Thanks to a personal "project", I have a lot of time in my hands right now. No, I'm not homeless nor unemployed, but I do have a lot of time to watch animes and write about them. That's why you can see me all the time spamming Japanator with long, useless walls of text. Sorry about that.
Meanwhile, I'm covering some shows that Jtor's staff obviously hate. Or ignored for some other reason. And I'll post some other random stuff too, mainly recommendations on j-music.
Better late than never, right? This week, I've been busy arranging the final touches of a personal project, but I did watch my favorite shows and now, I'm here to write about them! Although, excluding Magi, everything was a bit of a letdown this past week. Punches are not as sharp as they used to be, filler episodes, seriousness in my comedy show and changing badassness to emo'ing is not a good idea.
Well, the episodes being bad plus me being late makes for a perfect opportunity to make things short and quick this time, so let's go!
Hajime no Ippo Rising episode 21
A street fight happening inside a ring. That's what a world title match has turned in Hajime no Ippo this time. Or better saying, a brawl kind of fight. The lack of Hadoukens and flaming fists disqualify this episode as a "street fight". Anyway, Takamura and Eagle are punching each other with cuts above their eyes, but they don't allow the doctor to stop the fight with manly shouts. With no strategy at all, Takamura just keeps punching Eagle until he is the new champion. Well, I guess at least we have Kamogawa's past to finish Rising well.
Magi season 2 episode 21
Contrary to every other show being covered here, there's so much happening in this episode of Magi, yet it felt really short. Threatened by Kou's army approaching and still not knowing about Reim's intention to retreat, Mogamett decides to use his ultimate weapon to protect his ideals. Using the despair of the people living in the 5th Authorization District, Mogamett fuels the Dark Djinns with Dark Rukh and release them to attack Ren Kouha's army.
Kouha himself tries to protect his people from the Dark Djinns, but even after using his Metal Vessel and Extreme Magic, he gets overpowered by the Dark Djinns, who can regenerate as long as Mogamett fuels them with Dark Rukh. Exhausted, Kouha is on the verge of seeing everyone being killed, when Alibaba appears with his Djinn Equip and defeats several Dark Djinns with ease. And when Alibaba is about to unleash his Extreme Magic and finally be in the spotlight, Kouen's army arrives on the battlefield.
Log Horizon episode 22
Filler episode. Maryelle finally gets her festival, Lenessia's dolls are selling like crazy, and in the middle of all this, the hikkikomori Shiroe gets to date two girls at the same time. Akatsuki and Minori invite him to go to a cake eating competition normally disputed by couples, but they are allowed to participate as a trio. After eating too much, Shiroe gets patted on the head by Akatsuki, and I don't know why Minori gets devastated by that. Go figure.
Noragami episode 09
Yato is dying because Yukine is an emo, so Daikoku has no choice but to gather two more Regalias and perform a purification on Yukine. He gets Mayu, Yato's former Regalia, to cooperate, but can't find the third one, as no one is willing to help a god they never heard of. Hiyori then goes to Bishamon's sanctuary and asks for Kazuma's help, even knowing that Bishamon wouldn't hesitate on killing Yato or anyone related to him.
Later, Kazuma appears and the 3 Regalias start the purification proccess by forming a triangle barrier around Yukine, who transforms into a demon. Even then, it's up to Hiyori to remember the emo teenager how he was surrounded by friends and there was not reason to go all emo like that. This episode is a proof that we need more badass Bishamon and less emo Yukine on this show.
Witch Craft Works episode 09
Takamiya finally asks Kagari to train him to fight, so the logical course of action is to summon a fire beast and release it against him. It looks like magic works pretty much like Green Lantern's powers in this world, all you have to do is to imagine something and it will appear, that's why Takamiya's magic takes the form of a (even more) giant version of Kagari, dressed as a nurse to save him from certain death.
Delinquent girl from past episode, Rinon, appears now as a witch, and makes me wonder who in this world is not a witch. Another woman, named Weekend, is the big bad this time, and her plan to defeat Kazane, more known as Kagari's mother, is to explode bombs all over the city, as Kazane uses her magic to protect everyone in the city. Rinon and her friends attack Kagari and Takamiya, capturing them. Then, Kagari decides to literally break the wall and counter attack Weekend.
Oh, I finally discovered the name of the girl with the cat ears and the funny voice, it's Kuraishi Tanpopo apparently. We need more of her onscreen.
Confession time: I kind of like japanese idols. I'm not the type of guy that spends tons of money on photobooks, nor would I attend handshake events, but I don't hate idols either. Even with Arashi and AKB48 pretty much dominating Japan's music charts, idols aren't musicians. Their songs aren't their "main product", it's just part of the image they sell. Idols are more like entertainers, appearing on multiple forms of media.
With that said, idols do have some good songs released from time to time, and AKB48's Flying Get is pretty catchy. And if the original, sung by a bunch of girls that doesn't prioritize their musical talent, is already good, the song gets even better when gifted artists add their own spin to it.
Above, you can hear an awesome rendition of Flying Get by Gille. At first, I thought her name was Guile, but apparently, it's pronounced closer to "Jill". Anyway, Gille goes for an english version of the song, with her powerful vocals and crystal clear pronunciation getting praised by Yasushi Akimoto, the father of the AKB48 group himself. You can check more of Gille on her channel, she often reads and answers to fan letters, and don't worry, you can talk to her in english aswell.
I already talked about them here. Goose house, of course, already covered Flying Get too. Gille and Goose house share this same background of being Youtube stars before going mainstream, with Goose house's new single, Oto No Naru Hou e being Gin no Saji's ending theme.
Covering well known songs is common practice for aspiring superstars, and nowadays, there's not a lot of songs more popular than idol songs in Japan, so that's a smart way of getting people's attention and displaying your talent if you are a musician.
And the reason I think japanese idols are different from other countries dancing groups? They are closer to comedians, not being afraid of showing their "uncool" sides if they are getting people to laugh. Plus, with their songs being used to promote more of these talented musicians, there's no reason to not like them if you ask me.
Our fellow Japanator citizen Red Veron worded it better than I can, so I'll quote him here: "while anime openings have always gotten us pumped up and excited for a show, endings have always been there to help us wind down and/or get us excited for the next episode with great visuals, nice music, and give us that warm fuzzy feeling". That's why SCANDAL's Shunkan Sentimental, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood's 4th ending, should be an opening instead.
Just listen to that intro. Listen to it! It screams "AWESOME!" like the best anime openings should do. Also, Shunkan Sentimental is a fast-paced rock song, and those fit better at the starting point of a show.
Now, I'm not saying rock songs shouldn't be ending themes. 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou is perfectly placed where it is. And I didn't watch Brotherhood, so I don't have any emotions linked to that show, but I did watch the original Full Metal Alchemist's anime adaptation, and there was something I thought it was really clever and fitting that they did with that show's ending themes.
Given the show's plot, there's many FMA episodes that tend to end in a dramatic, sad, even shocking way. Save for Nana Kitade's Kesenai Tsumi, the original show had those slower paced songs such as Sowelu's I Will as its endings. Better yet, it was really touching to have something like Crystal Kay's Motherland to start playing at the final scene of a particular sad episode, before the standard animation with credits came up.
Shunkan Sentimental is one of my favorite songs ever, but I think it deserved a better use, and to be fair, Full Metal Alchemist deserves a more fitting song as its ending, like they did in the original anime. It's kinda anti-climatic to end a heavy plotted episode being blasted away by the energy of such a rock number.
And to not end this as a Grumpy Cat, if I could, I would pair the amazing Shunkan Sentimental as the opening to a show like Witch Craft Works: it would get us pumped to a show full of energy and attitude, fitting perfectly.
This may be the biggest post I ever wrote, at least in these Staff's Rejects series. Yes, folks, we have 5 shows being covered here! And I have absolutely no right in complaining about writing this much, as it's been a joy to follow both old favorites and new surprises.
If you don't want to read everything, I'll make a quick resume. Takamura is an ass, Sheherazade is not so evil anymore, Lenessia is lazy, Yukine is emo and Kagari does a dragon punch. Now, if you want more words, keep reading and follow me through these worlds of punches, magic or both combined.
Hajime no Ippo Rising episode 20
Takamura is a counter-puncher's dream match
Being honest here, Takamura x Eagle doesn't look like a fight between two world champions at all. It's all muscle and no brain. Takamura keeps throwing those huge swings, Eagle continues to counter, but it's like Eagle's punches have no effect and Takamura is absolutely certain he will win somehow. Nothing wrong in being confident, but there's no sense of danger whatsoever.
Ok, so those swings served for Takamura close the distance, he gets Eagle in the corner and in the next round, he scores a down. When Takamura is about to end the fight, one of Eagle's punches opens a cut above Takamura's left eye, but the Golden Eagle refuses to take advantage of that, hitting Takamura's body instead of going for a "dirty" win.
Takamura, on the other hand, opens a similar cut on Eagle's face by headbutting him. It's like Takamura became Bryan Hawk, throwing punches from weird positions and fighting dirty, even if he said it wasn't on purpose. Now on equal footing, they go for another round of brawl. Really, what's up with this fight? It doesn't even look like Volg and Miyata live in the same universe as these two champions. Even Ippo fights in a smarter way than what Takamura is showing here.
Magi season 2 episode 20
You haven't even seem my bankai yet
I'm kinda disappointed with this episode. Not that it was bad, but I was expecting more action. Mu Alexius releases his Djinn Equip, and with that, he is capable of piercing through the barriers and defeat Aladdin. When he is about to deliver the fatal blow, Alibaba steps in and parries Mu's strike with his new and improved Amon sword. Now, I was hoping to see an awesome battle between two full Djinn Equips, but that's when all the war comes to a halt.
First, the fanalis are not the powerhouses I thought they were. They may be physically strong, but it's not just Morgiana who lacks magoi, it's all her race, so even if Barbatos is a powerful weapon, Mu can't keep his Equip for a long time. Also, Alibaba said Amon can cut through anything, including Barbatos, so I wonder if Mu could put up a fight against Alibaba's new powers.
This woman is 268 years old
Well, Magi is not a battle focused series, and things are not aways solved via fighting to death. Sheherazade finally shows herself, proposes a truce and calls Aladdin, Alibaba and Titus to talk. First, Aladdin and Alibaba completely ignores her and go on about how they have (or not) changed during the time they were separated. Then, Sheherazade reveals she is a clone, just like Titus, and her original body is than 268 years old.
Aladdin tells how Solomon's Wisdom revealed in his dreams how the world before this one came to an end, and how Al-Thamen plans to bring chaos once again. Titus and Sheherazade both have little more time left to live, because Sheherazade's original body will soon die, and while she reveals she's not so evil, it turns out Kou Empire wouldn't sit still and is planning an attack. Also, Mogamett has his finger on the trigger of the weapon that will destroy the world.
Log Horizon episode 21
Living the dream
The war is over, but instead of defeating the King Goblin, Shiroe decides it's better to tighten the relationship with the People of the Land. How? By throwing a party, of course! Though the man himself is still learning about how this world functions. Talking to Regan, Shiroe learns that a new event is happening in the west, and that an Adventurer created a new kind of magic, just like Shiroe himself did when he saved Rundel Haus.
Meanwhile, there's dancing and eating. Isuzu leaves Crescent Moon Alliance and joins Log Horizon to stay close to Rudy, but Serara can't do the same to be near her beloved Nyanta. It's also decided that Lenessia will be Ambassadress of the League of Freedom Cities Eastal, living in Akihabara, so she will be able to do nothing all day, like she aways wanted.
Maryelle desperately needs a FESTIVAL!
Another clever move by Shiroe was to spread a rumor about how Adventurers lose part of their memory if they die, which prevents major panic, but creates certain doubt in the minds of everyone. And Maryelle, as the most carefree person around, plans a festival. Gotta love her.
Noragami episode 08
This scene contains so much cuteness and badassness together...
Yato's current job is to help a bullied student at Hiyori's school. Things hit too close to home for Yukine, so he goes all emo, as aways, and he goes to wander around the school and be jealous about how everyone has friends and he has none. Maybe it would help if he wasn't a little annoying crybaby, who knows.
Bishamon goes to ask Kofuku about where the next ghost vortex will appear, and it's funny how she gets more clothes when she stops using her jacquet-shaped Shinki. Yato's solution to stop bullying is giving utility knives to the boys and make them fight to the death, but luckily, the bullied one decides to not kill his bully, though he succeeds in making him piss his pants, so he got that for himself.
That's not how you make friends, Yukine
Yukine, on the other hand, decides that the solution to being alone is breaking windows with a baseball bat. Good one, Yukine. This negative feelings take its toll on Yato's body, covering him with black spots and menacing his life. Hiyori carry him to Kofuku's house, hoping to get help, but instead, Daikoku puts a barrier between them.
I just wish Yukine to be gone already. If he weren't around, we could get more Bishamon on screen and less emo'ing. Ok, I get it, Yukine probably was a lonely boy and commited suicide or something like that, Yato will need to solve Yukine's inner conflicts and everything, but Noragami is better when there's this badass god riding a lion and shooting things with dual pistols.
Witch Craft Works episode 08
Need a fork to help cut that chicken?
In the middle of all this crazyness, I can safely say Witch Craft Works is the show I'm enjoying the most right now. Yes, including Ippo. Things are so absurd in this show that I can't help but laugh. This episode presented a flashback to when Kagari was a middle school student. She was kinda like a robot, doing only what was told by her "manager", Houzuki, one of the girls that Kagari's mother asked to follow her daughter. The only thing Kagari did by own will was to search for something in nearby schools, until she found Takamiya.
Back to present days, the school council's ex-president convinced the toughest girl in the school to make a rebellion against Takamiya, challenging him to a duel. As bear-killer Rinon asked Takamiya to meet her alone, Kagari can't protect him this time. But he gets an advice: Rinon's finishing move would be a straight punch when she dragged her fist back, so all Takamiya had to do was to counter that. Obviously, he can't punch a girl, but Kagari shows up and saves the day with a flaming Shoryuken. Ken would be proud.
Still looks better than my class in high school
I wish Witch Craft Works' title was something I could abbreviate to WTF instead, because it would be perfect for this show. Things look so random, yet everything, absolutely everything is so damn funny! From the school council's ex-president's talk to Rinon at the bar, to Rinon herself being named "bear-killer" for KOing a tiger, and of course, the Tower Witches! I don't know her name, but I just love that witch with the cat ears, that one who summons killer robot bunnies. Even her voice is funny!
And the little details, too. Everything is so colorful and full of personality, even people who appear at the background and doesn't say a thing during some scenes. Such as one of the Tower Witches cutting the chicken with a katana, or the girl who loves ice cream having everything ice-themed.
Music never played a big role in my life. That was true until my high school years. Even now, I remember the cool kids talking about new stuff they saw on MTV, back when MTV had something to do with music. Meanwhile, I was busy playing Pokemon, reading Spiderman or being a regular nerd.
It was the early 2000's when Cartoon Network started to air Rurouni Kenshin with its original, japanese openings and endings themes. At that time, I was not new to anime, but every song was dubbed in the local language. From horrible "adaptations" of Saint Seiya's songs, to enjoyable Yu Yu Hakusho's or Inuyasha's local versions, I heard nothing more than anime themes sung in my own language. That's when Rurouni Kenshin opened the doors to a whole new world of original japanese anime songs.
Rurouni Kenshin aired every day, as every anime did at the time here where I live, and to not end the hype too soon, the common practice was to reprise the episodes endless times before advancing the story. It was after watching Shishio's arc several times that I was hit by a joy even bigger than watching one of my favorite shows' new episodes.
This ending felt longer than regular endings, and it really is, but I didn't care, and don't care even now. The music is awesome, and for the first time in my life, it made me do something it's common practice to me nowadays: immediately after hearing it as an anime ending, I searched for who was the artist behind this song, and went to know more about the band and their work.
That's how 1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou became my favorite song at the time. More important than that, it made a kid who didn't enjoy ANY music so far to get to know how his favorite songs and artists should be from that day on. That's how I got to know SIAM SHADE, and the band remains as one of my favorites until this day.
No Magi this week means less epicness, but also less work on my part. Or so I thought. I'll take this break on our favorite... One Thousand and One Nights anime tale and test a new format. Shorter synopses, more opinion, and more shows. Yes, this is Staff's Rejects after all, and there's more great shows this season getting less attention from the busy Jtor staff.
So, joining Ippo and Log Horizon, this week we have the awesome Noragami and the surprising (and kinda confusing) Witch Craft Works. I thought about adding Nobunagun, but I'm not that interested in that show, and with Magi returning next week, we will have the magic number of 5 shows in this column. I like multiples of 5.
Hajime no Ippo Rising episode 19
David Eagle is too good of a guy to be a menace to Takamura. Or better saying it, I wouldn't mind seeing Eagle maintain his belt. In fact, I would prefer so, as Eagle is the perfect image of a champion. Anyway, he is facing Takamura, who Morikawa already stated is the strongest pound for pound character in Ippo's universe.
Takamura goes on the offensive since the start of the fight, but Eagle is able to counter attack and land several punches, including some heavy ones, dealing great damage and making Takamura's legs shaky. But even without landing a single clean hit, Takamura's huge swings pack enough power to affect Eagle psychologically. Eagle has a big advantage in terms of points, but one mistake and Takamura may take his head off with a single punch.
Log Horizon episode 20
It's so great when a show doesn't force anything on you. There are rules on how things work, they are explained to the audience, and later used by the characters to achieve great deeds. It was already said and explained how Elder Tales is not a mere game anymore. It was explained how life, death, respawns and creating new stuff work in this world. And even better, instead of just repeating how Shiroe is an awesome guy over and over, Log Horizon shows how he uses what he learns to everyone's benefits.
Rundel Haus Code was a NPC trying to be an Adventurer, but he is fatally wounded and, contrary to the real players, he will not respawn. That's when Minori asks for Shiroe's help. He goes to where they are and, using high level materials and his Scribe skills, he writes a contract, creating a "new magic" that allows for Rudy to become a real Adventurer, making possible for him to respawn at the cathedral. Oh, and the war is apparently over, so there's also that.
Witch Craft Works episode 7
I don't know why I'm enjoying Witch Craft Works this much. At first sight, I thought it would be another stupid show with an useless male protagonist and magical girls falling from the sky all the time, of course totally in love with him. And recent episodes showed that even his little sister is in love with said useless protagonist! Bleh! Kill it with fire! But wait. Everything is made with such good humor, without excessive fanservice, it's just fun to watch every episode. I love how mysterious and laid back Medusa is, and what's more, she is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro!
This time, Kagari and Medusa join forces to "protect" Takamiya from Kagari's mother, because apparently she can't discover that Takamiya's seals were broken, or else she will torture him to death or something. Even so, Kagari's mother knocks Takamiya out and the two of them end in a cell, with Medusa captured. Kagari gains more power the stronger the bond between her and Takamiya gets, so with a family friendly maid café service, she receives power enough to go to a rematch against her mother, but gets a scolding instead of a fight. Plus, Takamiya's family adopts the Tower Witches for some reason.
Noragami episode 7
Another case of Miyuki Sawashiro making a great show even better. This time, she voices Bishamon, a god that holds a grudge against Yato and was on the verge of killing him, but was stopped by Kofuku in the last episode. Hiyori goes to deliver Yukine's breakfast in his room, but he is acting all emo, like he aways does.
Between Yukine's complaints against Yato, it's the fact that he "already has another Shinki", Nora. What he does then? Well, he asks for Tenjin, who has a harem of Shinkis, to take him. Yeah, that doesn't make any sense, Yukine. Kazuma, one of Bishamon's Shinkis, apparently has great respect for Yato, and tells Hiyori that if he doesn't get rid of Yukine soon, Yato will die. Yukine's impure thoughts causes Yato to suffer and his sword form doesn't cut properly, but Yato purifies him with water from the temple and uses him to kill a ghost. And man, Nora is creepy.