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Anime

Review: Kaiju Girls

Jan 05 // Salvador G Rodiles
Kaiju GirlsStudio: Studio PuyukaiViewed On: CrunchyrollPremiere Date: September 27, 2016 As a person who’s still new to the Ultra franchise, I found the anime staff’s depiction of some of the giant monsters to be faithful to the original creatures. For example, the anime manage to capture Pigmon’s cute characteristics that make it one of the series’ friendliest beasts. This acts as a neat reward for viewers who’re familiar these monstrosities. At the same time, it contributes to the idea that many of these life forms have their own set of instincts. While Kaiju Girls’ depiction of the monsters as cute ladies is one of its strengths, the show doesn’t do much to take advantage of its ideas. Even though the show’s premise involves a group of called GIRLS that trains women with the souls of large monsters to protect people, the program fails to do anything grand with this concept. Instead, the title focuses on the everyday lives of three heroines who’re based on the Capsule Monsters from Ultra Seven, the third show in the Ultra franchise and the second Ultraman installment. For the most part, the staff’s decision to focus on the daily life of girls with giant monster souls worked decently. The idea of Windom being a closet fujoshi who envies Eleking, another otaku Kaiju Girl, lead to some cute moments that brought a smile to my face, and Pigmon’s tendency to be a cute person while giving off a serious authoritative presence was enough to make me giggle. Even though this format was entertaining at times, most of the skits were hit or miss. The episodes that featured fight scenes fell flat since the show’s three-minute episode timeframe didn’t give Kaiju Girl’s conflicts the chance to shine, such as the Shadow Monsters and the ladies with monster souls who went berserk. Since the series’ strengths lied in its skits between the girls, the story outside of the Capsule Monsters’ training and everyday life segments were weak at times, as they didn’t appear until the show was nearing its end. In any other Ultra show, these sorts of moments might’ve worked, but in a series of small shorts, you need more time to flesh things out. Of course, the cast’s hard work in making the girls sound like cuter versions of their original monster counterparts was one of the primary elements that helped make a few of Kaiju Girls’ segments entertaining. Sora Tokui (Milky Holmes series’ Nero, Is the order a rabbit? series’ Maya) gave off the right tone to make Pigmon sound adorable while showing her authority as one of GIRLS’ leaders, and Yurika Endo (Ace of Diamond series’ Haruno, Sakura Trick’s Rina) contributed to making Windom’s closet otaku personality seem funny. Since Kaiju Girl’s main focus is on the dialogue and the cast’s characteristics, the show doesn’t take advantage of the gang’s powers. The only elaborate part is the magical girl-like transformation sequence where each character is shown in a full-body design when they tap into their monster souls. For the most part, it’s a simple show that aims to bring amusement with the chibi girls’ expressions and the voice actress’ performances. Even though Kaiju Girls doesn’t complement the Ultra franchise’s tendency to feature ridiculous wrestling moves between a Giant of Light and a huge monster, Studio Puyukai uses the show’s simplicity to bring us something that could bring a smile to many folks. Each character almost showcases the right personality that complements their specific monster soul, and it works as a neat spinoff where the Ultra Warriors aren’t the star of the show. Unfortunately, some of the skits can be hit or miss, and the series’ major conflicts are a bit of a letdown; however, the title’s small episode timeframe might be enough for some folks who’re in the mood for some cuteness in short bursts— especially if they’re familiar with the Ultra franchise’s giant monsters and aliens. [This review is based on a streamed version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense.]
Kaiju Girls photo
Unleash your inner Monster Soul
When it comes to tokusatsu franchises branching out into other mediums, I’m always open for these types of ideas since they can pull off things that could be hard to pull off in a live-action series. In this case, Tsubu...

Japanator Awards 2016: Soul's picks for the best of the year

Jan 02 // Soul Tsukino
ANIME:   4) Haruchika: Haruta and Chika A series based on light novels, this series was like the scent coming from an air freshener. It wasn't heavy handed, over the top, but it still made you think. The adventures of two old childhood friends who are in a school's band club while solving puzzles is an interesting pitch and it worked well for the few episodes that it had. The series lacked any time to be able to expand on a lot of the characters, but the ones that were shown were funny and made the series really enjoyable. 3) Attack on Titan: Junior High I loved these little toe rags! Since the series finished in January I can include it here. A parody of Attack on titan, this series took what was VERY heavy and made it hilarious. The hardcore fans thought it was a waste of time but I thought it was a fun way to lighten up. A silly series that made me giggle and have a good time. 2) Sailor Moon Crystal I'm sorry but I loved this series! I waded through all the bitching and moaning people did complaining it's not the original series and really liked what was done here. Sure, the art had some issues, but I got into the story just as much with this series as I did when I first saw the original. I'll admit it had its faults but I took a lot more positive out of it than negative. It was a great series to watch and as an old school Sailor Moon fan I got into it. 1) Keijo!!!!!!!! This series should not have been good. This series should have been skewered to death and destroyed. But you know what? I enjoyed it. Other people enjoyed it. This show had me laughing literally every episode with just how insane it really was. This show took fan service and made it an art form with its creativity and not being afraid to be as silly as it could with a concept like this. Under any other circumstances, you'd think this show was have been buried and loathed, but I'll be damned if people aren't enjoying it for what it is. This not only was the biggest surprise for me but the most fun I've had with an anime series in a long time, so damn right I'm making it my top pick! WRESTLING: Match of the Year: Hiroshi Tanahashi v/s Kazuchika Okada WrestleKingdom 10 These guys had a major hill to climb. Not only did they have to the main event the biggest event of the year, but this was a rematch from the year before so they had to do something new. They delivered. The story of Okada never winning in the Tokyo Dome and facing the guy who not only beat him the year before but ALWAYS won in the Tokyo Dome made for a great stage for this contest. They gave it their all and made the match really exciting. Okada finally getting his big win made the story that much sweeter. Junior of the Year: Will Ospreay No one, and I mean NO ONE has made the splash in wrestling this year like Ospreay has. This 23-year-old Englishman shot to superstardom this year and is wanted around the world. He not only became an instant smash in New Japan but also in WCPW in England and Ring of Honor in the United States. Barring injury, this kid will only get bigger and better in 2017. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Dud of the Year: Yoshitatsu Poor Yoshi. Spent a year and a half on the sidelines with a broken neck and finally gets to make his comeback to see it go over like a fart in church. He went from teaming with Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi to teaming with Captain New Japan and cosplaying as Triple H in record time. If there is someone in desperate need of a change in career trajectory, it's this guy. Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks/Jacksons I didn't want to do it. I REALLY wanted to find someone better. I hate these guys with a passion. But there just wasn't anyone else that had the year these guys have had. Multiple tag title reigns in New Japan with the Jr. tag titles as well as runs with the ROH tag belts here in the U.S., these annoying little snots put on some great matches with teams over the last 12 months. So, having to bite down and bear it, these guys are my top team this year. Wrestler of the Year: Tetsuya Naito I thought over this one a lot, with Kenny Omega and Shinsuke Nakamura being possible other choices, but Kenny's got a bigger 2017 ahead of him and Nakamura is in the U.S. full time. Naito was the guy who was never over like Tanahashi, Okada, or Nakamura as a face. He was just an over glorified junior who got main event shots when the champ needed someone to beat. He would get booed out of buildings and while he had great matches, he just couldn't get over that hump with the fans. A radical change in personality and approach later and he has the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands. As the leader of Los Ingobernables, he has become a real threat in New Japan having won both the IWGP World and Intercontinental belts in the last 12 months and while The Bullet Club is teetering on being a bloated parody of itself, Los Ingobernables is primed to take their place. With great matches, big wins, and a style on his own, I give the master of Tranquillo the top spot for the year. OTHER STUFF WTF story of the year: Parents leave kid alone on a mountain Seriously, was there a more f'ed up story than this during the year? Yamato Tanooka's parents try to teach their misbehaving child a lesson by kicking him out of a car on a lonely mountain road, only to find out when they went back for him that the kid has vanished into the bear-infested, cold forest at the base of a volcano? Yamato seemed to be a tough little guy surviving for five days alone before wondering onto a Self Defense Force training base just as it looked like he wouldn't make it. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all the parents out there to NOT DO THIS. Pop Culture fad of the year: PikoTaro I don't think anyone has made so much out of a blend of writing utensils and produce. Dressed like either a pimp or a used car salesman and with dance movies of a drunk uncle at a wedding, this guy arrived out of nowhere to show use what to do with pens and fruit. Now he's on TV,  has many spoofs, and even has a restraint in tribute to his ode to pineapples, apples, and pens.  Gotta love it.   So with that, I bid adeu to 2016. I hope everyone had a happy holiday and may we all find health and good fortune and luck in the next year. See you all in 2017!
Japanator awards photo
Anime,Wrestling, and other stuff
Hey, Gang! It's that time of the year where we look back at the last twelve months and decide what was the best of the best. Since I like to cover more than just animated adventures, I'm putting my stamp on other things Japan related I've been encountered in the last year. So hope on and here is what I think was the best of the best in 2016.

Japanator Awards 2016: Christian's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Jan 01 // Christian Chiok
[Editor's Note: As with last year's Japanator Awards, our lists are arranged in order, with our #1 pick being our favorite of the year. To qualify for inclusion in the Japanator awards, a candidate must have concluded a broadcast run or season ("cour") within the calendar year of 2016.] 5. Keijo!!!!!!!!! This series had to make it into the list somehow, right? Like many have said before, Keijo!!!!!!!!! Is definitely the gem of the season. Keijo offers the flashiness similar to Kuroko’s Basketball, where techniques are exaggerated and shown as attacks from your typical Shonen series. Additionally, it manages to combine both a wacky and serious tone quite well.  From the outside, it may look like a perverted series of clashing boobs and ass. From the inside, however, the series is about an intense sport called Keijo and the hardship of many of the students that work to be the best at it.  If you like sport series, I would definitely recommend it. Don’t let the wackiness fool you. Additionally, Aoba is definitely the best girl in the series. 4. Haikyuu (Season Two & Three) Aside Kuroko’s Basketball, Haikyuu is definitely one of my favorite sport series in recent anime history. While it doesn’t give out the same intense for “Dragon Ball in sports” feel, the series does a good job at keeping you at the edge of your seat. Coming from Production I.G, the animation is certainly phenomenal as well. Both seasons, the second one which started last year but ended this year and the third one which both aired and concluded this year were certainly enjoyable. Both protagonist, Shoyo Hinata, and deuteragonist, Tobio Kageyama, made tremendous development in both seasons. This isn’t saying that the rest of the Karasuno team didn’t make any development, but these two guys went through a lot which eventually made them better characters. I don’t think Volleyball is as interesting as Basketball, and not to mention, Haikyuu isn’t as unrealistic as Kuroko’s Basketball. Still, a lot of the plays were quite intense and watching them in anime form was enjoyable thanks to Production I.G. 3. Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara Just like last year, Shokugeki no Souma delivered once again with its craziness and delicious plates. Additionally, I also appreciated the references put in some of the matches, especially the one with Megumi and Ryo where both of them had Stands. The tournament arc was quite enjoyable to watch as well — from its delicious food to the same intensity that you get from watching a sport series. My thoughts haven’t changed from last year when I put the first season on my top as well. The series features a variety of characters with different personalities who are certainly memorable. 2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable If you took your time to read my Top 5 from last year (which I’m thankful for if you did), then you saw this one coming, because I did say I was going to automatically make it my Top 5 of 2016. To me, Diamond is Unbreakable is the best Jojo arc for many reasons. First, it features one of the best villains ever featured in a Shounen series, if not the best. He isn’t your generic “I am evil just because” or “I turned evil because I got friendzoned (looking at you, Obito). Yoshikage Kira has a unique background compared to other villains, and his purpose of doing what he does is unique as well. To add, Killer Queen was great antagonistic stand. Just like it features a great villain, the series though has a great protagonist as well. Joseph and Jotaro are great, and while Giorno Giovanna is my favorite JoJo, Josuke Higashikata definitely comes in second. He’s a hilarious character with a great personality but when it comes to being serious, he’s not playing around. Just like his father, he’s certainly a smart fighter as well. The side characters such as Jotaro, Joseph, Okuyasu and especially Koichi add to the series as well. 1. Orange This is the series that a lot of people in my circle called “If Clannad and Erased had a baby,” including myself of course. However, Orange’s traveling concept isn’t the same as Erased’s. In Orange, the protagonist, Naho Takiyama received letters from her future self to save her classmate, Kakeru Naruse, from comitting suicide. Each letter details on the things present Naho must do to save present Kakeru. Similarly to Clannad, Orange will also take you through the feelings roller coaster, similarly to the former. You’ll find yourself easily attached to many of the characters and feel what they are going through, which is an accomplishment considering the length of the series. I’m no afraid to admit that I shed some tears here and there watching the series. My only gripe is that the series was a bit short but perhaps it’s better if it was “short and sweet.” Honorable Mentions: Mob Psycho 100, Yuri On Ice, Re:Zero, My Hero Academia, Erased, All-Out, and Drifters.
Japanator Awards 2016 photo
Emotional Coasters, Boobs, Food, & More!
With another batch of enjoyable anime released this year, another Top 5 article was certainly obligatory. Unfortunately, just like last year, I didn’t invest my time much in Anime and spent it a lot more video games ins...

Japanator Awards 2016: Sal's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Jan 01 // Salvador G Rodiles
5. Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro If there are two things that I never imagine seeing in the same place, it’s preparing food being and becoming a DJ. Somehow, Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro drags us into a tale where a guy aims to be become a DJ through applying his experience of working at his family's tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets) restaurant to perfect his techniques. For the most part, the show made this whole thing seem ridiculous while making us root for this underdog who just wants to create a fun mix for people to enjoy. Even though the show’s looks wasn’t the best out there, the whole thing blended well with the series’ bizarre combination of themes. With each episode running at ten minutes, it was nice to see how well the tonkatsu theme played a huge role in Agetaro’s journey to become a great DJ. At the same time, I loved how this concept went well with the idea how one can apply their experience from a previous field in one that’s entirely different— in terms of understanding the new path better. Of course, it’s hard to deny a show where food and music go hand-in-hand to create a fun ride. To top it off, it deserves some props for giving a positive outlook on the word “chill out.”   4. Space Patrol Luluco While we’re on the topic of interesting shorts, Space Patrol Luluco served as an example of a series that reward me for sticking with it until the end. Even though the idea of Luluco being a series of shorts made me skeptical at first, the show ended up growing on me. We got to see a surprising origin story that’s relevant to Studio TRIGGER itself, along with a ridiculously over-the-top love story that took us through different worlds and galaxies. However, the big thing about this series was how much the series accomplished with its length. In 12 short episodes, we saw the show go from a tale of a girl following her dad’s footsteps to be a space officer so that she could use the money to free him from being frozen to story that took the idea of romance and used it in a scenario where everyone’s lives were on the line. At the same time, Luluco was a fine example of a project where the team at Studio TRIGGER just wants to have lots of fun while they mix a bunch of random off-the-wall ideas to create something wild. As a person who’s a fan of Hiroyuki Imaishi’s stuff, it was nice to see him make his over-the-top ideas work well in a series made up of seven-minute episodes. To top it off, the idea of seeing M.A.O./Mao Ichimichi (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger’s Luka/Gokai Yellow) as Luluco and Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger’s Doggie Kruger/Deka Master) as the show’s police chief, Chief Over Justice, felt like a dream come true since they both had solid roles in the Super Sentai franchise.   3. Konosuba – God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! When it comes to comedic fantasy titles, I do my best to catch them when I can. As a person who enjoys titles with a wacky gang of heroes who get into lots of trouble, such as Slayers and Louie the Rune Soldier, Konosuba quenched my thirst for this genre. The idea of having a NEET who was revived in a fantasy world after experiencing a humiliating death, a goddess who the main guy took with him, a delusional Arc Wizard who’s super obsessed with the explosion spell, and a masochistic Crusader who can’t hit her target joining forces worked well in creating a random cast that made each episode really amusing. This is thanks to series is placing this team in many situations where their quirks contribute to the show’s humor. With moments that range from the gang struggling to slay simple creatures to somehow taking out a powerful boss who works for the main villain that threatens the land, Konosuba made way for many surprises; thus making it one of the funniest trapped-in-another-world shows to grace 2016. Last but not least, Megumin the Crimson Demon might be the show’s best girl, which may nor may not be a factor into Konosuba’s placement on this list. In all seriousness, I had lots of fun with the show’s ten episodes and I hope that its sequel will continue to deliver in the humor department.   2. Mob Psycho 100 As a person who adored One Punch Man, there was zero chance that I would find Mob Psycho 100 to be a disappointment. Lo and behold, this ended up being the case since the series presented us with a powerful hero who only wishes to live life as a normal person that doesn’t rely on his special abilities. While the show focused on the whole “with great power comes responsibility” type of story, it also conveyed the idea of someone who wants to be a competent person outside of their forte. Even when people envy Mob for his powers, the guy only wants to live a normal life without having to worry about his abilities going out of control when he gets pushed to the edge. Because of his drawback, the show is a nice parallel to ONE's One Punch Man since they both present us with different takes on stories with overpowered characters. Of course, his relationship with the supporting characters was another thing that made the series worthwhile. One of the show's most noteworthy aspect was his relationship with his boss, Reigen, who happens to be a con artist that tricked Mob into thinking he’s stronger than him. Then there’s the show’s tendency to make people laugh through subverting signature tropes, such as the one where the lead might save a club from going under. Combined with Bones utilizing sketchy lines in the show’s action to complement ONE’s simplistic designs, we were left with another fine piece that did justice to its source material.   1. Re:ZERO  -Starting Life in Another World- If there’s one thing about life that’s harsh, it’s how things don’t always go your way. Re:Zero took this idea and had its main character Subaru suffer while he fought hard to achieve the best outcome when things went wrong. The idea of him being a shut-in sent to a fantasy world who can relive his life after death somehow was a nice take on the trapped-in-another-world genre of stories. It helps that our main hero is a normal person outside of his ability and that each arc pushes him to push towards discovering the right choice to save those he cares about. No matter how bad he suffered from his attempts to do well, the payoff was always exciting as the fruits of his labor lead to some wonderful confrontations. Hell, I found myself rooting for Subaru when he would find a way to save someone from an impossible situation. Because of the major steps Subaru had to go through, he easily became a great lead since he slowly went from being a shut-in to a person who can bring people together for a great cause. The idea of his ordeal being the fantasy version of reality slapping you in the face really hard was what got me hooked on the series. I wanted to see how his mistakes made things worse and how he would resolve them, which lead to my decision of making Re:Zero my top show of 2016. Honorable Mentions: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Keijo!!!!!!!!!, Kiznaiver, Durarara!! X2 Ketsu, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy, Erased, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt
Japanator Awards 2016 photo
Never giving up is the name of the game
With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time for us to reminisce about the stuff that made our year worthwhile. Thanks to this tradition, this gives us the excuse to talk about our favorite anime shows that made our day. Even...

Japanator Awards 2016: Nick's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Dec 31 // Nick Valdez
5. Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School  The Danganronpa visual novels were one of my favorite video game series of the last few years. A dark series full of death, kooky characters, and mystery was naturally primed for an anime series. But unlike Spike Chunsoft's first attempt, which only summarized the events of the first game, Danganronpa 3 fleshed out the series' ever evolving story. This ambitious show laid out its story over two series: the Despair Arc, a prequel telling the events leading up to the games, and the Future Arc, a sequel bringing the narrative to a close. While it won't have much to offer for non-fans, this series was an absolute delight for those who've devoted their time to the series. Series characters got more development, especially fan favorite Chiaki, and the brutal death scenes are still some crazy stuff. I kind of prefer the story told in this matter, also, rather than reading through endless lines of text in games. If you're a Danganronpa fan, you should check it out if you haven't already.  4. My Hero Academia There just aren't enough anime shows with positivity, much less action oriented ones, so My Hero Academia was a welcome breath of fresh air. Mixing both Eastern and Western superhero tropes, the series follows the young Midoriya as he tries to be a superhero in a world full of heroes. Struggling with his lack of power, his bright, never give up attitude eventually grants him the opportunity to join the titular academy and it was fun throughout. The action is slick, with a color palette aping Western cartoons (complete with thick bold outlines), the character design is kooky (I love the invisible girl, haha), and I can't wait for season two. Also, the fact that his power is activated by yelling out "Smash!" is one of the most inspired things ever. More please.  3. Mob Psycho 100 Much like ONE's other prolific effort, One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 defies your expectation of what an "anime" truly is. With its crude, but highly expressive art style, this is series is just as bold and kooky as its narrative. A story about young psychic who bottles up his emotions until they explode in an awe-inspiring display of power and his con-man mentor, this series is one of the most unique projects to release in quite some time. Its fight scenes alone are the most gorgeous and slick scenes this year, and honestly, some of the best anime has to offer.  What's even better than its animation is its central hero, Mob. Much like the rest of the series on this list, Mob is a non-traditional character than prefers to chase self-improvement for his own sake rather than rely on his godly psychic talents to get ahead. Mob's just a simple guy who's just happy to have people in his life, and that's a good message you don't get anywhere else. And I still haven't mentioned Reigen, one of the best new characters of the year! This is definitely a must watch.  2. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- Ever since I started reading as a kid, I've always been drawn to stories of growth. The monomyth (or hero's journey) is an outline many anime series follow, but Re:ZERO was the first time I had seen it used so effectively. What many stories fail to grasp properly is the "struggle" part of the hero's journey. Struggles and hardships are what spark character evolution, and no series excelled at struggle better than Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-. The series' main character, Natsuki Subaru, wakes up in a fantasy world (much like other anime shows sharing the same premise), but unlike other characters, he's forever trapped in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop that resets every time he dies.  Along with the pain of death, Subaru is constantly forced to confront his poor choices as he relives his bad days over and over again. At the start of the series he's a selfish loner, but after facing all kinds of heartbreak, mortality, and anguish, Subaru becomes less so. The greatest thing is that his changes aren't explicit, nor drastic. He's not some superpowered hero who grows in strength thanks to his bonds or something like that. He's just a normal guy who makes small changes to his personality, and it's awesome to see how his differing choices affect the characters around him. Re:ZERO is an intentional grind of a series, but it's so worth the trouble.  1. She and Her Cat: Everything Flows She and Her Cat is pure art. A short miniseries about a girl struggling to find work, told through the narration of her cat Daru, had quite the emotional effect on me. I'm still astounded at how a series that's twenty minutes in total could do so much. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles the rest of the anime on this list have, but it's not needed. It's just a short and sweet bundle of pure happiness.  Sometimes that's all you need.  Honorable Mentions: Digimon Adveture Tri. (because it's still not finished!), Gate, ERASED, KonoSuba
Nick's Top 5 Anime photo
Death, heroes, and cats
While 2016 has been kind of a bummer year all around, there have been some great anime releases. Series challenging typical action tropes, traditional animation, conventional character growth, and even redefined how long an a...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Galaxy

Dec 31 // Red Veron
Loot Anime is a monthly mystery subscription box featuring items related to your favorite anime and manga. There will be 4-6 items with each box, about $60+ in retail value, licensed, and most are exclusive to Loot Anime. If you are interested in signing up for next month's "Delicious" themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off first your order at Loot Anime!  
Loot Anime photo
Beyond the Stars
We're ending the year with a big bang with an out-of-this-world themed Loot Anime box full of goodies with the theme "Galaxy"! We have some pretty cool merch here that is sure to please Space Cowboys everywhere! I absolutely...

Japanator Awards 2016: Josh's Top 5 Anime of the Year

Dec 30 // Josh Tolentino
[Editor's Note: As with last year's Japanator Awards, our lists are arranged in order, with our #1 pick being our favorite of the year. To qualify for inclusion in the Japanator awards, a candidate must have concluded a broadcast run or season ("cour") within the calendar year of 2016.]  5. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 1 and Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Over the last few years, my favorite Gundam productions have engaged with Gundam not just as a common brand but as a cultural phenomenon and an artifact of history shared by all its fans. Shows like Build Fighters and games like Gundam Breaker thought of the famous mecha franchise as a series of toys rather than weapons of war. For all intents and purposes, the fourth wall between Gundam and the world didn’t exist in those titles. Iron-Blooded Orphans and Thunderbolt, which tie for this place, do a similar thing, but in a different way. Instead of breaking down the fourth wall and recognizing Gundam as the toy and media property it is, these two series – Orphans in particular, grapples with the longstanding patterns and archetypes of Gundam stories, tackling them in fresh new ways and re-contextualizing them to examine, and even challenge their old meanings. Iron-Blooded Orphans takes the traditional Gundam standby of the teenage pilot and recasts its aura over the child soldiers of Tekkadan, framing their struggles as a heroic, but fundamentally tragic and flawed quest to carve out a place in the world the only way they know how – by brutal violence. It doesn’t shy away from the compromised morality of their position, allowing the viewer to think outside the good-guys-bad-guys dichotomy and see war, even justified war, as the tragedy it is. And this all happened in Season 1. Season 2 is ongoing, and proves Orphans as the rare multi-cour anime that gets better as it goes on. Similarly, Gundam Thunderbolt frames war’s consuming nature through the stories – and bodies – of its pilots, and looks and sounds absolutely stunning while doing it. Both series succeed where shows like Gundam 00 tried and failed, finding a fresh, character-driven approach to familiar themes. 4. Keijo!!!!!!!!! Keijo!!!!!!!! is this year’s trashy treasure, and a blazing, bouncy reaffirmation of the fact that you can’t judge any anime series by its premise alone. It manages to be credible sports/battle anime in a year chock full of entertaining sports series, but distinguishes itself by its utterly ludicrous premise: That there is a genuine competitive scene out there for ladies who like to knock each other into pools using only their chests and hindquarters. It’s magnificent. Sure, ludicrous premises for sports are part and parcel of the anime experience, and in the end Keijo!!!!!!!! doesn’t quite come up to the level of, say, Girls und Panzer, Yowapeda or Haikyuu for elevating the genre. But it gets credit in my book for really leaning into the fan service in a way not even dedicated fan service shows manage to, selling the sexier aspects as a real facet of the proceedings on-screen, rather than just horndog opportunism and pandering. That they had to do it by structuring the entire show around weaponized fan service is telling, of course, but what matters is that it works and has led to true glory in this case. 3. Girlish Number I love Shirobako and consider it one of my favorite anime of all time, thanks to the strength of its direction and its appealing cast, but also because it was almost a documentary, revealing the production side of anime creation at its stress-ridden studio source. That said, there’s no denying that the show was fundamentally more positive and optimistic in its outlook, tending to gloss over some of the industry’s quirks and (very real) problems. By contrast, I call Girlish Number “Shirobako with bloodshed on its mind.” The show, penned by My Teen RomCom SNAFU author Wataru Watari. Knowing it’s from the author that brought the world a butthead like Hachiman might have been a dealbreaker for me, but Watari’s typically cynical disposition is tempered by charm and sarcastic comedy. Its sharp-tongued jabs at the industry’s troubles come from a better place as well: Where SNAFU’s downer snark made its characters too unlikeable for me to stick with, Girlish Number’s attitude comes from exasperation and a tired but essentially hopeful mindset. Perhaps that’s what’s needed to survive in the anime industry these days, but whatever the case, Girlish Number gets the job done.   2. Mob Psycho 100 I may have picked One Punch Man as one of my anime of the year, but I have to admit that I thought of it as a fluke. The pairing of an irreverent webcomic satire of battle manga tropes with the most talented and dynamic battle manga (and anime) producers around was a great juxtaposition, and the result was the best kind of appropriation you could ask for. On the other hand, Mob Psycho 100 seemed different. While retaining its notion of a nearly omnipotent lead, it struck me as a more typical story at first, and I wondered if the same approach would reap the same awards. I shouldn’t have worried. Bones took a different, yet equally effective tack in adapting their source. Rather than play up the highly detailed, deliberately conventional style of Yuusuke Murata’s One Punch Man, they hewed closer to the squashed and deformed caricatures of the original webcomic, supplementing it with brilliant handcrafted effects work and crackerjack characterization. Bones really helped sell the struggle of one young boy as he tried not to be driven bonkers by life’s little ordeals, lest he unleashed his omnipotent psychic powers. But like the deeper appeal of One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100’s lush visuals and action cloak a series of sometimes-touching personal dramas. A boy that struggles to communicate with the people around him. A mentor trying to live up the image of him held by his pupils. A brother wrestling with his sense of inferiority. These relatable, everyday conflicts formed a strong foundation for the insanity on-screen to grow from.   1. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Perhaps it’s telling that the best anime of 2016 is the show that is the least “anime”, at least as we go by the commonly-held stereotypes of what anime is. There are no giant robots, destined heroes, wacky sports, boob humor, or high school age students. Instead, there is an old man, a young man, a young woman, a long legacy, a name freighted with meaning, an obscure, old-fashioned art form, and a time period that your parents likely lived in. It could have been a live-action prestige drama series or a feature film. It could have been a big novel. It could’ve been a lengthy stage play. But now it’s an anime, and it’s a thing to see and hear. Expert performances sell two eras and a sharply written, almost painfully tragic personal history. The only qualms I have about picking Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu for anime of 2016 will be that I may be pressured to not pick next year’s continuation as the anime of the year in 2017. Honorable Mentions: Sound! Euphonium, Yuri On Ice, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Osomatsu-san, My Hero Academia
Japanator Awards 2016 photo
Five Lights In the Grim Darkness
It’s that time of the year again, and increasingly I’ve found the biggest challenge of picking an anime of the year is actually remembering what I watched. This isn’t to say that the shows have been bad...

JapanaSix: 6 anime to binge over the holidays

Dec 28 // Karishma Roy
6. Ef: A Tale of Memories If one love story isn't enough, Ef: A Tale of Memories gives us two. The first one features a love triangle filled with jealousy, friendship, and passion. The second one is a hauntingly sorrowful tale of a boy who falls for a girl suffering from a certain illness. The uniqueness of this second tale is what makes the story stand out among the vast array of romance anime. There are unpredictable twists and turns and each episode leaves you wanting more. It may be a bit confusing initially as all the primary cast are introduced in the first episode and you feel thrown into a bunch of different, seemingly unrelated scenarios. However, you will soon get used to the two plots running simultaneously. The story focuses on the brilliant development of each character so you are sucked into their lives and feel their emotions as if it were your own. Pay attention to the side characters too as they are the main cast to the sequel Ef: A Tale of Melodies. The animation by Shaft is distinctly attractive and the quality of music significantly contributes to the captivating storyline. If you're a sucker for romance like me, you will not be disappointed!    5. Clannad: After Story (AS) This is the continuation of the series Clannad - you don't need to have watched it to follow the events in Clannad AS but it does help to have the bigger picture to appreciate character development. Clannad AS is essentially the story of Tomoya Okazaki and the challenges he faces as a husband and father. You could describe him as a tragic hero who struggles desperately to protect that which he loves but encounters failure. There are themes of despair, forgiveness, acceptance and most importantly, hope. I laughed, cried and kept crying for a long time after watching it.    4. Honey and Clover This is one of those stories that forced me to realise a few things about myself and had a real impact on my everyday life. Honey and Clover follows the lives of five art university students and features common struggles such as unrequited love and the challenges that come with friendships. The animation art appears washed-out with soft edges which did not appeal to me at first but I hardly noticed it by the second and third episodes. Honey and Clover is entirely carried forward by the wonderfully complex characters; everyone's perspective is featured which helps us to care for each individual. A big shout-out to Shinobu Morita - a hilarious guy with surprising depth who remains in my all-time top five favourite anime characters. Get ready to laugh until you cry and vice versa!   3. 5 Centimeters Per Second This is a three part movie directed by the well known and incredibly talented Makoto Shinkai. It a story about childhood friends who fall in love but are separated by unfortunate circumstances. Despite the distance, they try to maintain their fondness for each other by initially keeping in touch through letters but with the passage of time grow apart. The themes include coming of age, accepting the past and finally letting go and taking control of one's life. This story is heavy with emotion and bears a quiet and contemplative feel. The visuals are simply stunning and the soundtrack aptly creates and enhances the mood.   2. Wolf Children  This movie is all about celebrating a mother’s love for her children. Hana, a university student falls in love with a werewolf. They get married and have super cute werewolf children (Yuki and Ame) however shortly after Ame’s birth Hana’s husband passes away. The anime features the challenges Hana faces as she tries to raise her wild children in a busy urban surrounding and when it doesn’t work out she is forced to move to the countryside to give her children a better quality of life. Important themes are explored: self-discovery, belonging to a community and the courage to follow your own path. The animation is pleasing to the eye and characters are distinct and interesting. The pace is slow and every detail is captured and whilst I enjoyed this aspect of the movie, not everyone might. To be honest, I wished the movie was longer as I was slightly unsatisfied with the ending but despite that it is a heart-warming tale.   1. Yuri!!! On Ice The anime premiered this Fall and true to the name of its inspiring opening song, it did indeed become a “History Maker”. I never imagined I’d become a huge fan of a story about men’s competitive figure skating! The protagonist, Yuri Katsuki, returns to his hometown in Japan after a humiliating defeat at the Grand Prix Final. Despite this, Yuri’s passion for figure skating hasn’t faded and one fateful day, he skates to a routine originally performed by a long time champion and his idol, Victor Nikiforov. The video is captured by his friend’s kids, posted online and takes the media by storm. The great Victor himself watches the clip and instantly flies from Russia to Japan to coach Yuri with the intention of helping him win the next Grand Prix Final. However the competition is fierce, with another Russian skater, a  fifteen-year-old prodigy Yuri Plisetsky (Yurio), also desiring Victor’s expertise and aiming for the gold medal. Why should you watch this? For the incredible main and side characters - their hopes, fears and desire to win despite challenges and failures; the iconic romance and the beautiful skating routines. I can’t claim to have ever been interested in figure skating (heck, I can barely stand on ice!) but the show convincingly conveys the complexity and beauty of the sport. The character’s programs and performances are choreographed by the real life Japanese ice-dancer champion Kenji Miyamoto. The animation is beautiful, attention to detail astounding, and the music enjoyable. EVERYTHING is great about this show so go watch it, okay. And if, like me, you've already watched it, then do it all over again! Do you guys have anything to add to this list? Post your thoughts in the comments below and let's get discussing! 
JapanaSix:Holiday Edition photo
Let's have an Otaku celebration!
Season's Greetings everyone! I'm sure for most of us Christmas day included eventful family gatherings, festive food porn, and some form of entertainment -a Christmas movie or two. I did plan to carve out time to enjoy some j...

Yuri!!! on Ice photo
Yuri!!! on Ice

Dale North's take on Yuri!!! on Ice's OP is born to make history


Just in time for the holidays
Dec 24
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Disclosure: Dale North wrote for Japanator. No relationships, personal or professional, were factored into this post.] As Yuri!!! on Ice came to a triumphant close, Former Japanator Managing Editor and Destructoid Editor in ...

Weekend Japanatainment - Prequel to Winter 2017 Edition

Dec 18 // Red Veron
[embed]35445:5994:0[/embed] Anime: Chaos;Head Sequel: Chaos;Child This one is a prequel to two much more successful anime, Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes, and this show happened to be considered to be the worst of the trilogy. I've seen people online who profess to like it but I just did not see what they saw, it was even in a time when I was significantly less discerning with anime and watched whatever was on. Hopefully the new show makes up for the previous show and pleases those who actually liked the prequel.   [embed]35445:5995:0[/embed] Anime: Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road Sequel: Yowamushi Pedal New Generation The newest season of the bicycle racing show that has some really good openings. It has a kid who turns out to be good at riding a bicycle because he did some strenuous bicycling to school everyday and joins a bicycle racing club at school. Sports anime stuff happens like rivalries and super time dilation happens throughout. Sorry, I haven't seen this one except for the first episode but I know a lot of people who love this show.   [embed]35445:5996:0[/embed] Anime: Blue Exorcist Sequel: Blue Exorcist Kyoto Fujouou-hen The continuation of the adaptation of the manga, an action packed show featuring a teen who happens to be the son of the devil but he is actually a good person despite being rough around the edges. Get this, he is actually secretly powerful and is humanity's hope in fighting demons from hell.   [embed]35445:5997:0[/embed] Anime: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Syukufuku wo! Sequel: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Syukufuku wo! 2 The next season to this one is actually pretty anticipated by many, a ridiculous and irreverent comedy where a teen dies a humiliating death and is given a choice to reincarnate to a fantasy world. Well, the fantasy world featuring magic and monsters isn't all it's cracked up to be and plenty of comedy happens. I highly recommend this one for everyone to catch up on.   Is there a show from next season that you're excited to see? Why is that? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Look to the past for the future!
The new winter anime season is almost here and it looks like we're going to get a few sequels to some beloved anime soon. So I thought it would be perfect to check out some of the previous anime season openings to get everyon...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 8-10

Dec 12 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 8 This episode really was a mixed bag of a few things. Each of its points actually had a purpose, but it just put a lot of them to you as a viewer for a single episode. Think of it like one of the episodes of wrestling either right before or right after a big show where it has lots of storylines to give you. The first part of this episode is delving into Naoto's past before he became a wrestler. Naoto and Haruna visit Daisuke in the hospital and then on the way to the matches he shows Haruna that he had been living in a temporary relief shelter when he lost his home and family in an earthquake. We then see flashbacks of a younger Naoto begging Daisuke to train as a wrestler. We get to see him getting the rough treatment and meeting Takuma for the first time. It's a nice bit of background, but at this point do we need it? The next part of the episode shows us what Naoto and Takuma are both up to. Akuma and his two friends as training in a ring  (inside a cage, inside a CAVE) beating on poor Odin. Seems this is where he ended up, as a sparring partner. Miss X tells them they will be part of the big tournament in Japan. Odin begs her for mercy. She tells him she will relent only until after he competes in "Hell in the Hole" whatever that means. Sounds kinda dirty. Odin freaks out about "the Hole".  Meanwhile, Tiger Mask is competing in a NJPW show. He and Tanahashi are teaming up against... aw crap... Yup. Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale. The match is short and the good guys win, earning a tag title shot at the next big show.  Not much else to report here really. We see what both Tigers have been up to and setting the stage for the tag title shot. We then finally get to the main point. the GWM announces their new Japanese arena, the Max Dome, and the GWM Masked World Tournament. Tiger the Dark will be there, so will European champion Wagner, and Yellow Devil. Miss X opens it up to any masked wrestler to take part. Naoto wants to compete, but GWM schedules it at the same time as NJPW's show. The NJPW guys aren't happy about this either. Nagata, Okada, Wakamatsu. and Tanahashi, see this and want no part of it. There is actually a really funny line as Nagata tells the other wrestlers to tell "Liger" (referring to NJPW legend Jushin "Thunder" Liger) they are not participating. Someone then asks about "Captain" (The wrestler formally known as Captain New Japan now as Bone Soldier) and Nagata answers "He wouldn't go even if I told him too." BURN! As soon as that's agreed on Tiger Mask shows up and says he can't make the Tag Title match because he will be in the tournament instead. The NJPW guys aren't happy but Tiger has made up his mind. They all silently understand so they don't bust his chops too badly. The episode seems to bounce around a bit but we have a clear goal in sight. The Masked World Tournament seems to be the finale of the first part of this series (it was announced this show has 39 episodes). So while it touched on a lot of things, they all seemed to be gearing towards that in some way. So it didn't focus on the action, but it did serve the purpose of setting things up. Episode 9 It's tournament time! This episode, unlike many of the ones from this series, focuses on the single point of the big World Masked Tournament the GWM is putting on in their new Max Dome. We see the announcement of the eight participants. Tiger Mask is entered, along with Fukuwara Mask. Yuji isn't pleased to hear that, but it turns out Yuji didn't bother to make him an offer not to enter. Yellow Devil, Tiger the Dark, and Wagner are also entered. Rounding out the field are a wrestler named Poseidon, and two goofballs named "Oriental Magic" Dragon Young and  "The Japanese Trump Card" It's-The-Ace. Ya know, I've been accused of being a cynical wrestling fan but those guys look REALLY familiar. Leading up to the afternoon show, We see some minor stuff like Tiger Mask and Fukuwara Mask chumming together at the arena, Fukuwara, and Haruna not being allowed to sell their merch because they aren't GWM talent, and we find out the European Champion is just Tiger The Dark's running buddy Kevin Andersen and Wagner is just made up. Miss X comments it happens all the time.  The big show kicks off with a fan making the "random" draw for the tournament. Tiger the Dark vs. Fukuwara Mask,  Tiger Mask vs. Wagner, Poseidon vs.  It's-the-Ace,  Dragon Young vs. Yellow Devil. If you don't see how this bracket will work out on the next few episodes, then I suggest you go back to the recap of the first episode and start this over again. We get to the action and the first match between Tiger the Dark and Fukuwara Mask doesn't last very long. Tiger Mask makes his entrance for his match and Wagner... isn't there? That doesn't make much sense. Someone ELSE arrives and lays down the challenge to Tiger Mask instead.   Evidently, he is Mister Question, a character from the original show who wants to see if this new Tiger Mask is up to snuff. Okay, kind of random. Wagner finally shows up and he is pissed, but Mister Question quells that argument rather quickly.   Finally, we have a straightforward path in this series, maybe a little too straightforward, but at least we know where we are going and hopefully there won't be a lot of filler anymore. Even though you kinda know how this will play out, I still feel compelled to watch and see how they get there.  Episode 10 The tournament continues! We pick up where we left off with the last episode. Tiger Mask is staring down his new opponent in the tournament, Mister Question. As the match begins we see that Mister Question is no ordinary guy, and I don't mean the white bell-bottomed suit with a turban as part of his mask. It appears he is super flexible.   Like REALLY flexible. Did a Kinnikuman villain walk onto the wrong show? Fukuwara Mask jumps in on commentary and explains that Mister Question is from India, and India is known for Yoga. Anyway as the match progresses, Tiger seems at a loss. Miss X then tells Mister Question that he would be rewarded for taking out Tiger Mask, but he turns that down flat. He's not in this for the money and glory. Miss X is not amused. Tiger is about to get beat when he sees something that fires him up.   After the match ends Mister Question says he will tell Tiger who he is later. Meanwhile, we get the next match of Poseidon vs. It's-the-Ace. There is no question who It's-The-Ace is and the show doesn't even try to hide it. The match ends predictably and in the locker room we find out that Poseidon was actually Mikasa, The former Jinpang wrestler who was Odin's original opponent in episode 1. During the match though we get a meeting backstage between Tiger Mask and Mister Question. The gist of the meeting is that Tiger can't beat the GWM the way he is now, and the man from India tells Tiger he needs to develop a new killer finisher, just like the original Tiger Mask did after the original Mister Question broke Tiger's original finisher. Guess that's Tiger's next goal.  We get to the final match of the first round as Dragon Young faces Yellow Devil. This goes about as well as you'd expect. Poor Wakamatsu doesn't stand a chance and it's over quick. We get an announcement that the next round is next week and that is pretty much it. The second round has Yellow Devil facing It's-The-Ace and Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark in the other match. This episode was clear and straightforward, a lot less meandering around as some of the episodes been this season. The big reveal of Mister Question isn't exactly anything worth noting but it does play into the storyline. I don't see this as the most noteworthy or best episode so far, but at least you could see where they were going with the story. So with these episodes, we are seeing the climax of the first season starting to take shape. We have a goal and a path to get there. We've seen the villain and he is a rough dude. The next few episodes should be a lot of fun!
Tiger Mask W photo
We finally have some direction
The adventures of Tiger Mask W continues here as we look at the next batch of episodes from the series. So far we've had some ups and downs as far as episodes go but so far I've been enjoying it. Where do we go now? Let's find out!

Weekend Japanatainment - 90's Anime Movie Edition

Dec 10 // Red Veron
[embed]35433:5983:0[/embed] Anime: Princess Mononoke I must confess, I have not seen many Ghibli films. No, please don't take away my weeb card! It's the only thing I have left. However, I have seen this movie once and I was super impressed in how different and wonderfully made this movie turned out for a medium that was often seen as something just for children. Strong female lead with some cool action and beautiful animation, this one just needs to be seen if you love the anime medium.   [embed]35433:5984:0[/embed] Anime: Ninja Scroll Another one that I haven't seen. PLEASE DON'T TAKE MY CARD AWAY. This one is another one of those anime that many kids and teens rented in the 90's from the video store because the cover looked cool and it had 'ninja' in the title. Then they watched it and got a great dose of really cool visuals with plenty violence and mature stuff that those under 18 shouldn't be watching.   [embed]35433:5985:0[/embed] Anime: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Another cool looking anime movie that I have not watched. HAVE MERCY ON ME. Just looking at the cover, this one just looks pretty cool with the soldiers in their gear with the red glowing eyes. This one is set in alternate 1950s where Germany conquered Japan. Why have I not seen this one yet? It's perfect just for me.   [embed]35433:5986:0[/embed] Anime: Perfect Blue Now, this one is a favorite of mine that I first watched on a PlayStation Portable UMD and I still own that UMD. I love this movie, made by the late great Satoshi Kon (Paranoia Agent, Paprika), this is a suspenseful psychological thriller that just really takes that suspense and thriller to the next level and that 'psychological' part just goes to beyond. Just watch this movie, it's a must watch for anyone who likes psychological thrillers.   Is there an anime movie from the 1990's that you love? Did I forget to add it on here? SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Expen$ive VH$ Tape$
The 1990's in the US was an exciting time for many anime fans, especially most of them didn't even know what the heck "anime" is yet. It was a time when anime was making it onto US airwaves and more anime came over with even ...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Blade

Dec 10 // Red Veron
Loot Anime is a monthly mystery subscription box featuring items related to your favorite anime and manga. There will be 4-6 items with each box, about $60+ in retail value, licensed, and most are exclusive to Loot Anime. If you are interested in signing up for next month's themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off first your order at Loot Anime!  
Loot Anime photo
A Cut Above
When I found out that one of my favorite anime was to be one of the featured goodies in this month's Loot Anime, I was beyond hyped and was super excited when it arrived in my mailbox. The lovely folks over at Loot Anime HQ ...

Kiss Him, Not Me photo
Kiss Him, Not Me

Kiss Him, Not Me : Fangirling, Feels and Boys' Love


Who are you shipping?
Dec 06
// Karishma Roy
Kae Serinuma, the protagonist of Kiss Him, Not me, is a fujoshi – a term that describes female fans of any media (anime, manga, light novels) that depicts romance between gay men. She constantly fantasises about the hot...

Weekend Japanatainment - Final Fantasy Anime Edition

Dec 04 // Red Veron
[embed]35422:5973:0[/embed] "Over the fantasy" Anime: Final Fantasy Unlimited I remember first discovering this one in 2005 on the internet, I was so excited about learning about an anime with the Final Fantasy name and checked it out. I was disappointed, it had none of the elements that I loved from the series, or at least it wasn't up to the quality that I expected from such a renowned series that was known for great storytelling. I don't remember this opening but it totally reeks of late 90's/early 2000's visual graphics with the abstract shapes and filters. This opening is a good preview (or warning) for what's up ahead.   [embed]35422:5974:0[/embed] Final Fantasy Legend of the Crystals Review by Austin Eruption from Arcadea Anime: Final Fantasy Legend of the Crystals Here is a review of a Final Fantasy OVA from one of my favorite Youtubers, Austin Eruption, taking a look at an OVA sequel to Final Fantasy V, a game which not available at the time of the OVA release in the US. Check out the video for a better look at the OVA (Original Video Animation).   [embed]35422:5975:0[/embed] Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within I was super hyped when I first heard about this movie, it was around the time I first got on the internet and I must have gone on to the official site so many times just to check out the cool clips and website visuals. Then I saw the movie. I had mixed emotions about what I saw, let's just say it looked amazing at the time but the story was unimpressive. Yes, this is an anime: from the setting, the characters, and the story. They were all anime cliches as hell. I own this movie on DVD which I picked up for a dollar a few years ago and I would say it was worth the dollar just to look back at how graphical technology has advanced since the movie's release.   [embed]35422:5976:0[/embed] Episode 1 - Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV Here is a five episode spinoff anime from Final Fantasy XV that focuses on some of the road trip that lead character Noctis takes with his best friends in the game. I haven't seen the entire thing yet but I have heard of good things. If you're interested in the game's story, check this one out and all the episodes are available on the link below (or watch it all on the video above on one playlist). [Watch the entire series of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV HERE]   Which one is your favorite Final Fantasy and adaptation? Is there a Final Fantasy I missed on here? SHARE IN COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Far from Final
The Final Fantasy series is one of the most prominent video game series from Japan and is still considered a big name even with the bumpy transition to the HD gaming era in the last decade. Last week marks the decade the end ...

Studio Khara photo
The Lawsuit Instrumentality Project
As we continue to wait patiently for Eva 4.0's possible completion, a Studio Khara ends up going through a major turn of event. It turns out that they're suing Gainax for not fulfilling their deal to pay Khara royal...

Rejoice: Cardcaptor Sakura's new anime to premiere in January 2018

Nov 27 // Salvador G Rodiles
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc's returning cast Sakura Kinomoto: Sakura Tange Keroberos: Aya Hisakawa Tomoyo Daidoji: Junko Iwao Syaoran Li: Motoko Kumai Yukito Tsukishiro: Megumi Ogata Toya Kinomoto: Tomokazu Seki
Cardcaptor Sakura photo
Sounds like a dream come true
Well, folks. It turns out that the previously announced Cardcaptor Sakura sequel anime hits Japan's NHK channel in January 2018. To top off the icing on this exquisite cake, Madhouse and the original anime's di...

Garo photo
Garo

Garo's new projects bring us a third anime and more


Sounds like a tasty Golden Feast
Nov 25
// Salvador G Rodiles
If there's one thing that I look forward to every Thanksgiving, it's getting to learn about the new Garo-related announcements. This time around, we're getting two new announcements and an update to two other previously revea...
Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

Catch Patlabor Reboot on Animator Expo's Website


This calls for a huge salute
Nov 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
Right when it seemed that the Japan Animator Expo project was finished, the group have uploaded "Mobile Police Patlabor Reboot" on their page. Thanks to this news, we can view a new take on Patlabor's concept of cops with gia...
Crunchyroll photo
Crunchyroll

WWE and Crunchyroll tag team up for slamming savings


Best team since Sonny and Cher
Nov 22
// Soul Tsukino
The WWE and Crunchyroll have paired up for the best internet streaming deal of the season. By taking advantage of this special deal you can sign up for both the WWE Network and a Crunchyroll account for $19.98 and you get both for 3 months!
Marriage photo
Marriage

Congratulations: Gravion Director Masami Obari ties the knot


This calls for a hot-blooded celebration
Nov 20
// Salvador G Rodiles
There's something lovely about two people getting married, as it symbolizes their desire to take their relationship to a new level. On Nov. 14, Masami Obari (Gravion series' Director, Super Robot Wars OG series' Compatible Ka...

Weekend Japanatainment - Japanese English Dubs Edition

Nov 20 // Red Veron
[embed]35406:5957:0[/embed] Batman: Mask of the Phantasm The wonderfully made animated Batman show from the 90's set the bar when it comes to western animation. Be advised that the subs are a joke.   [embed]35406:5958:0[/embed] Rick and Morty Of all the things we export to Japan, the very "unique" Rick and Morty made it across the pacific and probably further made Americans look weirder to Japanese people with all the "American Jokes" contained within. This dub is pretty decent and keeps with the spirit.   [embed]35406:5959:0[/embed] South Park the Movie: Bigger, Longer, Uncut A dub of the movie from 1999, I would totally rewatch the entire thing multiple times (like I did with the original) just to see how they did the translation and dub. The songs are pretty good too in Japanese.   [embed]35406:5960:0[/embed] The Dark Knight Rises If you've been around the "questionable" part of the internet (or twitter), you may be aware of the meme with the movie and the character Bane. I've seen other dubs of this scene and I just associate them all with the ridiculous jokes.   [embed]35406:5961:0[/embed] Big Hero 6 This one is all kinds of meta. This movie is a mashup of east and west where we get a western animated movie with a very strong Japanese inspiration. Now we get to see it in Japanese, what a trip yo.   Is there a western made entertainment product you want to see in Japanese or have seen in Japanese? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! We wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Western in Japanese
As lovers of media from Japan, we often see dubs of our favorite Japanese shows and movies in English (or your native language) but we rarely see it the other way around when it comes to western media. This new thing called t...

JapanaSix: Top moments from Ajin Season 2

Nov 17 // Karishma Roy
Tosaki and Kei’s Alliance So remember how Tosaki and Kei were enemies playing cat and mouse? Not the case anymore. They form an unlikely but a mutually beneficial alliance stemming from their shared goal to defeat Satou. Tosaki is under threat from his higher ups and will be forced to quit the Ajin Research Department if he doesn’t manage to save the minister whose name is on the kill list. Tosaki desperately needs the job to pay for his currently comatose fiancée’s treatment which confirms that he does indeed have a heart underneath that icy exterior! Meanwhile, Kei and Kou require a powerful ally – an army of their own- to defeat Satou’s team. And Kei, guided by his genius intellect, threatens to kill Tosaki’s fiancée in order to buy time to make the deal that gives him the support and resources he needs. This was an intense and action packed scene.  The fear and tension when Kei orders his IBM to kill the fiancée is palpable as no one in the room was aware that his ghost does the opposite of what it is ordered. As twisted as Kei is, there is something to admire about his cold, logical way of thinking. As for Kou, he is the dumbest guy out there but he provides comic relief and reminds Kei about basic human morals so I’m okay with him being a sidekick.  Satou blowing up the plane Satou appears to be having a lot of fun progressing through his kill list. The second guy he takes out is Mr. Sakurai who despite Tosaki’s warnings decides to fly out on a business trip believing that Satou would hardly follow him all the way to Okinawa. Of course, Hatter shows up like Surprise, bitch! There’s a cool casualness to the way Satou finishes his game, saunters to the first class cabin, kills his target and wishes those who are alive "Bon Voyage" before blowing the plane up. How frickin’ cool is that? I mean, it’s totally evil but also the dude’s a bawse! Satou couldn’t give a damn about practicality so long as he can make his stunts awesome. His only regret would probably be that his game console didn’t make it out intact from the explosion. This whole scene is done incredibly well. I wonder about the secret weapon Satou is working on with Okuyama. They have a copious amount of explosives so is it a bomb? What do you guys think? The conversation between Kei and Hirasawa (aka Bald Guy) This conversation is a significant moment in Kei’s characterisation. We haven’t seen him display vulnerability publicly before as much as he does in this episode. How adorable was his blush when Kou compliments him!? I'm interested to see how his character develops over this season. The Bald Guy seems to be the first person to validate Kei’s ability to remain rational at the expense of emotions and even view it as an asset to their mission. Kei, to my surprise, recounts his father’s demise as a surgeon which came about when he took desperate measures to save a patient who lacked an organ donor by looking into the organ black market. Kei is apathetic in nature most likely because he doesn’t want to end up like his dad and this fear resonates with his humanity. Remember Mr. Nekozawa - the dealer who provides weapons to Satou in exchange for organs? I wonder if Kei's father was connected more closely to Ajins than it is let on.  Ajin with wings This IBM at the end is the sickest of them all. Move aside Kuro-Chan, this fallen angel is number one now. It will be interesting to watch it fight. We learn a lot more about IBM’s thanks to the dope Professor Ikuya Ogura. A big shout out to Kai for being a cool bro and willing to help save Kei if needed despite being abandoned by him. Tosaki’s Kidnapping Tosaki is kidnapped by American agents Douglas Almeida (aka a jerk) and Carly Myers on suspicion of having kidnapped Professor Ogura. Myers initially expresses reluctance about this as Tosaki is a Japanese official but Douglas is a misogynistic ass who treats her like scum and doesn’t value her opinion. Tosaki’s treatment of Izumi isn’t exemplary but he didn’t physically assault or torture her. I hope you kill him, Myers. Izumi tries to save Tosaki using her black ghost but it turns out Myers is also an Ajin and her IBM defeats Kuro-Chan who was weak to begin with as she had been summoned not too long ago. I’m adamant that had Kuro-chan been at full strength, Myers’s IBM would have been defeated. Also, Tosaki deserves a round of applause for some mad acting skills when he was being questioned by the American Agents. In Episode 6, he holds up under torture and doesn’t give away the hideout where not only is Professor Ogura held but the entire operation to defeat Satou is being planned and practiced. Izumi Shimomura’s past This sad tale forced my heart through a shredder. We find out that Izumi’s birth name was Tainaka Yoko. Her stepfather, a violent drunkard, tries to sell her out to the police to make money and her mother doesn’t appear to fight hard enough to protect her only daughter. Feeling betrayed and lonely, Izumi escapes and lives rough on the streets working as a prostitute to survive. She appears to have caught a terminal disease and meets Tosaki during her stay in the hospital. Tosaki reveals that Izumi’s mother had stabbed the stepfather in an attempt to protect Izumi however he had managed to stay alive long enough to pull the knife out from his body and stab her back with it. This resulted in both their deaths. Talk about dramatic! We get a clear understanding of their relationship in this episode. Tosaki enabled her to start a new life: she picked a new name and was given a new purpose – to protect Tosaki. Izumi is emotional when it comes to him because of a sense of gratitude that surpasses duty. I was surprised and impressed when she tackles Kei and shows him that he is unprepared to beat Satou if he can’t even defeat her. I hope Kou regretted trying to white-knight her before by suggesting that a woman shouldn’t do dangerous things. Kou, you were probably only concerned, but forgetting to deactivate the safety before firing a gun makes me think it is you who shouldn’t be involved in dangerous missions. Changing Kei’s mind isn’t easy but Izumi persuades him by pointing out that Tosaki is the only one who knows when Hatter will attack the minister. All I can say is, you go gurl! Tosaki is lucky to have you as his bodyguard. This season keeps getting better! My only complaint is that the ending song by CreepHyp is intolerable. The opening song, a collaboration between pop duos fripSide and angela, sounds okay but I sorely miss flumpool from season 1. Do you guys agree with my choice of top moments from the episodes so far? Will Team Kei manage to rescue Tosaki in episode 7? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! [Ajin 2nd season is available to watch on Netflix]
Ajin photo
Episodes 1 - 6
Ajin season 2 is back on our screens and every episode so far has been KICKING ASS. Check out my highlights from season 1 to refresh your memory of the story so far. This cour continues with the conflict between our...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 5-7

Nov 16 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 5 This seems like a tale of two kitties. The big thing about this episode is that despite the complete BLOODBATH that occurred in the last episode. It's completely ignored. Wakamatsu getting his skull crushed and then ran into the ring post? He's perfectly fine! Tiger Mask bleeding worse than the infamous Muta scale match with Hiroshi Hase (look it up on YouTube if you aren't squeamish)? Nope, he's all good. I know Japan is known for wrestlers not selling big moves but C'mon! Anyway, the big story point here is that Tiger Mask has joined New Japan Pro Wrestling officially. Before his first match, he runs into Fukuawara Mask. An odd trickster type character who bares a striking resemblance to real life wrestler Ebbasan from about ten years ago. We see Fukuwara mask wrestle Wakamatsu in a match and totally trick Wakamatsu in getting carted out. Tiger Mask ends up fighting Tomoaki Honma.. and of course, pins him after Honma misses the Kokeshi headbutt. Well, give the producers points for accuracy there! At a different arena, the GWM is having a show. Tiger the Dark crushes some guy and it turns out things are not united with the GWM wrestlers. Seems the vets don't like how a newcomer like Tiger the Dark is dominating his opponents, especially the main guy Bosman. It is now apparent that Tiger The Dark (Takuma), Kevin Andersen, and Mike are an island unto themselves in the GWM. This leads to both Tigers being in different battles royal (the proper way to plural battle royal according to Gordon Solie). Tiger the Dark draws number one in a royal rumble style where a new man enters the ring every few minutes (facing 18 nobodies and Bosman) and Tiger Mask is in a regular battle royal where we see Okada, Wakamatsu, Honma, Ishii, Fukuwara Mask, Makabe, and Nagata as an in-ring competitor. They are fighting it out for...rice. Seriously, the biggest wrestling names in Japan are fighting over rice. This episode is short on story. Other than having Tiger Mask join NJPW, there isn't a lot of exposition here. It is a much lighter episode than the last one, but they pretty much ignore everything that happened in that episode too. No healing, no revenge, no nothing. Really detracts from the flow of the series.  Hopefully, this branches into something bigger. Episode 6 Straight up, this episode makes little sense and is so not important to the story it seems to be spoofing itself. So now that he has joined NJPW Tiger Mask's next opponent is Gorilla Jeet Singh. A scimitar wielding psychopath that barely speaks any decipherable language and grunts a groans a lot. Of course, this is a spoof of Tiger Jeet Singh, a wrestler originally from the Punjab (later living in Canada) who was recruit by Antonio Inoki to play a foreign bad guy against him in the '70s, despite not having a whole lot of actual wrestling skill. He would run to the ring carrying a fencing saber and attack fans in the crowd. He wrestled (brawled would be more accurate) for over 30 years, most of it in Japan. Anyway in the lead up to the fight, NJPW is going to have "the next generation of Idol singers" sing a song before the fight. These two little brats are Nama Ham and Yaki Udon, you know their names because they say it constantly and speak in the third person. They hate wrestling and even send out a message on their website about how they were tricked into doing the show. They arrive in the ring for the show and the women wrestling fans damn near boo them out of the building and throw trash at them in the ring. What does any of this have to do with the plot of the series? Red Shoes, got any ideas? Yup. That sums up my feelings on this one. Tiger Mask fights the guy, and the only good thing out of this episode is Gorilla signs voice acting. It is hilarious. One the other hand, the idol singers look and sound awful. I still can't figure out if they just act that way to get attention, they are trying to "play heel", or if they really are as big of brats as they sound. They also both sound, and are animated to look like they are 30 years old. Short and sweet, you can skip this episode completely and you won't lose a thing. Episode 7 This episode was titled "Naoto and Naoto" and promised to be something more about the original Tiger Mask anime. Did it live up to its promise? This episode thankfully has way more purpose than the last episode did. It does have a lot going on with more than one storyline at work in this episode. There is a lot of mention of the past, but it isn't the sole story being told here. Tiger Mask and Haruna are in Okinawa for a New Japan wrestling show. The Main Event is Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata facing Okada and his CHAOS buddy Yoshi Hashi. But before any of that, we see the reporter  Hikari digging around in some archive and then asking a distracted Haruna for an interview with Tiger Mask. The interview is very brief. Hikari tells the story of the original Tiger Mask to him and asks if he is from the Tiger's Den, if he is related to Tiger Mask, and why use the name. He answers he is not from the Den, not related to Naoto Date, and he answers that she should be able to find out why he took the Tiger Mask name on his own. This episode also gave us some background on the bad guy side of things as well. In a follow-up from two episodes ago, Tiger the Dark gets his shot at the GWM US title, thanks to winning the battle royal. He is facing off against Bosman (in the "Kow Bell" arena in Texas) and beats him for the belt. His rookie buddies Kevin and Mike congratulate him backstage \and soon the other wrestlers do too. Bosman is demoted to indy shows and Miss X is called to Mr. X's office. He then explains the story of the original Tiger Mask from their side of things. Original Tiger Mask beat the then top executive of the company Tiger The Great, and nearly sank the organization, leading to the original Mr. X to die is despair. He doesn't say how he became Mr. X or how Miss X got to where she is, but between this and the earlier scene, it does get us up to speed a bit on what has happened since the original show. The other ongoing plot here follows an old street vendor and his granddaughter. The old guy is banged up after a drunken argument over wrestlers being stronger than karate guys. This leads to him seeing an ad about the new Tiger Mask wrestling and he thinks it's the original. His granddaughter follows him to the show, and it's her first wrestling event. She's enthralled but the old guy is skeptical of anyone using the Tiger Mask name. He watches the main event and starts having flashbacks when he sees Tiger Mask use the back suplex just like the original did. Like I said earlier, this episode had a clear purpose of linking the shows together, and it worked. However, it didn't take the clear path to do it, and that's good in this case. An episode like this in most other shows would literally be two characters talking with a mountain of flashbacks and not much else going on, but this show not only breaks things up with stuff going on like Tiger the Dark winning the title and The tag match, but we even got to see the events of the original from both perspectives of the story. And look who also shows up? Speaking of the flashbacks, I give credit because they did these scenes perfectly. The flashback scenes were animated to look as close to anime in the early '70s as possible. The animators here did an amazing job with the retro style in these scenes and I believe having that distinction really made the flashback scenes work. Big Kudos for doing that. So this was easily a much better and more productive to the story episodes than the last one. It had a purpose and fulfilled that, and didn't take the easiest road to do it either. Hopefully, this means we are back on track after going off the rails a bit. Overall These eps were a mixed back. Episode 5 was alright, but a let down after the bloodfest of the previous episode. Episode 6 is a totally skippable wash, but Episode 7 gets it right. Fight On Tiger Mask! [Catch Tiger Mask W on Crunchyroll.]
Tiger Mask W photo
The good, the bad, and the kitty
Heya Japanator readers! Welcome to our look at the Tiger Mask W anime with episodes 5-7. When we last saw our hero, Naoto, under the mask of Tiger Mask, he got the crap beaten out of him but was able to defeat Red Death Mask in the end. Meanwhile, Tiger the Dark is being overlooked. Ley's see what happens next!

Fullmetal Alchemist photo
Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist live action teaser has Alchemy and Metal


CG that might have cost an arm and a leg
Nov 16
// Red Veron
We finally get to see a teaser trailer from the live action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist from Japan. This entire production is Japanese with the main cast being entirely Japanese, even though the setting being in a...
Hurricane Polymar photo
Hurricane Polymar

Huzzah: Hurricane Polymar changes into a live-action movie


Could it make up for the Gatchaman film?
Nov 15
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well, people: It looks like the 1974 Tatsunoko anime, Hurricane Polymar, is getting the live-action movie treatment. While this news might make many fans of the original series concerned, there's a chance that it could m...
Ghost in the Shell photo
Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell's first full trailer is looking pretty 'Major'


Plus some slick bodysuit action
Nov 13
// Josh Tolentino
It's hard to believe that after spending the better part of the last decade in development and then months after that mired in controversy, that the Ghost in the Shell film is now a thing that will actually happen in a f...
WTF Fridays photo
WTF Fridays

WTF Fridays: Foreign Villains


Poorly timed post
Nov 11
// Red Veron
Those evil people from that country!
Free Anime photo
Free Anime

Hey USA, chill out and watch some free streaming anime


You deserve a break today
Nov 08
// Red Veron
Hey there, USA. I hear you've got a big day today. If you've done your civic duty as a US citizen and/or just tired of all the crazy stuff from the past year, it's time to chill out for a little bit and maybe enjoy some free ...

Annotated Anime: Keijo!!!!!!!! episodes 2-5

Nov 08 // Nick Valdez
Before I begin, I'd like to discuss a bit of the discourse I've seen surrounding that first episode. While some (rightfully) declared Keijo was an offensive work, others (also rightfully) defended its parodical content. Neither perspective is incorrect since the women (18 and over, as poignantly noted) do have agency, as they have yet to make a decision for someone other than themselves, but the fan service nature of its production rejects that agency. But as I've noticed throughout the last four episodes, the balance between the two perspectives is thrown out of whack when the girls aren't competing.  For example, episode two and three are a training episodes. As Nozomi and her friends practice to take an elite class entry exam, they train in various techniques. Like most sports anime, Keijo adheres to the training episode narrative (girls struggle before eventually succeeding when they exploit a new technique). But try as it might to take this part of the story seriously, the episode's fan service point of view negates a lot of its attempted narrative work. You see when the girls are competing, there's a sense of seriousness in the work regardless of how ridiculous its imagery gets. The girls may fight each other with their butts and boobs, but they're treated like tools or fists. There's a respect for these girls in the animation when they compete. Shots are composed at wide angles, and they usually don't linger in compromising positions. Yet, in the training episodes, there are several shots dedicated to zooming in on these same body parts with less respect. These "butt figure eights" or Nozomi's constriction suit are shown in lower POVs, emphasizing the girls' assets, instead of reflecting hard work (as you would see in sports anime). Then its a matter of breaking down Keijo's parodical take on sports anime. When does the fan service perspective outweigh the exaggerated comedy? As mentioned, the girls' Keijo battles are definite highlights. Leading to things like "Titty Hypnosis," "Shoryucans," "W-Acceleration," "Vacuum Butt Cannon," and "Cerberus," the flame dog automatic butt attack that literally bites into the other girls. With these moments, we're laughing with the series. And so far, the ratio has been on the more positive end. While the second episode (and one match in episode 4), made the imagery more titilating, the rest of the episodes have yet to do that so far. But the visuals wouldn't be as big of a deal as I'm making them if the rest of the show had anything to work with.  Since Keijo's  personality is entirely derived from its imagery, its characterization falls flat. The girls themselves are, forgive me, two dimensional. The only development each girl received so far is a new technique. and only two of those reveals are relevant to the girl's personality type (i.e. the shy girl talks when her skill is revealed to be dope, the klutz has a butt cushion which helps her accidentally steal victory). The worst part about all of this is I'm forgetting all of their names. That's the trouble with exploitation media in general. You can argue stuff like story and characterization away by simply stating "it's meant to be a joke!" But sexual exploitation is always icky when not subverted by the rest of the production. You need something to say its alright to enjoy its explicit fan service. Whether its humor or some kind of satire, it just needs to be something of importance to elevate its schlock. Otherwise, it won't last long.  The difference between Keijo!!!!!!!! and intentionally exploitative productions (such as Grindhouse or Black Dynamite) is there is still not enough done to elevate its exaggeration. It's slowly making its way toward more fun, but right now it's hollow fan service. I'll even go as far to say that if it were not my job, I most likely would not continue on with this series.  But since I've already invested the time, I will keep hoping something more concrete eventually hits the series. While I still believe Keijo!!!!!!!! indeed succeeds as a fan service delivery system, it has lost that unique sense of fun and confusion I felt after watching the premiere.  [Keijo!!!!!!!! is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now]
Annotated Keijo photo
Get it right, get it right, get it tight
The series premiere of Keijo!!!!!!!! was probably the most confusing anime I've seen this season, and most likely the year. Introducing a world in which busty girls attack each other with their butts for money, I expected the...


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