Back when Aoi Bungaku was announced I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the concept. A handful of famous manga artists collaborating to create adaptations of six famous Japanese novels sounded like a winning combination to me. The anime finally began airing this season with a promised twelve episodes to look forward to. With the fourth episode shown just a few days ago the first novel, No Longer Human, has been completed and I’ll tell you now, Madhouse does not disappoint.
Aoi Bungaku (Blue Literature) Original Works by: Osamu Dazai, Natsume Souseki, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Ango Sakaguchi Studio: Madhouse Original Release Date: October 10th 2009
No Longer Human is the story of Yozo Oba, a man who believes he is a failure as a human and is constantly trying to prove himself. He is the son of a wealthy congressman, a man with an overbearing presence and importance. Growing up fearing his own father, Yozo rebels by practicing art, something his father always forbid him doing. Caught breaking the law, he lands himself in trouble with the police and ultimately becomes a fugitive. During the commotion he meets a young lady who shares the same views as him, constantly believing that she is a failure and nothing of a human. No Longer Human follows Yozo and the repercussions that this simple meeting cause. Suffice to say, this is the second bestselling novel in Japan for a very good reason. The story is there, it provides an impact, and best of all it hits hard.
The artwork is graphically stunning with illustrator Takeshi Obata of Death Note and Bakuman fame providing the visuals for the four episode tale. As a big fan of his work, he provided a huge draw in picking up Aoi Bungaku in the first place and I’m glad to see I’m not at all let down. Settings and scenery is fitting with the time period and it adapts to fit the mood perfectly. Gloomy streets full of drunkards to hallucinations are drawn well with no signs of rushing, something that an unfortunate amount of new anime suffer with.
Fans who have watched Death Note will immediately pick out the similarities, especially when comparing Yozo Oba with Light Yagami. They are shockingly similar in appearance, which seems to work both for and against it. The design suits Oba particularly well, yet in scenes where he is losing himself or, as seen in the fourth episode, he gains a pen and begins extravagantly writing, it tends to knock the mood on the head.
Both Obata and Madhouse have created a stunning work with No Longer Human and I have every bit of confidence that the next five novels will be just as incredible. I highly recommend you pick this series up, though No Longer Human specifically is a very psychological and deep novel, so viewers expecting lots of action may want to look elsewhere. With Takeshi Konomi (Prince of Tennis) and Tite Kubo (Bleach) in line to illustrate the next novels, Aoi Bungaku has a lot more to offer. Providing the anime does well in Japan, it will certainly be interesting to see if it spawns any re-envisioning of other popular novels. We can only wait and see!
This was written for the Japanator intern application, but alas I was way too late in submitting it. Probably a good thing in the long run with university and all, but I'll be ready next time!
The main issue us otaku from the United Kingdom have is that there are very few conventions in the first place. We hear tales of the Comic-Con and the Otakon, but unless we travel we can never really experience anything like that. Or so I thought...
If we are going into technicalities then my first convention was actually the Leipzig Game Conference back in 2008. Sure it was primarily a game convention, but the sheer number of cosplayers attending a non-anime orientated convention was staggering. Getting off the tram to arrive at the main building was interesting as it seemed we were being escorted by the Akatsuki rejects. Not that I was complaining of course, in face some of them were actually pretty good so I'm being a tad harsh. Anyway we got some hands on experience of Ultimate Ninja Storm and Broken Bond before they were released, so it was a pretty enjoyable experience. Still, myself and friends still longed to attend one back in the UK, and finally in May this year we did!
The convention at hand was the London MCM Expo, what I had assumed was a relatively unknown event. If I'm being honest we really didn't know what to expect. We started to twig onto how big this thing was before we even got there however, almost dying on the train ride there (I live in a town called Basingstoke, a good hour from London) because a Sasuke and Sakura pair were doing their hair and promptly gassed out the train car in the process. After the long train ride and walk there, we were treated to this:
Jaws dropped at the sight of the sheer amount of cosplayers at the venue. We had heard previously that the last MCM Expo had actually set the world record for most amount of cosplayers in one area at the same time, but none of us expected this! The halls were packed to the brim, meaning we waited half an hour in a queue to get a goodie bag (which incidentally was pretty awesome, free Hellboy figure and Slayers DVD). The dealers room was pretty sweet too, so we got to see many weird and wonderful items. I personally spent all my money on manga, but I was ever so curious about the Miku breast mouse mat thing someone was selling (you know those mouse mats with the squidgy wrist thing on them? That, but boobs). The only regret I have is that we didn't book tickets to see the cosplay masquerade, but that was because nobody told us to do it. Sad times, but there is always next year!
Highlights definitely have to be the Death Note cosplayer, the 'Alien' woman (you can't see it here but she had a facehugger on her back too) and a C.C. cosplayer so good I did indeed consider kidnapping her. In actual fact I recently went to Alcon, a small convention in a university in Leicester but found it rather dull for my liking. I think the MCM Expo set some high standards! I definitely recommend it to any other Brits and any of you people across the pond wanting to spend a weekend!
And if you are interested you can view all my photos of this years MCM here.
So, as the title says, I have been internet-less for a while. Why do you care? Stick with me, this is pretty animoo-relevant. So I just got hold of the Andrew W.K. Gundam album, and my god is it awesome. So I wondered, what would it be like if the English dub didn't get that glorified AMV opening, and instead got his version of Fly, Gundam?
Well it was just a short while ago that Brad posted about the community blogs, encouraging us to become literary geniuses if only on Japanator. One thing got me thinking though, and it was a small comment he made.
"...how Endless Eight screwed you over"
This is the thing, I raved and ranted like most people when I saw the episode count slip past four. I knew as well as everyone at that point that we would most likely be stuck with another four, yet why was it that I watched each and every episode? Sure, the art and dialogue were slightly different, but there had to be another reason. I figure it's not because I wanted to waste some time and click on that little plus arrow over at Myanimelist, but for a superior and elusive reason.
Endless Eight must be an animated masterpiece.
"How did you work that one out?" I can hear you saying. Well, stop talking to your computer screen you lonely person and I'll tell you. I believe that the primary reason for enjoying this lies with empathizing with Yuki. Remember that the very last iteration of the SOS Brigades endless summer was the 15,532nd time that she experienced it. We already know that there was very little variety in the events of their summer, unless of course she gets a kick out of guessing Haruhi's seeming endless supply of swimsuits, or taste in ice cream. You have to get into her head here. Sure, she is an alien, she's not built the way that we are. You've seen that episode of Red Dwarf right? The one where Krytons android replacement arrives, but after so long in space on it's own it eventually flips and starts attacking everyone? It can happen to anyone!
Now lets get down to business. Saying each episode of Endless Eight is twenty minutes long, that is a grand total of two hours and forty minutes of endless-ness, with a whopping eight iterations of the same events if you also count the conclusion. Now lets see what Yuki went through. She went through the summer 15,532 times, each day obviously 24 hours long. Oh, and another thing. Yuki went through 15,532 summers, not days. According to wiki, summer vacation in Japan is a month long, though I'm sure Kyon mentions that they only have two weeks left, so lets go with that.
595.7 years 217,448 days 5,218,752 hours 313,125,120 minutes 18,787,507,200 seconds
Your 160 minutes doesn't look so long now does it? Considering the backlash and threats that were posted all over the internet with the airing of Endless Eight, I believe that the producers have done a fantastic job with creating a mindset similar to what Yuki may have been feeling, within a fraction of the time she went through. Though this is arguably not the intended reason why Endless Eight spanned eight episodes, it makes a satisfactory simulation of the events, does it not?
Now this is not the only reason I have for claiming that Endless Eight deserves more credit than it already has. Lets take a look into the mindset of the other three affected by the endless summer; Kyon, Mikuru and Koizumi. Cast your eyes on the first episode. Everything proceeds as normal, as at this point we are unaware of what is in store for us. The same applies for Kyon, he is yet to realize that something is happening with his summer. Now fast forward to episode seven, Kyon is experiencing so much deja vu that he sees things before they happen, even completing their phrases inside his head along with them. With the exception of Kyons dialogue, everyone else's remained more or less unchanged. So Kyon can remember these things, big deal. The point I'm trying to make here is that we are watching this for the seventh time, and for the majority of us we remember what is coming up too. You can tell which event will come up next. You can almost recite Haruhi's speech with her new found friends at the swimming pool. You know that Kyon will always pull over Yuki for no explicable reason. Christ, EVERYONE learned that 'denwa' means phone! Again, be it intentional or unintentional, you are experiencing similar effects to those in the SOS Brigade. I will be honest here, this is the one and only time I can positively say that I have felt like I was in the anime, that I can understand what the characters are going through, and how satisfied I was with Kyon finishing his homework. Games and films are commended for making their work immersive, so why is Endless Eight shunned for doing so?
It is because Endless Eight is a masterpiece, you just don't know it yet.
If there is anything that gets me hyped up for a new series of anime, it's the opening. Lets face it, anime with dull, boring openings are less attractive to us, so we need a good dose of awesome to keep us watching. What really gets me though is how it is becoming a common trend to reveal plot devices in these openings. Sure, it's cool when you look back at them, but with the exception of perhaps the new Haruhi opening revealing that Endless Eight will be eight episodes long and to go book a long holiday, it's pretty unnecessary. What I've done is found five of my favorite openings that unfortunately harbor spoilers. Watch what you are reading folks, ironically this piece contains spoilers too!
1. One Piece 1st Opening - We Are by Hiroshi Kitadani (Episodes 1 to 47)
I'd just like to remind you all that I'm picking these based on their spoilers, this doesn't mean I hate the opening! In fact 'We Are' and its two other varients are possibly my favourite openings to One Piece, and with a huge amount of them of high standard it's saying something. Now, the spoiler in this piece is obviously how it reveals crew members 2 to 5. Some of you may be saying that it's fine because they are 'the original crew' of sorts, but you have to remember that all of the members, especially Zoro and Nami, have solid reasons why they wouldn't join the crew. In fact Namis inclusion in the opening can be considered a spoiler to the Arlong arc if you look at it that way. But even I can understand that a new anime, one with so much potential as shown by it's ever growing episode count, needs an opening good enough to rake in a large audience. So I'll give you the benefit of the doubt OP 1, but this brings me onto the third opening...
This opening marks a memorable day in my One Piece catch up career. Episodes were approaching the 400's before I caught up, so while watching my way through it all I made sure not to spoil anything about the show. The most exciting thing about One Piece is meeting the weird and wonderful characters, and it's even more fun to try and work out which ones will ultimately join the crew. Watching Chopper join the crew with no opening to spoil it for me was great, however the main reason I have a problem with this opening is that the seventh member is shown whilst she is currently a bad guy. Oh lawd, that annoyed me. I mean it's one thing if the episode that opening started on revealed her joining, but it was quite a while longer until she was even able to join, let alone finding out she isn't as bad as she seems!
2. D.Grayman 4th Opening - Gekidou by UVERworld (Episodes 77 to 103)
I love D.Grayman. I love UVERworld. I love this opening. What I don't love, is one of the most irritating spoilers I have ever seen. In fact this opening harbours two. The first one you see Is Chaoji going all hulk on a rock using innocence, something he doesn't have when the opening is first shown. The second and most important one is the revealing of Allens Crowned Clown, a pretty major spoiler if you ask me. Especially with all the build up and the eventual reveal that the anime went through, it's a shame that we already knew what was going to happen. On a different note, I really want another series of anime for this! I know the manga is at a snail pace, but I need my fix darn it!
3. Black Cat - Daia no Hana by Yorico (Episodes 1 to 23)
I must say I'm not the greatest fan of this opening, as the music itself gets on my nerves a bit. Anyway, the opening introduces some of the upcoming bad guys, which is fine in itself as they are pretty minor characters. What is strange is showing Train and Sven getting along. If you remember the first episode involving the rescue of Eve, those two couldn't get along at all, and had no reason to either. Another thing that gets me (and a few of my friends that have also seen this) is Trains sudden friendliness in the anime itself. It was almost as if we missed an episode or something! Anyway Black Cat, at least in my opinion, should have kept Train as an anti-hero instead of the goof he becomes after making friends with everybody...
4. Valkyria Chronicles - Kanashimi Rensa by Maria (Episodes 14 to 26)
Here's a currently airing anime for you! The second opening started during episode 14. So far we are at episode 20 and according to a friend of mine (I'm currently playing catch up at episode 15) we still haven't had all of the revelations about Alicia explained. Followers of the anime will be quick to point out that Alicia is glowing, meaning she is Valkyrur, which has not yet been revealed. Saying that it is arguably obvious in that she openly announces she is an orphan and it would serve as a convenient plot device. The second point is where in the good hell did both Alicia and Selvaria find those awesome lances and shields? That fire laser beams no less! This is the kind of thing that I want to be surprised about! Believe me, Valkyria Chronicles turning from a war anime into Sengoku Basara is absolutely fine with me, just keep it in the anime!
5. Aoi Hana - Aoi Hana by Kukikodan (Episodes 1 to 11)
It is no secret that I am a sucker for a good yuri themed anime, hell its why I picked up Kanamemo this season (though I undoubtedly love it for an entirely different reason!). Now this opening is great, the song fits the anime perfectly and it's one you'll want to watch each week rather than skipping it. Now readers of the manga will have to forgive me if I'm misunderstanding this, as of course the anime is still airing and I don't know what is coming up, but did that brilliant opening just spoil the entire series? I think it did! Of course we get to see the build up of relationships and what not, that is what we watch this for after all (at least I should hope so!), but considering we are at episode 8 and we have only just got the inkling that Fumi even likes Akira that way it's a bit disappointing. Also it's a shame to see Yasuko left behind in the dust, as she is pretty awesome :3 On a slightly unrelated note, yuri fans go watch this!
So yeah, it does indeed seem to be increasingly popular to reveal major plot elements in the openings these days, and I'm very sad to see it happen. Still, as the above openings show, they can at least be darn awesome at the same time. A shout out also to the epileptic-horror-come-awesome-show GaoGaiGar, revealing AND using the best attack in the first episode :3 Or at least I assume so, that's what they say but I have only watched a few episodes...
Have you guys been wound up by spoilers in openings as much as I have? Noticed any endings that have done it? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this :)