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Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Aug 21 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]35209:5798:0[/embed] Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XVStudio: Square Enix Visual WorksDirector: Takeshi NozueLicensed by: Sony PicturesPremiere: August 19, 2016 (US, Asia) , July 9, 2016 (Japan) Have you ever seen a "game movie"? The term refers to a subgenre of game Youtube videos wherein players capture recordings of various video games' cutscenes or story sequences, to be viewed by audiences removed from the context of actually playing the game. Some more ambitious versions try to edit the clips together in a coherent fashion, potentially removing the need for players who can't finish or don't own the game in question to actually play it at all, leaving only the narrative to bring things home. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV feels like an extremely expensive, fabulously ambitious iteration of that particular trend. It's not quite the same, of course. Players who pick up Final Fantasy XV in November won't see much of Kingsglaive's actual events onscreen, as the film is a two-hour-long setup and prequel to the events of the game.  The Kingdom of Lucis is in danger. Ruled by the wise King Regis (played by Game of Thrones' Sean Bean), Lucis is the last place unconquered by the Empire of Niflheim. Its defenders are the titular Kingsglaive, a squad of soldiers that wield magic channeled to them by Regis, from a magic crystal that is the source of Lucis' power and the only thing standing between Niflheim's technological prowess and world domination.  Unfortunately, the war is coming to a close, with Regis aging and the crystal's power flagging in the face of "The Nif's" magitek weapons and demonic thralls. It's in this spirit that Regis accepts a peace deal, to marry off his son (and the game's protatgonist) Noctis to Lunafreya (played by Game of Thrones' Lena Heady), princess of the Niflheim-ruled province of Tenebrae. When all is not at it seems on the eve of the treaty signing, it's up to Kingsglaive's star fighter Nyx Ulrich (played by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul) to save the day and have a hand in kicking off whatever's set to happen in the game proper. While the plot is barely coherent and its relevance to Final Fantasy XV is largely confined to explaining why Noctis and his buddies are on the other side of the world in the first place, Kingsglaive's most solid achievement is visual. Produced by Square Enix's legendary Visual Works studio, the film succeeds at visualizing the setting of the game, creating the kind of mental space in future players' minds that can reconcile the stylistic absurdities of typical Final Fantasy and the more grounded, modern aesthetic of the real world. The world of Kingsglaive (and by extension, the game) is the kind of place where it makes sense for contemporary office buildings, cellphones, TVs, and product placement stands comfortably alongside the overdesigned costumes, massive creatures, and elaborate magical spells and effects. To its credit, it's the most convincing iteration yet of the series' penchant for techno-fantasy flourish. Beyond that, though, Kingsglaive is hardly essential. Despite initial misgivings, the core cast do credible work in their roles, elevating the otherwise cheesy and overly self-serious script. Supporting characters, however, come across as a bit too cartoonish, the delivery never quite overcoming the tension between the realistic facial designs and otherwise very "anime" words coming out of the characters' mouths. The action itself, though, is well-rendered, if a bit difficult to follow. The Kingsglaive members all use some variation of the game's combat, wielding teleporting knives and plenty of flashy effects to burn, shock, and blast the HP off of an assortment of classic Final Fantasy beasts. Unfortunately, some ill-conceived zooms and use of "shaky-cam" effects during some fight scenes make what should be the most pivotal moments of the film an exercise in trying to puzzle out just what's happening. Final Fantasy fans can also expect some clever fan service, sighting cool callbacks to timeless franchise easter eggs, some subtle, and some overt. In the end, whether Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will be worthwhile largely depends on one's anticipation for Final Fantasy XV. By its very nature it's skippable, but fans who plan on immersing themselves in the game come November will likely find something to appreciate.
Kingsglaive: FFXV Review photo
A Clash Royale
Let's be honest here: Few people were expecting very much from Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Not only is it a multimedia tie-in to a game, a JRPG no less, but the long shadow of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within continu...

Introducing Hei Stories: Inspired by Anime & Manga, Welcome to the Universe of Kaleidoscope

Aug 18 // Yussif Osman
Anyong and Salam! So this piece is important to me, so if I guess if I want it to mean something to you too, I should start by introducing myself.  I’m Yussif and more than anything else, I’m passionate about stories and it’s really Japanese culture which got me into storytelling.  Growing up, I wanted to tell my own stories, so I did plenty of writing, but it’s only recently that I decided to take the plunge and start an enterprise focused on storytelling and the worlds I created.  I’m writing to you, to introduce the startup I founded, Hei Stories, a platform, the tales of which are heavily inspired and influenced by Japanese animation and manga.  I hope you’ll stay a while and hear me out, because I think Hei Stories is full of the things which we love above fiction; complex characters and developed world, human themes and stakes we can invest in.  And maybe, something new too.  I would like to introduce you to Kaleidoscope, to a wholly new and unique universe, which although it is populated by living stars and ghosts made of songs, ruled over by an Eclipse King, protected by superheroines and challenged by explorer revolutionaries scouring the frontiers of starlight, it is a world based on our own, where hope, dreams and compassion are our armour, sword and shield.  Welcome to Kaleidoscope, I hope you find something of yours in here too. Bear with me, but the first things I’d like to talk about are ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  Perhaps this will make more sense if I use Miyazaki’s work as the foundation for this discussion.  By ‘magic’, I refer to the sense of wonder that is conjured by weaving secrets and fantastical settings that tease and play with our inbuilt desire for adventure and the mysterious.  I found a combination of the two when I came across Spirited Away; but in addition to ‘magic’, films like Chihiro’s say something unique about what it means to be human and to live and love and in doing so, are doing something quite intimate.  By exploring childhood and life, from films like Only Yesterday to Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki involves us in the story and in doing so, makes the fantastical elements believable, making the entire experience truly magical.   Work in Hei Stories tries to do the same, through a blend of magical realism and Romance.  I use my work, Zoe Taylor as an example; a young woman who travels from one world she creates to another, in search of a love she has long forgotten, each world she hopes bringing her closer to home than the last.  Or Monsoon, in which Abhu dreams of her big sister; her thoughts and feelings entering the sky, becoming ghosts, gods and asura, connecting her with the person she is looking for.  In these stories, it is my hope that I have not only drawn inspiration from the likes of Miyazaki, or Makoto Shinkai, but that the tales set in Kaleidoscope explore themes such as love, hope and pain in unique ways - whether that’s Asem’s ability to draw power from the human heart or the Lovecraft militia, who through pure fury, manifest their pain in terrifying power.  It’s my aim to explore what we mean by such ideas as ‘love’, how it is an idea which empowers us, the way Petra sees beyond Asem’s trauma, or how Abhu’s longing for her sister connects them through the sky. My view of the world has been heavily shaped by the stories I watched and read growing up.  Among them, was Dragonball Z.  What did I love most about Dragonball Z? Vegeta, plain and simple.  Why? Well, he used to be a bad guy- now, that doesn’t just make him a badass, it makes him fascinating. This may have become a common Shonen trope, but think about it.  As a kid, I was suddenly introduced to the notion that the world is complicated and that maybe, just maybe, there is goodness in everyone (except maybe Frieza).  Sometime later, it happened, Naruto confronted Pain and what did he do? He talked to him. This blew my mind, even if Pain could never justify the things he did, he had reasons, and was himself suffering from sorrow which made him what he was.  By talking to him, Naruto liberated them both from the circle of hate and made it possible for their world to move forward.  This, which to me, was an impossibly amazing moment, would inspire me to go and study Peace as a discipline at university.   But above all, it made me want to tell this story to others, it made me want to tell people that there was another way, that people are complex and can be reached.  I began creating villains I wanted readers to empathise with, villains the heroes could empathise with.  Villains who were more than just antagonists.  I created Rakshasah, who gives up his freedom to the insurgent leader Asura to save his village, in exchange for being raised on a philosophy of hate; ultimately giving up on himself, seeking to force Neha, whom he loves to see the world the way he does, so he doesn’t have to suffer alone.  But even though Neha is accompanied by a rain demon, she would stop Rakshasah not by fighting him, but fighting what had been done to him.  Then there is Iconoclast, someone so utterly rejected by the world that she felt the need to conquer it in order to change it.  Is she good? Evil? More appropriately, a revolutionary, in the tradition of Lelouch.     One of the aims of Hei Stories became to contribute to social and global commentary, by spreading positive and progressive messages and engaging in a discussion to humanise and spread tolerance, understanding, positive change and empathy. I believe stories have the power to create significant change in the way we view the world and it is our aim to contribute to the discourse of making the world a better place. From LGBT rights to the need for the world to welcome refugees, from peace to overcoming depression and heartbreak, I hope these stories can be there for people around the world overcoming adversity, dreaming and hoping towards better futures.  The way Luffy and Naruto were there for me. And for anyone who is like me, searching for their place in the world, I am writing Centillion Lights episodically on Patreon, a saga about a race across multiple plains of existence, from Flower Kingdoms to Art Empires, to find Earth, a very different place in the heart of each racer, seeking to make the world something of their own. A coming of age story which takes the 'spring of youth' concept found in so much anime and really pushes it with what it means to be young and trying to work out who you are in an unknowable world. So Hei Stories is seeking to branch into different mediums including spoken word, literature, audio and ultimately animation. It is our aim to begin production on an animated feature/series set in the world of 'Kaleidoscope' in 2017. To this end, I’ve begun crowdfunding on Patreon, initially contributions will fund things like a concept artist (I’ve done the art to date, but I’m not a professional) and comiccon space to spread the word, but combined with funds gathered from public readings we’re doing in London and prospective grants from established institutions, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to fund the animated series. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on patreon.com/heistories, or you can explore more of the world I’ve created on heistories.wordpress.com/blog or on Youtube @ Hei Stories.  In addition, it is our aim to create opportunity for young and emerging artists.  The actors who will be performing in 'Asem', the major public reading we’re doing soon, are in the early stages of both their lives and careers and it is our hope to give them exposure and help them grow as well as give them support.  Poets and musicians are also involved in this project and it is our sincere wish to help nurture and support the young artistic community and see it thrive, because quite simply, art makes life better. I think that’s one of the reasons that we love anime, because it combines music and visual art, drama and writing in a spectacular collaboration to produce something like Sword of the Stranger or Princess Mononoke. And exploring genres, produces a literal kaleidoscope of artistic collaboration. In the tradition of Ghost in the Shell, or Darker Than Black, I explore neo-noir and urban horror in Lights and Letters From the Sleepless Wars, trying to push the boundaries of what we understand to be real.  Or in the tradition of epic Romance like One Piece, I created the Sunflower Diaries which explores a universe which challenges what we understand the world to be, all from the foundations of a young girl’s dreams.  We weave stories around unique countries like the Moon Kingdom, actually inspired by the aesthetics of Klonoa with its solar temples and moonlit palaces.  Then there is the whimsy of the bizarre and fun, such as Space Dandy, in stories like our Mighty Mighty Mighty Thunderclap Coalition who aim to spread Earth culture in a post-Earth solar system. And with these stories come a variety of aesthetic, inspired by animators like Yutaka Nakamura as I imagine Bonfire Engines assemble themselves from a will to be, or worlds racing past as a ‘Runner’ sprints through the universe- or a girl turning a flower into a small bird as subtly as when Chihiro tapped her feet to make sure her shoes were on. I have spent a-lot of time talking about what has inspired Kaleidoscope, but I want take a risk here and dare say that Hei Stories does some things that are new.  Sometimes we seem inundated with ‘harems’ and battle adventures and MMO reality swapping stories.  But look at the uniqueness of the premise of Erased, D.Gray-Man’s Noah Family, all of Makoto Shinkai’s and Ghibli’s work; the biggest way in which anime and manga has inspired me, is by encouraging me to create something new.  From watching the breathtaking, experimental animation of Mob Psycho 100 or experiencing how 5cm Per Second blends the cosmic with the Earthly.  These stories have pushed our imaginations, visually and in how we think about storytelling and the world.  In particular, I would like to site Bounen no Xam’d and Eureka 7, both works from Bones which are significantly original stories which push how we understand genre and bring human drama to the fantastical with original ideas, whether that’s the sentient ‘Coral’ at the centre of the Earth, which we have to come to terms with co-existing with in Eureka, or the way an Emperor declares war on the world because he has lost his name in Xam’d, set in a world where emotions create immensely beautiful beasts whilst a love story is told, based on a relationship that is never traditionally defined.  Or we can look at Sore Demo Sekai wa Utsukushi which pushes the boundaries of how love evolves and what motivates people.   It would feel arrogant to inundate you all the ways I think Hei Stories is original, but here is a short list of examples of how the world we’ve created pushes the boundaries of fiction as inspired by anime, from setting, to story structure: Kaleidoscope is a universe not based on material space, but rather ‘place’ is painted across a landscape of thoughts, emotions and concepts, materialised in starpaint and hyperdimensional oceans.  It is my aim  to make accessible sensitive issues like extremism and tolerance and trauma through fantastical settings, whilst exploring new character archetypes, with ‘hyperambition’ which blurs good and evil or a revolutionary that is in love with the world.  We explore time and story beyond the three act structure, exploring legacies, world histories and ideals, all interconnected by characters and ideas.   Watching Gainax push the scale of how we understood stakes, inspired me to push it as well, in both a cosmic and Earthly sense, in terms of relationships, concepts and action. So what does Hei Stories and the universe of Kaleidoscope come down to? It comes back to where I started, ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  To enchant and inspire.  It is my hope, to truly bring something positive into the world.  Kaleidoscope is a universe crafted on the principle of hope, where the fantastic serves the real and so, to illustrate that, I would like to end with this excerpt, where Hubble, the literal spirit of the Hubble Telescope who watched us for centuries, speaks: First, there were Chart Makers, they are the stars and ideas which make life possible. Independently, Stargazers were born, life in the material world, humans, animals, the Brave, species from across Kaleidoscope, across the universe. Stargazers and Chart Makers fell in love with one another, the living fell in love with life and life fell in love with the living. And in the space between that love, we, Constellations were born, an expression of every thought and hope and sadness. And for a time, love was law. Until he found you, Naenamh, you know him as the Eclipse King. Even we, Constellations, aren't sure what the Eclipse King is exactly, but he existed before the advent of life, he was alone in the dark. So when light and life began, he saw your joy and was enraged at the reality of his sadness. He came to hate everything. In his grief, he declared war on love and sought to spread his sorrow to the living. He murdered Aset, partner of the Chart Maker, Sirius. Sirius, not knowing how to deal with grief or loss, attacked the world on the Eclipse King's behalf. And so began the wars between Finality and Infinity, grief and love, spanning long into the millennia and deep into the human history. Yet every time, you win. I've watched you conquer over despair, time and time again. When the Eclipse King finally decided to simply destroy you, the only reason the Forge you call Amazing was able to find you and stop him, was because he could hear you through bottomless space. He followed your music and laughter, shouts and speech across an ocean of stars. And from him, Fragments were born, another miracle born of the underbase of love and life, a substance created by human interaction and will. And then Asem. You all created her, your world raised her and taught her to love. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it, feel free to get in touch to talk about anything, whether that’s here, one of the links or on [email protected] . Speak soon - live, love, hope and eat oreos. In Kaleidoscope, every child has a memory of the day the sun stood up, it’s my hope to remind us. “I would like to make a film to tell children it’s good to be alive.” - Miyazaki.
Hei Stories photo
Introducing a storytelling start-up
[Editor's Note: Here at Japanator we work on stuff that's not directly related to the site. this thing here is Yussif's new jam.] – the sun itself, uncurled and stood. Mountain shadows scattered as she rose. She stood a...

Kingsglaive Final Fantasy photo
Kingsglaive Final Fantasy

Here's some Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV to salve your pain


Magic v Magitek
Aug 16
// Josh Tolentino
Final Fantasy XV the game may not be in the cards for another few months, but that won't stop some of the other stuff scheduled to happen. The CGI film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is still on track for a late Augu...
Turn A Gundam photo
Turn A Gundam

Moonlight Butterfly: Right Stuf to release Turn A Gundam on Blu-ray


DVD owners are in for a sweet deal
Aug 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Right Stuf has been on a good roll with their plan to release the older Gundam titles on Blu-ray. During their Otakon '16, the company mentioned that Turn A Gundam is getting the Blu-ray treatment next year. For those who bou...

Yoshitaka Amano photo
Yoshitaka Amano

Rejoice: Viz Media to release a new Amano art book next week


Summer plus art equals a great time
Aug 10
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something nice about companies releasing art books that feature an artist's older pieces. Not only do you get the chance to see how the person's work has evolved, but it also gives people the chance to see that creato...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Squadron

Aug 04 // Red Veron
If you are interested in signing up for the "Back to School" themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off your order at Loot Anime! Next month will feature items from Assassination Classroom, Digimon Adventure tri, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Persona 3, Danganronpa and Fruits Basket!
Unboxing photo
Anime Squadron Goals
The latest Loot Anime box arrived at my doorstep and I am here to show y'all the awesome goodies inside the box. This month's theme for the monthly subscription box Loot Anime is "SQUADRON", and this new box of anime and man...

First Impressions: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
With hope and despair being two things that go hand in hand, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope Peak’s High School – Despair Arc’s first two episodes work well in making the audience feel relieved after witnessing the intense moments that happened earlier in the week. Hell, the whole thing played out like an over-the-top high school comedy series, as the Ultimate Housekeeper Chisa Yukizome goes out of her way to make sure that the main cast of Danganronpa 2 (except Hajime) uses their school time to create great memories. A majority of the great laughs came from the gang’s exaggerated and wacky personalities, a feature that made them very fun to follow during Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. With the animation being completely original, this lead to some a priceless segments throughout the series, such as Gundham the Ultimate Breeder appearing on top of a bunch of ruins while performing an incantation that might summon a powerful demon, or Nekomaru the Ultimate Team Manager’s deadly farts that are on par with One Punch Man’s Saitama’s punch. So far, it lives up to the game's comedic aspects that occur when no one is getting murdered. When you compare the effort put into the show's crazy scenes alongside Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc’s stuff, it’s possible that a majority of the manpower was placed into Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc; however, these differences are likely a matter of the latter starting off as a comedy than budget management, so there’s a chance that the folks at Lerche are making sure that both sagas have their own distinct style. Overall, this move benefits the series since the audience is getting their taste of hope and despair during the same week. Of course, the best moment from this format is going to be when the tones of the show's two arcs decide to trade places. Even though Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc made sure that Yukizome and the Danganronpa 2 gang’s best quirks were at their highest, the show still reminds us of the later events that’ll set the pieces for the first major tragedy to occur. The interesting part about it is getting to learn about Hajime’s predicament that made him decide to be part of the Ultimate Hope project. In Danganronpa 2 and the light novel known as Danganronpa Zero, I felt that the Hope’s Peak High School Board forced Hajime into this project against his own will. The idea that his desire to remain at Hope’s Peak played a role in being part of the experiment adds a new layer to his character. He saw this opportunity as a hope to overcome the despair of not being able to continue his studies as a reserve course student, yet this choice ruined his future (and the world’s state) until he found his new path at the end of Danganronpa 2. Seeing that the original mastermind is definitely plotting her actions from behind the scenes, the subtle elements of this segment act as the main aspect that goes against the show's current positive vibe. While we’re on the topic of things that’ll lead to absolute despair, the fact that Chiaki was an actual person is one of the most surprising things to come out of Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc. This opens up to a lot of questions in regards to the events in the present; however, there’s still a chance that she might not survive, so this possibility could be thrown out the window. I guess the important question is whether or not something happens to her that results in Yukizome's students becoming the original mastermind's loyal followers. Since both Danganronpa 3 Arcs have a few references to each other, Chiaki’s role as the Ultimate Gamer has the potential to lead to some juicy aspects if she’s a Remnant of Despair that’s still out there in the present. Either way, her inclusion in the series was a nice addition to the “Despair Arc’s” humor, as her passion for games brought everyone together in a fun way. However, once we get past the show's silly segments, I'm certain that her role is likely going to have a large impact on the story later on. Despite the original Danganronpa anime failing to do justice to its source material, Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was able to overcome this burden and show its audience that it has the potential to become a worthy successor to the previous Danganronpa installments. Since the show’s “Future Arc” accomplished this as well, this proves that a studio that threw a foul ball in the past can step up their game when you have people who care about the series managing the project. If the gang can keep up this up this great record, then they’ll make their audience smile with their complete comic book that’ll present the last piece of evidence that's required to bring Danganronpa’s Hope’s Peak High School story to a triumphant close. In other words, the future is going to be a hopeful one after all. [Fall into despair with Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc at FUNimation.]
Danganronpa 3 photo
This is not going to end well
Sometimes in life, the greatest things are those that occur out of an unexpected turn of events. These opportunities can give many people the chance to do things that they normally couldn’t do. In my case, Spike Chunsof...

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure photo
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Wry: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure joins Toonami this October


It's time to strike a fabulous pose
Jul 22
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one show that would go well with Toonami, JoJo would be a perfect addition to the lineup. Lo and behold, the folks at Toonami revealed at their Pre-Flight panel at San Diego Comic-Con '16 that the show hits the blo...

Final Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Jul 14 // Salvador GRodiles
Perhaps the thing that made the show’s seasonal format work was Luluco’s development as a person who’s in love for the first time, as it remained a recurring thing in each episode. Hell, the payoff from this lead to a ridiculously satisfying final battle that’s on par with Imaishi’s other works, such as Gurren Lagann and KILL la KILL. Honestly, it’s impressive that the team were able to capture this sort of magic in a seven-minute episode. As random and unexpected as Luluco was, the whole thing gave off a feeling that its format was intentional from the very beginning. If there was one thing that would lead to this show being similar to FLCL, it’s that both shows found a way to link these elements together; thus creating a glorious build up when the viewers reach the end of the tunnel. Considering that love can cause many people to feel strange early on, the high-octane moments were likely used to convey the unpredictable nature of the obstacles that can obstruct the feeling of romance. Aside from the show being a ridiculous love story hiding under a whacky space police show, Luluco’s other strengths was in how the main character’s heart flourished throughout the series. Luluco’s brief moments with Nova represented the nourishing phase of her romance and the show’s final seasons showed us her resolve to stick with her true feelings— even if it would drive her to tears. Considering that the program accomplished a ton of things during its short timeframe, it’s impressive that the TRIGGER veterans were able to throw the audience into an emotional state towards the end. While Luluco was placed in an unfortunate scenario against the Blackholian’s leader, her will to face her last opponent on while dealing with her inevitable loss made way for a great moment that gave off a feeling that was similar Simon’s resolve in Gurren Lagann’s final battle. This showed that Imaishi is capable of working well with a series that's made up of shorts, which makes me hope that he can take advantage of this format in any future TRIGGER projects where he wants to go all out. Compare to most of the previous TRIGGER shorts, it was a nice treat to see that the show features the most animation out their previous smaller titles. Other than the crazy perspectives and angles featured in the show’s actions scenes, the idea of having Luluco crossover with the other original TRIGGER projects was an idea that complemented the series’ overall style since it allowed for the gang to attempt to throw our main heroine off her game, such as the priceless scene when Sucy thought that her poison mushrooms would end Luluco's life. One great payoff from this direction was how the show ended up making way for the origin story of the company’s mascot; thus making Luluco the series that links all of the studio’s works together. Going back to TRIGGER’s gutsy move of ending the show during the beginning of its fifth season, the wonderful thing about this action is that they gave us a bit of hope to go off of towards the end. Not only do we get a moment that’s likely a reference to the Super Sentai franchise’s Red Ranger hand-off scenes, we’re given a beacon of hope that might lead to Luluco earning her true happy ending. It’s the combination of these two feelings that leave us really satisfied with the way how Space Patrol Luluco turned out. Of course, the idea of seeing the supporting cast doing better showed that their decision to support Luluco rewarded everyone nicely. I may have been a bit concerned about the length of Luluco’s episodes in the beginning, but Imaishi and the gang showed me their true colors of justice, as they used their short timeframe to give us one hell of a love story that was filled with tons of unexpected moments. Each scene made showed that the team was having a blast as they likely threw logic out of the window while they placed their heart and soul into the piece. If TRIGGER’s veterans continue to maintain this amazing routine like they did with Luluco, then there’s a chance that the Little Witch Academia TV series will end up making Trigger-chan proud. [Give Space Patrol Luluco a big high five at Crunchyroll]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Love is Justice!
Not many shows have the guts to end during the beginning of a new season. One possible reason is that it would confuse the masses if the title were to end after making a comeback. Despite this move being very risky, this is w...

Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven

Jul 11 // Nick Valdez
[embed]35131:5738:0[/embed] JoJo's Bizzare Adventure: Eyes of Heaven (PS4 [reviewed] and PS3) Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: December 17, 2015 (JP), June 28, 2016 (NA), July 1, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 With a story overseen by series creator Hirohiko Araki, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven takes place after the events of the manga's arguably most recognizable arc, Stardust Crusaders. After Jotaro Kujo and crew defeat the evil vampire Dio, Jotaro is suddenly caught up in a new adventure. As deceased friends come back to life and start attacking thanks to the effects of a purple fog, Jotaro and the gang realize they have to collect pieces of a mystical item called the Holy Corpse across different periods of time and space. Then time shenanigans lead to an overpowered villain who can alter reality and every iteration of the eight generation strong JoJo family must band together to stop them.  Eyes of Heaven is created with fans in mind, so unfortunately, they are the only ones who can truly appreciate what the game has to offer. Other than a brief summary detailing the final events of each arc before story chapters, there is no real introduction to the game's 50+ characters (all unlocked from the jump). Assuming you already know every member of the cast, the game's central plot moves at a breakneck pace with characters constantly being introduced through its six to seven hour run time. The only problem with this being that even while you end up fighting some characters multiple times (as the game continues to pad its short plot with repetitive battles), you never learn anything new about them even when there is plenty opportunity to do so. But in that same breath, the plot itself is just a huge excuse to give into "fandemonium" and give fans situations that would not normally occur otherwise. For example, seeing 17-year-old Jotaro interact with his 20-something-year-old future daughter from Part 6 lead to some cute exchanges between the two. I know JoJo is not a show known for its plot, but the property's charm stems from it essentially making mountains out of molehills. Eyes of Heaven had the potential for a great, hilariously dramatic JoJo story but lacks the follow through of a traditional manga arc. That seems to be the problem with the title overall. Lots of Heaven's problems are rooted in poor follow through. So many interesting ideas are crushed under the weight of its poor systems. Beyond Eyes of Heaven's story mode, the core of the game is focused on its battle system. Each fight is a two vs. two affair (which can involve four players online if at least four people have the game, which I have yet to see myself or even connect to on Heaven's piss poor netcode) on a 3D map littered with pitfalls and hazards a la games like Power Stone. Unlike most arena fighters, however, each attack has cooldown times meaning you cannot spam skills as you wish. To counter these skills, each character also comes equipped with a rechargeable "Flash" gauge with allows them to either break out of a characters combo or cancel their skills mid-attack. Coupled with the team based Dual Combo system (which builds up a meter with you and your computer controlled partner's hits before a super finish) and Dual Heat Attacks (which unite both characters in a flashy super skill) and you could potentially do a lot of damage. The problem is the game is incredibly stiff and it's got quite the adjustment curve. It does not take time to learn the game's systems, but it is going to take some time to get used to how often the attacks miss.  Rather than sparking strategy, the cooldown system instead breeds frustration. To put it bluntly, battles are ugly. Each battle comes with a cluttered HUD, including giant controller symbols signifying when each skill is available. On top of that is the wonky lock-on system which leads to some terrible camera angles that caused far too many losses than they should. Which means a lot of the time, Heaven is unfair. Often times I found myself missing my opponent directly in front of me, and since each skill locks you in a single animation for some time, it gave them plenty of opportunity to do damage to me. And despite the game's attempts to balance this by incorporating RPG like skill trees, none of the skills have enough of an effect to warrant utilizing them. No matter how much you level up a character, they'll still do the same amount of damage per hit. And the computer opponent will always do more damage than you. recover their gauges faster, and you will always constantly struggle against the game's ugliness and poor design to completely catch up.  Playing through JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a purgatory from which I could not escape. With no attention paid to non-single player modes, it is also a battle fought alone. With no support in sight, and with no reward for the struggle other than occasionally seeing your favorite character do something you like, there is little reason to stick through Eyes of Heaven even with its occasional bursts of personality.  JoJo's Bizarre Adventure may have had its eyes on heaven, but its soul is trapped in hell. [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Eyes of Heaven Review photo
Sighs of heaven
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is the only property with such, well, bizarre characters, insanely disproportional art, backbreaking victory poses, operatic plot, and enough bravado to carry all of this on machismo alone. Thanks to ...

Otakon '16 photo
Otakon '16

Fireball: Lisa Ortiz heads to Otakon '16


It's time for Slayers fans to rejoice
Jul 08
// Salvador GRodiles
It may not be the month of August yet, but that isn't stopping the folks at Otakon from making more guest-related announcements. This time around, Voice Actress Lisa Ortiz (the Slayers TV series' Lina, Lodoss War's Deedl...
Daisuki.net photo
Daisuki.net

Daisuki jumps on the premium service bandwagon


Will this improve the Website's quality?
Jul 06
// Salvador GRodiles
As many streaming sites are currently offering premium services, it was only a matter of time until the gang at Daisuki would add this feature to their Website. Lo and behold, this day has arrived, and the beta for the premiu...

Japanator's Summer 2016 Anime Preview Guide!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]35116:5717:0[/embed] Berserk Studio: Gemba, Millepensee (Teekyuu, Wake Up, Girls!) Broadcast Date:  July 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) An easy candidate for the most effin' metal anime of all time, Berserk has been adapted quite often. The new twist for this latest, TV series-sized attempt is that this will be the first time an animated adaptation has gone beyond the "Golden Age" arc. In all honesty, I couldn't tell you what all that actually means, as I've never seen or read Berserk. Does admitting that mean I have to hand in my otaku membership card? That dude sure does have a big sword, though. The series is airing now, and...well, there'll be more to say about it in our impressions.   [embed]35116:5718:0[/embed] Mob Psycho 100 Studio: BONES (My Hero Academia, Bungo Stray Dogs) Broadcast Date: July 12, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "From the guy that writes One Punch Man" is probably one of the more effective marketing lines you could ask for these days, but in truth, Mob Psycho 100 seems to be a rather different beast than the saga of Saitama. Shigeo Kageyama (nicknamed "Mob" after the Japanese term for movie extras) is a completely unremarkable high school student, bar the fact that he's got prodigious psychic superpowers. Having superpowers can be a real hassle, though, so he keeps his emotions suppressed to force them into check.  Unfortunately, life usually happens in opposition to well-meaning plans, and things quickly threaten to produce emotional reaction in Mob, leading to the "100" in the title. For when his pent-up feelings reach the breaking point, bad stuff's going to happen. Between the sound of things and the deliberately laid-back aesthetic, Mob Psycho 100 seems to be aiming more a more psychological take on superpowers and action show tropes rather than the "sardonic-but-badass" angle One Punch Man typically explores. I'll be giving Mob Psycho 100 a look once it airs.   [embed]35116:5719:0[/embed] Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak Academy (Side: Future and Side: Despair) Studio: Lerche (School Live!, Monster Musume) Broadcast Date: July 11, 2016 (Future) and July 14, 2016 (Despair) Rejoice, players of Danganronpa, your questions will be answered! Danganronpa 3 arrives not in the form of a game (though an actual new Danganronpa title is in development), but as two simultaneously-broadcast anime series. The first, Side: Future, effectively acts as coda of sorts for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, recounting the adventures of star Makoto Naegi and his fellow Hope's Peak survivors as they form the Future Foundation, and framed as a trial for Makoto himself in the wake of the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.  Side: Despair, on the other hand, promises the secret history of the cast members of Danganronpa 2, and what happened to them before they were thrown into the game. The reason this matters functions as a major spoiler, and both shows seem to presume a familiarity with the games. Both I and fellow Japanator editor Salvador G-Rodiles are big fans of the games. I'll be checking out Future once it hits, and Sal will look at Despair. If you want to catch up, both games are available on PS Vita and on Steam.   [embed]35116:5721:0[/embed] Orange Studio: Telecom Animation Film (Moyashimon, Phantasy Star Online 2) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Time loop anime seem to be the new "superpowered highschoolers" anime in terms of trendiness right now, and Orange is exactly one of those. Like the leads of Steins;Gate, Re:Zero, and Erased, Naho Takamiya is given the chance to change her future, thanks to a letter written by herself, ten years from now, and sent to herself in the present. And it seems like many of future-Naho's regrets are tied to transfer student and love interest Kakeru Naruse. It's cool to see the sci-fi twists usually used on mystery and suspense fantasies applied to the more romantic stylings of shojou manga, and Orange seems to have a strong reputation in that crowd. I'm hoping to see a bit more of the show's high-concept sci-fi twist manifest itself among the feels and personal relationships. [embed]35116:5723:0[/embed] 91 Days Studio: Shuka (Durarara!! x2) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Who would've thought that a studio whose staffers helped make shows like Durarara!! and Baccano! would go on to make a new show about the weird underground in a bustling, thriving city? I'm being facetious, but there's definitely merit in sticking with what you know. Following the latest seasons of Durarara!! x2, Shuka take on a setting that's new...-ish: Prohibition-era America. In the fictional city of Lorel, a young orphan named Avilo joins up with the local mafia outfit. The twist is that Avilo lost his family years prior in an attack by the same crime ring, so the newly made man is in it for revenge.  With the screenwriter of Joker Game, last season's bit of period fiction, and plenty of experience making multifaceted plots and juggling an ensemble cast, 91 Days looks like it might be a gritty winner.   [embed]35116:5724:0[/embed] ReLife Studio: TMS Entertainment (Actually, I Am..., Zetman) Broadcast Date: July 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Ever wish you could go back in time and get a redo for your childhood mistakes? Perhaps relive your high school life knowing what you know now as a weathered adult? Lots of anime shows sure seem to think that's what we're after, but not all are as bald-faced about it as ReLife, where Arata Kaizaki, a beaten-down twenty-something stuck in a career and lifestyle rut gets the opportunity to take a magic pill that ages him down to a fresh-faced seventeen-year-old, to repeat a year of high school and refresh his life. It's a tempting premise mainly for the fact that Arata seems like a relatable sort of lead (at least in the mind of this beaten-down thirty-something), and some of the other twists appear to plant the seed for drama to come. I'm just hoping they don't mine the slightly creepy "adult man hanging out with underage kids" angle too hard.   [embed]35116:5727:0[/embed] Taboo Tattoo Studio: J.C. Staff (Selector Infected Wixoss, Flying Witch) Broadcast Date: July 5, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Taboo Tattoo is about Japanese high school students who have special powers and a penchant for getting into fights with each other.  I am, of course, being hideously reductive, but suffice it to say that it's definitely one of those types of shows (the tattoo motif is particularly reminiscent of last season's Big Order), and while it seems unlikely to change peoples' minds, judgment will have to wait until we see more of it in action. For what it's worth, I'm digging the seeming emphasis on martial arts as opposed to "my power is a gnarly weapon". This might make for some cool action sequences.  There's also the backdrop, which casts the Tattoo powers themselves as developments in an ongoing arms race between America and the fictional nation of Selinistan. This might make for a good world-building opportunity to background the rest of the action, so there's hope for this one, at least.   [embed]35116:5729:0[/embed] Alderamin On The Sky  Studio: Madhouse (One Punch Man, My Love STORY!!) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "Alderamin" sounds like the name of a sleeping pill, which makes sense, because the premise sounds like it could be something of a snoozer. Two nations, Katjvarna and Kioka, whose names sound like the noises you make when you're on Alderamin, are at war, and Ikuta, a lackadaisical and passive young recruit who joined the army with no interest in becoming an officer, has become Katjvarna's greatest military commander after a mere few years. The show purports to tell the story of how he got there. That sounds like it could be interesting, and given Madhouse's pedigree, there may be some potential in the visuals and war setting, but otherwise it sounds less like a historical chronicle than another hagiography in the manner of Mahouka. At the very least, I'm hoping this turns out less like that and more like Lord Marksman and Vanadis, a show that was at least enjoyable for its cast, if not for its tedious core principles.    [embed]35116:5730:0[/embed] Qualidea Code Studio: A-1 Pictures (Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, Asterisk War) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) What happens when you lock the authors of light novel sensations Henneko, Date A Live, and My Teen RomCom SNAFU to hash out a multimedia anime project? This thing, apparently, which frankly reads like it could've come from any single one of them. Get this: High-school age kids have superpowers and are now using them to defend the Earth from an unknown threat. Actually, the threat is aliens, which are literally called "UNKNOWN".  Great.    [embed]35116:5728:0[/embed] Sweetness and Lightning Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Bakuon!!) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) If you've been jonesing for another does of anime parenting to gush over, this season's successor to the likes of Bunny Drop, Barakamon, and the Yotsuba&! anime you'll never ever get looks to be Sweetness and Lightning.  That said, the show does seem to distinguish itself in that the father-daughter relationship here is a literal father-daughter one. No weird non-blood connections to pander to incest fetishists with (Lookin' at you, ending of Bunny Drop!).  It even starts off on a tearjerker, with the father, Kouhei, being recently widowed and struggling to raise his adorable kid Tsumugi without any domestic skills. Enter one of his students, Kotori, who's from a broken home and is looking for companionship, to teach her teacher in the art of domesticity. Sounds heartwarming enough to me, though given the dynamics at work there's some risk of Sweetness and Lightning dodging the incest trap and instead falling into the pothole of winter-spring romance.    [embed]35116:5731:0[/embed] Rewrite Studio: 8bit (The Fruit of Grisaia, Infinite Stratos) Broadcast Date: July 2, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) If you had the power to "rewrite" yourself, i.e. change your own story to suit your needs or whims (think "Editing your character sheet in D&D to give yourself all the best stats"), what would you do? The answer, if Rewrite has its way, is "have adventures and romance with saucer-eyed waifs and amnesiacs".  Indeed, 8bit and the team behind The Fruit of Grisaia are tackling the biggest Key visual novel adaptation since Little Busters!. I've never been a big fan of Key or Jun Maeda, but Rewrite sounds like it might be a different sort of beast, seeing as it was written not by Maeda but by Romeo Tanaka, writer of the superb Humanity Has Declined. I'm not sure if that will be enough to hook me into watching it, but it should be a bit different from the usual Key fodder.   [embed]35116:5732:0[/embed] The Morose Mononokean Studio: Pierrot (Naruto, Level E) Broadcast Date: July 3, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) You know what's big in Japan right now? Yokai. The diverse creatures of Japanese folklore have gone mainstream with the likes of Yo-kai Watch and other vehicles, and it's well deserved. I'm of the opinion that having culturally rooted monsters makes for more interesting design and interpretation that trying to come up with new designs from scratch (see how weird Pokemon have been looking lately). But this isn't a Yo-kai Watch preview though, it's one for The Morose Mononokean, which aims to take a daily-life angle on the godly and supernatural shenanigans covered by the likes of Hozuki no Reitetsu and Noragami. The titular Mononokean is a tea room that serves as the headquarters for an exorcist and the high schooler he takes under his wing. As it's based on a webcomic, I doubt we're looking at the next Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun or something similarly good, but it'll have done its job if it manages to entertain and educate about Japan's supernatural bestiary.   [embed]35116:5733:0[/embed] Amanchu! Studio: J.C. Staff (Shana, A Certain Magical Index) Broadcast Date: July 8, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Few anime are better known for being utterly chill than Aria. Set in space-Venice, the show followed the peaceful, if uneventful lives of a troupe of cute girl gondoliers. Now the same team and author are bringing things a little closer to home, by setting Amanchu! in the Tokyo of the present day, as a bunch of cute schoolgirls get really into diving underwater. It's basically ABZU, but with more cute girls and anime.   [embed]35116:5734:0[/embed] NEW GAME! Studio: Doga Kobo  (Plastic Memories, Himouto! Umaru-chan!) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 As someone who occasionally writes for Destructoid, I generally know more about game development than I do about anime production. Sadly, I can't say that the previews for NEW GAME! which sounds on paper like Shirobako-but-for-video-games seem all that accurate. But there's still hope, as Shirobako was far cuter and more positive than real-life anime production. Then again, NEW GAME! is aggressive about being cute in a way that I worry might undermine its potential to "tell it like it is". After all, Shirobako was cute and positive, but it also hinged on the kinds of personal relationships and procedural detail that made it so fascinating to watch. Is the crew that gave us Plastic Memories up to that? If they are, we could be sitting on this year's anime of the year. If not...well, it might at least be cute. Sequels, Shorts, and Other Notable Releases: My unfair bias against sports anime and male idol shows continues as I entirely forgot shows like B-Project and Tsukiuta exist. DAYS promises to bring an exotic sport called "Football" to the anime stage, while Battery debuts a sport that must surely be some fictional thing: Baseball. Cheer Danshi! follows around a group of male cheerleaders, which might be unusual had my own high school and university not had their own all-male cheer squads (Blue Eagles the king!). Also, Ouendan exists, so I'm good on that front. On the sequel front, the hilarious but ignored Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! gets a sequel, and signifies it by calling the second season Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE LOVE!. The Seven Deadly Sins is also getting a new season, but may end up ignored if the streaming services lock it down until it's done like last time. After disappointing countless fans looking for the latest from the Code Geass guy, Active Raid shambles into a second offering of frustrating bureaucracy and nonsensical characterization. Barakamon, one of the more adult shows of its season, turns the clock back with a prequel, called Handa-kun. I honestly don't see the point of it, since the whole appeal of Barakamon was in its adult focus, but hey, it's anime after 2008, so high school must somehow be involved, or something. Either that or a raging war between two fictional countries and/or alien invaders. Food Wars, the one Shonen Jump titan you just can't dodge these days, is getting a sequel, and Nick Valdez will be leading the coverage of that. Love Live! hits the reboot button by introducing a gaggle of samefaced girls for Love Live! Sunshine!. Show By Rock! continues in its mission of making catgirls the default for idolatry. Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars is this season's original mecha production, and the fact that I'm giving it the afterthought space speaks to how aggressively generic it is. After duds like Argevollen and others, I'm wondering just what it would take to make non-franchise mecha shows as compelling as they used to be. At least Macross Delta is still running, which would give me the chance to write it up for once. While shows like Taboo Tattoo and Qualidea Code seem constructed to marvel at about how awesome things would be if we had superpowers, Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan puts it down for the "mo' powers, mo' problems". Philosophy. The titular character's prodigious abilities are making his daily life miserable, and the director of Cromartie High School is on hand to show everyone just how miserable things can get. I'm definitely down for that. Interestingly, only one overt "boobs anime" made the cut this summer: Masou Gakuen HxH, which doesn't beat around the bush. Its hero literally powers up the fighting girls by getting in close with their chesticles. I imagine a few Hunter x Hunter fans are feeling a bit insulted that this puerile hilarity has taken their beloved acronym while their joy goes on hiatus again. The one sequel I'm angling to watch this season, though, is The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Duststorm Dance. After finally catching up with the show, I already regret not having seen it from the beginning. The animation may have been blah and the quality uneven, but it's as worthy a successor to Legend of the Galactic Heroes as I've found in the last few years. And now this part of the show promises to go to some places of actual consequence. That should do it for our Summer preview. What are you angling to see this season?
Summer 2016 Anime Preview photo
Some like it hot
A happy Monday to you, and a happy July 4th to all our American readers! What better way is there to celebrate American independence than by staying home and watching a buttload of Japanese cartoons? Welcome to Japanator's Su...

Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Protect the walls: Attack on Titan Season 2 launches next Spring


It's time to grab our 3D maneuver gear
Jul 03
// Salvador GRodiles
If you've been waiting patiently for the next season of Attack on Titan, then you'll be glad to hear that the show's team has confirmed that its sequel will premiere in Spring 2017. The anime's staff made this announcement at...
Crunchyroll photo
Crunchyroll

Aw, snap: Crunchyroll enters the dub and home release field


How will this affect the anime market?
Jul 03
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one unexpected piece of news to come out of Anime Expo '16, it's that Crunchyroll revealed that they're planning to release anime on Blu-ray and DVD with English dubs. The interesting thing about this announcement ...

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episode 12

Jun 24 // Salvador GRodiles
It’s thanks to this format that Luluco has been a huge roll for a good while. While this episode wasn’t the one where the gang confronted the Blackholian’s leader, the whole thing played off nicely with the concept of how one values their feelings for their first crush. Since M.A.O.’s performance hit the right notes in delivering a powerful yet cute moment during Luluco’s big scene, it shows how everything was pieced together just for this big event. Hell, the team’s idea to give the whole thing a final battle treatment while our heroine sticks to her resolve gave it a dynamic that’s on the same level as the penultimate confrontation in most of Gainax and TRIGGER’s titles. Honestly, the big thing that made this whole thing magical was how everyone decided to set aside their differences to make sure that Luluco wins Nova over, as the whole thing breaks out into an all-out battle against the Blackholians. This whole build-up worked well in conveying the idea of someone who has the support of their close ones while they build up their confidence to confess to the person that they love. Considering that Luluco’s goal was powerful enough to get her parents to help her out, TRIGGER was able to bring us a neat take on the saying “Love conquers all!” Even when Imaishi and the TRIGGER veterans were putting Luluco and the gang through random situations each season, the one thing that always remained consistent was the heroine’s feelings for Nova. To an extent, this tone probably represents the obstacles that one has to deal with, as the insane situations could be a representation of the factors that attempt to ruin one's focus on their main goal. For a show that was presented as a short that was filled with many off-the-wall segments, Space Patrol Luluco managed to present its audience with a memorable love story of the season. This was thanks to TRIGGER’s subtle moments between Luluco and Nova, which served as a great pay off for people when it reached its climax. At the same time, their use of timing and anticipation in these scenes allowed for them to capture the hearts of people during these brief segments. In the end, it’s amazing to see that the show will end on us with a season that’s only one episode. Then again, TRIGGER might pull a fast one with this last segment, so it’ll be interesting to see how the chapter’s title will come into play. One thing for sure, this anime might take the prize as the best five-season series of the year. [Confess to Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Double Love Xtreme!
For a second, I thought that Luluco’s fourth season was going to be the end the series. Not that I’m against there being a new season, as there are still many things that the show has yet to resolved. If anything,...

Would a Sailor Moon prequel work?

Jun 23 // Soul Tsukino
To answer that question, we should take a look at the series itself. Sailor Moon is a series about a teenage girl named Usagi (also known as Bunny or Serena depending on the source), who, along with her friends, turn out to be reincarnations of royalty that once ruled over the planets and the Solar System in a kingdom that was headquartered on the Moon. This Kingdom, known alternatively as The Moon Kingdom or the Silver Millennium, looked after all the planets with their own guardians under the eye of Queen Serenity. Unfortunately, the Silver Millennium came to an end thanks to a dark evil army of brainwashed or misguided Earthlings and a dark power known as the Dar Kingdom or the Negaverse as it was also known as.  Queen Serenity watches as her daughter, the prince from Earth, and the guardians are all killed during a horrific battle. Serenity uses all her power to send everyone to Earth to be reincarnated in the future and dies alone in the rubble of her own kingdom. In modern times, the Queen's daughter is reborn into a whiny but loving crybaby and her friends are the guardians for the past. Their powers all awaken to fight the evil kingdom that has also come around once again. They not only discover who they are now with super powers but also discover who they were long ago. As you may guess, there is a whole lot of back-story, no matter which version of the story you enjoy. A Moon Kingdom-based Sailor Moon series would open up a new and completely different story. Although only really referenced in passing or in flashbacks, the personalities of the main characters wouldn't be quite the same as they were in their modern forms. In the live action show, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi's Princess form was actually really scary and dark, even trying to destroy the world. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there would be some differences to the bumbling crybaby that Usagi is known for. The big challenge would be the story itself. What would a bunch of teenage princesses actually do?  Sailor Moon, as great as it is, was a slave to the "monster of the day" formula that it inherited from the sentai shows that inspired it. The first few episodes introduced characters, then each episode afterward had the big villain have someone send out a monster to collect something (energy, pure dreams, so forth), the scouts would defeat them, wash rinse repeat. This wasn't an issue with the manga's story, but for television is was the routine. A Moon Kingdom centered story wouldn't really work with that formula. The story established by the previous media had the conflict largely be between distrustful human and those who lived in the Moon Kingdom. Not really a "monster of the week" kind of show. At least on its surface. So what would the story be then?  I think a cue from the manga would work. In the manga, the Princess Serenity was seen as a flighty princess who would sneak out of the kingdom and go to Earth to visit the prince that she loved, much to the other guardians' frustrations.  She would skip out on her studies and would shirk off responsibility.  Sounds like an interesting character for a slice of life show to me. Maybe not quite as light as say, Azumanga Daioh. A little drama about the worsening condition of the Earth and Moon relations would be a good backdrop. Just enough to keep a good overall story going. The big problem? The ending. Yeah, wholesale slaughter of all your characters is kind of a bummer.  Even if you were to string the ending to the rebirth part, it would really be a dark ending to what could be a really upbeat show. Sailor Moon has never been about that, and this show shouldn't either. The best option I see is to not take the story to that part. End the series before the story reached the point of all out warfare and show the better days of the Silver Millennium. Make the conflict something else, something lighter, something that can have a better resolution than a massacre. So would a prequel to one of the most well-known anime series work? Yeah, I think the concept has some legs to it. Would it be the same series we have been used to for the last 25 years? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it can't be a good show of its own. And that is ultimately what anime could use right now. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Sailor Moon photo
Would you watch it?
Sailor Moon is one of those shows that just about every anime fan has heard of. Even if you've never seen it, you've heard about it from someone you know. Hell, it was the series that really got me into anime when it was bein...

FFXV: Kingsglaive photo
FFXV: Kingsglaive

Here's your new look at the Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV CG movie


Advent...bodyguards?
Jun 17
// Josh Tolentino
Call me negative, but this hype campaign for Final Fantasy XV feels like it's getting a bit out of hand. I mean, look, the game is out in late September, and I'm sure it'll be fine but now we've got a new CG movie set to...
Gandalf x Fate/stay night photo
Gandalf x Fate/stay night

Here, let Gandalf lend some class to Unlimited Blade Works


I don't even care why
Jun 16
// Josh Tolentino
There are no words for this, besides "HOLY SHIT SIR IAN MCKELLEN JUST READ THE UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS INCANTATION". It's even funnier when you see the 77-year-old, award-winning British actor pause ever so slightly when he en...
Overwatch photo
Overwatch

Go full weeaboo with Overwatch's anime intros


Go further down this rabbit hole
Jun 13
// Josh Tolentino
Overwatch. It's all anyone can seem to talk about when it comes to hot new games, and with good reason: Blizzard's team shooter is kind of rad, and appeals to a lot of folks. Part of the reason for that is its deep bench...

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episodes 5-11

Jun 12 // Salvador GRodiles
I don’t think the word "fun" is enough to describe the time that Imaishi and his crew are having with Luluco lately. From episode 5 and beyond, the team has been launching the series into greater heights than many folks have imagined. With her mother Lalaco showing great promise, she served as that piece to takes things up on a notch. In other words, the TRIGGER veterans must be having the time of their lives with this project. This might just be a speculation of mine, but I had a feeling that Lalaco being a space pirate was likely connected to one of Mao Ichimichi/M.A.O.’s previous roles. The reason behind this link was that she played as Luka Millfy/Gokai Yellow in the pirate-themed Super Sentai series known as Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which featured a flying red pirate ship. When you look at Lalaco’s ship, the color scheme almost resembles the Gokai Galleon from the series. For now, this scenario might just be a coincidence; however, I still found this random observation to be something that helped make this arc more entertaining than it was. Most importantly, the big thing was how the series brought back elements from KILL la KILL, as Lalaco’s pirate outfit seemed like it was made from Life Fibers. Whether it is or not, the beauty about it was how it made way for the show’s TRIGGERverse season where Luluco and the group had to reclaim their home that was stolen by Lalaco. While we got to go back to KILL la KILL and Little Witch Academia during this arc, the highlight was the return of Imaishi’s Japan Animator Expo short, “Sex & Violence with Machspeed,” making a comeback. All in all, the clash between our heroine’s full-color palette with the world’s usage of black, yellow and white gave it a distinct style. The cool part was that it retained the Panty & Stocking-like humor that the original short had while maintaining the spirit of Luluco's randomness. Even though the series gave off a feeling that TRIGGER’s goal was just to have a blast and push things to overdrive, you have to hand it to them for inserting the pieces for the show’s climatic arc. From the “Alpha” and “Omega” terms in Nova’s name to Midori’s Black Hole App, the team harnessed these things that many people likely thought were just random and brought us a segment that took us back to the Anti-Spiral from Gurren Lagann— except that the show’s villain's scheme is all about stealing things. The thing that sealed it for me was the ongoing arc about Luluco’s love for Nova as tragedy befell the show’s main heroine. Perhaps the neat part about this scenario was how TRIGGER foreshadowed an element from it during the show’s ending sequence. It’s these little aspects that amplify the major parts of episode 10’s big scene— especially Lalaco’s reaction to the whole thing. Combined with a lecture by a certain iconic TRIGGER character in the episode after it and we have ourselves a wonderful moment that makes us want to root for the anime’s main heroine. When I first started watching Luluco, I wasn’t sure how to react to the show’s short length; however as I kept keeping up with each episode, I started to slowly see the vision that TRIGGER was going for as they threw a ton of unexpected challenges to force Luluco to aim high in her mission to save her father and her hometown, along with nabbing the guy of her dreams. From the looks of it, the show might be shooting for a theme about how one should just take a risk and plunge into whatever obstacle that you’re tackling for the first time, along with holding on to the things you value the most. Whether the team intended for Luluco to be the series that connects every original TRIGGER anime to create a TRIGGER-verse or not will continue to be a thing that’s up to the viewer’s interpretation of the anime; however, it might just be an idea they wanted to mess with for this title as it left us with some priceless scenes, such as the group defeating the Life Fibers with a simple solution. With Space Patrol Luluco Season 2 and 3 being a huge improvement over the first, it looks like the series finale will leave us surprised as something unexpected comes our way. Based on TRIGGER’s work so far, they’ll get to accomplish more things than a majority of anime titles that run for four seasons. Of course, the best part is that they’ll do it with lots of love and “Justice!”
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Is this the birth of the TRIGGER-verse?
You got to hand it to shows that outdo themselves to the point where they can convert any doubtful viewer into a fan. In this case, my concern for Luluco’s episode length was wiped out of my system as Imaishi and t...

Weekend Japanatainment - Asian Kung Fu Generation

Jun 05 // Red Veron
[embed]35073:5676:0[/embed] Song: "Rewrite" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Here is the song that put them on the map. This song was one of the later openings to the wildly popular Fullmetal Alchemist and this is one pretty good song to have in your opening. Fast and loud that is just good to get you ready for the more intense parts of the show.   [embed]35073:5677:0[/embed] Song: "Loop & Loop" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Here is a song that shows off their more chill side. Slower than other Ajikan songs that are more apt for anime openings, this is just one of their songs that is good for winding down but still retaining their great melody and other good stuff I cannot articulate since I do not know much about music terminology.   [embed]35073:5679:0[/embed] Song: "After Dark" Album: World World World (2008) A pretty good song that became an opening to the anime Bleach. The Bleach anime already has a lot really good opening visuals but I think this song just made that opening so much better.   [embed]35073:5674:0[/embed] Song: "Easter" Album: Wonder Future (2015) Here is something form their latest album and I've only listened to very little of it but I do like what I've heard so far. I am gonna listen to more on my upcoming trip and I plan to savor every second of it.   [embed]35073:5675:0[/embed] Song: "Re Re" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Anime: ERASED - A town without me When I sat down to watch the first episode of the ERASED anime, I was greeted by this song that sounded really familiar and suited the opening really well. Then I looked it up and realized that it was from one of Ajikan's early albums and that I had already listened to it for dozens of times in the past. I thought it was perfect in choice due to its quality and how it relates to the show's setting.   Is there an Ajikan song that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Just paste the URL address in the comments to add the video link if you wanna share the video! Here is a link to some of their full music videos online for y'all to check out since YouTube doesn't them all: [HERE]
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Rockin' Since 1996
If you have been watching any popular anime from the last 15 years, you probably have heard of a song or two from the Japanese rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation. Known to fans as "Ajikan" for short, Asian Kung Fu Generation ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 7

Jun 05 // Jeff Chuang
A hallmark of late-night otaku fare, self-awareness in anime is a well-respected and at times powerful tool. Just as much, it can be a barrier for shows to overdo its self-awareness, wringing the story dry of any compelling qualities besides never-ending stream of references. I think Haifuri strikes a natural balance where the ludicrousness of its premise set the anchor to as how much of that fourth wall it chooses to lean on. In other words, the show knows what you're thinking, and does enough to assure you that it also knows, with tongue fully planted into cheek. That said, I nearly lost it when the electronic bidet extended into its full swing, give or take a few seconds for my brain to register what was happening. After all it's not every day you get to see one of these in action, even if you live in Japan. And I mean, is this the kind of toilet humor we want--a young lady unintentionally spraying seawater up her nether region? I think so--it's the most improbable of its kind, and creative to boot, executed tastefully. If there's any fault, it's just the bizarreness of this hypothetical is already one step too far from normal to begin with, now we're one robotic water-sprayer away further from what is sensible. It totally distracted me from perhaps another relapsing episode of the "beach" as the girls are still on a boat. Swimsuits are always game. And this time it's because there's no water?In some ways Haifuri even took that up a notch with Scuba wet suits even, as later on some members of the class went to search for missing passengers inside a sinking ship. In expected Haifuri style, the second half of the episode recovers from your weekly half-dose of a sailor's life and dive into some character development. Here is the other noteworthy tongue-in-cheek highlight: when our vice captain finally addresses her complain about the captain running headfirst into trouble, and heads her first away team. It is in these awkward repetitions where a sensible theme emerges about taking responsibility as captain and as someone who is the most important also have to do the most hands-on, or tries. It is a very positive leadership message in my opinon and they were able to convey it successfully, if a bit clumsy. There's a sense of poetry too, when we discover the lost being was a cat and not a child. In a series where the characters inherit household pet-cat names and cats inherit names of past admirals, I guess it makes sense--it makes Haifuri sense, which is probably a degree apart of the more common variety. In any event, Haifuri was able to keep its serious moments rooted in tension. In her moments of desperation, Shiro-chan felt like a converted woman, at least. It is in these moments where Mike-chan grows somewhat as a believable character and less an average spatz-head protagonist, as we assume the level-headed Shiro's point of view. And yes, even at this point, Haifuri is still dropping hints about more development, although we are taking a breather across the board. As Haifuri's mission changes from a survival-renegade mode into search-and-rescue maybe we'll get back into the fray of naval battles. [Watch Haifuri ion Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Funimation!]
Haifuri photo
No water on a boat
As Harekaze's expedition drags on in the search of her missing fleet, the crew runs low on water. It is then we get these hijinks about what saltwater can do for you, or not. The story carries on despite these distractions as this week, High School Fleet performs a search and rescue of a civilian cruiser.

Storming the Sunshine State: A look at MegaCon 2016

Jun 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Even though MegaCon’s big anime related events were mostly related to FUNimation’s voice actors, each panel had its hosts express their points in a way that brought inspiration and joy to the audience. Since the convention’s main content seems to focus on mainstream stuff, this choice benefited the con’s themes nicely. One new thing that the convention did this year was that they got Ryo Horikawa (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger’s Akumaro) to attend the con. During the first Horikawa panel, I got to ask him about his challenges that he faces in voice acting and acting, along with the differences between voice acting in anime, voice acting in tokusatsu, and acting in live-action shows. “Acting and voice acting require the same type of motivation,” said Horikawa. “Having the same level of expectation for myself is the challenge I face in voice acting and acting.” One of the most entertaining things about the panel was when he said Vegeta’s line from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods when Beerus slaps Bulma as a request to one of his fans. Overall, it was priceless to hear him shout “What the fuck are you doing to my Bulma” in his Vegeta voice in English. Unfortunately, the folks at MegaCon couldn’t afford to have Horikawa do a concert at the event; however, they’re hoping to make that happen if they get him to come back. Either way, it was nice to sit through his panel while he answered his fan’s questions, along with talking about some of his future plans. Among these plans is his goal to open branches of his voice acting school in America and other parts of the world. He also promoted the third season of the Rainy Cocoa anime, which they’re hoping to release this fall. To top it off, Horikawa talked about a Rainy Cocoa café that’ll open in Hawaii, and some of the title’s voice actors will appear at the place when it opens. I may’ve not watched Rainy Cocoa or read the digital manga, but it was neat to see the folks behind the series doing their best to do neat things with the brand for folks overseas. Aside from Horikawa’s panel, there was a Dragon Ball Z Mega Panel and a segment called “Viva Vegeta.” The DBZ segment had Horikawa alongside Sean Schemmel (Dragon Ball Z’s Goku and King Kai), Eric Vale (Dragon Ball Z’s Trunks) and Monica Rial (Dragon Ball Z’s Bulma) of FUNimation, which mostly focused on them answering a couple fan questions. A neat part of this panel was hearing Schemmel talk about his transition from Americanizing anime to creating a localization that does justice to the show’s original Japanese track. “American kids don’t get anime— I don’t believe in that,” said Schemmel. Another neat moment from the panel included everyone admitting that Goku is a terrible father, with the best parent award going to Piccolo and Vegeta. Then the Viva Vegeta segment had Horikawa hosting a segment with Chris Sabat (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, YuYu Hakusho’s Kuwabara), which resulted in such neat exchanges, such as Horikawa being impressed at Sabat for voicing four or more characters since Ryo mentioned that he could barely do two roles at once in one title. The other interesting part was when Horikawa talked about how it takes four hours to record a 30-minute anime, which lead to Sabat telling the audience that in the U.S. the recording time is 25 hours. This part gave the audience an idea on some of the differences between the Japanese and English voice acting process in anime. Just like the previous panels, it was interesting to hear about the various stories and experience that the voice actors went through in life. As a person who finds these kinds of things interesting, I ended up having a blast with the con’s segments with Horikawa and FUNi’s folks. While MegaCon ’16 didn’t that many performance-themed events like Metrocon, I was able to see a show that was done by Noise Complaint, a tap dancing group that does performances themed around anime and video games while cosplaying the characters that correspond with the motif. Instead of dancing to the entire soundtrack from the medium their show is based on, they actually take the time to find well-known songs that’ll match the topic’s theme. For example, their Sailor Moon-themed show featured tunes that went well with the concept of girl power. Overall, the group did a great job with matching their footsteps to each song that was playing during the show. The most impressive part about Noise Complaint's performance was when the group's Lead Dancer Jenne was changing her dancing stances while maintaining the rhythm that the rest of the performers were holding. Even though I didn’t get to explore a lot of the dealer’s room at the con, the three places I got to check out resulted in some great times. One of my encounters was when I came across a booth for Ranger Stop, a Power Rangers-themed convention that’s usually held in the fall in Orlando, Fla. The person who was at the booth happens to be Jon, who’s also part of the group Toy Bounty Hunters, which had a segment about Marvel’s connection to the Super Sentai franchise. As a person who kept up with his videos, it was amazing to get to talk to him about tokusatsu and the con, such as the benefits of MegaCon's growth on the sellers. I also got to meet Careless of the Video Game Music Group Careless Juja and former member of the Video Game Music Band Random Encounter. He talked about Liberty Deception, an indie comic book that takes place in a colony that was the result of a terraforming project gone wrong, along with how he got to go to Europe with the Video Games Live group, a video game music-themed concert that occurs in various parts of the world. Since I got to see Careless perform at Video Games Live, in Miami with Random Encounters, it was a joyous moment seeing the guy in person. The last place I got to drop by was Illustrator Travis Earls’ booth. While he wasn’t at his booth, I got to see his manager known as Donut talk about the guy’s latest comic book, Power. Based on what he told me about its first issue, Earls’ book is a horror take on the elements found in the Power Rangers and Super Sentai franchise. Seeing that Earls is one of Ranger Stop’s featured artists, his armored suit designs for his heroes work well with the dark tone of his story. In terms of the cosplays encountered throughout the con, it was neat to see a few folks who went as characters from the Danganronpa series. Among these cosplayers was a group that went as Yashuhiro, Nagito, Chiaki and Ibuki. On top of that, I came across a person that was wearing a Monokuma suit. Let’s just say that we made a deal to bring everyone on Japanator into a state of despair. Surprisingly, I found some people who wore the Rathalos and Zinogre armors from the Monster Hunter series, along with a cosplayer who went as Haseo from the .hack//G.U. trilogy. Hell, I was even able to find someone going as Kamen Rider Stronger and Power Pool, a fusion between Deadpool and the Green Ranger; thus fulfilling my usual convention-related goal to find folks who’re cosplaying characters from tokusatsu titles. Last but not least, I found a group that went as Captain Gundam and Shute from SD Gundam Force. This lead to me obtaining a meal called Captain Punch, which is the process of pouring Hawaiian Punch into a bowl of Captain Crunch. Overall, the combination gives the cereal a sweet fruity flavor that puts Crunch Berry to shame. Of course, it packed quite a punch. As fun as my fourth MegaCon trip was, the event was far from perfect. Just like Former Japanator Editor in Chief Tim Sheehy’s experience with Sakura-Con ’14, the convention’s format hindered the folks of the press. Since the staff didn’t let the folks with the Press Passes enter the events before everyone else, this made it difficult for me to properly cover MegaCon ’16’s offering since I had to head to the panels before the lines got too big. While the badge did allow me to sit in the areas where folks with VIP tickets could sit, this only worked for me in one panel, as the con’s staff didn’t grant me this privilege in the other events. Another problem was that there were panels that were happening at MegaCon that weren’t even listed on the schedule pamphlet that attendees pick up at the door. Sure, their time and locations were listed in the con’s Website, but it’s still inconvenient that these things aren’t listed in the event’s program book. For example, there was a panel about the growth of Florida’s anime community that was happening on Thursday; however, I couldn’t find it in the booklet for the con. Seeing that this is the first time that MegaCon was a four-day event, I’m going to guess that this likely one of the sources of the convention's problems. That, and Fan Expo HQ, the current owners of MegaCon, were still trying to get used to the Orange County Conventions layout. While it’s understandable that most events could face some issues when the management changes, it’s unfortunate when they hinder the folks with press passes who’re trying to cover the event as much as they can, so they can provide coverage to their readers who couldn’t go to it. Despite MegaCon ’16’s problems with how they managed the Press Pass holders’ privileges, I still had a blast with the convention’s panels and offerings. With Fan Expo HQ having a few conventions under their belt, they were able to bring in some solid guests (such as Ryo Horikawa, Stan Lee, Joe Madureira and David Hayter). To an extent, these segments warranted the $90 to $100 price tag for the events tickets— as long as you’re going for the full con experience. Also, it was neat to see Cosplayer PikaBelleChu's Pikachu Bug at the convention. Even though my time with the con’s anime panels was mostly with the FUNimation ones, there is also a good chunk of events that covered other topics, such as the panel about How Watching Anime Might Lead To Better Grades and one that introduces folks to healing anime titles. Due to MegaCon’s large size, I wasn’t able to catch the other panels that focused on different aspects of the anime community. However, judging from their synopsis, they all seemed fun and intriguing. At the end of the day, my fourth time with MegaCon ended up being better than I expected. While the con didn’t have that many performance-related events like Metrocon, the panels made up for it. Since the anime stuff was mostly catered to the mainstream audience and folks looking to expand their horizon what titles to check out, MegaCon’s anime offerings might not appeal to people who’re very familiar with the medium— unless if they’re a fan of FUNi’s voice actors and are interested in the anime panels that feature analysis on certain things. However, the convention’s large focus on Western films, TV shows and comic books might act as an extra layer to improve the experience.
MegaCon '16 photo
Fourth time is definitely a charm
Before I started my journey to this year's MegaCon, my previous visits to the event in Orlando, Florida. were alright. However, this was due to my friends and me spending most of our time inside of the event's dealer’s ...

Weekend Japanatainment - Opening Parody Edition

May 29 // Red Veron
[embed]35054:5657:0[/embed] Anime: SLAM DUNK There are many attempts at parodies of this anime's opening and some may wonder why many choose this show. This show happens to be one of most popular anime and manga in Japan and also a favorite in many countries around the world. There was another older parody video of this anime but I cannot find it and it happens to be one of the earliest ones around the internet. Just settle for this newer one.   [embed]35054:5658:0[/embed] Anime: Sailor Moon This is a great example of good editing and costume design as well as adding in comedic elements such as having a person dress up as a character while bearing no resemblance to the character while still in a accurate costume.    [embed]35054:5659:0[/embed] TV Show: Kamen Rider Black (Original Above, Parody Below) This is a great opening sung by the actor who plays the eponymous Kamen Rider Black, and the opening is 99% motorcycle riding. The parody below is pretty spot on with the riding the bike.   [embed]35054:5660:0[/embed] TV Show Parody: Kamen Rider Black Literally shot in someone's neighborhood with cobbled together cosplay. I love it.   [embed]35054:5661:0[/embed] Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion Another nicely made opening parody with good costumes with possibly just one person dressing up as most of the characters. There may be more actors but the quick snappy editing matches the original so well that it's hard to tell.   [embed]35054:5662:0[/embed] Anime: Lucky Star (Full Parody Below for your viewing pleasure) Oh God, why.   [embed]35054:5663:0[/embed] Anime Parody Video: Lucky Star WHY GOD?! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?   [embed]35054:5664:0[/embed] Anime Parody: Nichijou This is an odd one since this is not from fans but from a real company that makes video of a mature nature for people over the age of 18. This is very much a shot for shot remake of the original opening and is very well done. They spent a lot of real money on the production and I am very much impressed. Also, there is like one male actor in this opening who plays all the male roles in the opening.   Are there any opening or ending parodies that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!  Just paste the URL of the Youtube video into the comment!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
IRL Anime Homemade Openings
The word 'Parody" is defined as "an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect" and this week's Japanatainment is all about parodies of openings from anime an...

Week Ender - Super Sentai Edition

May 28 // Red Veron
[embed]35052:5653:0[/embed] Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (2011) This is the 35th anniversary entry in the long-running Super Sentai series, with the rangers having the special ability of transforming into past rangers and using the past rangers' special abilities in fighting evil. This season was also used to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Power Rangers.   [embed]35052:5654:0[/embed] Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (2009) I loved this season since it was more serious and not as goofy as the other seasons. The theme was all about Samurai, the sword wielding loyal warrior servants from olden Japan, and the samurai in the show portrayed with reverence.   [embed]35052:5655:0[/embed] Hikari Sentai Maskman (1987) Sorry, I couldn't find the original Japanese version which have disappeared since the last time I checked. This ending is the version I grew up watching in the Philippines every Sunday afternoon and I always enjoyed the ending since it was still action packed like the opening.   [embed]35052:5656:0[/embed] Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger (1992) This is the strangest and most fun ending here from the show that was the basis for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Enjoy the song.   Is there a Super Sentai show that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Fighting Evil Beasts in the East
There is nothing more 70's than Super Sentai and to this day, it still feels like a product of its time. You still have brightly colored heroes performing acrobatics and a lot theatrics fighting rubber suit monsters but ...

Ghost in the Shell photo
Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell live-action gets Rila Fukushima


But who will she be?
May 27
// Josh Tolentino
The seemingly unending saga of Hollywood's adaptation of Ghost in Shell continues, as hubbub about the long-in-making film has morphed from justified concerns over the quality of the adaptation (which haven't gone away, ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 6

May 26 // Jeff Chuang
While the Harekaze is not losing any steam, we're at the point of the show where there isn't a whole lot to say. The mystery of the disappearing and mutinous ships continues to push the plot forward and keep up the tension, but we now have the alien rodents squarely in the view. The rest of us just have to cope with the bizarre mix-and-match of cute girls doing cute things and a very diverse and expert set of skills that somehow got assigned onboard the bottom-barrel school-boat. This week's Haifuri builds on last week's with more big-picture setup while the crew deal with more mundane things, from cooking German foods to make Mina more at home, to setting up mine sweeping to clear out the stray mines that Harekaze found themselves in. The naughty threat on the high seas turned out to be genetically modified mice who can interfere with electronics and make people go crazy once the virus carried by the rodents infect their victims. Naturally, this leads to a lot of other questions, and those questions will have to be the new fuel in the boiling furnace of the collective curiosity of Haifuri's viewers. The show takes a few moments to also build up a few intercharacter narrative strands. These big words don't really fit what has happened, but Kuro-chan, the disgruntled engineer and fan of Shiro-chan, tries to dig into the all-too-nice Mike-chan. It's not quite the cat fight Haifuri needed, but it certainly drops some interesting new threads to the oddly upbeat voyage where the girls are always in a pinch. The transitional episode, however, doesn't leave much to say besides all the building up High School Fleet is doing. I think the whole complaint-about-Mike-chan-running-off bit is going to come around pretty soon. At least now I have some time to learn more of their names. [High School Fleet is streaming on FUNimation, Daisuki and Crunchyroll]
Haifuri photo
Virus on a boat
Believe it or not, in 6 episodes a lot has happened in High School Fleet. Our high school frosh class of seafarers swept mines, dodged torpedos, avoided cannon fire, foiled mind-control mice, and developed a vaccine for the possible viral condition that these strange rodents carry. It's surprisingly more like Star Trek than ever.

MegaCon '16 photo
MegaCon '16

Japanator is going to MegaCon '16


Fourth time's a charm
May 25
// Salvador GRodiles
As a quick heads-up, Japanator is heading to MegaCon 2016, which is located in Orlando, Fla. One thing that makes the event special is that it's one of Florida's largest conventions. Even though MegaCon is mostly themed ...

OP Up! - Super Sentai Edition

May 25 // Red Veron
[embed]35043:5647:0[/embed] Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger (1992) This is the season that became the basis for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and started the series. The adaptation only took footage from the source and not much in the premise of the original.   [embed]35043:5648:0[/embed] Hikari Sentai Maskman (1987) This is the show that I grew up watching every Sunday evening in the Philippines, and I have a very soft spot for this show.   [embed]35043:5649:0[/embed] Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger (2012) This is a parody of Super Sentai and a comedy that celebrates the superhero franchise as well as poking fun at it at times.   [embed]35043:5650:0[/embed] Toei's Spider-Man (1978) Why is this one here? This show happens to be the reason we have the iconic giant piloted mecha in the Super Sentai. The show is written more like a Japanese tokusatsu show than the comic books they were based on though US comics at the time were just as ridiculous with the plot lines but more grounded. This Spider-Man also shows up in the Spider-Verse event last year along with his giant robot.   [embed]35043:5651:0[/embed] Battle Fever J (1979) This show was considered to be the first Super Sentai show until 1995 when the two shows that came before it were considered to be part of the Super Sentai. This show is also a Marvel co-production and is considered to be part of the Marvel Multiverse.   Is there a Super Sentai or Power Rangers opening that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Japanese Superheroes
This week is a special edition of OP Up! and Week Ender, where I am featuring openings and endings from the long running live action super hero series for kids from Japan called "Super Sentai". This franchise belongs in the "...

Weekend Japanatainment - Japanator Youtube

May 22 // Red Veron
[embed]35029:5640:0[/embed] Let's watch the former Japanator writer Dale North make some katsudon! More details here.   [embed]35029:5641:0[/embed] Here is a video about a Japanese capsule hotel by former Japanator writer Kristina Pino.   [embed]35029:5642:0[/embed] Look forward to many of our Let's Plays live every weekend on our Twitch channel and our past videos savedon our Youtube page! Here is the first part of Japanator writer Sal's playthrough of DanganRonpa.   [embed]35029:5643:0[/embed] Here is a video of mine from Anime Matsuri 2009 where I got the super talented dancing sensation Strong Machine to autograph the "Desutoid" helmet, the cosplay version of the Destructoid mascot. Destructoid is the video game sister site of Japanator and is a big deal in the video game press scene.   [embed]35029:5644:0[/embed] This is a history of Japan, think. I dunno what is this even.   Don't forget to check out more at our official and main Japanator YouTube page here.
Weekend Japanatainment photo
We have a Youtube Page
Hey readers! I thought it would be the perfect time to tell you all about our Japanator YouTube page where we have some nice video content and will have some more Japan-centric video entertainment in the future. We're plannin...

R-Type photo
R-Type

Feast your eyes (but not your ears) on this awesome R-Type tribute


No one dies on the first boss
May 22
// Josh Tolentino
Animation savant Paul "Otaking" Johnson has struck again, following up his great, '90's-style anime tribute to TIE Fighter with a similar tribute to the classic shooter game R-Type. Once again, Johnson's mastery of the ...

Week Ender - JC Staff Edition

May 21 // Red Veron
[embed]35028:5630:0[/embed] "Let me be with you" Anime: Ikkitousen For  a show about busty beauties beating each other up while ripping each other's clothes off in the process, this ending happens to be more serene and gentle while tugging on some emotional heartstrings using a song that you wouldn't expect in such a show.   [embed]35028:5631:0[/embed] "Nippon Egao Hyakkei" Anime: Joshiraku This is a show that is super dense with Japanese culture references old and new that it makes it very unlikely to ever be localized in the West. Props to the person who did the fansub, you the real MVP. This is an enjoyable show even if you don't get the references and rife with visual gags. Much more comedy than "cute girls doing cute things", this is a show that more people should see and enjoy, the setting gives it a different flavor than most shows.   [embed]35028:5632:0[/embed] "Dear Brave" Anime: Heavy Object I've heard great things about this show but haven't been able to check it out. I do love the song in this ending with the sweet vocals provide a nice accompaniment to the visuals of the heroine, showing off her gentle feminine side more in a show about war.   [embed]35028:5633:0[/embed] "Nichijou no Mahou" Anime: Flying Witch This ending provides a good way to end each episode of a such laid back show. This show is a pure joy to watch and has that cute calmness to it.   Is there an anime/opening/ending from JC Staff you enjoyed? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Since 1986
JC Staff is a studio that's been around since 1986 and has worked on at least 300 shows, with such a large body of work they might have made something you probably love or enjoyed in the last three decades. So I've chosen a v...

Yuko Mizutani photo
Yuko Mizutani

Veteran voice actress Yuko Mizutani passes away


Gone too soon
May 20
// Josh Tolentino
Deaths may be a fact of life, but it's always sad when someone is taken too soon. That's the case for Japanese voice actress Yuko Mizutani, a veteran of Japan's voice acting scene who was best known for playing Sakiko Sakura,...
Idolmaster/Civil War photo
Idolmaster/Civil War

Get Lady for idol-on-idol violence in this Marvel-Idolmaster mashup


Pick a side, Producers!
May 20
// Josh Tolentino
Putting anime in my superhero comics? It's old hat. But putting The [email protected] in my blockbuster Hollywood hero brawls? Now that's something I can get behind! From the galactic heroes at Bin1 Pro...

OP Up! - JC Staff Edition

May 19 // Red Veron
[embed]35026:5621:0[/embed] "Hey World" Anime: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Here is a show with both a ridiculous title and has ruined google search results for certain Greek gods for a while. This is the show that popularized the "boob string" thing that has been pretty much forgotten along with the show.   [embed]35026:5622:0[/embed] "Light my fire" Anime: Shakugan no Shana III Here is a rockin' opening for popular Shana series. It's got an otherworldly supernatural magic mixed with a modern day urban setting with a short and petite swordwielding girl with red hair. It has everything I want but I still haven't gotten that far in the first season of this show. Definitely in my Top 20 list of shows I need to to watching.   [embed]35026:5623:0[/embed] "Kawaru Mirai (カワルミライ)" Anime: Heaven's Memo Pad Here is a detective show with a cute NEET (which stands for No Employment, Education, Training) detective handling crimes and murders in Tokyo. It's a mix of mystery and light action in an urban setting, which I highly recommend.   [embed]35026:5624:0[/embed] "Silky Heart" Anime: Toradora A popular show about love story featuring a short petite tsundere and a secretly nice mean looking guy. This opening has a really catchy song and is very nicely made to suit the beats of the song.   [embed]35026:5626:0[/embed] "Kibou no Uta" Anime: Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma It's that show that has very nicely drawn food as well as some fanservice (for those who like men and women) for a great feast for the eyes. Shounen cooking shows aren't rare but we haven't gotten a new one lately and we've been due for one in a long time.   Is there an anime and/or opening from JC Staff that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
OP Up! photo
Three Decades
JC Staff is a studio that has been around since 1986 and has made a lot of shows and probably some of your favorites as well. Most of their shows are very beautifully made and they've made a few of my favorite shows, which I'...

Tales Worth Telling: On Manga, Anime, and how they changed Japanese storytelling

May 16 // Yussif Osman
Japan has a long and vibrant tradition of storytelling. Of course, there is the current massive industries of anime, manga, light novels and video games, but long before television and anime there was kamishibai, a practice where a street performer would narrate a tale whilst flipping through illustrations on a mobile stage; or rakugo, where the comic or storyteller would perform multiple characters in dialogue with one another with nothing but a fan with which to gesture, meaning characters had to be well developed and distinct. And then there is kodan, the heroic tale and predecessor to modern Shounen series. Stories told in these ways, for the Japanese people became news and sensation, novel and theatre for people of all classes. A culture so drenched in the art of storytelling has a great deal to teach the world about how to build worlds, create characters and set plots in motion. In contrast to much of Western media, the bestbetter anime and manga do not patronize the viewer or reader. One Piece for example, is not about what someone thinks people want to see, it is about the story the author and artists want to tell. Hayao Miyazaki was once asked about the creative process for a creator in Japan, in contrast to a creator in the West. In the West, films are often made by committee. I am not saying there is anything wrong with writers' rooms, on the contrary, collaboration can be a wonderful thing, the problems arise when a studio, which has ultimate creative control over a property, makes assumptions about what people want to see. A number of films come to mind, Fox's interference on Josh Trank's Fantastic Four or the X-men movie universe as a whole, where executives felt the need to simplify characters for an audience who just 'won't get'. I also think of the 4Kids dub of One Piece, where it was assumed that orchestrated music would not appeal to young viewers and certain themes would be inaccessible. I'm not saying that this never happens in Japan, in fact it's probably happening now more than before, but for the most part, Japan with its massive storytelling industry has put emphasis on the importance of story and not just delivery. This is evident in a passion for characters in and of themselves and in a will to drive story and touch readers and viewers, to say something true about the human condition, more than just attempting to entertain. This is storytelling for storytelling's own sake. When composing each new story, Hayao Miyazaki was concerned with just that, the story, something he has said himself. Japanese animation has confronted the world with rich and deep stories with both real and bizarre characters that speak about what's real in us, in the human condition. One Piece, which is the manga and anime I will use as my primary case study comes to mind here. Overwhelming enemies who engage in fantastic and brutal battles with the rubbery Luffy says a lot about life and the need to overcome moments of adversity by literally bouncing-back and meeting life head on, thus the head-strong, if not simple character of many Shounen heroes. Even these stories, in all their whimsical adventure, do more than just entertain, they resonate, like I've said before in my article on Digimon, high stakes make for high hopes and therein I believe lies the appeal of epics like Attack on Titan and why it became so popular. And outside the Shounen genre and the work of Hayao Miyazaki we have a plethora of incredibly moving stories, from Makoto Shinkai's 5cm per Second to works such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy And The Beast, you have a compelling and grounded premises with fantastical characters and circumstances which only enrich and make more vivid the narrative as the characters themselves remain very human, full of awkward subtleties and quirks which make it possible to empathise with them. At this point, I would like to bring up the tradition of drawing on manga to create anime. There are huge benefits to doing this, not simply because you can simply copy a story on to the screen because it often doesn't work that way, often anime take a concept and re-interpret or build upon an idea, but the benefit of manga is the vast worlds that the characters have emerged from and that has been built around them. Something I find that Japanese media has done very well, whether that's anime, manga or video games, is build tremendous and beautiful worlds and I don't just mean that on an aesthetic level, I refer to histories and politics, nations and ideologies all built from scratch from which incredible stories can spiral. More developed worlds, mean longer runs for readers and viewers to become invested, people grow-up with the characters and see them through their journeys and become committed to the worlds they live in. Worlds you can invest in are richer, richer worlds help make more interesting characters with more interesting histories and good characters with a great world to interact in, makes for a great plot. These three components: world, character and plot when executed well, I believe are responsible for producing a great story. Recently in Western media, this has also been evidenced with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I will illustrate this now with an anime/ manga which I believe does this best in One Piece. In One Piece, we're faced with the setting of a number of oceans and seas in their own hierarchy of fury and adversity, inhabited by a complex hierarchy of pirates and forces, such as the Marines and the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the revelation of each one being something we always look forward to. Hierarchies and structures within which characters explore their given world, create a framework in which viewers and readers can actually look forward to things, to more of the Wizard Saints in Fairy Tail or more Dragon Slayers. Then there is the notion that the most expansive sea in the series, the New World is largely unexplored and home to range of bizarre islands, from lightning countries to flaming tundras. But perhaps the most thrilling part of reading or viewing a great world is discovering it from scratch as characters do and One Piece, like many anime and manga does this artfully, leaving us thirsting for more. One could also turn to the slow revelation of the plethora of villages in Naruto or the wider cosmos in the Dragonball series'. And of course one of the most compelling parts of One Piece, is the world's history itself, the missing century and lost civilization which left behind ponelyphs describing its history, secrets that revolutionaries and pirates are trying to unearth and the World Government is trying to keep hidden. I hope what I've illustrated here is a network of circumstances and characters which interact in complex and far-reaching ways to create what is a compelling plot. Whether they were exploring a new country, liberating one or unearthing new secrets, the Straw Hat Pirates have never bored me and when it has been less thrilling, it is only because of the drastic scale that the series can often rise to. And even away from the high-stakes of One Piece story arcs, the characters and the themes they represent are warm and intimate, such as friendship and how it should be cherished, Usopp's wish to be brave or Robin's wish to live. I'm not saying great things don't come out of the West, when it comes to animation, I would in particular like to highlight such work as the Batman and X-men animated series' or Transformers which were all incredible, but I'm not trying to make a point about Western media, I'm trying to make a point about anime and manga.  But while we're on the topic of Western media, this is a good opportunity to bring up a handful of ground-breaking series' which have been heavily influenced by anime and manga and in doing so, illustrate how the world's love of Japanese media has created a demand for better storytelling. An obvious series that comes to mind is the Avatar animated saga and its sequel the Legend of Korra. In the tradition of long-running manga, Avatar brought us a vast world to explore and high-stakes politics to understand alongside enchanting and compelling characters heavily influenced by Eastern culture and civilization. Less obvious is Steven Universe, which I have said in a past article, is heavily influenced by such anime as Revolutionary Girl Utena in its style and themes of fluid sexuality and gender roles. There are many others, such as the French conceived Sav! The World Productions and their creation the award-winning Oban Star Racers, or the more recent Miraculous Ladybug. I go as far to make the case that the popularity of anime and manga in the West, made it more acceptable to tell more serious stories for younger audiences and so helped to mainstream the now massive comic book phenomenon. Like you, I love the Japanese format of storytelling, the amazing characters and stories it produces set across interesting and diverse worlds. So I took it upon myself to try it, to take inspiration drawn from anime and manga to produce stories in the same vain. Hei Stories, a youtube channel which uses audio and illustrations in the kamishibai style is a platform for original stories in the fantasy genre which aim to stretch the imagination and compel listeners to invest in complex characters. The first story that is being uploaded is Seeking Scarlet At The End of The World, which takes influence from Middle-Eastern and Asian culture to tell the story of a young woman with phenomenal abilities set in a world under siege. As the Raindance movement is hijacked by the Great Secret Keeper, his acolyte, Iconoclast, assaults Polis Earth, with the Orion Alliance long gone, not even the mythical Guardian seems anywhere in sight to stop her. Despite the crisis, the displaced people of the Deepa Wali culture celebrate life into the night and continue to pray. In a universe where material beings are not the only life forms and where the cosmos is ruled by an Eclipse King, I wanted to create a story of hope and cover contemporary political and social issues we're currently faced with such as the refugee crisis. I hope you will enjoy it and join the conversation here and on youtube about storytelling and what kinds of stories engage, inspire you and humanize other human beings, whether they are in your city or across oceans. So what does make a good story? Sincere, warm characters full of agency in a developed world, from Shakespeare's turbulent Scotland to Tolstoy's revolutionary Russia, a good world and characters people can be passionate about go a long way in creating a story that can resonates with readers. With Japanese media so aware of this, I look forward to every season, knowing it is bound to bring something entertaining, inspiring and compelling and above all, shedding light on the human condition and the world we live in.  
Japanator Original photo
Stay A While, and Listen
I won't hazard a guess as to how many of you have read my previous articles, but something that may have come across is the emphasis I place on the importance of good storytelling. Whether it was Digimon or GAT...

Weekend Japanatainment - Rebirth Edition

May 15 // Red Veron
[embed]35016:5612:0[/embed] Here is a video with dogs and a meme. There are some shibas in there and Japanese writing. Just watch and enjoy the dancing doggies.   [embed]35016:5613:0[/embed] This is a commercial for paid antivirus in Japan. Very Japanese as well as cute and weird.   [embed]35016:5614:0[/embed] One of my favorite Japan-based Youtuber duos, Simon and Martina, who now live in Japan recently went to a conveyor sushi restaurant where eating five plates gets you a chance to get a free capsule toy.   [embed]35016:5615:0[/embed] Here's a video from the old Weekend Japanatainment feature, this one is from 2007 and very weird. It's the ending song from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya with some odd mashups. Just watch.   GOT ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR WEEKEND JAPANATAINMENT? SEND IT TO US OVER AT: Send us an Email at: [email protected] Also reach out to us on our Twitter and Facebook!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
BACK AGAIN YO
So the last time I did this feature was when I took over almost 7 years ago, but I stopped because life got in the way. But now, it's back again bishies! Back to give you lovely readers some Japanese-related entertainment to ...

Week Ender - 10 YEARS AGO EDITION

May 13 // Red Veron
[embed]35015:5603:0[/embed] "Umi no Opal" Anime: Soukou no Strain Here's another show on my list that I need to watch, it involves space wars with giant robots and time dilation with faster than light travel. The ending is pretty calming with that sweet sounding song.   [embed]35015:5604:0[/embed] "Rock The LM.C" Anime: Red Garden Here's another show from a decade ago that I never got around to see. It involves four girls at a private school in New York city. Mysteries and murders happen that adds to the intrigue, I would tell you more but I don't want to spoil it for myself. This ending is a bit minimal with a concert going on with some shots of the cast.   [embed]35015:5605:0[/embed] "Yuukyou Seishunka" Anime: Code Geass Oh look a song by Ali Project, you know it's them just by their style. I like this ending with the stills featuring the characters in situations not seen in the show.   [embed]35015:5606:0[/embed] "Alumina" Anime: Death Note A very stylish opening that still holds up to now, especially the use of the color red. I love the way the ending communicates the sinister character of Light.   Is there an ending/opening/anime that you loved from 10 years ago? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Back in the year 2006...
I'm gonna take you all for a nostalgia trip (or a history trip, you young whippersnappers--- GET OFF MY LAWN!). 2006 was a great year for anime with shows that are still enjoyed today. Someone on my twitter feed reminded me t...

Anime Industry :( photo
Anime Industry :(

Want to make anime in Japan? Don't expect to get rich doing it


Not unless you're a celebrity, at least
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
One of the more common pieces of fan mail we get comes in the form of inquiries from fans looking to break into anime creation. It's not an uncommon impulse, to want to try your hand at making what you love to watch, but impu...

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