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Wota Senshi Center photo
Wota Senshi Center

Idol group-themed Indie Tokusatsu Wota Senshi Center gets a teaser


Extremly catchy music included
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
Back when Wota Senshi Center was first announced, I was down with the idea of an idol group-themed hero that uses Mix CDs to activate his moves. Of course, Garage Hero Alumni Daryl Delosreyes' (Gun Caliber's Sky Bla...
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...
Red Sun photo
Red Sun

Here's a quick look at Garage Hero's new red samurai hero


Does this make him three times faster?
Jun 30
// Salvador GRodiles
It looks like the guys at the Indie Tokusatsu Studio Garage Hero have a new short in the work, as they show off their new hero known as Red Sun, which was made by Former Rainbow Zoukei, the team behind the suits for the Kamen...
Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Streaming GET: Dairanger is now on Shout! Factory TV


The Gorma Tribe is now in trouble
May 25
// Salvador GRodiles
If Shout! Factory's Dairanger stream from Saturday made you want to watch more of the series, the company has uploaded the entire series on Shout! Factory TV on May 23, which means that you can now restore...

AKB48 photo
AKB48

Get your idols-and-murder fix with AKB48's Hulu horror show


But where do the toilet syringes go?
May 23
// Josh Tolentino
If your life has been lacking in sugar sweet pop idols, as well as chilling doses of horror and/or murder, a recent announcement by Hulu might be the one magic bullet to take down both your problems. Indeed, the streamin...
Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Check out the trailer for Shout! Factory's Dairanger streaming event


Can we expect a special surprise?
May 19
// Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to companies that decide to people a taste of one of their titles since it exposes more folks to said property. As we get close to the weekend, Shout! Factory has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming Gosei...
Tokusatsu Film School photo
Tokusatsu Film School

Grab your supplies: Tokusatsu Film School has begun


Class has now started
Apr 29
// Salvador GRodiles
Listen up, people! It's time for us to head to our desks, as Bueno teaches us about the essential elements that go into creating a hero helmet during Tokusatsu Film School's first session. The best part about Bueno's demonstr...
Tokusatsu Film School photo
Tokusatsu Film School

Prepare for Tokusatsu Film School with Garage Hero's Inzector Alpha short


The orientation has started
Apr 22
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever a person gets ready to start school, they usually go through a brief orientation to get acquainted with the facility they'll be studying at. This same principle applies Garage Hero/Garage Pro TV's upcoming Tokusatsu...
Tokusatsu Film School photo
Tokusatsu Film School

Here's a quick look at Garage Hero's Tokusatsu Film School series


The class bell is about to ring
Apr 15
// Salvador GRodiles
As Bueno and the rest of Garage Hero/Garage Pro TV are working hard on Strega, the group launched the first trailer for their tokusatsu tutorial series, Tokusatsu Film School. Since the first episode will focus on teach...
Legend Hero photo
Legend Hero

Three Kingdoms-themed Tokusatsu Legend Hero's official stream now has English subtitles


Romance of the Three Henshins
Apr 14
// Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to companies who decide to make their works viewable to people from other regions since it lets them expand their audience. One fine example of this feat is that the YouTube page for the Korean and Chinese&n...
Ultraman photo
Ultraman

Streaming GET: Ultraman Ginga and Ginga S head to Crunchyroll


Tsuburaya keeps on giving
Mar 02
// Salvador GRodiles
With Crunchyroll achieving its new form as the go-to place to watch the Ultra series, the group has united with two more titles in the franchise. This time around, Ultraman Ginga and Ginga S are now on Crunchyroll; howev...

Annotated Anime: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu episodes 4-6

Feb 17 // Josh Tolentino
In case you've forgotten, episode three ended on what seemed to be a dramatic cliffhanger, with the Yakumo the 7th's mistress Miyokichi showing up, seeking the master. In a different story, she'd be like a live grenade tossed into the cast, exploding the old, comfortable dynamic and setting the plot in writhing motion. Except she's absent for most of the fourth episode, which devotes its eye solely to the relationship between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku (née Bon and Shin), living together in an apartment following their promotion to futatsume. It's at this time that some of the subtle subtexts lurking in Shouwa Rakugo bubble up to the fore, clear to see even for folks who aren't into close reading or other film studies piddle-paddling.  It's hard not to see Kikuhiko's longing for his best friend, even as he only slowly comes to realize it himself over the course of the next few installments. But for us viewers, it's plainly evident in the married-couple banter the pair exchange, Kikuhiko's apparent indifference to the opposite sex (including a bond with Miyokichi that seems more maternal than romantic), and even the way the camera and framing of the scenes treat Sukeroku. Of course, this cat isn't out of the bag (or closet) just yet. The show's historical context virtually ensures that Kikuhiko's path of self-discovery would be an ambivalent one. Hell, we already know what he's like in the future, and "out and proud" isn't one of those things. At this point, we're on the hook to find out just how he, Sukeroku, and Miyokichi are involved in leading to the present state of Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th.  If nothing else, the journey to finding out remains riveting as ever. Ably voiced by Megumi "Rei" Hayashibara, Miyokichi is less a plot grenade than a fire pot of character work, playing a grounded, perceptive, utterly attractive woman for whom a term like "temptress" feels both accurate and unforgivably reductive. Her role in catalyzing the events that lead to Kikuhiko discovering his own style of Rakugo also can't be overstated.  It's not all happy, though. As good as one feels for the characters and their journey so far, the shinjuu in the title still looms. In fact, Kikuhiko discovering how to make his mark on Rakugo brings him one step closer to the sly, sinister, troubled old man we met in the first episode, and to whatever tragedies made him that way. [Watch more of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu on Crunchyroll!] née
Shouwa Rakugo photo
The plot thickens
The last time we checked in on Shouwa Rakugo, it was shaping up to be one of the best (or at least, most grown-up) anime series to air in years. Anime fans looking for more mature, grounded plotting and complex character work...

Ultraman Gaia photo
Ultraman Gaia

Rejoice: Ultraman Gaia unites with Crunchyroll


Tsuburaya is on an amazing roll
Feb 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Man. I need to cross my fingers more often now. Why's that? It turns out that Crunchyroll has added Ultraman Gaia to its streaming library. In other words, the Website is now becoming the perfect go-to place to watc...
Ultraman Nexus photo
Ultraman Nexus

Over Ray Storm: Ultraman Nexus finally lands on Crunchyroll


The Space Monsters are doomed
Feb 11
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Tsuburaya temporarily added Ultraman Nexus' first four episodes on YouTube, it felt that the show's debut on Crunchyroll was going to happen within that timeframe. While this never occurred, the series has finally ...
OMAKASE photo
OMAKASE

OMAKASE Launch Box Unboxing


Box Unboxing
Feb 02
// Red Veron
These days, there are plenty of those monthly box subscription services where you a box of some nice assorted themed items every month or so but the quality of the products in those boxes may be hit or miss at times. I've dab...
OMAKASE photo
OMAKASE

Get some Hatsune Miku goodies with OMAKASE


Exclusive Limited Edition Stuff!
Feb 02
// Red Veron
OMAKASE is one of those subscription services by Viewster that provides a themed bimonthly box of curated limited-edition merchandise, along with access to ad-free streaming anime, comics, and music. They've done themes ...

First Impressions: ERASED

Jan 19 // Josh Tolentino
That said, the concept isn't immediately clear in ERASED's opening scenes. Instead, we're treated to the inner voice of Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old frustrated manga artist who knows exactly where he's going wrong: He's too afraid "to get into the heart of [his] own mind", that is to say, to really dig deeper and see how to put more of his soul into his work. Coming from his editor, that sounds like a load of bull, but since he's saying it himself, I'll give it a pass.  In any case, the source is some rather traumatic occurrences in his past, involving a series of kidnappings, the loss of a childhood acquaintance, and a friendly stranger by the riverbanks. I can't blame the guy for not wanting to open that can of worms. This is where the bit about addressing old regrets comes in. Satoru just so happens to have a power of sorts. Called "Revival", the power resembles a literalized deja vu: When something bad happens that Satoru is in a position to prevent, he gets rewinded back a few minutes, and needs to figure out just what's in the scene that's going to go all wrong. Revival is demonstrated in rather dramatic fashion in the first big scene of the opening episode, but ERASED quickly pulls the rug out from under assumptions that the show would turn out to be some kind of case-of-the-week program, with Satoru struggling to puzzle out the latest incident before it's too late. Instead, after being framed for the apparent murder of his (awesome) mother, Satoru gets rewound all the way back to 1988, 18 years earlier. He quickly figures that solving the case he was involved in way back then, and saving Kayo Hinazuki, the girl who was killed by his kidnapper, would be the key to preventing his mother's own death, which came at the hands of someone who may be the real killer. It sounds a bit complicated, but ERASED plays the tension high, and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, wondering what'll happen next, and how the hell Satoru will be able to solve the central mystery, with his 29-year-old mind trapped in his 11-year-old body (think Detective Conan and you're on the right track). There's also an element of getting a "do-over" on life's old mistakes in the show, where Satoru gets to bond with the girl that he'd originally dismissed as weird, when in fact she was suffering domestic abuse. In any case, ERASED opens strong, and will hopefully continue on in that vein for the rest of the run.  [Check out more of ERASED via Crunchyroll!]
ERASED photo
You CAN go home again
If there's anything universal to the experience of being an adult, it's probably regret. Or more specifically, regretting the mistakes of childhood. Come on, you've done it before, too, I'm sure. Perhaps you've lost touch wit...

Touhou photo
Touhou

Here's a nice extra helping of the Memories of Phantasm doujin anime series


The new year is off to an amazing start!
Jan 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As the old year goes away, the gang at Manpukujinja have uploaded the sixth episode of their Touhou doujin anime, Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~, on their YouTube page. Just like the previous episode, t...
Mythos photo
Mythos

Let's kick off the 2016 year with a sweet new Mythos trailer


Myth Form!
Jan 01
// Salvador GRodiles
This might sound weird of me to say this, but one of the things that I'm excited the most about the 2016 Tokusatsu Year is that we might see more independent toku projects enter the scene. In regards to these indie prod...

Review: Ninja Slayer From Animation

Dec 06 // Josh Tolentino
Ninja Slayer From AnimationStudio: TRIGGERViewed On: ViewsterPremiere date: April 6, 2015 At the time of this review's writing, the International Day of the Ninja has just passed, but there's no recent work that captures the essence of "ninja" more than this, Studio TRIGGER's latest series. Ninja Slayer From Animation makes no attempt to hide its goofy, parodic nature. That should be natural, after all, coming from a show that started life as what was essentially a Twitter prank. "Translated" from nonexistent original sources by a pair of fictional westerners named  "Bradley Bond" and "Philip Ninj@ Morzez", Ninja Slayer accurately portrays ninja culture...as seen by westerners engaged in that second wave of Japonisme that swept the world '80s and early '90s. During that time, the markets were flooded with crass, cheaply-made "ninja exploitation" films like American Ninja, and spiced up by gory, explicit OVAs and films that powered the "Japanimation" boom. Ninja Slayer's cyberpunk dystopia of Neo Saitama reflects the kind of twisted sensibility that resulted from the marriage of genuine enthusiasm and outright ignorance on the part of the outsiders. But Ninja Slayer isn't out to deliver a polemic against cultural appropriation. Bond and Morzez are in on the joke, and know that the best antidote to hotheaded outrage is a tongue planted firmly in cheek. Much to the chagrin of early viewers that didn't realize Ninja Slayer's relation to TRIGGER's own Inferno Cop, the whole thing is played for elaborate, stylized laughs. That's because they know that, played straight, Kenji Fujikido's story of revenge and violence would come across as gravely cliche and unbearably cheesy. That's why Ninja Slayer and his foes constantly introduce themselves to each other like beginning Japanese-language students practicing for a kaiwa test, and why the whole show is in the archaic 4:3 aspect ratio. It simultaneously pokes fun at and commiserates with the "Ken-sama" of the world, and smirks back at a time when Ken-sama's type represented what most people knew about Japanese culture. It's also where TRIGGER works in that ninja magic. Deliberate aesthetic choices in Ninja Slayer, like the neon-drenched pallete and aping of old-school cost-cutting techniques recall back the moments of beauty to be found in that awkward time, while at the same time deflating the nostalgic pomposity some older fans may have for the time. It's as if to say "Yep, cartoons were just as stupid then as you think they are now. But they were also awesome!" The show is hardly perfect, though, and the wild differentials between user ratings in various fan fora serve as testament to that fact. Ninja Slayer may be bold and one of the most creatively distinct anime series this year, but there are times when it's just plain ugly-lookin', beyond what could be excused on style alone. TRIGGER's no longer a scrappy underdog of a studio, which makes the frequent forays into Inferno Cop-style 2D cutout puppetry feel less like a fun diversion and more an unnecessary indulgence.  The storytelling also fails to rise above its B-grade inspirations. This isn't to say it's all bad or that every show should strive to elevate, but there is a difference between homage and mere copy, and there are times when Ninja Slayer skirts too close to the wrong side of that distinction.  Then again, for a viewer in the right mindset, Ninja Slayer is a laugh riot and a friendly wink-and-nod, all rolled into a package that never gets boring. And for a show that's very deliberately not accurate to the real-life ninjas of Japanese history, Ninja Slayer certainly gets being surprising down pat. 
Ninja Slayer Review photo
The Ancient YEEART! of Ninjutsu
DOMO, READER-SAN.  I am Reviewer. NINJA must be slain. 

Ultraman Nexus photo
Ultraman Nexus

Ultraman Nexus gets an official YouTube stream before it hits Crunchyroll


Space Monsters beware
Dec 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Once again, it's a great time to be a fan of tokusatsu, as Tsuburaya uploaded four episodes of Ultraman Nexus, one of the first Ultra TV shows that's targeted towards an older audience to prepare for its upcoming debut on Cru...
Cassette Girl photo
Cassette Girl

Twilight: Animator Expo's 35th short pays homage to a classic Gainax title


The Format War return
Oct 09
// Salvador GRodiles
The Japan Animator Expo project's third season has released its final announced short (slightly NSFW), and they managed to end it with a huge bang. For the finale, Hiroyasu Kobayashi (The Rebuild of Eva movie series...

First Impressions: Attack on Titan: Junior High episode 1

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

First Impressions: One Punch Man episode 1

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

Robot on the Road photo
Robot on the Road

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Check out the latest short by ME!ME!ME!'s Director


Colorful crazy flowers everywhere!
Sep 11
// Salvador GRodiles
Hibiki Yoshizaki (Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~ and ~Tsuki ni Naku~'s Opening Episode Director) is back with another insanely surreal Japan Animator Expo piece (slightly NSFW) that features Daoko's lovely voice. Un...
The Ultraman photo
The Ultraman

Animator Expo's Ultraman short is chock-full of toku goodness


The courage you gave me was 110 Million!
Sep 04
// Salvador GRodiles
As Ultraman X continues to rock the airwaves with its hero that fights bad guys with his sweet-looking monster armors, the Japan Animator Expo project has united with the Giant of Light to bring us a short that'll make any Ul...
Bureau of Proto Society photo
Bureau of Proto Society

TRIGGER and Rikka's latest short is a great love letter to classic movies


Reality and fiction are about to collide
Aug 28
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, I had this idea in my head about how the world would analyze fiction in the next one thousand or million years. One of my ideas was that archeologists and historians would use them as the basis for new mytho...
Endless Night photo
Endless Night

Michiko & Hatchin Director's new short takes us to the ice rink


In which figure skating gets to shine
Aug 21
// Salvador GRodiles
To this day, some of the best Animator Expo pieces have been the animated music video. Compare to most of the project's segments, these anime shorts tend to have a beginning, middle, and end to their stories. Mind you, there ...
Bubu & Bubulina photo
Bubu & Bubulina

Animator Expo's 27th short is a colorful treat


Cartoony visuals everywhere
Aug 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever the Japan Animator Expo project pops out a decent piece, a stronger one takes its place. In this case, Takashi Nakamura's (Robot Carnival's "Nightmare" short and Tree of Palme's Director) piece, "Bubu ...
Mythos photo
Mythos

Indie toku series Mythos continues with its origin episodes


Is Tala going to transform soon?
Aug 08
// Salvador GRodiles
In an era where there's only four or five toku series airing in Japan each year, it feels refreshing when people create new projects about costumed heroes and/or monsters. From Garage Hero to Samurai Action Studio's stuff, t...
Comedy Skit 1989 photo
Comedy Skit 1989

Experience Animator Expo short 26's twin-related hijinks


The Showa era of comedy is back, baby
Aug 07
// Salvador GRodiles
Is it me or was this week's Animator Expo short a bit weak on the humor side? Who knows, it might have to do with my lack of experience with Showa era comedy skits. Then again, "Comedy Skit 1989" made me giggle during so...
Ayakashi Zamurai photo
Ayakashi Zamurai

Garage Hero series Ayakashi Zamurai is now on YouTube


This is my trusty dog Pochi
Aug 07
// Salvador GRodiles
You know, it feels kind of weird to see the Toei ocean wave sequence appear before a Garage Hero project. Nevertheless, it's great to see that Bueno and his group got to team up with them and YouTube Space to create Ayakashi...
Hammerhead photo
Hammerhead

Animator Expo's 25th short is ready to smash things up


It's Hammering Time!
Jul 31
// Salvador GRodiles
It seems that I was right about the Japan Animator Expo project returning this week since their latest short is up on their site. Since this is the first episode of the series' third season, it's fitting for the 25t...
Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

Here's a quick sample of Animator Expo's Third Season


Summer is about to become cool
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
At last, the Japan Animator Expo project has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming season. From the looks of it, the third installment sounds like it'll be better than ever. I mean, we get to see another Tsuburaya hero g...

First Impressions: GATE episodes 1-3

Jul 23 // Josh Tolentino
Of course, future episodes of GATE could prove me entirely wrong. The game of subtext is a perilous thing, and if you can find strange ultranationalist right-wing readings in everything from Mahouka to Knights of Sidonia to Attack on Titan, a show that openly stars members of the actual Japanese military (or "Self-Defense Force" if you want to get technical) is even more vulnerable to that kind of examination. Still, based on the evidence at hand, GATE is a perfectly serviceable fantasy with an interesting nerd-catnip hook. It's the hook that does more work than any one aspect of the show thus far. After all, for about as long as fantasy fiction has existed as a genre, people have been wondering how the medieval, swords-and-sorcery mores of your average Tolkienesque would match up against the grim products of the military-industrial complex. Put plain, we've always wanted to see how Gandalf, Frodo, or Sauron might fare against a machine gun, tank cannon, or jet fighter. If you think that sounds likes a simplistic sort of thrill to base an anime on, you're right. "Guns vs. Dragons" is only a few steps removed from "Boobs" on the scale of primal urges driving creativity, but that doesn't mean thought can't be put into its execution, and on that front, GATE does deliver. A portal opens up in the middle of a Ginza thoroughfare, belching out tens of thousands of orcs, ogres, pig-men, quasi-Roman soldiers, and assorted fantasy staples to wreak havoc on Tokyo's innocents. The man in just the right time and place is 33-year-old Youji Itami, an off-duty soldier and doujinshi-loving otaku, whose training helps save lives just in time for the army to repel the invasion. Fast forward three months and a new Prime Minister (I like this particular off-hand joke about how long it takes to get things done) wants to flex Glorious Nippon's muscle by sending a couple of divisions of Self-Defense Force troops through the titular "Gate", to secure a place on the other side and force the dastardly invaders into negotiations.  One incursion and a second slaughter of fantasy troops later, and Youji is placed in charge of a recon team assigned to probe the countryside on "hearts and minds" duty, which is where the story begins proper, complete with a dragon fight, elf-lady rescue, and the requisite encounter with a gothic lolita (named "Rory", no less) demigoddess. This is the point where GATE reveals itself less to be some strange creature born of secret militaristic urges than a spinoff of the now monolithic "trapped in another world" subgenre of light novel adventures. It is kissing cousins less with preachy alt-history explorations like Zipang or The Final Countdown than with genre, er..."classics" like Familiar of Zero, Sword Art Online, and even Log Horizon.  Its closest relative would be Outbreak Company, though the otaku pandering in GATE is so far limited to portraying Youji and his pal as unashamed geeks and pushing the story into familiar harem-assembly patterns. Already you can see the shape of the show's romantic polygon as the taciturn wizard, bouncy elf, saucy goddess, and normal fellow-human girls take their places in the roster. Honestly the main thing that distinguishes GATE's storytelling has been in the soldiers themselves. Given that creator Takumi Yanai was formerly in the JSDF, it's hardly surprising that the story would be friendly to "the troops", but in light of that history, it's also telling about just which parts of the service GATE is happiest to play up. While the blowout victories against the natives is predictable, the shows spends most of its time showing off Youji and his comrades less as warriors than public servants. Most of the soldier glory shots in the opening sequence are of folks in uniform generally being helpful, pulling carts out of ditches and giving rides to refugees fleeing a dragon attack. Youji himself displays an unusual (for typical portrayals of soldiers, at least) wariness of force and its use, refusing to call for backup to avoid risking innocents or provoking the enemy, and generally being a laid-back, intuitive leader. The shades of Irresponsible Captain Tylor And Yang Wen-li are welcome, and help defuse the potential for jingoistic chest-beating in the early goings. Even the enemy gets comparatively sensitive treatment, with the rank and file types portrayed more as victims in a power play wrought by craven leadership (on both sides of the Gate) than bloodthirsty savages. If there's one thing that doesn't quite square with this even-handed treatment, it's in the abject slaughter and seemingly effortless victory of the modern forces. I mean, sure they've got machine guns and artillery support, but it just doesn't feel right that they're effortlessly gunning down a hundred thousand troops in a single night's battle. By all logic the mere first round of shelling and gunfire should've balked the enemy into routing or stalemate rather than to just dumbly march into the bullets, no matter how foolhardy the generals. I'm not any kind of realism purist here, but the body count just seems unnecessarily inflated to make the disparity in force more dramatic. Besides that, GATE shows a lot of potential to be a fun and eminently watchable bit of summer anime. With a bit of luck, it won't get too bogged down in the less compelling harem wish-fulfillment aspects, further capitalizing on its hook and sensitive characterization.
GATE photo
Hellish Dragon v. Hellfire Missiles
Confession time: When I first set out to write about GATE, I was actually prepared to defend it. That's a weird stance to take with regards to a program I had yet to even watch, I'll admit, but I really was about to get all p...

The Garage photo
The Garage

Feast your eyes on The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's badass insect-themed hero


Get ready to learn about making toku
Jul 17
// Salvador GRodiles
The folks at Garage Hero may be busy with adding the final touches to Ayakashi Zamurai, but that's not stopping them from showing us some images of The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's hero. For the record, the sho...

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