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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: 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...

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...

Here's what to look forward to in AJIN Season 2

Sep 22 // Karishma Roy
IBM and black ghosts Black ghosts are made from invisible black matter (IBM) and can't be seen by the human eye unless they are in a heightened emotional state. We are aware that water disrupts the connection between Ajins and their black ghosts, and we also know about the “Flood” Phenomena. But there is SO much more we need to find out! Why are only a limited number of Ajin able to produce them? What is the deal with memories colliding when these ghosts head-butt each other? Why is Kei’s black ghost so childish and does the exact opposite of what he commands it? Is it hard to control because Kei had produced it as a child and was unaware of it up until he dies in that truck accident? Or could this mean he died as a child first? Is there a limit to how many black ghosts an Ajin can produce? Finally, is it really true that decapitation and the growth of a new head can result in a different personality? That could solve Kei’s antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Ogura Ikuya, please share your knowledge with us. I’ll give you as many cigarettes as you want! P.S. : There is going to be a black ghost with wings! How cool is that? Kei and Kaito's friendship Kaito deserves a standing ovation for being a loyal bro despite the fact that Kei basically ignored him since they were children. When Kei realised he lacked real friends and needed help running away from the police after the Ajin discovery, he seeks Kai out. It was selfish but I’m impressed he remembered Kai’s number since he deleted it years ago. Kai risks his ONLY LIFE without a second thought and we’ll forgive Kei for being a jerk on grounds of his sociopathic nature. But is it just me who thinks Kai may have a place in Kei’s proverbial heart? After the motorcycle crash, remember how Kei begs Tanaka to call an ambulance? There was no rational thinking or detachment, it was purely worry and fear. And Kei also tearfully says that Kai is the only one he “can’t betray” during that torture scene. We can expect Kai to reappear in season 2 to help his friend defeat Satou. He’ll make us humans proud and be a real hero. Also, is anyone hoping for a bit of bromance or romance between Kei and Kaito? #TeamKeito anyone? Or could Eriko have feelings for Kai? She seems to miss him! How does #TeamErito sound? Shinya Nakamura If you watched the OVA then you’ll know that this dude who is responsible for the “Flood” incident is MIA. We can expect to see him back to help #TeamKei defeat Satou. Or…this is much less likely but will he surprise us and join #TeamSatou instead? We don’t know where he has been or what kind of person he has become.Government officials killed his best friend and drastically changed his life so we can be sure that he’ll be involved in the action somehow.  Izumi Shimomura I have a love/hate relationship with her. Hate because she is selfish for saving her own skin while watching other Ajins be tortured. Love because her IBM “Kuro- chan” slays. Kuro single-handedly destroyed all four of Kei’s black ghosts and also defeated Tanaka’s one in the hospital. We can expect to find out why and if she is the only female Ajin in the country? Why are they so rare? Are female IBM properties different from male ones? Hopefully Izumi will woman up a bit more in season 2 and stop being at Tosaka’s beck and call. I want her to join the real fight and stop being scared. Or could it be she is in love with Tosaki!? Gurl, do not go there. Keep kicking ass and be fierce!  P.S. She is very cute at times. Team Satou   It has been a rule from the beginning of time that evil must be defeated. I admit there are no clear good versus bad in this series and there are more than fifty shades of grey. Everyone has their own agenda. Except perhaps Kou. He is one of those simple minded yet very determined guy. But Satou, dude, you can’t be allowed to rule the country. It will be interesting to see if and how he unleashes the second wave of disaster upon Japan. And I am curious about these 15 people conspiring against the Ajin. Who are the Ajin Control Commission and how much do they really know? Will we see them use the supposedly illegal Anti-Ajin force? They may have to! Do you guys think #TeamSatou will accomplish killing all these people? Or will #TeamKei succeed in stopping them? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
AJIN Season 2 photo
Questions and Expectations
It's official, Ajin Season 2 will be returning to our screens on October 7th, 2016. It will continue to air on Netflix so YAY! The third movie titled Ajin : Shogeki will be released on September 23rd 2016....

JapanaFive: The best moments from AJIN's first season

Sep 14 // Karishma Roy
The Showdown between Izumi’ and Tanaka’s Black Ghost (IBM) Okay, my eyes were just as wide as Izumi’s when she gets impaled by these massive black claws. I screamed along with Erito because I thought she was a goner. But, DUN DUN DUN, she is an Ajin as well. Our cute, seemingly timid and often blushing Izumi goes all fierce revealing her very own Black Ghost Kuro-Chan #GirlPower. The fight was kickass and we learn that a black ghost can destroy another by delivering a deadly blow to the head. Was Tanaka covering his eyes because it helped him concentrate better when controlling his IBM? Not sure. I was worried for Erito 'cause I was sure Satou would've killed her but I'm glad she's sticking around.  This Torture Scene I put my Oreos aside and tried not to be sick as I watched this. Kei was brutally tortured as part of the experimental process on Ajins. Clinical equipment including a frickin' drill and a surgical saw was used as a machine measured his brain activity in reaction to the excruciating pain being inflicted upon him. Clearly these surgeons need ethics 101: don't cut off someone's arm for no legit reason. The xenophobic nature within this society is obvious in the face of fear driven atrocities such as this. Kei’s muffled screams made me wish I had my own black ghost and could barge in there and save him. Despite everything, he decided not to kill the surgeons because he was afraid to lose his friendship with Kaito. That moved my heart. Bring me more Kaito and Kei please! Do you guys think these experiments have valid reasoning? Who are the real monsters in this situation: humans or Ajins? Satou's rescue mission Satou is a misanthropic badass. His one man show where he destroys all the armed security guards in the lab to save Kei is so much fun to watch. The dude cuts off his own arm and shoots himself before the tranquilising darts take effect. Killing people is a game to him and he is winning. It was interesting to note that memories can be exchanged between IBM's during Kei and Satou’s showdown on the rooftop. The performance that Satou gave in front of the media following this was remarkable – he can cry on cue! Plus it was an incredibly smart move to announce a protest against the Government so publicly to gather more Ajins in the country. Love him or hate him, you got to be impressed with him. Team Satou demolishing Grant Pharmaceuticals This was the most EPIC scene in the whole of season 1. I laughed when I noticed the name “Clean Fox Company”. You are indeed as cunning as a fox, hat man. Satou arranges an explosion in a nearby skyscraper so it falls on the pharmaceutical building and crushes it. His manic laughs as he rode the falling building gave me chills. And it was kind of cool how he loses his hat when going down, but then a drone delivers another one to him as soon as he is ready to move. Kei watches this whole incident on TV while enjoying a chocolate- chip cookie. Remind me, who is meant to be the hero again? Props to the humans for deploying some smart tactics but despite their numbers and combat experience were defeated by the evil genius. Kei and Kou's escape Firstly, a huge shoutout to the Obasan that protected Kei in the village and was ace at pretending to be a hostage. Most old ladies would've had a heart attack. Heck, I would've peed myself! I was surprised that Kei went through the trouble of saving Kou but it makes sense for two people to take on Satou. Or perhaps Kei was just in the mood for a benevolent act. There was yet another cool action scene between IBM’s. Kuro- Chan has got some mad skills to defeat four of Kei’s IBM’s. Is she just incredibly strong or are Kei’s black ghosts weak since he produces so many? The end of this struggle was almost romantic. Sunset painted the sky with brilliant hues of orange and red as both boys tied each other together to avoid separation before jumping off a cliff into the deep waters *Cue "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion* Although that means drowning time and over before washing up somewhere.  I've got more to say about Ajin's second season coming up, but it's safe to say: Do not judge this anime by your first look at it. Yes, the CGI did initially hurt my eyes as well but the show is thrilling, fast-paced, and before too long, you're too invested in the plot to even notice it.
Ajin photo
Let's break down the highlights
Would you want to live forever? Even if it meant that practically the entire human race wanted you imprisoned? I’m talking secret government agencies who want to torture experiment on you, bounty hunters and national pr...

JapanaTen: The Golden Rules of Durarara!!

Jul 16 // Anthony Redgrave
10. Nothing will top the first opening of Durarara!!   Baccano had one of the greatest openings in modern anime. The theme of changing points of views and how it all their stories intertwined was prominent in the opening and it did it to one of the jazziest beats this side of Cowboy Bebop's "Tank!". Then Durarara!!'s opening happened and it got you psyched for the show ahead. Maybe not the most fitting of songs since a lot of Durarara!! is walking around and talking especially during Mikado's parts but damn is this song good. The latest openings have a more muted style to match the darker stories going on at the time so it never got me excited to see the show as Theatre Brook's opening. I loved the bright colors, the frenzied rapid cuts between each character, and that incredibly strong drum beat that crescendoed with the guitars and vocals. All of these make for a fantastic opening that still hasn't been topped.  9. There will be an explanation episode Like Baccano before it, Durarara!! likes telling its story in media res. Mikado might be a proxy for the viewer since he's experiencing all this for the first time too, but Ikebukuro is a city with an expansive history that's itching to let out its secrets. You may be confused about why a character is acting oddly or who the hell this new character is but it won't be for long as an exposition episode is right around the corner. It can feel like an exposition dump at times so it would be nice to see more hint dropping in the main story rather than just in Izaya's story. 8. You will always be confused with who's who in the Dollars chat room A lot of Durarara!! is based in the Dollars forum with the main characters talking amongst themselves but using alias's. It gets very Death Note-y when you have to decipher not only who's who but who knows who's who and what they think of them. My personal confusion stems from Izaya having a girl icon and his icon color his not matching his outfits color scheme despite all the other's displaying this trait*, and the dubbing. The dubbing opts for vocalizing the wrong voice actor to read the on-screen text of another person. x2 Sho does it better by finally having the right voice actor chime in at the appropriate time but to add dramatic effect, the point of view character will sometimes read the chat logs out loud making you extremely confused on who's saying what. Fortunately, some nice Redditors directed me to this diagram explaining the whole thing but without it I'll still be lost on who the fuck Kanra is. (*Apart from Anri also who wears blue like Mikado due to their school uniform but we do find out explicitly that she is the red icon so it's fairly easy to remember that) 7. The Japanese text and Russian script won't be translated I'm thinking this is a dubbing problem more than a subbed one. Most of the on-screen text is never translated, not even the Japanese subtitles for when Simon is conversing in his native tongue. This is extremely frustrating during the finale of Durarara!! when Simon and Izaya talk entirely in Russian and the dub audience has no idea what they are saying. Celty also gets a shaft in this regard considering that some of her phone texts aren't spoken prompting the viewer to read it to add drama or it's arbitrarily not translated. Again x2 Sho improves on this by translating a lot more kanji including the title screens but mid-way through they decided to stop only to pick it up again for the final few episodes. Is this Funimation's subtle hint for the audience to learn Japanese? 6. Seiji and Mika will do something totally irrelevant So far there have been three arcs in Durarara!! and only once have they had an active role. And yet they still get top billing along with the rest of the cast in the Durarara!! openings. They should've been replaced by Horada at least in the second opening considering he was quite obviously the villain of that arc. You could argue that Mika teaching Anri and Erika to cook in x2 Sho is important as it leads to one of Izaya's more human and childish moments, but ultimately this couple serves no purpose at all outside the first arc. 5. An enemy will become an ally Or in the case of Masaomi, friend becomes enemy becomes friend again through redemption. Durarara!! has some of the most charming characters in anime thanks to their voice actors, writing, and character design so it's really hard to dislike anyone in the series. This makes their change of heart even sweeter as we can root for them despite their misdemeanors in the past. Anri takes responsibility of her Slasher powers, Rokujo mellows out after his brawl with Kyohei, all we need now is for Izaya to stop being a dick and the circle will be complete.  4. Retconning the first episode The first episode was a brilliant introduction to the crazy world of Durarara!!. But Masaomi's relationship and knowledge seem to precede himself, most glaringly his interaction with Kyohei's gang. In the first episode, they are relatively friendly to one another except we know now that they once rival gang members that had shakily reconciled over the kidnapping Masaomi's ex-girlfriend. Something like that would not manifest itself as a friendly wave upon meeting on the street. Another would be the dissolution of many color gangs when they clashed at Saitama. We only know of two color gangs; Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares and they dissolved after Masaomi quit due to said kidnapping. Either we still haven't seen this clash in a flashback or Masaomi needs to keep his mouth shut before he retcons anything else in Durarara!!. 3. Simon's sushi will flip-flop between really good to horrendously bad I'm willing to put a lot of stock in Simon. He's a really friendly guy, strong, dependable, and is very passionate about his sushi. Even Mikado, Anri, and Masaomi look genuinely excited to go in every time the first opening ends. Except we learn that their cuisine is very hit and miss. In the OVA Kasuka passionately compliments the dishes but when Kyohei and Masaomi congregate there to air out some dirty laundry they're practically sick after the first bite. Russia Sushi, you will be one of Ikebukuro's many, many mysteries. 2. There Will Be Blood Baccano References Isaac and Miria appear as part of the Dollars in the first arc so does that mean the billboards showing clips of Baccano actually just showing a documentary of the past? Another one of Ikebukuro's many mysteries. 1. Shizuo Heiwajima will always save the day If anime has taught me anything it's that 90% of life's problems can be solved by simply beating the hell out of it. That's Shizuo's bread and butter and he's damn good at it. Durarara!!'s modern world setting makes you think that; silent takedowns, bureaucratic paper cuts, and blackmail would be the biggest dangers in Ikebukuro, but apparently it's running into Shizuo on a bad day that tops the shit list. So it's a good thing that Shizuo is always on the right/ good side of the story. He was introduced as a person not to fraternize with but if you stick with this guy there's a good chance you won't be slashed, beaten up, or kidnaped. No Durarara!! arc is complete without Shizuo kicking ass and destroying public property.   And that's my ten. What other golden rules do you have for Ikebukuro's Strongest Anime?
The Rules of DRRR!! photo
Living For The City (of Ikebukuro)
I picked Durarara!! back up last month and it became a fast favourite amongst my weekly lineup. The colors, the violence, the fantastic English voice direction, and the air of supernatural elements mixed in with the heavy urb...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece anime filler arcs

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Boss Luffy Historical SpecialsOut of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats are re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in this fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all, but they were one of the fillers I always enjoyed whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc)Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters in the show that can be badass, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to make the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking show, taking the viewer step by step from raw materials preparation to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land ArcI would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses' appearance hidden until the reveal making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret IslandJust like direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies are like hour long episodes. In most cases, the main drama stems from the Straw Hats having a falling out before regrouping to fight in the finale. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas that makes it an interesting One Piece movie. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different.  3. Omake: Report Time and Monster TimeThese Omake shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats about the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins and Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's NavelThis is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is an activity pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, newly joined Sanji cements himself as a new powerhouse by drop kicking a massive octopus, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew in hilarious ways, and there's a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. It's a fun little episode that sparks the feeling of adventure rather than the mission/objective lead arcs like Alabasta and Impel Down.  1. Davy Back FightThis is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip the entire game section. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime version adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light but they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. It's great to see the Straw Hats use their unique abilities in unorthodox ways to win each game. The filler does go against the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls without turning into his monster form. But that shouldn't stop you from watching this arc. One Piece is about having fun on the high seas and the Davy Back Fights has that in spades. The whole arc has a nice green grass, blue sky pleasant fun vibe that makes it perfect to turn your brain off and see your favourite characters play, fight, and enjoy themselves before things get serious in the next arc.  7. Boss Luffy Historical Specials Out of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in a fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all but they were one of the fillers I did enjoy whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc) Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters that can be badass, friendly, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to cook the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking how taking the viewer through step by step from raw materials like grinding together spices to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land I would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses appearance hidden until he was revealed making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island Just as many direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies can be considered longer episodes. In all cases there is one point the Straw Hats have to have a falling out before regrouping to fight once more. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different as it's my favorite of all the filler movies so far. A close second would be Clockwork Island Adventure because of wedding dress Nami. 3. Omake: Report Time and Monster Time These shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats explores the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins. Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's Navel This is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is something pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, it has Sanji showing off his stuff against big ass monsters cementing himself as a new powerhouse, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew and a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. 1. Davy Back Fight This is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip it. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light and they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. The filler does go against some of the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls but if you can get passed that then the Davy Back Fights is one filler you don't want to skip.
One Piece photo
700 episodes makes for a lot of filler
Today I'm here to count down the top 7 animated fillers in One Piece as part of the 700th episode celebration. To make this list, it can be anything animated with One Piece slapped on it, from movies to omake. However, if Oda...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece storylines

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Little Garden ArcAfter Vivi was discovered to be the princess of Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes the list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. From this arc, you see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power, for example, is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! This arc has a lasting effect on Zoro as his amputation escape plan can still be seen on his shins. This was played off as a gag but added a sense of futility and desperation Vivi, Zoro, and Nami were going towards to escape.  6. Thriller Bark ArcI think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores many horror tropes including; the ghost ship, zombie, and skeletons. Very fitting considering One Piece has a maritime setting, well except the zombie part. Like Little Garden, I love the main villain Gecko Moriah. One Piece fans first heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers, appearance etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy in the whole series just before his defeat. 5. Davy Back Fight ArcI am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs, but I really like it just because it's silly fun. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja rivals so it makes sense that there is a universal gambling game in the One Piece world. This arc has team up fights with superb action, great jokes, and it's awesome to see each character use their special abilities to win each event. There are too many shonen shows that lose their charm by taking themselves too seriously and dramatically increasing the stakes as their series continues. One Piece never loses sight of it's childish roots and celebrates it with this arc.   4. Arlong Park ArcI felt that this was the last arc before the Straw Hats headed onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown was more like filler. Arlong Park explores Nami's past and showed the evil effects pirates had on many islands and towns. The crews before would destroy, bully, and abuse townsfolk but not to the extent Arlong did to Cocoyashi. The whole arc felt depressing, dark, and unpleasant and made even worse by Nami's betrayal and her tragic backstory. However, it also makes her redemption and Luffy's involvement even more satisfying as it plays out. The walk to Arlong Park with Overtaken in the background is probably the most badass moment in the whole show. There's no action, no fancy animation. Just walking with determination for justice and sake of their nakama. 3. Impel Down ArcI'm going to say it; I wasn't affected by Ace's death. He was a cool character with a cool power, but his action in Alabasta wasn't enough for him to be endearing. His death didn't come as a tearful gut punch but more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down, however, was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces were re-introduced, impossibly difficult enemies were faced, and best of all, villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak so it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggling to keep up with Luffy. 2. Enies Lobby ArcThis whole saga was perfect. Water 7 was hot off the heels of the fun carefree Davy Back Fight despite the scuffle with an admiral and the Straw Hats were enjoying spending their new found wealth from Skypiea. But underlying cracks begin to grow bigger and bigger in the form of a hidden history between Nico Robin and the world government, Franky's backstory and the elephant in the room, Going Merry's condition. What I like about Enies Lobby is that it wrapped all of this up but didn't bog us down with tiresome explanations. The action was fantastic as an added level of drama was layered on with Robin slowly edging towards the Towers of Justice. CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5) were brilliant as the main foes due to their colorful contrasting personalities that foiled the Straw Hat's own personas.  1. Skypiea ArcWhenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was nowhere the episode count of later arcs. Skypiea was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien land, rich in history and lore. This was emphasised with the different races of Skypieans and Shandia and their different customs too. Montblanc Noland's backstory framed the arc and was  so powerfully tragic that when Mother Sea started playing I started bawling like a baby. It was a story of friendship, loss, misunderstanding, and broken promises, concepts that really hit home for me. The visual themes in this arc were gods, angels, and manifest destiny. All interesting concepts that I liked seeing in One Piece fashion and helped ground me so the whole setting wasn't too alien. The Straw Hats bring their comedy A game too in this arc; Usopp and Luffy breaking the fourth wall by singing Sanji's image song, Robin's dark humor and Zoro's Tarzan yell. Skypiea is an arc I will look back on fondly as it was a enclosed story within the saga. All the loose ends were wrapped up concerning Skypiea and you could follow it through from Noland's first landing to Luffy's liberation by ringing that golden bell.  7) Little Garden Arc After Vivi was discovered to be the princess of a Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes this list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. You can see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! I also love Zoro's determination to get out of a trap by attempting to amputate his own legs, scars of this incident can still be seen. 6) Thriller Bark Arc I think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores the ghost ship, zombie, and talking skeleton tropes. I love seeing what other tropes One Piece does and Thriller Bark combines all the creepy supernatural stuff into one. Like Little Garden, I love the big bad Gecko Moria. One Piece fans heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy about the new world before his defeat. 5) Davy Back Fight Arc I am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs but I really like it just because it's just silly. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja enemies so it makes sense that there is a big gambling event that pirate crews partake. One Piece does a phenomenal job in mixing the serious life or death battles and events with humorous interludes so we can catch our breath. Too many shonen shows lose this charm and become take themselves too seriously but One Piece knows when to ease up on the drama and hit the cheese button. 4) Arlong Park Arc I feel that this was the final arc before the Straw Hats went onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown arc felt more like filler, no major set piece battles just a quick stop with Buggy, Smoker, and cameo by Dragon. But Arlong Park was when the Straw Hats became whole with Nami finally joining the crew officially. Nami always felt sketchy, always leaving the crew to find treasure and using them to get her own way. This arc shows why she was doing this and why I thought Fishmen were all evil until the Fishman Island arc. Arlong is one hell of a bastard and his crew were one of the most intimidating the Straw Hats had faced. Not only was Zoro injured but Fishmen had the advantage as they were powerful on land but even more in the water. Nami's backstory is also one of the most saddest in the whole series which makes the conclusion of the arc all the more satisfying. 3) Impel Down Arc I'm going to say it; I didn't mind Ace's death. He was a cool character but wasn't endearing to me so it didn't come as a tearful gut punch and more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down however was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces re-emerged, impossibly difficult enemies had to be faced, and best of all villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak and it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggle to keep up with Luffy as he traversed the increasingly difficult Impel Down. 2) Enies Lobby Arc I think people were expecting this to be no. 1 and will be angry to see that's it at no.2. I do love Enies Lobby and still remains one of the best arcs. Water 7 was the perfect set up by adding the mystery between Nico Robin and her history with the world government, drama between Usopp and Luffy over the Going Merry, and the Franky's own tragic past. It all came together to a grandiose showdown between the Straw Hats and CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5). Each Straw Hat squared off against one agent in the hopes of freeing Robin and tension rose 10 ten fold as Robin was slowly transported towards the Gates of Justice and an impending Buster Call was issued. It all cumulated into non-stop action extravaganza that is only topped by: 1) Skypia Arc Whenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was no where near the lengths of later arcs. Skypeia was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien place rich in history and lore so we were experiencing at the same time as Straw Hats so everything felt fresh and exciting. There are a lot of little parts of Skypia that makes it my favourite arc. Montblanc Noland's backstory is the best tragic backstory because we were introduced to him as a fairy tale liar but gradually discover that was a fabrication making it even more unfortunate that no one will know the truth. I also really like the themes explored in this arc that of gods, angels, and manifest destiny. A highlight was when Usopp and Nami come face to face with Enel and they have to use their wits to escape. It perfectly mixes the tense moment of them dying at any moment with their laughable foolish attempts at escape.
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Sixteen years of the pirate's life
The Straw Hats have been through a lot in their 16 years on TV. Through smiles, tears, Gomu Gomu no's, and devil fruits I've sat through it all just to see a glimmer of that almighty One Piece. So to celebrate 700 episodes/ 3...

JapanaTen: Ten shows to make you forget Valentine's loneliness

Feb 14 // Red Veron
[embed]33521:4469:0[/embed] 1.) Shin Chan  Possibly the best example of Americans doing something even better than the source material, Crayon Shin Chan was just something silly for kids in Japan but got brought over to the US with added humor. Now the humor they've added in the US version is what we would consider raunchy but not quite on the South Park level though it can get close.What's it about? It's a gag show about a kid name Shin Nohara along with his friends and family. The humor in the US version leaves the sight gags intact but changes and even adds an almost improv comedy aspect to it; often referencing different aspects of pop culture, breaking the 4th wall at times, and even commenting on how weird things are in the show with regards to cultural differences.I did not expect this kind of show to ever make it over to the US without some overhaul, the reversion is great and Funimation did a great job.   [embed]33521:4470:0[/embed] 2.) Sergeant FrogAnother comedy manga/anime that got brought over with a bit under PG humor than Shin Chan above, Sgt Frog is pretty enjoyable in its dubbed form and mostly retains references that US audiences might find obscure mostly about Gundam and other TV shows. There also great added humor in the US dub much like Shin Chan above where they try to bridge the cultural gap in funny ways, which ends up being funnire (even telling you to google stuff up).The show is about Sgt Keroro, an alien frog who comes to earth to invade but is just a bit too much of an idiot to get it done. Keroro befriends a human boy and starts to live in his house and his human family members. Funny things happen as Keroro attempts to try and invade earth with wacky inventions and ridiculous schemes.If you have younger people with you, this is a good show to watch with them.   [embed]33521:4472:0[/embed] 3.) Gintama So what happens when you turn Rurouni Kenshin into a comedy and turn the Western invaders in to invaders from space? You get Gintama. Sounds really stupid, huh? Well, it is stupid but in a funny way. A gag show with a crazy cast of characters (some of whom are literally crazy), Gintama is also a solid action show when they get into a serious story arc that can rival a Naruto or Bleach in a mere 4-6 episodes.Gintama's humor is mostly random and referential and even if they may be lost on you, they can still be hilarious with the accompanying visual gag. Ranging from irreverent to puns to occasional fourth wall breaking, Gintama's humor can stand alone even without the action bits. Yes, the first two episodes are bad because they're anime originals that were made to introduce the large cast and it turned me off when I first saw it back in the day. I am glad I rediscovered it thanks to some friends.   [embed]33521:4471:0[/embed] 4.) Daily Lives of High School BoysA hilarious and outrageous comedy about High School Boys and the many dumb things they do. Featuring most of the cast from the aforementioned Gintama, this show has a similar random humor vibe but without the action. If you lived shows like Cromartie High School, then this show will appeal to you.   [embed]33521:4474:0[/embed] 5.) The Devil is  a Part-timerIn an alternate world, a war between the forces of heaven and hell are about to come to an end. The leader of the forces of hell, The Devil, is forced to retreat and ends up in modern day Tokyo. Now he has to get his powers back and find a way back to his own world, but for the mean time he has get a job to survive. It also seems that the Devil isn't such a bad guy after all.This show is fun, doing the whole spin on the "hero versus the demon lord" trope that Japan loves so much. A solid show with a nice premise with some rom-com and action, this one is to check out if you're tired of the fantasy action setting.   [embed]33521:4473:0[/embed] 6.) Arpeggio of the Blue Steel Sentient warships of unknown origin with advanced technology have taken over the earth's seas and the aerospace above and mankind has been cutoff from each other, forced to take a defensive stance. Until one day a sentient ship joins up with a human battle strategist Gunzo Chihaya and his friends to fight against the sentient ships. Did I mention the that the sentient ships are modeled after Word War 2 ships and have pretty anime girl avatars for each ship?Don't let the whole anime girl thing turn you away, there is a good explanation as to why they have those in this show. Arpeggio features great action and features more substance than shows such as KanColle and Strike Witches, whereas Arpeggio is more focused on its story than selling character goods and mascots.   [embed]33521:4475:0[/embed] 7.) Hidamari SketchOne of those of the genre "cute girls doing cute stuff", Hidamari Sketch is a delightful watch. Airing before moe shows like K-On! made the whole genre explode, this show is less about making them look cute to sell goods but more on them going about their lives in small segments.The show is a slice-of-life show about four female students who live in the Hidamari apartments. Nothing much really happens in the show, really but the it's great seeing the studio SHAFT do a bit more subtle animation with very creative visuals that have become their trademark. It's a gentle show with cute stuff.   [embed]33521:4477:0[/embed] 8.) JormungandTime to get intense! Let's rock! If you love more serious anime shows with action like Black Lagoon then this one is for you. This one is about Koko and she is an arms dealer with her merry band of bodyguard mercenaries and their adventures all over the world. I am not into serious action stuff but this one has a crazy over the top 90's Hollywood action vibe at time that I really like to see in anime.   [embed]33521:4476:0[/embed] 9.) Non Non Biyori  Let's get gentle! One of the best shows of 2013, Non Non Biyori is very beautifully drawn with great slice-of-life stuff. This one is in a rural setting and about young girls of different ages and their little goings on. Not much to talk about besides its cute without trying to hit you over the head with moe-ness and there's a lot of laughs to be had in here. Definitely a show you can check out with a younger viewer.   [embed]33521:4478:0[/embed] 10.) Humanity Has Declined  The best way to describe this show is that it's like that movie Idiocracy but with magical elves. Look at that opening above. It's so good and happy. I love this show, the main character is the unnamed heroine, is probably one of the few smart people left on a post-apocalyptic earth with the population regressing to a rural medieval civilization. I just love the parts so much where the heroine tries hide her disbelief in stupid people and things because of lack of common sense or in just plain weird things happening.Beautiful visuals with some great self-contained stories about her travels within since the stories are not in chronological order. Plenty of funny stuff (dark humor as well), and adventure so  check this out for something definitely different.
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2D world is best
Hey there, buddy. Was today a rough day for ya? I know how you feel. All those "normals" and their stupid capitalist rituals that are designed to exploit those foolish enough to fall it. I am here to give you some suggestions on some good anime shows you can find to forget about today and to enjoy this weekend.

JapanaTen: Romantic Comedies to celebrate Valentine's by

Feb 14 // Red Veron
[embed]33518:4458:0[/embed] 1.) Ouran High School Host Club (Full First Episode above)Now this is an oldie from 2007 but don't let that turn you away. I did that when I first saw the opening which I thought was the most... uhm, not for straight guys like myself and immediately dismissed it. However, a podcast I was listening to at the time recommended it and gave a brief summary.The story of Ouran begins as a Fujioka Haruhi, a poor scholarship honor student starts attending a academy exclusively for the super rich. Haruhi accidentally wanders into the school's Host Club, basically a student club of male hosts--- those who provide company to sit beside you and chat while they sell you drinks and food at their establishment. Haruhi accidentally breaks a very expensive vase and is forced to join the club to pay it off.However, things aren't as they seem and it turns out that Haruhi was a girl all along who wore the male school uniform because she couldn't afford the female uniform. The club finds out and tries to hide it while having Haruhi work off her debt to the club. It's a really fun romantic comedy where the laughs can outshine the bishie shoujo stuff enough that even straight males like myself can enjoy. This is one you can enjoy with a SO or alone.   [embed]33518:4459:0[/embed] 2.) My Bride is a Mermaid  (Video Clip Above)My Bride is a Mermaid is one of those boy-meets-girl anime where the girl ends up living under the same roof as boy because of certain circumstances. Though the difference here is that the girl is a mermaid, a mermaid who is part of an undersea merman Yakuza clan.So when the lead boy Nagasumi drowns and is saved by the mermaid Sun, Nagasumi is to be put to death for learning the existence of mermaids under the mermaid law. Sun steps in and agrees to marrying Nagasumi to spare his life and goes to live with him. Sun's family is outraged and hijinks ensue with the family stepping in and try to break them apart.My Bride is a Mermaid is a romantic comedy full of outrageous visual gags and a few great references to anime and manga (I just saw a JoJo gag a moment ago).   [embed]33518:4460:0[/embed] 3.) School Rumble  (Full First Episode above)Another great comedy with romance and even more comedy. School Rumble is an older show that I enjoyed in both dubbed and subbed forms because the humor is that good and the dub provided some extra 4th wall breaking gags.Tenma Tsukamoto is in love with Oji Karasuma. Karasuma does not seem aware of Tenma Tsukamoto. Kenji Harima is in love with Tenma Tsukamoto and Kenji is a delinquent who is trying to go straight because of his love of Tenma. Sounds complicated? Add in a couple more girls and more misunderstandings and you've got much more silly fun.   [embed]33518:4461:0[/embed] 4.) The World God Only Knows  (First Opening above) Did your parents ever tell you that your skill in playing video games would never help you in life? For dating sim master Keima Katsuragi, the protagonist of The World God Only Knows (TWGOK), it actually gives him the opportunity to become a god. Keima accepts an offer in an E-mail to "conquer" girls which he mistakenly thinks as an invitation to test a video game.The invitation turns out to be from hell (not the western concept of hell) and it was to actually capture escaped evil spirits from hell who have possessed the bodies of his female schoolmates. Keima has to use his skills in dating sims to capture to hearts of the possessed girls to release the evil spirits or if he doesn't abide by the contract, he will have to pay with his life.TWGOK features different heroines that Keima "conquers" provide great variety in the show and interesting premise, not to mention the comical situations provided by the unique setting.   [embed]33518:4463:0[/embed] 5.) Mayo Chiki  (First Opening above)Boy meets boy. The other boy is really a girl and is a highly trained bodyguard to a sadistic rich girl. Boy is allergic to girls because he has been beaten up by females his whole life. Boy has to help hide girl's secret from the rest of the school. Funny situations happen. I enjoyed this one a lot but don't remember much. Hope you enjoy it.   [embed]33518:4464:0[/embed] 6.) Kimi Ni Todoke  (First Opening above)Perhaps this is the only "pure" romantic show on here, Kimi Ni Todoke is shoujo romance anime with plenty of moments that can make your heart smile. KnT is about Sawako Kuronoma, a girl often misunderstood by her classmates and called "Sadako" (from the Ringu movie series) because of her gloomy appearance. Sawako is actually a sweet girl who finds friends and even love through the course of the series and is just adorably sweet in her sincerity and innocence.Kimi ni Todoke is definitely something to watch if you want a bit more romance with a few light ups and downs along the way.   [embed]33518:4465:0[/embed] 7.) Nisekoi  (First Opening above)Nisekoi is a harem anime. I am okay with harem anime as long as it uses it uses harem as a source of comedy. If you want a harem comedy, this is a solid title for that kind of entertainment. Nisekoi is about Raku Ichijou, an heir to a gangster family, is forced to be a couple with Chitoge Kirisaki who the daughter of the boss of a rival gang. The couple must keep up appearances of being a couple to maintain the peace between the two gangs. Raku also has a locket pendant with a keyhole that he has had since he was little and the key to it was given to a girl whom he made a promise of love. It also turns out that there is more than one key and Chitoge happens to have one of those keys. Nisekoi is animated by the studio SHAFT, the crazy people behind stuff like Madoka Magica and the Bakemonogatari series, so expect crazy motifs and animation that you would expect from that studio. If you like SHAFT or harem comedy, watch Nisekoi. If not, go watch something else on this list.   [embed]33518:4466:0[/embed] 8.) Monthly Girls' Nozaki Kun  (First Opening above) One the best surprises from last year, Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun is an absolute joy to watch. A school comedy that features an eccentric cast of characters with punchlines that are hilarious without being too absurd. The story of Nozaki-kun starts of with the female lead Chiyo who finds out that her crush Nozaki-kun is a shoujo manga author through a series of funny misunderstandings. Chiyo ends up working with him and the series focuses on her and Nozaki along with their friends.I'd hate to spoil much of the details on this one since those little bits are the best parts of the show. Nozaki-kun came out of nowhere last year and was one of the best rom-coms of last year, I would have never expected a shounen comedy show about a shoujo author to be a great rom-com. I urge everyone looking for a fresh romantic comedy to check this one out.   [embed]33518:4467:0[/embed] 9.) Chunibyo, Love and other Delusions  (First Opening above)When Yuuta Togashi was in middle school, he used to be a "Chunibyo", a term that roughly translates "second year junior high syndrome" or one who has delusions of grandeur.  Now Yuuta is in High School and has now closed that chunibyo chapter of his life but one day he meets Rikka Takanahashi, a cute girl his age who is still chunibyo. They become friends and grow closer together, Yuuta finds out that Rikka is looking for something.Chunibyo is a fun and endearing show. Not so much in the second season, but the first season is really good. Plenty of laughs and a lot of heart, keep a look out for this one.   [embed]33518:4468:0[/embed] 10.) Amagami SS (First Opening above)Amagami SS is one show I recommend for those looking for a show with romance but don't want the dragged out drama that most anime have to fill out their episode count. Anime based on dating sims tend to always be a mess due to the nature of dating sims and how they have branching paths that the anime would try to clumsily cobble together into one single story.Amagami SS tries an entirely different approach that I really like, it just gives each heroine their own mini arc that are independent of each other. This allows each heroine a more focused story that is faithful to the source material. There are six different heroines in Amagami SS that would surely please different audiences. Oh and there's the main character guy who's boring but earnest who happens to have been heartbroken in the past when he got stood up on Christmas, the holiest of date days in Japan.So what's your romantic comedy recommendation? What did you do to satisfy your romantic cravings today?
Valentine's Anime! photo
For those who love to laugh and love
[Author's Note: This is for those who want romance, those who do not scroll no further! I have something else for you later today]Valentine's day falls on a weekend this year and I know some of you are in the mood for some ro...

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JapanaTen: Our Top Ten Horror Anime

Watch these shows with the light on
Oct 31
// Brittany Vincent
Halloween is upon us, and it's time for horror movie marathons, bag snatching Trick or Treating, and consuming all the creepy media we can. But what if you happen to be an otaku? What's out there for you? Well, dear readers...

JapanaTen: The top ten companies that should buy Atlus

Aug 09 // Salvador G Rodiles
Special Mention: Sega Sammy Josh Tolentino says: Well, we barely have to qualify this option as a "wish", because Sega/Sammy have actually bid on picking up Atlus, and been quite public about it.  A year ago I might have been less confident about putting the house Sonic built into the list, but the mere fact that they're bidding on Atlus at all seems to be a sign of confidence, and a signal that Sega might just be out of the financial woods they've been in of late. There's a decent chance that Sega, in its search for powerful brands to add to its lineup, might be able to do right by both MegaTen and be moved by Atlus' legacy as a publisher that thrived on bringing niche titles to the English market (particularly the European market, where Total War's popularity has lent it strength), eventually publishing the likes of Valkyria Chronicles 3 or Grand Knights History overseas.  Then again, there's also the chance that the exact opposite will happen, and an Atlus buy by a resource-poor Sega will result in Atlus USA's considerable progress growing the audience for weird Japanese games be regressed, with not just Sega titles but Atlus titles being held back for lack of will. That would be a worst-case scenario, to be frank.   10.) Capcom Despite there being some beef with Capcom from its fans due to Megaman Legends 3 and a whole bunch of other issues, the acquisition of Atlus would allow Capcom to hopefully make some better decisions with the titles that Capcom classifies as niche'. With Atlus’s experience with RPGs such as the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series, their help could reinvent the Breath of Fire series to the point where it will make Capcom some profit! In fact, their help would make everyone forget about that upcoming generic online RPG that Capcom refers to as Breath of Fire 6.  Perhaps the only thing that we would have to worry about is that Capcom might be stingy when it comes to localizing any titles made by Atlus, since they might keep their games in Japan due to some random excuse (*cough, E.X. Troopers). However, we can only hope that Atlus manages to convince Capcom to change their ways, since Atlus’s staff could influence Capcom in a good way as time goes on. Not only that, the two companies have collaborated in the past when Dante appeared in Shin Megami Tensei: Noctourne, along with Kazuma Kaneko designing the Devil Trigger forms in Devil May Cry 3. Therefore, their past relationship might lead to a healthy partnership. Also, we could get a Capcom vs Atlus game if things go well.    9.) Sony Josh Tolentino says: While I generally don't support the console wars, I will readily admit that seeing Sony purchase Atlus and its stable to go exclusive would be no skin off my nose. From the PS1 era onwards, Sony platforms have been pretty good to Atlus, housing all the Persona games as well as most of the best-regarded portions of the core Shin Megami Tensei franchise, not to mention a number of Atlus-published cult hits like Odin Sphere, Disgaea (before NIS America emerged to take control over those games), and Demon's Souls. That said, a Sony/Atlus pickup would ultimately be more beneficial to Sony rather than Atlus. But hey, the chance of seeing the company get to work on a brand-new Vita or PS4 MegaTen title?    8.) Nintendo It shouldn’t be a surprise to people if the Big N decides to buy Atlus. With the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem game in the works, this would be a great opportunity for both companies to work closer than before. While most folks are concerned over Nintendo forcing Atlus to tone things done, let’s keep in mind that Nintendo has had M-Rated games in the past. Taking into account that Nintendo was the company that published Silicon Knight’s Eternal Darkness game, there’s a good chance that Atlus’s usual themes won’t be tampered with. On top of that, they were cool with the content that Rare had in Conker’s Bad Fur Day, so there’s a chance that Mara will still be around in future Shin Megami Tensei games and spin offs. Unfortunately, this would mean that Atlus would lose the ability to release games on multiple platforms; however, this can benefit Nintendo if they play their cards right. For one, if Atlus decides to release any new titles – including Persona 5 – on the Wii U, the console’s sales could go up in the future. If there was one thing to be concerned about; it’s that Nintendo of America might be a little skeptical with bringing some of Atlus’s games over to North America. Then again, the great people at Atlus USA might influence NoA’s decisions, since they’ll most likely be working together with them to localize games. With that being said, Atlus’s games might get the simultaneous worldwide release treatment that Nintendo has been shooting for with its recent titles. Of course, the idea of having characters from Persona or any of Atlus’s other games in a Smash Bros. title could be a nice treat – I vote for Teddie.   7.) Namco Bandai Josh Tolentino says: Out of all the gaming-centric companies that could possibly own the Atlus brand and its many associated properties, Namco Bandai could be the least "gaming-centric" of the lot. That'd be because, naturally, of the "Bandai" half of the name. Anyone who's watched anime, read manga, or played a Japanese game in the last decade, has likely consumed a product connected to Namco Bandai in one way or another. They've got a hold of internationally recognizable Japanese pop-cultural properties, as well as the game rights to such. From Gundam to Kamen Rider to One Piece to Sword Art Online to The [email protected], Namco Bandai's either adapted it into an anime, or made a videogame out of it.  Considering Atlus' growing penchant for funding animated adaptations of its own games, as well as the general tone of many of its properties, being part of a company that regularly makes anime, games, and anime games would be a worthwhile partnership.  Of course, there is some danger to it. A pickup by Japan's equivalent of Activision would likely result in the eventual death of the Atlus brand itself, seeing as Namco Bandai has the tendency to consolidate its subsidiaries under the larger "Namco Bandai Studios" banner. The fate of Atlus USA would also be uncertain, considering Namco Bandai's significant presence outside Japan, particularly in Europe (a place Atlus has had trouble breaking into). While I don't doubt that Atlus' stable of creative minds could stick together through the transition, and that its properties would survive, and perhaps even thrive with the marketing weight of one of Japan's biggest pop-culture corporations behind them, their survival might mean "Atlus'" end.   6.) Square-Enix Josh Tolentino says: A casual survey of the social media landscape surrounding the dissolution of Index and the fate of Atlus seems to place Square Enix at or close to the very bottom of most peoples' wishlists for possible Atlus-buyers. The giant behind Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest is, to many people, the worst possible giant to get behind Shin Megami Tensei or Persona. Feel free to imagine jokes about "Shin Megami Tensei: Persona Fantasy XVI-6 Versus Agito 373/Dysentery Days: Lightning Does Inaba (Now with Disney characters!)" as a general guide to the sentiment surrounding this particular potential acquirer. And yes, it's true, Square Enix isn't in the best of positions at the moment. Even putting aside the tremendous dip in profits that prompted the resignation of longtime CEO Yoichi Wada, Square Enix is practically the poster child for the perceived decline of the Japanese gaming industry, if mainly by virtue of their association with that most Japanese of videogame subtypes, the JRPG. Now, as a guy who liked what he played of Final Fantasy XIII and who thinks that Square Enix sometimes gets a bad rap, even I don't think Square Enix would quite do justice to the Atlus brand and its franchises, but at the same time, there is some merit to imagining that kind of partnership. For one, Square Enix has become an increasingly powerful force in non-Japanese publishing, thanks to their acquisition of Eidos. Franchises like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and Hitman have all experienced revivals under that aegis, and for the most part have turned out quite well. In some ways Square Enix's rise as a "western" publisher has mirrored Atlus' own attempts to diversify beyond the "anime-game" niche, publishing games like Demon's Souls, Trine, Zeno Clash, and Rock of Ages to name a few. Both companies clearly see the value in courting the global audience on its own terms rather than turning inward as so many others have done. Square Enix also has a much stronger presence in Europe, and a theoretical Square Enix acquisition should ease the pain of PAL gamers, who currently end up getting shafted whenever it comes to getting Atlus games to their side of the pond. While Square Enix is vilified by nerds even in Japan (it's like their EA!), there's no questioning that it carries a lot of clout. Like Namco Bandai, they've got publishing and anime-production arms that would thrill at the chance to hold hot properties like Persona in their transmedia stable.   5.) Marvelous AQL If there’s one thing that Atlus and Marvelous have in common, it’s that they both specialize in creating and publishing niche’ games. Since the two companies have published Vanillaware games in the past, I could see them reaching some common ground if Marvelous were to buy Atlus. Considering Marvelous’s track record with their published titles (Rune Factory series, No More Heroes, Fate/Extra), there’s high chance that they’ll allow Atlus to have the creative freedom that they had when they were with Index. On top of that, this would mean that Atlus USA will get to work with the people of XSEED when titles from Marvelous AQL and Atlus go west. The best part is that the two teams will get to localize games faster, and Atlus USA’s staff will be able to help XSEED with the work that they've had issues with in the past. And who knows, their collaboration could result in the rest of the Legend of Heroes games getting localized.    4.) GungHo Entertainment Elliot Gay says: They have a ridiculous stash of funds as a result of their Puzzle and Dragons mega success, and from what I can tell they've been good to Grasshopper after acquiring them. I'd simply prefer a company that lets Atlus do its thing.   3.) Level-5 Tim Sheehy says: If there's a shortlist for companies we'd like to see purchase ATLUS, it'd be easy for us to list off major players like Sony or Namco Bandai. But, while those studios are more likely to purchase ATLUS, there are those of us who would prefer a company that fits the ATLUS aesthetic. A company that shares their ideals, and a determination to provide an unparalleled experience without compromise. A company like Level-5 Inc.  In addition to being fiercely independent, Level-5 maintains a reputation for delivering quality games in what many consider to be an increasingly stagnant market. It's that continued success that has made them one of the largest developers in Japan, and while they maintain a healthy relationship with both Sony and Nintendo -- much like ATLUS has in the past -- Level-5 currently lacks the means to consistently publish their own titles across the international market. With any luck, the acquisition of ATLUS would rectify the problem while allowing the studio to further diversify their ever-growing portfolio of successful IPs.   2.) NHK (Or pretty much any Japanese broadcasting company) Chris Walden says:  Sure, this wouldn't be on the top of the list of likely suspects, but I also don't think it's incredibly unlikely. But let's talk about the downsides to this arrangement, first and foremost. In my opinion, the biggest negative for Atlus being acquired by such a company would be one of the following: 1) Lack of industry experience that companies like Sony, Namco Bandai, Capcom can offer. 2) Interference. The topmost point isn't a massive issue in this instance. Atlus have already done pretty well for themselves while Index was still floating, so perhaps the benefits these big companies will provide is relatively nominal. The biggest problem would be that of interference; big shots at the company sticking their foot where it doesn't belong and disrupting the production of games. Bear in mind that this is theoretical, so there's nothing to say that a broadcasting company wouldn't buy them and take a step away from the creation side of things, like I'd hope they would. Still, the possibility is there, and you'd have to expect Atlus would be wary of it, though I suppose that applies for anyone that wants to buy them. But just think of all the benefits. First of all, Atlus will have a staggering reach with marketing - TV, radio, print, you name it. This is something I'd see a broadcaster gladly taking responsibility for. Buy this games company with proven success, promote their games heavily through these already well-established channels and reap the rewards. Even though the monetary opportunity is there, I would not be surprised at all if large non-game related companies would consider taking Atlus on as a means to step into a new sector. There's arguably a lot more for non-game companies to gain from such an acquisition, but also a lot more to lose. It's just the kind of risky gamble I can see entering the minds of more than a few excited suits, that's for sure.   1.) Atlus themselves Hiroko Yamamura says:  Man, I have so much love for Atlus. They really starting hitting all the right notes and really pulled my interest back into JRPGs. Sure, they don't always hit the mark with their titles, but as a whole, they have their pulse on the demographic that I belong to. I'd hate to see their titles go exclusive with any single console. They seem to really know how to make games that works really well on various hardware. If they started some type of crowd-funded thingy to raise money to become totally independent, I would surely pitch in some of my hard earned coins.  I’m sure this is pretty wishful thinking, but that's the whole point of this article isn't it? For all of you to make my wishes come true? 
JapanaTen photo
Let's hope that one of these guys manages to grab Atlus.
Many of us here at Japanator have been a fan of Atlus’s games for quite a while. From Shin Megami Tensei to Catherine, the company has given us some great titles that have touched our hearts. With the fate of Atlus on t...

JapanaTen: 10 Characters who'd be cool Americans

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
10.) Re-l (Ergo Proxy) Kristina Pino says: Re-l isn't content with just doing what society expects from her. She wants to find out why society wants her to be complacent, and goes on a journey completely without her comfort zone to learn the truth. In this way, I feel like she'd be a great American - fighting for her independence and personal freedom, questioning everything, and going on adventures to figure things out. Not only that, but she's kick-butt, and can pistol whip anyone without breaking a sweat.   9.) Rufus Shinra (Final Fantasy VII) America's not just about freedom and flag-waving, but also about leading the world in corporate strength, and who better to induct into the union than the captain of industry for all of Final Fantasy VII and its assorted spinoffs? As scion of the Shinra Electric Power Company, young Rufus is a titan of energy and leader in technology. He's shown talent at multiple industries, from power generation to military readiness to space exploration. America can't afford not to have him on its side.   8.) Chie Satonaka (Persona 4) Salvador G-Rodiles says: Don't let her Kung Fu fool you, because Chie is a bonafide carnivore. So what does this have to do with  being an American? It has plenty to do with being one, since Chie's taste for meat is on par with the patriotic passion that US citizens have for steak! In fact, she'll fight you for the best piece; therefore, she deserves the rightful title of being a true American when it comes to being a lover of the glorious red meat. If you don't believe me, then you'll have to square off with her number one husbando Josh, who won't take kindly to anyone that says that his beloved waifu isn't patriotic enough for the Red, White, and Blue!    7.) Wen-li Yang (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) "Miracle Yang" is the kind of guy we want leading America's spacefleets. His unparalleled tactical genius is only matched by his love of democracy. Thoughtful, kind, and considerate of those under his command, and always mindful of the will of the people, he's a military leader that should ensure American primacy into the galactic future.   6.) Simon and Kamina (Gurren Lagann) The INS can probably get these two in as brothers, but however we get 'em we must! They're galactic-grade badasses who kick reason to the curb and go beyond the impossible. They know the value of unity, freedom, and believe in Spiral Exceptionalism. If America wants to pierce the heavens, push through to tomorrow, it's this pair that will be at the vanguard. Drill, baby, drill!   5.) Rider (Fate/Zero) Salvador says: Just look at this man's face. Look at it! Doesn't this guy look like he be a fun ruler? While we're on the topic of great leaders, wouldn't it be nice to have the King of Bros to run the United States of America? You know I do, as Rider values each of his men that fight along side of him. When you meet this man face to face, you realize that he's a person that believes in freedom! From the moment that he wished to challenge the president of the United States, I knew that he would do well in the elections if he were to join in. With his rugged beard and muscles, Rider has the qualities of a true macho American! As an honorary American, I would gladly join the military if Rider was the Commander-in-Chief, and the President of the Bronited States of America!    4.) Kay (Girls und Panzer) As captain of the Saunders Academy tank battalion, Kay is by definition an America-fangirl, but she shows American values and attitudes beyond the thematic trappings of her alma mater. Kay believes in good sportsmanship and fair play, even willing to sacrifice an advantage when in combat with rival teams if it levels the field. She's friendly, loves a good joke is neighborly up the wazoo. Put plain, Kay's the kind o America-fangirl that could teach the real thing a lesson or two.   3.) Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) With his vaguely French-sounding name and heritage as a Britannian royal, poor Lelouch was unable to benefit from the presence of an America in his life. Hell, his world's version of America was Britannia, and that's how messed up everything is. But that didn't stop Lelouch, though. The fact of his America being Britannia didn't tamp down that tried-and-true American spirit, and the good ol' boy in Area 11 pulled himself up by his bootstraps and initiated violent rebellion against an oppressive monarchy, becoming Zero, the Founding Father of the United States of Japan. Now sure, his revolution was based more on personal animus towards the emperor rather than a love for the principles of democracy and representative government, but results do count for something. And he got results.   2.) Vash the Stampede (Trigun) Vash would make for a very desirable candidate for citizenship. Why? Well, he is the quintessential "Good Guy With A Gun", that type of upstanding, responsible, well-intentioned gun owner that the National Rifle Association loves to idealize. Vash is that guy. He stands up for the weak, owns three guns (two of which are concealed-carry), never uses his firearms except in self-defense and the defense of others, and is a damn good shot to boot. Of course, there is that trifling matter of a sixty billion double-dollar bounty on his head, but surely such an ideal gun owner is worth the price of admission?   1.) Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop) How could we not want Spike Spiegel? He's so cool. You want America to be cool, don't you? Don't you?! Well, you want Spike on your team. Even if you don't think Spike is that cool (though he is), you're going to want him anyway. Why? Because otherwise he ends up working for the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. "Red Dragon"? Sounds Chinese to me. Do you want the Chinese to take away all the cool dudes, America?! Didn't think so. Give that man a green card!
Top 10 Would-Be Americans photo
Homeland Security, let these people in!
As the clock turns over on July 4th, it's time to think about American independence in the only way that an idle mind can in the middle of the night: in terms of coolness.  Y'see, there's a famous poem at the foot of the...

JapanaTen After Dark: Our 10 Favorite Fanservice Fiestas

Feb 15 // Josh Tolentino
1. Agent Aika [embed]27970:2122[/embed] Josh Totman said it best when he nominated this fanservice classic: "This show is the king of panty shots. You can't even go more than two minutes without seeing one! It's more comical how all the girls in the series fall over in just the right way to show their panties. Even when it came over here to the states, the collector's edition came with a pair of panties. That's how laced it was with them."   2. Neon Genesis Evangelion [embed]27970:2129[/embed] This one is more relevant to me in terms of personal history than the actual content in the show, as it was my first exposure to the term "fan service" as a concept. At the time, I didn't know what it meant, but once I did, the damage was irreparable, so to speak.  Evangelion was also a true pioneer of fanservice-as-commercialization. Why settle for a tame shot of Misato bending over the kitchen table when you can slap some Eva goodness on everything from towels to racing teams to cameras to torso-shaped water bottles. If you were an Eva fan, then Gainax had something available to service every conceivable need.   3. Vividred Operation   [embed]27970:2128[/embed] The show's not even half over and it's already taken the list by storm, by dint not of "bloomer-service" or butt-shots but by the sheer comprehensiveness of its pandering. References to everything from magical girls to Super Sentai to Evangelion to Madoka to mecha musume to Gurren Lagann to military hardware nuts abound, and Vividred has somehow still managed to maintain coherence. If it manages to keep up this high standard for the rest of its run, we may have a new legend on our sweaty hands.   4. Highschool of the Dead   [embed]27970:2126[/embed] Said Hiroko: "This is one of the shows that I watched pretty much for boobs alone. I mean come on, they were the "stand out" of the show, I don't know if 10 seconds passed without some huge boob scenario. Adding some zombies and nicely designed guns were a nice backdrop for boobs, but the anime's title was misleading. It should have been Highschool of Boobs: Things that happen to make them jiggle!"   5. The Qwaser of Stigmata [embed]27970:2130[/embed] Before falling into a coma, Jeff managed to submit his nomination to the list: "Qwaser - Boobs, milk, water, toys, rope, public, fountain, super powers, candles, sucking, boobs, the matrix, sub, sentai parodies, shota, bathtub, Russian cuisine, nuns, boobs, busts (figure), aprons, lasers, flower garden, blood, hidden continent, boobs that change sizes, a song about flat chests, Big Mama, tuning fork, bronze dolls, high school chemistry, boobs, gothloli, twins, Nazi references, mind control, biting, and much more. There are a lot of boobs in Qwaser, did you know?"   6. Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! [embed]27970:2125[/embed] Gunbuster was exactly Hiroko's type, and this is why: If you didn't fall in love with Noriko and her enthusatic chest, I take back any chocolate I've offered you. It tough to really call her sexy, but like I mentioned in Kristina Pino's excellent fan service article, it's the kind of fan service I dig. The whole thing is sexy in a non sexy kind of way. Or perhaps I'm just confused. It's the whole girls and mecha combination that gets me excited once again, and Gunbuster is still one of the best examples of the genre. Determination, drive, boobs, and mecha are all I need to get me in your robot! Being penned by Haruhiko Mikimoto doesn't hurt either.   7. Bubblegum Crisis [embed]27970:2124[/embed] With a name like that, how could you not have some service waiting in the wings? Hiroko elaborates: Chicks with robotic suits are sexy. What if the suits were even sexier than the chicks? Bubblegum Crisis definitely played up its sexy angle. A few shower scenes, bouncy boobs, gorgeous designs, and of course Sexroids. What makes this a top fan service show for me, was the immaculate character designs of all the ladies, Kenichi Sonada's ability to draw women in anime and manga is just tip top. From Gun Smith Cats to Gal Force, he knows how to really illustrate jaw dropingly sexy women. Bubblegum Crisis really kicked things up with Hard Suits that accentuated the female form, yet not in a way that downplayed the mecha aspects. Everything on each Hard Suit was functional, yet feminine. The design of Priss busting out of her hard suit is what always comes to mind, when I think of sexy anime. Robots + chicks = win. An Extra Sexaroid on top just adds to the equation!   8. Dragon Ball [embed]27970:2127[/embed] If Evangelion was my fanservice gateway, Dragon Ball was Hiroko's: "Laugh as you may about this choice, but as kid, Dragon Ball delivered. Bulma served as my introduction to the concept of fan service, and hid it nicely inside an innocent looking children's anime. The purple haired trollop worked her way into my heart instantly, by flashing her panties at a totally bewildered Son Goku. It seemed like half the characters were always plotting some way to see her naked, or cop a feel. You have to understand that this was better than gold for a twisted kid like me. The show slowly moved away from the sex gags, and perhaps that's why I lost interest later on, but the original Dragon Ball was always naughty fun!"   9. Nisemonogatari [embed]27970:2133[/embed] If there's any anime out there that's managed to approach the territory of actual erotica, rather than just fanservice, it would be Nisemonogatari and its SHAFT-produced siblings. With every leering angle and disturbingly fetishistic focus SHAFT has taken fanservice to a level that's both titillating and a little bit dirty. It's sleazy without being crude, exploitative without seeming cruel, all executed with such artistry that it overwhelms accusations of being overly "pornographic".   10. Jungle de Ikou [embed]27970:2123[/embed] To be honest I didn't even know this existed until Josh Totman brought it to my attention: "The main pull of this show is the transformation of little flat chested girl to a voluptuous adult by way of interpretive dance. She also over does it to help out the town being attacked by a giant monster by growing large herself. So you can see what kind of hilarity can ensue with a kaiju battle with a overly busty female."
10 Fave Fanservice Shows photo
For your post-Valentine's perusal
Had enough of love, romance, and all that other junk? No need for all that gooey cootie-filled stuff? Well, we've got the list feature for you, an opposite number to the tender caresses of a Valentine's Day love-fest. Yes, to...

JapanaTen: 10 rad artists that performed at MAGFest 11

Jan 12 // Kristina Pino
1) The OneUps First in the slew of talented folks I'll mention (by the way, this list is in no particular order) is The OneUps. They're a more visible video games cover band in the sense that I had heard of them before attending MAGFest, as well as heard some of their music, and I'm pleased to note that they also perform well live and are cool folks to boot. During MAGFest, they not only performed their own set at the main stage, but participated in other groups' sets and did some extra jamming.   My favorite things about these guys are their versatility and ability to incorporate their own jazzy style to tunes that are already familiar to us. They aren't all about the rock and punk covers (which is OK if you like that!), nor are they doing straight chiptunes. They own the music with their own style. To get acquainted with some of their music, check out The OneUps on Bandcamp or their main site.   2) Armcannon Out of all the bands I saw perform at MAGFest, Armcannon is probably the group I'm most familiar with, simply because they come up so often on my Pandora playlist.  That sillyness aside, Armcannon is another accomplished video games cover group that also just happened to release their newest album. They don't necessarily stick to just video games though, and they like to rock pretty hard. They're another sterling example of a group that reaches out all over the place while maintaining their style, and are quite capable of performing something moody and dramatic just as they are able to play a bright tune. Oh, and they make their own, original music, too.    3) Rare Candy Rare Candy instantly landed my cool list when they took the stage dressed up as Team Rocket dudes and Pokémon trainers. Though normally they'd be classified as "yet another video games cover band," they do stand out in the way of having lots of keyboards in their ensemble.  There's a nice, bright sound to their music and the use of keyboards gives their tunes a nostalgic element. That's about it, though - all their arrangements are fresh and fun to listen to, and I can confirm that they are also fun to watch perform live. You can check out some previews of their music at their media page.    4) Metroid Metal If you're into the heavier stuff and you want some nerdyness in your metal, Metroid Metal are your crew. While I wasn't intensely impressed with their performance, I was assured by friends and fans that normally, they're a blast to watch. I must have caught them at a bad point in their set and will give them the benefit of the doubt because they still strode around the stage like total rock stars. Metroid Metal is a busy crew - they do shows all the time, and if you don't think that you've ever met a bigger Metroid fan than yourself, you need to check out this song page. They've been in the game for a long time. You can read about that here.   5) Yuzo Koshiro Yuzo Koshiro of OC ReMix has to have been the absolute most anticipated artist of the MAGFest lineup. He scored the biggest crowd at the main stage and went over his time slot by half hour if memory serves, because everyone was just having that great of a time. His credit as a composer spans over a dozen games, and at MAGFest he DJ'd so hard that everyone was shaking their butts and hopping around all over the place. Seriously, maybe there were some pheromones blasting from the speakers along with the music, because everyone was just having a blast.   His performance at MAGFest was his very first time playing for an audience in the US as well, and when the show was over he gave the most adorable shy-guy nervous speech I've heard in a long time. You can learn a little more about Yuzo and his work here, and follow him on Twitter.   6) Bit Brigade So far, every group has had kind of this defining thing about their music. With Bit Brigade, the big thing is that one of their members sits at the front of the stage with an NES and plays games while the band provides the music. While this dude expertly speed-runs through various games (during MAGFest's performance it was Castlevania then Contra), the rest of the band plays various different stage themes, battle themes, and then of course the big boss theme according to what was going on on the screen. They have the timing nailed for all of these songs and, of course, nobody walked out of there unimpressed with the player's performance, and people were cheering along as he passed from stage to stage.  The Contra music they played at MAGFest was actually just released on Bandcamp on the first day of the show, and you could give it a listen here. They're more on the rocking side with electric guitars and such, but there is something to be said about being so familiar with the original music that they don't need to do anything to change it so much as enhance it -- make it more awesome. Honestly, I'm jealous of the dude playing the games -- he gets an amazing musical experience every time. Here's where you could buy some Bit Brigade swag, like tees and CDs if you like what you hear.   7) Video Game Orchestra Another busy group in the world of video game music, VGO got their start in 2008 and they've been wrecking it since. Though their name would imply they should be a full orchestra with traditional instruments, they actually employ the use of electric guitars in typical rock band fashion for smaller performances. Here's a YouTube play list with actual videos from MAGFest you can see what you missed out on.  You could also follow VGO on Twitter.   8) Brentalfloss and The Cartridge Family And now for something completely different. While, yes, there is some video games music cover stuff going on here, the big thing with these dudes (and their lead guitarist, a dudette) is comedy. Brentalfloss leads the band with his amusing lyrics about what it really means to play some of these games. He knows your pain. Our pain.  You know those "literal trailers" videos on YouTube? It's like that, except Brent provides true-to-life words to the games we played back in the day. What really sold me on their performance though, was their covers of Disney Afternoon cartoon themes to open and close their set. You can see videos of Brent's games music with lyrics here. I should also add that the female lead guitarist (her name is Amanda Lepre) is also an accomplished singer and performed the Metroid with Lyrics song since, you know, Samus.    9) The Megas Do you consider yourself a big Mega Man fan? Much as was the case with Metroid earlier in this list, I need to inform you that you are definitely not as much of a fan of those games, or at least the music, as these guys are.  The Megas own the themes from Mega Man by creating their own fresh rock arrangements inspired by the original music and adding lyrics to them as well.  You can get a feel for their music on their official YouTube channel and of course, follow them on Twitter. Watching them live is a pleasure and they made their set fun for everyone.  (image credit)   10) Mega Ran On the same vein with The Megas, there was one other performer present at MAGFest who is most definitely a bigger Mega Man fan than you, and that's Random (aka Mega Ran). His music speaks to people in more ways than that, though. He's all about being real and lays it all down in sick raps. I had the pleasure of catching him in action at the Jamspace, and can confirm he's just as charismatic, generous, and fun to be around in real life as he appears to be through his music.  You can check out his Bandcamp page for a huge selection of his work, which is all backed by bright beats to accompany his words - a fresh departure from the "other kind of rap" we hear on the radio. Hey, it's cool if you like that stuff. I do, too! I'm just saying, Random's stuff just makes me feel happy. Phew! Once again, I need to emphasize that this list is by no means complete in terms of the awesome performers that showed up to MAGFest 11, whether to some official capacity or not. Besides the main stages and jam stages, there were also "free" stages for use by anyone who had something to play. There is no end to the talent you could catch at this show, and the folks I listed above are pretty much up there in popularity and visibility already. If you like this kind of stuff, you've probably heard about most, if not all of them.  
Listen to some new stuff. NEW STUFF.
I had the pleasure of attending MAGFest for the first time this year, and of course that meant meeting lots of cool people, sitting in a few panels and what might be most important for some: checking out loads of concerts. Si...

JapanaEight: Eight things that scare us

Oct 31 // Josh Tolentino
Josh fears... Glorious Nippon's propensity for generating bizarre, disturbing imagery In part, this is likely just a function of my being exposed to Japanese pop culture more than others, added to the usual exoticism of anything foreign, but truly, there really something uniquely "Japanese" about the nightmare fuel Nippon's artists are capable of thinking up. Perhaps it's most apparent when you see a bad western adaptation of Japanese horror, or simply compare the earlier, Japanese-developed Silent Hill installments with their later western-developed sequels.  Or, perhaps one could just look at the portfolios from the likes of artists such as Masao and Sakkan, or the gruesomeness of work by Junji Ito, and to lesser extents, even anime like Elfen Lied, Another, or Lychee Light Club. There's something distinctive at work in the Japanese psyche, and I'm not entirely sure I want to learn what it is.   Marcus fears... Having ladies see my sick figurine collection Fellas, I'm about to paint a very scary, spooky, familiar scenario: It's happened to us all before: we get home a bit late from the community college Anime Club midnight screening of Another Lady Innocent with a certain special lady cosplaying as Revvy from Black Lagoon, when suddenly she stumbles across your wall, stocked with clear, plastic shelves donned with Figmas and Nedoroids of the Ox King from Dragon Ball Z and whatever other cool obscure anime figure you have that makes you feel happy. Pretty romantic scenario, right? Except, no, it's not... because instead of that Revvy chick, it's always a normal American woman who makes it extremely hard to make physical contact with you after seeing all of your "action figures of naked women". Can you understand how hard it is to sleep with someone after they've seen your maid outfit-clad Asahina Figma. An obvious solution to this might start with the question: "Hey Marcus, why don't you just take down your lame figurines in the first place?" and it'll end with me knocking your teeth in for insulting my anime figures like that. I'd take strapping my half-naked Major Motoko Kusanagi over my chest and die before I EVER take down my figures. Now it's not the thought that I'll die alone and be ridiculed for the rest of my life as a result of my exaggerated stance for pro-figurine policies that scares me. Nah, I'm cool with that. Rather, it's the thought that no matter how hard I try, I still can't get over how goddamn scary that little boy from Ju-On looks! Forget figures and all that, I mean, look at that kid! What's up with his eyes?! I have no idea what I'm talking about anymore...   Kristina fears... Ferris Wheels If, in the time I'm living in Japan, a sweet friend or more than friend decides to take me out, he'll probably be remiss to learn that the romantic date he planned at that nearby park to ride the Wheel with some frozen matcha or something is definitely not going to work out well. I'm talking straight-up feet planted on the ground, arms crossed, no way no how. I'll gladly take some pictures of the thing though, and hold his bag or eat his snacks while he rides solo. I don't care if it's the Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty Wheels of epicness, or the 15-foot kiddie Wheel at the local fair. You won't get me on it.   Chris fears... "Kigurumi" Cosplayers It isn't because it's cosplay. It isn't because of the characters. It isn't because of those creepy masks and extra padded arms and legs. What truly terrifies me about these people, is that you have absolutely no idea who or what is inside. Is it a man? Is it a woman? Are they even wearing anything under there? Then there is the matter of where the costume was obtained. Who sold it? Who would work in such a shop? Who invented them? You could track this all back to see a conga-line full of humanities worst people.  But then, why would you dress like this in the first place? Surely you are going to have a better time with traditional cosplay. Hell, I'd give you more credit for just slipping a hugging pillow cover over your body. The only possible reason is that they enjoy doing so, and enjoy meeting up with others that do so. This is what truly terrifies me. Kigurumi cosplayers are like walking Kinder Surprise eggs, except there is no treat inside. Only pain, misery, and an extraordinary smell.    Elliot fears... Discovering that I actually like K-On! Deep inside me sleeps a a fear that one day I'll watch K-On! and actually enjoy it. You see, Kyoto Anime productions typically fill me with all sorts of happy sauce. But when I look at K-On!, all I can see is horror and pain. The kind of pain that you have a nightmare about and wake up from in a cold sweat. I don't like sweating. Having recently watched The [email protected] and enjoying it 4 trillion times (accurate number) more than I expected to, my heart freezes whenever I see the moe blobs of K-On! bouncing around in joy. The show goes against all of my personal and moral beliefs as a human being, and the simple thought of enjoying it makes me want to dump a bucket of cats on my head. Cat buckets people, that's how serious I am. If that day ever comes, I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise me that you won't try to bring me back. Don't keep me alive in a shed somewhere. Don't even come close. Just end me right then and there, before I hurt any other people. Until then, I'll keep fighting the good fight and screeching in terror whenever I see my junior high school girls giggling over K-On!.   Pedro fears... Intense Yaoi This is less a fear and more of a PTSD moment in my anime/manga fandom. Back when I started going to my university's anime club, I befriended a girl who was a huge fan of the boys. I'm not talking about a casual fan, no, this girl loved her some pretty boys. So much so that she shipped people and, in some cases, frogs. Now, I make it point to not judge people based off their fandoms, since it isn't very nice and I'd be a pariah if people did the same to me. However, things took a rather traumatic turn when my friend decided to show me some of her "favorite" doujins. As a heterosexual male, I don't make it a habit to peruse yaoi, but back then I barely even knew what it was. All I knew was that it was guy-on-guy stuff. Since we were hanging out and I was fairly amused, I consented. That's when she busted out with Gravitation REMIX. People may remember that Kristina reviewed Gravitation, so if you don't know what it is, check out her excellent review. In short, it's a shounen ai show, not a hardcore bonefest. That's important, as REMIX was...uh...rather extreme. So much so that since then, few doujins can bother me. It fundamentally broke me. After that, NOTHING can compare. Well, there might be something out there, but I'm sure as hell not going to find out.  Totsu fears... When you can't tell the robots from the humans anymore. [embed]27151:1793[/embed] This is getting pretty freaky really quick. To be honest, it is down right scary. They are also impressive when they are not moving. Once you see them moving and talking thou, you grab for your nearest shotgun to shoot it in the face. This is the stuff of nightmares people! I applaud them for the accuracy that they bring with the details but fear the day that they know that they can take over. Till then, I wait, in my rocking chair cleaning my shotgun.   Hiroko fears... Kids, especially of the British variety. I'm scared of really serious, little British kids. You know every time there is some crazy ghost, or master control program, or something trying to kill you... It's some blank faced kid. Perhaps it's their accents, but the British ones always seem to know way more than they are supposed to, and are so damn serious. Man, when they all start chanting together... it's the worst! Put a punch of kids in a room, put a dead serious look on their face and get them chanting. They might even start putting hand prints on the wall. Pure horror! Look at that poor kid from Ju-on. He just has white face paint on, it should be so scary... but it is. Kids...
On All Hallows' Eve, Eight come to scare
Take heed, dear readers! All Hallow's Eve is upon us, and on this most spooooky and scaaarrry of nights, things that go bump in the darkness ride out, be they on city streets in search of delicious candy, on videogame di...

JapanaTen: The Valkyries of Macross

Oct 11 // Pedro Cortes
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross Considering that this is the daddy of the entire franchise, there's a lot of nostalgic love for these suits. Whether it was through the original Japanese version or through the controversial American Robotech, many people will recognize Valkyries from this show. While I find a lot of them a bit plain for my tastes, there are two Valkyries that stick out in the pantheon of variable transforming planes.   VF-1A: Max's Valkyrie Besides having a punny name that has the subtlety of a punch to the face, ace pilot Max Jenius has a nice color scheme compared to the other versions of the VF-1A that appear in the original Macross. On top of that, Max's Valkyrie went under cover by tossing on a Zentradi coat in order to save several pilots during the original show. Just for that amusing moment, it made this list.   VF-1S I would be slapped about a dozen times if I failed to mention this beaut. The VF-1S was flown to two different pilots through the original series, but it truly belongs to only one guy. That dude is none other than Roy Focker, pimp and senpai supreme. He's a drunk, he's a bad ass, he's a ladies man, he's the guy you want to cover you. Just don't feed him pineapple salad.   Macross Plus This is where a lot of people I know first got into Macross. Released during the big OVA boom of the mid-90s, it came out at the right place and the right time for the US market. Featuring gorgeous animation and fantastic music by Yoko Kanno, it has definitely stuck with a lot of people. But what about the 'bots? Well, the two main Valkyries being tested are a pair sexy beasts, believe me!   YF-19 Super Piloted by the brash Isamu, the experimental YF-19 has some pretty nifty additions in its arsenal. Besides the addition of some heavy weaponry, the FAST pack version you see here makes this an even zippier suit that can act in space and on the ground.   YF-21 While most people dug the YF-19, and for good reason, I was always more of a YF-21 kind of guy. I love the dark colors, the vaguely evil-looking BATTROID mode and, well, the general design of the whole thing. While it didn't win the military contract at the end of Macross Plus, you'll see its influence in later suits.   Macross 7 This is probably the most divisive entry in the whole franchise. Shying away from the fighter pilot aspect and focusing more on the music, Macross 7 has more to do with a band than anything else. It's lead character, the hot-blooded rock-star Nekki Basara, prefers to use his music to get through to his opponents, much like the famous songstress Lynn Minmei. Don't let that fool you; there are some fantastic looking Valkyries in this show!   VF-22 Sturmvogel II (Gamlin, Max and Millia) Remember how I mentioned that the YF-21 would have influence on later suits? Well, here is one suit that definitely takes something away from that great suit. The VF22 was given to some pretty skilled pilots, as you can see from the names above. While starting out as a rival, Gamlin evolved into a hot-blooded pilot in his own right. Max and Millia, of course, were the aces from the original Macross series who hopped back into the pilot seat for the final fight in Macross 7. They needed something that could match their skills, so they got a pair of custom VF-22s in their preferred colors. It's a sight to see, believe me.   VF-17S Nightmare: Millia's Version Being the mayor of a city has its advantages. In the Macross world, one of those advantages is getting a ship to pilot when the city needs defending. During a pretty rough time in the show, Millia gets back into flying in order to keep her citizens safe. Showing that absolutely none of her skills have dulled, she gets the VF-17 repainted in her colors and tears the Protodevilin a new one.   VF-1J "Milia" (2045) Notice a theme here? While I'm not normally a big fan of the color red, the best suits in Macross 7 are red. Milia's VF-1J in particular manages to look great in a show filled with newer mechs, which says a lot about how well the original Valkyries were designed. It's also here because Milia was able to hold her own against the enemy in a decades old mech. She's easily one of the best female pilots I've seen in any mecha show.   VF-19 Excalibur Custom The last suit from Macross 7 I'll mention is Basara's Valkyrie, the VF-19 Excalibur Custom. Besides being colored a snazzy red, Basara has had his Valkyrie customized to fire speaker pods instead of bullets. The pods stick on to his opponents, drill into the suit and begin pumping in the music that Basara plays from within his suit. The whole thing is VERY super-roboty, which is always good in my book. As if that weren't great enough, when the pods won't do, Basara brings in the big guns. When the going gets tough, the tough get Speak Pod Gamma. This giant missile houses an appropriately huge speaker that unleashes the most powerful of metal. Man, I love Speaker Pod Gamma.   Macross Frontier Finally, I'll get into a pair of suits from the latest entry into the Macross mythos, Macross Frontier. While there were some problems with Frontier, it was an overall good show that helped breathe new life into the franchise after Macross Zero kind of fizzled. There was a good balance between the music (which was particularly good) and the battles, which were sufficiently big by the end to please me.    VF-25F APS-25A/MF25 Armored Messiah One thing that I really like about Frontier was how the bigger, bulkier upgrades looked. I typically like my suits to be sleek and fast, but there's just something awesome about watching the VF-25F Armored Messiah wreck fools. The thing just plainly looks mean. While the pilot might leave something to be desired, the Armored Messiah is just what I want.   VF-25S Super Messiah Last but not least, the VF-25S has got to get some love, especially the Super Messiah version. Definitely calling back to Roy's VF-1S, the VF-25S belongs to Frontier's senpai, Ozma Lee. While he isn't as much of a ladies man as Roy, he's definitely got the skills and the hot blood to make up for it. Ozma's also immune to the fatal effect of pineapples, which gives him the leg up on poor Roy.   So now I toss it out to you guys: What are you favorite Valkyries from Macross? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to add any other ships, whether from the Zentradi, anti-UN forces, Protodevlin or the Vajra. Well, the Vajra are kind of like the ships themselves, but you know what I mean.
Fighters, Battroids, Gerwalks, oh my!
Why does anybody really watch a mecha show? Is it for the deep stories that examine the relationships between people? How about the destruction that war causes and how it impacts the soldiers in the middle of it all? Nope, it...

JapanaTen: Ten Bandai shows you should pick up right now

Sep 03 // Pedro Cortes
1.) The Big O (Volume 1 and Volume 2) The Big O is one of those shows that hit big back when it was on Toonami. The story of a man piloting a giant robot in a city suffering from mass amnesia really caught a lot of peoples attention, especially with Steve Blum's solid performance as main man Roger Smith. While the first season was excellent, the second season left a bit to be desired with its strange ending, but that doesn't take away from an overall solid show that appeals to anybody who has wanted to see a Bruce Wayne-esque figure save a city with the help of a cool-looking giant robot.   2.) Outlaw Star (The Complete Collection) Another show that hit big on Toonami, Outlaw Star proved to be one of the bigger shows that came out of that block. I can understand that too, as its unique blend of high-tech space travel and magic has yet to find a parallel. Starting off with young punk Gene Starwind getting involved in a series of events that leaves him with a legendary ship that can lead him to a priceless treasure, Outlaw Star goes in some pretty unexpected directions. For fans of mercs, magic and space travel, Outlaw Star shouldn't be missed.    3.) Cowboy Bebop (The Complete Collection and Movie) Speaking of mercs and space travel, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Cowboy Bebop. Considered one of the best shows made, this show made its impression on the first run of Adult Swim. Hell, it's still getting replayed after years of syndication and reruns on Adult Swim and the revived Toonami. In case you don't know anything about Bebop, it's the story of a group of bounty hunters who travel around and try to escape their pasts. It has a wonderful soundtrack, a set of great characters and one hell of an ending. It would be a damn shame of Bebop disappears, as everybody should have the chance to own this masterpiece.   4.) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (First Season and Second Season/R2) Set in an alternate world where the kingdom of Britannia has taken over Japan and subjugated its people, Code Geass is all about the deposed son of Britannia's king and his tale of revenge against the family that ruined his life. What makes Geass more interesting than your typical revenge story is the immense amount of political intrigue and maneuvering that Lelouch pulls off with the use of a special ability that allows him to implant commands into the minds of those that gaze into his eyes. Lelouch remains one of the more complex heroes in any show of seen, being both incredibly clever and absolutely ruthless in achieving his goals. There are some who malign the show for the slow start of its second season, but that isn't enough to ruin the show. Besides, that's only for a short while. Once it picks up, the second season will keep you on your toes as it gets to its violent conclusion. Geass is worth picking up, if only for having one of the best main characters put into a show.   5.) The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (DVD) Stepping away from TV shows, I want to highlight this wonderful movie. Set in modern day Japan, a young girl finds out that she can literally jump into the past. She uses this ability frivolously, until she finds out that her actions can have some pretty serious consequences. It was a beautiful movie, both in art and spirit. I found it to be quite touching, its finale leaving a tear or two in my eye. Unfortunately, the gorgeous Blu-ray version of the film seems to have already gone of out of print, so be sure to grab either the normal or limited edition version of the DVD before it too disappears.   6.) My-HiME (The Complete Collection) My-Hime is a great 25.6 episode show. Unfortunately, the last couple of minutes of the last episode undermines the all the drama that had been built up. However, that doesn't mean that My-Hime isn't worth picking up. Despite its weak finale, it's still a great show. Set at an exclusive academy, girls with the Hime mark must use their summoned beasts to protect the populace from some pretty gnarly beasts. The show gets really interesting when you find out that the Hime have to eventually face off for an unknown purpose with some fairly dire consequences. It's some good stuff, despite those last nine/ten minutes.   7.) Mobile Fighter G Gundam (Complete First Collection and Second Collection) There were a ton of different Gundam shows I could've mentioned on this list, but I chose G for several reasons. First and foremost, it's the Gundam show that doesn't take itself seriously. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good drama. However, it isn't as stoic as Wing, 00 or the various Universal Century shows. It's core premise, Gundams from nations around the world that have to fight in a tournament that determines which country will govern everybody, isn't as important as lead man Domon Kasshu's search for his brother and the Gundam he stole. G Gundam also feels like a super robot show, unlike the rest of the Gundam franchise. If you had to pick one of the many Gundam shows that Bandai has in its catalogue, I'll have to give the nod to G.   8.) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Season 1, Season 2 and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya film) Haruhi is another of those ubiquitous shows that just about everybody knows about. If it weren't' for the disastrous second season, where a clever idea was taken too far, it would probably still be on top of the anime world. Haruhi Suzumiya is a girl that gets what she wants. So much so that it seems like she's a god, where just about all her whims end up becoming reality. This has placed an alien, a time traveler and an esper in the same club with an ordinary guy nicknamed Kyon, whose purpose isn't apparently clear. What makes things more interesting across both seasons is that the show is shown out of order, intentionally obfuscating certain bits of information for comedic and dramatic effect. It works well, despite the repetition of eight episodes in the second season. The film, titled The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, had a lot to prove, what with coming after the Endless Eight fiasco. It somehow managed to live up to both the fans and the skeptics expectations.  Beautifully animated and skillfully told, it's an alternate universe where Kyon is the only one who remembers Haruhi. It's the last thing I've seen come from the franchise, which is a shame as there could've been so much more. I definitely recommend picking up the first season and the movie. The second season is difficult to recommend, due to having eight episodes that are the same on it. However, there's some really good content on there, including the episodes where they show how the film was shot from the first season.   9.)  Star Driver (Part 1 and Part 2) More Revolutionary Girl Utena than Gurren Lagann, Star Driver is a school drama that has some pretty nifty looking robots that serve as a means to an end. Yes, the robot fights are wonderfully animated and the mech design is top-notch weird, but the big focus of the show are the tangled webs weaved by the scantily-clad student council. The Utena correlation doesn't stop there, as the structure of the whole show mirrors the shoujo classic, going so far as to have elaborate musical sequences that play with the same stock footage when the lead character prepares to battle a foe. To its credit, it makes WAY more sense than Utena. In short, main man Takuto ends up attending Southern Cross High School, where he finds a cabal of students and professors who are attempting to capture several shrine maidens on the island and remove their seals. Takuto stops them from removing the Southern Maiden's seal by summoning a mech of his own, much to their surprise. From then on, Takuto takes it upon himself to protect the remaining maidens while trying to find out what's going on. Star Driver is a fantastically animated show with a ton of style and likeable characters, hence why it makes it on this list. Unlike most of the titles on this list, you can get a Blu-Ray of the show and I recommend that you do. It's worth the extra scratch.   10.) Gurren Lagann (Complete Collection, Childhood's End and All The Lights In The Sky Are Stars films) Finally, this wouldn't be a list written by me without some sort of reference to this classic. I mentioned earlier that Code Geass was one of the shows that got me into mecha. This is the other, more important one. Produced by GAINAX, the guys who brought you Gunbuster, Evangelion, Diebuster, FLCL and more, Gurren Lagann is the super robot genre distilled down to its most bombastic elements. Starting off in an underground city where humanity has been forced underground, it quickly escalates into a story of survival when the ceiling of the underground city collapses under the weight of a giant robot fighting a single busty sniper named Yoko. Two guys, the fiery Kamina and the meek Simon, join the sniper and help out a group of rebels repel beastmen who seek to kill them. That's where it starts, but trust me when I say that the stakes get much, much bigger by the end of the show. Gurren Lagann is by far my favorite show and I recommend it to anybody who likes robots, action and drama. Yeah, that's right, they manage to fit in some good drama between the explosions and battles. More than any other show here, I would be quite saddened if nobody else kept this show in print. This is not a complete telling of the things that will be disappearing come mid-November. You've got stuff like Wolf's Rain, Sola, Eureka Seven, Crest of the Stars, Witch Hunter Robin, Escaflowne, Lucky Star, K-On!, My-Otome, Planetes, and let's not even get into all of the various iterations of Gundam. So now I kick things over you, the reader. Tell us some of your favorite Bandai-licensed shows from the past and present. Do you own them? Are you looking for them now? Will you pick any of these up? Let us know!
Get 'em before they're gone!
With Bandai announcing the final date that it will be accepting renewal orders, a ton of shows will be going out of print. Granted, there's a chance that some of the properties that Bandai had will be rescued, but i...

JapanaTen: Our dream date spots for Valentine's Day

Feb 14 // Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino The Velvet Room (Persona series) Ahh, the Velvet Room. It's absolutely the perfect pan-dimensional date spot. It's every place, and all places, in one place. Once you enter through the glowing blue door, you might be in a crazy elevator, or the next day, you might be in a classy limo. My date and I would pick the "classy lounge" version from Persona, the one with a grand piano in it, with Isis crooning at the mic in an evening dress. Lounging in a booth there, then stepping up to Igor's couch to get a reading of our future together? Now that's what I'd call a supernatural Valentine's.   Ahnenerbe (Carnival Phantasm) You might think this place is just a regular coffee shop (albeit one staffed by freakish pseudo-cats), but at a certain time of the year, this place is a Type-MOON fan's wet dream. When the Carnival Moon is out, the festival begins, and all your would-be brides from all possible Type-MOON universes make themselves manifest, if only long enough to have a spot of coffee, curry, or cake. It's a party atmosphere like none other, and all my date and I will have to worry about is dodging the occasional use of someone's Noble Phantasm.   New York City (Sakura Wars: So Long My Love) Ahh, the Big Apple. The center for urban life and the home of Lady Liberty! Truly, it is the most modern city of the 1920s, with all the latest in steam-powered technology, airship transport, and anti-demon defense! It's also the heart of arts and culture. Why not catch a show on Broadway at the Little Lip Theater? The beautiful young actresses of the New York Combat Revue are a sight to behold!   Salvador G-Rodiles Planet Tenrei (Outlaw Star) On planet Tenrei, there is a vacation getaway known as Hagone Hot Springs World. Unlike your typical hot springs resort, there is a lot of variety available on this planet that you and your lover can partake in. Ever wanted to have the experience of going down a water slide in a hot springs resort? Well, Hagone offers a hot springs water park, where you can get the best of both worlds. If you are tired of wandering through the planet, then you can take advantage of the railway system that is available here. As you and your lover are waiting to get to your next destination, the inside of the train actually gets flooded with hot springs water. Which will allow you guys to relax, as you enjoy the scenic view. To help fill up your stomachs, there are various shops and restaurants where you can buy your favorite snacks and meals, which happen to be native to Japan. Finding the waters not hot enough for you? Well, you are in luck, they also have hot springs at temperature levels that not many normal humans can handle. If you are looking for a normal experience, they also offer a relaxing hot spring experience where you can also enjoy a drink of sake. Why would you want to head to Tenrei as a get away spot? As I mentioned before, the place has so much variety compare to other resorts on planet Earth. It appeals to couple who want to relax, couple who want a daring adventure, and couples who want to partake in all of the above. However, there is only one condition that you must fulfill before taking a step on Tenrei's grounds. You must make sure that you are in your swimsuit at all times during your stay. If you left your swimsuit at home, then the inhabitants of Tenrei will give you one free of charge.   Chris Walden The Hyperbolic Time Chamber (Dragon Ball Z) Managed to convince that special person to hang out with you for just a day? Well then, best make the most of it and head to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber! In here you can spend an entire year with them at just the cost of an Earth day, so you won't exactly be lying to her. With all that time, your romance will really begin to blossom! And to be honest, if all else fails and they still don't dig you after a whole year of trying, you'll at least have a significant increase in power level.  ...This is why women stay away from me (;__;) Elliot Gay Daten City (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt)I'm a big fan of classically romantic dates. Innocent, fun getaways to a beautiful spot with the woman I love are the best ways to spend V-Day. I would most certainly take my date to Daten City. Filled with things to do and an absolutely lovely population of people, I would feel 100% safe taking my girl out for the night.If there is one place that would allow a couple to maintain their child-like innocence, it would be the church at the top of the hill. I hear that there are even angels who dwell there! According to rumors, they also have an amazing skill set that I would love to experience first hand. What better way is there than to spend time with the woman I love, in the presence of pure angels?   Kristina Pino Mount Fuji at sunrise (Japan) I've been around Mt Fuji, but due to time and weather restraints haven't ever tried climbing it. As nice as sunsets are it's definitely special to share a sunrise with someone, and the Fuji Sunrise climb is famous. Eventually, I'd like to do it, and hopefully with someone I'd call my Valentine. That and enjoying the hot spring resorts around the ol' Fuji-san is a super amazing bonus. Alternatively, I'd love to hit up one of those famous freeze-your-butt-off locations with igloo/ice huts/hotels that have sky-facing windows to view the northern lights from your... Warm ice hut. How nice would it be to snuggle with your honey in freezing weather and see the sky turn green! Michelle Rodanes Olympus (Appleseed) Olympus is a man-made isle located in the South Atlantic Ocean somewhere near the Canary Islands. The archipelago's beaches, weather, and rad 80s inspired architecture make it a highly desirable tourist destination. Olympus has a sub-tropical climate with long warm summers and moderately warm winters. The island's most iconic attractions are perhaps within Gaia City, Home of the Central Management Bureau, and the Tartaros and Daidalos arcologies. Why would I like to go an extended romantic vacation in Olympus? Because it's fucking awesome.   Jeff Chuang Outside of Tokyo Jupiter (RahXephon) A giant, imposing, glowing quantum barrier of doom is not really romantic if you walk right up to it. From a short distance away, though, it makes the ocean-side date just slightly more exotic, as if you're beyond the asteroid belt and yet you're in a quaint, Japanese seaside town, all to yourself and your date. That probably was exactly what the protagonists of the show did, albeit by coincidence. The town abandoned through time, frozen from the 90s, is kind of neat too--if you ignore how there's no running water and all there's left to eat is instant noodles and canned food.   Hiroko Yamamura SDF-2 Megaroad (Superdimension Fortress Macross) Yeah, I'm a pretty cheap date. Where would be more romantic than traveling to edge of space!? Sure we may never find out the fate of the Megaroad, but heck, we can all dream of its wonderful adventures. Someone cue up an Iijima tune so I ca get all misty eyed!

It's Valentine's Day, everyone! Do you have a lover, 2D or otherwise? Yes? Then why are you here reading exploitative list features on the internet?! Take your lover out on a date! And no, I don't care if she or he is a pillo...

JapanaTen: Delicious food we'd eat for Thanksgiving

Nov 24 // Josh Tolentino
Josh craves... Magical Panda Mapo Tofu (Cooking Master Boy) Come on! It's called "Magical Panda Mapo"! How could one not be curious about such...creative Chinese cuisine?! The original creation of genius Super Chef Liu Mao Xing, Magical Panda Mapo combines the tastes of both black and white tofu, cooked by nigh-supernatural technique, and laid upon a bed of deliciously spicy Szechuan sauce. The food was so good that it brought the most powerful palates of Shanghai to their knees. I'd definitely want a taste of that.   The Omelettits (Ben-to) Ah, the Omelettits (aka "Omuppai")! They're made of eggs, are stuffed with two kinds of fried rice, accented by a tiny dash of condensed milk, and look mouth-watering, in more ways than one. Also, they look like boobs. What's not to get hungry over! Better still, if you fought long and hard to get this delicacy at a discount, it will taste all the randier. Mmmmmm.   Jeff ordered... Minchi's LOVE Omelette Rice (Hanasaku Iroha) This is much trickier than it seems. After watching the school festival episode of Hanasaku Iroha I knew I wanted to make my own omurice the way Minko made hers from her childhood. The rice part I got down, but the egg skin was tricky. If you know how to make an omelette, it was easy to make it using the "hot plate" method that Minko had to resort to at the end, but it just felt more gimmicky and not as hearty. It took me a few tries but an instructive clip from the classic Japanese film Tampopo is illustrative and helpful. High heat and a nice skillet makes life much easier. And as with omurice, you can do all kinds of crazy things with the fried rice part, although the classic chicken rice is just fine and makes it a homely, refined entry instead of the pile of leftovers that categorizes my typical attempts. And speaking of leftovers, I get the feeling turkey-rice would make a great substitute if you're stuck with a pile of that white, coma-inducing protean this Thanksgiving.   Takakura-style Curry Stuffed Cabbage (Mawaru Penguindrum) I've had a few different types of rolled-up cabbages, typically filled with some kind of composit filling like rice and ground pork, which is more east European in style. I've had it Chinese style, which uses the cabbage more akin like a spring roll wrap. But I've never had it with curry inside. The basic idea, as I understand it, is not unlike the European style where you cook it in a tomato-based sauce, except this is curry. Basically, I'm trying to wrap my mind around the flavor of mixing cabbage with curry. It is foreign in my mind and I am intrigued by the combination. And of course, you've got to have it on curry day! For those of us who aren't crazy and tied up in a scheme to bring Momoka back, I think Thanksgiving would work just fine as curry day.   Chris desires... Ayu Tsukimiya's Taiyaki (Kanon) Yuuichi can be so mean to poor Ayu. When someone like her bumps into you, having stolen some taiyaki by mistake, you don't make her apologise. You march straight over there, cover the costs and then buy her four more! Of course, you've got to get one for yourself, because taiyaki are super delicious! Ayu continually ends up in situations that look like theft purely to obtain these battered delicacies, so you know it must be good! Admittedly, batter and red bean paste doesn't sound like the most appetising of foods, but believe me, don't knock it til you've tried it! There are a huge variety of other flavours too, including custard and other sweet fillings. For those with a phobia of fish-shaped snacks, you can always go to Akihabara and buy a gunplayaki, a taiyaki shaped as a mobile suit!   Brock's Jelly Doughnuts (Pokemon) Brock's Japanese doppleganger Takeshi loves giving out plenty of onigiri rice balls while travelling with Satoshi andcompany. Onigiri are great at the best of times, but a walking onigiri machine? I'm sold! However, for us English-speaking folk, we were introduced to the frankly much more charming Brock and his mad jelly doughnut skills. Now that is just downright impressive, being able to create doughnuts on the fly while having to worry about the whole Pokemon thing. The ability to give his creations the appearance of onigiri, yet opt for a more sophisticated foodstuff is just rubbing it in, an act of show-boating that he can get away with because even he knows that Takeshi has nothing on him. Don't mess with Brock.   Kristina called out for... Gateau Mocha's Curry (Sorcerer Hunters) Whoa! Did I just spring an old (OLD) anime on you with a reference you probably don't remember? Yep, I did. Well, if you really don't remember Gateau liking curry, then maybe I have some false memories. I don't like One Piece enough to try and mention Sanji for curry though, which is basically one of my favorite dishes in the whole world; and either way, Gateau is the very first person that comes to mind when I think "curry." I'm sure he'd make me all kinds of delicious curry for various meals during the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe even make me some Turkey Katsu on some beef curry and rice with some cheese and sweet potato on top? Yes? Oh yes.   Osono's fresh baked bread (Kiki's Delivery Service) I know this seems like an odd choice, but one of the things I miss most about Japan is their bread shop. I'm sure Osono makes all kinds of amazing breads, even the stuffed and flavored stuff I used to enjoy while I was living in Japan - which make the best breakfasts and snacks in the whole world. Seriously, bread is ruined for me forever if it isn't that tasty.   Hiroko felt peckish, and reached for... Fish & Pumpkin Pie (Kiki's Delivery Service) Im gonna copy Kristina a bit on this one. The bread from Osono's was grand, but what celebrates the season more than a pie made by a charming old woman, in an old school brick oven!? Now I know what you are thinking, nasty! You know what? Fish and pumpkin probably don't go so well together, but if my grandmother baked me one all day, you bet I would eat the f**k out of it. The awesome people over at Animeshi just happen to have a recipe! Now go hug your grandmother!   Energon Snacks (Transformers the Animated Movie)   The thought of family and sharing always has me hollering, " Bah weep gra na weep ninny bong!"   Elliot opened the fridge to find... Ukyo's delicious 'Japanese pizza' (Ranma 1/2) If there's one food that's good for any occasion, it's okonomiyaki. True to its namesake, this delicious creation is made with whatever you want, making each one special in its own right. While you're not likely to find many okonomiyaki stands out west, it's not a difficult food to make. Outside of the cabbage and the batter, you can throw anything you want in it. I remember my first encounter with this marvelous food being via the Ranma 1/2 anime. The badass Ukyo made 'Japanese pizza' according to the dub and the subtitles. When I would finally eat it years later, I discovered that it was much closer to a pancake than pizza. Nonetheless, you can never go wrong with okonomiyaki and I highly recommend everyone to try making one for themselves. You can't go wrong!   After being last in line at the commissary, Marcus thought of... Eggs (Tampopo) Eggs are good in almost any fashion. Egg salad, egg soup, egg sandwich, deviled eggs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, egg whites, etc. Basically, eggs are the structure to as lot of great things, cake being the only one I can honestly think of right now. This may only be because I really freaking love cake, but then again, need I any more examples than this delicious food? But if there ever were a way to show how a single egg is in every way a more suitable candidate than a cake, it would be from the infamous clip from the 1985 Japanese comedy flick, Tampopo. In a movie that is all about food and restaurants, witness as a single egg is swapped back and forth, effectively feeding two people infinitely. Now that's some smart eating.

Do you what day it is today? If you live in America, you may have an idea. If you don't, I'll tell you. It's Thanksgiving Day! What kind of day is that, you ask? It's a day for giving thanks for, er, things.  Aside from ...

JapanaTen: Ten characters we'd take on a trick-or-treat

Oct 31 // Josh Tolentino
Kristina Pino picked: Balthier Bunansa (Final Fantasy XII) and...   Lockon Stratos (Gundam 00) When asked why, she said: "My Halloween escorts need to be fun-loving men who aren't a stick-in-the-mud, and it helps when they're charming like Balthier. Oh, and they're both gorgeous. What other reasons do I need to give? They're total badasses that'll wreck any faces that get in my way, maybe take me for a cool night ride on their Air Bike or Gundam when we're done partying and trick-or-treat'ing. Doesn't that sound like the best kind of night? Balthier has always been one of my favorite men in games; and I'm currently on a Gundam 00 kick, so Lockon was an obvious choice (none of that whiny stuff from Tieria or Setsuna). I think it would be the most fun Halloween ever."   Hiroko Yamamura went giddy over: Dark Schneider (Bastard!!) "Ladies love going around town with bad boys, and no one is worse than Dark Schneider. He's ruthless, powerful, and heavy metal as all heck. Yes, my date tonight is the most powerful wizard to have ever existed! Take that Harry Potter fans!" Vincent Valentine (Final Fantasy VII) "Vincent is sexy, especially when he's in his berserk mode. He also has the ability to change into all sorts of horrible baddies on the fly. We could hop around to various Halloween parties, and he could change his look every time. Bonus is when I'm too drunk to walk home afterwards, he can whisk me around in his red cape."   Elliot Gay summoned: Rider (Fate/Zero) "If I'm going be going trick or treating, I want to have a great time. Let's be real here for a second people. Who better to take on a quest for candy through the monster-ridden neighborhoods than the most manly man who has ever graced animation? Clearly I'm talking about the ultimate bro, Rider, from Fate/Zero. Just think about it; the man would sooner ride his horses into a house in the name of candy than walk away with nothing. He would protect me from terrifying woodland creatures (like chipmunks!) and likely even kill a few innocent trick or treaters in the process, confusing them for actual otherworldly beasts. Yeah, I might be arrested and sentenced to life in prison at the end of the night. But really, it's worth it if Rider and I get to spend some amazing bro time together. If you can't grasp that, then clearly our bro-lationship is beyond feeble mortal understanding."   Marcus Speer chaperoned:  Scanty and Kneesocks (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt) "All females use Halloween as an excuse to dress slutty. I don't have concrete sources at the moment, but I'm pretty sure that this has been scientifically proven on an episode of Mythbusters or something like that. Anyway, the idea is that if I'm going to be escorted place to place as I score Laffy Taffies and Chic-o-Sticks (those things are f**kng delicious), I'm probably going to be expected to pay for whatever costumes my accompanying bitches are going to wear, because there is no way that if I have the chance to have two hot biddies holding onto each of my arm am I going to pass up on them wearing the most revealing outfit imaginable. Enter the demon sisters Scanty and Kneesocks . With devilish red skin, long, lavished horns and an incestuous bond that runs deeper than any mortal can possibly comprehend, these two were an obvious choice to help me bring horror and terror all around the city. Plus, with their looks, it really helps cut back on costs. Not to mention that it's all for show anyway, since they're virtually harmless to anyone but foiling themselves. To be honest, I may be the one who'd actually have to accompanying them..."   Chris Walden outlined his plan to hire: Kyubey (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) "Halloween isn't as huge in the UK as it is in the US, so even if go trick-or-treating you are unlikely to get a whole lot of goodies. I am also one of the laziest guys around, so I need some high turnarounds to even get out of my room, even in the aid of free sugary snacks. This is why I would take Kyubey, as I could get all the candy I could ever dream of by just uttering a few words. Doesn't matter that I'm a guy either. Everyone knows that if a guy makes a contract he becomes a ginga bishounen. This works out quite nicely, but I would have to find a way of dealing with those pesky witches." Golgo 13 (Golgo 13) "...and this is where my old pal Duke Togo comes in. By splitting my unlimited amount of candy in half with Golgo, he will fight off any and all witches that decide to attack me. He can also take a few pot shots at Kyubey, which would make for a fun pastime. Fighting witches will keep him fit too, so all I have to worry about is him getting diabetes, and for that eventuality, I have Kenshiro's phone number."   Jeff Chuang brought in: Hime "Himeko" Onizuka (Sket Dance) "This character used to rule her neighborhood as the strongest Yankee. Having street smart and brawn to accompany me on a quest for candy is great, but Himeko also has a perchant for gross-tasting candy. I smell a win-win situation." Flandre Scarlet "The last time I checked there are about four times higher likelihood of a child involved in a traffic accident on October 31st. This is why Flandre from Touhou is the character I would love to take trick-or-treating. Totally ignoring the fact that she is a cute little sister type character from some bullet-hell game, her spread of light will ensure your trick-or-treating party good vision, and oncoming traffic will be able to see you from far away. Unlike some other glow-in-the-dark characters, her illumination are seasonally appropriate (if you can keep her around until Christmas, even better) and not too bright so it blinds you. Plus, she is actually a vampire, making her seasonally appropriate. Flandre's outfit makes a pretty cool costume to boot. At any rate, folks, let's put safety first in your candy bags this Halloween."   Josh Tolentino called up: Aegis (Persona 3) and....   Chie Satonaka (Persona 4) When given a dirty, disappointed look, he awkwardly attempted to explain: "Look, I understand the incredible risk I am taking by bringing both my 2-D wife and 2-D mistress out on the same date! But I've a foolproof plan! As you can see above,  my girl Chie will be dressed as her persona, Suzuka Gongen . That way Aegis won't be able to recognize her. And vice-versa, Aegis will be going naked. That's great because technically, Aegis is wearing a costume whenever she wears clothes. Shedding the outerwear reveals her mechanical actuators, motorized servos, gun-arms, and the fact that she has no feet. She'd instantly win the Best Costume prize at any party we go to! Seriously, I've got it covered! I can't think of any possible way that this could go wrong! And in case you're wondering, I'll be going dressed as my persona, Mara."

Ah, All-Hallows-Even. The one time of the year that cosplay is expected as a societal norm! And not only is such a day of days (night of nights, really) great for being able to dress weird, it's also a great time to prowl nei...


JapanaTen: Our 10 favorite ends-of-the-world

May 21
// Josh Tolentino
Today is our last day on Earth, if some people to be believed. That might be a shock for the average person, but to a veteran viewer of anime, it's just another season, for Japanese fiction is chock-full of apocalyptic scenar...

JapanaTen: 10 characters we'd love to have mother us

May 08 // Josh Tolentino
1. Mizuho Kazami (Please Teacher!) Who better to consider seriously as a potentially awesome mom than a happily married career woman? That's exactly who Ms. Mizuho is, as a successful high school teacher, very pretty lady, and powerful alien. Unfortunately, any of us with the good fortune to be Mizuho's child would have to deal with their less-than-ideal father, Kei Kusanagi. 2. Balalaika (Black Lagoon) Being the son (or daughter) of Balalaika, the matron of Hotel Russia and baddest-ass businesswoman on Roanapur would definitely make for an interesting life, not to mention that one's "family" would be the local branch of the Russian mafia. Plus, she probably wouldn't bat an eye when she discovers your secret porn stash, or your hidden AK-47. 3. Sylia Stingray (Bubblegum Crisis) Can Boomers have babies? Of course they can, and if you end up one of them, you'd do well to know that your mother dearest is as hardcore as her hardsuit. As leader of the Knight Sabers, Sylia's cool under pressure, knows her way around some hot future tech, and happens to be loaded as all hell. 4. Ritsu Tainaka (K-ON!!) Ritsu's the kind of mother who'd just as soon be your best friend. Her training for life as big sister to your uncle Satoshi makes your home a warm, welcoming place, constantly shaking to her drum solos and noisy with the squeals and laughter of her bandmates from Ho-kago Tea Time, Aunt Mio especially. Unfortunately, with her being a famous rock idol, you'd constantly be annoyed by your friends who go "Dude, your mom is sooo hot" as they leer at her album covers. Eeeewww. 5. Sasami (Tenchi Muyo!) You might not expect your mom to be a tiny loli, but thankfully, we're referring to your real mom, who's known as "Tsunami" and lives in said loli's mind. That Tsunami's a kind old broad, cooks like magic, and fortunately didn't inherit her mother's overbearing nature. 6. Chifuyu Orimura (Infinite Stratos) Expert swordswoman? Hard-ass dojo instructor? High school homeroom mistress? Yuri idol? The world's greatest IS pilot? That's Chifuyu, the ultimate Tiger Mom. Just as she did with your idiot uncle Ichika, mother dearest defends you from the clawing hands of a crowd of girls (or boys) begging to lunge at your junk, like Cerberus guards the gates of the underworld. You can be sure that anyone she does let in eventually will be the best suitor for you. Count on it. 7. Saber (Fate/stay night) Well, duh. You'd be a prince, or princess. Unfortunately you'd be a sibling to Mordred, and eventually find out that the king's a caring enough parent to run her stupid kids through when they have it coming. So don't piss her off. 8. Belldandy (Ah! My Goddess!) Though she spends her shifts running the Goddess Assistance Hotline (not nearly as illicit as it sounds, mind you), your mom is the kindest person on Heaven and Earth. Not only that, she's not only domestically divine, but literally as well. The only wrinkle in this lovely family picture is the lingering suspicion that your parents are way too timid to have actually got it on. Seriously, they're so nice it's impossible for them to have felt "that" need. Are you adopted? Not that there's anything wrong with that. But really, do their jokes that they were "too nice" to leave you in the box they found you in actually carry a ring of truth? 9. Mitsuru Kirijou (Persona 3) Now here's a lady you can trust to care for your best interests, even if you don't think being an honor student is all that important. Then again, you'd better live up to her (admittedly) high standards, for you'd be heir to the Kirijou conglomerate. Dare you disappoint her? Before you say yes, remember that she's a champion fencer, and braved the horrors of Tartarus tower to save the goddamned world. You should be thankful. 10. Rei Ayanami (Neon Genesis Evangelion) Umm...I don't know how to break it to you, but your mom is a clone of your grandmother. So, technically, her marriage to Shinji (and Shinji's dad) counts as incest. Sorry. Honorable (?) Mention: Elis, Manami Kinjou, and Aoi Futaba (Asobi ni Ikuyo: Bombshells from the Sky) Your dad is the densest person alive. In fact, you doubt that he even realizes that he's married to three girls, Big Love style. Good thing your moms are awesome people. One is the Catian ambassador, another is the chief of Catian embassy security, and another is voiced by Kana Hanazawa. Best mothers ever.

Mothers are awesome. They play a very important role in the lives of their children, and that's perhaps the most understated statement one can make. That said, you could expect every site and their mother to come up with a "b...

JapanaTen: The 10 best British anime characters

Apr 29 // Josh Tolentino
10.) Gentle Chapman (Mobile Fighter G Gundam)  This representative of Neo-England and pilot of the fearsome Royal Gundam is a true paragon of all things Neo-English. Honor, tea, refinement, and top-class Gundam pugilism propelled this gentlemanly chap (see what I did there?) to the top of the Gundam Fight Tournament. Sadly, his loss to Master Asia of Neo-Hong Kong signaled his downfall. By the time he faced Domon Kasshu in single combat, he was but an aging man clinging to his fading glory, relying on his wife to confuse opponents and allow him time to strike dishonorably from the fog. 9.) Index Librorum Prohibitorum (A Certain Magical Index) Her name might be Latin, but she carries a passport from the UK, and that's jolly good enough for this list! But beyond a mere passport, Index holds much more importance to the crown that even she might realize. After all, she holds over a hundred thousand forbidden magical texts in her blue-haired, ever-hungry head, making her the most moe repository of esoteric knowledge in the magical world. And she holds allegiance to that most beloved of Henry VIII's stunts, the Church of England. So long as she continues to serve for queen, country and tomorrow's lunch, she's as British as British Apple Pie. 8.) Evangeline A.K. McDowell (Negima) What's more British than a vampire? A lot, but this one's a British vampire, and likely a Scot at that. Turned back in the fourteenth century, during the Hundred Years' War, Miss Evangeline Athanasia Katherine "Kitty" McDowell's a centuries-young icon of vampirism, magical ability, and gothic lolita fashion. 7.) Ana Coppola (Strawberry Marshmallow) One might think that a proper English lady forgetting how to speak English might be a slight upon her Englishness, but Miss Coppola aptly displays classic British worldliness and adaptability. Yes, her Japanese friends are often awed by her depth of knowledge about all things Japanese. The best British Japanese person around? You bet!  6.) The Dylandy Twins (Gundam 00) Many often forget that "the UK" is actually the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Much to the ire of non-English Brits, pretty much everyone in Japan calls British people "English". Thus it's important every so often to grant the world of Japanese cartoons the occasional example of a man from The Emerald Isle. In this case, it's men, namely the twins Neil and Lyle Dylandy. They're not just hot and Irish, but also Gundam Meisters of Celestial Being, holding the codename of "Lockon Stratos". Eat your heart out, Farrell, these guys have giant robots. 5.) Yomiko Readman (Read or Die) Who better to protect the crown than its most talented librarian? No one, that's who. Yomiko Readman is Agent Paper, and puts her skills to work magically manipulating paper to all manner of needed tasks, as assigned by both the British Library and her unhealthy obsession with reading. 4.) Sebastian Michaelis (Black Butler) No one ever said that a demon couldn't a butler, and if anyone did say it, it's highly unlikely they had the ability to back that declaration up. So goes the story of Sebastian Michaelis, the top-tier English butler of Earl Ciel Phantomhive. From making tea to looking fabulous to killing things to petting kittens, Sebastian can do anything, because he's a hell of a butler. 3.) Cecilia Alcott (Infinite Stratos) In the world of Infinite Stratos, women are the pride of any nation, for it is they and their lack of a Y chromosome that move the world's most powerful (and sexy) weapons systems. Not even the home isles are exempt to this universal rule, and in the United Kingdom, Cecilia Alcott is queen of Her Majesty's IS force. Piloting her personal unit "Blue Tears", she performs the double duty of protecting the crown and trying to get into the pants after some hard-headed Japanese boy. 2.) Mari Makinami Illustrious (Evangelion 2.22) Leave it to Great Britain to produce works of greatness, for Miss Illustrious is perhaps the greatest work of Evangelion fan service in existence. And I'm not referring to the mere leering camera angles or unsubtle flashes of underwear that pass for such in other pabulum. Mari's the ultimate refinement of what it means to serve the fan. She's a potent collection of moe attributes wrapped in the mystery of the Evangelion reboot's unknowable master plan, voiced by Maaya Sakamoto and named after a World War II aircraft carrier. She's also the only character in any Evangelion ever who actually seems happy to be piloting one of the giant biomechanical beasts. That alone makes her a more interesting character than the main cast, at least in the eyes of this jaded fan. 1.) Saber (Fate/Stay Night) We've talked a lot in this feature about protecting the crown, honoring the crown, being loyal to the crown, and exemplifying the virtues that make up the crown. Well, Saber is the crown. Kneel before your king!

Being a bunch of renaissance humans, we here at Japanator were well aware that a certain pair of British people getting married today is kind of a big thing. Eager to exploit this sudden surge in popularity for various things...

JapanaTen: The Highs and Lows of Generation V Pokemon

Mar 04 // Mike LeChevallier
When the GenV starters made their public debut, as you may recall, the negativity memes did flow freely and with such pronounced speed. As a steady increase of models were exposed to perpetually eager, foaming-at-the-mouth fans, the general reaction quickly became equal parts "They had to be on shrooms during the concept art stages" and "I think they're just fucking with us, right? They must be fucking with us." /vp/ was a cesspool of prodigious proportions. It was a frightening time to be a Pokemon devotee. Placing any snap judgments aside, the past is the past, and the future of Pokemon is now at hand. Whether you respect the new renditions of creatures should do little to mar your cumulative experience of playing Black/White. Over the past few months, I've poured more hours (days, actually) into these titles than I would like to openly admit. As I trekked and trained through the remarkably fleshed out world of Unova (the best since Johto, for my money), my respect for a considerable number of recently inducted Pokemon began to alter. Sure, they may hardly compare to the mastery embodied by Gold/Silver's contributions, but sometimes one must be able to examine such a cherished franchise from an outsider's perspective. As it stands, there are 649 species of Pokemon. To put this into an IRL context, imagine walking through the whole of Elk Horn, Iowa and replacing its entire human populace with a varying Pokemon per citizen. I believe that I've dealt enough with numbers for now. This is a list regarding, in my current mindset, the best and worst Generation V has to offer in terms of, well, its Pokemon. (If you were not aware of this already, not a single non-GenV species makes an appearance until after you've seen the end credits.) If you asked me to redo this feature a year from now, it could be completely different. Hell, I bet there are folks out there who would have no problem with me swapping the highs for the lows. Seeing as how the games are officially out this weekend in the States, I figured this was as suitable a juncture as any to rattle off something of a non-review piece, while sustaining a depth and analytical nature that this series so richly deserves. [Note: I decided to shy away from including Legendary GenV Pokemon to preserve the excitement one would recieve when stumbling upon the rare specimens while playing the game. Remember the first time you ran into Mewtwo? Or Suicune? Or Rayquaza? Yeah. You know what I'm talking about.] The Highs 5. Elemental Monkey Trio: Pansage, Pansear, Panpour & their evolutions (Simisage, Simisear, Simipour)Pokedex #: 511-516Type(s): Grass, Fire, Water Never have I so quickly adjusted my starter Pokemon to the second seat in my carried 6. If anything not relating to the in-game mechanics of Black/White can be labeled as something of a masterstroke, it's the fact that you essentially get TWO starting Pokemon. Of course, there's the one you select at the beginning of your adventure, then, depending on the type of your primary choice, a random guy in Striaton City, the location of the first gym, bequeaths you one of the three elemental monkeys. No battle, no fetch quest, no trade. No questions asked, you're given a second infinitely useful Pokemon an hour into the game. If you're smart, you would make it your early mission to level up your new simian companion, as there are three gym leaders who await you in the Striation City Gym. The leader you end up facing in battle is the one who posses the elemental monkey with the type directly favorably opposing the type of your starting Pokemon, which is why you need your elemental monkey as backup to be super effective against the Gym Leader's. My personal favorite of the three is the Grass-type Pansage, specifically because when exposed to a Leaf Stone it evolves into the gloriously yanki-style Simisage. If you think I'm reaching in calling it an homage to that certain Mystery Train-explored 80s Japan-a-fad, its original name is Yanakkie, and come on, it's totally rocking a pompadour. With authority. 4. BraviaryPokedex #: 628Type(s): Normal/Flying Flying types are fickle beasts. They're weak against plenty, and it can be a decidedly arduous task to bring a singular (or paired with Normal-type) Flier to the point where you can count on it as being amongst your star performers. This is hardly the case with the effortlessly magnanimous Braviary. Whether you catch one or evolve it from Rufflet at level 54, all you have to do is keep it in rotation and teach it the right moves. In no time at all this (double) rainbow-tailed eagle look-a-like will reveal itself as a consistent powerhouse. It learns some of the strongest and most accurate Normal/Flying type moves via level-up in rapid succession (Air Slash, Crush Claw, Sky Drop, Brave Bird and Thrash) and its base stats are unquestionably excellent. In addition, it also resembles a real species of the avian genus, in contrast to one of my picks in the Lows section. If you're looking for a strong non-Legendary Flying-type, this is it. Search = done. 3. EscavalierPokedex #: 589Type(s): Bug/Steel Wait a second, Mike, did you inherently select this Pokemon because its name so closely resembles that of your own? The short answer, originally, would be yes. I started training this, admittedly, less-than-stellar in appearance Pokemon because Escavalier is remarkably akin to LeChevallier; they share origins with the French word chevalier, which roughly translates to knight. There was a period when I almost ceased my quest to reach level 100 with Escavalier, but at around the level 60 mark I began to fundamentally gel with this chivalrous arthropod. I mean, it did take a decent amount of effort to obtain in the first place (it only evolves through a semi-complex trade scenario). I recall, way back in the days of Red/Blue, how I had a love/hate relationship with my Scyther. I wanted to be that kid who kicked everyone's asses with only the might of his trusted Scyther (this was before the Tracey Sketchit fiasco of Orange Islands in the anime), and it took a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not the blood part) to make that a reality. I feel I am in a similar situation with my Escavalier. The Bug Knight Rises. Coming this spring to a Nintendo DS near you. 2. HaxorusPokedex #: 612Type(s): Dragon Any longtime veteran of the Pokemon games is well aware that if you can settle down with even a moderately average Dragon-type partner, you can go very, very far combat-wise. Dragons are only weak against themselves and Ice-types, and typically, when fully evolved, display great stats without adding any sort of medicine-induced enhancements (PP/HP Ups, Iron, Zinc, what have you). Haxorus, in my humble opinion, is easily the best maintainable straight-up Dragon-type since Dragonite. Yeah. I said it. It has two prior evolutionary stages like Dragonite, and learns the most powerful Dragon-type moves (minus Draco Meteor, of course) through level-up (Dragon Claw, Dragon Pulse, Outrage). It's design is also remarkably suave. There's no excess flashiness here, just a simple green coat with red claws, evil retinas, devilishly pronounced neck scales and a sharpened tail. Oh, and it sports tusks that make its head look like a goddamn battle-axe. Sold.   1. Volcarona FUCK THAT. ULGAMOTH FOR LIFE.Pokedex #: 637Type(s): Bug/Fire The buck stops here, ladies and gentlemen. Ulgamoth will rape your significant other/love interest and brutally murder and disembowel your family right in front of your crying eyes before you even know the extent of the atrocities you've just witnessed. It will leave you dazed and in awe of its luminescent majesty as it flutters on the battlefield, Fiery Dancing inferior opponents to a mere pile of ashes. When you first encounter it in the belly of Relic Castle after receiving the National Dex, CAPTURE IT AT ALL COSTS. It is my patriot, and it will become yours as well. Bugs are weak against Fire-type attacks, right? Ha. This bastard is a Fire-type, too. Suck on that. Suck on its giant insect reproductive organs as its flames cut deep into your quivering backside. It should be at least a pseudo-Legendary, but, criminally, it isn't. Yo, I would put this motherfucker on the box art. *drops microphone on stage in solidarity* --- The Lows 5. MusharnaPokedex #: 518Type(s): Psychic This is a Pokemon that gets high and takes naps all day. I shit you not. I don't care about it being a central plot-point of Black/White's early storyline stages (Team Plasma wants its expelled haze to screw around with people's dreams or something of the sort), Munna, and especially its Moon Stone-induced evolution Musharna, are utterly useless and bring shame to the generally solid Psychic-type kingdom. I actually attempted to train one of these for awhile because I needed a Psychic type to take out some Fighters, but I still got owned even though I was nearly 10 levels higher than my opponents. You can possess all the flashy, one-off attacks you want, if a Pokemon is a lemon from the get-go, you're screwed in the majority of circumstances. So, go smoke a bowl and sleep on my couch, Musharna. I'll be off winning battles with Pokemon that at minimum try to exhibit some enthusiasm. 4. Throh, SawkPokedex #: 538, 539Type(s): Fighting Straight out of Sesame Street come muppet-hybrids Throh and Sawk, making Bert and Ernie appear heterosexual by comparison. Black/White's separated at birth Fighting pair, these two douchebags spawned a variety of humorous memes back when their designs were leaked, and with one glance it's not difficult to see why. Honestly, do I have to elaborate any further? They're monotone muppets in karate gis. They don't even boast any particularly special learned upon level-up Fighting moves. If you want a GenV Fighting-type with even a slight touch of class, you're better off going with another meme-tastic specimen, Mienshao (yep, it's Kojondo). When asked, both Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan refused to comment on this travesty. 3. AlomomolaPokedex #: 594Type(s): Water If Luvdisc and Goldeen went out, got hammered and then returned home for a night of wild, intoxicated sex, Alomomola would be the result nine months later (if Pokemon dated/mated like us). Also, it would be dropped upon birth and deemed mentally handicapped. Sure, if you train it to level 61 it learns Hydro Pump, and along the way an assortment of healing/support moves, but up until that high level its stats are so weak that the dedication would hardly be worth it. I would also just like to say that Water-types in general within Black/White are the absolute worst of any Generation thus far. There exists not a dependable, artfully crafted one in the batch. 2. SigilyphPokedex #: 561Type(s): Psychic/Flying The first time this abomination of mad, drug-fueled science revealed itself to me in battle I instantaneously belted across a crowded office, "WHAT IN THE MIYAMOTO AM I LOOKING AT?" I don't know who at Game Freak gave the OK to this concept, but Ken Sugimori should have been court ordered to receive psychiatric evaluation after this clusterfuck of an Indian burial ground flea market vomit catastrophe was committed to pixelation. A more than expected amount of trainers flaunt Sigilyphs, too. Your main rival even busts one out early in the game to show he's been messing around in the ancient desert area. Damn you, Game Freak. My eyes can only take so much fail at a time. 1.  GarbodorPokedex #: 569Type(s): Poison Pokemon Developer 1: I'm kind of in a creative rut right now with the Black and White designs. I need to humor myself as a respite. Let me throw a random question your way. I'm not being facetious here, either. Pokemon Developer 2: Shoot. Pokemon Developer 1: Would you back me up if I said that I want to create a Pokemon that is literally a pile of fecal matter and garbage? Pokemon Developer 2: I'm way ahead of you, bro. --- The Middle Ground (Tie) Vanilluxe, ChandelurePokedex #: 584, 609Type(s): Ice, Ghost/Fire A 1-year old's double-scooped birthday ice cream cone. A goth's customized chandelier. I don't see any Pokemon here. Catch me in an upbeat mood, and I would without a doubt classify these rote manifestations Honorable Mentions in the Highs category (strictly for novelty purposes). But, find me butting heads with the ex or being forced to attend a screening and subsequently review a film that I would never see otherwise (*cough*Take Me Home Tonight*cough) and I'll straightaway launch into my rant about how I despise Pokemon sculpted in the likeness of inanimate objects. The sad thing is, I really do use both of these Pokemon quite frequently, particularly Chandelure (and no, I don't just like it because its moniker sounds like the way Tim Sheehy pronounces my last name). A dual Ghost/Fire type is unarguably awesome, and can come in handy more often than not. In the case of Vanilluxe and its pre-evolutions, I need not show you anything more than something I put together last month in a moment of pure, uncompromising inspiration. (Obviously, this was prior to the U.S. names being announced.)

Let's talk numbers here for a minute. The Pokemon video game series recently celebrated its 15th anniversary on February 27th. Since the initial release of Red/Blue (Green in Japan) in 1996, four generations have amounted, ea...

JapanaTen: 10 anime characters with no chance in reality

Feb 06 // MARC
A quick side note: I don't wish to make this a "most useless characters" or "worst characters ever" list. Simply put, this list cast the characters who would be least effective if taken out of their current setting. And for the sake of keeping things interesting, I resisted adding similar characters, as well as ones that are simply too obvious. So no, Team Rocket and Sailor Moon villains are not on this list, so take this with a grain of salt and have fun with it like I did. Anyway, without further waiting, here is the list: 10) Ui Hirasawa (K-ON!)Preferences on how I want her to shut the hell up more often aside, I personally believe that Ui would have zero luck in being functional in the real world. It seems her only task in life is to feed her older sister Yui and tell her when to breathe and when not to over think while eating her toast, and without that, she simply can't do much outside of aimlessly wondering from senior center to senior center helping old folks. She may be fine if Yui were to also come to the real world along with her too, but I'd rather not that happen, simply because it'd be extra work for me to write a sad article on Japanator about a school shooting in Japan from people who get just as easily annoyed like we do.9) Sawako Kuronuma (Kimi ni Todoke)The charm from Kimi ni Todoke comes from knowing that no one in the world is as stupid and dense as Sawako. If I were to say that about a real-life representation of Sawako, I'd be asked to leave Japanator for making harsh remarks to a diagnosed mentally retarded girl. And the funniest thing about it? Sawako isn't alone in being dumb when compared to the rest of the Kimi ni Todoke universe, such as Kazehaya and the students of Sawako's high school for not seeing how beautiful Sawako really is. Well, at least Kazehaya has baseball as a back-up career in the real-world, and the students have functioning brains. 8) Gaku Manabe (FLCL)One of the most important aspects in being successful and well appreciated in life, especially for a resume and while searching for a job, is a good reputation and an outgoing personality that make people recognize you and enjoy your company. You're probably asking yourself: "Who the fuck is Gaku?!". Well, he's the "SMOOOOCH" guy. So much for a good reputation and being well-liked. 7) Richard Moore (Detective Conan)Jesus Christ, this guy is hopeless. Let's ignore for a minute that he pretty much only solved about 0.6% of his cases thus far in the series, and instead go over the fact that he barely questions the fact that he can't remember anything about solving any of them. Just the fact that he couldn't care less about something like that just screams horrible work ethic, and is a key example as to why you should never hire anyone past their prime, and possibly cynical. 6) Myojin Yahiko (Rurouni Kenshin)Sure, I said that this isn't a list about the most useless characters in anime, but being useful is a strong aspect in having a good life, and Yahiko is probably one of the more useless shonen characters yet (eat your heart out, Krillin). Aside from that, being a cliche hothead is something that probably would have suited better in the late '80's, early '90's, where being radical and rebellious was cool. Now-a-days? I just want people to shut up as I enjoy my damn coffee and free wi-fi, and just go do something more useful, like rant on Facebook or leech people for Twitter followers. If you could get more than 30,000 people to follow you, Yahiko, than I'll consider you acceptable for today's society. Let's see how you stand up right now:Good God, Yahiko... 5) Revy (Black Lagoon)When it comes to being an assassin and trained killer, no female could do it better than Revy. However, since this isn't La-La Fairytale Land, the closest our government has had to real action that affect politics was that one time William Taft was stuck in the White House bathtub. In the real world, under real circumstances...yeah, sure Revy could do an alright job hauling equipment or professional hunting. But how long do you suspect she would last until she lost her cool and started offing people? Revy may be more accessible for odd jobs and a better lifestyle than anyone else on the list, but at least the others aren't a menace to society and bound to be responsible for casualties of innocents. 4) Piko (Arakawa Under the Bridge)You can't fix crazy. Piko may not seem crazy, but she also seems like she can't be fixed, either. For this girl to do nothing but plant and talk to vegetables all day would be heavy on her psyche. Piko is not a normal girl, and while the tired and true message of Arakawa Under the Bridge is to not judge people, I must say that after spending close to 18 hours with all the characters in the show, Piko has the absolute worse luck in the real world. Nino has fishing, Whitey has accounting. Stella and Sister have as good as a chance as Revy, but at least that's something. Maria has livestock as well as a good outlook for being a comedian. Star has music and the Mayor, a man in a costume whom Piko is deeply in love with, runs the entire area. At least he has a sense of responsibility. Piko, despite all my love towards you in your quest to get some hot kappa ass, you are by far the least well-off character of them all. But hey! You're cute!3) That Halberd-Guy from Angel Beats! (Angel Beats!)No, seriously...I can't remember his name. Hold on- Let me check really quick...3) Noda (Angel Beats!) There's something about a person who can't help but be infatuated with a girl for what seems like no reason at all that's unsettling to me. In a fictional film or TV show, that's rather typical. However, in real life, it's instead rather creepy. Also, being a dick to someone who has no idea where he is or is unaware of the fact that he is dead and stuck in limbo isn't really "team-spirited" when that person fights along-side of you. What's worse is the fact that he thinks he's the coolest shit ever because of it. Those are the kinds of people in high school who obsess over the cheerleader, and sticks a railroad spike through someone's hand for waving to her. 2) Eikichi OnizukaGreat Teacher Onizuka is the best. No doubt about that. And Onizuka is one cool and tough badass, maybe the best there is. But concerning his class, there is no damn way that shit would fly in the legal educational system. As great of an "inspirational teacher" Onizuka is, I don't think I've ever seen Ron Clark "Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken"-ing other students, either. If half the crap Onizuka ever did in the anime made its way into real life...I think everyone would just be too afraid of having school anywhere anymore.-- And at number one, we have a character who has no contest when compared to other famous characters in famous long-running franchises. Here's a big hint: This character is known for running away at inopportune times, as well as being a strong inconvenience to his fellow cast mates. Have an idea? Well, here is you're answer, at number one: 1) It's NOT Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion)Shinji Ikari is a horrible choice for this list. Sure, he really sucks as an EVA pilot, and he has the spine of a jelly fish, but he also doesn't want to be in his own world! No one does! The world of Evangelion is one of those few places that viewers would rather not have a fun time escaping to. Shinji would gladly have a nice job here in reality as someone who writes erotic fan-fiction, or works at a Starbucks or something. No, Shinji is definitely...definitely the last person who would have trouble fitting right in. Instead I'm talking about none other than:1) Naraku (InuYahsa)If Naraku put 1/4 of the effort he uses to- you know, not ever die- into coming up with a plan to reasonably and productive way to kill  Inuyasha and co., then Kagome would have been dead as soon as she hit the bottom of that well. I really can't help but laugh at the idea of Naraku being anything more than bumbling, lethargic, and an utter cliche. It's unfathomable to consider that he would be beneficial to anything in life other than being comatose. No amount of cliche anime villains could live up to this cluster-fuck of empty promises and broken personality. Or is that the other way around? Either way, if all of Naraku's traits of were condensed together and were set upon the task of making a living in the real world, I'm pretty sure he would spontaneously combust the moment he would start breathing on his own. For a moment, let's take away the fact that he's evil and has no personality. If he was genuinely looking for a job, or a nice girl to settle down with, or even to complete a simple task of setting his alarm clock so that he's not late for an appointment, he would have utterly no idea how to do it. The concept of planning and being on time is non-existent to him. However, if there ever was a job that required surprise visits every few months, followed by a year or two of walking laps around an area non-stop, then Naraku would totally be the man to call.--So, do you think I got it right? Or should I have listed Spike Speigel because "LOL he's lazy!"?

At times, anime is serious business. I can hold a strong conversation with other anime fans about the deep symbolism and thematic meanings in some titles, and refer to shows that I believe are truly considered pieces of art i...


JapanaTen: Further feeding your J-drama addiction

Feb 01
// Colette Bennett
[Editor's note: Yaiko of Asian Pop Shock fame has kindly agreed to give us her take on the next ten dramas you must see. Enjoy!]  Hello, Japanator readers! Your new J-drama fangirl, Yaiko, here with my ina...

JapanaTen: The Best and Worst 'Parts' of Panty & Stocking

Jan 16 // Mike LeChevallier
A quick note before I get started; somewhat of an attempt to calm the masses prior to someone losing their shit in the comments. I did not include episode 6 ("Les Diaboliques") or the finale because, even though episode 13 is technically split into two sections, both of these pieces are basically one whole (very good) episode each and would automatically be #1 and #2 on the win list. This article's focus is to illustrate how successfully, or poorly,  Panty & Stocking executes in the short form. The Best Parts 5. (tie) "Pulp Addiction" (Episode 3, Part B) / "Vomiting Point" (Episode 5, Part B)The B segments of P&S are where the Gainax figureheads lay back in their developmental chairs and let the creative juices flow into our eager, wandering eyes. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails quite horrendously. When the manic energy of the staff comes into just the right degree of adroit focus, it can be a glorious thing to behold. Such is the case with both "Pulp Addiction" and "Vomiting Point". The first of these two episodes opens with yet another overplayed homage to Saving Private Ryan, but manages to do something totally unexpected in that the doomed soldiers are a squadron of sperm making their way into the vagina and their adversaries consist of tissue box aircraft bombers and the blockade wall of a condom. When Panty and Stocking face off against the ghost sperm soldiers (who've hijacked a tissue factory) at the climax, they dispatch them with lazy ease. In this show, much of the time, the most functional feature of an episode is how well it holds up when the Angels' antics are not on display.The absence of our heroines is also what propels "Vomiting Point" into greatness. I need not even focus on the fact that the animation is of an entirely different breed here, because the core story of this Part is what makes it infinitely memorable. There's a township just across the way from Daten City, and it's full of normalcy: boring people living increasingly boring lives. Instead of the struggle between the Anarchy Angels and a horrendous ghost, the fight presented is between a down-on-his-luck aging businessman and himself--his own self-worth. His younger, more adept co-workers are rendering his position obsolete, and he can't even find the time to get his daughter a proper gift for her birthday. In the end, Panty and Stocking's universe does combine with this mundane one in a flurry of beer vomit, and it's the simple act of signing some autographs for a beaten-down man's optimistic child that brings everything to an extremely satisfying conclusion. 4. "If the Angels Wore Swimsuits" (Episode 9, Part A)If you want something other than the full-length episode 6 that showcases the awesomeness of the Demon Sisters, look no further than "If the Angels Wore Swimsuits". Many opinions on this episode were initially mixed and I'm not quite sure why. The change of the primary art director leads to one of the downright *prettiest* segments to be seen in the series outside of finale-land. When Panty & Stocking restrains itself from fabricating a complex concept and compacting it into an 11-minute spot and instead takes a very simplistic approach to character and setting development, the show is rocksteady in its prime game. The set-up is this: it's summer, Scanty and Kneesocks claim the beach the Angels are flaunting their bathing suits upon is theirs, and so a volleyball match between Angels and Demons, Good and Evil, initiates. Expert athleticism via sets, blocks and spikes is displayed, expected cheating ensues from Team Demon, tempers flare without any actual weapons blazing or vengeful violence and soon some newly spawned instant-ghost sea creatures run amok (Stocking x Tentacles bondage included). It's eye candy, it's tight, it's clean (no vagina jokes from me...oh wait too late), it's not needlessly over-the-top and it's damn entertaining from start to finish. This is the best "lightweight" episode of the season, without question. 3."Once Upon a Time in Garterbelt" (Episode 11, Part A)It took 10 episodes of me being on the fence regarding the Angels' afro'd, negro-culinarian, pedophile, hot-tempered priest of a boss to bring me over to the dark side. The dark side being, obviously, the proud cult that favors Garterbelt's iffy personality. His character makes many viewers uneasy, and even though he would sometimes chime in with wise, sage-like words at the beginning or end of certain quasi-arcs, the majority of his on-screen behavior, up until this point of revelation, is disconcerting to say the least. When Panty and Stocking stubbornly decide to brave the dangers of Garterbelt's church basement hideaway, the black man's shrouded identity becomes much more clear and sympathetic. After battling some suits of armor and passing by various  semi-historical portraits in the Hall of Garterbelt, they find their earthly employer's history in thickened text form. Man, now it's easy to see why Garterbelt is so quick to throw a tantrum when the Angels are acting a fool: this dude's been through some disturbing dilemmas. As it turns out, he lived a life of atrocious crime, he was murdered in glorious Scarface fashion and he was then called on by the gods to relive the gauntlet of horrors of early Earth's upbringings step by crucial step until his vaguely detailed task is completed. The episode concludes with Panty and Stocking falling asleep while reading the tome, and Garterbelt practicing BDSM into the dead of night. The priest's failure is a running theme, as well as how the Angels could care less as to the unspoken origins of their superiors. Self-indulgence and masochism. Hand-in-hand, by the book. 2. "Ghost: The Phantom of Daten City" (Episode 9, Part B) What surprised me most about the backlash that occurred when this episode hit was that "Phantom" actually attempts to portray Stocking in a much more positive light, and the resulting aftermath was hordes of people angrily, almost hatefully, labeling her a slut. Yes, the ghost she falls in love with is, close to literally, a piece of shit. But seriously, who cares? She loves him, for whatever reason, and that adoration is never broken even after this wistful act concludes.Panty's efforts to break the unorthodox couple up are all but foiled, underlining the sense that this relationship is purely meant to be. 8 episodes of ghosts being vanquished through brute force, and finally, unexpectedly the ghost here is set free through affection from an beautiful angel (the shallowness of Stocking in "The Diet Syndrome" seems to only be towards her own body image). The whole of episode 9 is a real accomplishment: a tone sonnet which spans across the hectic heat of summer and the serene chill of winter. Hot sun in your eyes, volleyballs and a possessed blue whale flying...then snow gently falling on a ring made of feces. That's just poetic. 1. "Panty + Brief" (Episode 12, Part B) This episode can be seen as a capsuled version of the entire series, plain and simple. It starts off with some slapstick foolishness and finalizes with some the quickest and most winning emotional character progressions of recent years. Stocking is admitted back into Heaven for reaching her holy-coin goal, but Panty is denied re-admittance due to her outlandish sexual conduct while on Earth; as penalty she must recollect all the Heaven coins by herself. Panty's response to this is essentially: let Brief do all the work while I accomplish my own mission of having intercourse with 1,000 guys before returning to my rightful place in the clouds. This sentiment does nothing for the Panty-haters out there, but minutes later, Gainax sets into a motion a 180 about-face for the Panty character, placing front and center a relationship that has been secretly building since Brief's penis-weapon was revealed to be a shotgun. See, Brief is much more than just a geek. Panty is much more than just a cum-dumpster. These people have feelings. Gainax always does a splendid job of projecting so much madness into the medium via offbeat characters, out-of-the-box animation and music, but they always remember that it's genuine penis heart that is the key to unlocking the commitment from an audience. Honorable Mentions: "The Stripping" (Episode 7, Part B), "Nothing to Room" (Episode 11, Part B) -- The Worst Parts5. "The Runny" (Episode 5, Part A)It's disheartening that this episode has a such a superb look to it (the short moonlit combat scene near the end is nearly stunning), but the main subject matter is so off-putting that nothing else matters when aligned into retrospective. I wish I could remember "The Runny" for its quirky art style, but I just remember it for all the obnoxious orgasm nose-picking and snot gags. The writing staff went for a caliber of jokes that, someone, somehow, must have thought were humorous, and yet the proceedings just falls completely flat on its face right from the get-go with no room to breathe.4. "Inner Brief" (Episode 10, Part A)Inside-the-body tales are always an opportunity for animations to go crazy with colorful aesthetics: it's a genre cliche that I welcome with open arms. This being Gainax, the studio at the top of the anime pantheon, I had high hopes for seeing Panty and Stocking screwing around with Brief's kidneys, lungs and digestive tract or something along those lines. What cards was I dealt? Crudely drawn imagery of the Angels casually assaulting Brief's brain, as well as far too much outside-the-body business with Garterbelt sticking his finger up Brief's anus. Also, Pregnant Brief. Oh god...Pregnant Brief. Not cool. Not cool at all. 3. "1 Angry Ghost" (Episode 8, Part B)BEFORE YOU GO ALL APESHIT ON ME...yes, the Monkey Lawyer is the pinnacle of awesome and his entire likeness (sans the above screencap) is hereby omitted from this blurb. If I described the on-goings of "1 Angry Ghost", namely all the references it contains, it seems like it might be the most amazing episode ever. Just to name a few: death-centric game shows, Tom Cruise, Magnolia, banana hair and Ren & Stimpy. Bottom line, the animation is just downright ugly, the jealous ghost-wife plot takes all the wrong turns and for most of the running length Panty and Stocking are being punished by maniacal voltage electrocution. None of this is comical, nor serves any sort of purpose. But Mike, what if there is no purpose? Does there have to be a purpose? If a story isn't going to have a purpose (which was likely the intention here), then it should at least serve to make us laugh. Or, it should strive to make us go WTF to the point of being a meme-ish spectacle. This is no spectacle. It's not even a can't-look-away train wreck. 2. "Chuck to the Future" (Episode 10, Part B)Another attempt at a stylistic gimmick gone horribly, horribly array, "Chuck to the Future" would no doubt be #1 on this list had I not taken a strange liking to Part III of the needless Chuck Trilogy (which I can only attribute to my respect for blatant Lynchian techniques). Honestly, I don't know why this bit even exists (in my Annotated Anime review I said it should be on the BR/DVD--I was being generous). "Chuck" is nothing special to look at, and the misfires of Flash animation (the giant hand) are enough to make me question Gainax's allocation of seals of approval before committing to the worthiness of a final product. Episode 10 is, all in all, 90% a bonafide shitfest. Lucky enough, the "D. City Rock" music video swoops in to save the bedeviled day right after this unforgivable monstrosity.  1."Sex and the Daten City" (Episode 2, Part B)This is when many, many people (who don't have the patience that I do) dropped Panty & Stocking like a sack of cold, metal dildos (yeah, try and remove that image from your mind). Everything about this episode is half-assed. The animation is bland, the plot is dimwitted and above all, it almost forces the viewership to despise Panty and Stocking. Even by episode 2, people were already at the "Okay, we get it...Panty is a whore" level of frustration, but then the show goes and crams a celebrity sex-tape arc down our throats. This kind of event, in real life, makes people hate otherwise borderline-passable for C-list celebrities. With "Sex", it made people hate Panty. While I was watching this Part, I hated Panty & Stocking; I hated that I had to review 11 more episodes. Passionately. Good thing I stuck with it, though. Gainax: they have knack for toying with people's predilections. --There you have it. There's no going back now.Let the omission bitching commence forthright.

2010 is now behind us, and as we journey ahead into a lush landscape of new Japanese animation territory we leave in our wake the bulk of the best series to arrive on our computer screens, various other monitors and mobile de...

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