Final Impressions: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Oct 07 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, the Autumn Election preliminaries were nearly over. Group B finished their turn and Alice Nakiri, Arato Hisako, Takumi Aldini, and Megumi Tadakoro are the first four to advance to the actual competition. When we last left Group A, Ryo Kurokiba made his mark by taking first place with 93 points and the rest of the Polar Star dorm, while good, struggled to reach that height. At episode's end Akira Hayama stepped up to serve his dish,  weird curry souffle looking thing that spewed all sorts of tantalizing scents when punctured (that he called a "fragrance bomb"). And with the finale, we learn why it's so effective. Thanks to a mix of holy basil and yogurt (to balance out its pungent nature) his curry throws the judges for a loop. After some reaction shenanigans, they give his dish 94 points, with two of the judges giving a max score of 20 (it's important to note the spread was 18/20/18/20/18). But right as Akira was celebrating his win, Soma revealed that he too worked on a "fragrance bomb" type of meal.  Learning from his past losses and mistakes (such as losing to his Dad a few episodes back and nearly failing the buffet task with his omelets during the boot camp), Soma slyly combines the two efforts as a way to get back at his past self. Serving curry rice inside of an omelette pocket, he's managed to learn all about spice from the few days he learned about curry from Akira. Like how Akira balanced his spice with yogurt, Soma made a mango chutney in order to give it a bit of sweetness. Unfortunately, the dish wasn't enough to earn the top spot and Soma nets 93 points. But three of the judges rated his dish higher than Akira's, however (so it's 19/18/19/18/19) thus deepening their rivalry. That brings Group A to a close, and seven students are confirmed for the finals. Then the kids all celebrate, though Soma vows to work harder in order to claim victory. There's an eighth student to be revealed later (though the episode doesn't say this), and he's such a huge part of the semifinals, I'm sure they're saving his reveal for the next season. If there is one.  Although I had a lot of fun with the series overall, I'm pretty worried about the future of the show. Community members MSJ and RoboYuji pointed out that my complaint of cutting everything short was unfounded, and I'll admit that I didn't consider that the show would need filler in order to give the manga time to get further ahead. I'd hate to see what a filler arc would like since the official filler here (whatever the heck the "Karaage Wars" was) was pretty garbage. But since the manga has gone far past the Autumn Elections already (and has a more natural endpoint) it feels like we've been shafted since we're cut off before the actual fun of the show starts. But then again, that's just me being greedy. I just like the premise so much, I wanted more of it. I mean, what's the point of having two completely different title sequences if you're going to cut it off now?  There are bigger elements at play here since the show most likely didn't have the biggest audience (and a sequel season rests entirely with secondary sales), it's been rife with budget problems from the get go (as lots of shortcuts were taken with the animation and sound design was particularly spotty early on), but the property's so much fun. It just feels like Food Wars is ending right when it hit its groove.  But given my biggest problem with Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma was there wasn't enough of it, I guess it wasn't so bad after all. 
Final Food Wars  photo
"Happy to serve!"
I first found Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma through manga. Although I fell out of touch with the anime for several years, I've been periodically reading manga through that time. One of my favorites turned out to be Food W...

First Impressions: Heavy Object

Oct 07 // Josh Tolentino
The first five minutes of Heavy Object's opening episode are enough to hang out the "military otaku only" sign, with a barrage of exposition about how, even though it's the future, people just can't stop fighting. This is backgrounded by fancy sci-fi imagery of laser-propelled space shuttles getting blown out of the sky by missiles, and warships and planes launching explosive strikes.  All of that gets eclipsed by the arrival of the first "Object", a giant ball-shaped war machine that gets nuked on its very first day in combat, and still comes out swinging, annihilating the attacking army. From then on, war changes into an Object-oriented arms race, with the world's power blocs competing to get their own Objects, and using the invincible weapons as the centerpiece of all future battlefield action. Virtually all other materiel becomes obsolete, with entire battles decided by a duel between two Objects, with few casualties on either side. Wars become "clean" thanks to the dominance of a single category of weapon. This new battlefield dynamic affects every up and down the chain, which is where the lead characters - the hilariously named Qwenthur and Havia - come in. They're just two grunts, relegated to shoveling snow in Alaska, maintaining an airbase no one will use while Objects are in play. Qwenthur wants to become an Object engineer, and seems to have struck up a friendship of sorts with their local Object's pilot, a blonde loli referred to only as "The Princess". Havia's serving thanks to pressure from his noble family. Both are at the bottom of the totem pole, as ground troops are obsolete in the face of Object-based warfare. It's an interesting premise to start from, not least because the Objects themselves are about as far as possible as one can get from the stereotypical image of Japanese mecha. They're literally giant balls of armor covered in guns, like some demented fan of Gundam's RB-79 Ball took control of the boardroom at J.C. Staff when the time came to decide which shows to animate. It's also got a somewhat interesting angle going for it. After all, it's a rare war story that focuses on the characters who get "left behind" at the rear line. Then again, any military otaku worth his MREs would know that the very notion of war being "clean" and things as fundamental as infantry being outmoded by what is essentially a gigantic tank is preposterous, even for anime. Knowing that, the most likely scenario is our seeing Heavy Object's plot aim to poke holes in its own presumptions, that war can be just as hellish from the cockpit of a 50-meter death ball as it is in the trenches. Well, that's the hope at least. If nothing else, the episode ends on something of a down note, with Qwenthur staring at the shattered remains of The Princess' Object, dreading the prospect of having to fight the enemy Object without backup. That's no picnic, and seeing how he and his deal with the challenge should set the tone for the rest of the show. [Check out Heavy Object's simulcast on FUNimation!]    
A Weighty Topic
Stop me if you've heard this before, but this show is about a piece of military hardware, invented at some undetermined time in the future, that changes the very nature of warfare forever. Practically invincible on the battle...

First Impressions: Owarimonogatari

Oct 06 // Anthony Redgrave
It's a jump back in the timeline from Hanamonogatari and a jump forward since Tsukimonogatari as we join our favourite half vampire Koyomi Araragi still enjoying his days as a high school student. The audience is launched straight into the episode with talk about a Euler's identity and how it is the most amazing mathematic formula ever made. It's plucked straight out of a textbook and would put anyone to sleep if this weren't Monogatari. Taking an abstract concept and linking it into the story in a tangential way to make it seem smarter forms the basis of the Monogatari story telling style. Lots of discussion over different things made entertaining because of the visuals and sharp writing. The first few minutes of this show is a great litmus test to see if Monogatari is a series you can put up with, if not then I suggest Nekomonogatari since that's got a lot of Tsubasa Hanekawa fanservice. The bulk of the episode is a locked room mystery that spirals into a whodunit mystery with color commentary provided by Araragi in his nonchalant style and the mysterious belle du jour Ougi Oshino piping in with probing questions. Araragi's interactions with the different girls of the series is a highlight as he has a totally different dynamic with each of them; overly nice to Hanekawa, on edge with Senjougahara, and tough with his sisters. It's interesting to see him interact more with a character that isn't played off as sexualised. There are far less panty, chest, and poses from Ougi and more on her interaction with Araragi. Ougi is a mysterious character and sometimes we question whether she is a female. The ambiguous nature of Ougi in the story is complemented by her androgynous character design. Always appearing sounding like she's one step ahead of Araragi, her demeanor puts us on edge as she probes Araragi through the mystery.  Since 90% of the episode is spent in a classroom trying to solve a mystery the writing and art have to be on point to keep the episode from dragging. The plot does move along at a steady pace and doesn't linger too long at any one point or repeat/ reiterate the same point over and over. In fact, little is needed to be repeated as the writing and dialogue are at a pace where the story is always moving forward. Viewers not accustomed to this steady stream of words may find a new best friend in the pause button as even seasoned Monogatari veterans like myself still needed to tap the pause more than once to keep up. Throughout the series, the focus has always been on the girls and their oddities. Each oddity effects one girl and Araragi is often the man to guide them through their troubles, but we know very little about the man. Despite having Ougi as the main female lead, it is Araragi who is in the spotlight for character development and this is very welcome addition into the series. We may still have to wait until 2018 for Kizumonogatari, but this provides a deeper understanding on the half vampire lead.  I mentioned before that pausing the episode to catch up with the rapid fire text is a requirement, but it's not just to understand the story. It's to fully appreciate the art direction and cinematography of the episode. An empty classroom as a background can be monotonous especially to those of us that have gone through 18 years of schooling, coupled that with endless streams of dialogue it may be a one-way ticket to snore town USA. But Shaft has the alchemic ability to change these mundane environments into a visual ecstasy. The color schemes of the room are always changing, matching the mood and beat of the plot making the objects pop with contrasting colours and making backgrounds ooze with character. A key scene midway through the episode as chaos erupts in the classroom as it's filled with silhouettes and clashes of chairs and tables. It's effective in conveying the absolute carnage happening in the room despite the verbal debate reality. Another really cool visual was how it represented the other classmates as floating kanji. It's a really smart way of conveying the sense of bizarreness that comes with oddities in Monogatari and also a way of cutting down on designing characters.  The big reveal at the end of the episode was fairly predictable and it's nice to see Tsubasa making another appearance. If I could criticise this episode it would be that there was a lack of comedy throughout. It was a serious episode with little to no gags. I hear that Ougi Oshino will be the main antagonist throughout this season and I can't wait to see how that pans out. She treads the line between welcomingly cute and disturbingly intense at the flip of a switch.  [Watch Owarimonogatari on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Monogatari photo
The return of Arararararararararararagi
Like Christmas, Halloween, and other holidays that I like to celebrate maybe once or twice a year and the same holds true for the release schedule of the Monogatari series. Last year's holiday season brought the four-par...

Final Impressions: MY Love STORY!!

Oct 06 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, Yamato got herself a part time job at a bakery over spring break, hoping that she'd be able to pick up some tricks of the trade. But much to Takeo's chagrin, the head patisserie Ichinose (who, as the show likes to point out, has all the qualities of a traditional shoujo protagonist) has a crush on her and vows to Takeo that he'll tell her after taking first place at his big baking competition. So Takeo spends the first half of the final episode dejected, and this is entirely a new feeling for Takeo. As he questions whether or not he should actually be with Yamato, he gets steady reassurance from all of their friends that Yamato chose to date him because he's so great. And it's not like the audience needed reassurance as we've seen his greatness throughout the entire series. It completely makes sense for the kind hearted (but not completely pure hearted, as I'll discuss later) Yamato to fall in love with Takeo, a guy who'd happily sacrifice his own well being to help someone else find happiness. And that's put to the test here in the finale, as well.  When Ichinose realizes he's forgotten his baking tools, Yamato asks Takeo for help. Being the big goof that he is, he runs all the way to the bakery and to the contest without a second thought (only reflecting on helping Ichinose win after all the craziness settles), catching Ichinose by surprise. After Ichinose wins, he confesses to Yamato (right in front of Takeo like a damn goob) but Yamato rightfully turns him down. She explains that she's never really felt the same way (thus clearing up the only major problem with this beat as we never really know what she's thinking during all of this) and genuinely loves Takeo. After some loving awkwardness, Takeo calls Yamato by her first name, Rinko, and the two clumsily shuffle off into the future.  I didn't enjoy this final arc since it was the first time it was about Takeo alone, rather than the two working out relationship stuff, but I won't really let it hinder my enjoyment of the overall package. As community member John Seiler helped point out, this show is one of the few available that reveals different types of love. My Love Story!! is technically everyone's love story as I'm sure there's any type of relationship you can cling to. There's the fast developing Kurihara and Nanako, the already established of Takeo's parents, the teacher student dynamic between Saijou and Takeo, the crippling shyness leading to idolization between Yukika and Sunakawa, the unrequited love of Suna's sister and her admirer, and the nearly asexual Sunakawa who just wants to avoid all of that together. While the focus is given to Takeo and Yamato's central relationship, we're always given little peeks into these outside loves so no one feels left out. And it's all just so it hammers the main message home, that there's never one right way to love.  My Love Story!! felt more personal than not, because for the first time, I legitimately felt that a show was trying to tell my story. As a towering man of 6'3 and 300 pounds, any girl I've ever been interested in has been smaller than me so I know all too well what Takeo went through. His awkwardness that made him stand out from his friends, his inability to believe that someone would actually have feelings for him, and being so hilariously inept at relationships that he couldn't figure out how much Yamato wanted to take their relationship further. That's also a great part of this series too. Although Yamato's meek demeanor would perceive otherwise, she's always been the more active one. You'd expect her to be fall into the shoujo traps of the "pure hearted maiden," but that hilariously went to Takeo. Neither character ever acted the way they were expected to, and that's what makes a great watch.  Couple that with the show's use of color, outrageous reactions to things (as Takeo's many faces and forms led to quite a few laughs), and its ability to hit that sweet spot of romance and comedy on more than on occasion, My Love Story!! was the best anime of the Spring and Summer seasons. It's a love story everyone'll love. 
Final Love STORY photo
"Suki da"
Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, as I'm sure I've said this in the past, but I'm a sucker for good romantic comedies. While there isn't exactly a big list of films I could point to, there are definitely a boatloa...

First Impressions: Attack on Titan: Junior High episode 1

Oct 05 // Soul Tsukino
AOT: Junior High was first produced as a comedy parody spinoff manga that got many  people's attention for being the exact opposite of what AOT was known for. It's silly, adorable, and made for a zany side series. Could the anime version do the same? Right off the bat you know something is different when you see the familiar opening, only with more cute chibified characters with big heads standing in a stark field covered in blood. However that is only a bad dream as the main character of this series, Erin, wakes up in a field with his friends during lunch break.  That scene right there was a cute little nod that this was not the original series. We get to follow Erin, Mikasa, and all their friends as they go to the first day of Junior High. Gone is the start quasi-European world of a walled-in village and we are taken to modern (if made extremely adorable) Japan. We get introduced to more of Erin's friends like the eating machine Sasha, the friendly Christa and her over protective friend Ymir, along with Jean, who seems to be Erin's foil for the series. We also get introduced to the titans, who go to the school next door. Oh, These titans are hungry all right! But their tastes in this series tend to be a little more benign. This series is not here to make you think, it's here to make you laugh. It's a silly comedy show much in the vein of Puni Puni Poemy or The Adventures of Haruhi-chan. Although it's hard to tell how deep the writing will be from just the first episode, it seems that this show uses a lot of sight gags and spoofing of anime troupes, including poking fun at its own source series, for its humor. While that kind of humor may not play to some. I think this show is hilarious! For fans of the original material, you will get a laugh of just how adorably reimagined your favorite characters are in this series. For those of you that aren't familiar with attack on Titan can still enjoy the series as it does a good job at introducing the characters and the things they do are so silly, you won't need to have a prior knowledge of things when watching this to enjoy it. Attack on Titan is currently streaming on Hulu and Funimation's website, so go ahead and check it out!   AOT: Junior High was first produced as a comedy parody spinoff manga that got many  people's attention for being the exact opposite of what AOT was known for. It's silly, adorable, and made for a zany side series. Could the anime version do the same?
Attack on Titan: Jr. High photo
The D'awww will eat you alive!
Attack on Titan is one of those series that it doesn't matter what they do, people pay attention to it. The graphically violent and gruesome series shot to popularity first as a manga and then as an anime series. Soon all kin...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 712

Oct 05 // Anthony Redgrave
At the end of the last episode, Gladius had unleashed his master plan of blowing up everything around him including his "elite" henchmen in hopes of destroying Cavendish in a move he calls Punc Rock Fest. The misspelling was a tactical one as Oda doesn't want to piss off the real Punks of Japan. The blonde swordsman just barely survives as he is let into Bartolomeo's barrier in the nick of time. As always Bartolomeo is the source of absolute joy in whatever episode he is in, fanboying out at any Straw Hat interaction and acting like an asshole to anyone that doesn't fly under the Straw Hat flag. Dellinger continues to beat the ever loving crap out of one of the more forgettable gladiators Ideo despite his excessively long arms. I think every other gladiator landed one blow at least against their executive except this guy despite fighting pretty well in the coliseum. Angered by his determination, Dellinger reveals his true form as a Fighting Fish Fishman and promptly delivers the first scare of the episode. His child-like appearance and personality with a psychotic smile attached was already quite un-nerving for me to witness in combat. Adding in a transformation that makes Hody Jones and Arlong look like pussies is absolutely terrifying. The cut to red eyes surrounded by darkness was a bit too over dramatic for a show like this, especially when considering what happens later.  Robin continues her ascent towards the Flower Fields to Rebecca's location being covered from below by Bartolomeo. Her running animation looks bad. It looks like they had forgotten to add the in between frames leaving only the keyframes. The result is her moving very awkwardly compared to the how everything else moves in the show. This episode has the signature budget look of the modern One Piece episode as looking past the foreground will reveal a lack of production quality. Flat and undetailed characters that only vaguely look like the character they are representing based on their shape and colour to distinguish themselves from blending into the generic background characters is a common sight in this episode. In a sight gag of Bartolomeo fanboying out over Robin, there is a college of pictures featuring the mature lady. Unfortunately, the college makes her look more masculine and angry compared to the subtle wry smile of the mysterious tall beauty. Nico Robin is one of the hottest females in One Piece and this joke did not show off her good side.  Dellinger, after disposing of Ideo arrives to see Bartolomeo in his barrier, Gladius ordering Dellinger to retreat, and all their henchman cut to ribbons. Cavendish speed line appears and disappears with only glimpses of his face. Some good camera angles are used to obscure his face to add an extra creepy element to the whole scene. This would have caught me completely off guard if it weren't for the handy flashback prompting me to remember his brief transformation in the ring. Dellinger is attacked by the manic Cavendish and is downed without putting up a fight. It's a wasted opportunity for us to finally see Dellinger's final transformation only to have him defeated in the same episode.  The episode concludes with Cavendish attacking Nico Robin making us fear her safety. There are some days where Nico Robin lives up to her name as the Demon Child and at other times she doesn't get even get into any fights or worse she is useless like in Pirate Warriors. In this case, she is able to apprehend the crazed swordsman ending the episode with her trademark coolness. More of this Robin, please! [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
One Scary Piece
I'm not too sure if Toei planned it to coincide with the month of Halloween, but this episode is scarier than the whole of the Thriller Bark Arc. Yep, the arc that is devoted to all things creepy and ghouly was showed up by an episode in the Dressrosa arc. I'd watch this episode with the lights on and when the little ones are already tucked into bed.

Final Impressions: School-Live!

Oct 05 // Nick Valdez
When we last left the School Living Club, they were caught in quite a predicament. As zombies flooded the school, the four were separated and feeling pretty hopeless. Yuri was dealing with an infected Kurumi and whether or not she had to kill her, Miki was trapped in the basement after tracking down a possible vaccine, and Yuki was trying to fight her way through the school after finally breaking out of her delusion and coming to grips with losing her teacher, Megu-nee. When Yuki reaches the school's broadcasting room, she's nearly attacking by zombies herself before zombie Taroumaru comes to her rescue. When she realizes the zombies still retain some of their memories (and as evident from the last episode when zombie Megu-nee is seen writing the girls' names), she broadcasts that school is out of session and all the students are to return home. And this surprisingly works! As the zombies clear out, Miki is able to vaccinate both Kurumi and Taroumaru. Unfortunately, Taroumaru's been sick for too long so he loses his life in his weakened state (but after giving Miki some closure). I've never been good with dog death in media, so this hit me pretty hard. I know it's a cartoon and all, but he was such a cute puppy!  When the girls realize the school's no longer habitable after the attack (as the generators have been fried and most of the building has been damaged by fire), they decide to leave the school toward either a university or corporate building. Either way, the girls know that the people they deal with may not be friendly. But before all of that, to bring closure to this chapter in their lives, the girls hold a makeshift graduation ceremony and it's the most heartfelt scene of the series. I guess it's because I fell so hard for the premise (and it admittedly won't appeal to everyone in the same way since I'm so fond of cutesy things), but it as great seeing the girls finally grow up. Just like a real graduation into the real world, these girls have finally accepted that their lives have changed. There's no longer a lingering grief over the past, and each of the girls have accepted their own flaws. That's a major part of growing up, and the show absolutely nailed it. The greatest thing is the show didn't have to directly say all of this. Through silent moments and great art effects that truly show how much these girls' optimism clashes with the world's darkness, the finale brings a sense of closure to the viewer as well.  But looking at the episode's ending tag, there's more planned for these girls. I'm just not sure if I want more of this. This graduation episode brought everything full circle and tied up most of the loose ends (including the fate of Miki's lost friend, Kei), but I'm not sure I care about the rest of the stuff still open. For example, one of the bigger things is probably going to be investigating how much their high school knew about the pandemic beforehand and potentially finding a cure, but that's like so much generic stuff out there already. At this point, I'm content with what we've gotten. From the opening episode, this show's been building up to a end with its tight, twelve episode arc. The girls got a happy-ish ending with one of those "driving into the future" closers, the opening theme was reused for the final scene (as is expected from an anime finale), and lots of the tricks it employed here (like the surprising clash between its bright colors and dark monsters or its slowly changing opening credits sequence) won't hit as well the second time.  School-Live! was compelling, interesting, and most importantly unique. If it ever does get that second season, it'll be ruining what makes it so special. There's nothing else out there like it right now, and it should stay that way. 
Final School-Live! photo
I hope you had the time of your life
School-Live! (or Gakkou Gurashi!) nearly slipped under the radar. If you had no idea of the more sinister plot afoot, you'd probably skip the series thinking it's yet another show about four young girls doing young girl thing...

First Impressions: One Punch Man episode 1

Oct 04 // Josh Tolentino
Just in case the title isn't explanatory enough for you, One Punch Man follows the exploits of Saitama, a hero who's trained so hard he's gone bald, and as a result, he's become too powerful; any fight he gets into is ended as soon as he takes a swing, his enemy left as nothing more than a stain on his gloves. To prove the point, this first episode lines up a parade of epic villain knockoffs for Saitama to knock off, from a blue Piccolo to an off-brand Colossal Titan. Fans familiar with the manga will see the first chapter recreated almost to the panel, which given how well-regarded the art is, is generally a good thing. I might be understating things here, because the show looks really, really good. Some might not be too fond of some of the more loose-looking characters in a couple of scenes, with Gainax-esque deformation most apparent during the not-Titan fight, but it's clear that MADHOUSE has spent a lot of time and care making both the static frames and the movement as splendid-looking as possible.  Another thing I may be understating is the quality of the storytelling in general. Though the premise is as simple as they come, and the central conceit/problem of a "guy that's too powerful" is about as old as Superman himself, the story excels in evoking the emotions behind it all. The episode (and the source it's based on) really manages to capture Saitama's boredom at being invincible, and you actually feel sorry for him when the one thing he wants in the world - a worthy challenge - comes to him only in dreams.  The anime also finds time to elaborate on it slightly, with some original scenes and effective visual gags. One that stuck with me, in particular, was seeing Saitama fumbling with change in line at the grocery while a monster stepped nearby, taking off the roof and turning darkness into daylight. It's an effective way of showing the scale of the monster while taking advantage of the animated medium. If there's a true point of concern here, it's that the show may not be able to keep this kind of work up for the whole run. But that's a worry for next week. [Watch One Punch Man on and!]    
One Punch Man photo
Done In One...Punch
One Punch Man is easily the most anticipated anime series of this Fall, and for good reason. ONE and Yusuke Murata's manga is a heavy hitter in the pages of Shonen Jump, and its lead character, Saitama, is the heaviest h...

Week Ender - Macross Edition

Oct 03 // Red Veron
[embed]34334:5080:0[/embed] "Deja Vu (Soba ni ite)" Anime: Macross 2 OVA This one is from the black sheep of the Macross franchise that is not considered as part of the series when the studio behind the original, Studio Nue, didn't want to work on the franchise anymore. Big Studio West, the sponsor of the original Macross,wanted to continue the series and we got this OVA series. I would say this ending's song still makes it worthy to be in a show with the Macross name, I get the same vibe that I got from the original show with this song.   [embed]34334:5081:0[/embed] "My Friends" Anime: Macross 7 A solid ending with a song that leans more to pop than rock while still going with the J-Rock theme of the show. The ending also features the heroine Mylene, WHO IS 14 YEARS OLD SO STOP BEING  CREEPER.   [embed]34334:5082:0[/embed] "Northern Cross" Anime: Macross Frontier A really good pop song from an era where a lot of pop songs are so generic, this one stands strong and really captures the sound that the Macross Fronier heroine pop diva Sheryl Nome performs in the show. I also dig the minimal silhouette and art sketch visuals in this ending that's really done well.    [embed]34334:5083:0[/embed] "Runner (Duet Version)" Anime: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross Those who saw Macross in its original form will recognize this one, I only got to watch Macross much later when the internet enabled me to watch it in its unadulterated form. A really beautiful song that is just perfect to end each episode.   Was there a Macross ending that you like that wasn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! Tell me!!
Macross photo
Minmay Attack!
Macross is one of those recognizable anime properties around the world, though it may be in due to Robotech, the US cartoon franchise that combined Macross with two other unrelated robot anime to be able to syndicated on...

Annotated Anime: Bikini Warriors episodes 9-12

Oct 03 // Anthony Redgrave
We start with a mage heavy episode in this cluster of episodes. Except it's not really about the Mage, but rather what the party has done to anger the mage. Unbeknownst to the party the Mage has been possessed and begins attacking them. The rest of the Bikini clad Dungeon and Dragons Classes start to reminisce on why this could be. They range from normal like the Warrior serving less food for the Mage to weird as the Dark Elf breaks the Mage's panties when she tries them on in the middle of the night to really creepy as the Paladin pervs on the Mage as she bathes. The most important info we can gain from this episode is that even with the little armor they have on, they still sleep in the nude!  Next we join the party mid-way through a dungeon having already suffered lots of damage from a previous encounter. They stumble across a chest and start having PTSD flashbacks about all the booby-trapped chests they have opened in the past and ironically for an ecchi show none of them are full of female mammaries. A missed opportunity due to the language barrier. These traps are little more than erotic pose situations with the most bizarre one being full of live eels. I'm guessing they're magic eels to survive that long in a chest without water.  In the penultimate episode, we are treated to a Paladin centric episode. The Paladin is a warrior of God and prides herself in sacrificing her vitality and wishes for the greater good, hence the insistence of doing literally anything for money, the quest, and in this case to progress with the adventure. We see her act as a martyr more often than not in monster encounters but is faced with the toughest sacrifice yet; marriage to progress in their adventure. Marriage, of course, means giving up her virginity which appears to be the source of her resilience when it comes to recovering from the physical damage she has been inflicted in the past. In a semi-poignant scene, she is preparing for the big night (the show wanting to skip the whole ceremony and celebration to skip straight to the sex) and it genuinely feels like her last big sacrifice. This big moment is later retconned in the final episode making this sacrifice less poetic and more confusing. Also, her character always played with her sexuality fast and loose making me question whether she was a virgin or not. That's not to say the actions of people define their sexual activity, but the show has to display these traits to the viewer otherwise it will be taken for face value. The atmosphere was there, but the history of the character destroys the mood. Those hoping we would finally get some nip shots in the T and A heavy show or even some bush will have to wait for any OVA or second seasons that Bikini Warriors may produce. The final episode was bad. The main draw of the show is that it riffs off popular fantasy tropes and it doesn't beat around the bush producing short 4-minute stories, story being the imperative word. The final episode is a random mishmash of battles and set pieces interspersed between limited animation yuri scenes. I'm guessing the Paladin's Gods turn a blind eye to lesbianism. The college of clips had some narrative structure showing the progression of the party from place to place and fighting ever stronger enemies before a final confrontation. They took the 4-minute story structure of each episode and condensed it to a 30-second clip only showing the highlight of that episode. Each clip lands the viewer in media res so the connection between each clip is tenuous making the viewer fill in the gaps. The episode length is too short to incorporate a full epic of journey, betrayal, sacrifice and victory so the finale feels like it is stretched too thin. It ends on a post credits cliff hanger that doesn't work since there is little continuity between each episode. With a series like Bikini Warriors, a fan service heavy beach or hot spring episode would have been more appropriate as a send off. It's something conventional that anime fans are used to and it'll be a new environment for the girls to riff off.  Bikini Warriors is what you can expect. Lots of boobs, bums, crotch shots, and fan service. The animation was good and the art was great with nothing looking out of place in the 12 episode series. The short episode length lends itself well for rewatch purposes, but the character personalities are a little bit too barren for them to be waifu material despite having very good looks. I really liked how they moved away from humiliating episode endings as it made the series a lot easier to watch. If you're in need of a lite ecchi break between marathons of To Love Ru and Highschool DxD, then Bikini Warriors's high fantasy setting will provide the perfect recluse from the hallways of schools.
Bikini Warriors photo
A fond farewell to Ecchi
Seems we are winding down on this season of anime and getting ready for the winter. First Nagato-chan finished, then Umaru-chan, I had dropped GANGSTA from my weekly roster and I hear that has also finished its 12 episode run. Now it is time for Bikini Warriors to take its final curtain call. Will the girls finish with a bang or will they require a nip slip or two to keep the audience's attention?

Robot on the Road photo
Robot on the Road

Hiroyuki Okiura's recent piece takes us on a road trip with a perverted traveler

Yee Haw!
Oct 02
// Salvador GRodiles
For some unknown reason, I've always found it fascinating when a project would release a new segment that shares a similar theme with its predecessor. In this case, the Japan Animator Expo's 34th short, "Robot on the Road" (N...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 711

Oct 01 // Anthony Redgrave
Lao G's defeat in the last episode has not phased Doflamingo's executives as they continue to fight against the gladiators and Straw Hats. Pica still remains elusive enough to avoid Zoro's attacks despite the size of the high pitched Stone Stone fruit user. King Elizabello II offers up is King Punch to take out the executive, but Zoro refuses aid. Either out of pride or strategy he suggests that the King Punch should be saved in case something stronger comes along. Sounds like me and saving rocket launcher ammo in any FPS. And if they're like me they will save it until passed the credits. On the other side of Dressrosa, there is another major fight occurring amongst a flowery field that has been made flag like by Diamante. Despite being one of the major fights of the Dressrosa arc, it has so far been monotonous to watch. Kyros may be a badass in the ring, Rebecca looks hot and is a capable enough fighter, and Diamante has a semi-interesting fruit ability, but the whole thing is really slow. The only progression here is Kyros doesn't let Rebecca fight and Diamante takes advantage of this fact by picking on her. From watching feminist videos online, this is an example of inserting Rebecca into a vulnerable female role for a male paternal figure to protect. We have seen her fight capably herself in the ring so why is she just sitting on the sidelines watching her Dad protect her. Arguments saying she is injured don't fly when we have Law struggling through an amputation. Speaking of, over at the palace roof Doflamingo is double teaming Law with a newly assembled Trebol. Sadly it isn't my yaoi doujin of the Doflamingo family but more akin to the BDSM doujin I saw in Comiket 2 years ago. It's not funny how brutal they are with Law barely giving him time to catch his breath. The animation here is made passable as there are some crudely drawn frames in some areas. The previous segment with Kyos and Rebecca has rough spots and boring animation but the movement of Law and Doflamingo as they trade blows is pretty good and dynamic. Below Luffy continues to plea with Bellamy as the latter uses his last ounce of strength to try and take down our protagonist. There are two parts that stand out this episode. The first is the updated visuals to show Bellamy's introduction to the series and the famous beat down he gives Zoro and Luffy in the bar of Jaya town. Definitely makes the visual style more cohesive when they aren't using the 12-year old footage. The second is Bellamy's pride and philosophy. He's a pirate scumbag that made a lot of wrong decisions, one of them is trusting the devil incarnate. But his pride prevents him from going against past decisions. He cannot forgive himself. He let go of the past and find a future with Luffy, the man he shamed and mocked for his dreams despite Luffy's change of heart. It's a battle on a much deeper level compared to two pirates being on opposite sides of the moral spectrum. Luffy has to respect a man that follows his dreams/ pride but doesn't want to defeat an already broken man. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Pride among Pirates
Better late than never with this week's annotated anime. Let's get on with the show that was formerly about a kid wanting to be a pirate but is now about trying to escape a kingdom midway through a coup d'etat.  coup d'etat

Gundam photo

Simulcast GET: Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans heads to and Hulu

New Gundam series for everyone!
Sep 30
// Salvador GRodiles
It looks like there's another good reason to be a Gundam fan this year, since the upcoming series, Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans, hits and Hulu on Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Japan Standard Time/3:30 a.m. Pacifi...

OP Up! Macross Edition

Sep 30 // Red Veron
[embed]34325:5077:0[/embed] "Seventh Moon" Anime: Macross 7 A crazy 90's J-rock infused opening that let's you know of the crazy over-the-top show you're into where a guy controls a transforming jet robot with an electric guitar.   [embed]34325:5078:0[/embed] "Macross" Anime: SDF Macross The original that started it all, this opening combines a great song with a grounded feel with the plane launch sequence that transitions into full science fiction robots and aliens with space ships.   [embed]34325:5079:0[/embed] "Macross" Anime: Fever Macross Pachinko A nice remake of the original opening of the first Macross from the most surprising of places, a pachinko machine. A nice update to the opening but not as good as the visuals from Frontier.   [embed]34325:5076:0[/embed] "Lion" Anime: Macross Frontier My favorite opening from the series, this one has a high energy song with all the good pop star and space combat action rolled into one nice minute and a half package to get you ready for more.   Is there a Macross opening that you love that I didn't feature on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!!!
Macross photo
So who's excited over the news of a new Macross show on the horizon with Macross Delta? I've always loved the series' mix of future science fiction transforming jet robots with pop music idols. I'm so looking forward to ...

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 12

Sep 30 // Anthony Redgrave
Before we can indulge in Himouto! Umaru-chan style of beach time fun the main cast must find a way of getting there. Having seen an advert for a 8 seater family car, Umaru persuades Taihei to go out and buy one. I know Taihei is a practical and sensible man. He cooks, cleans, works and basically takes care of Umaru since the slacker version of herself acts like a 5-year old child. But this has to be his biggest lapse in logical thinking. He humours Umaru's request on buying a car as it'll get her out of the house more and he promised that he would take her to the ocean. There are cheaper solutions Taihei! You even said yourself that you take the train to work so there is no practical reason for having a car except to get Umaru out of the house for this one trip. At the car showroom, they are greeted by the world's most energetic salesman. Umaru spots the car from the advert gets Taihei to give it a test drive. However, it has been a long while since Taihei has been behind the wheel and I think we have all been in his position of constant worry that an accident will happen at any moment. The best part of this section is the inclusion of a Ridge Racer style Race Queen before Taihei sets off. It something so unexpected yet perfect for this show. With Bomber roped in to drive the Doma family and friends to the beach after Taihei's traumatic experience, Umaru and Taihei try to get some sleep before their day at the beach. The excitement of sun, sea, and fun is too much for the two as they gaze up at the ceiling in quiet anticipation unlike those bratty kids in the Disney land commercial. Taihei, Ebina, and Kirie all gather at the front of the house waiting for Bomber to pick them up. The reveal of Umaru in her outside form surprises Bomber and Kirie who only know Umaru in her chibi form. What's even more surprising is that Bomber is dumb enough to think Kirie is not his sister because she changed her hair and is also wearing Luffy's Straw Hat. The face, voice and violent outbursts don't give it away? The episode progresses with lots of sight seeing, food eating, and generally pleasant vibes and visuals. Nothing looks too out of place here unlike last week and the freeze frame panning were just bearable to watch without over doing it to visual monotony. As the group head towards the beach, Kirie starts to open up a bit more to Umaru. She reveals that her initial violent outburst at her brother during the entrance ceremony caused her to be feared by the rest of the class and it was something she could never live down. Her confidence only grew once she started hanging out with chibi Umaru and Taihei. It's a really sweet scene and the feeling of her arc coming full circle explaining her creepy look at the start of the series. It would've been perfect if she also revealed herself to Bomber as Kirie, but I guess the ruse of looking, sounding, acting, and having the same name as his sister will continue. Sylphynford makes a last minute appearance on the beach with her brother Alex spying on the party from their yacht and they play and play and play on the beach. The only thing I got from the final moments of this episode was that frilly swimsuits were in this year. As the finale of the show, it didn't feel complete. There was a lot of interesting juxtaposition throughout of the series showing the similar domestic units between Taihei's work friends and Umaru's school friends that should have concluded in them discovering their various similarities. It was a finale that felt like a good episode but not the end of a season.  I don't think this will be the last we see of the anime Jekyll and Hyde as an OVA or two before the next season will be a welcome addition to my watch list. It's a show that is fun, light-hearted, and perfect for the gaming otaku that likes to watch anime.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Let's Drive to the Beach!
Ok, Japanators I think we all know the drill for a high school beach episode. Cue the excessive bloom from the sun, girls in bikinis except the token flat chest in a junior high swimming costume, beach style food like fried octopus balls and soft ice creams, and silly shenanigans that show off both the exquisite sights of girls and the surroundings. We all ready? Set? Good! On with the recap.

Annotated Anime: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma episodes 21-23

Sep 29 // Nick Valdez
Episode 21 After waking up from his brief nap teased at the end of last episode, Souma reveals he's been cooking some kind of rice and spice dish, but that's all we really see before the episode cuts to Group B and Tadakoro. As the crowd begins to turn on her due to her nervous demeanor, she pulls out her cout de grace, a difficult monkfish she showfully butchers. She learned how to cut it back home in order to help her family, and seeing them here in support has given her the confidence to nail it. But the brunt of this episode was devoted to the fierce rivalry between Erina Nakiri's aide, Arato, and her creepy stalker introduced two episodes ago, Nao. The judges in Group B have been especially tough as no chef has gotten over 20 points, but Nao and her super smelly laksa and kusaya curry manages to get 84 points (resulting in the header image). But Arato, with her focus in medicinal herbs and spices, manages a healthy curry which cleanses the judges of all previous flavors and basically got the taste of Nao's curry out of their mouths. She scores 92 points as the episode's close draws attention to the Aldini brothers.  It's a shame the show's going to end soon because I'm loving the anime's adaptation of the reactions. They're the best thing from the manga, but seeing them play out on screen adds an entirely new level.  Episode 22 As we join Group A's proceedings, Miyoko Hojo (the character who hates Tadakoro for relying on men and feels she needs to be stronger than all the men in order to succeed in the field) has started things off with a strong Chinese and pineapple infused curry and nets 87 points, Polar Star Dorm resident Yuki nets 86 points for her wild game curry, but then the Aldini brothers take the stage. Both present Italian inspired dishes with the younger Aldini, Isami serving a curry calzone scoring 87 and the older Aldini, Takumi serves a pasta curry and gets 90 points thanks to his putting cheese inside the pasta noodles. then Alica Nakiri blows the judges away (and shows her chops) with her science cooking as her deconstructed curry gets a hefty 95 points. Then, finally, we have the best girl Tadakoro. After everyone hilariously forgot about her, she serves the result of her hard work and love of her town, monkfish dobu-jiru curry.  Tadakoro manages to score 88 points (earning her new rival Hojo's respect) and earns her place in the top eight along with Alice Nakiri, Hisako Arato, and Takumi Aldini. Yay Tadakoro! Episode 23 We're back in Group A as the judges continue giving low scores (with some giving no score at all). But Ryo Kurokiba, Alice's aide with his shifting personality, manages to break that rhythm with a lobster and cognac curry (which he tells the main judge to slurp like a savage, hilariously) and 96 points. But none of the other chefs let that get to them as Polar Star residents Ryoko, Marui, and Ibusaki all net 86 and 88 points respectively with their dishes as Nikumi gets 86 with her meat don (which she's crafted thanks to her early shokugeki with Souma). But as the episode draws to a close, the arguably strongest student (since we really haven't seen his skills yet) Akira heads up to serve his dish and directly challenges Souma with his taste. As Souma begins to eat, he realizes there's a delicious scent pouring out.  Well, that's it. The final episode is up next and this is what I mean about terrible sequel series. Now we're stuck here until Food Wars 2 or something like that comes out. Hopefully it's gotten enough support overseas to warrant a second season. But until then, I totally recommend the manga. It's pretty good. But this show's been pretty entertaining in its own right (and I'll get into that with the final impressions after I see the last episode), and I can't help but love the exaggerated world. I hope there's more. 
Annotated Food Wars! photo
Sexy curry
I hate how some shonen series are handled. If a shonen manga doesn't have the audience or allotted budget of a big Shonen Jump property like One Piece or Gintama, then its anime adaptation is doomed to "seasons." Instead of c...

Ragnarok photo

It's Showtime: Big O's Director hits us with a cool giant robot short

Can you spot the Marvel reference?
Sep 25
// Salvador GRodiles
You know you're in for a treat when the Japan Animator Expo project releases a mecha anime short that's directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama, the man who brought us The Big O. Even though the piece took place in an area that's in p...

Annotated Anime: School-Live! episodes 7-11

Sep 25 // Nick Valdez
Episode 7 After a few episodes of flashback, we're back in the series proper. When Yuki brings up their mall outing, Miki briefly forgets she's supposed to lie about Megu-nee and Yuki nearly cracks her delusion as brief images of a grisly scene flashback. Miki thinks it's time to stop lying to Yuki since it's not really healthy, but Yuri simply states that she'll tell her soon. After Yuki stumbles on some stationary, the girls decide to take their mind off things for a bit and write some letters to folks on the outside. During all of this, Miki stumbles on a key leading to some place in the staff room but hides it from the other girls. After some shenanigans involving carrier pigeons, the girls send their letters through the sky and we find that Miki's written one for her lost best friend, Kei (the one who abandoned Miki at the mall in search of a better kind of survival).  Kei's probably a zombie, folks. It's usually how these things turn out.  Episode 8 Miki gives the key she found to Yuri as the two start searching the staff room for clues as to what it leads to. But before all of that, the girls start talking about the future. Naturally since Yuki is still stuck in her weird state of mind, all she can think about is graduation and potentially getting a job in the adult world. It's a sad conversation as the girls try and look positively toward their futures (Kurumi wants to be wife, Yuri wants to do something I forgot about already, sorry), but this all feels like it's leading up to something big. In fact, that's one of the most impressive parts of this show. Every episode feels like we're inching closer and closer to some kind of terrible end. Starting with the opening credits (which have been slowly getting more and more violent as the show progresses), helped along by the heavy amount of foreshadowing (each episode someone notes how more and more zombies are gathering outside of the school), and with happier moments like this, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And it does. The girls discover that Megu-nee's key led to a lockbox containing an emergency manual for the school when a biological weapon is released.  Episode 9 As the girls fret over the manual, which details why the school has multi-tired facilities and stuff like solar panels and gardens, Yuki takes their minds off of it with a suggestion: to turn the ugly water tank into a pool area for a pool day. Then it's a super happy, fan service heavy episode. I wouldn't think we'd get an episode like this in the series, but it sort of makes sense. It's something Shakespeare made famous. You see, back when Shakespeare was a big hit, people used to sit and watch plays for several hours. Naturally people would get bored if you kept the entirety of the play the same tone, so he'd add bits of levity every few acts in order to accomplish two things. First, it's to keep interest. If a program remained a flat, dreary tone throughout its duration, people wouldn't pay attention. Secondly, it's to make the coming bits of drama hit that much harder. And I think that's what's going on here. This episode is our last breath of fresh air before everything starts coming down. And if the episode's tag is anything to go by (as Taroumaru escapes downstairs to the basement and sees something tragic), it's going to be a doozy.  Episode 10 So here's a little trick as to how I write these annotations: I write these blurbs as I watch each episode rather than try to summarize them all at once. I only open with this because I want you to know that I was not ready for all of this chaos. At the end of last episode, we saw Taroumaru escape from his leash and run through the school so the girls wake up and go looking for him. As Kurumi follows his tracks downstairs into the basement, she finds an infected Taroumaru trying to bite her face off. After managing to lock him up in a room, she stumbles on the truly messed up thing: Megu-nee's zombie. Failing to stop Monster-nee's advance, Kurumi's bitten. As the girls try and figure out what to do now, Kurumi's condition worsens (and leads to an awful amount of screaming as the infection spreads) and the girls are split up as zombies break their way into the school. Yuki is locked in a room after zombies attack, Yuri's sitting with Kurumi and slowly breaking, and Miki is in search of the medicine (and possible antidote) the manual claims the school has but breaks down at the thought of losing Taroumaru. As the episode closes, and everything is traumatic for everyone, Yuki starts remembering the tragedy that sparked her mental breakdown.  Episode 11 Ugh, I need a breather. Deep - breath -, okay. As Yuki runs to Miki and gives her strength to go and search for the antidote, lightning strikes the school's generators and cuts off the power while starting a fire. So there's yet another thing to worry about as Yuri comes to grips with possibly losing Kurumi to the infection. We've seen Yuri as the slightly older girl who's acted as a rock, so this is the first time she's truly shown emotion. It's quite interesting watching her slowly break as she decides whether or not to kill her friend before she turns into a zombie. Then we shift back to Miki, who's fought her way down to the school's basement. As she comes face to face with Megu-nee's zombie (who still retained her memories of the other girls and evidenced by her zombie writings), she assures her they're doing fine before giving her peace. But Miki is soon cornered by zombies when she finds the medicine. Then we cut back to Yuki, who's slowly breaking free of her delusion. After some emotional resolution (and Megu-nee guiding her to the broadcasting room), she finally accepts Megu-nee's death and says goodbye. It's too much.  What started out as a cute series became far more emotional than I would've guessed. Looking at the premise of the show should've given it away, but I never thought it'd hit that hard. Maybe it's because it's so sudden. It's not a revolutionary story or anything like that, but there's so much care put into the buildup, the payoff is fantastic. The final episode's sure going to be something. 
Annotated School-Live! photo
I've got a complicated relationship with zombambos. I've gotten tired with the genre, but I can't help but stay invested in how different characters are effected in different medias. Each media provides unusual takes, and ani...

Man at Arms: Reforged photo
Man at Arms: Reforged

Watch Man at Arms bring Saber's Excalibur to life

Servant not included
Sep 21
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Man at Arms switched to a new group, I started to miss the old team's style, since their weapons were more accurate than the current gang. Nonetheless, the main thing that both blacksmiths have in common is that t...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 710

Sep 20 // Anthony Redgrave
The battle rages on in Dressrosa with Lao G fist fighting Don Chinjao and Sai coming to terms with the affectionate Baby 5. Baby 5's misinterpretation of Sai's fighting words is still very humourous as it has kept the boring fights featured in the last few episodes varied and entertaining. To test the subservience of Baby 5, Sai asks if Baby 5 would kill herself to which she readily complies. Sai has a change of heart when he sees his request being taken seriously.  Don Chinjao tries to prevent Sai from interfering with her suicide resulting in a clash between allies. A confrontation that is quickly resolved in Sai inheriting his grandfather's command of the Chinjao family. This whole bit between Sai, Baby 5, and Don Chinjao is very sweet and awesome amongst all the fighting. Sai starts to come to terms with the power of his words and so can now take over from his grandfather Don Chinjao, Don Chinjao respectfully steps down as the leader of the family since he has been bested by the younger generation, and Baby 5... well she finally finds someone that is not willing to take advantage of her need to please people.  The show then dives into Baby 5's up bringing. Amongst all the flashbacks we have had in the Dressrosa arc (and there has been a lot), this is the most disturbing. The imagery of Baby 5's mother and the environment they are in is encased in a creepy dark atmosphere. Baby 5 looks like an accurate representation of a child version of her, but her mother looks like a black Groot silhouette. We learn why Baby 5 has the compulsion to be needed and I guess the maid costume is also to emphasise her servient nature as well as moe fan service. The action portion of this episode is really good for a gladiator-executive fight. Watching Lao G bounce around the battlefield delivering acrobatic G shaped attacks against Don Chinjao is great to watch. The dynamic movements are fluid and it's always funny to see his insistence of finding the G in every sentence. But this doesn't hold a candle to when he later beefs up Master Roshi style to take on Sai. Don Chinjao is taken out and it is up to the newly promoted Sai to take on the old Geo first master. The final clash uses a different art style incorporating more highlights and brighter colours making it more flashy and dramatic. This episode introduces and nicely wraps up Sai's and Don Chinjao's little arc. I hope this isn't the end of Baby 5 as she seems like a really cool character to more of. Maybe a manga cover story of how she and Sai are coping with married life a la newly weds? [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] servient
One Piece photo
All is fair in Love and War
For those hoping there'd be some resolution on the Bellamy-Luffy confrontation, you'll be very disappointed. A very small part of the episode is spent on the fight, but it doesn't progress in any way unless you count Bellamy gobbing a bloody lugy on Luffy. The rest of the episode however is spectacular. It resolves two fights, has awesome action, and another feels heavy backstory.

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 11

Sep 20 // Anthony Redgrave
The show kicks off with Umaru expressing the most common of desire, a craving for pizza. It's a feeling familiar for most young adults, but motherly Taihei isn't having any of it because of the lack of nutrients in a Chicago slice. Ebina pays a visit to the Doma household to give them a bag of rice called Akita Komachi. This isn't the run of the mill Walmart rice, but high-grade short grain rice from the Akita prefecture. The show even captures the bag decal sporting the Akita Komachi mascot emblazoned on the front. Even though Taihei puts his mastery of cooking to good use by whipping up a luncheon for Ebina and Umaru, he doesn't use the rice to it's strengths. A quick Google shows that Akita Komachi is best in portable foods like Onigiri. The next two stories are bad. First up is Umaru trying to decide on what snack to get at a grocery store while Taihei has to attend a meeting and introduce a proposal. The two are vaguely connected and only come back together at the end so the majority is focussed on Umaru's internal debate. It's a lot wackier by the inclusion of lots of chibi Umarus doing the Umaru debate about junk food. It loses a lot of the show's charm by not incorporating any of the show's grounded reality since it's Umaru running rampant inside her own head. If you like chibi Umaru then this would be ok for you. This is followed by food adventures with Ebina and Umaru. The problem here is not with the characters. This high school duo is my favorite pairing third to Taihei's work buddies and the Doma siblings, but there's just no substance in this segment. It's literally them eating parfaits. There are freeze frames with the camera panning across the two of them eating for 3 minutes. No animation just freeze frames. To make matters worse, this whole episode has a lower quality of animation. It's made clear in this story as the freeze frames and close-ups show the disproportions in their facial features especially with Ebina. Her boobs get a lot of limelight in this episode too but sadly this highlights the problems with having a large bust such as clipping issues with the rest of the body. Before Umaru gets to relish in the Japanese summer she must first endure the rainy season. Fortunately for her it only lasts 2/3rds of a story and there is Kirie to accompany her through the misery. Taihei attempts to brighten the mood by listing the positives of rain but ultimately resorts to telling them the summer is right around the corner. There are hints of a beach trip, but this is saved for another time. The brief Sylphynford appearance in this episode helped me learn two things; in Japan they have Hagan Daaz in crane games and that there is a correct way to eat tub ice cream. The show goes as far as explaining the first step; licking the lid. Hey, what about the other steps? Have I been doing it wrong the whole time!?As I said there is not much to this episode except food. I'd advise not watching this on an empty stomach or if you have an uncontrollable urge for frozen dairy confectionery.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Ebina and Umaru vs. Food
The one word to summarise this week's episode is Food. There is lots and lots of food on display here. To be more specific it's ice creams to welcome the Summer period to the show, even though in real life we are saying goodbye to the warm weather and hello to falling leaves and Pumpkin Spice Latte's.  Himouto! Umaru-chan

Week Ender - Universal Century Edition

Sep 19 // Red Veron
[embed]34282:5061:0[/embed] "Winners Forever" Anime: Gundam Victory Continuing with the 90's J-rock of its time, this ending song is quite good and catchy.   [embed]34282:5062:0[/embed] "Believe in the Starry Sky" Anime: Zeta Gundam The Gundam series loves using current pop music for its soundtrack and the song confirms that this one is very much form the 80's.   [embed]34282:5063:0[/embed] "10 Years After" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam 8th MS Team A fun ending that stays true to the real "boots on the ground" angle of the show. The song compliments the ending well being about looking to the future with someone after everything currently going through the present.   .[embed]34282:5064:0[/embed] "Forever Amuro" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam A pretty emotional ending while pretty solemn, it's captures the show's theme about being "real robot" show and leaning more on realism than fantasy like other robot shows of the time.   Is there an ending from the Universal Century that you like that isn't on here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna see!
Week Ender photo
Real Robots
Many people remember opening songs from the Universal Century Gundam series fondly but not many remember the endings songs as much. I admit that I am one of those many since a lot of the UC series aired before I was born or I...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 19-23

Sep 18 // Nick Valdez
Episode 19 Takeo's mom has been pregnant on the sidelines, and it finally comes to a literal head in this episode. Takeo's been concerned with his mom's health ever since she told him about it (even if he's the one who's always reckless with his body), but she's maintaining a high level of activity despite his wishes. She's tough, and Takeo knows it, but he can't help but worry. After saving another pregnant woman from a fall, his mother feels a pain in her side and ultimately goes to the hospital. Takeo understandably freaks out and after running frantically and carrying his mother to her hospital room, Takeo's left to worry on the sidelines. After some consoling for Suna, he calms down and after retrieving a charm from Yamato wishing a safe delivery, Takeo's mom gives birth to the adorable giant baby you see above. In case you were wondering the show wouldn't crack a joke about that, Suna notes that she's the biggest baby in the room. It's actually the cutest and funniest thing.  Episode 20 This is my favorite episode to date. When Takeo laments that he never gets chocolate from a girl on Valentine's Day (and notes that Suna always receives tons of chocolate along with one from a secret admirer each year), he remembers Yamato and suddenly freaks out. Beaming with happiness, his friends corner him and ask if there's a way they could hang out in a huge group with Yamato's friends like they did at Christmas. During the group date, Yamato gives everyone chocolate cookies and Takeo's constantly wondering when he's going to get his special Valanetine's chocolate from Yamato. He's depressed when he thinks he won't get one, suddenly realizes he should've appreciated the cookies, and he acts like a giant, adorable idiot the entire episode. Of course, Yamato shows up with some kind of giant chocolate mountain and Takeo blows a super kiss from a couple of floors up. It's a good year for them both.  Ugh, this show is so cute I can't stand it.  Episode 21 During my last recap, I noted how Sunakawa is not only disinterested in women, but romance in general. He's clearly in tune with emotions as the show's proven that he cares about Takeo (going so far as to not date any of the girls who secretly joked about Takeo behind his back), but he's never pursued anyone for himself. It's a forward thinking asexual person that I hope wasn't the writer's happy accident. Anyway, the first person to challenge this and show a definite romantic interest in Suna is Yukika, a girl who's had a crush on him for ten years now. Her major flaw, however, is her crippling shyness that keeps her from actually approaching Suna in any way. the only way she's expressed her love is through Valentine's chocolate throughout the years with a note reading "I don't need anything, I just want you to love me back" or something to that effect. When Takeo and Yamato finally convince Yukika to approach, she suddenly blurts out a confession and Suna oddly agrees to go out on a group date.  While this episode tests my theory, it also posits that none of the girls were unique enough to have a relationship with a main character. Yukika's got all of the design of a new main character (silver hair, personality traits, uh, love?) but I never quite dug her. I actually found her quite annoying and way too stalkery to actually lead to a healthy relationship. Regardless, this episode's hilarious because Takeo's radar like senses always spotted Yukika.  Episode 22 While the last episode challenges Suna's bachelor lifestyle, this episode highlight's Suna's greatest quality and, potentially, his biggest flaw. You see, he's such a nice guy that he's willing to put everyone else's happiness ahead of his own. While that may be an anime staple, Suna's is actually kind of tragic. You see, as the group all go out to the zoo, Suna's just humoring Yukika the entire time. He doesn't really react to anything (except to Takeo, which Yukika points out later as a sign that he's truly interested in someone), and rather than it resembling traditional shoujo love interests, it actually adds to Suna's mysterious nature. We're never really sure what he's thinking and in fact we don't really find out till episodes end when he ultimately (and understandably given that she watched him from the shadows for ten years) declines Yukika's love. He gives her a notebook, and she loves that she even got to spend some time with the object of her affection. Of course, there was some weirdness in the middle when she freaked out on Suna since he had no interest in her. That only cemented how annoying she was. I'm glad it didn't really work out.  Episode 23 As a sort of palette cleanser, this episode is a light affair that returns to Takeo and Yamato's relationship. When Yamato gets a job at a bakery in order to better learn how to craft desserts, Takeo gets jealous for the first time in the series. When a handsome looking patisseire, Ichinose (always a hilarious ring of a traditional shoujo protagonist), mistakes Yamato's interest in cakes for an interest in him, he eventually challenges Takeo's relationship. He runs to Takeo and asks if Takeo really belongs with Yamato and states that she deserves someone more alike to her. Takeo, for the first time in the series, doubts himself and thinks Ichinose might've had a point. The episode ends as Takeo stands on shaken ground for the first time. Will Takeo actually give up on his relationship with Yamato? Nah, probably not. But this is an intelligent way to bring Takeo's untraditional nature and design in the genre to light. And it'll most likely bring about a good end to the season, and more likely, the series.  I'm not ready for this show to end, but as no sequel season was announced, I'm pretty sure the next episode is the last. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when it's over.
Annotated Love Story!! photo
I love this show so much
Have I told you that My Love Story!! is my favorite anime of the season? Although I jumped into these annotations majorly late, I've been glued to the screen each week just waiting on the latest release. It's the most fun I'v...

Neon Genesis Impacts photo
Neon Genesis Impacts

Animator Expo's third Eva short is all about music and friendship

Evangelion has never been this cute
Sep 18
// Salvador GRodiles
Another Evangelion-related short has invaded Animator Expo, and its impact is surprisingly cuter than the usual stuff we expect out of the series. Instead of focusing on the Eva pilots and the folks at NERV, "Neon Genesis Imp...

OP Up! Universal Century Edition

Sep 16 // Red Veron
[embed]34276:5052:0[/embed] "Stand up to the Victory" Anime: Victory Gundam A really good song that reflects the time it was made in the early 90's with the very J-Rock song of its era. Nicely animated opening as well.   [embed]34276:5053:0[/embed] "Shine in the storm" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team A different take on the series, focusing on the boots on the ground, this entry takes a good look at the war from the perspective of a military unit of the Earth Federation. Adds more 'real' to the 'Real Robot' genre that Gundam started.   [embed]34276:5054:0[/embed] "It's not Anime" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ I have not seen much of this entry but I remember it fondly because of the song in the opening with the lyric saying that this "is not Anime".   [embed]34276:5055:0[/embed] "Fly! Gundam" Anime: Mobile Suit Gundam The opening of what started it all, this one has a very 70's song. Though it may look similar to all the other robot anime shows of that era, Gundam differentiated itself by not having super powered weapons that bordered the fantasy and that the robots themselves only felt like tools used as weapons along with the realities of war.   Is there a Universal Century opening that I didn't include here that you love? SHOW ME IN THE COMMENTS! I would love to see it!
OP Up! photo
This is Gundam
The Mobile Suit Gundam has been around for generations and is a household name in many Japanese homes. It is no wonder, since there have been many entries in the series in TV, movies, and in print form. Collectively know...

Annotated School-Live! photo
Annotated School-Live!

Annotated Anime: School-Live! episodes 4-6

Zombeh -eh -eh -eh -oh -oh -eh -yaaaa
Sep 14
// Nick Valdez
Last time I talked about School-Live! (which was a bit ago, sorry), I noted how much I loved how its cutesy art clashed with its dark world. Despite how seemingly annoyingly cute it is, it grabbed my attention and never let g...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 709

Sep 14 // Anthony Redgrave
Doflamingo relinquishes his grasp on Bellamy stating cryptically that Bellamy has always been free. This prompts the show to divulge into Bellamy's past and get a few more uses out of the Jaya arc footage. Bellamy was always the asshole realistic pirate that wasn't disillusioned by the sense of adventure or grand treasure One Piece. He looked up to Doflamingo's ruthless attitude and sought to fly under his banner. Unperturbed by the threats of Diamante and Trebol's aggression, Doflamingo agrees to the young pirates wishes but we later learn that Doflamingo doesn't take lightly to weak members.  Flash forward to Luffy's encounter with Bellamy in Mocktown and his humiliating defeat at the hand of Luffy's one punch. The Jaya arc felt like there was a lot more going on apart from the immediate story line. There was Bellamy's crew (an associated pirate crew of the much stronger Doflamingo family), Blackbeard's introduction (with Ace hot on his heels), and the parallels Bellamy's bar fight with Luffy have with Shank's bar fight against Higuma at the very start of the series. Only now are we starting to see how all those individual events are connecting together which is a very cool for a long time fan. Anyway's after Bellamy's defeat he is fortunately given one more chance by Doflamingo in the arena to win the Flare Flare fruit. As we all know Bellamy's luck doesn't improve culminating in him being betrayed by his master and freed by a former enemy.  Despite being rescued by Luffy, Bellamy chooses the use the last of his energy to execute his signature move; Spring Hopper on Luffy. And here I was thinking Bellamy would become an ally and help Luffy up to the roof using his springs. I can't imagine it ending well for Bellamy given his track record. On the other side of Dressrosa, Gladiators continue to fight against Executives and we also get a fight finished in this episode! Yes! I'm so excited that there is one less fight to see. Big giant Hajrudin was usually seen being crushed by Machvise over and over again. Unlike the other fights where the combatants actually traded blows, Machvise could outmaneuver the giant but also hit him really hard with his power. The show does a great job in making you feel the pain and strain that Hajrudin goes through and this translates well when he starts getting second wind and fights back. The epic clash during the climax is classic One Piece making you feel the moment Hajrudin pushes against Machvise's attack. If Hajrudin does survive this encounter he'll be needing one hell of a doctor to patch him up. Also after the graphic nature of last week's episode I expected Machvise to look like the cheese on top of a pizza before it's been heated but that's just the gore hound in me. Next week, we are going to get a lot more gladiator fights (sigh I know) but this time it's with Baby 5 against Sai. I don't really care about Sai in this fight, but I do love seeing Baby 5 get more screen time. To me, her dependency personality quirk makes her an entertaining character to watch and it was funny to see her announce these feelings to a bemused Sai. She's one of the few villains in this show that I'll root for because she's so utterly adorable. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
The Bellamy Biopic
This week you won't hear me raging about how the plot pacing of this episode is back to the tip toeing filler filled monotony that Dressrosa is becoming quickly known for. God knows I've done enough of that in the past few Annotated Animes. Because this episode was pretty good since the first half is entirely about Bellamy and his back story. 

Annotated Anime: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan episode 16

Sep 13 // Anthony Redgrave
I've noticed that the last few episodes framed Kyon as the main character rather than the titular Nagato Yuki. He is the one to deliver the opening lines and the episodes follow him and his awkwardness around Nagato. Summer is halfway over and he still hasn't gotten over the confession Nagato had made before she had disappeared. But since he's in possession of a Y chromosome, the thoughts and feelings nonsense is best suited bottled up until Summer is over. With some Haruhi interference, Kyon finds himself meeting with Nagato a lot more and still struggling to talk to her about anything. I think the show displays this awkward behaviour very well through Kyon's internal dialogue. Many times I have internally chastised myself for not speaking up or acting strange in front of a lady of interest making Kyon's struggles understandable. The activities of baseball batting and bowling aren't particularly interesting to watch as there aren't many gags during these activities. They are used to show the lack of interaction between Kyon and Nagato compared to earlier in the series when he was very friendly towards her. There is also a lack of Asakura intervention and Asakura in general in this episode. No overly mothering tendencies or calming Haruhi down. She is more of a background/ side character than one of the main leads. An Asakura redemption with her accepting the impending relationship between Kyon and Nagato and being more forceful with Kyon to interact with Nagato would've brought her arc full circle instead of being pushed to the side in the last episode. Haruhi is another character who's arc goes forgotten too. As the fireworks festival is in full swing, Kyon drags Nagato away from the group to finally clear the air. The show subtly hints at Haruhi accepting her defeat in pursuing Kyon, but I felt that this wasn't fully explored as an option. Throughout Nagato Yuki-chan, there were hints that Haruhi had some history with Kyon and it was the source of conflict in the Valentine's day arc. Only in the last few episodes does this resurface as Haruhi remembers more about John Smith helping her write messages to the aliens implying feelings for Kyon. This is why it doesn't feel complete as Haruhi doesn't pursue Kyon or make any indication of her feelings known. The two characters didn't spend enough time together so bringing it back up in the last episode makes the arc feel incomplete.  As Kyon runs through the crowds and fireworks, he pours his heart out to Nagato about everything. His feelings, the reason he's been acting weird lately, and that yes with time he would've grown to like Nagato too. It's a very sweet scene made more poignant at the glimpses of the new Nagato smiling at Kyon's reply to her confession. Unfortunately, this is not for the titular Nagato as Kyon's entire speech is completely muffled by festival noise. I was honestly expecting Kyon and Nagato to get together by the end of this episode or at least admit their feelings for one another amongst the colours of fireworks but alas romantic closure isn't anime's strong suit. At least one version of Nagato Yuki is happy. The episode concludes with a post credit sequence continuing the tradition of linking Haruhi's and Nagato Yuki-chan's universes together. Some fans will like this reference but if you're like me, you'll groan at its implication. As a fan of Haruhi, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I could get back into watching a show set in a different genre. I grew to like the show's art design, re-familiarise myself with their comedy, and the light-hearted premise encapsulated all the fun aspects of the previous series. An ending like this is expected; everything returned to the status quo so if it were to be picked up again there can be more of the same i.e. light hearted adventures with the same character quirks and relationships. Fans of the Haruhi series may want to watch an abridged version of this show; first few episodes to get an idea of the characters again, skip to end of episode 10/11 for the real disappearance and then finally maybe this final episode to close out Nagato Yuki's confession. You'll get the drama, some laughs, and a lot of classic Nagato Yuki. [Watch The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan on FUNimation!]
Nagato Yuki photo
Closure for some
As the summer fades from 2015 it does so with Nagato Yuki-chan marking the finale for the show. The foreshadowed fireworks festival is finally upon the Literature club, but Haruhi still hasn't had her fill of Summer activities so you can expect more wacky antics in this episode before the series is finished.

Annotated Anime: Himouto! Umaru Chan episode 10

Sep 12 // Anthony Redgrave
Another fun heart warming multi-story episode in this week's Himouto! Umaru-chan kicking off with illness! Umaru spent too long on the computer last night (like we all do) with the AC on. Taihei doesn't have time to pamper Umaru at home due to work commitments so leaves Umaru to suffer at home with a fever. Much to Umaru's delight this doesn't impede her ability to veg out in front of a back-lit screen making a full recovery the day. In a twist of fate, Taihei ends up getting the same massive fever prompting Umaru to be Mother for the day. I mentioned last week that I love learning about Japanese culture through anime, but this week's episode makes me question the credibility of some of its content. I can see the benefits of excessive sweating as a cure for an illness but using a green onion like a suppository is more akin to a fetish than a traditional cure.  Moving on, Taihei prepares dinner and presents a selection of Japanese food for Umaru to eat. This show knows how to display contemporary Japanese cuisine that gets my mouth salivating every week. Umaru channels her inner Shin-chan and refuses to eat green peppers due to their bitter taste. Next day's lunch time finds her favourite dish; Hamburger Steak packed into her bento but it's made using the left-over green peppers infused into the patty. Ebina is impressed these culinary skills that Umaru claimed as her own causing a guilty Umaru to act like a tsundere when she returns home. Also, Kirie has probably the most adorable bento boxes ever!  The show's main theme is Umaru gets what she wants. It is rare that she has an unhappy ending and generally Taihei is happy to comply with his sister's wishes. But I think a lot of the show is Umaru learning to appreciate the hard work Taihei puts in to make her happy. It's something we can all relate to living in the modern world of convenience and being engrossed in the fast non-stop lifestyles. A lot of favours become expected and appreciation becomes diluted. I'm glad there are episodes like this one in Umaru-chan that allows Umaru some redemption and appreciate the efforts Taihei goes through to make her happy. It makes the protagonist a much more likeable instead of a bratty moe blob. The next two segments are heavily Umaru focussed with little to no side character interactions. They're good but the weakest part of the episode. The first of the two is fun to see as Umaru discovers that breaking the router means no internet. It's strange how a high school Ace would have extremely ditzy moments. Maybe it's the blonde-ness coming out? Next is Umaru visiting the world's most quiet and well-stocked manga cafe in the world.  As always the last segment that focusses on Taihei is the best of all the stories this week. It takes place during his high school days when he was the class genius and spare time were spent with the dumb best friend Bomber and overly forward Kanau. The interaction's that Bomber and Kanau share arguing and vying for Taihei's attention is hilarious. Kanau has some savage put-downs and Bomber's wackiness helps keep things entertaining throughout. While visiting a new arcade after school, they all try their hand at a 100 yen crane game. As well as being an entertaining moe culture show, Himouto! Umaru-chan will also teach you various crane game techniques.  This show is consistently entertaining every week by never focussing on one character for too long or a setting. Even though Umaru is the main star, the side characters are interesting enough to hold their own for one or two segments. I don't think there is a side character that I massively dislike and having their big personalities in the show helps ward off the fatigue of Umaru's bratty tendencies.  [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!] [Watch Himouto! Umaru-chan on Crunchy Roll!]
Himouto! Umaru-chan photo
Umaru RNA
This episode has made me realize that Umaru is the female version of Crayon Shin-chan. They're both drawn in a chibi style and most episodes are about them getting away with throwing temper tantrums and demanding selfish wish...

Week Ender - Cyberpunk Edition

Sep 12 // Red Veron
[embed]34264:5043:0[/embed] "Distant Scream" Anime: Serial Experiments Lain A show that has complex themes about humanity and technology sure has a nice and chill ending. Not quite light, but it offers a bit of a nice breather after each episode. It also implies a lot of things but I don't want to spoil anything. Also, there is this totally creepy french-made website about this show out there that totally freaks me out with its weirdness.   [embed]34264:5045:0[/embed] "In Time" Anime: A.D. Police This ending features a very 90's J-Rock song that goes pretty great the sexy (yet tasteful) women in sleepwear. No surprising that this show has some fanservice being a prequel spinoff to the very fanservice-y Bubblegum Crisis series. I could totally listen to this ending's song for ages being that it gives me all the warm fuzzies from being a 90's J-rock song.   [embed]34264:5046:0[/embed] "All Alone With You" Anime: PSYCHO-PASS A pretty nice ending, offering simple visuals with a nice (literally visual) twist. Great song by EGOIST to accompany the focus on Akane, the main character. Good balance with the light and dark in this ending for the show.   [embed]34264:5047:0[/embed] "Lithium Flower" Anime: Ghost in the Shell: STAND ALONE COMPLEX I am rather fond of this ending, I was exposed to it constantly on Adult Swim when I was getting back into anime around 10 years ago. A great song to contrast the opening electronic song in Russian. That static stills in the ending also offer a bit of a bit of a different glimpse into the show's characters in other settings.     Is there an ending from a cyberpunk anime that I didn't include here? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Light in a Dark Dystopia
The science fiction subgenre of Cyberpunk can be dark and depressing but it doesn't mean that it is always in that depressing state. Humans simply cannot live in that manner constantly and there will breaks, and it also not e...

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