Dragged Myself to 400 Anime: Final Two Reviews!

image

At last!  Four hundred anime complete!  Actually, three more than that since I also recently completed New Dominion Tank Police and KonoSuba and forgot to add The Perfect Insider to my watched list.  But, this blog series is done, since I have watched Gintama the Movie: Benizakura-hen and Hetalia: Paint it White!  You’ll note that I needed to substitute the latter for Urusei Yatsura: Only You, but I hope to watch that and the rest of this creative and hilarious series in the near future.

image

Gintama the Movie: Benizakura-hen portrays one of my all time favorite story arcs in the show.  I have mentioned before that Gintama is perhaps the most versatile show I’ve ever seen.  It’s mood varies from low-brow and toilet humor (I usually skip those episodes) to maudlin to legitimately hilarious slapstick and wordplay humor to, as we see in Benizakura-hen, action-packed drama.  The movie cut very little of the original material and increased the quality of the action sequences, which are downright thrilling.  I found myself at the edge of my seat several times while watching this.

Continue reading

What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part II

Below are various shows I’ve been watching but have yet to finish.  Many of them are quite old with the oldest produced in 1978 and the latest in 2014.  Tomorrow or the day after, I propose to finally get around to writing about how I feel about the new season.  Let’s get started!

IMG_6529

1) Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Many of my dear readers may not understand the appeal of a thirty-seven year old anime.  After all, the animation is rougher, the action less fluid, and the characters often downright cartoony–a trait undesirable for many anime fans.  Also, the opening song is much more military sounding than in those found in contemporary shows.  Perhaps, it is the differences which make it my recent favorite.  Captain Harlock is a singular figure.  At first, I thought of him as the prototype for Alexander Row of Last Exile, but Captain Harlock is not a Byronic hero.  After watching over twenty episodes, Harlock’s personality strikes one as rather similar to Robert E. Lee’s.  (An article on that forthcoming.  And yes, my reference to General Lee in a prior article was not random.)  You’re not going to find a character comparable to one of the South’s greatest heroes in contemporary anime!

Continue reading

A Couple of Manga to Read in June

Usually, I have more manga than this to recommend.  However, good manga is hard to find.  This will be a very short article indeed, but I hope that you’re willing to try out one of the following two recommendations.  For a change, I’ve given ratings for content after each review.

No!  I promise that I really  did find only two manga worthy of recommending!

No! I promise that I really did find only two manga worthy of recommending!

Continue reading

Nozaki-kun’s Oddly Journalistic Approach to His Characters

This post feels a little late, but better late than never and I need a new topic for each day of this month!  While watching Nozaki-kun, I remember being struck by his extraordinary reliance upon his friends for ideas in his manga.  He’s hardly the only author to use real life persons in their fiction, but most characters take on a life of their own after a while.  For example, in the novel I submitted to the Christian Novel Contest (which has entered the next round.  Banzai!), I based one character on Robert E. Lee and another on Stonewall Jackson.  (Perhaps, an imperfect example since neither are known to me personally but only though history, but let’s go with it.)  While I thought of these two characters like the historical figures for a while, they eventually took on lives of their own.  They were no longer facsimiles of Lee and Jackson, but Gladwin and Roger.  I did not slavishly resort to reading biographies of the historical figures and looking up quotes of theirs whenever I had difficulty trying to write about them.  Eventually, I thought of them just as Gladwin and Roger, and I could write about them without reference to their antecedents.  The historical figures were a crutch I rested on until I properly owned the characters so to speak.

Nozaki calm down

Nozaki-kun never seems to exactly own his characters.  And so, he relies on the actual doings of his friends and testing their reactions to various stimuli or, to put it less vaguely, his trolling in order to figure out how his characters would act.  For example, he asks Waka for a detailed report of his date with Seo and makes an accurate record of what his male friends do when they sleep over his house–though, he does translate their deeds to things women would be more likely to do, since his female characters are the ones sleeping over in his manga.  This made for an absolutely hilarious anime, but it seems rather unrealistic for how fiction authors usually operate.  One wonders if Nozaki will continue writing comics as he gets older or join a Japanese news agency.  What do my dear readers think?  Especially those who have tried their hand at fiction?

Yuzuki Seo

 

“Stop spinning my maid without my permission”: Thoughts on GJ-bu

Ever since reading Marow’s opinion on GJ-bu, my interest in watching this show has been aroused.  Having finished it, I find myself in the curious situation of having loved this show but not knowing how to praise it.  Taking a lighthearted look at the foibles of human nature stands as the show’s best point.  After all, the club does not have a goal besides hanging out.  Shion plays online chess, Megumi makes tea and cake, Kirara eats meat, Tama waits for food which never makes her gain weight, and Kyoro–the only male in the club–reads manga as he awaits the president to bully him–or bite him for that matter.

vlcsnap-2014-09-03-18h49m01s224vlcsnap-2014-09-01-22h24m11s208

My predilections lean toward shows rich in character, and GJ-bu excels at making interesting and memorable characters even if they don’t do much.  (As you note, I only forgot one character’s name, and that’s because everyone is always calling her bucho, i.e. president.)  Teasing each other, especially Kyoro, stands as their main hobby.  They force him to brush their hair, doll him up, and compell him to transform to “Ore-otoko,” where he pretends to be a tough guy for a short time, sending shivers of delight up the girls’ spines.  Not sure if that sounds interesting to you.  In my own case, a room full of people teasing each other sounds like home.  It also helped that Shion’s chess junkie ways and Megumi’s tea connoisseurship made me identify with these two characters very easily.  But, watch episode one and see what you think.

No, Shion.  Q-K1 and then QxQ checkmate.  Don't be lazy when playing against yourself!

No, Shion. Q-K1 and then QxQ checkmate. Don’t be lazy when playing against yourself!

vlcsnap-2014-09-03-20h04m04s228

As a side note, it pleased me that all of the characters had siblings–even large families.  (Shion has at least eight brothers for example–perhaps more!)  As you know, Japan has a declining population, and this seems reflected in so many characters being only children or even just living alone.  So, it is nice to see a show where family was of such importance, especially in much of the comedy.

Kirara's sister is probably the cutest of the characters' siblings, especially how she delivers these lines in English.

Kirara’s sister is probably the cutest of the characters’ siblings, especially how she delivers these lines in English.

vlcsnap-2014-09-03-19h35m12s62

Anyway, I’m finished describing–or, rather, attempting to describe–the joys of GJ-buGJ-bu is a show to be experienced and enjoyed rather than read and written about.  Do yourself the pleasure of picking up this show on a rainy day.

vlcsnap-2014-09-03-20h05m46s209

Can't not include a picture of the only male in the cast!

Can’t not include a picture of the only male in the cast!

Fall 2014 Anime to Try Out

It is that time of the year when people across the aniblogosphere write about which new anime excite them most.  I myself thoroughly enjoyed the present season–despite feeling the need to prune my watch list–and hope that the next season produces an equally enjoyable a crop of anime.  Many bloggers seem to be disappointed with the current season in general, but the fault seems to lie in certain shows not meeting the expectations the bloggers placed in them.  What I mean to say is that the majority of shows still being quite good in themselves, just not so great in the minds of the critics.  (But, I will say that I feel very sorry for the people that slogged through Glasslip.)  Shortly, I even hope to pick up all the summer 2014 shows I stalled and finish them by way of marathoning them–the most enjoyable way to watch any show.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

At any rate, hence follows the list of shows I intend to try out next season along with a brief description of why.  To my mind, the list looks a little weaker than the one for the summer season.  Of course, some of these anime might hold some latent excellence.  Since this list concerns the shows I am not already sold on, I shall not include Hitsugi no Chaika 2 and Psycho-Pass 2.  How could I not watch the sequels to my favorite show of 2013 and my favorite show of the prior season?  Whether the sequels prove to be delightful or disappointing, I’m certain to watch through them both.  If they do prove disappointing, I hope that my complaints and vexation may at least prove enjoyable for you!

Sekai Trigger

1) World Trigger

Sounds like Freezing without the fanservice.  Fighting off giant alien invaders always sounds like an interesting premise for me, so I must give it a shot.

nanatsu-no-taizai mustache

2) Nanatsu no Taizai (aka The Seven Deadly Sins)

While perusing the aisles of Kinokuniya in New York City (the best Japanese bookstore on the east coast since the demise of Sasuga–yet another reason to hate the current recession), I came across this manga among the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” award winners.  With that endorsement, I purchased the volume one.  Though I have not yet gotten around to reading this Japanese edition yet, the artwork looks rather amazing and the action intense–big pluses in my book.  For the above reasons, I’m giving the anime a shot.  I really need to read volume one before it premiers.

3) Amagi Brilliant Park

Here’s an addition whose inclusion owes much to Caraniel’s excellent season preview post.  Before reading this post, I had not known that the author of Full Metal Panic was behind this series.  That’s all the endorsement a series needs in my book.  Though, I hope the dark and twisted psychological influences present in Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid are utterly, completely, and absolutely gone, lost, abandoned, forsaken, and anathematized from this new series!

4) Denki-gai Honya-san

Another comedy, this series of shorts involves the workers in a manga bookstore.  Can’t hurt to give it a shot.

Denkigai-no-Honya-san

5) Akatsuki no Yona

The manga version has the honor of being dropped by yours truly.  At a certain point, the plot and characters ceased to hold interest for me.  This does not exclude the anime version from outdoing the manga–as, exempli gratia, is shown in the cases of Knights of Sidonia and Saber Marionette J.  Especially as the scenario is rather interesting (though Rolan the Forgotten King executes a similar idea better), I am willing to give this story another shot.

6) Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis

Can’t be worse than that other Shingeki anime, can it?  (I jest.)  The preview boasts cool swordplay in a dark fantasy setting.  Worth a shot just for that.

7) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Another show I wish to check out just because of its fantasy setting.  It must be confessed that this anime almost failed to make the list.  But, this preview promises the possibility of a fun show.  It could turn out to be another Blade and Soul, i.e. atrociously fanservicey and dull; but, one can’t know for sure until one tries it.

Garoo

8) Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

If you haven’t perceived it ere now, I’m a sucker for fantasy settings.  This one seems to have a good story.  A mix of Scrapped Princess and Chronicles of Lodoss War perhaps?

9) Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

Solely because Trigger is behind it.

10) Terra Formars

The plot sounds like a combination of the movies Starship Troopers and Mimic.  (I had no idea those came out in the same year.)  What’s not to love about a show about soldiers fighting giant man-eating cockroaches on Mars?  In any case, man-eating cockroaches are eminently preferable to man-eating monsters in human form–at least, to me.

Wakaranai

11) I don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

My line-up this season is devoid of comedy except for Denki-gai Honya-san, so I feel compelled to give this show a shot.  Besides, few anime I know focus on married couples, so this should be interesting.

12) Whatever You Like

As long as my list is this long, I might as well add a twelfth show, right?  No, that’s not the name of an anime coming out next season.  Rather I’d like to invite my dear readers to recommend a series for me that’s not listed above.  Whatever most people tell me I should watch by October 1st, I shall watch!

Brains

I need to find time to watch the second season of Hamatora.

Within the first two weeks of the season, this long list shall be pruned by two-thirds, which means I’ll shoot for a total of six shows this season.  (I include Hitsugi no Chaika and Psycho-Pass in that sum.)  How does my list of shows to sample compare with yours?

My Experience with Anime of Spring 2014 Pt. II

Here I conclude my opinions on the anime I watched from Spring 2014 with my top five shows.  Enjoy!

Black Bullet Enju and Rentaro

5.  Black Bullet – ★★★½

One might characterize this show as having all one would wish for in a shonen anime: plenty of action and brushes with death.  It also had many things one could make fun of: examples may be seen here and here.  The Joker-like villain was a great foe for Rentaro, though I must confess to disliking our hero.  Rentaro’s a little inconsistent.  Shooting someone’s finger off in revenge for cruelty and stabbing someone for threatening to run?  Fine.  Killing a parricidal brother whose actions caused the death of thousands more?  O immane facinus!  In Rentaro’s defense, he might have been more disturbed by Kisara’s conviction that she needs to become evil in order to defeat evil.  She should familiarize herself with Jesus’ sermon on a house divided against itself.  But, I have an article on that scene in the works.

This show has everything an otaku needs: great action sequences, anime lines, likable characters, and a harem with girls fitting any taste.  Worthwhile for any fan of action also.

SDSGU

4.  Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii – ★★★★

I almost feel generous in giving Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii four stars, but it had two of the strongest characters this season.  (Thanks again to Lee Relph for recommending it to me.)  Of the shows I’ve seen, I can’t find a stronger female character than Nike or a stronger male character than Livius.  Normally, I don’t watch romantic shows, but this one had a good dose of court intrigue to make things more exciting.  Nevertheless, the salient features of the show stand as the love between Nike and Livius and the many tribulations they endure for the sake of their love.  The show also has some great humor.

Whether one likes comedy or romance, one should not pass this show up.

Tonari no Panic

3.  Tonari no Seki-kun – ★★★★

This was the most popular short comedy during both this season and the last one.  Its gags are sure to provoke vehement guffaws, and the show contains some likable characters–especially Yokoi.  The way entire episodes are narrated from one point of view, usually Yokoi’s, also make this work unique.  Yokoi’s voice actress, Kana Hanazawa, does a brilliant job of narration–whether it be her thoughts on Seki’s bizarre games or her own outlandish fantasies.

Though there might not be that much to this show besides the comedy, I highly recommend it.

KOS

2.  Knights of Sidonia – ★★★★

Much better than the manga.  This is a particularly dark story where the characters die in great frequency.  One gets the impression that no one is safe, which reminds me of how the makers of the old TV series Combat! would place the characters’ pictures on a dartboard to decide who would kick the bucket in certain episodes.  I thought that Knights of Sidonia had a slow start, which nicely described the atmosphere of Sidonia and humanity’s present existence.  The CG worked perfectly in this high technology setting with backgrounds reminiscent of steam punk anime.  The ending was just about perfect.  Unlike the series mentioned before, this suffered from having somewhat uninteresting characters though the plot and pacing were excellent.  If the characters–especially the main character–were less bland, I could easily see this show as being worthy of a full five stars.

Definitely a great dark, sci-fi, which I would watch again.

Coffin Princess Chaika

1.  Hitsugi no Chaika – ★★★★

I loved that the story was set in the world of Scrapped Princess.  Ichiro Sakaki has his usually deft touch with characters, action, and humor.  This show is much darker than Scrapped Princess, and one can see influences from Strait Jacket, a prior work of Sakaki’s.  (That OVA is not for the faint of heart.)  I must compare this show to Scrapped Princess in that the same kind of trio forms up and soldiers are again seeking to capture a princess; however, it delves more into themes of identity, loyalty, and humanity than justice, trust, and family.

If anything is keeping the show from the higher ratings, it lies in the story not being complete.  Otherwise, it’s a great anime.

Hitsugi no Chaika - 01 -4

Now, I need to figure out what I ought to watch for the summer season–besides Barakamon, Zankyo no Terror, Akame ga Kiru, and Psycho-Pass.

How I’m Enjoying the Season Thus Far

You’re probably wondering how I’m getting along this season.  My list of shows is still at nine, but that comes from me dropping two and adding two more.  Ranking them from favorite to least favorite, the order of shows would look like this:

  1. Hitsugi no Chaika
  2. Gokukoku no Brynhildr
  3. Black Bullet
  4. Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii
  5. Nanana’s Buried Treasure
  6. Mekakucity Actors
  7. Knights of Sidonia
  8. Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
  9. Captain Earth

SDSU

Compared to my old list, this one has lost the sumo wrestling anime and Fuun Ishin Dai-Shogun.  The latter was particularly bad, and reading about the former deflated any desire I had to watch it.  What’s new to this list are Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii and Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to.  I am greatful to Lee Relph of MIB’s Instant Headache for recommending the former.  This comedic fantasy boasts some of the most likable characters this season.  The ups and downs of Nike and Livius’s romance, Nike’s exuberant behavior, and the intrigue surrounding Livius’ court make for a fun show.  Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to is hilarious, though I can see some people turning it down for the outlandish themes in its comedy.  If it were not so funny, I doubt that I could have made it through the panty episode, i.e. the very first episode.

Aito-san exclaims "Light!" in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

Aito-san exclaims “Light!” in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

There are two reasons Hitsugi no Chaika tops the list: 1) it’s based in the world of Scrapped Princess, one of my favorite shows and earliest anime in my career as an otaku; and 2) my ignorance of its story.  Otherwise, Gokukoku no Brynhildr is about as strong a show, but I’m familiar with the manga.  The anime sticks like glue to the manga’s story line, though it is fun to see it animated.  My last anime post pointed out a flaw in the action of Black Bullet, but for all that it well deserves the number three spot.

Akari Acura

Another blogger whom I need to thank for a recommendation is Overlord Bear for suggesting Mekakucity Actors to me.  It’s a very interesting show, animated in the vein of Bakemonogatari.  (Watching this is making me consider trying to watch Nisemonogatari again.)  Overall, the characters and action are only a little less enjoyable than those of Nanana’s Buried Treasure.  But, I’m greatly looking forward to the direction the plot takes us.

Momo of Mekaku City Actors

Along with Gokukoku no Brynhildr, I also decided to start reading the manga for Knights of Sidonia.  After ten chapters or so, I dropped the manga Knights of Sidonia, and found my enthusiasm rather killed for the show.  Basically, I came to dislike both the characters and the world in which Knights of Sidonia was set.  Why is it still on my list then?  I felt that it would be unjust to drop the anime because I didn’t like the manga.  After all, it is possible that the anime studio outdid the mangaka.  In this case, they certainly did: the characters feel more lifelike and the situation less grim.  (Not much less grim, but sufficiently so.)  The show could easily vault higher into the rankings.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

Captain Earth owes its low position merely to the fact that I have not made time to watch it beyond episode two.  I was very excited for this show in the beginning and enjoyed the first couple of episodes before becoming distracted by other shows which seemed more interesting.  After all, mecha is not my favorite genre and we’ve seen the plot where a teenage boy suddenly becomes a giant robot pilot before.  But, the hero has guts and doesn’t appear two dimensional, so I’m going to start watching it again.

Well, that’s my situation this season.  I’m not sure whether any series will equal the classics of anime, but I hope that they will offer as much food for thought as they already have fun.

Gintama and Refusing to Surrender

Gintama happens to be one of my favorite shows presently.  I always loved it for its outrageous humor, and its first two episodes are classic.  In the second season, they started creating more serious story arcs, and they succeeded in making them spectacular.  I suppose that the best comedies always have a vein of seriousness in it.  Socrates did argue  with Aristophanes in his Symposium that a writer of comedy should be equally able to write tragedy.  Somehow, the seriousness of a situation always lends more humor to it.  For example, while I was a cadet in the Navy League, my funny bone was surprisingly easy to tickle–but, my laughter often provoked unfortunate consequences, which very misfortunes actually led to a vicious cycle of joviality.

%C0%BA%C8%A5-254.avi_001124750

At any rate, one of my favorite arcs deals with the show’s madao, Hasegawa Taizou.  Madao stands for mattaku dame na otoko, which translates to “completely useless guy.”  He finally gets a job by which he hopes to be able to repair his relationship with his wife, with whom he is separated.  However, he discovers that his wife has begun to date another man.  Refusing to let this ruin his good spirits, he goes to work by train only to have the following mishap: he trips on the platform, grabs onto a woman in the attempt to stop his fall, ends up dragging her off, and performs the start of an awkward wrestling move on her.  

The famed Kinniku Buster

The famed Kinniku Buster

This mishap leads to him being arrested as a pervert.  To make his depression worse, the prosecutor happens to be the man dating his wife.  This man offers Hasegawa a chance to have these charges dropped if he signs a letter of divorce.  While Hasegawa refuses this, he does ask Gintoki, the series’ hero, during an interview at the prison for a rope strong enough to hang a man.  To which Gintoki respond with one of the noblest lines in the series: “Next time…I’ll bring the rope. I won’t bring it so that you can hang yourself, but if its a rope to pull you out of the depths of hell, I’ll bring as many as you need.”  From this point, Gintoki becomes Hasegawa’s defense attorney, and one of the most screwball trials ever contemplated ensues. 

e0087034_47d14709d5cac

But, refusing to surrender to despair stands as one of the central themes in Gintama.  They also crafted a magnificant story in the case of Hijikata, a the vice captain of the Shinsengumi, who takes a demon sword as a temporary replacement only to have it bring him under the curse of extreme otakufication.  But, the series shows that there is always hope no matter what one is struggling against.

21a054bc683f05ddbac5bb54a5c70b551230047899_full

General Endorsement of Humanity has Declined

I did promise a review of this show, didn’t I?  The only problem is that I feel quite unable to do justice to this rather amusing show which covers a diverse grouping of topics.  You see, my viewing of this show was rather sporadic with weeks passing in between certain episodes.  Then, the episodic nature of the show prevents me from latching on to a thread which I might delineate in the show.  As a matter of fact, the only two reasons to continue reading what I’m about to write are that 1) it’s short and 2) you will be directed to proper reviews of this show.

Image

The most omnipresent theme running through the show appears to be Watashi’s (watashi is the polite form for “I” in Japanese) cynicism, skepticism, and perfect contempt for any projects or ideas which moderns themselves devise or draw from the past.  This makes her a very droll character, whom bloggers across cyberspace have extolled.  She even takes on the topic of yaoi and manga in general through commenting on Y’s (a former school friend) efforts to spread the genre’s influence in the modern era.

Image

I thought that Marlin-sama had an article on the episode which commented on this show’s portrayal of religion, but I can’t find it.  Another great article on this show was Avvesione’s discussion of the effect of light on the animation.  Then, there were a couple on Beneath the Tangles which were also quite enjoyable: Lessons from the Decline of Humans and Possibility of a New Race.

Image

In the end, all I can say that this show was a lot of fun; although, GoodbyeNavi has a profoundly different opinion.  The strongest points for this show are the main character, her cynical commentary on just about everything, references to outside works like Gulliver’s Travels, and the humor and zaniness of certain scenes.  If you want more than that, you might be disappointed.  Though, I wouldn’t mind watching this fun little show again.

Image

Image