This blog contains copious amounts of Aquagaze. People with brains are advised not to interact with Aquagaze. This also applies to people without brains. See? He's very stupid. Even I want to punch him. And I'm just text!
Aquagaze loves anime. So much that he blogs about it all the goddamn time. That's why most people know him.
Aquagaze loves music. Don't ask him what kind of music, you've probably never heard of it.
Aquagaze loves games. In fact, he enjoys them so much he has never beaten one, just to salvage it.
Aquagaze loves Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, and he won't rest until you do so as well.
While I most certainly have more important things to worry about then about the summer season of anime - which is still more than a month away - I still feel obliged to write up an extremely biased preview, based on the charts that get released way too early. In good Aquagaze fashion, I am using a completely different format once again, thereby continuing my eternal search for worthwhile blogging skills. I wonder how wrong I will be this time!
If nothing goes wrong, the summer season will kick off with Kingdom, a historic shounen anime set in the Chinese Warring States Period, by Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Bleach, …). If you, like me, stopped caring as soon as you read “Chinese Warring States Period”, you needn’t worry. It’s almost as if there have been more anime about Chinese history than there have been about Japanese history; and the Warring States period is such a convoluted mess it makes Kingdom Hearts look like Dora The Explorer. Don’t expect Studio Pierrot to knock any sense into it, or make it anything worthwhile, for that matter. I sure can’t wait for the next Dynasty Warriors game to come out! Equally underwhelming looks Oda Nobuna no Yabou, yet another fanservice-ridden history anime about the Sengoku period getting the genderbending treatment, this time by Studio Gokumi (A-Channel, Saki: Schiga-Hen, …) and Madhouse (Death Note, Monster, …). Yes, Madhouse. I thought they were smart enough to know that breasts cannot exactly jiggle when covered by plate armour. Then again, they did make High School of the Dead…
If you’d like your history to be a bit more sparkly, you can always check out Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi, an allegedly “super liberal” interpretation of the Hyakuninisshu anthology, which is a collection of one hundred romantic poems from the Heian (794-1185) period. The “obnoxious shoujo” alarms are bleating loudly, but this is obnoxious shoujo with the director of Honey and Clover and Aoi Hana behind the steering wheel. While Chouyaku’s premise proves to be original, it may have an alienating effect on many. With different romantic poems as the source material, the result could be very shallow and repetitive, but if we look at this from an optimist’s point of view, this might just end up as the best anime of the season… that no one safe for the Oxford University Faculty of Japanese Literature watched. Animation will be provided by TYO Animations (Tamayura, Ginga e Kickoff!, …).
Of course, no anime season is complete without a boatload of boring eroge adaptations and other shady shows that might get you arrested. By far the most interesting of the uninteresting, but by far not interesting enough to be interesting, is Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse; a science fiction anime based on a light novel based on figurines based on a spin-off of an eroge I have been hearing way too much about as of late. If you had trouble reading that last sentence, you had better get out now, but for some people, Muv-Luv might be right up their alley. Do you like supposedly attractive woman jabbering incomprehensible technobabble? Did you ‘play’ the original Muv-Luv visual novel and its equally hefty sequels and spin-offs? Are you prepared to have your favourite franchise ruined by the director of Rosario + Vampire and Baby Princess 3D? Yes? Have fun with it. As for me, my timeline can’t wait to be filtered.
AIC Build (Oreimo, Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, …) is responsible for the obligatory harem eroge adaptation of the season. The thing is named Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate and, well, it’s an eroge adaptation by AIC Build. I have a special, specific room in the “I don’t give a sod” section of my heart specifically for eroge adaptations by AIC Build. If you liked Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai before it became a porn parody of its-… I mean, an anime, you know fully well how much you should care about this chocolaty anime: about as much as you should care about Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! Like looking for an anime in this season that is actually worth a damn, this show’s brave protagonist must search his ever growing harem of female schoolmates in order to find his real little sister. I don't think I have to add anything more. This fun for the whole family will be animated by Studio Gokumi and will serve no other purpose for the human race than to act as evidence of how depraved our kind has become. My allergies are playing up. If you have not yet had enough obnoxious ecchi yet, consider yourself lucky, for Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai shall be your saving grace. In this new, brave attempt at creating the Citizen Kane of anime, revolutionary anime studio Feel tells the story of a virile young spirit who has his sex drive stolen from him by a well-endowed Grim Reaper and has to undertake a heroic quest to gain it back. An epic tale of masculinity, corporeality and bodily fluids, from the visionary director that brought us Yosuga No Sora. Yeah. If you are really desperate for a Feel anime, just watch that kissXsis OVA that comes out the sixth of July. At least kissXsis is entertaining.
Good thing noitaminA is still there to provide undertake a true brave attempt at making something worthwhile. The renowned timeslot has been trying very hardly to make up for some of its recent disasters (Guilty Crown, No.6, Fractale, …) by going back to what it does best: Josei, slice-of-life and offbeat comedy. That last category will be all too well represented by Moyashimon Returns, and Natsuyuki Rendezvous falls well into that first category, though studio Dogakobo (YuruYuri, which is - by the way - getting a second season as well) and the director of Rosen Maiden and the much-maligned Yozakura Quartet anime may seem like odd choices. On the other hand, however, we do have the animation director of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the noitaminA seal of quality, which all of a sudden is worth a damn again. Only time will tell if the timeslot can keep up its glorious resurrection.
While noitaminA has rekindled its fiery determination to be as against the anime mainstream as possible, J.C. Staff continues to put out one unremarkable show after another. Its two representatives for this season, Joshiraku and La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia, respectively a four-girl-ensemble comedy and an otomege adaptation, don’t seem to show any aspiration to change this tradition around, but it would not be the first time a seemingly generic J.C. Staff show turned out to be fantastic. Toradora!, anyone? La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia does not seem to have much going for it aside from its setting and odd pretty mafia boy vibes, but Joshiraku can count on the reputation of its spiritual predecessor. The Joshiraku manga was penned down by the author of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, which suddenly reveals a lot more potential in Joshiraku’s entirely generic premise. You can take that premise very literally, though, as the manga consists of literally nothing else but girls sitting around a table and having random conversations. Without the Shaft magic that SZS did have, why does this have to be an anime?
As you probably figured out already, J.C. Staff does not seem to be putting much effort into this season. The most J.C. Staff of all anime this season, however, is not even being made by them, but by Diomedea of Squid Girl fame (and Komodo no Jikan infamy). Are you excited for an anime about a generic, mild-mannered male high school student protagonist who meets an offbeat girl with special powers and gets dragged into fighting hardly threatening enemies with her, while ending up in a lot of ‘hilarious’ and ‘erotic’ situations involving an entire cast of stereotypical teenage girls who are all in love with him for no reason whatsoever? Yeah, me neither. But if you are, make sure to check out Campione! Furthermore, if you’d like some more funbags in your generic battle anime, Hagure Yuusha No Estetica, the latest from the wizards at ARMS (Samurai Girls, Queen’s Blade, Ikki Tousen, …) is there for you. My hype level, on the other hand, is inversely proportional to the average breast size of the average girl in this average anime.
Have no fear, though, for there is more than enough actually promising anime on the way. Anime like Sword Art Online, for instance. Based on the novels by the author of Accel World, this spiritual successor is bigger, badder and better that the currently airing show, at least according to fans. If anything, it looks more consistent and fantasy-themed. With the director of Occult Academy – which, despite its lacklustre plot, was pretty well directed - the nose-hating character designer of Working!! and folktronica fairy Yuki Kajiura backing the project, Sword Art Online has a lot going for it. So does Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, which – according to the trailer – looks like an original, atmospheric, cute and fairy tale-like fantasy anime. The main issue this anime has will have to face is the presence of director Seiji Kishi, who is so bad at picking a mood that he and his team at AIC ASTA (Persona 4: The Animation) nearly ruined an anime based on the best game of all time. With atmosphere seemingly being such an important factor in Jintai, picking Kishi seems like a very strange choice.
Another director who seems to be trying very hardly to become the Uwe Boll of anime is Shin Onuma, the poor man’s Akiyuki Shinbo. Onuma and his studio Silver Link (Baka and Test, C3, …) have been putting out one sub-par Shaft imitation after another as of late, and Kokoro Connect is their last in line. An anime about five boys and five girls switching places seems pretty interesting to me, yet I am very suspicious of how exactly Onuma will adapt this. Will we get another desperate attempt at Shinboism, or will Silver Link tone this down in favour of a more casual, bubblier atmosphere befitting of the K-On!-esque character designs? Will the screenwriter of Clannad turn this into another one of these obnoxious angstfests we have seen way too much of as of late, or will he show his talent is a more restrained way? I am sceptical, yet I cannot say I am not intrigued.
The same can be said for Tari Tari. To me, P.A. Works (Angel Beats!, Another, …) has always delivered before, and while the promotional material and premise seems to live and breathe Hanasaku Iroha, the crew is entirely different. The queen of overwrought obnoxious screenwriting, Mari Okada, has been thankfully ditched for newcomer Masakazu Hashimoto, who will also pick up directing duties. Director and writer being the same person is never a bad thing – unless it's M. Night Shyamalan – so Tari Tari gets the benefit of my doubt.
This leaves us with two more anime before we can wrap this admittedly lengthy preview. About Arve Rezzle, not much is known, aside from the fact that involves a guy being trapped in cyberspace and having to find his missing sister in order to escape, and that it is animated by ZEXCS (Sister Princess, Chu-Bra!!, …). The latter is enough reason for you to not bother about the half-assed logic in the former. We end up this preview with an unfortunate comedy by Sunrise (Gundam, Daily Lives of High School Boys, …) and Fujita Yoshi, the director of the later episodes of Gintama: Binbou-gami ga! This show tells the story of an extremely lucky girl getting a visit from the goddess of misfortune, who has been sent to restore the balance of luck. Hilarity will ensue… or will it? With the screenwriter of Bleach and that atrocious Rock Lee‘s Springtime of Youth spin-off penning, people hoping for another Gintama or Dude Days might be better off not getting their hopes up too high for Binbou-gami ga!
Aside from all these shows, the summer season will also feature second seasons of lesbian-tastic comedy YuruYuri, Moyashimon, historic otomege adaptation Hakuouki, the infamously convoluted Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Rinne No Lagrange and Dog Days. In general, I think the same can be said about the summer season that can be said about a lot of summer seasons: There isn’t really a lot that looks promising, but there are some shows that could prove to be decent entertainment. What will you be watching?
In which Aquagaze attempts to stand out by miserably abusing his drawing tablet. Sadly enough, he is too busy to contribute anything meaningful to this surge in C-blogs, let alone to Japanator as a whole.
The image of December that has been bred into our very flesh and bones by the efforts of every possible peer one could possibly be pressured by is a highly dubious one. Whether you are the smart boy or girl your parents have been trying to mould you into or the brain-dead, Santa-hat-wearing consumer marketers have been trying to make you be, you have to and you will look forward to the final month of the year as its absolute pinnacle.
In reality, when December days don’t give you any valid reasons to stay away from school, they tend to be the worst days of the year. Horrible weather, sadistic teachers trying to squeeze the last out of you before Christmas break and all kinds of stress with causes ranging from buying presents to making sure your cards are sent on time.
A phenomenon that is both a December staple and an excellent example of its ambiguity are end-of-year lists. They deliver both a fun opportunity to bring back fond memories of some of the year’s highlights, but on the other hand, they are extremely tedious to make and most of all, if they are not made in some special way, they are, frankly, often quite boring.
Though I did think that I would not be worthy of calling myself a blogger -which I still do, despite my low productivity- if I did not at least write something that could pass for one of these end-of-year lists. When the Anibloggers Community Anime Awards were announced, I, in great Aquagaze fashion, was one of the first to join. Of course, in great Aquagaze fashion, I am also one of the last to actually put out his blog. I hope it was worth the wait. It probably is not.
Time to kick this thing into gear and get this show on the road with a slice-of-life anime that is more often than not about the scenery than the plot; a light-hearted and heart-warming show which, at the same time, always know which vibe to create; a show that combines the idealized with the all too familiar.
Contrary to what you may think, I am not talking about Hanasaku Iroha.
If you want a list of reasons why I, Aquagaze, lover of all anime featuring a cast of four females with ambiguous sexuality turning being lazy into a form of art, have managed to ban all ‘cute girls going cute things anime’ from this list, I can gladly provide you with one. A-Channel and Yuru Yuri were entertaining, but not a single four girl ensemble show this year was good enough to come up to scratch with the relatively high standards set by this year’s anime. All but one.
What sets Tamayura ~hitotose~, including obnoxious tildes to accentuate the ~healing~ vibe, apart from other shows within it’s overly crowded genre is its focus on characters and its breezy atmosphere. It has absolutely mastered where Hanasaku Iroha crashed and burned: combining the breezy and the more serious into one consistent whole.
Tamayura culls all heartstrings without tugging at them, develops its likeable cast of characters and the rich past they share and easily liberates them from the archetypes they all started out as in the OVAs that preceded this full TV series.
Tamayura is a slow burner; a show that is at it’s best when it is watched on a busy train after a long day at school. When the rain pours down from the grey clouds and everything seems pointless, Tamayura’s mellow melodies, nostalgic visuals and tinier-than-live adventurettes always bring a smile to my face. Life isn’t all that bad. Neither is slice-of-life.
To be honest, I don’t know how to feel about Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai –which, for the good of my sanity shall be referred to as Ano Hana from now on- anymore. Pretty much everything that has been said about it, be it positive or negative, is true in some way. Ano Hana constantly dances the rope between genuinely touching melancholy and cheap melodrama. Its characters are interesting, flawed and developed, but fail to be likeable. Ano Hana’s legacy is as bittersweet as the vibe it tried to create, most of all because it went out with a supposedly heart-warming ending that turned into an almost morbid circus of sharks jumping through flaming rings. It is a noitaminA staple, but one that needs to be buried quickly. The bitter characters stayed bitter, the likeable characters became bitter and the love triangle that dominated a good half of the show did not get resolved.
Ano Hana, however, is not the show we have always regarded it to be. This is not a show about five friends trying to get over their shared traumas and be friends again; this is a show about five friends miserably failing trying to get over their shared traumas and be friends again. It is a gruelling tragedy disguised as a melodrama about a bunch of overreacting, broken, socially inept selfish bastards who have convinced themselves of the fact that they cannot be happy if Menma is dead. So Menma returns as a ghost, trying to get them to be friends again and she actually almost manages to pull it off, resulting in some of the most beautiful moments I have ever had the honour of witnessing. The second episode, in which Jintan, Anaru and Poppo reminisce their childhood innocence over a good old session of Nokémon, definitely deserves to take the hypothetical award for best episode of the year home.
Past the halfway mark, though, Ano Hana quickly starts rolling off its own hill, devolving into a whiny, angsty, predictable mess. However, within it still lurks the brave idea of creating a character-driven drama anime with cute girls and romance in it that does not end well. In the end, Menma finally moves on, but did she bring her old friends any closer? No. All she ever really wanted was the fireworks she could never see when she was still alive. She manipulated Jintan into making everything revolve around her once again. Of course the fireworks were merely symbolic, but they never succeeded in what they were intended for. In fact, they made everything even worse. Anaru and Jintan could be happy together, but Menma’s orchestrated tragedy blocked their wheels with a stick. Yukiatsu and Tsuruko go back to pretending to have nothing to do with their friends like the blasé high-flyers they are. Menma only returned to dig up old corpses and to ruin the lives of her five old friends because she couldn’t stand them getting over her death. Worst of all, I still do not remember the name of the flower they saw that day.
Rants aside, Ano Hana is a nostalgic, sadly enough often overwrought mess with occasional brilliance, but in the end, it deserves its spot on this list because it is provocative and even controversial. It attempted to do something different. It showed that anime with utterly broken characters and an almost sickeningly tear-jerking plot can end up being popular. How well it succeeds in this is a topic one could dedicate an entire college course to. It had both rabid haters and dedicated fans, and in my opinion, both groups have their appeal. I am most comfortable in my own group of people who have no idea how to feel about Ano Hana. Nevertheless, I cannot deny it a spot in this top 12. It is too memorable for that.
Are Gainax the only people who can make crazy nonsense and get away with it? Say hello to Kyousogiga. You probably have not heard of Kyousogiga until -depending of your reading speed- around 3 seconds ago, unless you for some reason download everything your favourite torrenting website’s home page has to offer. I would not recommend doing that.
There is not much I can give away about Kyousogiga aside from the fact that it looks absolutely gorgeous. Every single second of its 25 minutes is stuffed with creativity and hilarity. The explosion of colour and synths is supported by an absolutely ridiculous story, starring Rie Kugimiya in the role of her life. For once, the Vixen of Violence ditches her growth deficit, washboard and bad temper for a huge hammer and a big mouth. Giving away anything more about Kyousogiga’s supernaturalicious plot, including the poor girl’s name, would be a spoiler, but one thing you should know in advance: It will not make sense.
Kyousogiga’s decision to stuff a plot worthy of a full series into a 25-minute OVA inevitably causes a lot of the plot’s minor and not so minor details to be left up to the viewer’s imagination, but in this case, lightning-quick pacing is a plus. Kyousogiga is balls to the wall, but it is not a show that is insane for the sake of being insane. There is a lot of depth and originality to be found in its setting and characters, rendering Kyousogiga very fit for multiple watchthroughs. When the incredibly wacky adventure has come to an incredibly wacky end, you will be left begging for more. If this ever gets the full series treatment, FLCL better holds on to its kidneys. There’s a new kid in town.
Are you ready for the shortest justification ever? Bunny Drop is adorable. What more is there to say that has not been said already? It truly is a show that excels and revels in is simplicity. Its main ambition is to be charming and to Bunny Drop, being charming is as natural as breathing air. It is true to the words its theme song declares with a joie-de-vivre that makes every French bourgeois quiver in envy: it just wants to make you happy.
Fate/Zero, oh brave victim of my everlasting scepticism! Oh foolish successor of the hideous Fate/Stay Night! Oh slave of an exaggerating hype machine; my respect for you knows no bounds! You showed me that the interesting premise your sequel tried to force feed players and viewers alike with pages upon pages of descriptions of food, harem antics, needlessly complicated explanations for needlessly complicated phenomena and writing that defies the basic rules of writing, can actually work
Compared to Fate/Stay Night, your average issue of Shonen Jump reads like Shakespeare’s finest, as Type-MOON’s autocratic ringleader Kinoko Nasu apparently thought that telling the story of an epic war between magi, heroes of legend and evil-doers of infamy would be best delivered from the perspective of a useless halfwit. Nasu’s supposed masterpiece gets seemingly aroused by its own pretentious writing, while it forgets the very basic of the art of the pen: show; don’t tell.
Almost everything in Fate/Stay Night takes place in and around Shirou’s house and most of it has absolutely nothing to do with the Holy Grail War. When other Servants and Masters finally do attack, we learn nothing about them. What drives those Servants to join the War? Why do these Masters desire the Holy Grail? We don’t know. All enemy Servants simply wait in line to get their proverbial ass handed to them by Saber. Worst of all, Fate/Stay Night has no official canon. It consists of three different takes on the same story; three versions that cannot be unified in a sensible way. That way, we never know the true motivation and, ironically, their true fate. This is not creative writing. This is merely not knowing which idea to choose.
What sort of brain deficit caused Gen Urobuchi, a man who, unlike Nasu, does know how to write a decent story, to be interested in the Fate franchise is beyond me, but the lovechild of Urobuchi and Type-MOON ended up being the Fate’s saving grace.
While it still has its occasional moments of blithering idiocy and shamelessly bad writing –see the scene where Sola-Ui tells her husband that Lancer receives mana from the both of them, in case he would have forgotten- Fate/Zero is a vast improvement over its (in)famous predecessor. Stay Night’s bumbling protagonist is replaced by an obviously flawed, but pragmatic badass. Even though Kiritsugu could get away with having everything told from his point of view, the focus often hops from one member of the extensive cast to another, making the backstories and motives of all Masters and Servants in this war clear. In Fate/Zero, you are actually able to root for a character that isn’t Saber, because they are all interesting and likeable in their own right.
Nearly all harem elements are thrown overboard as the cast is mostly made up of males from all different ages and demeanours. This is only for the better of the few female characters, though. Especially Saber is much more likeable when she can be her noble, badass self, instead of devolving into a harem member that needs protection from a sexist douchebag who cannot even properly fire a bow. Not to mention she looks absolutely stunning in a suit, an interesting design choice that accentuates her androgynous characteristics –both mentally and physically- that Fate/Zero manages to portray so well.
A truly great epic does not survive on story alone, though. Luckily enough, Studio ufotable’s CGI expertise works like magic on the source material. Through a special animation method that combines regular animation with computer generated imagery, flashy magic like Saber’s wind-clad sword and Kayneth’s floating mercury orb fit in perfectly with the equally stellar regular animation. Especially the shading and colouring stand out and give Fate/Zero a well-deserved art style it can call its own. Televised anime hardly ever gets this close to cinematic quality.
Nevertheless, Fate/Zero has its flaws. Its Homeric tendency to reduce most fights to equal parts talking and an exchange of quick blows does not always result in exciting television and some of the heroic spirits chosen to be Servants fail to invoke a sense of familiarity or excitement, even if, unlike in Fate/Stay Night, the abilities of these heroes and the legends they hail from are all very relevant to the plot. Do not tell me you knew who the heck Diarmuid Ua Duibhne was before he showed up in Fate/Zero.
Yuno, Yuno, Yuno. Where on this list would Future Diary have ended up if Yuno Gasai were nowhere to found? Probably a lot lower, and although Future Diary has many other characters who are interesting and likeable in their own way, Yuno is still the vicious, bloodthirsty sun around which the entire show revolves. Future Diary’s entire mood often depends on Yuno’s very fragile composure. How hard it may be to admit, she lifts the entire show to a higher level.
What sets Future Diary, and Yuno herself, apart from other shows that play around with the same tropes, is the interesting dynamic between the obsessive Yuno and the meek Yukki. Why exactly Yuno is so head over heels for Yukki is still a mystery to people who did not read the source material, but the almost sarcastically vicious tension between the two is excellently written. On one hand, Yukkii is happy that such an attractive and cute girl is madly in love with him and he knows that he will not survive the survival game without her, but on the other hand, she is and will probably forever remain an omnicidal maniac.
Production values are not Future Diary’s strongest point, but nevertheless, studio Asread still manages to get the job done with great care. Characters often wear different outfits and with the exception of the hilariously bad Playstation 2-era CGI, the animation is decent. While I personally think a more horror-like direction à la Sam Raimi would have worked even better, the direction and even the animation –simply take notice of Yuno’s ambiguous facial expressions- manage to create a disturbing atmosphere. You know everything is going to go horribly wrong. The question is: when?
Every episode of Future Diary manages to be even more gruesome and disturbing than the last one and while some of the gore is marred by blisteringly unsubtle censorship, the shock value remains. Even if logic is often far to be found and Yukkii’s gullible idiocy will sometimes drive even the most stoic of viewers insane, Future Diary’s tension, mind games and creative shock value turn it into my favourite show of the fall season. Best of all, we are not even halfway in!
When Aquagaze likes something, you will know it. After all, I hyped up a considerable amount of people for Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, which, despite being utterly hilarious, you will not find on this list. Yozakura Quartet is another one of these manga I have nothing but praise for. Badass fight sequences, gorgeous character designs, fun and interesting characters, heart-warming scenes and a proverbial motherload of awesome; Yozakura Quartet deserves the anime treatment more than anything.
Yozukura Quartet is set in Sakurashin, a town where humans and youkai live together in harmony. The youkai have various magical powers and originally hailed from ‘the other world’, which is connected to our world by the seven pillars defining Sakurashin’s skyline. Akina is the oyakume, a human with the power to send youkai back to the other world, but most of all, he just wants to keep the peace between both species. He gets help from humans and youkai alike, such as Ao, a mind reader; Kotoha, an eccentric girl with the power to turn words into concepts, and Hime, the teenage town major with an epic scarf. Together, they fight whoever threatens the peace in their town, and eat lots of ramen. Lots of ramen.
Earlier this year, a three-part OVA was released which adapted what the studio considered to be the most awesome part of the manga up until now, similar to the Wandering Son anime. Sadly enough, this leads to the OVA being nigh unwatchable without knowledge of the source material. Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi No Umi starts in medias res and while it surprisingly –and coincidently- does manage to properly introduce the characters as if this were their very first adventure, some elements that are of primordial importance to the plot of the OVA are only explained in the manga chapters preceding it.
However, for those who do know what a satori is and why the blooming of the seven pillars is a bad thing, Hoshi No Umi is an insane feast for the eye and ear. The three OVAs are brimming with awesome action, character dynamics, fun gags and miraculous animation; but especially the direction stands out, with creative camera angles and fast cuts. With Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi No Umi, this list delves into the realm of shows that are nigh flawless. In fact, there is really only just one option: Read the manga, watch this OVA. You have no excuse.
How am I supposed to talk about Wandering Son without using the words ‘heart-warming’, ‘atmosphere’ or ‘adorable’? I need to stop overusing these soppy words, but honestly, do you have any better words to describe Wandering Son with? ‘Thought-provoking’? ‘Innocent’? ‘Charming’? All of those words fit, but in the end, the vibe Wandering Son creates is something unique. Tragicomic, yet bittersweet. Melancholic, yet light-hearted. Innocent, yet cruel.
Wandering Son is dramatic, but it never resorts to the cheap “Let’s have all characters cry and scream ‘Menma’ a lot; that should make the audience tear up” tactics Ano Hana was such a firm supporter of. Wandering Son’s drama creeps under the plane of innocence the story is often set on. It treats its controversial subject matter with a subtlety never seen before in anime. Character interaction is often so intentionally awkward it feels as if a bomb could explode any minute now. In fact, Wandering Son would have the best characterization I have ever seen in any anime if its characters didn’t act well beyond their age.
Wandering Son’s art design is absolutely stunning. Episodes feel like watercolour paintings come to live and characters truly blend into the backgrounds, rather than being slapped on, as is the case with many other anime. The fact that Wandering Son hails from the drawing tables of AIC, a studio mostly associated with very –pardon my language- ‘mainstream’ anime, like Boku Wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and OreImo, makes it only more noteworthy.
In the end, Wandering Son is simply beautiful in every meaning of the word. It never bores, frustrates or strains. As far as I’m concerned, AIC can keep making seasons of this. Not only will we have more Wandering Son, We’ll have less Strike Witches and Maken-Ki! too. Now that is a deal.
I am a man of the present. I hardly ever watch any old anime and for some reason, I even prefer watching vastly inferior currently airing anime to catching up with some old classic I have not seen yet. My radar picks up a lot though, so when a new project from the writer of this or the director of that is announced, even I can get excited. I was hyped for Mawaru Penguindrum, even though I have never seen Revolutionary Girl Utena. I was stoked for Angel Beats!, even if it ended up being my first Key Visual Works experience. When I realized that I had barely paid any attention to anime films that have some out this year, I went looking for some that might interest me, with that same dubious attitude. Thus I found Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, the new film by director-with-a-decent-reputation-of-whom-I-have-never-seen-a-film-before-except-for-some-fragments-of-Voices-From-A-Distant-Star-that-were-being-played-at-the-manga-section-of-a-French-bookstore-now-that-I-think-about-it Makoto Shinkai.
What I ended up watching was a good old fantasy adventure film where the main characters end up in a magical fantasy world, looking for friends, lost loved ones, treasure, or mot often, a way back out. Nothing new to be found here, but Shinkai presents this Miyazakian story with a sizeable serving of his –apparently- trademark melancholia and skygazing.
Speaking of which, the skies in this film look absolutely gorgeous, as does pretty much everything else. The Quetzl Quatl, godlike creatures that inhabit and protect the underground realm Argharta, could give the Colossi from Shadow Of The Colossus a run for their money. The dramatic soundtrack soothes and shocks, even though it occasionally asks for your attention so obnoxiously, you lose track of what the characters are doing or saying. Hearing Hisako Kanemoto, who plays the main character Asuna, talk in the exact same voice as the one she uses for Squid Girl initially might even make you feel like her performance is missing something -hint: it’s the verbal tics- but overall, she does a pretty great job.
Trying to make a Ghibli movie might sound like heresy if your name is not Hayao Miyazaki, but Shinkai is fully aware of the fact that no one can compete with the man who can make even your grandmother watch anime. While it still incorporates many elements from Miyazaki movies –innocent female protagonist, mysterious boy, strange creatures, and yes, even the oh-so-obvious environmentalist message- Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below is very much its own beast. Much of the uniqueness this film has to offer is comprised in the character of Mr. Morisaki, who becomes Asuna’s substitute teacher after her old teacher proves that anime characters can indeed get pregnant and later drags her with him to Argharta, where he likes shooting at things with guns and being an overall morally ambiguous prick. All the man wants is to bring back his dead wife, though, and unlike that other morally ambiguous prick with Orphean ambitions, Morisaki actually develops a fatherly bond with Asuna, who follows him around for this very reason.
In the end, I have no idea how Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below compares to Shinkai’s other movies, but in any case, it is an amazing film in its own right. The rich imagination and eye-popping visuals lift Shinkai’s newest to the level of film you should definitely watch, and to the position of my fourth favourite anime of 2011.
You should know that, with the exception of my absolute favourites, I hardly ever revisit fiction. I hardly ever reread books or manga, nor do I ever watch films or anime again. Because of my little brother’s growing interest in anime, which I can obviously only support with all my might, I ended up rewatching Steins;Gate, this time with a snarky fourteen-year-old sitting next to me. I was scared it would be boring, but surprisingly, it was not. At all. That only confirmed just how brilliant Steins;Gate really is.
Time travel in fiction usually equals an immediate one-way-ticket the realm of the narratively dubious, but Steins;Gate miraculously pulls it off and even manages to abide to all laws of anime logic in the process, without ever losing its grip. Both halves of Steins;Gate’s equally hilarious and deadly serious story are unlike anything we have ever seen before. Groundhog Day loops are far from original, but Steins;Gate’s character-driven take definitely is. Rintaro Okabe/Kyouma Hououin is quite possibly the best male protagonist to have ever graced an animated production. Mamoru Miyano’s once again stellar performance guides viewers along the rollercoaster of over-the-top mad scientist antics, genuine fear, despair, dedication and courage. Travelling through time with Kyouma is equally thrilling as it is hilarious.
Steins;Gate is a perfect example of circular storytelling. From the start it constructs its own plot, unawares to the characters and the viewers building up layers and layers of problems that will have to be solved later on. Around the halfway point, a twist occurs, which switches around the importance of Steins;Gate as a psychological sci-fi thriller and Steins;Gate as a hammy comedy. Even though the twist is very sudden, the genre transition happens so subtly you will not even notice. It forces Kyouma to work through every layer he build up again and deconstruct the world all the way back to how it was during the very first episode.
Above all, Steins;Gate is also an example of doing metalinguistic reference right. There are quite a lot of otaku tropes weaved into the plot, but most of them come out for the better. Makise Kurisu may be a tsundere, but who wouldn’t be when you are in love with a delusional wannabe mad scientist? Hearing Daru, Okarin and CHRISTINA go off on ridiculous tangents about chanspeak and otaku culture is not only hilarious, it actually helps building the characters. They are nerds after all.
Steins;Gate proved that there is still hope for visual novel adaptations; that there is still hope for anime that tries to build actual characters; and that not all attempts at trying to blend humour with serious thriller storytelling end up being complete messes à la Angel Beats! It shows that anime can well-written, gripping and poignant, while still being very much anime. El Psy Congroo.
Listen, you lowlifes who will never amount to anything! If Steins;Gate was brilliant in subtly fading from hilarious into dramatic, Mawaru Penguindrum is brilliant in blending the hilarious and the dramatic in to one. Some of the most dramatic moments are so comically far-fetched you have to try not to smile, while most chaotic gags have a very black shadow cast over them. Somehow, this works. Mawaru Penguindrum brims with creativity, shimmers with artsiness without fartsiness and swears by the plot-twist-of-the-week (survival) strategy that made Puella Magi Madoka Magica so supernaturally genius.
Isn’t it electrifying?
Exactly trying to pinpoint just what makes Penguindrum so utterly brilliant is quite hard for me, though. I often have the feeling that it is too good for me. Penguindrum is an extremely self-aware show, though this self-awareness does not portray itself in the usual fourth-wall breaking. Director Ikuhara takes post-modernism in anime above and beyond the art style blending of Akiyuki Shinbo and creates a world where recurring motives –the apples, the flashback sequences, the many catchphrases, the tram signs and of course, the penguins; to name a few- run amok and no trope or truth is safe from brutal deconstruction.
Gosh, I must crush it soon…
In some ways, Mawaru Penguindrum is the more reserved big brother of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Both shows have more things in common than the fact that they are insanely awesome. Both shows have a knack of brutally tearing apart everything they had previously established. Both shows have a love/hate relationship with the magical girl genre. Both shows change the ruling structure of their own world around on a weekly basis. Both shows are disgusted by conventional animation and art. But on all these areas, Penguindrum is often the most subtle and mature one. From that point of view, it might even be better than Madoka.
But only from that point of view.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica hits harder. It hits from the very first minute to the very last. It is the primordial, essential and most triumphant example of concise storytelling. It wastes not a single line and it gives its audience not a single breather. It is a rollercoaster ride of plot development, characterization and thrill; a brilliant, poignant, accessible and gruesome pandemonium of emotions. It changed anime for me and the marks it has made on the anime world will hopefully never fade away.
I have wasted blog upon blog upon blog rambling on about how utterly brilliant this show is. I have sung about it. I have refused an opportunity to travel to Monaco just to watch the finale. I have literally used every positive word I am capable of uttering in order to try and scratch the surface of how utterly genius this show is. My opinion on it has only gotten better over time.
I am honestly having a hard time trying to come up with more praise for Madoka. Nothing I have said here has had any value anyways, as everything that I wanted to say about it has already been summarized by the lone wordcloud announcing its position on this list. It’s the best. Number one. What else is there to say about it?
December might be a bit of a depressing month to me, digging up memories from the past is always fun. I’m more of a future guy myself though. What will 2012 bring? Will the shows I praised here get a second season? Will they be milked to death? What will the people behind these shows work on next? Will 2012 have shows as amazing as Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Mawaru Penguindrum? Maybe December is not that bad after all. Not only does it make you remember the good from the year that is about to end, it makes you wonder about the year that is about to come as well. We can never know what the future might bring, but we can hope. Our dreams might just come true.
Finally, a big thank you to all of my friends! Thanks to you, I would never have experienced these shows in the same way I did now! As usual, comments, reactions, conversation starters and constructive criticism are very, very much appreciated. Here’s to a fantabulous 2012!
Please don’t let the Mayas be right. They can't be right, right?
Slice-of-life anime with 24 episodes are a dangerous thing. Most shows in the genre already struggle with holding up the audience’s attention for one seasonal run, so if a production company decides to go for a full two-cour run, they had better have some ambition to back this decision up. Even an ambitious show like Hanasaku Iroha last season didn’t manage to convince me that 26 episodes were needed to tell the story the creators wanted to convey.
If there is anyone who fully understands the slice-of-life genre and its recipe for success though, it’s Junichi Satou, the inventor of that genre fans like to oh so annoyingly call ”healing” anime. What exactly Sato’s latest original project, a series of four OVAs by the name of Tamayura, was supposed to heal is beyond me, though. It sure was not boredom.
The series was often described as ‘K-ON! with photography’, but it severely lacked everything that made K-ON! so interesting in the first place. It had no jokes, no memorable characters or noteworthy music and was completely different in both setup and pacing, as Tamayura also attempted to smuggle in some character development. This once again proves that not every show with a main cast consisting of four high school girls needs to be compared to K-ON!
My favourite character gets ditched after the first episode. Ágætis byrjun.
The Tamayura OVAs were mostly just boring, depending entirely on invoking a sense of nostalgia and hoping to make people feel warm and fuzzy by having its main character babble on and on about her late father to her cardboard cut-out friends while tinkly piano music plays in the background. So when I heard that this foursome of boredom would be followed up by a 24-episode anime series which would actually air during the day, I was coloured interested. A writer like Junichi Sato would have some clear ambitions with this setting and these characters in order to take on a challenge of this calibre, right?
After watching the first episode of Tamayura ~hitotose~ on a train on a dreary Thursday morning, I can say that Sato managed to pique my interest, for now. While the atmosphere and pacing remained generally the same from the OVAs, the focus shifted from random slice-of-life antics to the events and character establishment leading to our main character Fuu moving to the Nameless Town Her Late Father Loved and reuniting with her childhood friend Kaoru.
The similarities to the first episode of Hanasaku Iroha, an episode which was utterly non-indicative of the nature of the show as a whole, are striking. The fact that Tamayura also depends heavily on scenery porn to establish a sense of traditionalist nostalgia doesn’t help either. There are some things Hanasaku Iroha even managed to do better that Tamayura. In Hanasaku Iroha, Ohana’s mother forcing her to move to Yunosagi because she wanted to elope with her boyfriend was portrayed as something ridiculous and cruel. In Tamayura, Fuu’s entire family decides to move just because Fuu is thinking about attending high school in the Nameless Town Her Late Father Loved on a whim that even Satsuki Matsumae would consider inconsiderate.
Despite all this, though, this episode left a positive first impressive on me. The acting was brilliant at times and the writing managed to quite decently introduce Fuu’s character and her relationship with her father. In the OVAs, she was mostly a clone of Yuno from Hidamari Sketch, a character I may or may not have a small platonic crush on, but this pilot episode established her as her very own kind of girl quite well. Near the end of the episode, all pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The colour palette consisting of mostly whites, greys and browns, the music and the character designs, three artistic elements that didn’t seem to agree with each other at first merged together to create an already unique vibe.
In the end, the chances are very likely that Tamayura ~hitotose~ will not be the plot-heavy slice-of-life show I’m still longing for, but it’s definitely a thing to consider watching for fans of the genre. Tamayura will definitely be a nice change of pace from all the magic warfare, yandere slaughter and truth seeking this season will have to offer.
Even within a community as tight and niche as the anime fandom, there are certain subcategories of Japanophilia that cause even the average otaku to raise an eyebrow or two. Dolfie collecting is one, as well as having a soft spot for body pillows or yaoi; but the single most alienating fandom for many is the J-Drama one. Often associated with tearjerker plots and a strong focus on handsome young men with abs, it is understandable that J-Drama are often categorized under ‘guilty pleasure’, even by fans. The main reason why I have never taken a venture into the realm of Japanese live-action, however, is that it’s not animated. One of the main reasons why I love anime is the fact that animation manages to make people with spikey blue hair, fluffy mascot characters and over-the-top humoristic quirks look genuine. The elements that make anime into anime often have to do with the animation, which is why I never thought that being an anime fan would automatically make me a fan of any sort of televised entertainment from the land of the rising sun.
Yuusuke Yamamoto easily takes every single second of screentime for himself.
All was good in the world of caring sod all about J-drama, but then came a surprising announcement: one of my favourite anime of all time, the fabulously campy and hilarious Ouran High School Host Club would be made into an anime. Strange, because Ouran was just one of these shows that heavily relied on its animation to create an identity of its own. Sparkles, rose petals, super deformed characters, over-the-top antics and Tamaki’s infamous reactions are things that immediately pop up in my head as soon as someone mentions Ouran. How could that possibly be made into a live-action series without being completely ridiculous? The answer was surprisingly simple: by just doing it. The Ouran High School Host Club drama might lose all of its cinematographic credibility with its overacting and offbeat special effects, all of the charm of the source material is still intact. This show will wear the reputation of being So Bad, It’s Good like a medallion.
A lot of the Host costumes come straight out of the anime.
Watching Haruhi, Tamaki and their clubmates come to life takes some getting used to. Performances are often inconsistent with characters sometimes acting genuinely brilliant --read: hammy-- and sometimes just standing around nervously, waiting until they can blurt out their next line. In fact, the only performance that could be classified as consistent is Haruna Kawaguchi’s role as Haruhi, which is consistently bad. As expected, Tamaki steals the show once again, and while Yuusuke Yamamoto’s version of the Host Club King is devoid of any kind of nuance, it’s hard not to notice his utter glee when he gobbles up all of the scenery for himself.
It took me a while to see it, but Haruna Kawaguchi is capable of showing emotions.
Content-wise, the live-action Ouran High School Host Club stays close to the original work by Hatori Bisco, even closer than the anime on occasion. A lot of the plot and jokes you will have seen before in Bones’ anime, but seeing all of it played out by people of flesh and blood makes it refreshing enough to keep you coming back. If the latest episode is any indication, it looks like the drama will cut, paste and mix up some scenes as well, as it combined scenes from an all too familiar anime episode with a plotline from the manga that never even made it into anime format. Without going into too many details, I’m a bit surprised that said plotline never made it into the anime, because it sheds some much-deserved light on pretty much the purpose of the Host Club in general.
"We have an anime?"
While the Ouran High School Host Club live-action adaptation might divide people and it sure will not force a breakthrough for drama into the ‘mainstream’ anime fandom, I do recommend fans of the anime give it a try. The sheer campiness of it all is a thing to behold and enjoy, as long as you are willing to take this entire show with a grain of salt. A lot of drama there isn’t yet to be found in this J-drama, but then again, J-comedy does not really sound okay. Recommended.
For these last months, some people asked me what had happened to Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend. To that surprisingly large part of the anime fandom, I have one message: you are reading it right now. The name Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend has lived its best days. My anime watching and blogging is not limited to the weekend anymore, nor do I want to waste my time making flashy logos and title cards anymore; and focus on my writing instead. Besides, I am not that posh to just stick my own name into the name of my blog. I’d much rather go with something original. If even Liam Gallagher does not have that big of an ego to name his new band something like Liam Gallagher and the Cocksuckers, neither should I. Now do not act as if you don’t know who Liam Gallagher is. He sang the best anime OP of all time. Of all time!
Eden Of The East is not the only show to have a theme song by a Western artist of some renown. Sadly enough, as some of you might remember being the case with “Falling Down”, these never find their way to the licensed versions, but it sure is fun hearing some English in an anime that isn’t brutally butchered by some squeaky girl group.
Madhouse’s Paradise Kiss, based off the manga by Nana author Ai Yazawa sets its quirky shoujo chaos to the retro beats and sing-along-proof airs of Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To”.
Not even a world-famous band is save for the fury of the east, as Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” was used as ED for 2006’s Ergo Proxy. Well, set to the ending animation and faded out at a completely random moment is a more accurate description.
Most of these songs do fit the themes or mood of the corresponding anime in some way, but my mind went completely numb when I read that the song licensed as ending theme for the 2006 live-action Death Note film was “Dani California” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band whose funky, cock-sock wearing swagger would be the last thing you’d associate with Death Note. The production team pulled this stunt again a few months later, by slapping “Snow” from the same band and the same album onto the movie sequel. I can’t help but think that this was only done because the song in question happened to be the Peppers’ charting single at the moment.
Another well-known example is Speed Grapher, a Gonzo anime about a former war photographer who is given the ability to destroy everything that he photographs by a girl whose bodily fluids give people powers corresponding to their fetishes. I am not making this up. While I can’t help but feel as if this plot summary just screams ‘cult classic’, Speed Grapher is mostly known for using an 80’s classic as theme song, more specifically Duran Duran’s “Girls On Film” of all things.
Choosing “Girls on Film” was a surprisingly logical choice, not only because the anime features a lot of girls being caught on film, but also because the song is rather famous for its fetishistic music video. Another fun fact about the 1981 song is that the band only found out that their record label had sold the full rights to the song when they were contacted by FUNimation, who wished to license the song for their Speed Grapher release, more than 25 years later.
Now, once again, those dirty Japanese have stolen a piece of our wonderful and blatantly superior music for use in their infantile porn cartoons. What exactly J.C. Staff was thinking choosing a 1993 hard rock track, "Colorado Bulldog" by Mr. BIG, as ED for the first episode of their new show Kami-Sama No Memo-Chou (God’s Memo Pad) is beyond me, but I cannot complain. In fact, I even missed it when it turned out that the real ED, form episode two onwards, is a rather generic J-Pop track.
This made me think of some possibilities of my own. Not that I do not like J-Pop, but replacing the often utterly forgettable original songs by licensed gems that sometimes might even fit the show better than the original OP, let alone be musically more memorable.
Warning! The following video contains copious amounts of the nineties. Extreme caution is advised.
The ‘doing boys like they’re girls’ line in Blur’s “Girls and Boys” would already immediately nominate it as theme song to every yaoi to have ever been thought out, but the catchy chorus’ lyrics pretty much summarizes the entirety of Wandering Son in one big, snazzy synthpop snark. Just replace ‘do’ with ‘love’ or something to keep it all G-rated.
We have girls who are boys, boys who are girls, girls who like boys to be girls, boys who like boys who are girls, boys who like girls who are actually boys and end up dating the boys’ sisters, girls who like girls, boys who like boys and girls who occasionally dress as boys, not because they are boys but because they feel like it and boys who dress as girls because they’re assholes. Of course it fits.
Poor Shinji. I know that everyone and their moms now want my head on a stick for even remotely implying that I want either “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” or “Fly Me To The Moon” replaced, but really, I’m not saying that these songs are bad, I’m just saying that ‘Teenage Angst” by Placebo could make a good Neon Genesis Evangelion theme song as well.
One fluid gesture, like stepping back in time. Trapped in amber, petrified. I'm still not satisfied.
If there is one thing that the five episodes of Evangelion that I have already seen have taught me, it is the fact that piloting a mecha is hideously frightening. With reason. Who can really blame Shinji for allegedly being a ‘whiny little bitch’? How would you react if your father, who hasn't spoken to you in years, randomly plucks you off the streets and forces you to fight off mysterious alien creatures in an enormous robot?
Shinji is a goddamn badass. Just a badass with some teenage angst. Later on, piloting Unit 01 becomes automation for him, like one fluid gesture. The most frightening moment I have yet seen in the series is Shinji sitting in the pilot seat, drenched in Morning Rescue –trapped in amber, hint, hint—blankly staring into the distance and mumbling ‘Yes’ whenever he is commanded.
Since I was born I started to decay. Now nothing ever - ever goes my way.
Really now, all this song lacks is a lyric about how it’s all daddy’s fault. Then again, daddy issues are probably too straightforward for Placebo.
The following song on my list comes straight off my favourite album of all time, A Weekend In The City by Bloc Party, and fits straight in with definitely not my favourite show of the season, No. 6. In fact, No. 6 is a pretty great show, but when Mawaru Penguindrum and Bunny Drop are your direct competitors, No. 6 is sadly enough not good enough to compete for the title of best show of the summer.
But enough about how good No. 6 is because really, who gives a damn about that? Evil dystopias, parasites, desolate hotels, no, let's talk about what is really important when it comes to No. 6! YAOI! Irony aside, three episodes in, I still don’t really know whether the writing staff is actually going for a romance –and a decently set up one at that, judging from what we’ve see- or just a bromance.
Either way, the song, which you are hopefully listening to at this very moment, fits Sion’s state of mind at the start of the second episode perfectly. “I Still Remember” is all about remembering an intimate relationship with another boy, a person you met once and can’t stop thinking about. Hell, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke, well known for being an extremely awkward interviewee –and having a name that is impossible to pronounce-, said that the song is all about boyhood homosexual experiences himself. And it's damn honest.
What better way to wrap up with than with a timeless classic? While I’m not a big Beatles fan myself, or a fan of psychedelic rock in general, I can’t deny that “A Day In The Life”, with its characteristic piano twinkles and the insane psychedelic orchestral build-up culminating into a nightmarish last note straight out of LSD hell is anything but a musical masterpiece.
During my last attempt to force music I like upon anime, someone already proposed to hook up Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with Azumanga Daioh, and it’s hard not to see why. Both are psychedelic, colourful and occasionally downright wacky. As we are looking for a single track to replace that hideous ending song of Azumanga’s, it’s only logical to roll with the one about falling out of bed and combing your hair. Azumanga is still a show about nothing, after all. Nothing, on crack.
How did we get here already? We went from changing Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend over Eden Of The East, cock-socks, nineties music videos and Morning Rescue to yaoi and finally, The Beatles.
Oh well, this is what I will be doing for the coming season. I’m a bit tired of summarizing and reviewing anime episodes week after week, so in stead, I’m just going to blog about whatever I feel like blogging about, inspired by the anime I have been watching. Maybe not weekly, but at least regularly. If there’s anything you’d like me to blog about, or if you have anything to say at all, you know I’m a sucker for comments, so fire away. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to listen to some more music.