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Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 5

Jun 28 // Anthony Redgrave
So we finally get a resolution behind the drama filled finale worthy of a soap opera; the meek girl finally plucks up the courage to give her crush chocolates only to find her crush receiving chocolates from another girl! Shock! Horror! Scandalous! It's like something right out of a tamer Dear Deidre (for the British Sun readers). The true meaning behind the chocolate giving mishap is, of course, a misunderstanding as Valentine's Day chocolates come in two varieties; courtesy chocolate for friends and the more recognisable love chocolates. I'm guessing the courtesy chocolates that are being given don't have to be homemade or nice or even special in any way as Haruhi was giving out the Japanese equivalent of $1.00 Hershey bars to Kyon and Koizumi. In true mother bird fashion, Asakura flies off in a rage at Haruhi for hurting Nagato but is wise enough to find her own faults in pushing her ideals onto Nagato. I've said this every week of recapping Nagato Yuki-chan but I really like Asakura as a character and this bit of character development is the cherry on top of a sundae. Catching up with Nagato it is revealed that is even more misunderstanding. Nagato wanted to leave Haruhi and Kyon alone so she can give him the chocolates in private and dropping the chocolate was a mistake. It still doesn't explain why she had to run out of the building and out of sight. Finally, Kyon and Nagato have their moment even though the former is still oblivious and the latter has her confession interrupted by secondary characters.  This episode had a lot of interaction between Haruhi and Asakura, two characters that didn't interact a whole bunch in the Haruhi series. While Asakura has to take a parental role when talking to Nagato, she sees Haruhi as an equal so can voice her concerns and thoughts for a second opinion. I really like this as it shows that Asakura is not this perfect protective person and still has insecurities when it comes to advising her friend.  There is a post credit scene in this episode so don't switch off when the ending credits appear.  [Watch the disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!] So we finally get a resolution behind the drama filled finale worthy of a soap opera; the meek girl finally plucks up the courage to give her crush chocolates only to find her crush receiving chocolates from another girl! Shock! Horror! Scandalous! It's like something right out of a tamer Dear Deidre (for the British Sun readers). The true meaning behind the chocolate giving mishap is of course a misunderstanding as Valentine's Day chocolates come in two varieties; courtesy chocolate for friends and the more recogniseable love chocolates. I'm guessing the courtesy chocolates that are being given don't have to be homemade or nice or even special in anyway as Haruhi was giving out the Japanese equivalent of $1.00 Hershey bars to Kyon and Koizumi. In true mother bird fashion Asakura flies off in a rage at Haruhi for hurting Nagato but is wise enough to find her own faults in pushing her ideals onto Nagato. I've said this every week of recapping Nagato Yuki-chan but I really like Asakura as a character and this bit of character development is the cherry on top of a sundae. Catching up with Nagato it is revealed that is even more misunderstanding. Nagato wanted to leave Haruhi and Kyon alone so she can give him the chocolates in private as that is what she wanted and dropping the chocolate was a mistake that made for a dramatical shot. It still doesn't explain why she had to run out of the building and out of sight. Finally Kyon and Nagato have their moment even though the former is still oblvious and the latter has her confession interuppted by secondary characters.  This episode had a lot of interaction between Haruhi and Asakura, two characters that didn't interact a whole bunch in the Haruhi series. While Asakura has to usually take the parent role when talking to Nagato, she sees Haruhi as an equal so can voice her concerns and thoughts for a second opinion. I really like this as it shows that Asakura is not this perfect parental person and still has insecurities when it comes to advising her friend.  There is a post credit scene in this episode so don't switch off when the ending credits appear.  [Watch the disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Boys are soooo oblivious!
It's par for the course that every love interest in anime that is out-numbered by the opposite gender by more than 1:2 will be completely ignorant of another's feeling. It's the harem curse that falls on all protagonists. The...

Week Ender - Military Edition

Jun 27 // Red Veron
[embed]34003:4865:0[/embed]"Never Dying Flower"Anime: Full Metal Panic!A nice ending featuring some photos of the cast strewn around a table until you realize that these are probably recon pics. Very creative ending and most of the art featured are made for the ending and not just lazily taken from the show.[embed]34003:4866:0[/embed]"In beyond dark"Anime: Gunparade MarchStarts out all solemn and sad but gradually changes to something better give you some hope in this rather dark show about humanity on the brink of extinction.[embed]34003:4867:0[/embed]"Faith"Anime: Silver Will ArgevollenThis ending has some of cool imagery of mecha on the battlefield blowing stuff up while not forgetting about the boots on the ground that keep the mission going on. Something we rarely seen in these shows about operations involving complex machinery are the people keeping things running. [embed]34003:4869:0[/embed]"Enter Enter MISSION"Anime: Girls Und PanzerDon't dismiss this one as just another 'moe' show or one about "cute girls doing cute things", this one is more about "cute girls doing cute things while awesome tank battles happen" kind of show. Conceived by an author who likes tanks more than cute girls, the cute girls in this show only serve as a medium to deliver cool tank stuff and tank battles. Try this show if you like tanks.[embed]34003:4868:0[/embed]"Laterality"Anime: Jormungand: Perfect OrderHer name is Coco and she is loco. She is also an arms dealer.Is there an ending to a military-related anime that I didn't put on here? SHARE IT ON THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know.
Week Ender photo
I don't know what you've been told
This weekend's Week Ender is all about military-related anime endings! Seems like I forgot a fan-favorite, Jormungand, which needs to be on here. So rejoice that your favorite loco arms dealer gets some loving this weekend.No...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 5

Jun 27 // Soul Tsukino
With that, here are the participants: [embed]34001:4875:0[/embed] A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner) Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner) Yuji Nagata (2001 winner) Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi) Katsuyori Shibata Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner) Tomohiro Ishii Shelton X Benjamin Davey Boy Smith Jr Doc Gallows Bad Luck Fale B Block: Togi Makabe (2009 winner) Hirooki Goto (2008 winner) Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner) Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner) Toru Yano Minoru Suzuki Lance Archer AJ Styles Yujiro Takahashi  Karl Anderson So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on July 21 2014. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma: Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog. The announcers point out that Honma is replacing Ibushi who is out of the competition with a concussion. Honma gets a great reaction from the crowd. The picture being painted is that Honma may be the underdog, but he is hanging every step with Tanahashi. Honma actually dominates and sets up for his falling headbutt finisher, but as usual, he misses. Tanahashi hits a dragon suplex, but Honma kicks out. Honma nearly gets a pin with a roll up. Honma hangs tough, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline and a diving splash to get the win and two points. Brief, especially with the edits, but it got the point across. Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada: Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well, having beaten Okada. The crowd is FIRMLY behind Okada in this one. Styles is out here by himself while Okada has Gedo in his corner. Okada starts thing off with an awesome dropkick with Styles sitting on the top turnbuckle. They do an amazing spot where Styles is whipped into the ringside barricade, but leaps right over it into ringside, only to have Okada leap over and hit Styles. Further along in the match the ref is down. Okada goes for the win when Takahashi comes in as expected but gets dropkicked in the mouth for his troubles. They exchange moves including Okada hitting a tombstone out of a styles clash position before Okada decrapitates Styles with the rainmaker clothesline for the win and 2 big points. We get some words from Okada in the ring where he promises to beat Styles of the IWGP title and he will win the whole tournament. Gedo says pretty much the same thing. We get a few words from Shibata about his mindset going into this match. He talks about how he wondered what the fans would think of their match, and also how much Nakamura had changed since they were together 10 years ago. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata: The announcers do a great job of explaining how Shibata had left NJPW for over 7 years to go to MMA and various paces while his dojo classmates Nakamura and Tanahashi stayed. The difference in these two is night and day. Shibata  comes out in black tights and no flash. Very much like Dan Severn while Nakamura comes out with his usual flash and posing. The match starts tentatively as both men go for a classic style lock up.  Nakamura does some clowning, but Shibata makes him pay for it with some kicks. Seeing Shibata going for sit outs and lock ups shows he's had amateur wrestling training up the wazoo. Shibata puts Nakamura in a sleeper and then powers him over the top rope. Shibata's emotionless approach to calmly throwing Nakamura into the barricade and the ring posts is scary. Things slow down as Shibata goes for an early figure four leg lock. They break the hold and we go into Shibata smacking Nakamura around before Shinsuke gets fired up and takes over. The match is showing that while Shibata is the emotionless badass, Nakamura is every bit his equal and can fight as well. Shibata hits a sweet kick that knocks Shinsuke flat before Shibata hits a hanging dropkick (!). Nakamura goes for his finisher, but his met with a dropkick laying out both men as we go to a break. We come back as both men exchange forearms again and neither is going down. Nakamura hits two Boom-mae-yae knees to the skull, but Shibata gets up from the pin and then counters Shinsuke's charge with another dropkick. Shibata NAILS Shinsuke with a hell of a kick and gets the pin! Wow, not the result I would have guessed. Okay, now I see why this was made the feature! Nakamura gives us some words that his loss was a result of bad luck while Shibata doesn't really say much of anything. Badass? Yup. Promo man? Not even close. We get some studio words from Shibata saying he feels the match got a mixed reaction from fans (Huh? really?) but he's ready for more. As good a show is this is, watching it you can see the flaw of covering such a big tournament with just a 1-hour show. Each night is going to have 10 or 11 matches (and was 4 1/2 hours long), but really they could only show one full match and only clips of just two others. You miss some of the context here, but since it was only the first day of the tournament, Mauro and Josh didn't have to tell you about how many points each person had or what they had to do to stay in the race. Next week we shall see just how much of the rest of the tournament the announcers explain. I, on the other hand, don't have to worry about such things. Here is the quick results of the rest of night 1 and the points update. Block A: Fale beat Ishii, Benjamin beat Gallows, Kojima beat Nagata,  (Tanahashi/Shibata/Fale/Benjamin/Kojima all get 2 points) Block B: Tenzan beat Anderson, Yano beat Suzuki, Takahashi beat Naito, Goto beat Makabe (Okada/Tenzan/Yano/Takahashi/Goto all get 2 points) And there you have it. See you next week with more from the G1 Climax 24! With that here are the participants https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=101&v=EGCsYr4a-3Y A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner) Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner) Yuji Nagata (2001 winner) Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi) Katsuyori Shibata Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner) Tomohiro Ishii Shelton X Benjamin Davey Boy Smith Jr Doc Gallows Bad Luck Fale B Block: Togi Makabe (2009 winner) Hirooki Goto (2008 winner) Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner) Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner) Toru Yano Minoru Suzuki Lance Archer AJ Styles Yujiro Takahashi  Karl Anderson So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog. A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata /ul/34001-/match2-620x.jpg [embed]34001:4864:0[/embed]
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The G1 Climax Begins!
Welcome back to Strong Style! This week we begin something very cool as NJPW on AXS TV begins its coverage of the 24th annual G1 Climax Tournament! The coverage of the tournament will take us all the way into August with high...


OP Up! Military Edition

Jun 24 // Red Veron
[embed]33991:4853:0[/embed]"Tough Intention"Anime: Silver Will ArgevollenA more realistic military take on the mecha genre where the show follows a mechanized platoon that is right in the battlefield during a war between two fictional nations.[embed]33991:4854:0[/embed]"Atashi no Machi, Ashita no Machi"Anime: Library WarThis one is set in an alternate history where a government group is formed to censor books in libraries and a local militias are formed to protect libraries. A very interesting setting that more people need to check out.[embed]33991:4855:0[/embed]"The Door of Truth"Anime: Gunparade MarchOne of those "Humanity on the brink of extinction" stories, this one has militaries resorting to training small groups of young people to fight against an alien enemy. No overpowered robots or magical weapons in this one, prepare for the worst.[embed]33991:4856:0[/embed]"Tomorrow"Anime: Full Metal PanicSet in a world where the Cold War isn't over and technology is available to create giant piloted robots for warfare, this show follows a young man who grows up in the battlefield and is then placed in a Japanese High School setting. Equal parts of comedy and action make this show a fun time.Did I not include your favorite military themed anime opening in this week's selection? Right that wrong and SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know!
OP Up! photo
You are voluntold to enjoy this list
This week's selection of anime openings for OP Up! is all about military themed anime. The military has been a theme ripe for action and anime has always found it to be a good source of great entertainment. From the military ...

Annotated Anime: One Piece Episode 698

Jun 23 // Anthony Redgrave
Wow what an episode. When One Piece wants to turn on the action valve, it gushes not drips. I've been waiting a whole year for some more excellent One Piece fights and this episode was just the hor d'oeuvres. But first we had to sit through one of the most bizarre and badly done transition shots I've seen in recent years. After some badass close ups of Robin, Bartolomeo, and Cabbage Cavendish, it then jump cuts to a close up of Doflamingo's glasses, Law and ends with Trebol laughing. The whole thing lasts less than 3 seconds, but it's absolutely jarring to see. It's as if they accidently added in frames of Doflamingo and Law when they were finalising the scene transition. As I mentioned before this episode is about action, action, action! We are treated to literally all the fights occurring at this very moment; Franky vs. Senor Pink, the gladiators vs. Doflamingo family, and even Law and Luffy begin their final battle with the Heavenly Demon. Confusingly they completely forgot about Zoro's fight, unless he got lost on Pica. Since Sanji is AWOL, Zoro's fight is the one I'm looking forward to most so I was disappointed I didn't see him do some badass santoryu.  An alternative title for this episode should have been 'flashbacks, shadows of the past' as they recount many previous events leading up to now. It was especially offsetting seeing the old art style One Piece had back in the Jaya arc. Looking back on old One Piece episodes makes me question whether my rose tinted glasses are a bit too powerful as they look dated. The ending is one of the most satisfying I have seen in One Piece. All the frustrations I have had with the arc has all been soothed in the last 10 minutes of the episode. It also brings up a lot of mysteries that I want answering concerning the past relationship with Law and Doflamingo. My body is ready for the next week's One Piece episode #olde3joke.  hor d'oeuvres bartolomeo
One Piece photo
Action! Action! Action Jackson!
Readers that cross-pollinate to other anime sites like Anime News Network may know that they have started doing One Piece recaps as well. The writer of these, Sam Leach disagrees with me almost every week. When I li...

Review: Kantai Collection - Kancolle - Season 1

Jun 21 // Anthony Redgrave
Kantai Collection Studio: Diomedea/ Doga KoboRelease Date: January 7, 2015Format: Streamed via Crunchyroll Story-wise, Kantai Collection has had a lot of breathing room when drawing from its game counterpart. The game's main draw were the fleet girls, each one unique in their appearance, personality, and often drawing from anime stereotypes. The game had little to no story but had lots of different fleet girls that needed to be managed and micro-managed. So the anime focuses on the little destroyer that could, Fubuki. She is a new recruit to join the fight against the Abyssal fleet that had mysteriously surfaced. Even though it was advertised as a light-hearted slice of life moe school girl anime, Kancolle mixes in drama, suspense, and action moments that can satisfy the manlier viewer's palette. This title is also a period piece making many references to the Pacific Theatre; from Battle of W island (Battle of Wake Island) to all the fleet girls being based off real world battle ships e.g. Fubuki is based off a Japanese Destroyer Fubuki. However, history buffs may scoff at the inaccuracies depicted in Kancolle but for the average viewer it may provide a rabbit hole of interest into the naval campaigns of WWII. Attention to detail is one of Kancolle's greatest strength though they do blur the lines in this regard.  The mood is never confusing because of its superb pacing. Each episode allows viewers to revel in the banter and gags at the naval base, watch as the battle unfurls from plan to operation, and grow closer to each character as the episode concludes. It follows this formula so the mood flows cleanly between each scene. This cycle is toned down during the middle of the season to give way for a beach episode and a curry cook-off. The latter isn't necessary for viewing but provides the moe fan service that many viewers would be expecting. This formula wouldn't work as well if the fleet girls weren't all charming in their own way. Partly because of their visuals making them all look attractive but also their amplified personalities. Kongou is the loud big sister type with an obsession for the unseen admiral and verbal English tics. Her brash head-strong personality coupled with random linguistic interchanges would come off as annoying, but the latter is a delightful reference to her real world British roots. The fleet girls even wear their personalities in the heart of battle, I really liked how Naka (self-proclaimed idol of the fleet) would exclaim "Please no more autographs" when she was getting attacked. It's these little character points that make all the fleet girls endearing.  The visuals in Kantai Collection are excellent. Like with most school girl anime, all the characters look beautiful and cater to a variety of moe subgenres. Although they do go overboard when there are girls that are battleships and act like animals!? On the animation side, they do a wonderful job converting static 2D portraits from the game into moving anime characters, and then pulling those characters into CG for the battle scenes. I only realized they went CG once the stereoscopic shots of girls firing the cannons made it abundantly clear. The designs are kept wonderfully consistent so nothing looked out of place when they switch between animation styles.  The whole premise of Kantai Collection is interesting as it brings novel ideas to the table. Turning girls into battle ships or vice-versa seemed like a strange concept but they fleshed out the details to make it more than just a throwaway slice of life in disguise. It doesn't copy the game but draws elements from it. For example; in every school girl anime there has to be a bath scene because fan service. But Kancolle makes it a prerequisite as each girl has to take a bath to repair the damages they have sustained. Instant repairs (a rare item in the game) comes in the form of specialized water making the link to the game subtle and not shamelessly promotional. Even the "excessive eater" gag has its place as the larger ships require more energy to run so have to eat more than smaller ships. They never don't explain why they have to exercise though... I went into Kancolle because it looked like a fun dumb slice-of-life about girls that happened to be ships. When I finished the short 12 episode season I was surprised by how good it was for a school girl anime. It didn't overstay its welcome with excessive fan service so the 12 -episode length was just the right on the money. Viewers that have a tolerance or preference towards anime school girls should definitely give this one a run through on Crunchy Roll.  [This review is based on a streaming version of the series viewed by the reviewer at personal expense] Battle of W island
Kantai Collection Review photo
Anchors A-moe
Kantai Collection, often shortened down to Kancolle for the more efficient speaker, has a bizarre premise. It's strange that a veteran anime viewer like myself had to double-take on Kancolle's premise; battle ships that live ...

Week Ender - Foodie Edition

Jun 20 // Red Veron
[embed]33970:4833:0[/embed]"Become a smile"Anime: Gourmet Girl GraffitiBy far one of the best food oriented anime in recent years, this one combines food with the insanity and beautiful detail by anime studio SHAFT. Cute girls eating appetizing anime food never gets any better than this show and this ending is a great way to show those aspects of the show. Highly recommended if you like: SHAFT, food, and cute girls.[embed]33970:4834:0[/embed]"Sunday"Anime: Yakitate!! JapanA fun and educational ending with a live action cooking with making some delicious looking bread. I am starving as I write these little paragraphs.[embed]33970:4835:0[/embed]"Spice"Anime: Food WarsDesigned to whet your appetite for food and "other things", this is an upbeat ending with a catchy tune alongside colorful visuals.[embed]33970:4836:0[/embed]"Formula of Smiles"Anime: Ben-ToA more laid back and gentle ending to contrast the over-the-top action featured on the show. Nice way to wind down. I am hungry.Did I miss an anime ending about food that you like? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I must knowowowowow!
Week Ender photo
Delicious Smell
The weekend is here again and I'm sure y'all have been salivating since last wednesday's OP Up! Foodie openings. So here are some anime endings from anime about food and food products. So much like a hungry customer at a rest...

Strong Style: The Landscape of Japanese Pro Wrestling

Jun 19 // Soul Tsukino
  Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA):  Puroresu starts here. While many tours of pro wrestling were held in the post-war era, this is the first pro wrestling company to establish itself in Japan, starting in 1953. The JWA was the creation of a former sumo wrestler named Rikidozan (pictured above), who started wrestling a few years earlier.  The promotion was an instant hit as it became the first program shown live on Japanese TV with 3 days of wrestling shown on NHK and NTV. Later in the year Rikidozan became its first champion after shooting (going off the planned outcome) on judoka Masahiko Kimura and legitimately knocking him out. The JWA established many of the traditions of puro that are seen today such as multiple singles and tag team titles, holding annual tournaments, and bringing in foreign (Gaijin) talent to use on their shows. Sadly Rikidozan died in 1963 after being stabbed by a yakuza. After his death, the promotion had several internal struggles, mostly focused on who should replace Rikidozan as the company's top star. The JWA wanted to promote former baseball player, the 6'10" Shohei "Giant" Baba while some thought the top spot belonged to the faster and more technically sound Kanji "Antonio" Inoki. The two coexisted in the late 60s, but in 1972 the politics got so bad that both men left the JWA to start their own companies. The JWA struggled but ended up closing down in 1973 with all of its remaining talent going to either Baba's or Inoki's companies.   New Pro Wrestling (NJPW):  Started by Antonio Inoki in 1972, with him being the top star of the company. NJPW is the second biggest wrestling company in the world, behind WWE. Originally recognized the American NWF title as its top championship, they switched to the International Wrestling Gran Prix as its governing body in the 80's for all its titles. The company, along with Puroresu as a whole, hit a downturn in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000's thanks to the rise of mixed martial arts, something Inoki was a trailblazer for with his shoot fights with Muhammad Ali, Willie Williams, and others in the 70's and 80's. Inoki didn't help puro's cause as he routinely sent wrestlers into one sided shoot fights against MMA stars and putting the IWGP title on people like Bob Sapp, Brock Lesnar, and Akebono. Inoki eventually stepped aside as head of the company to let his son-in-law Simon take over. Inoki sold the promotion to video game company Yukes before they sold it to current owner Bushiroad in 2012. Spearheaded by young new talent like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Okada, and Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW was able to reverse its fortunes in the mid-2000's and grew to bigger heights. It has dominated the landscape in Japan ever since.   All Pro Wrestling (AJPW):  The company "Giant" Baba created in 1972. Was seen as more traditional of the post JWA companies and inherited all of the JWA's titles and a good number of its wrestlers, along with its membership in the American National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) when the JWA closed. With the NWA backing, AJPW held several world title matches with champions like Jack Brisco, Harley Race, and Ric Flair routinely stopping by, adding to the prestige of the company. Baba himself held the NWA World title 3 times, although his title reigns were usually very short, due to scheduling of the NWA title defenses. When the NWA dried up, Baba unified the companies singles titles (The PWF title, the NWA International Title, and the NWA United National title) to form the Triple Crown Championship in 1989. After Baba's death in 1999 from cancer, the company has had a major fall from prominence. Thanks to major talent defections in 2000 (led by top star and president Mitsuharu Misawa), and in 2012 (led by former president Kenji Mutoh), AJPW is a shell of its former self with only about 12 regularly contracted wrestlers. Though it still holds shows, the crowds are much smaller than NJPW's and rely heavily on freelance wrestlers.   Pro Wrestling NOAH:  The result of AJPW's second massive migration of talent in 2000 when president Mitsuharu Misawa quit, leading all but two native Japanese wrestlers away from All Japan to form a new company. The name is a reference to Noah's Ark. After taking big name wrestlers and securing All Japan's tv deal with Nippon TV, shot up to become a top player in overnight. It recognized the Global Honor Championship (GHC) as its main title. Sadly Misawa died in a tragic in-ring accident in 2009, and after some rough patches here and there, the company is still going strong. Although they could be considered the number 2 in right now, they don't mind lending out their talent either as NJPW's Minoru Suzuki and his group, Suzuki's Army, are actually based out of NOAH, including the Killer Elite Squad. Wrestle-1 (W1):  The result of top star and former company president Kenji Mutoh leading the third migration of talent from All Japan in 2012.  Although this promotion has done some promotional work with TNA/Impact Wrestling (resulting in the disastrous Bound For Glory show in 2014), it is still a smaller company that doesn't draw nearly the big crowds that New Japan does and is filled with wrestlers loyal to Mutoh, or students he is training.   Dramatic Dream Team (DDT):  Founded in 1997, DDT is an independent promotion that produces some wild antics that are a parody of WWE storylines. The most (in)famous aspect of this company is its Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, a joke hardcore title that has been won by such title holders as two different dogs, a blow-up love doll, 3 different ladders and even the belt itself have been crowned champion. Outside the over the top stuff, it has produced some fine wrestlers including NJPW's Kota Ibushi.   Dragon Gate:  Originally this company started as Toryumon, based off Ultimo Dragon's training gym, but he left in 2003 for the WWE and took the name with him. Although they feature some heavyweights and some comedy characters, Dragon Gate's main bread and butter are smaller and faster style wrestlers, based off Ultimo Dragon's training in Mexico in the country's Lucha libre style. Several wrestlers from this group have wrestled in the United States for such companies as TNA, ROH, and Chikara and even has an American leg of the promotion, Dragon Gate, the uses top unsigned American talent. They also at one time had just about the coolest television opening in the world.   Freelance:  A concept that has grown in Japan, more so than in the Unites States, is freelance wrestlers. These are guys who are not signed to long-term deals with any one promotion in Japan and are able to go to any company they want. These folks are often used on big shows for companies, especially tournaments, or used to fill out shorthanded rosters. Even big promotions like New Japan use freelancers on their shows from time to time. There are other promotions in Japan, both past and present, but these are the major ones, especially in dealing with coverage of New Japan here on Japanator. The puroresu landscape is a large one with many different styles and approaches. There is something for every wrestling fan in Japan, so it's worth checking out. http://www.japanator.com/ul/33952-strong-style-the-landscape-of-japanese-pro-wrestling/NOAH-noscale.jpg
Strong Style photo
A broader look of Japanese Wrestling
Through the Strong Style coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV, Japanator has given  a glimpse into the world of Japanese pro wrestling, or "puroresu", to its readers. Through the article, we've taken a look at s...

OP Up! Foodie Edition

Jun 17 // Red Veron
[embed]33964:4823:0[/embed]"LIVE for LIFE ~Ookamitachi no Yoru~"Anime: Ben-ToAn over-the-top show about fighting over discounted supermarket boxed lunches sounds as good as it's ridiculous premise. Think of a battle anime but people are fighting over cheap dinner but with martial arts moves and other techniques.[embed]33964:4824:0[/embed]"Comet Cloud"Anime: Yakitate!! JapanAn anime about a boy out to make a national bread for Japan who also happens to have "solar hands", where he has hands warmer than that of a normal human's hands. A fun and educational show that happens to also be a competitive shounen action show but fighting is done through cooking.[embed]33964:4825:0[/embed]"Dramatic"Anime: Honey and CloverNot exactly a show about food but this opening features some appetizing food as well as it is fun to watch.[embed]33964:4826:0[/embed]"The Song of Hope"Anime: Food WarsThe latest of this season about cooking and competing in making food in a cutthroat cooking academy where the main character is a genius teen cook. The food is drawn very deliciously well, as well as the pervy depiction of women (and men).Did I not feature your favorite anime about food? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know!
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Ittadakimasu!
Who doesn't love food? Food is a universal thing that people love and anime has tackled the subject of food for a long time. From cooking food to appreciating food, anime has done it all, and even more when you check out this week's selection of openings. Enjoy!Did I not feature your favorite anime about food? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I want to know!

Week Ender - Making Music Edition

Jun 13 // Red Veron
[embed]33944:4807:0[/embed]"Konna ni Chikaku de"Anime: Nodame CantabileA pretty great ending featuring a song by half-Korean/half-African American music artist Crystal Kay, whose pop RnB music gives you an enjoyable ending and something different for an anime featuring classical music.[embed]33944:4808:0[/embed]"NO, Thank You!"Anime: K-On!!The second ending to the one of the shows that popularized the "cute girls doing cute things" genre while delivering some great music on the side, the song featured in this ending has a more rock edge compared to the other songs in the show. Probably my favorite song from the show that isn't pop-centric.[embed]33944:4809:0[/embed]"Tutti!"Anime: Sound! EuphoniumKyoto Animation, the studio that animated this show, has begun the tradition of trying to make endings as a vehicle to popularize characters from their shows (as well as the voice actresses of those characters). This all started with K-On!! (featured above) and KyoAni seems to not be stopping anytime soon.[embed]33944:4810:0[/embed]"Don't say LAZY"Anime: K-On!!I take it back about the other K-On!! ending above, this song is also a favorite of mine. Okay, I like pretty much all the songs in from this show. They're pretty nice to listen to while working out.Do you have any anime endings that are from anime about making music with music instruments? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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Play that funky music, waifu-poi
This weekend's Week Ender features anime endings from anime about making that sweet music with all them musical instruments. Anime is a great medium to feature music with sound and visuals combining to make great viewing expe...

OP Up! Making Music Edition

Jun 10 // Red Veron
[embed]33936:4801:0[/embed]"Hit in the USA"Anime: BeckA pretty fun opening featuring some iconic Americana with a fun song entirely in english. Despite the grammatical errors, it's still pretty catchy and fun to sing.[embed]33936:4802:0[/embed]"Utauyo!! Miracle"Anime: K-On!My favorite opening from this show, it combines a frenetic pace with an equally energetic song while not forgetting to be cute. This opening also captures the feel of the spirit of high school girls with the silly things they do in the opening.[embed]33936:4803:0[/embed]"Allegro Cantabile"Anime: Nodame CantabileMy favorite opening out of this week's selection, this one is has it all: a lively and catchy song, attractive visuals all in a neat a simple opening. Great show that I urge you all out there to check out.[embed]33936:4804:0[/embed]"Dream Soldier"Anime: Sound! EuphoniumThis season's anime that's creating all that buzz (I'm behind a few episodes so I dunno what's going on. A feast for the eyes, from Kyoto Animation, the same studio that brought us K-On! (featured above), this opening just shows how refined they've become in making their openings.Did I not feature your favorite musical instrument-related opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna HEAR from you. HAHAHAHAHAHA.BONUS VIDEO[embed]33936:4805:0[/embed]
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Making sweet music together
This week's OP Up! is all about them bass. Well, not exactly but it features anime openings that have musical instruments and the people who make that music. Anime, being a visual and auditory medium, definitely adds to a sto...

Week Ender - Workplace Edition

Jun 07 // Red Veron
[embed]33925:4790:0[/embed]"Heart no Edge ni Idomō Go to Heart Edge"Anime: Working!!Sung by the male voice cast of the show, this ending is for them fangirls whom I just found out that exist and they are really into the male voice actors.[embed]33925:4791:0[/embed]"Two-Dimension's Love"Anime: Denki-gai no Honya-san! A simple ending but still very fun and cute ending with all the girls of the show and the actresses that voice them.[embed]33925:4792:0[/embed]"Takarabako (Treasure Box)"Anime: ShirobakoAn ending keeping in true with the second half of the season with the jet anime theme featured in the show along with the anime production theme of the show.[embed]33925:4793:0[/embed]"Hachimitsu Doki"Anime: Servant x ServiceA super soothing and cute ending featuring the female characters in a slumber party. I really looked forward to this at the end of each episode.Bonus Video[embed]33925:4794:0[/embed]Did I miss any anime endings from anime that feature a workplace setting? What is your favorite? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
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After work chillin'
This week's theme for Week Ender is all about anime that are in a workplace setting. The openings in this week's OP Up featured a more lively tune while this week's endings in Week Ender have more of a chill vibe.Please enjoy...

Feast your your eyes on Donuts in Anime on Nat'l Donuts Day

Jun 05 // Red Veron
BONUS VIDEO ABOUT DONUTS:[embed]33922:4789:0[/embed]
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Don don donuts!
Today is National Donuts day in the United States of America and of course a country known for eating too much would have a day celebrating a fried sugary pastry. However, the love for donuts (or Doughnuts) transcends nationa...

OP Up! Workplace Edition

Jun 03 // Red Veron
[embed]33912:4779:0[/embed]"May I help you?"Anime: Servant X ServiceFrom the same author of Wagnaria (originally titled Working!! in Japan), this one is about civil servants helping out citizens. Of course, this one wouldn't be interesting if the cast weren't all eccentric and/or interesting in their own ways. A very fun show that you can probably show non-anime fans.[embed]33912:4780:0[/embed]"Kajiriki no Ringo" (A half-eaten apple)Anime: Denki-Gai no Honya-sanIt just had to happen sooner or later, but here is a show about otaku who work in a manga bookstore in Akihabara, which is considered a mecca for anyone who likes anime and manga. You get your cast of different characters each with their own unique quirk that is just an endless resource for comedy.[embed]33912:4781:0[/embed]"A Colorful Box"Anime: ShirobakoThe surprise hit of last year, this show pretty much brought back a studio from a bunch of recent failures. So what does an anime studio that had a bunch of misses do? They make an anime about making anime and how it isn't so easy trying to make one. Surprisingly enjoyable even if it takes a while to get going, this one is a must see for any person interested in how anime is made and would love to see creatives at work.[embed]33912:4782:0[/embed]"Someone Else"Anime: Working!! OPFrom the same person that went on to make Servant X Service that is also featured in this week's selection, this is a much zanier workplace comedy that features people working in a chain restaurant. Very fun show with two seasons already made with a third one coming soon. Highly recommended.Did I forget to include an opening from your favorite workplace anime (or one that features a workplace)? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW BECAUSE I THIRST FOR THAT KNOWLEDGE!
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Workin' for a livin'
When I'm not watching anime about magical girls or giant robots, I like to watch slice-of-life anime featuring seemingly normal people get into comedic situations. A subset of these slice-of-life anime just happen to be set i...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo Gold Storm Soar episode 7

Jun 01 // Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; Gold Storm has delivered a good follow-up to the last episode, as it managed to flesh out Zinga and Amily’s story a bit more. One of the neat things about their characters is that the two villains were a Makai Knight and a Priestess before they became Horrors, since it was an improvement over Garo: Makai no Hana's Monster-of-the-Week that was once a Knight. Sure, they’re obviously meant to be Ryuga and Rian's opposites, but their abilities made way for some great fight sequences. Not only that, it gave us a cool-looking Horror suit during the scene, which had the same Makai Knight vibe as Sonshi’s Horror Form from Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. Aside from the great clash between two guys in costumes, the intensity behind Zinga and Amily’s actions gave that strange feeling that our heroes wouldn’t be able to escape from this situation unharmed. Of course, the sword clashes and aerial combat maneuvers in this episode were fun to follow. While they could’ve used some green screen techniques to add some special environments to improve the scene, the segment worked nice as a first encounter between the major players in the story, since they got to jump around as they fought to the death. Most importantly, we got the Makai Knight on Horror suit action that the franchise’s famous for, so that’s a major positive aspect about this whole sequence. Thanks to this scenario, Masahiro Inoue finally put his acting skills to good work, which shows how a major confrontation can go a long way. In a way, his performance shared some elements with his egotistical lines as Tsukasa in Kamen Rider Decade (like the segments where he steals the show in the alternate Rider Worlds). Hell, I guess you could say he’s like the evil counterpart of the Destroyer of Worlds. Depending on show turns out in the end, this might be one of the few instances where he’ll end up in a toku series that’s actually good. In regards to Amily's character, she still has a long way to go before she can become a great villain, as she’s still depicted as Zinga’s loyal right hand woman who follows his lead. Other than that, her attempts to one-up Rian were entertaining on their own behalf. This was due to the opposing chemistry between the two ladies, since it complements Rian’s winning streak of being a fun Makai Priestess to keep up with. Gold Storm may be far from reaching its halfway point, but first big encounter between the main heroes and the villains left us on the edge of our seats. Combined with the mysterious Makai Priest’s move to unite the special daggers, episode 7’s banquet has prepared us for the next big course in the series. Seeing that Zinga's the cannibalistic Horror, I think we can assume that he’ll use Ladan to create an unlimited food supply to feed his need for demonic creatures. Once this moment happens, then the show'll get realer than before.
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Suit on suit action is back, baby
You know that a show still has some tricks up its sleeve when it starts to get even more intense than its preceding episode. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s already placing Ryuga and Ri...

Week Ender - Magical Girl Edition

May 30 // Red Veron
[embed]33905:4773:0[/embed]"Honey"Anime: Cardcaptor SakuraA very chill song for a laid back ending where you are watching Sakura through a window making you feel that you are very much a creeper for doing so.[embed]33905:4774:0[/embed]"Secret Ambition"Anime: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerSTaking 10 years after the first series, this one features old lady Nanoha taking on a more mature role. Where did the high school part go? I want to see that one. Perhaps their saving that as a final series or movie.[embed]33905:4775:0[/embed]"Shining Sky"Anime: Vividred OperationNot exactly a magical girl show but still has the elements that define the genre with things such transformation sequences and otherworldly forces trying to take over the world. From the same minds as Strike Witches, this show provides a bounty of booty close ups as well as crotch close ups in lieu of the bare pantsu seen in Strike Witches.[embed]33905:4776:0[/embed]"Moonlight Densetsu"Anime: Sailor MoonThis is the first ending for the original adaptation of the Sailor Moon. This one ran for the first 166 episodes, which is insane considering how popular the anime was in the day.[embed]33905:4777:0[/embed]"Gekko"Anime: Sailor Moon CrystalI haven't kept up with the new adaptation but I like the idea of a show like Crystal reintroducing a new generation to Sailor Moon. Though you may want to wait for the Blu-ray release for a more "polished" version.Did I miss your favorite magical girl anime ending? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW BECAUSE I WANNA KNOW!
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Girls Und Magic
The recent resurgence of the Magical Girl genre in popularity has brought us many entries in the genre and even the remake of one of the great magical girl anime, Sailor Moon. While not many can compare to the great Sailor Mo...

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!!!
OP Up! photo
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.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
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.
Garo photo
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...


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