has graciously re-issued the series on DVD and Blu-ray, which is a real treat because past DVD re-issues were fetching ridiculous prices at conventions and online.Set 6 f...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 13

Aug 23 // Anthony Redgrave
It's the end of exam season and the primary literature club members decide to take their president out for the day to celebrate. Asakura passionately suggests a theme park while Kyon asks Nagato where she'd like to go. They end up going to a used book fair to satisfy the bibliophilic Nagato much to Asakura's insistence on the theme park. Don't worry Asakura I'll take you to a theme park. How's about the new Banksy one Dismayworld? We may have to queue for a while to see the cynically satirical construction of the modern world, but I'm sure it'll be worth the inflated ticket price. In the mind of Nagato she is still struggling with her identity. A re-occurring dream of her spectating past events causes Nagato to think that her old self is coming back. Even Kyon and Asakura think that Nagato is reacting a lot more like her old self rather than the tightlipped monotone alien from the Haruhi series. But this isn't a good thing, at least for Nagato. Having become accustomed to the smiles and pleasures of having friends, the new Nagato is afraid of disappearing only to be replaced by the old Nagato. Which explains the dreams. New Nagato has always been there, inside old Nagato, watching but not touching. I think there are also more personas of Nagato too judging by they change clothes in a bolt of static during the dream sequences.  The second half of the episode focuses on new Nagato's last day in this world. After the next night, the old Nagato will reappear and everything should be back to normal. So she spends the day with Asakura and finishes in front of the library with the book she checked out last episode. As the sun sets she recollects about her new found feelings for Kyon and the fact she couldn't express them before she disappeared. Then he calls. The rest of the episode rolls on like a classic romance film scene. Kyon hastily rushes to Nagato's location as the phone call conversation is played over the top. If there are any anime fans out there who have ever been really frustrated at the fact no-one ever confesses their feelings in anime despite their similarities and mutual feelings then this last part of the episode is extremely cathartic to watch.  This wasn't the best story arc of the series. A lot of the time it was slow, didn't have the comedy or charm of the earlier episodes, and was akin to the mysterious elements of Haruhi that nearly put me to sleep by the amount of explanation needed to understand them. The new Nagato was a nice call back to the previous series whether it's canon or not. I like to think it is and the Nagato from Haruhi's series had a little adventure into the Yuki-chan universe. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Return of Nagato Yuki
I was listening to a podcast where they were discussing our media's obsession with trilogies. Every new IP has to be a trilogy or at least series that builds on the existing product. However nowadays it's more like trilogies ...

Persona 4 photo
Persona 4

Insert Coin Clothing shows off their Persona 4 range


Funky Student approves
Aug 23
// Anthony Redgrave
Anyone that has played Persona 4 will know that every day is great when you shop at Junes. The store that had become the HQ for the Investigation Team now has an official wearable merch courtesy of Insert Coin Clothing. Inser...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal bumps his way through Ys II's floating island


Many demons are about to get burned
Aug 22
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] After successfully bumping Ys I's last boss into oblivion, I took my first step into Ys II's world. Based on the way how Adol's new spells work, it looks like he has an...
Week Ender photo
Week Ender

Week Ender - Urobuchi Edition


Dark and Depressing
Aug 22
// Red Veron
Is your weekend going well? I hope so, because this week's selection of endings for Week Ender is from anime that was worked on by writer Gen Urobuchi. For those not familiar with Urobuchi's works (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, ...

Review: Attack on Titan: Part I

Aug 22 // Josh Tolentino
Attack on Titan: Part I Directed By: Shinji Higuchi Produced By: TOHO Pictures Premiere Date: August 1, 2015 (Japan), August 17, 2015 (Philippines), September 30, 2015 (US), October 20, 2015 (Canada) Licensed By FUNimation (NA) It's worth pointing out that in making the film, TOHO and Higuchi were given effective carte blanche by Isayama himself create their own thing, with only the barest guidance on how best to respect the world of the manga. That in mind, just how close they came in the final product will largely depend on what Attack on Titan means to each individual viewer. Fans of the manga's intricate world-building and the layers of mystery and culture surrounding the history of the world and the nature of the Titans themselves will find the movie sorely wanting in that respect. Gone is the vaguely German setting of the original, replaced by the Japan of some indeterminate future. Ruined Japanese tower blocks dot the pastoral landscape, hemmed in by walls constructed by human artifice, littered with wrecked helicopters and other modern contrivances. Little is said about the Titans' mysterious nature, the strange rules regarding how to fight them and why they do what they do (eat people) are waved away with the narrative equivalent of a disinterested shrug. The plot is also kept simple in this first part: The Titans breach the wall, and a year later, Eren, Armin, Sasha, Jean, and a handful of new characters join the Scouting Corps on a mission to recover Japan's last explosives, in order to use them to seal the wall and reclaim precious farmlands.  Against this straightforward narrative backdrop, Higuchi opts to have the Titans speak through their actions, and such action it is. The film takes the implacable violence already in the source and ramps it up to a grotesque extreme. Showers of gore and streams of blood accompany every Titan kill, the camera only cutting away at the bare minimum needed to keep the movie from being banned outright. By that virtue, and thanks to the fact that few scenes linger long enough for it things to get truly uncomfortable, it's not quite at the level of gratuitousness in true shock-horror, or, say, the finale of Blood-C, but it definitely goes farther than the original. The squeamish should consider themselves advised. The creepy resemblance Titans have to regular people is also emphasized, as most of the Titans are represented by TOHO's venerable specialty: People in suits. As a result, the sight of a horrific people-eating giant monster that looks exactly like the kind of old biddy one might imagine running a vegetable stand in some rural Japanese shopping arcade lends the film, yet still unsettling, tone. In its way, Attack on Titan is an alternative take, not just on TOHO's classic kaiju filmography (and a genre in which Higuchi is a celebrated veteran), but also on the days when a giant creature flick was considered a "horror" film. Attack on Titan takes more modern conventions of horror and scales them up to make once again contemporary the style of movies like Them! and The Day The World Ended. It's an impressive achievement considering that these days most viewers aren't scared by monsters they can see. Attack on Titan also succeeds on the action front as well. Though the scenes featuring the  Omnidirectional Maneuver Gear look a bit cheap to eyes that have seen five mega-budget Spider-Man movies, the action is at its best towards the back quarter, when the Titan suit actors really get to cut loose against a few more sizeable targets.  Unfortunately, other, less welcome traits of classical horror films also manifest in Attack on Titan, like paper-thin characterization and hoary old "sex-is-death" tropes. The original manga's cast was heavy on stereotype in the beginning, as well, but Eren and company at least had space to grow and develop as the chapters went on. 98 minutes simply isn't enough to do anything more than draw in the broadest of strokes. Worse still, some of the more substantial changes from the source are unproductive, and in the case of Mikasa, practically amount to character assassination. Attack on Titan was always unusually strong for its field when it came to having compelling female characters, and Mikasa was one of the best. To see her reduced so in the film is disappointing, to say the least. On the other hand, Satomi Ishihara gives a standout performance as Hans (aka Hanji), who's so close to her manga and anime counterpart she almost feels out-of-place. Of course, there's always the chance that the next scheduled film, Attack on Titan: End of the World, will pay off more, now that the setup has been properly delivered here. That's the hope, at least, for fans who still believe the movie can hew closer to the source in time. At the same time, though, Higuchi's effort does a passable job as its own thing. I guess the issue at this point is wondering how much better it could be if it weren't.
Attack on Titan Movie photo
Giant-sized
Attack on Titan is not much like Attack on Titan. Less confusingly, Shinji Higuchi's live-action adaptation of Hajime Isayama's smash hit manga is not a very faithful one. Though there are superficial similarities,  in m...

Kill la Kill photo
Kill la Kill

From birth to Kill la Kill, Mako Mankanshoku's life is revealed by Sushio


Everything is adorable
Aug 22
// Anthony Redgrave
Trigger's Kill la Kill was a fantastic romp through a not so typical Japanese school and the cherry on top of this anime sundae was the adorable Mako Mankanshoku, the underachiever that always has your back. Recently characte...

Strong Style: New Japan brings a double header of pain!

Aug 22 // Soul Tsukino
Tanahashi opens the show for us this week. Togi Makabe vs.Hirooki Goto I like this match, Makabe may be bigger, but Goto isn't going to back down. Makabe is still sporting a broken jaw from the tournament, but he will fight through it. As they make their entrances Josh and Mauro make reference to Neil Degrasse Tyson, kid you not. These guys have a history and breaking each other's faces going into this match. Sounds like this match is going to hurt. They exchange hard elbow hits to the face. A few shoulder blocks go nowhere. Finally, Goto gets a hard clothesline right to the throat before rolling to the outside. We have a jump cut as both men are back in the ring. Goto goes for a hard kick, but Makabe catches his leg and drills Goto with a clothesline. Makabe scoops up Goto and lands a powerslam before smashing another clothesline to Goto and then sends him to the other corner and hits another clothesline. Makabe hits a northern lights suplex before trying for a back suplex only to hit Goto with ANOTHER clothesline. Outside the ring and hitting the barrier again. They get back in the ring where they exchange counters to counters that finally ends with Goto dropping Makabe onto his knee, hitting Makabe right on the back of the neck. Back from a break with Goto with the advantage, but with a bloody nose. Makabe goes to the corner, but Goto eats a boot. Makabe gets hit with a clothesline, they get up and both try for a clothesline, but Goto gets hit so hard he gets knocked for a loop. Makabe lands the Death Valley Driver and goes to the top, but caught by Goto. He knocks Goto down, but Makabe ends up in a fireman's carry leading to another knee to the neck. Makabe kicks out of a pin attempt as both guys are hurting. Goto hits the reverse version of the knee to the neck but can't put Makabe away. Suplex try as Goto can't lift him up. Makabe gets in some hits, but Goto hits the headbutt. Makabe hits some strikes to Goto's face and hits a suplex but can't get the pin. A clothesline to Goto and he gets set on the top, going to the spider suplex, but Goto blocks it. Makabe reverses things into a german suplex off the top and then hitting his King Kong kneedrop and getting the pin. Damn, MY jaw hurts after watching this match. Makabe gives us some words about how Goto deserved the beating he got for going after his jaw. We get some words from Tanahashi about still having a grudge against Shibata and facing off against him twice before since he returned to New Japan. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata This will be awesome. These two had a stellar match a number as weeks back as part of the G1 Climax, now they don't have to worry about any points or anything other than each other. We've covered the story before, with Shibata being part of the "new 3 musketeers" with Nakamura and Tanahashi, but then leaving to go fight in MMA. He came back with bitter feelings against him from those that thought he should have stayed but has been whooping ass since then. Time to fight! The crowd is behind Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes for the leg, but Shibata gets the headlock and then goes for an armbar. They get to the ropes and Tanahashi SLAPS Shibata.  Yeah, they don't like each other. Hiroshi goes for a dropkick, but Shibata blocks and then goes for the penalty kick but Hiroshi ducks. Hiroshi gets some elbow strikes in the corner, but Shibata gets some in return. They are just trading forearm strikes with evil intentions. Tanahashi goes to the second rope, but Shibata gets the dropkick sending him out. Mafia kick right to Tanahashi's face. Shibata hits the barrier but comes out fighting, but meets an elbow to the face. This is just a fight now outside the ring and both guys make it in the ring at the count of 19. Back in the ring they resume striking the crap out of each other. Finally, Tanahashi goes down. Shibata gets a quick figure four leg lock and they are screaming at each other in the position. Tanahashi tries to strike out of it, but Shibata doesn't care. Tanahashi gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Shibata works over Hiroshi with some kicks, but Tanahashi hits a flying forearm and a low dropkick. Hiroshi hits a second rope somersault senton. He gets Shibata in the corner and Hiroshi just starts slugging Shibata with forearms in the corner, but Shibata hits the mafia kick to the face! Shibata gets in more kicks and cracks his knuckles just glaring at Tanahashi (A scary sight) before blasting him with strikes in the corner. Shibata hits the cross ring dropkick and knocks the bats from Tanahashi's belfry. Back from break as Tanahashi grabs his leg and Shibata lands some nasty shots to the chest before Tanahashi rips Shibata's leg with a dragon screw leg whip. Shibata briefly goes for the anklelock but float to a chin lock, back standing up Shibata goes for a kick, but Hiroshi blocks it and just slaps Shibata in the face. Tanahashi catches Shibata's leg in the ropes and rips on it again. Hiroshi goes for something and gets hit with a suplex, only for Shibata to roll through it and land a second suplex before hitting the penalty kick. Shibata's leg is hurt and he can't go for the cover. He goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi hits a sling blade and then hits another one before going for his High Fly Flow, only to land on Shibata's knees. Shibata goes for the sleeper, but Tanahashi rolls through it and goes for a roll up, only to get caught in the sleeper. Shibata goes for the penalty kick again but whiffs it. Tanahashi gets the cloverleaf leg lock in, but Shibata gets to the ropes. Tanahashi gets a dropkick to the face, but both guys are spent. Back from break with both guys struggling to get up. They just trade forearms and SCREAM at each other to fight on. More elbows before Hiroshi slaps Shibata AGAIN and sends the fighter to the mat. Shibata replies with a SPINNING BACK FIST. Shibata goes for the GTS, but Tanahashi lands the leg whip again. Tanahashi lands a nasty dropkick to the face of Shibata and heads up to the top before hitting the cross body and then lands the High Fly Flow and wins! Good Gotch this was a battle! It finished third in the match of the year voting, and I wonder what people had to do to top this fight. Tanahashi looms over his fallen opponent, but Shibata gets back up, they go face to face ,and after some conversation, shake hands in respect. Both men they just went through hell but what they made was a work of art. We get backstage words from Tanahashi talking about his 10 years in the sport, and wondering that Shibata must have had a tough 10 years to produce that kind of match. He then reveals that Shibata told him "Thanks for saving New Japan Pro Wrestling" and Tanahashi feels that Shibata finally feels fulfilled in pro wrestling and that he is enjoying it now. Studio words from Tanahashi talking about how wrestlers don't like to include fans in the wrestlers disputes but that the fans made the match special and that Shibata's message was special to him. He talks about how they have respect and greet each other backstage as we close the show. This was an amazing show. Even with just two matches both delivered and the commentary, while getting a little odd in the beginning debating about Pluto, was spot on when the action started. Great week of action from this show and we've got more to come! Togi makebe vs. Hirooki Goto
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Two fights full of venom.
Welcome back as Strong Style once again is in Kobe this week for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take a look at the second part of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have qa doub...

Endless Night photo
Endless Night

Michiko & Hatchin Director's new short takes us to the ice rink


In which figure skating gets to shine
Aug 21
// Salvador GRodiles
To this day, some of the best Animator Expo pieces have been the animated music video. Compare to most of the project's segments, these anime shorts tend to have a beginning, middle, and end to their stories. Mind you, there ...
Avengers face masks photo
Avengers face masks

Avenge your pores with Marvel superhero skin-care masks


Justice just got a new complexion
Aug 21
// Josh Tolentino
The heroes of Japanese anime and manga have it easy. Thanks to the typical art style of the medium, most protagonists never have to worry about facial blemishes or the state of their pores, because they have none! Real people...

OP Up! Urobuchi Edition

Aug 20 // Red Veron
[embed]34182:4993:0[/embed]"Heavenly Blue"Anime: Aldnoah.ZeroI love the grand epic feeling that Kalafina brings to anime openings, they've had their songs featured on previous works by Urobuchi prior to this anime and they are a great match. I work out to this song because it really gets you pumped up for action, which you probably wouldn't expect something from a group like Kalafina.[embed]34182:4994:0[/embed]"Karma"Anime: Phantom: Requiem for the PhantomAnother show on my anime backlog or 'Pile of Shame', this one got added to my ever growing list after I found out that Urobuchi had something to do with it. I am not really into super serious anime but have enjoyed some of Urobuchi's works so I'll be watching this one soon. [embed]34182:4995:0[/embed]"To the beginning"Anime: Fate ZeroAnother one I need to get to watching. Performed again by Kalafina, this one still brings in that grand epic feeling that washes over you unlike no other. Having Kalafina do the opening just bumped this up on my watch list. [embed]34182:4996:0[/embed]"Enigmatic Feeling"Anime: PSYCHO-PASS 2Pretty cool opening but nothing can really top the opening song "Abnormalize" from the first season even though this one is from the same artist but it isn't just the same. Though the stylish as hell visuals in this opening makes up for it.Did I forget your favorite anime written by Urobuchi? Don't kill me out of nowhere! SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! BONUS:Kamen Rider Gaim (Yes, Urobuchi wrote the main story. WTF?) [embed]34182:4997:0[/embed]
OP Up! photo
THE UROBUTCHER
If you look at a few popular shows in the last few years, you're gonna notice that one name pops up a lot when it comes to anime that feature heavily dark tones. That name is Gen Urobuchi, whose body of work will consist of f...

SUPERBEAT photo
SUPERBEAT

SUPERBEAT: XONiC will be Playstation TV compatible


Music gaming on the big screen
Aug 20
// Red Veron
Rejoice, big screen rhythm music gamers! SUPERBEAT: XONiC will be compatible with the tiny wondrous box that is the Playstation TV! Now you can play with a big screen with a controller if touch screens aren't your thing. This...

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 12

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
So Nagato and Kyon are in the library. Since this new Nagato is a bibliophile she floats through the aisles of books before resting on one that catches her fancy. While our smart mouthed Kyon clashes with a bespectacled librarian despite other patrons calling out for their mothers or giggling over books and not getting reprimanded. As closing time approaches Nagato is still reading at the same spot Kyon had left her, she is determined to continue to the last second of opening. We learn that the new Nagato, along with a greater affinity for books is a lot more determined and forward with other people. This brings about a nice scene where Nagato does her best pout to try and convince Kyon to return her book that ultimately results in a library card being used.  This interaction between Kyon and Nagato is very similar to what happened in Haruhi except in that series it was Kyon narrating over animation of himself struggling to convince Nagato to move from the library. The show is great at re-creating and re-doing past scenes from the Haruhi series to represent the alternative universe idea of Nagato Yuki-chan. After revealing the existing library card in Nagato's possession, there is a flashback to how Nagato met Kyon which was in the same library. In classic romantic novel fashion, Kyon sweeps Nagato off her feet by stealing her book and checking it out at the desk along with setting her up with a library card. What a hunk! Also, Kyon's sister makes a long awaited appearance. Now I'm just hoping we get to see Shamisen in this series.  As the second half of the episode starts we get more hints at the August fireworks festival earlier in the series cause my speculation glands to start secreting. It also follows Checkov-san's Firework Festival; if there is an introduction of a summer festival in a romantic anime series there needs to be a major flag event between the two leads. This half also gets really meta as Nagato starts to flashback to key scenes from the show; the Christmas party, star gazing, and giving chocolates during Valentines, but she isn't viewing it from Nagato's perspective. Instead she is an observer, watching Nagato as she does all these tasks despite our new Nagato being in control of past Nagato's body. There is a piano motif that plays through these scenes that screams to be Gymnopedie no. 1 by Erik Satie. This track was a major thematic track for the movie The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya that sort of serves as a prequel to this series.  I seriously love Gymnopedie; it's slow, warm, mysterious and embodies Nagato's cold exterior in front of her inner human emotion. An appearance in this show will be welcomed with open arms by me and will also help tie the film and this together in terms of musical theme. The piano score that replaces it is serviceable to as to convey the confusion Nagato is feeling when watching these flashbacks but isn't memorable despite following the similar crescendos and decrescendos of Gymnopedie.  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nagato Yuki photo
I am thou, Thou art I
Hey Haruhi fans, remember when Kyon bunked off looking for paranormal stuff and spent his afternoon in the library with Nagato instead, only to get scolded by Haruhi? Would you like to watch it again with a different art styl...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 705

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep, this haki imbued body of pure muscle doesn't waste any time hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping. This makes Vergo stupidly confident as he leaves the clown and the child to die slowly instead of tying them up and leaving them for the family to find.  As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is upbeat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep this haki imbued body of pure muscle and haki doesn't waste any time in hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping including Law and Corazon if they could get passed Vergo. As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is up beat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Bad Luck Favours the Bad Guys
Has anyone else noticed that Swallow Island not only looks like a Swallow from a boat if it is looking at it from the right angle but also looks like a Swallow from birds eye view too? It's funny how coincidences just work in...

Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Tenshin Da: Dairanger is up for pre-order


The five stars have finally aligned!
Aug 19
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a month since Shout! Factory announced that they're releasing Dairanger in North America, and the show is can now be pre-ordered at the company's Website. While it's unfortunate that one can't reserve the serie...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 4-5

Aug 18 // Salvador GRodiles
Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball at me. In fact, this surprise was the right element that it needed to push the story forward. As fun as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still deserves their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict came in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters must learn to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but the great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Because of this outcome, the Musketty’s Forms became more useful in the segment; thus acting as a good way to promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, seeing these old creatures for the first time has been a nice treat. Koichi Sakamoto's movie also had some classic baddies, which shows that this trend has been around for a good while. At least the human-sized aliens are changing the playing field right now. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more like the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu, such as the generals or the Monsters-of-the-Week. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then Ultraman X has what it take its entertaining quality to a higher level. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that make her very lovable. In fact, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in, so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great addition to Ultraman X's arsenal of ridiculous characters. Another greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his transformations gave off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe, which is still one of the show's good aspects. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Of course, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, it's safe to say is that Tsuburaya hit us with some great surprises. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise. In other words, I'm now officially a fan of the Giants of Light. [You can take a selfie with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball that defeats my speculation of the series’ format. In the end, this sort of thing was the element that it needs to push the story forward. As nice as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still need their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict comes in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters have to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Hell, they even made the Musketty’s Forms even more useful which shows progress and helps promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, these creatures have been a nice treat. At least they’re now bringing in the human-sized aliens, who manage to change the show’s playing field. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more in tune with the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then I’m absolutely okay with that. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that makes her very lovable. Honestly, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great to see again. Perhaps the greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his powers give off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe which is still a good thing. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Also, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, all I can say is that Tsuburaya has left me surprised. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise; therefore resulting in me adding another thing to my list of tokusatsu offerings that I enjoy.
Ultraman X photo
A joyous bond of Ultra proportions
We’re five episodes into Ultraman X, and the show has finally unleashed its good playing cards. Not only did we get to fall in love with the rest of XiO’s crew, the show gave us a cameo appearance in the form...

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First Impressions: Himouto! Umaru-chan

Aug 15 // Anthony Redgrave
The show focuses on the perfect beautiful student Umaru Doma. She is incredible at athletics, academics, popular, sweet, cute and basically the ideal school girl. However, she has a secret that only manifests itself when she comes home. In reality, she is an ultra slacker otaku with borderline hikikomori tendencies if it weren't for the weekly Jumpu and arcades that need visiting on weekends. This is a literal transformation as she goes from moe student to chibi Crayon Shin Chan straight after crossing the threshold of the door. Only her older brother and guardian knows of this secret, but some characters have come dangerously close to discovering it. As a premise, it's quite an interesting one. A lot of anime have otaku characters and they wear their nerdy hobby on their sleeve thus being shunned as outcasts or played for laughs. In the case of Umaru, she has to constantly hide her passions due to her already preconceived image as a sweet feminine student darling. It's also great to see her transform from her selfish home self to her cute outdoor self whenever she wants to get something out of her brother. Most of the time she is in her indoor mode, eating snacks and drinking lots and lots of cola. I'm not an expert, but the amount of cola she drinks a day is evidence of addiction. I'm surprised she doesn't get any shakes or withdrawal symptoms when she's at school.  Since Umaru is based in a high school, the supporting cast is mainly other high school girls that Umaru interacts with. First is the ditzy one Nana Ebina who is basically Mikuru from Haruhi right down to the big chest, next is the hyper competitive Sylphynford Tachibana who is like Tsubasa from Haruhi without the fang, and finally Kirie Motoba the misunderstood girl who doesn't share the likeness with any Haruhi character. Most of the time these side characters are played for laughs due to their extreme personality quirks. If anyone has seen the anime Working!! it's exactly like that. Whenever the set up to a joke is being played out you can accurately predict how each character will react making some jokes to be too predictable and overplayed. This was also the downfall of Working!! as the second season had no new material. Himouto! Umaru-chan is balancing this fine line after seven episodes and it's keeping my attention due to the consistent parody of video games.  I think the bottom line is Himouto! Umaru-chan is if Lucky Star was put in a blender with Working!!. The show works well as a comedy and the art style is very appealing to look at. The only downsides apart from the longevity of the same jokes being used over and over again is that Umaru may not be very likeable in her indoor form. She's lazy, bossy, selfish, and spoilt and watching her cry about wanting more cola or money for a game makes me think back to the cries of toddlers in supermarkets when they reach the sweets aisle. On the plus side they're bringing more characters into the fold so they're no longer one note characters. I'm especially liking Kirie opening up to the Doma family and integrating with Umaru's other friends.  [Cover from Person of Leisure at Pixiv][Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]  [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
The Otaku Jekyll and Hyde
Himouto! Umaru-chan is an anime series I never intended on starting this summer but seeing that I'm now writing an extremely late First Impressions it certainly did catch my fancy after the first few episodes. Himouto! Umaru-chan


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