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anime

Naruto x Steam photo
Naruto x Steam

Now you can get your Naruto anime fix on Steam


Jouki no Jutsu!
Feb 07
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, ninja fans, because Naruto has come to Steam! And no, I'm not referring to the bountiful slate of Ultimate Ninja Storm releases, but instead to a raftload of honest-to-goodness anime, courtesy of ...
Love Live photo
Love Live

Get some Love Live Lovin' on Valentine's Day


Waifu is love, Waifu is life
Feb 06
// Red Veron
Next weekend is a certain date that may be a bit harsh for some of you out there, though I may have some news that may help ease that feeling for some of you all out there. Love Live! is a fun show about high school...

Week Ender - Collectible Creatures

Feb 06 // Red Veron
[embed]34748:5414:0[/embed] "One Star" Anime: Digimon Savers I never got a chance to see this show but this is a pretty rad song. It's got one of those simple running along a sunset ending and it suits the music well.   [embed]34748:5415:0[/embed] "Let's join hands" Anime: Pocket Monsters - Best Wishes Season 2 Decolora Adventures A happy ending where everyone gets together at the end. Pretty uplifting if you ask me.   [embed]34748:5416:0[/embed] "Youkai Taisou Daiichi" Anime: Youkai Watch This is one of those dancing ending things that a lot of Japanese kid's shows do a lot and I like the idea of kids jumping around getting exercise after sitting for a half an hour in front of the TV.   [embed]34748:5417:0[/embed] "Toshishita no Boku" Anime: Medarot (Medabots in the US) This ending is soooooo 90's that it's giving me super nostalgia pangs. When I see and hear stuff in this style, I am instantly transported to those days when I would watch anime on those warm, late afternoons in my youth in the Philippines. So good.   Is there an anime or anime ending from a show all about collecting sentient creatures that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Collection Commercial
They sure did make a lot of cartoons that were secretly commercials back in the day and I gotta say that the ones from Japan were the best. The cartoons (which were secretly anime) had a different flavor compared to the US ca...

RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away


An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...

Naruto Shippuden photo
Naruto Shippuden

Naruto Shippuden: Itachi Shinden-hen ~Hikari to Yami~ trailer


No end in sight
Feb 05
// Hiroko Yamamura
I know I haven't been around the site for quite a while, but last I heard.. Naruto was ending or something. Well, it looks like the story lives on, in some type of spin off at least. Naruto Shippuden: Itachi Shinden-hen ~Hik...

Impressions: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash episodes 1-4

Feb 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Perhaps this is what makes Grimgar an interesting series to follow. Compared to many other titles in this genre, none of the characters overpower each other. In fact, they all play up the idea of an RPG group where each member has a major role to fulfill. You have your basic party of a Thief, Dark Knight, Fighter, Hunter, Mage and Healer, which make up the core group of the main cast. However, the kicker is that they’re not very good at using their jobs in battle. Instead of the series focusing on a tale about a group of adventurers saving the land or trying to escape from an unknown world, Grimgar touches upon the struggle of the main group trying to make a living in a new location. Even though their tasks seem to be simple in the eyes of many folks who play RPGs or Dungeons & Dragons, the series does a fine job in showing the audience that fighting a creature that’s usually depicted as a weakling in most titles (such as the show’s goblins) can be a threat to those who’re trying to learn the ropes of battle. In a way, it covers that feeling that comes from doing something for the first time, as the cast lacks any previous combat experience. Since the group has no memory of their life in their own world, this gives Grimgar a nice sense of mystery, as the viewers are unsure of how the characters actually are. To an extent, they’re all basically amnesiacs living an entirely new life, which makes one wonder how they’ll change when their memories return to them. Because of this angle, these elements made the series' story intriguing since this could play a major role when they uncover the truth about themselves. With the cast randomly shouting out terms related to our world, there’s plenty of promise with the story's mystery. Despite the series’ fantasy look, the meat of show focuses mostly on the group living their everyday life. The first three episodes gave us the rundown on Grimgar’s setting, along with showing us the gang’s routine during each day. Surprisingly, there’s also a feeling of innocence and curiosity between the main gang, as the staff handled a couple scenes that seemed like they would be played off for perverted laughs in a way that focuses more on the characters’ reaction than what’s happening in front of them. In this case, it works surprisingly well in grounding the group’s relationship with each other. For the most part, the show’s direction resulted in the whole thing being decent. While the show’s first three episodes didn't grab me at first, their story elements utilized made way for a major event that pieced everything nicely. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see this sort of scenario happen this early in the anime since the group was still getting used to hunting goblins for a living. Perhaps the most impactful thing about the outcome is that it resembles a scenario from a D&D campaign or a tough RPG where the player’s mistake can result in a huge consequence, regardless of how small it seems. Of course, Grimgar's visuals are a treat, as the backgrounds are colored in a way where they resemble a watercolor painting. To top it off, the characters’ colors and shading mesh well with the environment which gives off a nice soothing vibe. Thanks to this aspect, this helps most scenes look great when it focuses on the cast performing their daily routine. Even though the show’s soundtrack had some weak rock tunes here and there, there are still a few subtle fantasy tunes that suit the show’s setting. The main opening is alright and the series features a few vocal tracks that pan over a scene, which can be enjoyable at times. Since the music’s quality is the type that grows on the viewer with each passing episode, I could see it getting better later on. At the end of the day, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash presents us with some intriguing ideas on the concept of characters being trapped in a game-like fantasy world. While the show’s presentation resulted in the whole thing being average, episode 4’s tragic event delivers enough impact to make it promising. Since the show gives off a nice .hack//SIGN vibe, I’m hoping that it’ll improve when things start getting even tougher for the main party. In the meantime, the title’s recent event could cause the series to level up soon. [You can live the Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash life at FUNimation]
Grimgar photo
Living the fantasy life isn't easy
There’s something great about playing anime roulette when one chooses a show to cover—especially if it’s a title that one isn’t too familiar with. Before I jumped into the anime adaptation of the light...

OP Up! - Collectible Creatures Edition

Feb 04 // Red Veron
[embed]34737:5404:0[/embed] "Chie to Yuuki da! Medarotto (Wisdom and Courage! Medarot)" Anime: Medarot Known as Medabots in the US, this show aired in english around the world in the early 2000s. This show is taught me all about takoyaki, which they refer to as "Octopus Balls" in english and it is appropriately weird enough that it adds to comedy of that episode. Oh and this show has sentient robots that battle each other. I regret not picking up that DVD of the first season for $5 that one time in that store.   [embed]34737:5405:0[/embed] "XY&Z" Anime: Pocket Monsters XY&Z The latest opening from the Japanese version of Pokemon, this version has male vocals unlike the original and it sounds so much cooler with that opening. So edgy.   [embed]34737:5406:0[/embed] "Geragerapou no Uta" Anime: Youkai Watch It's the new thing that the kids in Japan are into and putting up a great fight against the juggernaut that is Pokemon. A silly opening that is dumber in the US version but not so dumb that it's good like One Piece 4Kids opening.   [embed]34737:5407:0[/embed] "Butter-Fly (tri Version)" Anime: Digimon Adventures Tri The return of a favorite for those kids who watched cartoons in the late 90's/early 2000s, this show looked pretty good and I've her people should check it out now that all the episodes are out. The episodes are all from the first of six films and more are to come in the near future. It feels great to see old friends again.   Is there an anime or opening from anime with collectible creatures that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Gotta Collect'em All!
Commercials disguised as TV shows have been around since the dawn of television and they're still around. Anime just is one of those perfect medium (it's not a genre) to sell products to children and even adults, and anime fr...

OMAKASE photo
OMAKASE

OMAKASE Launch Box Unboxing


Box Unboxing
Feb 02
// Red Veron
These days, there are plenty of those monthly box subscription services where you a box of some nice assorted themed items every month or so but the quality of the products in those boxes may be hit or miss at times. I've dab...

Annotated Anime: GATE episodes 13-16

Feb 02 // Josh Tolentino
By "malign reputation", I am of course referring to the perception in some circles of GATE as a right-wing wet dream of a fiction, supposedly so radical in its fringe ultranationalism that some commentators were prompted to abuse the term "fascist" in reference to it. For the record, GATE isn't fascistic. Given that the show isn't over, I can't say for sure that it's political themes won't ever mimic the murderous, revolutionary populism and expansionist fervor of actual fascist groups, but with perhaps the exception of the Emperor himself and some of the more sinister factions, GATE is definitely not some kind of fascist treatise masquerading under cover of cute anime girls. Accusations of nationalism and a militaristic bent are harder for GATE to dodge, but those qualities are less problems than simply aspects of its general political stance, and the attention brought to them seems more a result of amazement that an anime would dare hold an overt political stance than concerns about supposed "extremism". Written by an ex-member of the SDF, starring a soldier and bearing a subtitle that is literally: "The Self-Defense Fought In That Place, In This Manner", it's hardly surprising that it would come out with a bit of bias in favor of the military, much as you don't play Call of Duty looking for messaging in favor of gun control or disarmament. If anything, this more overt bias makes the show more complex in a way, particularly now that the second season has seen Japan, via the SDF, get more and more involved in the affairs and politics of the Special Region. Incidentally, it's here where the discussions and subtexts start to appear a little more fraught. In the second season, we see the first formal contacts between the Empire and Japan, with diplomats like Sugawara essentially buying influence among the Imperial elites. The buying ranges from currying favor via lavish gifts and good food to "shock-and-awe" via displays of military prowess. Meanwhile, crafty negotiators write up tax-free trade deals for resources the medieval-level natives don't see the value of. And it's here where GATE seems to look a bit like an idealized do-over of Japan's colonial period, with the Special Region representing a perfect, seemingly consequence-free place for Glorious Nippon to "do it right" this time, the right way, of course, represented by the valiant heroes of the JSDF. I won't lie and say that's not at least provocative, especially these days. At the same time, though, GATE's given much more care characterizing the people and factions of the Special Region, especially compared to the ham-handed portrayal in season one of foreign countries and the SDF's political opponents. Even a character whose main goal is to manipulate Japan into utterly destroying the Empire is sympathetic in her rage, even while she's undoubtedly an antagonist. So far in GATE's second season, there have been few truly irredeemable villains, just people working at cross-purposes and doing what they think they have to. To me at least, that's a really interesting way to regard a program that originally sold its appeal on the idea of shooting rockets at dragons.  [Watch GATE on Crunchyroll!]           Accusations of nationalism and a militaristic bent are harder for GATE to dodge, but those qualities are less problems than simply aspects of its general political stance, and the attention brought to them seems more a result of amazement that an anime would dare hold an overt political stance than concerns for "extremism". There's a healthy discussion to be had about the role a military should play in a nation's affairs, particularly in Japan's case, as their constitution abdicates the right to go to war at all, except in self-defense. 
GATE photo
A Tale of Two Dimensions
The last time we checked in with GATE, A-1 Pictures' chronicle of the Japan's encounter with nothing less than an entire other world, I noted that the show was considerably less, well...controversial than I had been led to be...

OMAKASE photo
OMAKASE

Get some Hatsune Miku goodies with OMAKASE


Exclusive Limited Edition Stuff!
Feb 02
// Red Veron
OMAKASE is one of those subscription services by Viewster that provides a themed bimonthly box of curated limited-edition merchandise, along with access to ad-free streaming anime, comics, and music. They've done themes ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 728

Feb 01 // Anthony Redgrave
The scales of the fight between Luffy and Doflamingo have been balanced in the previous episode with Doflamingo awakening his Devil Fruit powers causing everything around him to turn to string. Luffy continues to fly around like a balloon trying to find an opening. There is quite a lot of fighting in this episode as there were in the last few, a lot of kinetic high-octane scenes of the two combatants trying to gain the upper hand. On the ground citizens having been motivated by King Riku's inspirational speech on surviving scurry to the centre of Dressrosa. Personally, now that we have found out the Bird Cage doesn't affect buildings made of Sea Prism stone I would have rallied the immobile to stay in the factory. The benefits of not getting sliced like a tomato at Subway outweighs being pushed by the building.  Luffy's barrage eventually connects with a Leo Bazooka, a move that has nothing to do with the character Leo who is featured heavily in this season and Doflamingo flies across the entire town into the side of Flower Fields. Despite the show proclaiming, this was the end of the fight, any One Piece fan worth their salt knows it's a false ending. The celebrations are too muted, Luffy isn't completely drained, and there are still uncertainties around whether Luffy is an ally or foe due to his pirate lifestyle. If this was the ending there would be happier inspirational music, people celebrating a whole lot more, and Luffy being completely drained. Oh and crying. Lots of crying. But the tearful joyful kind. On cue everyone realises Doflamingo hasn't been defeated as the Bird cage hasn't disappeared. Before Luffy can deliver a second attack on the immobilised Doflamingo, Gear 4th runs out. Luckily it doesn't have the side effect of Gear 3rd of turning him chibi. I would've thought it would have this effect considering it uses parts of Gear 3rd to make him a whole lot buffer. Doflamingo emerges with a grin and more inflated head veins than Vegeta. Doflamingo isn't the only pirate after Luffy's head as Jesus Burgess (yeah that guy is still relevant) was waiting for the opportune time to steal the Gum Gum fruit from Luffy. Why he would want a devil fruit that makes a person into the Japanese Mr Fanastic I don't know. It's not as if it's the strongest devil fruit in the series despite winning the most fights. It's not a Logia, and Luffy gets by due to making the most out of the bad devil fruit, scraping through most of his fights. I think Luffy could make any Devil Fruit worth having because he's an excellent creative fighter and works damn hard to make his moves work. The preview for next episode looks to be an intermission between Doflamingo and Luffy meaning we have to wait around a little longer before we can conclude the fight. At least, we are in a position where they have been fighting. My prediction is that they're going to try and get Luffy to Mansherry for a quick patch job with Law so they can stop Doflamingo's regeneration. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
The Battle Rages On!
It's been a while since I've caught up with One Piece and there's been so much to see. A quick first impression of Fourth Gear is it looked so stupid. And I think that's what Oda was going for because when I saw it in ac...

Week Ender - One Year Anniversary Edition

Jan 31 // Red Veron
[embed]34730:5394:0[/embed] "Hito ni Yasashiku" Anime: The Rolling Girls I know this is opening of the series but the show did that thing where the first episode ends with the anime opening so it still counts and I like this song a lot (this cover version and the original by Japanese band The Blue Hearts). This was a show that started with some cool action but turned out was a sort of road movie type of adventure, at least the first few episodes that I watched were just that. I like look and design and I might revisit this show down the line.   [embed]34730:5395:0[/embed] "Kisetsu wa Tsugitsugi Shinde Iku" Anime: Tokyo Ghoul Root A This is a pretty cool song and great looking ending. I'm glad I got to revisit this one so that I can be reminded to get this song for my music collection. Love that water color art, I think it's watercolor unless someone can correct me on it. I just really like how it looks.   [embed]34730:5396:0[/embed] "Jounsetsu CONTINUE" Anime: Yatterman Night A show set in a distant future where the heroes that once stood for justice and order become the villains that oppress the citizens in a police state rule. In this time, those who descended from villains that those heroes once defeated rise up to fight the injustice cause     [embed]34730:5397:0[/embed] "Colorful" Anime: Saekano: How to raise a boring girlfriend A show that I enjoyed that was harem and poked fun at the idealized elements otaku have with romance and characters. The main character wasn't oblivious to the girls but just wanted to like his 2D waifus.   [embed]34730:5399:0[/embed] "Last Train Home" Anime: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Egypt Hen I need to catch up to JoJo so much. Watch it as soon as you can.   Is there an anime ending/opening or anime from about a year ago that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know.
Week Ender photo
525,600 Minutes
It's been a year since I started these features and I'm still not good at it. There was a book that said that it took 10 thousand hours to be an expert at something, and I reckon I only like have 10 minutes of total effort pu...

First Impressions: Myriad Colors Phantom World

Jan 30 // Nick Valdez
Based on a novel by Soichiro Hatano, Phantom World takes place in a future where a mysterious virus outbreak accidentally allows humanity to see outerdimensional beings that have always existed beside them. Think of any fantasy creature (like Jinn, ogres, yokai, and the like) and you've gotten the idea. Thanks to the virus, some children developed powers capable of fighting and sealing away some of the more wily phantoms. Haruhiko can draw phantoms and seal them away, but he's full of mostly useless facts since he's got a library in his house. Together with his phantom hunting club mates Mai, who uses martial arts and elemental powers she channels with her body (water from her kidneys, air from her lungs, etc.), and Izumi, a girl with a phantom absorbing stomach, they fight phantoms for sandwiches or something. First things first, Phantom World is absolutely gorgeous. KyoAni's high quality is still up to task here. There are great uses of color, the phantoms all have an interesting technological spin on them (think of them as kinda like Digimon when they appear in the real world and glitch in and out), the actual phantom sealing is beautiful as it takes on this swirling watercolor effect, the opening theme is kinda good, and the characters move with a pleasant fluidity. The character designs themselves are a bit uninspired, but everything moves well in motion so it kind of balances itself out. And despite all of Phantom World's (and my) jokes about boobs, it really lets off after the first episode. But there are a loooot of them. Almost to the point where I have to believe they gave one of their characters a large chest just to poke fun at her. That brings me to my issue with the first three episodes overall.  Unlike Kyoto Animation's tighter premises, there's a distinct lack of focus for this series. It doesn't really know what kind of show it wants to be. Is it an action show? A comedy? Because of this confusion, the pacing of each episode suffers quite a bit. With the series' set 12 or 13 episode run, any sleights are even more egregious. For example, the show has a monster of the week formula. This would be fine had there been at least some character development going on in the background or the phantoms themselves been any interesting, but so far nothing quite has any real depth. The first episode's phantom, telephone poles that force the gang to limbo (thus resulting in Mai's boob bounce weirdness), was goofy enough to work but that brought the episode to a halt. It was an encounter that didn't move the plot forward, and it was super weird seeing as how the first half of the episode dealt with so much world building. You'd figure the premiere would capitalize on it, but maybe they're trying to tell the audience they have a different type of story in mind. Although it sounds like I'm being harsh, I'm pretty sure I'm going to hang around for the rest of the series. By the end of the third episode it doesn't feel like Phantom World is any closer to finding a focus, but there were some positive developments. Episode two introduces Minase, a cool headphone wearing girl who fights phantoms by singing, Haruhiko's ability to summon super cute things, and episode three introduces a kid who probably fights using her teddy bear or something. Basically, there are enough tidbits here and there to keep me hooked through the rest of the series. If not, I'm hoping the show nails its pacing better down the line. At least it seems like its getting better at melding the comedy with the action by the end of the third episode. There's even a little bit of character development!  Myriad Colors Phantom World is definitely off to a rough start. It may be stunning to look at, but right now its best qualities are surface level. Since we're a quarter of the way into the story, it's a bit troubling there's yet to be something of true substance. But if you don't mind just looking at pretty animation and want some kind of new distraction, there certainly are worse options out there.  It's slick, some of the jokes land, and it's pretty cute. So maybe it'll get better over time? I certainly hope so.  [You can stream the myriad of colors of Crunchyroll and Hulu]
Phantom World Impressions photo
Myriad of boobs
Animation is a fantastic medium. With it you can do all sorts of otherworldly things like outlandish hair colors, crazy stories full of physical feats you can't do in the real world, and most importantly, you can really nail ...

OP Up! - One Year Anniversary Edition

Jan 29 // Red Veron
[embed]34723:5386:0[/embed] "Flyers" Anime: Death Parade A show that starts out as sort of collection stories of people ending up in a mysterious place where they play games to unveil the truth but turns into something so much more. I've only seen one episode but it is highly recommended by my colleagues here at Japanator.   [embed]34723:5387:0[/embed] "Ano More de Matteru" Anime: Yuri Kuma Arashi The craziest and weirdest show of last year (or at least that season), this one is about a world where bears gained human level of intelligence and rose up against humanity. The show takes place years after the uprising where humans won but everything is all weird and lesbians are involved and it just gets weirder from there on. Apparently inspired off incidents of bear attacks in a rural Japan in the early 1900s, which isn't surprising since the person who conceived Mawaru Penguindrum, a show inspired off of real life terrorist attacks.   [embed]34723:5388:0[/embed] "Miiro" Anime: Kancolle: Kantai Collection Based off a wildly popular online strategy game featuring cute anime girl anthromorphized World War 2 ships fighting alien water crafts, this one mostly doesn't make sense if you think too hard much about it. Just enjoy it for what it is even with the weird setting.   [embed]34723:5389:0[/embed] "Shiawase ni Tsuite Watashi ga Shitteiru Itsutsu no Houhou" Anime: Koufuku Graffiti A pretty show about cute girls enjoying beautifully drawn food that is as appetizing as the cute girls (HEYYOOOO). This also has a cute slice-of-life story too along with the food.   [embed]34723:5390:0[/embed] "Star!!" Anime: THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls An anime adaptation of a mobile game. ShibuRin is best girl.   [embed]34723:5391:0[/embed] "Seishun Satsubatsu-ron" Anime: Assassination Classroom An alien threatens the world's destruction in a year and the world cannot stop it, unless he can be killed by his students in a classroom where he is the teacher. Weird? Very interesting though.   So which anime did you love from a year ago? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
One Year War
So hey, it's been a year since I came back to Japanator and started these weekly features about anime opening and endings. Yes, I am also a couple of days late but life is much more crazy for me than it was a year ago when I ...

Annotated Anime: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika episodes 2-4

Jan 29 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 2 This episode amazed me right off the bat. While the first episode did so well in introducing Chika to its viewers, it didn't really delve much into anyone else. This episode you find out a lot about Haruta in just the first opening six minutes of the episode. You get a glimpse into his life including his living conditions where he lives by himself in an old apartment and that he has three sisters but doesn't seem to like being around him. There is a bit of a funny scene when Haruta invites Chika into his apartment and Chika panics about a girl going into the apartment of a boy who lives alone, but Haruta shuts that down in an instant. Haruta tends to be blunt and even poke at Chika a little bit. The rest of the episode is based on trying to get a new member into the club named Miyo. Miyo is an oboe player that Haruta has been trying to recruit but she is very standoffish. Honestly, it gets a little creepy as Haruta has this almost stalker like knowledge of Miyo that no one else seems to find a little creepy, but does give an explanation as to why the girl refuses to play her music ever again. The further Chika and Haruta dig into Miyo's past the more heartbreaking it becomes. Finally they, along with a girl who also tried to be friends with Miyo, break through her cold exterior. She presents them with a challenge in the form of an all white colored Rubix cube that she said was left to her as a punishment. She tells them they have until the end of the week to solve it and will join the club if they do. I've got to hand it to the creators of this series, whether this is from the books or not I'm not sure, but this is a moment where you start wondering what exactly is the game here? It's not some obvious answer and makes you more intrigued as to what is there to actually solve instead of just finding the answer. I won't give too much away, but it is a very emotional scene. For a character just introduced less than 30 minutes before, you feel for her when the answer is found. I will admit that I shed a few tears. This episode really impressed me with its story and layout. It accomplished a lot in introducing a new character while explaining details of one of the main characters, it had a creative and original puzzle to solve, a creative way to solve it, and a powerful and emotional story as to why the puzzle needs to be solved. Whoever came up with this particular story knew what they were doing and if this is a sign of the rest of the series, then I will be enjoying the ride.   Episode 3 Thankfully this episode is a lot lighter on the emotions than the last episode was. However, this episode really makes you think a lot more as there is no physical puzzle to solve. The focus of this week's ep is Maren, the saxophone player. Haruta, Chika, and Miyo practically stumble on him as Haruta and Miyo are helping the drama club and it seems Maren is terrible. Of course, Haruta digs more into Maren with the head of the Drama club. We get a little bit into the background of him and his life story of being adopted from China, cut in with scenes of him agonizing over a letter and a metal briefcase. This is when things start getting interesting. Haruta wants Maren to join the club but the drama club president doesn't want to let him go until Maren has performed on stage once. Haruta writes an idea for both clubs to be together in a play but it is rejected.  I REALLY want to mention the scene where we meet the "star" of the drama club, Maya. When Chika tries to greet her, the girl barks at her. Seriously. Turns out she's a bit of a method actor and the drama club instructor wanted her to be in the mindset of a wolf girl or something. The two clubs agree to an interesting challenge. They will take part in an improvised acting challenge. Each club has three people, Haruta, Chika, and Miyo for the brass club, and the drama club president, Maya, and Maren for the drama club. The challenge is for each club to try and make a certain member of the opposite club leave the scene first (Miyo and Maren are the ones picked). The plot of the play is that they are 6 counterfeiters on the run. As in previous episodes, Haruta is the star here as he takes over and tells the story and manipulates the scene. Very creatively done how he gets through this and makes it look easy. You aren't even sure what the "puzzle" of this episode is until it is solved. If there is a drawback here, Haruta once again gets scary accurate in the details of Maren's life and it isn't entirely explained how the heck he found all this out. I think he may have gotten it from the drama club president but it's not really stated. It does stick out a lot on how this kid would know the back-story and details of someone he just met. The episode was still enjoyable and it's a wonder to see Haruta solve all these puzzles, but this one felt like there was something missing in the details. It's still impressive how he solves things and the ending is heartwarming, but it feels like something has been left out.   Episode 4 This episode is a bit different than the ones we have seen. Instead of the episode revolving around introducing a new member to the brass club, this time, the episode revolves around Haruta and his living conditions. This episode delves more into Haruta's family as we meet his oldest sister, Minami, and find out why he thinks living at home is such hell. The episode gets more interesting when the explore a supposedly haunted small apartment building and hear the back-story behind it. The "puzzle" they solve with the building is again, very creative and how it is resolved is also well thought out, like the previous episodes. Like the episode centered around Miyo and the Rubix cube, you are compelled to watch this ep to find out what the answer is and it is wrap up in a nice touching story as well. It's a Christmas episode sure, but it's not your usual Christmas anime episode as it doesn't go over the top and make things too goofy around the holiday. We are at the fourth episode and it may seem odd to do another Haruta based episode, but I'm not sure if this ep would have worked as well as an episode two or three as it was. We had to get to see more of Haruta's personality and the show's rhythm in his abilities to solve these puzzles before we should see something like this. However, this episode seemed different than the others have been. There was more a sense of humor in this one with thing like seeing what has become of Haruta and why he dislikes his family, Chika's teasing of Miyo about the ghosts she's so afraid of, and especially in the flashbacks of why this whole situation is what it is. Dare I say it felt more like an anime episode if that means anything. I'm not familiar with the source material at all so I don't know if this is a filler episode or just one that is made to be a little more lighthearted and different. I'm not saying it is bad. It's certainly not. But there is a difference there, at least, to me anyway.   This batch of episodes was a lot of fun for me. The silliness didn't take over the series, the creativeness in the writing was excellent as not only were the puzzles creative but how they solved them was very creative as well. There is a problem sometimes that you get lost and Haruta does come across as a bit of a stalker, but those things don't kill the show. Still wondering why we haven't seen much from the twins and Keisuke yet, I'd like to know more about them. But, we are just getting started and have much more to go. See you next time! This episode amazed me right off the bat. While the first episode did so well in introducing Chika to it's viewers, it didn't really delve much into anyone else. This episode you find out a lot about Haruta in just the first opening six minutes of the episode. You get a glimpse into his life including his living conditions where he lives by himself in an old apartment and that he has three sisters but doesn't seem to like being around him.   There is a bit of a funny scene when Haruta invites Chika into his apartment and Chika panics about a girl going into the apartment of a boy who lives alone, but Haruta shuts that down in an instant.   The rest of the episode is based around trying to get a new member into the club named Miyo. Miyo is an oboe player that Haruta has been trying to recruit but she is very stand offish. Honestly it gets a little creepy as Haruta has this almost stalker like knowledge of Kiyo that no one seems to find a little creepy, but does give an explanation as to why the girl refuses to play her music ever again.   The further Chika and Haruta dig into Kiyo's past the more heartbreaking it becomes. Finally they, along with a girl who also tried to be friends with Kiyo, break through her cold exterior. She presents them with a challenge in the form of an all white colored rubix cube that she said was left to her as a punishment. She tells them they have until the end of the week to solve it and will join the club if they do.   I've got to hand it to the creators of this series, whether this is from the books or not I'm not sure, but this is a moment where you start wondering what exactly is the game here? It's not some obvious answer and makes you more intrigued as to what is there to actually solve instead of just finding the answer.   I won't spoil the ending, but it is a very emotional scene. For a character just introduced less than 30 minutes before, you feel for her when the answer is found. I will admit that I shed a few tears.   This episode really impressed me with it's story and layout. It accomplished a lot in introducing a new character while explaining details of one of the main characters, it had a creative and original puzzle to solve, a creative way to solve it, and a powerful and emotional story as to why the puzzle needs to be solved. Whomever came up with this particular story knew what they were doing and if this is a sign of the rest of the series, then I will be enjoying the ride.
Haruchika photo
Complete with lots of feels.
So now that we took a look at the first episode of this series, now it's time to see more of what makes this show go and what makes these characters tick. We've already seen that this series is not one of shock and surprise a...

First Impressions: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Jan 27 // Josh Tolentino
I've actually got a theory as to why the job of adapting this manga fell to Studio DEEN rather than the committee that decides what Shun Oguri or some other hot talent gets to star in each year, but first it'd be best to get into what Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (which I'll just call Showa Rakugo for convenience) actually is. Set during the 1960s and '70s, the show stars Kyoji, a newly-released convict who wants to take up rakugo, the old-fashioned Japanese art of storytelling. Through sheer passion and puppy-like charm, he prevails upon the reigning master, Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th, to take him in as a disciple. Kyoji meets Konatsu, the daughter of Sukeroku Yurakutei, Yakumo's old friend and fellow disciple under Yakumo the 7th (rakugo performers usually take new names as their careers bloom - think "Meijin Kawaguchi" and you've got the idea). Sukeroku died in an accident, but Konatsu's convinced Yakumo is somehow responsible. That's the gist of things as far as the core "plot" goes, but there's plenty packed into Showa Rakugo's double-length first episode, such as the fact that Kyoji (now working as name of Yotaro Yurakutei) is finding Sukeroku's style of rakugo to be much closer to his own personality and temperament than Yakumo's. And then there's Kyoji's old boss, trying to pull his underling back into the life. There's also Konatsu's own desire to perform rakugo conflicting with both the glass ceiling and her own inability to release her grudge against Yakumo and let him train her. And then there's almost sinister regard Yakumo himself holds for his departed friend. And then episodes 2 and 3 flip the script, rolling into an extended flashback of Yakumo and Sukeroku's youth, back when they were called Bon and Shin, respectively (and then Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro). Exploring their life before, against the backdrop of World War II and the postwar reconstruction, as well as against the changing fortunes of rakugo itself, not only deepens our understanding of both Yakumon and Sukeroku, but also of the mysteries in the present. How did these two guys, so close they're practically the canon pairing, grow apart? Why did Kikuhiko eventually inherit the name of Yakumo when Hatsutaro (who would be Sukeroku) was clearly the more talented and passionate practitioner? And who's the fancy-looking temptress that shows up looking for their master? And where does the "shinjuu" part of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, which stands for a "lovers' suicide", come in? It's all tightly packed and doesn't let up or repeat itself unnecessarily, and adds more depth to the cast than whole episodes worth of world-building in a different, more genre-bound show.  That's not to say that Showa Rakugo isn't a genre program. It's definitely a historical drama, no question about that. The thing that makes it stand out from your typical seasonal anime, though, is how grounded it is. The usual thread of absurdity that runs through most anime series - even the good ones - isn't here. What I'm talking about is the way other shows often use some form of contrivance to help their hook. Think about ERASED and its element of time travel, or even Shirobako and its occasional outbursts of drift-racing and group hallucination. By comparison, all Showa Rakugo has are its human elements, and rakugo. That groundedness is why I wondered why this isn't a prestige program in live-action. Which leads to my theory, which is that a live-action show about rakugo would require too much actual rakugo. Y'see, rakugo itself mainly consists of a performer sitting in front of his audience and then reciting a story. Usually comedic, the story always involves dialog between multiple characters, forcing the performer to play every role in it with nothing more than his or her personal skill, and a fan for a prop. Add to that that the stories themselves are often well-known to the audience, and it's all up to each individual performer to put their own spin on the delivery. It's Japanese expressiveness in microcosm. That in mind, any actors seeking to play rakugo performers would have to get pretty good at rakugo themselves just to be convincing. It's easier to animate a person being a good actor, by comparison. That puts the onus on the voice cast, which in Showa Rakugo performs brilliantly. Of particular note are Akira Ishida, who plays Yakumo, and Tomokazu Seki, who plays Kyoji. Both give full-length rakugo performances in the first episode, and pull it off with gusto. Ishida in particular goes above and beyond, as his duties in the flashback include acting like a guy who's bad at acting, getting better.  Of course, it might not be for everyone. Showa Rakugo is ultimately a talky soap about an old-fashioned, arguably tedious form of Japanese performance art. But for the right audience, though, it's a particularly rare gem of an anime, one that reminds folks just what's possible for Japanese cartoons.
Showa Rakugo photo
Stand up for some sit-down
If you've ever held the opinion that the medium of Japanese anime could stand to see more mature stories for adults, you absolutely owe it to yourself to at least try watching Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.  I'm not...

Week Ender - Anime Game Edition Part 2

Jan 23 // Red Veron
[embed]34712:5371:0[/embed] "Hanafubuki" Anime: Tokyo Majin An anime based on a franchise that dates back to a Tactical Turn-Based Strategy Role Playing Game on the original Playstation only released in Japan. This anime adaptation marked the first time the franchise made it outside Japan. I liked the show and this ending song is one of my favorite anime ending songs. Just check it out.   [embed]34712:5372:0[/embed] "Fighting Dreamer" Anime: Senran Kagura An anime based on a game created on the premise of wanting show anime boobs in 3D using the 3D display technology of the Nintendo 3DS. This ending sure has some fanservice in it for those who like the big anime boobies.   [embed]34712:5373:0[/embed] "I'll be your home" Anime: Devil May Cry - The Animated Series Based on the popular video game series, this adaptation took some liberties and didn't catch on with the fans that much. I don't really remember much about the show except that they added that little girl character to show off Dante's caring side. They should've just added a puppy or a kitten.   [embed]34712:5374:0[/embed] "Ano Kaze ni Notte" Anime: Valkyria Chronicles Based on the very gorgeous looking video game, this adaptation just wasn't as pretty and had some changes that didn't please the fans. What changes? Well, the female lead had some enlargement in the bust area. A shame this one didn't do so well since the game was absolutely brilliant.   Is there an anime and/or anime opening or ending based on a video game that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
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Game and Watch (Again)
This week's selection of endings is all about Anime based on video games and this is the second time I've done this theme after about doing these features for almost a year. There are enough of these anime to warrant the...

OP Up! Anime Game Edition Part 2

Jan 20 // Red Veron
[embed]34709:5366:0[/embed] "JAP" Anime: Sengoku Basara A ridiculous over the top adaptation of a game that takes some liberties in retelling the warring states period of Feudal Japan. Historical figures are reinterpreted to be crazy looking characters that are out of a video game (which it is) doing superhuman fighting moves and other things that will make a historian cry. The opening is so action anime, I want to PUT MY GUNS ON!   [embed]34709:5367:0[/embed] "Dimension Tripper" Anime: Hyperdimension Neptunia the Animation An anime based on a video game about characters that are anthromorphised video game systems based on real life video game systems. Confused yet? Well, okay. It's based on a game that is an role playing game about a kingdom where video game systems based on the real life game systems (Playstation, XBox, Nintendo) are rulers of their own nations have to band to together to fight an even greater threat. It's cutesy and some action are in there, it's not as serious as that summary I made but if it sounds and looks appealing to you, try it.   [embed]34709:5368:0[/embed] US Opening? I dunno Anime: Street Fighter II V This is the US opening and not the Japanese one. This show is remembered fondly by people and people loved this show back in the day. Brought to the US in the late 90's/early 2000's, this one isn't exactly accurate to the video games but fighting games tend to be iffy in what is canon anyways due to their nature. This is one is also remembered to NOT be the movie where Chun-li is topless in the shower for all of you wondering.   [embed]34709:5369:0[/embed] "Family" Anime: Gungrave This opening is one of those "non-traditional" openings for the more darker and "adult" anime that was common in the 90's. It suits the anime well and I vaguley remember playing the game, which doesn't hold up since we've come a long way with modern 3rd person shooters on controls and styles. Still looks really good with character designs from the author of Trigun.   Is there an anime based on a game that you love? SHARE YOUR FAVE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Game and Watch (Again)
So I've done this theme before, it's been almost a year since I started these opening & ending features and after doing almost 50 of these things, I've learned that I might eventually have to revisit themes and topics. Go...

First Impressions: ERASED

Jan 19 // Josh Tolentino
That said, the concept isn't immediately clear in ERASED's opening scenes. Instead, we're treated to the inner voice of Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old frustrated manga artist who knows exactly where he's going wrong: He's too afraid "to get into the heart of [his] own mind", that is to say, to really dig deeper and see how to put more of his soul into his work. Coming from his editor, that sounds like a load of bull, but since he's saying it himself, I'll give it a pass.  In any case, the source is some rather traumatic occurrences in his past, involving a series of kidnappings, the loss of a childhood acquaintance, and a friendly stranger by the riverbanks. I can't blame the guy for not wanting to open that can of worms. This is where the bit about addressing old regrets comes in. Satoru just so happens to have a power of sorts. Called "Revival", the power resembles a literalized deja vu: When something bad happens that Satoru is in a position to prevent, he gets rewinded back a few minutes, and needs to figure out just what's in the scene that's going to go all wrong. Revival is demonstrated in rather dramatic fashion in the first big scene of the opening episode, but ERASED quickly pulls the rug out from under assumptions that the show would turn out to be some kind of case-of-the-week program, with Satoru struggling to puzzle out the latest incident before it's too late. Instead, after being framed for the apparent murder of his (awesome) mother, Satoru gets rewound all the way back to 1988, 18 years earlier. He quickly figures that solving the case he was involved in way back then, and saving Kayo Hinazuki, the girl who was killed by his kidnapper, would be the key to preventing his mother's own death, which came at the hands of someone who may be the real killer. It sounds a bit complicated, but ERASED plays the tension high, and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering what'll happen next, and how the hell Satoru will be able to solve the central mystery, with his 29-year-old mind trapped in his 11-year-old body (think Detective Conan and you're on the right track). There's also an element of getting a "do-over" on life's old mistakes in the show, where Satoru gets to bond with the girl that he'd originally dismissed as weird, when in fact she was suffering domestic abuse. In any case, ERASED opens strong, and will hopefully continue on in that vein for the rest of the run.  [Check out more of ERASED via Crunchyroll!]
ERASED photo
You CAN go home again
If there's anything universal to the experience of being an adult, it's probably regret. Or more specifically, regretting the mistakes of childhood. Come on, you've done it before, too, I'm sure. Perhaps you've lost touch wit...

Week Ender - Mystery Edition

Jan 16 // Red Veron
[embed]34703:5358:0[/embed] "Zetsubousei: Hero Chiryouyaku" Anime: Dangan Ronpa: The Animation I love how this ending starts out like an old school Famicom (NES for y'all westerners) game and is also one of those modular endings that change over the course of the show. Plus that song is rad.   [embed]34703:5359:0[/embed] "why or why not" Anime: Higurashi no Naku koro ni Not a bad song. In my opinion, that accent actually adds to the atmosphere of the song. This is one of those songs that add to the impact of what you just watched, letting it sink in while trying to ease you out. Because you're gonna need it for this show. Watch it for the mystery and horror, the true horror in this show is that it takes place in the early 80's where they didn't have mobile phones and internet.   [embed]34703:5360:0[/embed] "For the love of life" Anime: Monster Another one of those songs with that vibe suited for serious anime. It has that somber vibe that suits the show. Watch this show.   [embed]34703:5361:0[/embed] "Kimi ni matsuwaru Misteri" Anime: Hyouka A super cute ending where the heroines are dressed up like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, while the male leads are criminal scum that are to be apprehended by the adorable detectives. I love this one.   Is there a mystery anime and/or mystery anime opening and/or ending that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
It was the butler!
I love mystery anime. There's just something about an animated medium that lends well to presenting a mystery. Live action, the written word and manga can be limited by the talent of the creators, though anime also has those ...

Ghost Dive: Your essential primer to Ghost in the Shell

Jan 14 // Josh Tolentino
The Basics Ghost in the Shell is best known as a 1995 film directed by Mamoru Oshii, but it originated in 1989, as a manga written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Since then, several more sequels and adaptations have been produced, including several TV series, manga, and an in-development Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johanssen.  Though never lacking for action-packed gunfights and high-tech mecha designs - particularly the iconic spider-legged "think tanks" - Ghost in the Shell distinguished itself from its "Japanimation" peers by having a philosophical edge. Storylines in Ghost in the Shell frequently tackled larger issues of transhumanism, the nature of consciousness and perception, and the effects of networks and the internet on human society. Even today some of the arguments and dilemmas raised seem timely.  Ghost in the Shell's various works can be organized into four broad categories, corresponding to the original manga by Masamune Shirow, the feature-film adaptations directed by Mamoru Oshii, the Standalone Complex TV series, and the Arise movie series. While not related directly, all Ghost in the Shell works share common themes, and star "Major" Motoko Kusanagi, team leader of Public Security Section 9, a black-ops unit of the near-future Japanese government. The Major and her peers work in a world where cyborg technology is common and "cyberbrains" enable people to access the internet at will, as well as hack everything from senses to memories, giving rise to all manner of new challenges. The Essentials Ghost in the Shell (1995 film) If you're only going to watch one Ghost in the Shell-titled work in your lifetime, you may as well make it the one that made the name popular in the first place. Following the Major and her partner Batou as they solve the case of a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master, the film replaced the verbose banter and cheery pin-up character designs with stark visuals and a more realistic style to suit a borderline-dour mood. Director Mamoru Oshii's emphasis on Ghost in the Shell's more philosophical aspects helped solidify anime's reputation as a more diverse, adult medium than the traditionally child-targeted cartoons markets outside Japan.   The Ghost in the Shell (1989 Manga) There's nothing quite like source material, and Masamune Shirow's original manga certainly fits the bill. While its art style and approach to characterization definitely dates it as a product of its era, it's hard not to be impressed by Shirow's attention to detail, conveyed in part through the use of copious footnotes explaining everything from the state of the world to the reason why a gun's barrel is a certain length. Most of the cases, themes, characters and subplots used in future adaptations would also show up in one form or another throughout the series. Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex (2002 TV series) For many fans, the 1995 film and original manga exist on opposite ends of the tonal spectrum, with the manga being densely constructed and quickly paced, and the film given over to a more contemplative mode. Standalone Complex, produced by famed studio Production I.G. and directed by Mamoru Oshii's protege, Kenji Kamiyama, took a shot at blending the two approaches, and largely succeeded at it. The result is arguably the best representative yet of what makes Ghost in the Shell unique, portraying the Major and Section 9's adventures as an extended cop show of shorts, and leveraging multiple cases to address a wide swath of themes, including the titular "Standalone Complex". The show also took a more political bent, examining philosophical issues from a pragmatic, grounded position, and developed further plots through its second season, titled Standalone Complex 2nd Gig, and the feature-length Solid State Society.  Standalone Complex also serves as the inspiration for the First Assault Online shooter, with abilities and game systems inspired by the Major and Section 9's feats in the series. Further Study Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004 film) A challenging, divisive entry into the canon, Innocence is regarded by some of its critics as the sequel nobody asked for. Set years after the 1995 film, the story doesn't even follow the Major, but her partner Batou and the then-rookie Togusa as they solve a mysterious case involving rampaging androids and human trafficking. More than the lavish, almost surreal visuals and seemingly inconsequential plotting, some fans disliked the even heavier emphasis on philosophy, with long stretches where characters seemed to interact only by quoting philosophers at each other. At the same time, the film is rich in ideas, if not coherence, and serves as interesting viewing, even if it departs from expectations.  Ghost in the Shell 2: Manmachine Interface (2001 manga) If Innocence tried to tell a Ghost in the Shell story without its ostensible protagonist, the Major, Manmachine Interface tries to tell a Ghost in the Shell story using only the Major. Set five years following the events of the original manga, the story of Manmachine Interface both elevates the stakes of those events, while descending into near-incoherence in terms of storytelling. While it's worth reading for fans of the original manga, it also stands out as the closest Ghost in the Shell comes to "overdoing it".   Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2014 film series) and Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie (2015 film) An attempt to refresh Ghost in the Shell for newer, younger audiences, Arise functions as a spiritual prequel of sorts, focusing on the Major as she goes about forming Section 9 itself, and exploring her personal life in greater detail than was typically alluded to in previous works. Between a younger-looking character design, new involvement from Mardock Scramble author Tow Ubukata, and an all-new voice cast, Arise tried to signal newness at every turn, but struggled to differentiate itself in the face of Standalone Complex, failing to reach the highs of that series despite being enjoyable. The Ghost in the Shell (Manga)
Ghost in the Shell Primer photo
Hack some knowledge into your cyberbrain
It's been more than two decades since the original Ghost in the Shell film came out, and the name still resonates as one of the most well-known examples of Japanese anime around. At the same time, it's been quite a while...

OP Up! - Mystery Edition

Jan 13 // Red Veron
[embed]34693:5351:0[/embed] "Grain" Anime: Monster Based on the critically acclaimed manga of the same name, this show has garnered attention even in the west with the likes of director Guillermo del Toro because it is just that good. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, just check it out for yourself if that little piece of info intrigues you enough.   [embed]34693:5352:0[/embed] "Sekai wa Hitotsu! Janai!!" Anime: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Imagine if famous fictional detectives from literature had cute girl descendants who were detectives with super powers that fought skilled thieves who also have super powers. Now imagine those detectives lose their powers and are really incompetent and useless without said powers. This is that show, with comedy of just how silly the characters are and the ridiculous situations they get into while trying to get their powers and reputation back.   [embed]34693:5353:0[/embed] "Mikansei Stride" Anime: Hyouka This show is notoriously slow and can put some of you to sleep. But on the upside, studio Kyoto Animation makes everything look pretty and when stuff does get interesting when stuff happens in the show with regards to the characters solving mysteries in their school.    [embed]34693:5354:0[/embed] "Never Say Never" Anime: DanganRonpa: The Animation Special High schoolers find themselves locked in a special high school where a talking stuffed bear pits them all against each other in a twisted game of survival where they have to try to murder each other and face each other off in a trial to literally get away with murder. Dark and thrilling, this is a fun show despite the grim premise and has garnered quite a following.   Is there a mystery anime and/or mystery anime opening that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Whodunnit?
The mystery genre is quite common in manga and anime, its a nice change from all the action involving swords and martial arts. The thrill and suspense rely more on the cerebral aspects and with a visual medium like anime and ...

First Impressions: Haruchika: Haruta & Chika

Jan 13 // Soul Tsukino
Haruchika: Haruta & Chika is a series that, much like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, is based off a series of light novels. Already that gets my attention as a fiction writer, but also as an anime fans since it's something about anime based off books made me tend to think it will have an interesting premise and story more than a run of the mill paint by numbers anime that was crapped out to take advantage of the latest trend and mimic another show's big success. The series starts off on a different note right off the bat as the first episode starts at the end. You see a number of high school kids getting ready to take the stage. You aren't told who they are, why they are there, not much of anything until you hear a voice talking about how they all had arrived at that point. Yes, it seems this series is told entirely as a flashback. This episode introduces us to Chika and her first day of high school. It does a really good job of introducing her as it shows not only her habits, attitudes, and interaction with people but also her goals and what she wants to do now that she is in high school. She wants to cast off her old ways and be a different person in this new environment, namely by taking up the flute.   We also get introduced to the other characters, but there really isn't a lot given out about them. Although the other title character, Chika's old childhood friend Haruta, gets a little more look into his character, it's mostly done in showing flashbacks of when he and Chika were children. Yes, a flashback in a series that is a flashback, reminds me of a joke made in Scott Melzer's fan parody Fanboy Soze Vs The Reanimators of the Otakulypes. The big plot point in this episode, and it seems the rest of the series, is that a puzzle appears before Haruta and Chika and the rest of the club as they try to figure out this musical code left on their board, painted in red paint. Chika has little training in classical music so she struggles with the clues to figure things out (at one point she confuses "Bach" with "baka"). The way they and the other brass instrument club members figure things out is really interesting, but the end of the episode gives you a big surprise that I'm not going to spoil here. After watching the first episode, I can say I am interested in seeing more. You have interesting characters, a premise that is not usually found in this type of show, and just a bit of silliness and goofy bits to make me enjoy following along. Think of a gentle mix of K-on!, Haruhi, and Azumanga Daioh mixed into a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.   [Check out Haruchika streaming on FUNimation!] Haruchika: Haruta and Chika is a series that, much like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzamiya, is based off a series of light novels. Already that gets my attention as a fiction writer, but also as an anime fans since it's something about anime based off books made me tend to think it will have a interesting premise and story more than a run of the mill paint by numbers anime that was crapped out to take advantage of the latest trend and mimic another show's big success.   The series starts off on a different note right off the bat as the first episode starts at the end. You see a number of high school kids getting ready to take the stage. You aren't told who they are, why they are there, not much of anything, until you here a voice taking about how they all had arrived to that point. Yes, it seems this series is told entirely as a flashback.   This episode introduces us to Chika and her first day of high school. It does a really good job of introducing her as it shows not only her habits, attitudes, and interaction with people, but also her goals and what she wants to do now that she is in high school. She wants to cast off her old ways and be a different person in this new environment, namely by taking up the flute.   We also get introduced to the other characters, but there really isn't a lot given out about them. Although the other title character, Chika's old childhood friend Haruta, gets a little more look into his character, it's mostly done in showing flashbacks of when he and Chika were children. Yes, a flashback in a series that is a flashback, reminds me of a joke made in Scott Melzer's fan parody Fanboy Soze and the reanimator's of the Otakulypes.   The big plot point in this episode, and it seems the rest of the series, is that a puzzle appears before Haruta and Chika and the rest of the club as they try to figure out this musical code left on their board, painted in red paint. Chika has little training in classical music so she struggles with the clues to figure things out (at one point she confuses Bach with baka). The way they and the other brass instrument club members figure things out is really interesting, but the end of the episode gives you a big surprise that I'm not going to spoil here.   After watching the first episode, I can say I am interested in seeing more. You have interesting characters, a premise that is not usually found in this type of show, and just a bit of silliness and goofy bits to make me enjoy following along. Think of a gentle mix of K-on!, Haruhi, and Azumanga Daioh mixed into a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.
Haruchika photo
Think Haruhi if she wasn't a psychopath.
I'm not exactly sure why I picked this new show of the winter season, really. I had no idea what it was about or the background behind it. Just a very brief description and one picture from a preview of the new anime debuting...

Week Ender - High School Life Edition

Jan 11 // Red Veron
[embed]34690:5346:0[/embed] "Glitter Days" Anime: Kuroko no Basuke There hasn't been a super successful basketball anime/manga since Slam Dunk! in the early 90's until show came along, probably due to it appealing to shounen sports fans and a lot of the female audience that loves to fantasize about the characters in one way or another.   [embed]34690:5347:0[/embed] "Shissou" Anime: Ouran High School Host Club I love this ending and I love this show, a comedy with a bit of romance, this show is all about a poor student being roped into the "Host Club" in the rich school that the student goes to on a scholarship. Mix-ups happen and this is a superfun show with good comedy, don't let the flowery and girly opening fool you, this show is worth it for the laughs.   [embed]34690:5348:0[/embed] "Bokura no Tsubasa" Anime: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukinai A group of friend-less people in a school start a club in order to learn how to get friends. Great comedy here.   [embed]34690:5349:0[/embed] "Brave Song" Anime: Angel Beats! A student finds himself in a weird school where a club has dedicated themselves to fighting another student who seems to have super powers. Weird? Well, just watch it and brace yourself for the sad emotions you are about to feel. You have been warned!   [embed]34690:5350:0[/embed] "Ohi-sama" Anime: Daily Lives of High School Boys A great comedy about the silly and dumb things that high school aged boys do. That is the premise. The ending above does a great job in showing how this show is random and dumb but still worth a watch.   Is there an anime or anime opening/ending set in a high school that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
IM LATE IM LATE IM LATE
I'M LATE, I'M LATE! Oh hello! Sorry about that, we had some technical problems and I had some stomach problems this past weekend so this was hella late. So let's just get on with this week's selection of anime endings for Wee...

OP Up! - High School Life Edition

Jan 06 // Red Veron
[embed]34675:5335:0[/embed] "Driver's High" Anime: Great Teacher Onizuka Though this one is set in a middle school but when it comes to school-set anime/manga, Great Teacher Onizuka deserves a mention. The drama can be quite heavy here that you may forget that these kids are in middle school and not high school at times. GTO is a sequel to an okay delinquent manga with the titular character wanting to go teach high school so he can hit on high school girls and maybe even lose his virginity. Though one thing is in the way: he has a conscience and a heart even with his rough ways and looks. The anime is good but watered down compared to the manga because of the heavy stuff in the manga.   [embed]34675:5336:0[/embed] "Sekai wa koi ni ochiteiru" Anime: Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) A love story set in high school but started long ago in middle school. It's girl meets boy and they agree to hang out but boy doesn't show up. Girl goes to high school and meets boy again but he has a different name. I loved the manga but caught up to it, I've seen a tiny bit of the show but this opening is just so good and one of my fave shoujo openings.   [embed]34675:5337:0[/embed] "Kirameku" Anime: High School Girls (Girl's High) High school girls get into all sorts of stuff in this one, not a slice of life but there is fun and drama in there. I've only seen a bit and I did enjoy it.   [embed]34675:5338:0[/embed] "Kimi + Nazo + Watashi de JUMP!!" Anime: Baka and Test Here is the supernatural magic school setting anime, when I first heard of the premise--- a high school where students compete to be the best alongside having summon beasts and such. But this one is a straight up comedy where the usual main character is a dense idiot and everyone know about it rather than using dumb excuses as to why the MC just doesn't get that the ladies want him. A really fun show that will please SHAFT fans since the main staff behind this worked on shows by SHAFT. Avoid the manga, I hear it is bad.    Is there an anime or anime opening set in a high school that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
High School High
High School. It's a setting often seen in anime and manga. For those of that are in that high school age, it's a time of self-discovery and that time between childhood and adultlife where new things open up. It also happens t...

Cosplay photo
Cosplay

Beat Down Boogie's newest video gives the spotlight to the kids


Prepare to go 'daw' a lot
Jan 06
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something wonderful about getting the chance to share a hobby with one's own kid. It acts as a way for the parents to bond with their children in a whole new way, and their teamwork gives off a warming aura to those ...

Let's break down the Kizumonogatari movie trailers

Jan 04 // Anthony Redgrave
Before we start, Kizumonogatari is actually the first part of a trilogy of movies. The first one coming out is called Tekketsu-hen, second is Nekketsu-hen, and finally Reiketsu-hen. Or to put it in English terms; Iron-Blooded, Hot-Blooded, and Cold-Blooded referencing Kiss-shots full name and title Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade the iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded vampire.  If you thought the trend of splitting the last book of a series into two movies is bad, they're doing a Hobbit here by splitting a 344-page book into three movies.  [embed]34670:5332:0[/embed] Kizumonogatari I- Tekketsu Trailer (10.10.15)  One of the first shots is of a tree with narration in the background. The tree isn't actually referenced in the book at all, or at least in any significant detail. However, we do know that there is a massive tree that grows out of the Cram School which is featured heavily throughout the series and that includes Kizumonogatari. The tree grows out of a hole in the roof of the cram school that was created by Kiss-Shot once she regains her true form.  Oshino and Araragi are sitting down in a sparse room that looks like a station. While the two of them are seen conversing with one another alone it is often done in the Cram school rather than any other location so that leads me to believe that this is still the cram school. However, the cram school has always been described as abandoned and unused. This being Shaft I can always suppose it holds a cinematographic purpose more than an accurate one.  Kiss-shot is shown bloody and limbless on the floor of a train platform. While this is the basis of Kizumonogatari the location differs from the book. In the book Araragi finds her on the street illuminated by a sole street light and is able to identify her as a Vampire due to her lack of shadow. 'You aren't going to save me' is a reference to Araragi's initial hesitation to help Kiss-shot. Ah yes, the panty scene. During Araragi's initial encounter with Tsubasa, a gust of wind blows up her skirt while she is adjusting her braid causing her panties to be revealed to Araragi. The book takes a long time describing the situation in great detail for something that takes a few seconds in the trailer. Earlier in the trailer, you see Tsubasa catch up to Araragi. This takes place after Araragi sees Tsubasa pants. I know this compared to any other times Araragi meets Tsubasa throughout the book because of the line 'You walk fast, Araragi' as Araragi was trying to get away without embarrassment from seeing her pants.  Araragi inspecting a young blonde girl on the ground surrounded by chairs is just after he awakes after saving Kiss-shot. The location is supposed to be the cram school which I can see through the use of the plastic school chairs. Araragi running crazily to the right in a sort of frenzy is when he attempts to save Kiss-shot. In the book Araragi internally debates whether or not he should save her and ultimately abandons his humanity to do so hence the crazy running. Some of the last shots in the trailer have people engulfed in fire. This is because vampires are weak to certain things and sunlight is one of them. The first figure is Araragi having just discovered this weakness and the second is Kiss-shot in her now 10-year-old form saving Araragi from burning to death. [embed]34670:5331:0[/embed] Kizumonogatari I- Tekketsu Trailer 2 (12.24.15)  The second trailer doesn't have a lot more to add that hasn't already been seen in the first. But we do get a glimpse of the three vampire hunters that are after Araragi and Kiss-shot throughout Kizumongatari.  Araragi's first bites of dialogue follow the novel as he pleas with the Vampire Hunters not to kill him because he is human. Despite at this point having just turned into a Vampire by Kiss-shot. The first Vampire Hunter shown is Dramaturgy, as described in the books to be a seven feet tall man with unkempt hair held back with a hairband.  Next is Episode. Now he has already made a reappearance in the latest Owarimonogatari as part of Shinobu Mail and also earlier in Tsubasa Tiger as part of Monogatari Second Season. For the most part, he looks the same as his TV anime counterpart including the giant cross he slings over his shoulder.  Last is Guillotine Cutter. The trailer has a glare behind him so it shadows most of his clothing. In the book, he is described to be wearing priestly robes, docile face, and hedgehog-like hair. The light shining from behind him may be a reference to his holy background. Another interesting point is Araragi's duds. Araragi is never described in the books and it was character designer Akio Watanabe who had made him the way he looks now. What's interesting is that Araragi has the same sense of style as he does in the anime; hoodie, vest, and jeans but he is also rocking a peace medallion. Could this be referencing the lie he tells his sisters that over the holidays he is on a journey of self-discovery? One of the last shots is Araragi holding Kiss-shot in his arms with blood spray across the ground. From the pose and Kiss-shot's lack of limbs, I think this is just as Kiss-shot feeds on Araragi to save herself.  [embed]34670:5333:0[/embed] Kizumonogatari Movie Trailer (2012)- VERY MUCH SPOILERs This is a little bonus. Before Kizumonogatari exists as we know it now, there was a lot of talk about releasing it as a stand-alone movie in 2012. There were a lot of delays and radio silence about the project before 2015 finally revealed the trilogy. They were able to bring out a trailer for Kizumonogatari before all this uncertainty and it shows a lot more of the story than the previous two.  This section will include massive spoilers for the whole book since there are scenes from the finale featured in the trailer.  First it is more accurate than the more recent trailers having Kiss-shot actually being found on the street illuminated by a sole street lamp just as it's described in the book.  Next is Araragi's first confrontation with the Vampire Hunters. Dramaturgy is seen in the left lane, Episode can be identified in the right fork with his massive silver cross. And Guillotine Cutter appears from behind Araragi just as it's described in the book. The character designs for the three Vampire Hunters look a little rougher than their other anime counterparts. Episode looks a tad older and without his white school uniform and is instead in a generic white shirt.  Dramaturgy doesn't even look human here although his hair and physique still match his description. It could be a reference to his true form as a Vampire. We get a better shot of Guillotine Cutter here as it's obvious that he is in a priestly garb, still with a calm demeanor. No better shot of his hedgehog-like hair, though. Next we see Meme Oshino intervening against the three vampire hunters taking down Araragi. This is very faithful to the book as he adopts the same weird pose to block all three simultaneous attacks.  Episode's cross is seen connecting with Araragi with a splash of blood emitting from his shoulder. This is from Araragi's battle with Episode where Araragi discovers another one of his vampire weaknesses.  Tsubasa watches the fight from the background. This is either from the first or the second fight as she is witness to both. However judging from the previous shot referencing Episode's fight with Araragi I'm thinking it's from that fight also. Tsubasa faces away from a pair of hands inching creepily towards her. From the background, I know that it's the scene where Araragi asks to touch Tsubasa's breasts. Next is Oshino Meme holding up Kiss-shot's stolen heart moments before he returns it to Araragi. The corpse is Guillotine Cutter after he is eaten by Kiss-shot in her newly regained perfect form. The next few scenes are fairly chronological. Kiss-shot arrives on the school sports field to do battle against Araragi. Her landing destroys the ground due to her leaping from the Cram school to Araragi's school grounds. Then Araragi and Kiss-shot fight each other, completely decimating each other with each hit. Again very similar to the novel as their vampire strength is able to destroy the bodies but their healing factor can regenerate the lost flesh. Overall this trailer is very faithful to the novel it is based on. It also retains the anime style that Shaft had been using for the past few seasons compared to the style being incorporated into the films now.  Kizumonogatari I- Tekketsu Trailer (10.10.15)
Kizumonogatari photo
Did something good happen just now?
It's a very interesting time for English literate Monogatari fans. With the first officially translated Monogatari light novel coinciding with the often delayed and heavily anticipated Kizumonogatari movie set to re...

Annotated Anime: Attack on Titan: Junior High episodes 11 & 12

Jan 04 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 It's school festival time (what did I say last time about anime requirements?) and the class of our first-year buddies have to run two different events during the festival. Since there are not enough kids to staff both events during the festival, they will have to take shifts at each. The events decided on, a stage play of Snow White and running a Cheeseburger stand.   The food stand, of course, gets almost all the attention. They are stuck right next to Rico and her class's rice stand (which actually is a giant rice pot) that won the award last year (In sales? Popularity? They never really say). Eren, of course, takes the competition way too seriously as he leads the team of himself, Mikasa, Armin, Mina (who has done squat the whole series), along with Franz and Hanna.   Easily the star of the burger stand scenes is Armin. He takes his role dead serious and even gives himself an internal monologue to fire him up before he's dolled up to look like a cute girl. Seeing him give out a strategy for beating Rico's class and acting like a cute girl n the same breath are hilarious.   Outside of the food stall battle we see some of the other stalls going on. We check back to the play which gets worse and worse as more of the cast disappear to help Eren. We also check in with the maid cafe with Christa and Ymir (And Ymir's attempts to keep Reiner from enjoying Christa's prepared food), along with Hitch and Annie's time in the "Cat Snuggle Cafe" (that hits close to home for me as an ardent cat person), and Hange's insane demonstrations with Sawney and Beane that have way to much of an S&M vibe to it.  The ending is either completely predictable if you have been following the series or a bit of an "Oh Crap!" moment if you have been caught up in the antics of the episode.   This series is not known for its writing and this is a good example of it. There isn't really much of a story here and it is standard fair for a "school festival" episode. It's not a terrible episode, but if you've seen enough anime and have been following along with this series, it doesn't exactly come up with anything new or surprising. Episode 12 The episode picks right up where we left off. Eren is PISSED. Nobody messes with his chee-burgs! He's rip-snorting angry and wants to go get his burgers back. Mikasa isn't going to let Eren kill himself, and soon the others join in. They quickly face resistance from the teaching staff but Eren isn't hearing any of it. He tries to get the upperclassmen on his side, but they resist. Eren isn't satisfied and decides to do this on his own. Once again, the others join him.   The rest of the episode plays out as the gang scurry through the Titan's part of the school building. It goes about as well as you'd expect from this show. They get some help from Rico and her class as they lost their rice stand as well, but after that, the episode just gets absolutely bizarre.   Featuring Titans in raver gear, A musical number by blindfolded upperclassmen, The reappearance of Jean's secret crush, and a parody of the "boulder" battle from the original series really doesn't describe how insane the episode turns. What the last episode lacked in originality, this episode makes up for in spades.   But you know what? I got into it. I know, it's a show where thought isn't a prerequisite. It's a goofy nonsense parody of a dark and brutal series, but by god I was cheering on these little guys in their quest to get the chee-burgs back. I thought the ending was heartwarming. it was like that the main series doesn't have real good endings for most of the characters, but here these little guys give you the good things the main series can't give you.   The finale really lets loose and brings some weird insanity that some of the previous episodes lacked. It started in line with the rest of the series but started getting into Excel Saga levels of crazy in the second half, but brought everything back together to give a good ending and wrap it all up in a happy chee-burgy way.   I'll wrap up the entire series in its own article, but I give this finale a big thumbs up. It was something that caught your attention, wrapped things up, and most of all was fun! It's school festival time (what did I say last time about anime requirements?) and the class of our first-year buddies have to run two different events during the festival. Since there are not enough kids to staff both events during the festival, they will have to take shifts at each. The events decided on, a stage play of Snow White and running a Cheeseburger stand.   The food stand of course gets almost all the attention. They are stuck right next to Rico and her class's rice stand (which actually is a giant rice pot) that won the award last year (In sales? Popularity? They never really say). Eren of course takes the competition way to seriously as he leads the team of himself, Mikasa, Armin, Mina (who has done squat the whole series), along with Franz and Hanna.   Easily the star of the burger stand scenes are Armin. He takes his role dead serious and even gives himself a internal monologue to fire him up before he's dolled up to look like a cute girl. Seeing him give out strategy for beating Rico's class and acting like a cute girl n the same breath are hilarious.   Outside of the food stall battle we see some of the other stalls going on. We check back to the play which gets worse and worse as more of the cast disappear to help Eren. We also check in with the maid cafe with Christa and Ymir, Hitch and Annie's time in the "Cat Snuggle Cafe", and Hange's insane demonstrations with Sawney and Beane that have way to much of an S&M vibe to it.   The ending is either completely predictable if you have been following the series, or a bit of an "Oh Crap!" moment if you have been caught up in the antics of the episode.   This series is not known for its writing and this is a good example of it. There isn't really much of a story here and it is standard fair for a "school festival" episode. It's not a terrible episode, but if you've seen enough anime and have been following along with this series, it doesn't exactly come up with anything new or surprising.
Attack on Titan: Jr high photo
Chee-burg Backlash!
The zany ride comes to an end.  We take a look at the last two installments of the most chibi of this season's anime shows of Japan, Attack on Titan: Junior High. How will our ragtag group of first-year friends wrap thin...

Touhou photo
Touhou

Here's a nice extra helping of the Memories of Phantasm doujin anime series


The new year is off to an amazing start!
Jan 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As the old year goes away, the gang at Manpukujinja have uploaded the sixth episode of their Touhou doujin anime, Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~, on their YouTube page. Just like the previous episode, t...

Week Ender - Best Endings of 2015 Edition

Jan 02 // Red Veron
[embed]34662:5317:0[/embed] "believe" Anime: FATE/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Another adaptation from this series that pretty much erases that horrible attempt more than a decade ago, this ending has a great song by kalafina and shows us some glimpses to the lives of the protagonists of this show.   [embed]34662:5318:0[/embed] "Hello, Shooting Star" Anime: Assassination Classroom A pretty ending for a show about trying to kill and alien teacher in a classroom or the the world will end. I love that chalkboard styled art with that soft rock song. I really need to finish the first season.   [embed]34662:5319:0[/embed] "Sugar Song to Bitter Step" Anime: Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) I know nothing about this show but I read Josh's description of it on his Japanator Awards list and seeing the ending above, immediately shot this show up to my top priority watch list.    [embed]34662:5320:0[/embed] "Never Say Never" Anime: Durarara!! X2 Shou The latest in the anime adaptation of this series about all the crazy stuff happening in urban metropolitan Tokyo, I am digging that song a lot.   WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ANIME AND/OR ANIME OPENING/ENDING FROM THIS YEAR?! SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I WANNA KNOWOWOW
Week Ender photo
Look back at the Best Endings of 2015
I gotta clear up one thing: The endings featured on here aren't the best endings of anime this past 2015 but the endings OF the best anime of 2015. There might be some anime from last year that may have been not so good but h...


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