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OP Up! Magical Girl Edition

May 27 // Red Veron
[embed]33887:4761:0[/embed]"Danzen! Futari wa PreCure"Anime: Futari wa Pretty CurePreCure is an magical girl series that's been around since 2004 and has become the girl superhero counterpart to the live action Kamen Rider series for boys. Also has a following of creepy adult men.[embed]33887:4762:0[/embed]"Synchrogazer"Anime: Senki Zesshou SymphogearNot quite a traditional magical girl show but still follows certain elements found in the magical girl genre. This show adds crazy over-the-top action and a music motif where the girls sing while they fight to activate their powers.[embed]33887:4760:0[/embed]"Connect"Anime: Mahou Shoujo Madoka MagicaThe show that brought the magical girl genre to more audiences with its dark tone and stylish action. Madoka has spawned many imitators trying to marry the usual light and fluffy magical girl themes with more grim realism and not many have met the same success.[embed]33887:4764:0[/embed]"Innocent Starter"Anime: Magical Lyrical NanohaA series that has a dedicated following and has spawned multiple seasons, this series still is going strong with TV anime and movie adaptations and even a new currently-running series.[embed]33887:4765:0[/embed]"Sailor Moon Theme"Anime: Sailor Moon (US Dub)You know this opening.BONUS VIDEO:[embed]33887:4763:0[/embed]This promo video designed for distributors is for a canceled US remake of Sailor Moon. Referred to as "Saban Moon", referencing the similar style of how the adaptation of Power Rangers by the company Saban, this show has a mix of live action and original US animation. Did I not mention your favorite Magical Girl anime opening? SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, YO!  
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Magical (Middle School) Girls
The magical girl genre has been around for decades and has experienced a bit of a renaissance as of late. It has now reached a wider audience with targeting audiences outside of young girls with different shows adding in diff...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 694

May 26 // Anthony Redgrave
From last week's episode, Luffy and the tag alongs are still fighting the giant soldier nutcrackers that seem to be invincible. All the gum gum attacks and blade of beauty slashes can't seem to keep these monstrosities down. And that might be partially because the girl with the Toy Devil Fruit has regained consciousness. There is an excellent scene where she is presented sausages by long nosed henchmen despite her new found fear for 'stick shaped' things. Its funny because One Piece's 'red shirts' are almost always generically drawn characters and never have a defining feature like a long nose but they all seem to have congregated around Sugar in that one moment.    Robin's jump squad are ambushed by Gladius who is able to bring down Robin and Bartolomeo but Rebecca escapes to the Level 4 with Law's key. Unfortunately Law is stuck on Level 3 so we have to wait even longer before Law can stop whining like a bitch and become useful. Finally, things are starting to be set up for some great fights as Robin orders Luffy's group to continue so she and the Straw Hat fanboy take on Gladius and the rest of the nutcrackers. Again not much happens in terms of plot in this episode but there are a lot of set ups for future instalments. I can't wait to see Usopp display his god like sniper ability since its always so damn rare and team up fights are always great to see. Even though it was filler, the team up fight with Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple is still a personal favourite.
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Are we still in Dressrosa?
The Dressrosa arc had the potential to be one of my favourite arcs. The main bad guy was the enigmatic Donquixote Doflamingo, it carried on from Punk Hazard so we got to have more Law, and Dressrosa is a great locat...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 6

May 25 // Salvador GRodiles
For a series that’s supposed to run for 25 episodes, Gold Storm is really pushing it to the limit in these past few episodes. Each segment introduces us to a piece of the big mystery, and our main heroes make sure to follow up on every clue that comes their way. Honestly, it was amazing to see that the story hit a major point in the big conflict this early in its run. I mean, did anyone expect for Ryuga and Rian to find the source of the increase in Horror activity so soon? My assumption is that no one saw this coming. Since the secret behind Kiya Antiques felt like a halfway-point twist, the show’s staff has proven to us that things are bigger than they seem. However, what made this chapter interesting was how they grounded the key aspects that Horrors are attracted to. Even though Rian was the kind of girl who flirts with people to get what she wants, her inner desires and actions aren’t classified as Karmic feelings. All in all, it’s good to see this type of trope being implemented in the franchise, as many shows that are about hunting evil demonic creatures tend to force its heroes to be lawful good and/or fully pure. While this element has always appeared in the previous Garo installments (such as Takeru from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness and Germán from Garo: The Carved Seal of Flame sleeping with various women), there’s something nice about having the series remind its viewers about this rule, since it adds an extra layer of goodness to the experience. Despite the appearance of another CG elite Horror, the action between the suit actors and the models are still an improvement over the third Garo series. Hell, the monster’s multiple arms and elephant-like features made it a neat creature. Perhaps if it was a costume, the fight might’ve been better, since the 3D creature didn’t feel much impact from the Golden Knight’s slashes. Nonetheless, there were some satisfying moments in the fight, and the end result gives us hope that the staff’s holding back their greatest assets. This hidden trump card lies in the mysterious cannibalistic Horror, since the figure's lighting shows that the creature is an actual suit. If this is anything to go by, Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s still holding a few things back from its viewers. Seeing that this new villain sports a cool undead demonic look, it’s safe to say that Amemiya and his team managed to leave us with a tasty sample to get us excited for the next course. Of course, a fight scene that features a classy old dude that pulls off Captain America-like moves with an antique shield is another great sign for things to come. At this point in the game, it’s a good thing that I chose to stick with Garo: Gold Storm Soar. Zinga and Amily may lack the qualities of being great villains, but the show’s plot manages to imply that they hold more control over the city than it seems. Based on the previews for episode 7, their time to shine might finally arrive, and things might start to get more intense. With the special daggers’ role and the mysterious young Makai Priest's motives, there are plenty of potential recipes for the staff to exploit in the upcoming weeks. One thing for sure, my stomach is ready for the next huge meal.
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Boxes with anteater logos equal doom
I may’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for Garo: Gold Storm Soar to blow our minds with some amazing suit on suit action, but that isn’t stopping me from enjoying the show’s story. Since the series’ ...

Week Ender - Fantasy Twist Edition

May 23 // Red Veron
[embed]33872:4752:0[/embed]"Sticking Places"Anime: Yu-Shibu:I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a JobA fanservice-heavy show that had a nice premise that didn't get that developed in the first season (which is how these things based off light novels always turn out to be). The long titled show is a fun watch for those that like the fanservice and waifus that this show generously provides the viewer. More focused on a story it tries to tell rather than a workplace comedy that one might expect from the title.Lots of fanservice in that ending.[embed]33872:4753:0[/embed]"Oracion"Anime: No Game No LifeA fuzzy and warm-feeling inducing ending song that is a nice touch to the often exciting episodes of the show is a nice breather, except for that one scary one that got spooky.[embed]33872:4754:0[/embed]"Ringo Biyori~ The Wolf Whistling Song"Anime: Spice and WolfA pretty cheerful song that sounds like it was made by a bearded old man who happens to be music artist in the late 60's, this one is matched by the really amusing story book images that accompany it.[embed]33872:4755:0[/embed]"Watashi no Houseibako"Anime: Outbreak CompanyIn this quite cute ending, we get to see Petralka act all adorbs while wandering around by herself  oncastle grounds. We get to see more of this part of her in this ending since it's the 'dere' part of her Tsundere character where 'tsun' takes precedence.[embed]33872:4756:0[/embed]"Tsumabiku Hitori"Anime: The Devil is a Part-timerA laid-back ending with Chiho mostly just chillin' and being pretty, a great contrast to the lively and high-tempo opening song.So is there an ending you love that I missed? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I WANT TO KNOW!
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Dungeons, Dragons, and Double Ds?
This week's Week Ender is about those fantasy anime with a bit of a twist to them. Fantasy fiction has always had outlandish and strange elements native to it but it's quite common to see a different take on the genre to brea...

OP Up! - Fantasy Twist Edition

May 20 // Red Veron
[embed]33862:4747:0[/embed]"Zero!!"Anime: The Devil is a Part-timerPutting a twist on the "Hero Versus the Demon Lord" story, this show places the aforementioned Hero and Demon Lord into our world. The Demon Lord escapes into modern day Tokyo and finds himself in need of basic necessities so he has to take up a part-time job and find a way back. Pretty great fun.[embed]33862:4748:0[/embed]"Univer Page"Anime: Outbreak CompanyIf you ever needed to invade a foreign land, there are many ways to do it: by military force or by taking over the hearts and minds of the people. If you opt for the latter peaceful option, you're gonna need something powerful like a religion. Well, I know one thing that people treat like religion: Otakudom.So let's take one of the biggest otaku ever and send him to a fantasy world ruled by magic and strange creatures, and introduce them to the joys of Haganai and Attack on Titan and let's see if we can capture the imagination of some people who've never even experienced indoor plumbing.[embed]33862:4749:0[/embed]"Headwind"Anime: MaoyuuOne of the early works that put a spin on the "Hero versus Demon Lord" story, this one focuses more on the social and political aspects of the oft-used story trope. This one provides more of a grounded perspective of a world beset in such a conflict and how complicated it really is and isn't just some grand heroic tale.[embed]33862:4750:0[/embed]"This Game"Anime: No Game, No LifeThe most different entry on this week's selection, this one combines the fantasy setting with dueling competitive mind games. A video game obsessed pair of step-siblings bored of the challenges in our world are whisked to a world populated by different nations and races.These races were once at war but found peace in competing in games bound by rules. This new world excites them and they find themselves helping out a kingdom that is on the verge of being taken over.A really great twist on the fantasy world with the duels that have clever solutions is pretty entertaining.Which one is your favorite fantasy anime with a twist? Did I miss your favorite? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I WANNA KNOW!
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Swords and Sorcery?
So the new hot thing in popular fiction in Japan is taking the traditional same old stuff and putting a new spin to it. This new surge is quite prevalent in the fantasy genre, with injecting new life into stories with themes ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece 693

May 20 // Anthony Redgrave
Luffy, Law, Kyros, and Cavendish head towards the Palace while the rest of the Gladiators fend off Doflamingo's executives and their lackeys Zoro fights off Pica allowing Bartolomeo, Robin, and Rebecca to rendezvous with Luffy's group as they have the key to Law's sea prism cuffs Sabo duels Fujitora to prevent his pursuit of Luffy Usopp does nothing with King Riku and Violet The Sunny Protection Squad and Sanji still haven't been seen since episode 662 Kin'emon finally finds his samurai friend Kanjuro Franky busts into the SMILE factory but still has to deal with Senor Pinkand There was a new intro. Nothing particularly catchy or memorable  This episode picks up with Luffy's group taking out the extremely creepy toy soldiers on the third level. These guys would look menacing since they are giant, move abnormally, and appear from the fog but Luffy and the others defeat them with such ease that there isn't much tension. In fact they have a Legolas/ Gimili style competition to see how many they can take down which Luffy ends up winning much to Cavendish's chagrin. Kin'emon meets up with Usopp and King Riku with his new samurai friend Kanjuro in tow. Kanjuro has the same ability as Sai from Naruto except he is a Samurai not a Ninja (can draw things that then come to life). This guy is great. He's another good source of comic relief that prevents One Piece from taking itself too seriously. Although having a giant calligraphy brush with a Katana handle is really weird.  After outsmarting Senor Pink, Franky gains access to the SMILE factory but is instantly met with opposition in the form of Kyuin, the manager. She is a big masked woman that wields a hoover because even in One Piece they conform to gendered stereotypes. Through some affectionate means Franky subdues Kyuin and turns his attention to Senor Pink. They talk about being Hard Boiled as the tramps swoon. I don't quite get it but I assume its a concept I'll understand once I have grown more than 2 chest hairs. I was really enjoying this arc at first but its beginning to lose traction. The pace has slowed down to the point the plot is barely moving even though they are finally making their way to fighting Doflamingo. I hope they focus on Zoro's fight against Pica soon or explore Law's backstory that was hinted at earlier. 
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Ah~ So Hard Boiled!
Yo ho ho! Ensign Redgrave back on the helm to deliver the SS Japanator through the Grand Line safely and to document the adventures of the Straw Hat Crew. I've been MIA for a while so I'll summarise the missing 9 episodes in bullet points. 

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 5

May 18 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that Gold Storm does right, it’s that it continues to establish continuity between its episodes each week. Even when a segment feels like a side-story, its key moments somehow manage to link the chapter to the main plot. Hell, I never expected for that one girl from episode 1 to return recently, since she seemed like she was just a random victim. In a sense, this type of format can make a program fascinating, because it lets people ponder on which characters’ll become important later on. This following issue may not affect the show’s quality, but I found it strange that the girl’s sister resorted to fooling around with guys to help her raise money to study abroad. Couldn’t she have gotten her younger sister to sign up for a grant, scholarship, or some other form of financial aid? I guess the show’s staff was trying to convey the concept of going through great lengths to help someone-- even if there were better alternatives to cover this situation. Either way, the scenario helped pave the way for Ryuga and Rian to catch on about the recent increases in Horror activity in the vicinity. Going back to what I said earlier, the way how Gold Storm handles its story allows us to feel amazed when a empty slots gets filled by a new puzzle piece, which works well in taking its viewers along for the ride. While Zinga and Amily haven’t become appealing villains yet, the mystery behind their plan to give Ladan more power is what keeps us on our seats each week. As long as the show keeps linking the Horror activities to their actions, then their first encounter with Ryuga and Rian should lead to a good breaking point in the story. If Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkess' twist is anything to go by, then the Destroyer of World's actions should leave us with a shocked expression. Gold Storm may have not given us a cool-looking Horror suit, but this week’s design is at least a step in the right direction. While the creature was a beefed-up guy with monster arms, the staff’s detail on the man’s face made it seem like his monstrous form was about to jump out of his skin. Since the franchise’s suits are supposed to give off a scary movie vibe, I’d say that episode 5 managed to fill in this requirement, which acts as another beacon of hope. But hey, the big dude made Ryuga’s fights look cool, as they got the right shots and choreography techniques that make a fist fight between a muscular person and a normal-built dude look spectacular. Based on the program's progression so far, Garo’s sixth series is slowly feeling like the franchise we all love, which is a good sign that this'll be a good installment for the franhise. To add to its positive elements, you know a series is promising when the hero partakes in a well-shot game of darts. In actually, any sport or competitive activity could work as well. As we start to see minor characters and events link the show’s main plot together, Garo: Gold Storm Soar should start reaching new heights in the next episode. If the suits show their face again, then we might have a huge winner here.
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When helping someone goes wrong
Back when I said that Garo: Gold Storm Soar had potential, I wasn’t fooling around. With each passing episode, the show continues to shine brighter than before. As we start to see the series' various story elements come together, the big mystery continues to leave us intrigued. From the looks of it, the franchise is still in good shape.

Week Ender - Cry Edition

May 16 // Red Veron
[embed]33848:4745:0[/embed]"The Big Dango Family"Anime: ClannadI have not seen Clannad yet. Apparently this ending song makes people really sad. I am sorry.[embed]33848:4744:0[/embed]"Secret Base ~The Thing you Gave Me~ (10 years after Ver.)"Anime: AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That DayA song that just hits you right there after each episode. Slowly builds up to that ending that you know is approaching closer every episode.[embed]33848:4743:0[/embed]"Brave Song"Anime: Angel Beats!This song ended each episode (except for the last one) and capped off each episode with a bittersweet note. This song just starts to feel heavier as the show went on, especially in the later episodes when we get to see more of the character's back stories.[embed]33848:4742:0[/embed]"Ichiban no Takaramono" (My most precious treasure)Anime: Angel Beats!This is the song that the show ends on and just doesn't take you on a ride on the feels train, it runs you over with it. The song accompanies the usual ending but with a different twist and a slow pang of loneliness creeps over you as each character in the picture fades away. Still makes me cri evritym.Did I miss an anime ending that makes you sad? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I WANT TO SEE!
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Never Ending Tears
If this week's OP Up! openings stir up emotions of sadness in you, then this week's endings on Week Ender will be sure to make you feel even more of those feelings. Endings do have more impact than openings since they're the ...

OP Up! Cry Edition

May 13 // Red Veron
[embed]33834:4734:0[/embed]"Aoi Shiori"Anime: AnoHanaOh boy, a show that I watched in a weird time of my life where I was not the happiest and this one really got to me that I haven't gotten around to seeing the movie version. The opening song gives already takes you down on a feels trip and preps you that this show is not going to happy-happy. Wait for this weekend's Week Ender where I have this show's ending song which is takes you on a more intense feels trip.[embed]33834:4735:0[/embed]"My Soul, Your Beats!"Anime: Angel Beats!An original anime project that ended earlier than it should, Angel Beats! still makes me cry (inside) every time I hear the surprisingly great music that it has for a show about a weird school and angels. I found this anime years later on a streaming service while trying to get over something and this one really got to me. Even if sad stuff isn't your thing, the great soundtrack may win you over.[embed]33834:4736:0[/embed]"Ebullient Future"Anime: Ef ~ A Tale of MelodiesA lot you probably haven't seen this one. Ef is a great collaboration between the anime studio SHAFT (Madoka Magica, Bakemonogatari) and one man feels train conductor/anime director Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days) with Shinkai's amazing music wizard Tenmon.This one started out as a visual novel (yes, that's why it's sad) but got an adaptation for an anime and still packs the emotional punch with that great team behind it. Beautiful and emotionally evoking shots with breathtaking music make this one a must-see for those who want something sad yet beautiful.[embed]33834:4737:0[/embed]"Hikaru Nara"Anime: Your Lie in AprilTOO SOON. TOO SOON. I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS ONE YET. THE PAIN IS STILL TOO REAL. NOPE.Did I not put your favorite sad anime opening up here? THEN SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!! I WANT TO SEE IT AND CRY WITH YOU, BABY!!!
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Liek Evrytiem
Anime is a powerful medium that uses visuals and sounds that can evoke many feelings and some of those feelings can get you a little choked up. Whether it be the music or the characters in an anime, we associate many feelings...

Is New Japan Pro Wrestling the new WWE?

May 12 // Soul Tsukino
Since the closure of both Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling and Paul Heyman's Extreme Championship Wrestling 15 years ago, TNA was viewed as the number 2 company, the "alternative" to the WWE. Started by Jeff Jarrett and his father Jerry in 2002 and having been run by Dixie Carter and her family for nearly as long, TNA strived to set itself apart from the WWE for years. Notable concepts like the 6 sided ring, the X division, and the various concept matches they have created over the years were an attempt to set themselves apart from what Vince was producing. But, try as they might, TNA never really made a dent. The company struggled to turn a profit since the beginning. They had some high profile departures within the last few years with long time cornerstone A.J. Styles leaving after TNA failed to agree to a new contract, along with stars like Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels. They lost their long time business partner in Spike TV and have settled on being aired on the much less carried Destination America channel, a move that has cost them up to 2/3rds of their regular audience they had beforehand. And although they have done some of their "special" events on Impact, their weekly show, they haven't aired a "live" pay per view show since last October (and that event itself was pre recorded from Japan). Impact Wrestling has lost a lot of its visibility among wrestling fans since the beginning of the year. In my mind it's no longer the number 2 company in the United States, and it's not really as big an alternative anymore. If this is the case, then someone would need to step up and becoming the true alternative to the WWE's megalith. And New Japan Pro Wrestling is fast on its way to becoming it. Granted, NJPW isn't there yet. However, They have many of the stones in place to build themselves to be. They've had their stars appear on shows for Ring of Honor. Sure, that isn't exactly headlining Wrestlemania, but it is a big start. Having Jeff Jarrett help bring over their biggest event of the year, WrestleKingdom, to American pay per view with Jim Ross doing English commentary was another huge step. If you are going to show off your wares, then show them the absolute best show you produce. Jim Ross, along with Matt Striker, explained the context of every match, the importance of every title, and the magnitude of the event for English speaking fans in a way that made for a great introduction to the product. Soon after NJPW made a big step in getting a weekly show on the AXS cable network. Although this wasn't a first run show like a Monday night RAW, it was a very well produced show highlighting the biggest matches of New Japan in the last few years. Host Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett blew me away with their commentary of these matches. They made the matches not only seem important, but they brought a level of credibility to the action more than anyone in the WWE or Impact have done in decades. The show did so well in its first season it has already been picked up for a second (That premieres at the end of May) But the biggest thing going for NJPW that makes it a big alternative to the WWE is that it too has an online archive that rivals the WWE Network. This past January when #CancelWWEnetwork was trending on Twitter after the disaster that was their Royal Rumble event, who was the first to step up and tell people to spend their money on their service? NJPW.  NJPW World obviously isn't for everyone, but there is a sizable portion of wrestling fans that are increasingly cynical and resentful of what the WWE has done in their corporate atmosphere. With American exposure, a weekly TV show to gives a informed spotlight to the action and its stars, and a 24/7 archive streaming service that isn't beaten over your head every two seconds, what's left for NJPW to become a true alternative? A first run show, even if it is on a slight delay, would probably ideal, but that might be a while off. Having AXS carry entire  NJPW special events might be closer to achievable.   AXS does very well with its live MMA coverage and bringing that to NJPW wouldn't be that much of a transition. Also, carrying events on tape delay would bring in a sizable audience as well. Some well-placed ads on the USA network during RAW or other similar types of programming and you have a bigger audience than what currently follows the product.  Unlike Impact or Ring of Honor, NJPW has the funds and the influence to make things like this happen. So with NJPW, the sky's the limit as to what else they can bring to American shores. They already have a great foundation, now is the time to build on it and give the WWE something to think about. WWE has grown complacent since there is no real threat to them here. Vince, and by extension the WWE, thrive better in a competitive atmosphere.  Any kind of challenge a big player like NJPW can bring would make the WWE stand up, take attention, and bring out the best in them as well. The past has shown us that when the WWE is on their game, the entire industry benefits. And right now, it sure could use it. NJPW brought back popularity of pro wrestling in Japan a decade ago, it's time for them to bring it to new heights in the U.S. and give the WWE a run for its money.  
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NJPW's presence in the U.S. grows
Being a fan of professional wrestling in the United States, you've got choices. Of course there is the biggest game in town in Vince McMahon's WWE, who have dominated the market practically  unopposed since 2001. Behind ...

Week Ender - Sports Edition

May 09 // Red Veron
[embed]33817:4726:0[/embed]"Start it right away" by HyadainAnime: Kuroko No BasukeI forgot how fun this ending is and have totally fallen behind with this show. I think basketball is a great sport that translates well to anime with all speed, technique, the direct one-on-one nature of the plays. I am really glad to see the sport see a resurgence in anime and manga, and I like how all the pretty boys in this one is attracting women to the sport.[embed]33817:4727:0[/embed]"Ah Yeah"Anime: Haikyuu!Great song with a more retrospective style with clips of stuff that happened in past episodes. Normally I don't like those but the song totally sets up the right mood for looking back.[embed]33817:4728:0[/embed]"Sekai ga Owaru Made wa"Anime: Slam DunkA slower rock ballad song that is sooooo 90's that it's great (for people like me). Minimal animation but does the job well.[embed]33817:4729:0[/embed]"Blaze Away"Anime: EyeShield 21Because a reader brought up this show in the OP Up!, I just had to include this one. I did watch this show waaaaay back in the day but dropped it when they were in Houston (which is where I lived) and got turned off at how they portrayed it as some Japanese suburb (dumb reason, right?). But I did remember liking this ending a lot and how it felt like a 90's Japanese rock song that they had in a lot of anime back in the day.Did I miss something? What is your favorite sports anime and sports anime ending? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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Final Quarter Play
More anime sports stuff come your way with this weekend's Week Ender! Sports anime and manga have been around for decades, the stuff you see in today's stuff are built upon decades of refinement and tradition. Using contempor...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episode 4

May 08 // Salvador GRodiles
If there’s one thing that the Garo franchise does well, it’s the world-building aspects in regards to the Makai Knights, Horrors, special realms, and all the other toppings that make up the show’s various settings. To an extent, this is one of the aspects that makes the series’ side episodes shine, since it rewards the viewers for being invested in the franchise. In regards to this week’s adventure, Daigo Akizuki’s introduction helped show off Ryuga and Rian's growth as characters. Sure, it wasn’t a big conversation, but it felt that Daigo's interpretation of Ryuga and Rian was similar to how they were in Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. In a sense, this episode conveyed the two heroes’ resolve in prioritizing on the important matters during a mission, such as saving lives and what not. Basically, it’s an extra little reward for those who enjoyed following Ryuga and Rian’s development. Perhaps the big surprise this week was that Daigo’s Makai Knight Armor was an actual freaking suit, which means that Amemiya’s likely saving the costume designs for Gold Storm’s major heroes and villains. Better yet, the staff’s decision to give the guy a bulkier suit compliments the warrior’s axe fighting style. To top it all off, the emerald green color acts as the final ingredient to gives the design a badass look. Interestingly, Giga the Beast Body Knight was originally featured in a Garo pachinko game called Makai Kessen Gaoh. That being said, it’s great to see that the show’s steam used a design from the pachinko machines in the toku series, since it gives us the chance to see these characters in action. While there wasn’t a powerful Horror causing trouble in the city, the group’s fight against a horde of normal creatures helped change up the Golden Knight suit on CG Monster-of-the-Week action that’s been going on for three weeks. Hopefully, this type of thing’ll happen in future episodes. That way, the viewers can be blown away by the stunt work done by the actors that are in and out of suit. For now, Daigo's fight scenes in his human and Makai Armored Form left us with some impacting moves, which increases my hopes in him returning later on. When it seemed that Garo: Gold Storm Soar was going to follow in the same footsteps as Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, the program’s team showed us that viewers are still getting their taste of well-made suits. Even though we were only treated to a new Makai Knight suit and a bunch of recycled Horror costumes, the action that was done with these suits made up for it in the long run. One thing for sure, this scenario was a tasty appetizer to keep us full until the major story with Ladan starts to kick in. Since the plot's beginning to show a transition between episodes, the payoff should be worth our time.
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Hurray for more actual costumes
It may’ve been unfortunate that the latest Garo series hasn’t featured any new amazing Horror suits, but that isn’t stopping the show from bringing us a new costume. Once again, Keita Amemiya might be the gu...

OP Up! Sports Edition

May 07 // Red Veron
[embed]33808:4714:0[/embed]"Imagination" by SPYAIRAnime: Haikyuu!! (2014)A great first opening to a show about volleyball. I know, volleyball isn't considered to be what guys usually play but this show captures the dynamic action found in volleyball and the usual sports drama people love and expect out of this kind of show.[embed]33808:4715:0[/embed]"Kimi ga Suki da to Sakebitai" by ZYYGAnime: SLAM DUNK (1993)Possibly one of the most loved (if not the most) anime and manga out there last time I checked, and with all the remakes and reboots these days, SLAM DUNK deserves one and needs one badly. A personal favorite of mine and one that I watched with my teammates when I was in High School varsity basketball right before a game.Fluid animation with an inspiring song that can pump you up as if you were an athlete right before a big game. A favorite of mine.[embed]33808:4716:0[/embed]"Under Star" by Shocking LemonAnime: Hajime no Ippo (2000)A really good opening for an anime from 2000 that still holds up. This one got a recent anime sequel series for a manga that's been running since 1989. The recent boxing match this past weekend is what inspired me and this series is the first show that came to mind.[embed]33808:4717:0[/embed]"Tada Hitori" by Bakudan JohnnyAnime: Ping Pong The Animation (2015)Part of my backlog that I need to get around to watching, Ping Pong's opening is rather unique and intriguing. It has that charcoal drawing look with a style that reminds me of a 90's music video, which isn't surprising since that fun song it has completes the entire thing.[embed]33808:4718:0[/embed]"Zettai ni dare mo" by ZYYGAnime: SLAM DUNK (1993)The second opening to the anime SLAM DUNK and this anime's openings are well done for their time. This one continues the momentum that the first one built up and shows off the main character Sakuragi getting his act together in the opening.I love the feel of the early morning run captured by this opening and you see how much Sakuragi is working hard to be a stronger and better athlete.BONUS: One of the many Fanmade Live Action Remake of the SLAM DUNK opening[embed]33808:4719:0[/embed]Which one is your favorite sports anime and opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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SPORTSBALLS
So there was a big boxing event last weekend and people are upset because a Filipino congressman lost at boxing. This made me think of sports anime and how I haven't made an OP Up! about sports anime yet.So this week's late e...

First Impressions: Garo: Gold Storm Soar

May 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Just like Garo: Makai no Hana's early episodes, the sixth series throws us into the main conflict. In this installment, two mysterious figures called Zinga and Amily are behind the increase in Horror activity in the surrounding area, which leads up to them releasing Ladan, another powerful Horror, from its seal. In other words, Ryuga and Rian are in for a mission where they have to prevent these two figures from completing in their plan. Compare to the previous toku series, Gold Storm’s basic premise doesn’t do too much to pull viewers in. Instead, the show’s big appeal is getting to see Ryuga and Rian in action again. Seeing that it’s been a good while since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, the staff manage to show us that their characters have grown from back then. Ryuga seems to be more aware of his environment in battle, and Rian continues to mess with her opponents while using a gun and brush in combat. All in all, as a person who enjoyed the third Garo series, the main cast's evolution was a nice way to spice up the story. That, and Ryuga’s shuriken-shooting sheathe is an amazing way to make the guy stand out from Kouga, Raiga, and Leon. As nice as it was to see Ryuga and Rian again, the series fell short of delivering a solid performance. Sure, the show established the main conflict early on, but show’s tendency to rely on CG Horrors prevents it from reaching the same level of greatness found in the Kouga and Raiga Garo installments. Unfortunately, this continues to be a trend in Gold Storm’s second and third episode, which means that the franchise’s team might be saving the Horror costume designs for the upcoming Garo movie that stars Raiga from Makai no Hana. Nonetheless, the action choreography between the human characters continue to be a treat, since the action's still dynamic and well-shot. On top of that, each Horror-of-the-Week sports a unique design, which is an improvement over the third installment's decision to mostly feature the same creature models. Speaking of improvements, Ryuga’s battles as the Golden Knight utilize a new-and-improved Garo suit, which shows that the team’s still capable of creating cool outfits. From the detail in the armor's neck to the shoulders' new shapes, the current costume is a nice change from the one that was featured in the earlier titles. If anything, this is one factor that’s an improvement over the third series in the franchise, since we get to see the Armor’s Suit Actor partake in more stunts. Interestingly, Masahiro Inoue (Kamen Rider Decade’s Tsukasa/Decade) appears in the series as Zinga, which means that he’s retained his title as the Destroyer of Worlds. Based on his performance so far, he might evolve into an interesting villain later on. I guess it’ll all depend on how he interacts with the show’s cast during the first major encounter. For now, it's hard to determine whether he'll be a good or terrible villain, since his appearances have been brief for now. In terms of continuity, Gold Storm doesn’t require for its viewers to be familiar with its prequel film. Judging from the show’s first three episodes, the only thing that people likely missed out on was the introduction of D. Ringo, his assistant Yukihime, and Ryume, the show’s main Watch Dog. While these characters likely played a big supporting role in series’ prequel, the two shopkeepers seem to provide Ryuga with any information about his targets. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance that they’ll be more fleshed out in this installment, so viewers shouldn’t worry about feeling left out. Seeing the Gold Storm TV show’s premise is different from its movie, the program’s timeline won’t be an issue here. Even though Gold Storm lacks the same strengths that made Makai no Hana’s beginning worthwhile, the show still has the potential to be a good installment for the franchise. Since the program’s been leaving us with hints of Zinga and Amili plan for Ladan, I’m certain that the plot’ll get juicier in the later weeks to come. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some actual new Horror costumes in future episodes, since it’s one of the fine ingredients that make the Garo franchise great. Considering that the series’ visuals are an improvement from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness, this is a great sign that Amemiya’s direction will turn this program into a shining success-- even if the well-designed Monster-of-the-Week suits are absent.
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Ryuga is back, baby!
Back when it was announced that Ryuga from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness would appear in a new Garo series, there are two possible outcomes that could come out of this. On one hand, we get to see Ryuga as a more ex...

Week Ender - Bleach Edition

May 02 // Red Veron
[embed]33794:4704:0[/embed]"Mask" By Aqua TimezA pretty dang cool ending that is the last ending for the anime. Not very complicated but still gives you a nice feeling with seeing Ichigo's friends helping him out to get back on his feet. I always like seeing Ichigo dealing with his "other self".[embed]33794:4705:0[/embed]"Life is like a boat" By Rie FuThe first Bleach ending and being very simple, does the job well with a great soulful song from Rie Fu. This song has been on my iPod since the first time I saw the show. Still stirs up feelings of what I had at the time.[embed]33794:4706:0[/embed]"My Pace" by Home Made KazokuI'm torn on this one, I like the high energy intro that has the soothing chorus but I associate this song with the excruciating wait for the fillers to end. It was episode after episode, wishing for the filler to end but nope.[embed]33794:4707:0[/embed]"Sakura Biyori" by Mai HoshimuraA very beautiful ending song that I totally forgot about and am very glad to have rediscovered. A nice way to end an episode with an uplifting song that gives you some nice and warm feels.Which one is your favorite Bleach ending? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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Changing History, Unchanging Heart
Bleach was featured in this week's OP Up because of its many awesome openings and the same amazing quality is also present in the endings. Bleach has about 30 endings(!) and most are really good, so we're gonna feature small ...

OP Up! Bleach Edition

Apr 29 // Red Veron
[embed]33787:4698:0[/embed]"Asterisk"The original opening that started it all. I remember going in blind with Bleach and was just wowed with how fun the opening got with the characters having fun. I didn't expect the show to end up being some sort of endless battle anime and just yearned for the shorter adventures they had with monster-of-the-week type of enemies. [embed]33787:4699:0[/embed]"Ranbu no Melody"A really impressive and stylish opening for Bleach. You can really see the great potential of the people who made this opening. You can see the clever shortcuts that they made that afforded them the really cool looking stuff in there. After rewatching this one, this may have become one of my favorites.[embed]33787:4701:0[/embed]"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"One thing I really liked about Bleach is seeing the characters in fashionable street clothes and this opening has that. Tite Kubo, the author, often has art of the characters depicted as such and you can totally feel that he wants to put them in a more "normal" setting. This opening has the usual cool Bleach OP elements: stylish, exciting, creative, and with simple but efficient parts. [embed]33787:4700:0[/embed]"Velonica"This is another great example of how great the Bleach openings are with the visuals. This one combines static character portraits complimented by dynamic animation that follows. I love the use of color in the background and the Bleach logo with the characters in their cool poses, usually shounen anime will just use boring standard backgrounds.Which one is your favorite Bleach opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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The Death and The Strawberry
Bleach has always been one those anime that had really great opening and ending sequences with great music with visuals that amaze when it gets creative. I was always impressed by the openings and often looked forward to the ...

Week Ender - Spring 2005 Edition

Apr 25 // Red Veron
[embed]33779:4688:0[/embed]"Waltz" by SuneohairAnime: Honey and CloverAs previously mentioned, Honey and Clover is an all-time favorite that anyone who likes josei (shoujo for older crowds) drama should definitely check out. An underrated gem that any fan of shoujo drama should check out if they want something a bit more 'mature'. [embed]33779:4689:0[/embed]"Broken Wings"Anime: Trinity BloodI never really got to check out this anime but I do know a lot of people who love the manga and the anime. Sadly, the author of the original light novels, Sunao Yoshida, passed away before the novels were completed but a friend stepped in to help finish. I'll still definitely check this out when I can.[embed]33779:4690:0[/embed]"Fly"Anime: Comic Party RevolutionBased on a PC dating sim game that originally had some sexual stuff edited out for an all-ages release consoles, this is the second season to an anime about people in a doujin circle. The members of the circle are making stuff for the 'Comic Party' which is based off  the real-life "Comiket" (Comic Market) that happens twice a year in Metropolitan Tokyo. A harem comedy drama, you know what to expect from it.[embed]33779:4691:0[/embed]"Omna Magni"Anime: AquarionHaven't seen much about this one but reading that this is an homage to super robots of the 1980's has my interest piqued. This ending is also pretty enchanting with its ghostly ethereal vocals with the very pretty storybook visuals. I just can't pinpoint the language used but I've seen people suggest that it's esperanto.[embed]33779:4692:0[/embed]"Bokura no Jikan"Anime: Futakoi AlternativeBy far one of the strangest and best ideas in anime that I have ever seen are in this show. Futakoi Alternative is a sort of sequel to Futakoi, which is a generic harem romcom that features twins, but this sequel is so much more and then some.Take all the female characters and put in a new male lead that is not boring harem MC, turn them all into action movie heroes capable of fighting and put them in comedic situations that involve guns and explosions. That explanation isn't even doing justice to explain the insanity that this show brings to the table.Also, this ending does not represent the show.[embed]33779:4693:0[/embed]"Secret Base"Anime: Eureka SevenThis is one of those shows from 10 years ago that wowed me with the style and visuals that provided something different in the mecha action genre. I never got to see the full run but I do appreciate this show and like much of the stuff in it. Got any anime favorites from 2005? Check out this list and let's reminisce in the comments below!!!
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Journey back a decade
I just realized that it's been ten years since Honey and Clover aired, one of my all-time favorite anime ever. It had beautiful art, a good story with relate-able characters, and an amazing soundtrack. That got me thinking ab...

Annotated Anime: Plastic Memories episode 3

Apr 23 // Josh Tolentino
In fact, the episode is full of classic romance cliches from the out. Tsukasa is asked to live in Isla's apartment due to company policy, and after finding that Isla spends all her time ignoring him, asks his co-workers for advice on connecting with her. The results are many awkward moments and absolutely priceless reaction faces from Michiru. Honestly, I haven't seen this many good reaction faces since The Devil is a Part-Timer!. And naturally, as the trope goes, Tsukasa only really manages to connect with Isla - who seems to be actively avoiding close contact with others in an attempt to "be a machine" - after he just acts like himself. It's a classic resolution to a classic rom-com dilemma, and it's executed here adeptly. Naturally, Isla's stoniness is absolutely related to the fact that she's got three months before retirement herself, which leads one to ask if it's right that no one's told Tsukasa. I mean, it's absolutely her business not to tell if she doesn't want to, but they work together and her decline is relevant to their job performance, not to mention Tsukasa's feelings. And it's not as if others couldn't do it either: Kazuki nearly spilled the beans in episode 2, but didn't. It just seems cruel to leave Tsukasa in the lurch like that. Beyond that, more interesting questions arise when you wonder just who would buy an android that you'd have to provide living space for. And if Giftias really are so close to humans that most people don't see a difference, then many more problems would come out of the fact that they're being sold as commercial products. Last I checked, trafficking in people was a crime, after all. Weird stuff to consider. [Catch Plastic Memories on Crunchyroll!]
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Her Face When
If you were looking for more intriguing world-building or sci-fi details to chew on in this installment of Plastic Memories, you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you came for tender and chuckle-worthy romantic hijin...

OP Up! Super Hero Edition

Apr 22 // Red Veron
[embed]33771:4678:0[/embed]"Ai Ai Ai ni Utarete Bye Bye Bye"Anime: Samurai FlamencoA show that starts out as a Kick-Ass knockoff that quickly evolves into all kinds of insanity.[embed]33771:4679:0[/embed]"Synchrogazer"Anime: Senki Zesshou SymphogearAn opening to an over-the-top superhero show where the heroines have to sing to activate their powers to fight some funny looking murderous monsters from another dimension. Dumb action show with some very light yuri stuff, this one is super fun.[embed]33771:4680:0[/embed]"Orion o Nazoru"Anime: Tiger & BunnyAn action show in a world where superheroes have corporate sponsorship. We need more of those.[embed]33771:4681:0[/embed]"CROWDS"Anime: Gatchaman CROWDSA modern take on what heroes can be in our modern world dominated by social media, this pretty cool opening has some great style with a cool song.BONUS:Japanese Spiderman[embed]33771:4682:0[/embed]Yeah, yeah, yeah, WOW.Got any favorite super hero anime and super hero anime openings? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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Saving the world in style
Superhero movie season is upon us now and everybody's getting excited to see people in colorful costumes doing cool action moves. So it should perfect for me to give y'all a nice selection of openings from anime that feature superheroes.Got any favorite super hero anime and super hero anime openings? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!  

Week Ender - Winter 2015 Edition

Apr 19 // Red Veron
[embed]33767:4673:0[/embed]"Territory"Anime: Yuri Kuma ArashiA super simple ending but the little bear that dances in the corner is too dang cute. [embed]33767:4674:0[/embed]"The Seasons Die Out, One After Another"Anime: Tokyo Ghoul Root AAnother simple ending but with very pretty painted illustrations of the characters with a cool song that I'm definitely getting for my music player. I like the bright pastel colors with the abstract fashion design-styled look for the characters.[embed]33767:4675:0[/embed]"Fubuki"Anime: Kantai CollectionNamed after the lead character in the show, this one is  a lively one with cool images of Fubuki and shows off her JUSTICE really well.[embed]33767:4676:0[/embed]"Become a smile"Anime: Koufuku GraffitiAn ending that is very true to the show with highly detailed drawings of food and cute girls being cute set to an equally cute song.Which one are your favorites? SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
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Last Season's Endings
Winter season may be over but some of the endings from last season's shows still echo in my mind, making me miss those shows that have been over. Let's take a look at some of last season's nice endings.Which one are your favorites? SHARE WITH US IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!      

OP Up! - Winter 2015 Edition

Apr 15 // Red Veron
[embed]33759:4666:0[/embed]"Hito ni Yasashiku"Anime: Rolling GirlsA cover of a song by Japanese rock band BLUE HEARTS, this cover of "Hito ni Yasashiku" is pretty fun. I also really like the original and really like it when new anime introduces a new generation to cool stuff from the past.[embed]33759:4667:0[/embed]"Zettai Muteki☆Fallin' LOVE☆"Anime: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!I've only seen two episodes of this show and this is really appropriate for what is a parody of the magical girls genre but with magical boys. So much fun.[embed]33759:4669:0[/embed]"The Five Methods of Obtaining Happiness That I'm Aware Of"Anime: Koufuku GraffitiA show about cute girls eating deliciously detailed animated food. This opening gives you a good idea about how much the girls are into the food.[embed]33759:4668:0[/embed]"Flyers"Anime: Death ParadeI've only seen one episode and I fell instantly in love with this opening and will be watching more the moment I get more free time in my busy schedule.Which one is your favorite opening from last season? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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See some of last season's best openings!
Last season had some really great shows and a few surprises even though the lineup didn't seem that strong. Since we just started a new season, I'm back with some openings for this week's OP Up! with a few that I thought were pretty good.Which one is your favorite from last season? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

Final Impressions: Sword Art Online II

Apr 15 // Salvador GRodiles
When Phantom Bullet’s final battle transitioned into the real world, I was a bit skeptical on how the show would resolve the situation, since it might place Shino in the sideline while Kazuto played the role of the hero during the last part of the confrontation. Because of this situation, SAO II was in a scenario where episode 14’s resolution would make or break the program’s third arc for me. Luckily, the former occurred, as Shino role in the showdown was greater than I expected. While she didn’t resort to using a firearm-like weapon, her finishing blow was a nice final topping in the sundae that made up Shino’s development. Aside from Shino’s story, it was a big surprise to see that A-1 took their time to get viewers acquainted with Gun Gale Online’s setting, along with throwing in some dialogue segments to set up for the show’s big events. This actually helped strengthen the main moments in the series, (such as the key events leading up to the final confrontation against Death Gun), since it gave us the time to absorb each scene in the program. If it wasn’t for this format, we might’ve not cared too much about Shino’s struggle or break into joy after she and Kazuto defeated their adversaries. Hell, none of this would’ve been meaningful if they chose to recreate the Aincrad Arc’s quick pace, since we might’ve missed out on the key moments compliment Reki Kawahara’s improved skills. Overall, A-1 were able to wrap up Sword Art Online II’s Phantom Bullet nicely. We got to see Shino slowly recover from her trauma and the show did a decent job in explaining the process behind Shinkawa and his older brother’s evil scheme-- even if their scheme had some far-fetched elements. To top it all off, they were able set things up for the next big storyline in the series, which might be covered when the show’s inevitable third season gets green lit-- assuming that this’ll be a thing. While SAO II’s first half came to a satisfying conclusion, the program’s second arc felt a bit underwhelming. Compare to Phantom Bullet’s progression, Caliber felt like a random filler arc from a long shonen anime series. While I don’t mind side episodes that develop the show’s characters, the events in the program’s fourth storyline didn’t move the plot forward. If there’s one thing that’s relevant to SAO, it’s the weapon that they found during the quest, since it might play a big role in the later arcs to come. Sadly, Caliber lacked that special ingredient to get many viewers to care about the group’s quest this time around. Thankfully, this story wasn’t the last thing that SAO II had to offer, as the second season’s final saga left us with some emotional moments that made up for its earlier fumble. The first thing that sets Sword Art Online II’s Mother’s Rosario Arc from the other storylines is that Kirito sits back while Asuna takes the lead. Due to this change, the show’s final arc was a breath of fresh air, since it lets us learn more about a character who was mostly stuck as a supporting character. Nothing against Kazuto, but his story felt complete after he saved his girl from a crazy madman who wanted to use virtual technology to control individuals; therefore fulfilling the requirements of a fully developed character. Seeing that Asuna wasn’t too involved in the previous storyline, this direction gave viewers the chance to view the series through an entirely different angle. Combined with the girl’s situation with her mother trying to control her life, Mother’s Rosario had the right ingredients to spice things up for the viewers. While it was neat to Asuna as the star of the show, one of Mother’s Rosario’s strongest segments was the situations with Yuuki. Considering that SAO mostly dealt with dangerous situations that occur in virtual gaming, it was hard to expect the series touch upon a character who was suffering from HIV. Surprisingly, Yuuki’s inclusion in the plot didn’t feel forced, since the entire storyline did its best to build up the reveal without making it feel so sudden. Because of A-1’s handling of the source material, the meat of Mother’s Rosario ended up being one of the most depressing parts (in a good way) of Sword Art Online to date. For a character who’s meant to exist in once in the series, the series did a great job in getting the viewers invested in her situation. At the same time, her situation is relatable to many viewers, since the concept of losing someone at an early age is very devastating. Seeing that I lost a friend back in December, watching Yuuki experience her final moments on Earth hit me right at home. Coincidentally, my friend was also a fan of MMORPGs, which shows how a series can strike one’s emotional cords from time to time. Even though this arc didn’t feature a big threat to the virtual gaming world, Mother’s Rosario was able to give us an interesting adventure that covers the series’ theme about life in an online game. Not only that, the arc managed to remind us why Asuna’s a force to be reckoned with, which is a great plus for anyone who was a fan of the character. In regards to the things wrong with Sword Art Online II, the problems with the series weren’t the various shots of Sinon’s butt or Kamen Rider Kirito RX stealing the show, but the way how A-1 adapted the source material this time around. The whole Laughing Coffin story felt like it came out of the blue, since the anime’s first season implied that Kirito overcame his trauma from SAO when he gave it his all to rescue Asuna during the Fairy Dance Arc. Unfortunately, this is an outcome that can occur when a studio decides to leave out certain monologue segments that were present in the original story. However, once the show got passed this conflict, SAO II was able to get back on track, which prevented Phantom Bullet from becoming a disaster. Other problems include the show’s bad habit of changing its progression speed during SAO II’s Phantom Bullet Arc, which was likely the result of the team trying to avoid passing the program’s 24-episode limit. Perhaps if the series ran for 25 or 26 episodes, then the show could’ve moved at a steadier pace. That, or they do what Shaft did with Bakemonogatari and air the rest of the episodes online. Then again, that sort of privilege might be rare among studios, so it might be an impossible for A-1 to take this route. As for Sword Art Online II’s animation, it had its ups and downs. The show’s major battles utilized the right angles and timing to ensure that each shot and/or slash would feel fulfilling. However, this doesn’t apply to the minor segments in the series, since there were a few moments where A-1 would draw the animation frames with a zoomed out or side shot, which would make the characters' attacks and/or movements feel underwhelming. Nonetheless, the studio was able to bring Gun Gale Online’s world to life with the way how they drew and colored the title’s post-apocalyptic setting. When you weigh in all of the positive and negative outcomes, the show’s visuals and character movements were handled decently in the long run. Even with its issues, Sword Art Online II managed to be an enjoyable installment in the series. While Phantom Bullet hit a slight bump before the big tournament, the real treat was watching everything unfold as we watch Shino overcome her fear of firearms. Thanks to A-1’s decision to throw in some more exposition into the story, the series managed to shed light on the new game’s mechanic, along with expanding on the characters themselves. On top of that, it improved the show’s pacing, which made up for the first SAO season’s tendency to move at a quick pace. Despite the weird execution with Kazuto’s own issues and the underwhelming Calibur storyline, the rest of the program still had its entertaining moments. Combined with a final tear-jerking segment, I think it’s safe to say that SAO II ended nicely. However, the show still doesn’t come close to the quality found in titles like the .hack franchise and Log Horizon. Then again, does it need to? When viewed on its own accord, the Sword Art Online series is equivalent to a random snack found at a convenient store. It’s not going to fully satisfy your need for delicious anime, but you might like what you find in the bag’s content. Since the show’s taste was enjoyable, there’s a good chance that it’ll get better if a new season comes around. Who knows, A-1's inevitable adaption of the next SAO arc might be more consistent than before. [Catch Sword Art Online II on Crunchyroll and Daisuki]
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Preemptive Tears!
There’s something wonderful about having a show make you feel emotional-- especially when you were certain that the series couldn’t top its first half. One moment you’re expecting the program to fall apart w...

First Impressions: Plastic Memories

Apr 10 // Josh Tolentino
Indeed it is, because my complaining about shit not making a huge amount of sense indicates that I care a bit about Plastic Memories' world-building right in the very first episode. To be honest, I have to give a hoot about the  world-building, because there's not a huge amount else that's compelling right now. Plastic Memories opens in a world where the huge SAI has created the Giftias, a type of android that's virtually indistinguishable from humans, and sold them to people for companionship. New graduate Tsukasa Mizugaki is the newest face in SAI's Terminal Service Department, an understaffed, unloved branch of the company dedicated to retrieving Giftias at the end of their nine-year-four-month operational lifespan. He's paired with Isla, a veteran Giftia that seems, at first, to be anything but competent, and the two take on their first assignment: Retrieving a little girl Giftia from a grandmother who's grown too attached to her android granddaughter. It's a simple enough plot to start off with, and helpfully introduces cast to each other, including the tsundere Michiru, the over-friendly Ren, the chip-shouldered senior Kazuki, and three other Giftias: Sherry, Zack, and Constance. Where Plastic Memories shines is in the sheer potential of its premise. It's Blade Runner meets Sad Girls In Snow, a fertile sci-fi angle softened and colored by troperrific rom-com relationships. I've always had a soft spot for shows that can rev up my imagination. Busou Shinki was terrible in many ways, but I loved it because it got me thinking about the kind of world where you could buy miraculously intelligent and deadly android waifus for not much more than the price of a gunpla kit. Thinking about Plastic Memories and the seeming place Giftias hold in its world scratches a similar nerd itch, which it tilting me in its favor already. I love that the show is basing its setup on a little-explored aspect of future-tech settings: Disposal. Many stories are caught up in imagining the implications of a radical new technology as it's introduced, but here in Plastic Memories it looks like everyone takes the "human" qualities of Giftias: Their personalities, intelligence, and sentience for granted, and the problems are arising where their nature as "products" can't be safely ignored. The concept also dives indirectly into discussion of how to deal with mortality. Giftias and the process of Retrieval could easily be a stand-in for debates about end-of-life care, euthanasia, and when to pull the plug on a loved one. Simply put, from a conceptual standpoint, Plastic Memories is solid, appealing sci-fi. What's less convincing is the show's character dynamics. It's a little early to be complaining about where the story's going, but if the big "twist" they're planning is revealing that Isla's almost "terminal" herself (how else could she be a "veteran" on a mere nine-year lifespan?), Plastic Memories may turn out underwhelming. The chemistry between the characters also feels a bit undercooked. The first episode opens with Tsukasa meeting Isla in an elevator after a bout of contemplating his mortality (who even does that?), then falling in love with her like some kind of putz. Of course, I'm not being fair to the characters at the moment. We've barely had an episode to let them grow and compel, but hey, this feature's called "First Impressions" for a reason.  And my first impression is that these characters can't quite carry the weight of their jobs just yet.  Still, there's a lot to like in Plastic Memories at the moment, so I'm definitely willing to stick with it and see how it shapes up.
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Moe Moe Blade Runner
There's a lot I don't get about Plastic Memories. There a few critical points that I encountered in its first episode that don't make a huge amount of sense to me, nor would they to any sensible contemporary person. That's great!

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Have some more great cosplay from Anime Matsuri
[Let's hang out and chat about Anime Matsuri tonight at 10PM Central! We have prizes to give out!]Here is the second batch of cosplay photos for you to enjoy! I apologize for the giant spread picture of Kaori from Your Lie in...

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A taste of the great cosplay at Anime Matsuri
[Let's Chat about Anime Matsuri on our stream at 10PM Central on April 7]Part 2 of 2 Anime Matsuri Cosplay GalleryJapanator was back at Anime Matsuri, Houston's best anime convention this past Easter weekend and we've got pic...

Week Ender - PA Works Edition

Mar 28 // Red Veron
[embed]33687:4620:0[/embed]"Omokage Warp" by Nano RipeAnime: Hanasaku IrohaThe second ending has a happy and gentle song with animation that makes almost feel that gentle breeze that the characters are feeling. This anime was really good and when there was news of a second season, I got excited but nothing has surfaced since but there is that movie that I need to check out.[embed]33687:4621:0[/embed]"Transparent World" by Nano RipeAnime: GlasslipI really like this ending since it's so happy.[embed]33687:4622:0[/embed]"Platinum jet" by Donuts QuintetAnime: ShirobakoA cute ending with a song by the main lead actresses.[embed]33687:4623:0[/embed]"Brave Song" by Tada AoiAnime: Angel Beats!!This first ending that still chokes me up and the final ending (that I will not post here since it is spoiler-y) that makes me cry 90 percent of the time. Angel Beats!! is pretty great despite its flaws and will maek yuo cri evrytiem.So which one is your favorite PA Works ending? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!Their works include:-True Tears-Canaan-Angel Beats!!-Another-Hanasaku Iroha-Red Data Girl-Tari Tari-The Eccentric Family-Nagi Asu-Glasslip-Shirobako
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Don-don Donuts!
PA Works is a studio that has had great success as of late with their original anime Shirobako. That wasn't the case with their previous works since their last hit, Hanasaku Iroha but they've been hitting it out of the park w...

Final Impressions: Shirobako

Mar 28 // Josh Tolentino
Honestly, there's not that much more to say: After the director and Aerial Girls creator Nogame worked out their compromise in the previous episode, the only hurdle remaining was to actually produce the episode and get it delivered...in under three weeks. Of course, animating five hundred cuts and ten thousand tween frames at a quality needed to cap off a popular series is a monumental task in and of itself, but at least there's no crisis like the wrath of "God" affecting production as last week. Nevertheless, it's an all-hands-on-deck effort, as pretty much everyone at the studio, and many more beyond, are pulled in to work on the Aerial Girls finale. Even Segawa transfers to the office proper, resulting in much strange awkwardness from Endou and fueling the imaginations of a thousand fanfic authors. There's even a hilarious reference to Nichijou, another anime series which I'm positive was as much a "passion project" for Kyoto Animation as Shirobako is for P.A. Works. Even the show's final challenge, an epic six-way cross-country scramble to get the final on-air tapes to broadcasters out in the boondocks, feels almost perfunctory. Fun as it is to watch it's little more than a way to hark back to Aoi's drifting talents in episode one, and see their roots in office manager Yuka Okitsu's past career as a legendary production assistant. Then again, the train ride home from Hiroshima serves as a way to tie up Aoi's character arc, in its own way. Viewers paying attention will note that Aoi's been struggling to find her own "reason to fly", and trying to find out why she perseveres. In that respect, the creative and technical types like Midori, Ema, Misa, and even the long-suffering Shizuka have it a little easier: They've tailored their skills towards making anime, so that's naturally what they'd try to do. By contrast, Aoi's experience in production is more managerial, only rarely interacting with the final product. The episode even implies that with enough time, Aoi's future career could mirror Okitsu's, with even less involvement with the things Musani makes. Given how much anime and manga life advice tends to hinge on finding one's niche and leaning into it - seriously, how many times have you read a line like "This is something only you can do!" - that's a tough challenge for a generalist like our Oi-chan. And what it takes is a bit of soul-searching and deciding, for realz, that making anime is what she wants to do. That might not seem like a big step, but consider how many people go through life only thinking about getting to the next day. Aoi declaring, with confidence, that this is what she wants to do, is probably the most important thing she could ever do at this stage in her life. Good on her. As to the "why" of it, that's covered in her speech at the after party. Honestly, it's almost cringe-inducing in its earnestness. Hell, if you replaced the references to anime-making with stuff about ninjas and "The Will of Fire" you'd be able to slide her comments into a chapter of Naruto without missing a beat, it's that sappy. And I still effin' adore it, and her, for saying it. This is because, as I said last week, Shirobako is not a documentary. It's an ideal, a love letter, and a statement of intent. It celebrates the making of anime and the people who make it, and hopes and prays that everyone's doing it because they love doing it. That's not the same as "whitewashing" away the industry's many, many problems, though. There's no question that the show is light at its core, and never intended to be the kind of tough wake-up call that some think is needed. But that's sort of the point, in a way. Shirobako's intent is to put the spotlight on the people who "make it happen", and focuses on the good. But the bad's still there, lurking in the margins. Heavy drinking, bad food, worse pay, and lengthy hours are all more than evident, enough that anyone paying enough attention might actually be scared away. No one is going to come away from the show thinking that any of it is easy, and that's all that really needed to be said. And so ends a lovely little series with a whole lot of heart, about how tough it can be to do a good job, but how wonderful it can be to see it through all the same.
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(Do)Nuts About Making Anime
Spoiler alert: Shirobako ends happily.  Of course, that's really only a spoiler to the most stubborn and obnoxious of curmudgeons. There was really no other way for this show to end. And to be frank, it ended as it should have: Full to bursting with sappy, sentimental, idealistic, feel-good cliche. I love it. 

OP Up! Anime Game Edition

Mar 25 // Red Veron
[embed]33673:4614:0[/embed]"Key Plus World" by Hirata and Yumi KawamuraAnime: Persona 4 The AnimationAn adaptation of a video game from a 2008 Playstation 2 game, this adaptation starts off a bit shaky when it tries to cram 3 hours of a video game story in 30 minutes. The adaptation does do a great job in showing off the major events in the game with interesting choices that provide good entertainment.[embed]33673:4615:0[/embed]"Hacking to the Gate" by Kanako ItoAnime: Steins;GateA great adaptation that is the second entry in a trilogy of games from a collaboration between Nitroplus and 5pb. Considered significantly better than its predecessor, Chaos;Head, is about time travel and a world conspiracy of world domination that starts off with a microwave that can turn bananas in gel. Watch it.[embed]33673:4616:0[/embed]"Digimon Theme Song"Anime: Digimon: Digital MonstersA classic known to many anime fans who watched anime in the late 90's in the US, this one is from a time when anime openings were localized for release in the US. This is interesting because there are things slightly unchanged in the show such as the characters' names, which is quite rare at the time.[embed]33673:4617:0[/embed]"Up On the Sky, The Wind Sings" by KalafinaAnime: Fate/Stay NightAn anime adaptation of a light novel that is a prequel to a visual novel that had a bad anime adaptation. This one is very dark in tone with has great production values written by the guy behind a lot of grimdark stuff, Gen Urobuchi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Saya no Uta), so abandon all hope ye who watch.So which is your favorite anime adaptation of a video game? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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Game and Watch
Anime and video games come together like fried chicken and ketchup. I put fried chicken on my ketchup. There are plenty of anime-based games and game-based anime so today let's focus on a few anime based on video games.

Week Ender - SEED Edition

Mar 21 // Red Veron
[embed]33660:4602:0[/embed]"River" by Tatsuya IshiiPossibly in my top 10 favorite endings of all time, this one starts off with nice guitar playing and soulful vocals.[embed]33660:4606:0[/embed]"Although We Were Always Together" by See-sawAn upbeat pop song that really accentuated the messy stuff in the beginning of the show as the characters were drawn into the conflict.[embed]33660:4604:0[/embed]"Find the Way" by Mika NakashimaA gentle ballad that's pretty soothing. This one was towards the end of the show where things were getting more serious.[embed]33660:4605:0[/embed]"Reason" by Nami TamakiSimilar to the first ending in SEED, this upbeat song for Destiny gets you ready for how everything in the show is ramping up.Don't see your favorite Gundame SEED ending? Call me bad stuff and tell me which one in the comments below!BONUS[embed]33660:4607:0[/embed]
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Neutron Jammin' Canceller
I have spoken to many anime fans and it seems that Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny elicits a very mixed reaction. There are those who absolutely love it and those who think it's the worse thing ever. I sit in the middle of those...







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