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Anime

OP Up! - JC Staff Edition

May 19 // Red Veron
[embed]35026:5621:0[/embed] "Hey World" Anime: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Here is a show with both a ridiculous title and has ruined google search results for certain Greek gods for a while. This is the show that popularized the "boob string" thing that has been pretty much forgotten along with the show.   [embed]35026:5622:0[/embed] "Light my fire" Anime: Shakugan no Shana III Here is a rockin' opening for popular Shana series. It's got an otherworldly supernatural magic mixed with a modern day urban setting with a short and petite swordwielding girl with red hair. It has everything I want but I still haven't gotten that far in the first season of this show. Definitely in my Top 20 list of shows I need to to watching.   [embed]35026:5623:0[/embed] "Kawaru Mirai (カワルミライ)" Anime: Heaven's Memo Pad Here is a detective show with a cute NEET (which stands for No Employment, Education, Training) detective handling crimes and murders in Tokyo. It's a mix of mystery and light action in an urban setting, which I highly recommend.   [embed]35026:5624:0[/embed] "Silky Heart" Anime: Toradora A popular show about love story featuring a short petite tsundere and a secretly nice mean looking guy. This opening has a really catchy song and is very nicely made to suit the beats of the song.   [embed]35026:5626:0[/embed] "Kibou no Uta" Anime: Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma It's that show that has very nicely drawn food as well as some fanservice (for those who like men and women) for a great feast for the eyes. Shounen cooking shows aren't rare but we haven't gotten a new one lately and we've been due for one in a long time.   Is there an anime and/or opening from JC Staff that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
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Three Decades
JC Staff is a studio that has been around since 1986 and has made a lot of shows and probably some of your favorites as well. Most of their shows are very beautifully made and they've made a few of my favorite shows, which I'...

Tales Worth Telling: On Manga, Anime, and how they changed Japanese storytelling

May 16 // Yussif Osman
Japan has a long and vibrant tradition of storytelling. Of course, there is the current massive industries of anime, manga, light novels and video games, but long before television and anime there was kamishibai, a practice where a street performer would narrate a tale whilst flipping through illustrations on a mobile stage; or rakugo, where the comic or storyteller would perform multiple characters in dialogue with one another with nothing but a fan with which to gesture, meaning characters had to be well developed and distinct. And then there is kodan, the heroic tale and predecessor to modern Shounen series. Stories told in these ways, for the Japanese people became news and sensation, novel and theatre for people of all classes. A culture so drenched in the art of storytelling has a great deal to teach the world about how to build worlds, create characters and set plots in motion. In contrast to much of Western media, the bestbetter anime and manga do not patronize the viewer or reader. One Piece for example, is not about what someone thinks people want to see, it is about the story the author and artists want to tell. Hayao Miyazaki was once asked about the creative process for a creator in Japan, in contrast to a creator in the West. In the West, films are often made by committee. I am not saying there is anything wrong with writers' rooms, on the contrary, collaboration can be a wonderful thing, the problems arise when a studio, which has ultimate creative control over a property, makes assumptions about what people want to see. A number of films come to mind, Fox's interference on Josh Trank's Fantastic Four or the X-men movie universe as a whole, where executives felt the need to simplify characters for an audience who just 'won't get'. I also think of the 4Kids dub of One Piece, where it was assumed that orchestrated music would not appeal to young viewers and certain themes would be inaccessible. I'm not saying that this never happens in Japan, in fact it's probably happening now more than before, but for the most part, Japan with its massive storytelling industry has put emphasis on the importance of story and not just delivery. This is evident in a passion for characters in and of themselves and in a will to drive story and touch readers and viewers, to say something true about the human condition, more than just attempting to entertain. This is storytelling for storytelling's own sake. When composing each new story, Hayao Miyazaki was concerned with just that, the story, something he has said himself. Japanese animation has confronted the world with rich and deep stories with both real and bizarre characters that speak about what's real in us, in the human condition. One Piece, which is the manga and anime I will use as my primary case study comes to mind here. Overwhelming enemies who engage in fantastic and brutal battles with the rubbery Luffy says a lot about life and the need to overcome moments of adversity by literally bouncing-back and meeting life head on, thus the head-strong, if not simple character of many Shounen heroes. Even these stories, in all their whimsical adventure, do more than just entertain, they resonate, like I've said before in my article on Digimon, high stakes make for high hopes and therein I believe lies the appeal of epics like Attack on Titan and why it became so popular. And outside the Shounen genre and the work of Hayao Miyazaki we have a plethora of incredibly moving stories, from Makoto Shinkai's 5cm per Second to works such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy And The Beast, you have a compelling and grounded premises with fantastical characters and circumstances which only enrich and make more vivid the narrative as the characters themselves remain very human, full of awkward subtleties and quirks which make it possible to empathise with them. At this point, I would like to bring up the tradition of drawing on manga to create anime. There are huge benefits to doing this, not simply because you can simply copy a story on to the screen because it often doesn't work that way, often anime take a concept and re-interpret or build upon an idea, but the benefit of manga is the vast worlds that the characters have emerged from and that has been built around them. Something I find that Japanese media has done very well, whether that's anime, manga or video games, is build tremendous and beautiful worlds and I don't just mean that on an aesthetic level, I refer to histories and politics, nations and ideologies all built from scratch from which incredible stories can spiral. More developed worlds, mean longer runs for readers and viewers to become invested, people grow-up with the characters and see them through their journeys and become committed to the worlds they live in. Worlds you can invest in are richer, richer worlds help make more interesting characters with more interesting histories and good characters with a great world to interact in, makes for a great plot. These three components: world, character and plot when executed well, I believe are responsible for producing a great story. Recently in Western media, this has also been evidenced with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I will illustrate this now with an anime/ manga which I believe does this best in One Piece. In One Piece, we're faced with the setting of a number of oceans and seas in their own hierarchy of fury and adversity, inhabited by a complex hierarchy of pirates and forces, such as the Marines and the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the revelation of each one being something we always look forward to. Hierarchies and structures within which characters explore their given world, create a framework in which viewers and readers can actually look forward to things, to more of the Wizard Saints in Fairy Tail or more Dragon Slayers. Then there is the notion that the most expansive sea in the series, the New World is largely unexplored and home to range of bizarre islands, from lightning countries to flaming tundras. But perhaps the most thrilling part of reading or viewing a great world is discovering it from scratch as characters do and One Piece, like many anime and manga does this artfully, leaving us thirsting for more. One could also turn to the slow revelation of the plethora of villages in Naruto or the wider cosmos in the Dragonball series'. And of course one of the most compelling parts of One Piece, is the world's history itself, the missing century and lost civilization which left behind ponelyphs describing its history, secrets that revolutionaries and pirates are trying to unearth and the World Government is trying to keep hidden. I hope what I've illustrated here is a network of circumstances and characters which interact in complex and far-reaching ways to create what is a compelling plot. Whether they were exploring a new country, liberating one or unearthing new secrets, the Straw Hat Pirates have never bored me and when it has been less thrilling, it is only because of the drastic scale that the series can often rise to. And even away from the high-stakes of One Piece story arcs, the characters and the themes they represent are warm and intimate, such as friendship and how it should be cherished, Usopp's wish to be brave or Robin's wish to live. I'm not saying great things don't come out of the West, when it comes to animation, I would in particular like to highlight such work as the Batman and X-men animated series' or Transformers which were all incredible, but I'm not trying to make a point about Western media, I'm trying to make a point about anime and manga.  But while we're on the topic of Western media, this is a good opportunity to bring up a handful of ground-breaking series' which have been heavily influenced by anime and manga and in doing so, illustrate how the world's love of Japanese media has created a demand for better storytelling. An obvious series that comes to mind is the Avatar animated saga and its sequel the Legend of Korra. In the tradition of long-running manga, Avatar brought us a vast world to explore and high-stakes politics to understand alongside enchanting and compelling characters heavily influenced by Eastern culture and civilization. Less obvious is Steven Universe, which I have said in a past article, is heavily influenced by such anime as Revolutionary Girl Utena in its style and themes of fluid sexuality and gender roles. There are many others, such as the French conceived Sav! The World Productions and their creation the award-winning Oban Star Racers, or the more recent Miraculous Ladybug. I go as far to make the case that the popularity of anime and manga in the West, made it more acceptable to tell more serious stories for younger audiences and so helped to mainstream the now massive comic book phenomenon. Like you, I love the Japanese format of storytelling, the amazing characters and stories it produces set across interesting and diverse worlds. So I took it upon myself to try it, to take inspiration drawn from anime and manga to produce stories in the same vain. Hei Stories, a youtube channel which uses audio and illustrations in the kamishibai style is a platform for original stories in the fantasy genre which aim to stretch the imagination and compel listeners to invest in complex characters. The first story that is being uploaded is Seeking Scarlet At The End of The World, which takes influence from Middle-Eastern and Asian culture to tell the story of a young woman with phenomenal abilities set in a world under siege. As the Raindance movement is hijacked by the Great Secret Keeper, his acolyte, Iconoclast, assaults Polis Earth, with the Orion Alliance long gone, not even the mythical Guardian seems anywhere in sight to stop her. Despite the crisis, the displaced people of the Deepa Wali culture celebrate life into the night and continue to pray. In a universe where material beings are not the only life forms and where the cosmos is ruled by an Eclipse King, I wanted to create a story of hope and cover contemporary political and social issues we're currently faced with such as the refugee crisis. I hope you will enjoy it and join the conversation here and on youtube about storytelling and what kinds of stories engage, inspire you and humanize other human beings, whether they are in your city or across oceans. So what does make a good story? Sincere, warm characters full of agency in a developed world, from Shakespeare's turbulent Scotland to Tolstoy's revolutionary Russia, a good world and characters people can be passionate about go a long way in creating a story that can resonates with readers. With Japanese media so aware of this, I look forward to every season, knowing it is bound to bring something entertaining, inspiring and compelling and above all, shedding light on the human condition and the world we live in.  
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Stay A While, and Listen
I won't hazard a guess as to how many of you have read my previous articles, but something that may have come across is the emphasis I place on the importance of good storytelling. Whether it was Digimon or GAT...

Weekend Japanatainment - Rebirth Edition

May 15 // Red Veron
[embed]35016:5612:0[/embed] Here is a video with dogs and a meme. There are some shibas in there and Japanese writing. Just watch and enjoy the dancing doggies.   [embed]35016:5613:0[/embed] This is a commercial for paid antivirus in Japan. Very Japanese as well as cute and weird.   [embed]35016:5614:0[/embed] One of my favorite Japan-based Youtuber duos, Simon and Martina, who now live in Japan recently went to a conveyor sushi restaurant where eating five plates gets you a chance to get a free capsule toy.   [embed]35016:5615:0[/embed] Here's a video from the old Weekend Japanatainment feature, this one is from 2007 and very weird. It's the ending song from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya with some odd mashups. Just watch.   GOT ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR WEEKEND JAPANATAINMENT? SEND IT TO US OVER AT: Send us an Email at: [email protected] Also reach out to us on our Twitter and Facebook!
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BACK AGAIN YO
So the last time I did this feature was when I took over almost 7 years ago, but I stopped because life got in the way. But now, it's back again bishies! Back to give you lovely readers some Japanese-related entertainment to ...

Week Ender - 10 YEARS AGO EDITION

May 13 // Red Veron
[embed]35015:5603:0[/embed] "Umi no Opal" Anime: Soukou no Strain Here's another show on my list that I need to watch, it involves space wars with giant robots and time dilation with faster than light travel. The ending is pretty calming with that sweet sounding song.   [embed]35015:5604:0[/embed] "Rock The LM.C" Anime: Red Garden Here's another show from a decade ago that I never got around to see. It involves four girls at a private school in New York city. Mysteries and murders happen that adds to the intrigue, I would tell you more but I don't want to spoil it for myself. This ending is a bit minimal with a concert going on with some shots of the cast.   [embed]35015:5605:0[/embed] "Yuukyou Seishunka" Anime: Code Geass Oh look a song by Ali Project, you know it's them just by their style. I like this ending with the stills featuring the characters in situations not seen in the show.   [embed]35015:5606:0[/embed] "Alumina" Anime: Death Note A very stylish opening that still holds up to now, especially the use of the color red. I love the way the ending communicates the sinister character of Light.   Is there an ending/opening/anime that you loved from 10 years ago? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
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Back in the year 2006...
I'm gonna take you all for a nostalgia trip (or a history trip, you young whippersnappers--- GET OFF MY LAWN!). 2006 was a great year for anime with shows that are still enjoyed today. Someone on my twitter feed reminded me t...

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Anime Industry :(

Want to make anime in Japan? Don't expect to get rich doing it


Not unless you're a celebrity, at least
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
One of the more common pieces of fan mail we get comes in the form of inquiries from fans looking to break into anime creation. It's not an uncommon impulse, to want to try your hand at making what you love to watch, but impu...

OP Up! - 10 YEARS AGO EDITION

May 11 // Red Veron
[embed]35012:5598:0[/embed] "Red Fraction" Anime: Black Lagoon I have only seen a little bit of this show and I promise I will watch more. This is a show that still holds up and is one that is still recommended by many. There isn't much going in this opening, but this is a good example of "less is more" where the opening creates intrigue and gives you that feeling that this isn't like those other anime that you watch all the time.   [embed]35012:5599:0[/embed] "COLORS" Anime: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Oh hey, it's that show that spawned those memes such as "I shall pleasure myself with this fish" or "notto this shit again". Yeah, this show is still quite popular and is still enjoyable with all the twists and turns inside. It's got drama, action, giant robots, and some enjoyable politics too.   [embed]35012:5600:0[/embed] "INNOCENT SORROW" Anime: D.Gray-Man A show based on a manga that just kinda went silent. I loved this show and even did my first cosplay based on one of the characters. I heard that the author still makes a chapter every now and then but it is a shame since the universe it created was an interesting one, mixing eastern and western influences in a early 1900s setting.   [embed]35012:5601:0[/embed] "PUZZLE" Anime: Welcome to the NHK! I haven't seen this show in ages and I believe it would be hard for me to say much about this show not because of the amount of time since I have seen but it would be because of the themes it tackled. There is some stuff in this show that I would have a different opinion on because I am older now and would probably relate to the many things that this show discussed. Oh this show is about a adult shut in who gradually comes out of his shell because of a neighbor and a cute girl. Just look it up, it's worth a watch anyways. Also read the manga, since there are things omitted for TV broadcast rules and such.   [embed]35012:5597:0[/embed] "Bouken Desho Desho?" Anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya It's that show about that girl who does stuff and still cosplayed by people since it is easy since the uniforms are hella cheap now. This is one show I really recommend, it's a good comedy with some mystery and stuff that hits you out of nowhere when you watch it in the broadcast order. Watch it on the broadcast order, you will enjoy it much more. I would tell you more but this isn't just one of those "cute girl does cute things" kinda shows, it has some of that but it has a overarching story that brings everything together.  Is there an anime from 2006 that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
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Great Anime from 2006
The year 2006 was a great one for anime and a lot of the anime that premiered in that year are considered to be the best and are still enjoyed by anime fans to this day. I looked at the list of the anime that came in that yea...

First Impressions: Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto

May 10 // Nick Valdez
In Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto, the entire school is enamored with the super attractive, super athletic, super smart, and most importantly, super cool Sakamoto. All the girls have crushes on him, all the guys want to be his best friend, and all he wants to do is tend to himself. Naturally his aloof attitude causes dissent among some other students who make it their mission to take them down a peg. But since Sakamoto is a super cool genius extrodinaire, he always manages to best them without trying and somehow become cooler each time. And that's it. That's the premise of the entire series. You enjoyment going forward entirely depends on whether or not you find this single joke amusing.  For those that stick around, each episode is broken up into two 12-13 minute segments. These segments usually cover a chapter or two of content, and all hinge on a single joke. Regardless of the set up, the punchline is always the same. And that's definitely going to devalue the series moving forward. For the first six stories, Sakamoto essentially "teaches" a character how to live their life properly (how to stand up to bullies, how not to bully, etc) by doing nothing to help them. The gag is that Sakamoto is so magnetic, that even the most mundane of skills are read as "super skills" and although he's basically doing nothing it seems like the greatest thing in the world. It's all about how each of Sakamoto's fellow students reacts to Sakamoto's magnetism, and in the first episode their reactions are taken to the extreme.  But can focusing on nothing but the ancillary characters make for a good series? I'm not so sure yet. See, the gag worked for the first episode as we're still getting used to Sakamoto's exaggerated and cartoonish characterization (and has made for plenty of good memes online) but it definitely wears thin as the accompanying plots of the follow up episodes follow the same formula. It's visually interesting as Sakamoto's exaggerated motions make for captivating scenes, but there's not a lot of meat on the bones. That's going to be the ultimate struggle of the show moving forward as the show has a main character they can't really develop. Since the gag is his disconnection from reality, it's going to have to rely on these ancillary characters and plots to succeed.  And it seems like Sakamoto is trying its best to do this. As the episodes roll on, the stories are getting odder. As Sakamoto himself is distancing further from reality, it's like he's becoming less human. Rather than the aloof cool guy showing off in the first episode, he's instead a cold and uncaring individual who only does things to satiate his curiosity. He literally looks through people, refers to them as "humanity" (thus confirming his holier than thou personality), and he refers to one character's as an acne face. When he helps Kubota, most likely a recurring character to bounce Sakamoto off of, get a job at McDoodle's Sakamoto is incredibly wrong about this situation. Kubota's being bullied so he needs money, but Sakamoto assumes he just needs money in general. It's a hilarious miscommunication, but Sakamoto is really only doing what he wants and eventually helps Kubota in a roundabout way. If the show can continue to magnify the less "cool,cooler and coolest" aspects of Sakamoto's personality, they just may develop him in the roundabout way he's so fond of.  The unfortunate thing with gag manga and anime is that what you see is almost always what you get. Generally all humor is subjective and surface level, so if you're looking for a show to stay invested in, chances are this isn't it. But in the same breath, Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto is made with the humor in mind. You're supposed to watch it in passing here or there every few weeks. Taking in a new fifteen minute segment every now and again. It's basically like an afternoon cartoon serving as a palette cleanser for the heavier properties you've seen.  I won't be following this show moving forward, but I'll definitely watch it in a few weeks once it's got a few more episodes under its belt. 
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Haven't you heard? It's alright, I guess
I fell really hard into the manga scene about 10-12 years ago. I pretty much checked manga scan sites everyday. They're not so cool now that I can afford to buy whatever volume of manga I want (and, you know, it's still theft...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 5

May 10 // Jeff Chuang
Again, I have to applaud Haifuri on delivering a lot of stuff I wanted. It gave us fleet battle action this week. It gave us a lot of adults trying to explain and base the chaotic running away that happened to the Harekaze the past four episodes. It asked the important questions, such as "why did you fire on the Harekaze?" and "Why do you use 'washi' for 'I' (because normal people don't use that term)?" It gave us dolphins. It gave us cute girls in swimsuits. It even had time to give us a couple character backstories, such as the traumatic memory of our helmswoman Rin-chan, who wanted to overcome her cowardly countenance but ended up using her running-away skills for the greater good. To do all this in the 23-or-so minutes allotted, however, Haifuri also had to give us rodents of death that can interfere with electronics to disable some missiles? Speaking of which, there were some pretty good hardware fanservice this week in Haifuri. We saw Musashi's fearsome type 94 cannons quite a bit and up close, in action. The anti-sub missiles had even a close-up cut as they deployed the two-fold parachutes for torpedo insertion. That part wasn't even all 3DCG, which was both amusing and unexpected. There was even a blimp in the beginning... Still, it's hard to downplay the roles of those pesky rodents. I mean, really? Is this how you want to play it, Haifuri? Just because a few freaky hamsters ran around the missile pods, we can't stop the Musashi with military hardware that is possibly 100 years more advanced? I suppose if we think of the instructors' fleet as a typical bunch of coast guard types, maybe, but these sure are well-armed ships that doesn't seem to do anything. The plot device rodents definitely undermines the mutiny subplot in terms of the tone, but I suppose I can give Haifuri the benefit of the doubt for the time being, until it unravels some more of its thickening plots, of the other variety. Anyway, for those of us who watch anime for the more dramatic, Haifuri provides even one somewhat-abrupt, but rewatch-worthy scene as Mike-chan forces herself from the rest of the crew in a mad dash to rescue the captain of Musashi, despite Shiro-chan's plea. It seems from the few cutouts that they were able to show us inside the bridge of the Musashi, Moka-chan has barricaded herself in it. Perhaps equally interesting, but in a light-hearted, biting truism kind of way, was a quick interplay between Shiro-chan and Mike-chan when Mii-chan gave a toast for the crew, mentioning the captain's un-captain-like nature. I guess in a season of TV anime where impact short anime series can be a thing, these normal half-hour battleships of the late night variety have to punch at least on the same class. High School Fleet definitely showed that it can, and non-stop, although not everything may come together very well. [High School Fleet is on Crunchyroll, FUNimation, and Daisuki.net!]
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Gerbils on a boat
High School Fleet, in some simple ways, delivers exactly what you expect from a show like this. It might not seem like a tremendous undertaking for a show ostensibly about cute girls doing cute things to give us exactly that,...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 4

May 05 // Jeff Chuang
In some ways, High School Fleet 4 is very impressive for depicting life on a warship in this manner, because it is doing as much as it can to depict the ordinary life of high school sailor girls on an antique destroyer in an ordinary sort of way. The toilet paper (TP) crisis, in which a few dozen teenage girls are running out of TP, is in no way an ordinary problem for a group of people, that, in the viewers' minds, are anything but ordinary. I mean, did anyone expect to hear a description of the differences between Japanese TP and German TP this week? This month? As someone who have seen hundreds of Japanese anime set in the stereotypical high school context, I find Haifuri at least a curious mix. Which is to say, so we're going to a shopping mall on the seas to buy some TP. What's probably more puzzling and troubling, all at once, is the strange rodent (hamster, is it not?) that the Harekaze crew rescued on-board. Does it have mind control powers? Is this at the root of the various mutiny events? Needless to say it raises more questions than it answered at this stage of the game. Thankfully the story quickly quarantined the dangerous animal in the care of Harekaze's doctor, easing the mood that was more akin to from zombies on a boat, even if the episode sort of ends on that note. It's probably safe to say Haifuri plays around with a lot of trope-aware concepts. The mutiny plot thread drives this undercurrent, that ties in with the mind control, the distress call from Musashi, and the adults investigating a strange situation from the start. I like it, to put plainly. If post-modern entertainment is going to be aware of its viewers specific inclinations, it might as well play its cards from the start and give us it knows we have not had before in a way that's all too familiar. And if the only casualty here is my inability to remember all the crew's names, that's not a huge price to pay. I mean, I can remember the gunnery officer as the quiet, timid girl who got mind-controlled by a rodent, versus the torpedo officer as the one person who really, really just wants to shoot stuff up. I think this description will work when I communicate with anyone who has seen the show. This week's Haifuri involves the adults a lot more than last week. We got more glimpses of Shiro-chan's family, and who are the actual Blue Mermaids. And since there are never enough new characters to show us in Haifuri, here are two more ships, their captains, their cats, plus Shiro's sister's subordinate. Maybe now that Harekaze has made contact with the adults in these waters the girls will be spared of their weekly "pinches" and get back to school. Or maybe not. The important thing is we got a bit more of the setting, which arguably is also another character in this story with more characters than I can care to count. [Watch girls named after cats caring for a cat named after a human on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Daisuki!]
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Toilet paper on a boat
What is the maidens' big trouble on a boat? They ran out of toilet paper. As Harekaze's expedition ran longer than initially expected, the crew listed the supplies they were short of, and it wasn't just torpedoes and depth charges. Haifuri takes us to go sundry shopping this week.

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Tenchi Muyo

Wait, what? Tenchi Muyo to get a fourth season


Talk about a blast from the past
May 03
// Josh Tolentino
File this one under "Hold on, let me check what year it is", because Tenchi Muyo! is set to be A Thing again!  Well, that's not entirely fair. Fans of one of the most influential harem anime of modern times haven't ...

First Impressions: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

May 03 // Nick Valdez
In Re:ZERO, Subaru Natsuki is an average kid who loves playing videogames and exercising. During a standard trip to the convenience store, Subaru is transported to a fantasy world. After wandering around his new surroundings for a bit. he bumps into a mysterious white haired girl with ice magic. When he realizes her emblem has been stolen (and he saw the blonde haired culprit pass by), Subaru vows to help the girl, who introduces herself as Satella, find it. After some shenanigans, Subaru is killed but soon realizes that he has the ability to reset the day every time he's killed. So it's sort of like a twisted version of Groundhog Day or All You Need is Kill mixed with some of last season's anime like Erased and Konosuba for good measure.  As you may have gauged from the synopsis, there's a lot to unpack in this series. In fact, the series has so many ideas, it needed an hour long first episode. I've never seen an anime company pull that move (given the expensive needs of the industry, hour long episodes are pretty much impossible to maintain on a regular basis) so the show's earned some of my respect for hutzpah alone. But at the same time, I worry there seems to be so much going on, it might be hard to digest the show week to week. In fact, just for the accessibility of this First Impressions post, I'm going to have to narrow down the events of the show to just the current timeline.  In just the first three episodes, there have been three different timelines and Subaru has attempted to get everything he wants three different times with two deaths as a result. The first time, he grew closely acquainted with Satella, the crystal wizard girl who gets her emblem stolen from her before the two are unceremoniously killed in some corner of the slums (which is also why this show's pretty great). The second time he grows closer to Felt, the young thief who stole Satella's emblem in the first place. But in doing so, he doesn't meet Satella and is soon killed in an alleyway (also without grandeur of any kind). And in the final, current timeline, he meets both girls and a third character, Reinhard, who's a super strong knight. The common thread between all of Subaru's lives is a meeting between Felt, and the person who wants to buy the emblem she stole, a mysterious woman named Elsa and also the reason Subaru's died so many times. In Subaru's third life, Elsa is revealed to be a super killer nicknamed the "Bowel Hunter" (for the reason you'd think) and she, of course, is out to kill everybody.  And since Subaru has fought Elsa so much, he does a little better in his third face off against her (due to a combination of his rigorous fitness routine, experience, and knowledge of everyone's abilities at this point). Everyone's hurt, but no one dies in the current timeline (and the show took the pains to show us that each character can and will die) but the risk remains. Re:Zero essentially becomes a show where Subaru is trying to survive not because he doesn't want to die but because he doesn't want to start his relationships from square one all over again. Once he gets over the initial confusion of the first few days (or first few episodes), the show has a variety of options of where to take it. Is it going to be an action show where Subaru learns from death and becomes stronger (as the fight scene in the third episode is well storyboarded)? Is it going to be a show of Subaru's selfishness where he only wants to live to keep from re-meeting his allies? Or is death not an option anymore as the story finally moves forward at the end of the third episode? Either way, I'm pretty interested.  As Reinhard the knight shows up and saves everybody, Subaru learns Satella's real name is Emilia (and Satella is a rude way of acknowledging people with powers). Then Reinhard panics when he sees that Felt has stolen the emblem and now vows to take her back to the castle. So something's up with Emilia's emblem and we're about to find out why it's so important. Unless Subaru dies again and everything resets, of course.  Re:ZERO - Starting Life in Another World - has a lot of ideas, but all of them are interesting rather than debilitating. It's blend of story types and many colors are taking risks with the genre. Overall, it just looks good. It's surprisingly violent, character designs are nice, and I can't wait to see where the story goes. It's going to be a good season. 
Re:ZERO First Impressions photo
- Off to a good start -
Out of all the anime this season, one in particular really stood out to me. Taking two common anime plots and essentially mushing them together into some kind of peanut butter and monster sandwich, Re: ZERO - Starting Life in...

Unboxing photo
Phat Anime Lootz
When the first geek-centric subscription boxes came around, Loot Crate was one of the first to make a name for the monthly mystery goody box that caters to connoisseurs of cool. When I first got my hands on a Loot Crate, I wi...

Annotated Anime: Ace Attorney Episode 5

May 02 // Christian Chiok
Right after, we jump straight to the case. Will Powers, the actor who plays the Steel Samurai, was accused of murdering his co-start Jack Hammer, the actor who plays Evil Magistrate, the villain of the series.  Phoenix not having a client in so long, Maya suggests that he should take this case as she believes in his innocence. Naturally, they go to the detention center to talk to their new client. So far, the episode remains faithful to the series, with Maya instantly changing her mind about Will Powers’ innocence after taking a look at him but after Will Powers showing how nice he actually is, caring about what the kids that look up to him would think of the Steel Samurai, she changes her mind once again. Will Powers was portrayed really well, too. I try not to be too picky when it comes to anime adaptations but this is where things start to feel disconnected.  After meeting Will Powers, Phoenix and Maya decide to go to the studio to find clues, and this is where they meet the security guard—Wendy Oldbag. While in the game she comes out really obnoxious, it didn’t transfer too well into the game, but at least her talkative trait remained intact. This entire scene already feels rushed as they already introduced a character that isn’t supposed to appear until a lot later in the case and combined the interaction between Wendy Oldbag and Detective Gumshoe. Right after that, most of the investigation part got completely skipped. Luckily, even in the original game the investigation part of the case wasn’t too exciting but it shouldn’t have been skipped either. Then we jump straight to the trial, which of course, it was a bit rushed as well, especially after skipping the investigation part which actually brings some details into the case. Just like the previous two cases, it indeed gives you the gist of the trial but it gets to the point too fast. At least, during the final part of the first trial, it was very on par with the game—with both the dramatic and intense feel that it emitted as well as the soundtrack from the game. While not really a gripe, this episode made Maya look a lot more young compared to previous episodes. I thought she look really cute but maybe a little a little bit too cute for her age. While she is indeed a fun and charismatic character, I feel like the anime series is obviously trying to make her too “moe.”
Ace Attorney photo
A Hero On Trial
So Episode 5 is the start of "Turnabout Samurai,” the third case in the original Phoenix Wright game.  Just like the game, it begins with Maya watching “The Steel Samurai: Warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo,” a ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 3

Apr 30 // Jeff Chuang
In this week's High School Fleet, our boat full of high school frosh girls continue their exercise in running away, via some intrepid naval decisions and challenges. They won by nailing the enemy submarine with their sole depth charge and then by running away. If anything this bit of character building shows us that we may have a handful of misfits and weirdos, but everyone is competent if not excellent at their jobs. It's a bit less common to see a typical submarine battle purely from the surface boat's point of view, so the whole night time warfare aspect of the thing added a little variety in a way. But like my memories of Star Trek, deploying a simple paravane as a way to trip up an enemy U-boat is akin to reprogramming the deflector to solve some mysterious alien challenge. I mean, really?  Well, I probably shouldn't complain too much. The mix of anachronistic stuff is fun to watch, especially when it's so in-your-face. Japanese high school girls struggling to pull the lever to deploy the depth charges? Sure, it's moe, much like putting on faces on your rice balls. And there's the business-as-usual national stereotypes. The German transfer student taking charge of a sub battle by saying it's her specialty to highlight Germany's dependence on its underwater armada during the War? I suppose it's something I can live with, but I am glad that Haifuri probably will only go this far. The officers on the bridge are taking on more personality as they simply get the brunt of the lines every week. In fact I'm glad they are finally dipping into the rest of the crew by slowing rotating those precious lines among this large cast. It's almost too amusing to see, in Engineering, your Scotty archetype in the body of rough-talking little girl, even if she is just as much business as a cranky old Scot. Rotate those monkey wrench, Satoko, because apparently I haven't gotten enough exposure to memorize your name without looking it up, yet. The mystery of Harukaze's mutiny is developing but we haven't seen the plot address much of it, and when it does it happens in between the meat of each episode, which criss-crosses between calm moments at sea or tumultuous naval battles. I think at three episodes in, we can use a bit more exposition! Otherwise, Haifuri might be in a rough stretch if it can't seal the viewer's initial impression at the three episode mark. [Follow Mike-chan's adventure on FUNimation, Crunchyroll and Daisuki!]  
Haifuri photo
German on a boat
When I was growing up I watched a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the things I liked about the show was all these naval-style battle scenes where Captain Picard would say stuff like, "fire" or "full to starboard...

First Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

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

AnimeNEXT '16 photo
AnimeNEXT '16

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


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

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

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

Golden Week PSN Sale photo
Golden Week PSN Sale

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


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

What Would You Do? The Death of Goku

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

First Impressions: Ace Attorney

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

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 2

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

Review: Fafner: Exodus

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

Star Fox Zero photo
Star Fox Zero

Behold the glory of the Star Fox Zero anime


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

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

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

Week Ender - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

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

First Impressions: Kabaneri of The Iron Fortress

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

First Impressions: Haifuri

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

OP Up! - Last Season (Winter 2016) Edition

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

Final Impressions: Myriad Colors Phantom World

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

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

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


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