Dear Reader, My Apologies [HIATUS]

Now, I have been culprit to many large promises that I have not been able to deliver on in the past. Perhaps, this post is a resolution to and realization of my time constraints and work efforts. 

This blog is not my goodbye, but rather a call for a little break until I can properly adjust to my new school. 


On Monday and Tuesday, I had my orientation at Santa Clara University, which changed my plans. There are so many amazing, intelligent, driven, people in college, and they also happen to be loads of good fun.  Even the small handful of people I met at orientation were all people I could see myself being good friends with long into the future. 

In about two months, I will begin studying at SCU. It has come to the forefront my attention that the quarter system will be a brutal adjustment (10 week classes instead of 15). As I greatly value my education, I had already planned to cut back on anime to leave large blocks of time to study. 

Between classes, meals, socialization, exercise, studying, and (of course) parties, anime has lost its place in my list of priorities. Experiences are irreplaceable, and at this point in my life, there are tons of (now realistically accomplishable) things I can do other than anime. In this light, I will probably not be watching anime with any consistency or devotion. 

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A short history moment: I have been watching anime on and off since I was in seventh grade, but the last two years have been a crazy ride packed full of hundreds of anime. I started this blog about a year ago, when I was searching for anime and found Wrong Every Time, which inspired me to write about anime. 

I have never watched so much anime for so long. I’m burned out. Though I can hand it to these Japanese Cartoons for sharpening my sense of storytelling, production, and finding inspiration, it is time to put it all down for a while and digest, as well as adapt to my new lifestyle. 

I know I could probably keep blogging, but the quality drop would be disgraceful, and it would feel more like a job than a fun hobby (which is why I write in the first place). 


With that, I leave you all with a gesture of gratitude for your attention and support of my writing, and a sentiment that this blog is not get dead. Maybe look towards winter or spring for my eventual return to anime.

Happy anime hunting! 

SUMMER 2016 Taste Testing Part 3

And the Summer season continues! So far we have had two fantastic looking animes appear (Orange, Amaama to Inazuka), along with a whole group of good and okay animes, with just a handful of total duds.  This particular round was pretty solid, and I’m excited for the coming season!

For these blogs, I will write as much is as necessary to get my opinion across to you, the reader. I’m doing the good, the okay, and the ugly (maybe even the best if something qualifies) to break this blog up a bit.

Time to start it up! 


THE BEST


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 6.41.09 PM91 Days | July 8

Now if I am being honest, 91 days is not for everyone. It is quite particular, but I find it very good. There is a calm and unforced realness the this anime contains (similar to Amaama to Inazuka and Orange), which forces the viewer to continue watching. Perhaps the drama of all three is what probes the viewer to continue. 91 Days is already working with some heavy themes like revenge, and building complex relationships to play off of the characters and events. Though perhaps one of the least heartfelt show of the season, it does present immense positive potential. At this point, I’m thinking the main enemy of this show will be falling into a cliché one too many times. Though it has avoided that so far, no promises. If it all works out, 91 Days looks like it is going to be a memorable thrill ride!


THE GOOD

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.31.40 PM.pngAmanchu! | July 8 

Don’t get me wrong, this series is really good. The slowness of it just really gets to me. I suppose that is a major pitfall when it comes to slice of life; it is so easy to be swept away in roundabout thought and contemplation that you lose the viewers attention. I do believe, however, that when the cast expands, this series will become worlds better. Right now, it’s just a little too slow and focused on “Teko”. That being said, the character development, premise, music, and visual are wonderfully and substantial. 


Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 6.03.49 PM.pngAlderamin on the Sky | July 8

You see, Madhouse has this magical way of creating good anime. At the very least, Alderamin is visually pleasing and well executed. Personally, I think there is a ton of potential to either get really good, or be a mediocre shitter. The characters are pretty unique and avoid troups, which is a nice change. The storyline isn’t clear yet, but the anime works decently without a totally clear direction. What we need now is some good character and thematic development to bring this anime to the next level. 


THE OKAY

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 4.04.13 PM.pngKonobi | July 7

Aka The Art Club has a Problem! The cast seems pretty good on this one, but other than that this series is looking to be your average school romantic comedy. Not much else to say with that.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 6.18.40 PM.pngHanda-kun | July 7

Just let me clarify: I have not seen Barakamon prior to this, but I have heard that it is very good. Now, Handa-kun does not seem like a very good anime at all right now. The first half was awful, consisting of a subpar comedy skit with characters no one cares about. The second half was pretty humorous, but the overall was not impressive. I’m looking for this series to become a solid comedy, as I can’t imagine it being very good as anything other than comedy. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 5.07.58 PM.pngCHEDC LOVE 2 | July 7

Could it be, but yes it is: SUGITA! Okay, on another note this series is just as silly and stupid as ever. The animation has taken an upgrade, and it looks like we have some new characters, but other than that this show is a hilarious, satirical, train wreck. 


Thank you for reading! There is one more blog coming with my final thoughts for summer 2016.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and happy anime hunting!

SUMMER 2016 Taste Testing Part 2

And we are back with more Summer 2016 anime! So far, we have had a pretty solid season present itself, but let’s see what else is out there! For these blogs, I will write as much is as necessary to get my opinion across to you, the reader. I’m doing the good, the okay, and the ugly (maybe even the best if something qualifies) to break this blog up a bit.

Also, I have decided to not watch the premiers of the typical school battle harem shows, since those never really turn out very good anyways.Additionally, I have decided to do a separate write up for Relife, since it premiered all at the same time. 

Let us begin!


THE BEST

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 12.04.39 PM.pngAmaama to Inazuka | July 4

This anime is going to be very very good. The atmosphere is perfect, the father darling relationship is darling, and the notes of darkness work to reach the viewer emotionally. This one will be one to watch for this season. Unlike some other animes that rely on cuteness, Amaama to Inazuka has an intriguing, heartfelt narrative, that uses the cute, colorful animation to express genuine emotion in the most adorable way possible. It really wins “BEST” title, and I hope the following episodes continue with the same balance of sweet and heartbreaking. 


THE GOOD


Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 7.59.27 PM.pngCheer Danshi | July 5

To my great surprise, this series is looking to be one of the better ones this season. I though we were looking at some typical BL ridden, sloppy, unsubstantial sports anime, but Cheer Danshi actually looks like it is going to have something good. Maybe it is just me, but I love that they are college age. It takes pressure off the anime to fall into a typical circus of high school animes. For whatever reason, this difference makes the story and presentation come off as a thousand time more life-like and relatable. The characters are also quite likable in their own way, and the humor is pretty decent. I am excited for the episodes to come! 


THE OKAY

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 12.25.24 AM.pngServamp | July 5

This is by all means workable. The screamo right out the gate was a little surprising, but this anime presents a decent canvas for something to happen. The one downfall for the characters is that they are cliché, but as long as they are developed right I don’t think it will be a problem. The animation is up and down, but cinematically strong in the good  moments. The story and sound are solid. The humor is also decent and I appreciate how it is incorporated into the rest of the anime well. I think overall this is just a decent anime with potential to grow into something decent. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 7.04.47 PM.pngD. Gray Man | July 4

Now, I am also conflicted as to whether I should bump this up or keep it here, but let me continue. Two main things: this picked up where it left off in a very unglamorous fashion, and the styling is different, but not all bad. One of the greatest downfalls of the original D. Gray Man is the half-assed animation. Luckily, it seems like this animation will be a vast improvement. On the other hand, the voice acting is tripping me up a lot. The voice actors have changed for a number of the characters, and presentation of the lines is far more overdramatic and off-putting than the original season. Seriously though, the voice acting has taken a hit. Also, Allen’s personality seem to be very… off to say the least. I think his voice actor’s voice it too high and the producers are trying to play him off too much as a wanna-be punk. On the other hand, the rest of the series seems to be pretty well off, so it really is a waiting game to see if the voice actors and vocal styling will settle. 

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 12.13.23 AM.pngTaboo Tattoo | July 4

A lot of people are critiquing this anime for being painfully cliché and contrived, and I totally see why. At first I was convinced this anime belonged in the “ugly” folder. I really do see the complete and total potential to be really bad. Despite that, I think there is something quite workable and build-able here. The art is very unique, and although it comes off as eh quality, the colors fit the strong themes and storyline. The story and characters are cliche to say the least, but not too unlikable. So really, this anime actually has the potential to be really good. It took me a moment to realize, but SUGITA is also in Taboo Tattoo, so I will hold out hope that this anime follows the path of the best potential. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 12.19.17 PM.pngArslan Senki 2 | July 3

Well, this is basically the same exact show. It is a little rocky and pretty cliche at times, but Arslan Senki is a solid watch all in all. The awful CGI is back, which is a down. But, Gieve, aka the best character, is also back on screen, so hopefully the show will improve from the slump it fell into last season. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.56.04 PM.pngFudanshi Koukou Seikatsu | July 5

I’m not blown away, but it’s a short so I didn’t expect to be. As far as comedies go, FudanshiKS is a solid pick for this season. I smiled throughout the episode, and there is room to grow! I guess this show is much more…. straight than I expected? haha!

 


THE UGLY

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 1.00.04 AM.pngMononokean | July 5

Honestly, this anime isn’t all that awful, it just feels like I’ve seen it about 6 time. From the characters, to the storyline, to the dialogue, all the way to art and music, I’ve seen almost the exact combination. The humor is also a pretty bug let down; I couldn’t even crack a smile. So while this anime isn’t god awful, it really is not worth watching, unless you haven’t seen any school yokai animes (like Rinne).

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.27.38 PM.pngScared Rider Xechs | July 5

Yeah, this anime is a real shit in the punchbowl. The animation is bland, the soundtrack not amazing, the characters are slices of plain bread, and the story lack direction and focus. I really doubt this anime is going anywhere pleasant. 


Thank you all yet again for reading my blogs! Happy anime hunting!

Josuke’s Role Model is Himself?! JoJo’s DU Ep 15

Another week with the amazing Rohan is here! 

Before I start this, I have to apologize for the delay in my taste testing blogs. I just completed Silver Spoon and it has joined the ranks of my favorite anime of all time. Seriously though, Silver Spoon (aka Gin no Saji) is a wonderful slice of life and I would highly recommend. 

Anyway, Let’s return to JoJo’s and see the resolution of Rohan and the JoJo gang


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I suppose this episode wasn’t the most inspirational or deep, but it tied up the story quite nicely. I guess there are two things I want to touch on: how the series mixes story lines, and Josuke’s little flashback (what could the resemblance mean?). 

As far as storylines go, Araki has done an excellent job of laying down a solid foundation, as shown by Phantom Blood. Though Phantom Blood is maybe the least interesting and most contrived arc of the series, it laid out a wide platform that the other series have built off of. Or rather, the series build off of each other in near secession. Diamond is Unbreakable is interesting and unique at this point because we have diverted from the family tree to look at what is (let’s face it) a bastard son. Because of this, the events that happen are no longer one after the other, but rather the events are the exact same. So what does this do to the anime? Well, for the most part, it adds complexity to a fairly straight story line. It also makes it possible to draw thematic parallels among events, like the Dio raid in Stardust Crusaders and Josuke’s illness. 

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The other thing I want to talk about is the man that serves as Josuke’s inspiration. First off all, I’m sure we all noticed the uncanny resemblance between current Josuke and the guy that helped him. Another thing about this scene are the sparkles that come off Josuke when his mom grabs him. Thirdly, the man is beaten and bloodied. He appears to have been in a fight, but appears out of nowhere and couldn’t be found afterword. Now, Morioh is a pretty small town, so you would think that Josuke’s mom would be able to find a single high school boy. 

Another thing that bothers me about that is how angry Josuke gets when the man is insulted. Now, if the unknown guy is actually Josuke who was somehow time warped to save himself be his stand powers (just run with this for a second), then would Josuke’s opinion of himself change at all? I’m not a manga reader, but I am willing to bet that Josuke will find out that he saved himself and become conflicted as to whether or not he can still hold himself (presumably) as a role model. 


 

Thank you for reading this week again! I will keep at it and make another hollow promise to not get sidetracked and produce blogs! happy anime hunting!

SUMMER 2016 Taste Testing Part 1

Hey guys! It is that time of the year yet again! Here we are for another good looking season of anime on the horizon. Yet again, I am changing my system for reviewing series as they air. For these blogs, I will write as much is as necessary to get my opinion across to you, the reader. I’m doing the good, the okay, and the ugly (maybe even the best if something qualifies) to break this blog up a bit. As far as weekly blogs go, I am keeping up with JoJo’s and I will decide what I want to write on by week three (instead of the first episode). 

Without further ado, let’s see what the season is offering!


THE BEST

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 6.58.25 PM.pngOrange | July 2

OH MY FRIENDS WE HAVE A WINNER. The hype for this was very appropriate. Orange is an excellent compilation of everything that makes slice of life anime good. The characters are ones you would find in your own life, and the stories are those that you tell to your own friends because they happened to you too. Orange is the best kind of slice of life: a down to earth one. Not to mention the soundtrack and animation are gorgeous to go along with the greatness we are already working with. From the premise, to the characters, all the way to little details that you hardly pick up on, Orange has hit it out of the ball park. Laced with notes of darkness, this entrancing series will keep your eyes glued to the screen!


THE GOOD

 Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 4.19.55 PMDAYS | July 2

Now here is an anime with some great potential. Now, I am a huge fan of sports anime, so there is a healthy bias when I write about this, but still this series looks to be pretty good. Certainly the animation is very lifelike and vivid, which adds to the show’s down to earth feeling. Everyone loves watching a character grow, and that is exactly what DAYS is all about. Tsukishi reminds me a whole lot of Sena from Eyeshield 21. The cast is also quite lovely and the show has proven to be proficiently humorous. I think the key to makes DAYS the best it can be is to foster a feeling of slice of life and avoid pushing Tsukishi-centric story by pushing a bit more focus to the surrounding cast. DAYS is one to keep an eye in this season!

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Tales of Zestria | July 3

Well shit… That was the most beautiful thing I have watched in a LONG ASS TIME. Seriously though, this animation is gorgeous and reason enough to watch the series. I feel weird judging the series on plot since this episode is supposed to be a prologue-ish thing to the main series. For a prologue it was pretty organized and explanatory, although there is still plenty missing from the story overall. I would deem this series very worthy to watch based on visuals alone, and even more so given the authentic fantasy vibe. Zestria is one to look out for this season!

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.18.32 PM.pngShokugeki no Soma 2 | July 2

Let’s just say Shokugeki no Soma is picked up right where it started. The characters are just as I remember, as is the good soundtrack and humorous food porn moments. I think the only way this anime has changed is that the animation has been upgraded (less long pans and such). This show is honestly ridiculous, but it is good fun, with a solid sense of humor, likable characters, and consistently. So, let us all keep watching. 


THE OKAY

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 6.37.38 PM.pngRewrite | July 2

Well that was interesting, but I feel like I am missing a ton of information. I feel this has some potential, but it needs to straighten out a ton. I mean, I was engaged for a whole 50 minute episode so it can’t be that bad, right? The main character is a tad bit unlikable, but the girls are all pretty cute. The animation and sound is also nice. The only thing this series needs to REALLY work on is the story and pacing. Other than that, I’m looking forward to some interesting, complex episodes. I feel the potential on this anime. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.44.12 PM.pngMomokuri | July 1

Oh Momo-kun if only you knew. This series is nothing all that special. Stalker girl + unaware short cute guy. It’s cute and funny so I’ll give it that, but so far this show is lacking in substance. The only real disappointment is the lack of potential. 


THE UGLY

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 4.53.55 PMHatsukoi Monster | July 2

You know I really thought this was going to be the worst anime ever. Then I heard Gin and he is SUGITA!! Other than Sugita this anime is a complete mess. It’s not even cute or funny. The characters are a train wreck, the art is pretty bad, the story is pointless at best, and the music is horrendous. I was kind of hyped for a whacky comedy, but this is just creepy. Maybe if the characters (especially the protagonists) were better this would be redeemable. Considering the decent cast (SUGITA!! and a few more), I thought this would be a bit better. 


Well I hope you enjoyed my initial impressions! More are to come so sit tight and relax! 

Rohan is the Best Villain Yet?! JoJo’s DU Ep 14

I need a moment for life updated here:

Well, not surprisingly, my plans to finish the season strong have died out. As it turns out, I have essentially zero time for anime in my daily life. In fact, JoJo’s is the only anime I watch consistently. I am going to make a blog about the endings of Mayoiga, Kiznaiver, and Kabaneri, but the weekly blogs have lost their significance.  In accordance with my lack of time, my reports on the summer season may look a bit different, although I am not quite sure what is changing. 

Anyways, this week in JoJo we got a wonderful introduction to Rohan, the crazy manga artist.


Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 11.11.19 AM.png

I would like to devote the entirety of this week to Rohan, who is one of the best JoJo villains we have had in a while. This time let’s look at what makes his character great as a villain, and what his signifies. 

First, I want to get out there that Rohan is one of my favorite villains since Battle Tendency, and not only because he is totally overpowered. Unlike some other villains who prove themselves to be quite intelligent, Rohan uses not only his intelligence, but also a healthy serving of common sense. Some villains, such as Chili Pepper, want to be found, but Rohan is different. He is very discrete and secretive, as shown by the hefty window coverings and his quiet attitude. Unlike many other bad guys, Rohan is also quite earnest and possesses very protagonist-like values. For example, he doesn’t dupe or attack Koichi and Hazamada until they intrude on his work and open up the manuscript. Though Rohan is not forgiving, he does not attack without reason.  

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You can also find Rohan’s earnest nature in his attitude towards his manga. Unlike others, Rohan values the readers entertainment over money or fame. So despite Rohan’s claims of disliking people, he is actually a people pleaser. Rohan’s kind sentiments towards people seem limited to those who he has deemed worthy. For example, Rohan rejects Hazamada as a subject because he is an unlikable person (cheater, perverted, liar). I would go so far as to guess that at some point in his life, Rohan had his feeling betrayed by others, which caused him to develop a personality that was more tolerant towards being ignored or not accepted. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 11.21.35 AM.png
See, Rohan is actually really happy about finding others like him. 

Rohan’s stand is also quite interesting. Heaven’s Door is said to be one of the most OP stands in the entire series (other than the JoJo stands), and I see why. Heaven’s Door essentially gives Rohan the power to rewrite a person’s life, or even decide another’s life for himself. In the hands of someone truly evil like Dio, this power would seem much heavier, however, given how earnest Rohan is, it does not seem as bad. Now, I believe that Rohan is actually a pretty good guy, despite his creepy vibe at times. His inherit goodness makes Rohan a more interesting villain, especially when compared to the JoJo crowd of antagonists, many of which are clearly bad like Hazamada.


I hope you enjoyed my blog this time around and my spring taste testing blogs are on the way 🙂 Happy Anime Hunting!   

Joseph Hasn’t Changed? JoJo’s DU Ep 13

Funny how my blog is completely dominated by JoJo’s…. That could tell you something about how addicting all the series are this season. Anyways, here comes Joseph in the full JoJo swing of things yet again. Let me just say: Even in his old age, Joseph is my favorite JoJo. 


This week I want to talk about a key topic in understanding motion (as know as the changing of time or space). This episode was essentially the pinnacle of the notion that in order to know anything, something about that object has to be unchanged even if time and space change. The unchanged object is the only part of the object that we can know, and is  what we call form, which is connected to matter, which is physical (atom are the most simplified). Example: you have a forest full of trees that are made of wood. If you chop down a tree and make it into a table, the fact that the object is still wood can be held in common with the forest, but the most basic (what I am calling simple) form is different (table vs forest). The same goes for aging; Something about that person (usually personality or intellect) is saved as the person ages, despite the physical form changing. Eventually, only the memory of a person is left.

 

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This episode served primarily to reintroduce Joseph. Last time Joseph was introduced to Jotaro, he was very cognitive and there was no doubt that much of the original Joseph was still there. This time, however, Josuke has major doubts about Joseph’s ability, as well as his sanity. 

As we saw from Joseph’s actions regarding the invisible child, there is actually quite a lot of him that has been saved since last time he appeared in the show. Although his masterful strategy, sparky comebacks, and iron whit have deteriorated, the inherit JoJo kindness runs as strongly as ever. 

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Although the great bulk of the episode came off as a comedy skit, we actually had a handful of good moments. The best being Josuke’s eventual acceptance of Joseph as his father, despite his reservations. Although Josuke had announced earlier in the episode that he would call Joseph Mr. Joestar, the act of heroism convinced Josuke otherwise. I was actually surprised at how little Jotaro appeared in this episode. Since Joseph entered the picture, little attention has been paid to Jotaro’s influence to the story. I am hoping that they actually make some sort of use of his character this season, as I felt he was poorly underused in Stardust Crusaders. 


Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my short notes this week. I’ll make something happen with all the other ones. 

The All-Important Theme of Family! JoJo’s DU Ep 12

Here we are again with JoJo’s! I love how this show is so easy to talk about, unlike some choice others of the season. Either way, here we are with the resolution to the ever so annoying Chili Pepper!


Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 5.47.51 PM.png

Introducing Akira, the crazy guitar wielding stand user! How electrifying. Anyways, he is pretty much what you would expect given his stand: narcissistic, arrogant, and zero chill. I suppose that description was within the degrees of freedom I used last week. Regardless, Akira is pretty much a playbook JoJo villain. Unlike some of the duds of Stardust Crusaders, I actually hope to see Akira again. He adds a lot of energy to a cast that would be very bland (without Okuyasu). I find it interesting how this series is keeping the villains in town (hospital mostly) as they mentioned last episode. Given how many of them appear in the opening, I expect more appearances. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.03.07 PM.png

I also love the three JoJos reunited. Family pride has actually been a fairly prevalent theme throughout all the seasons, but draws little attention from critics, which is surprising considering the premise is based on following the Joestar family.  The family theme has a multitude of implications. First of all, the majority of issues faced in the series center around protecting, saving, or avenging a family member. Just to name a few: Jonathan pursued Dio in part because of his father’s death by Dio, Jonathan also sacrificed  himself for his son, Joseph fights the idols to protect his grandmother, and later Jotaro and Joseph fight to save Holly, and now Josuke fights to protect his mother. But this is not just true of the JoJo line. For example, Polnareff fights to avenge his sister, Ceasar fights for the honor of his late father, and Okuyasu fights to avenge his father.

Another thing I have noted about the family pride theme is that characters, especially male protagonists, feel an extraordinary responsibility towards protecting their family.  Also, if their family meets harm in any way, then the males feel responsible for what happened. You see this a lot in characters like Polnareff and Jotaro, who are both left enraged when the women in their life (sister and mother) are harmed. 

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Another common theme, with exception to Lisa Lisa (Joseph’s mother), is that the men most always protect women. Even with Lisa Lisa, Joseph had to come save her when Kars tried to kill her. As far as my understanding, there is only one female JoJo to date (Jotaro’s daughter) who is the main protagonist of the sixth story. Although this does come off as a bit sexist, given the gender equality realities in Japan, especially when the books were written, this doesn’t surprise me. 

The last thing I want to mention right now (on this theme) is that the “goodness” of any given character directly correlates with how much the character loves/tries to protect their family. At one end of the spectrum, the JoJo’s are big on family, and are the protagonists. Alternatively, Dio is the ultimate villain, and he always wished his family harm and only valued himself. Okuyasu and his brother are also great examples; Okuyasu loved his brother, but his brother always claimed him to be a menace and held little concern for Okuyasu’s safety. Consequently, Big brother bit the dust, while Okuyasu, who retained his love, is left standing and is now a protagonist. Similarly, Ceasar used to want to kill his father, and was going down a dark gang-filled path, that is until his father risked his life to save Ceasar, which made Ceasar regain respect and love for his father (boom, protagonist!). 


Well I hoped you enjoyed my JoJo family centric blog today! Here is a little touch of the ever so hilarious Okuyasu to tie things up:

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Slice of Life and Biba’s Morality? Kabaneri Ep 7&8

Hey all! Sorry I have not been keeping up like I promised to! Once I fall into my summer rhythm all will be well.  Anyways, I am catching up today with kabaneri episodes 7&8 (9 coming soon!)

Episode seven was a fairly successful slice of life episode, while episode eight ramped up the drama with the introduction of Mumei “brother”. 


 

Episode seven was a pretty well done change of pace as far as the series is concerned. I also appreciate how the end of the episode didn’t explode into a massive Kabane attack. I suppose there is a multitude of things that I could talk about this episode, but I have cut my list down to three main topics: how slice of life integrates, critiquing Ikoma’s character, and the power struggle portrayed in the anime. 

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First off, I have to commemorate this episode for achieving the better slice of life moments from this series. Between the light music and toned down visuals, we get a very calm vibe from the show. Watching it without sound even gives the viewer a slice of life feeling. The dialogue was also an improvement from previous slice of life scenes, as it felt very natural and character-interest based, rather than viewer-entertainment based. When the show takes a moment to contrast the calm atmosphere, it effectively makes you feel the underling plot and thematic issues, while still upholding a slice of life exterior. I will get to the scene with Ikoma and Mumei, but for now let’s just say that was one of the weaker moments of the episode. The transition to a more serious atmosphere was also very well done. Instead of the previous “let’s go for a mode switch and just throw in a kabane-related problem,” the show takes a sidestep to address some social themes such as power and family. 

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Next up is our justice loving protagonist Ikoma. I have previously praised his character for being the perfect platform to represent justice and the line between Kabane and Humans. When he is not being useful as a plot or thematic device, Ikoma is utterly annoying and useless. Seriously though, who ever constructed his dialogue need to be reassigned. I suppose this is a prime example of failing to “show not tell”. Also maybe it is just me, or has his character changed in a nonsensical way? To me, he seems much more dense than before and is even worse at judging how he should act around other people. Compared to Mumei, who (most of the time) is very aware of her surroundings and knows how to work people over, Ikoma looks like a bumbling fool. I would also say that his voice actor doesn’t help all his lack of seriousness all that much. Anyways, I still think Ikoma is a solid character in the context of the show, I just wish there would be more effort put forth by production to make his actions less textbook justice guy. 

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I want to talk about in particular the scene pictured above: Biba’s return and what that says about power. Okay so earlier in the episode some men talking in a dark room showed us that this Biba guy is someone that normal people do not want to get involved with. His group, the hunters, seem to be idolized by the general public, but it also seems clear from the mens’ conversation that the image above is a facade and there is some dark stuff happening underneath the surface. Of course, the general public seems to favor these vigilante type men over their own government. Here is the interesting thing about fear culture and government: when people are scared of something, they get out of hand, and the government is tasked with the job of calming, controlling, and providing for the general public.  It seems that in this world the government holds the value that we should save the most people as possible, but value women and children, as well as people who control the government (aka those who have power). In contrast, the hunters value strength over number or political influence. For example, if you are stronger than a government official then you will survive over the government guy. The ideology of the hunters appeals to the general public, who would be given a chance to “rank up” over other given that they are stronger. What the people fail to realize is that most of them would be helpless in the face of the kabane, and that the hunters an average skill level that is much higher that the public’s. 


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Episode 8 exists primarily to introduce Biba’s moral compass and how he functions in the Kabane filled world, as well as how he affects Mumei. Personally I though Biba’s character building was going quite well until the last minute or so (when he smiled). Other than that, Biba makes perfect sense as a character in this series. He is a man of great power, and feels an immense amount of pride in his ideology, so much so that he will play a little dirty to make it true. Biba’s moral compass is dictated by a handful of strong beliefs: you should protect and stand up for yourself, if you are unable to successfully do these things then you are weak, even if you are weak you still have the potential to become strong, and the strong will prevail as the powerful. All things considered, it is easy to see why Mumei struggles so much with her morals. 

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By now I’m sure the bulk of you have found out that Mumei is supposed to be 12 years old. Now, 12 year olds, and really young people in general, always seem tasked with figuring out their morals and values. Mumei has been present two different moral compasses that are incompatible/do not overlap. This has forced Mumei into a situation where she is forced to choose between the two. Biba’s morals are much harder to live by, but she has devoted her life to following his ideals. Alternatively, Ikoma and co.’s morals are much more inclusive if that makes sense. Ikoma’s morals appeal to Mumei because she struggles so much to meet Biba’s expectations of “strong” and because Ikoma’s are easier to live and love by. Although I have a strong hunch that she will chose to live by Ikoma in the end, her struggle with her morals will be something to look for as the conflict between Biba and Ikoma heats up. 


I hope you enjoyed my (catch up)writings on Kabaneri this time! I will be writing much more in the coming days and weeks. Happy anime hunting!

Winter 2016: Don’t Forget ‘Em!

Oh how time flies! One day after another and the Winter 2016 season feels like it ended ages ago! I’m starting a new series for this site under the name Don’t Forget ‘Em to commemorate all the great animes that we may or may not have already forgotten about. Even week 10 of the season I will recount great animes that ended in the last, so hopefully, we remember those worth remembering.  Since this is hard I’ll split it into three sections: Great animes, comedies, and honorable mentions!


Great animes huh…

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I start this great list off with one om my personal favorites: Ace of the Diamond. Though critiqued for cliches and repetitive scenarios, AoD is under appreciated for all the positives it brings to the table, such as stellar character development, impressive visuals, and some catchy tunes. The original series began in Fall of 2013, and the second season picked up right after in Spring of 2015, until the series finally ended last Winter. I will save you the counting; that is a total of 126 episode, not included OVAs and specials. This series will be missed by sports anime fans, including myself. 

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Another debated anime that I loved from last season is Ajin. Though many complained about the awkward animation and unlikable characters, I found that those people also missed the point of the series. I saw Ajin as another study of what makes humans “human.” Similar to other animes, we see characters caught in situations that challenge their moral compass and find where they stand. What makes Ajin exceptional is that it allows characters to be displayed in a way where there is no clear side to justice. One moment you side with the police force, another moment you side with the Ajin. In both instances, the viewer’s moral scale has been bent to reconsider their ideas that might have been clearly enforced or contradicted. I also find Ajin to be interesting because it features a true psychopath as the protagonist, as opposed to a justice lover or emotionally scared person. Lucky for us, Ajin is getting a second season in the fall, so our drama shall continue! 

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The third great series we saw laid to rest is the widely popular Durarara. Maybe it is just me, but the original season could not be beat by the three following cours. Perhaps I am a little bit overwhelmed with nostalgia, but this series has a pretty special place in my heart. The original series aired back in 2010, and the revamped cours took place in the Winter and Summer seasons of 2015, until the final cour aired last season. With a vibrant cast and twisting, complicated network of connections, Durarara can be a little difficult to follow at times. I think the inherit complication gives the series that charm that doesn’t come naturally. Durarara is on my list of series to re-watch in full! Needless to say, Durarara will be dearly missed. 

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Back to the sports vibe, Haikyuu also proved, yet again, that it is an excellent watch. Seriously, this series has mastered the art of balancing drama and comedy. The entire cast is likable in some way or another, and the comedy is a reason in and of itself to watch the show.  Although the focuses on other teams can be a little bit tedious, the heart of the show, Karasuno, is more than enough to stay tuned. The character design, development and interactions are probably my favorite part. This is one of those shows where you just have to give it a couple of episodes to shatter your expectations. Haikyuu fans will join once more next fall to see what may be the final season of this enjoyable show. 

The following two series have made their way into my top ten anime, and I would highly recommend giving them a try. 

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My second favorite anime from last season is Hai to Gensou no Grimgar. Many discounted this anime on the fact that the pace was slower than most, and the anime possessed a very relaxed and calm air. A cheap way to describe this anime would be a fresh, elegant take on the “stuck in a game” story. Between the beautiful animation, charming music, and genuine characters, Grimgar shows something of a perfection in the art of anime. Elegant pastel colors sweep the backgrounds and character designs, paired with calming piano and string based songs that make you want to cry they are so beautiful. Perhaps the undoubted best part about this anime are its genuine characters and their way too realistic interactions. Grimgar captures humanity. Awkwardness, fear, love, acceptance, sadness, joy: Grimgar catches all these emotions in the rambling interactions between cast members. It is truly a work of art in that manner. Although we have seen the premise many a time before, every other part of the anime outweighs this fact. It was a joy to watch, and we can only hope to be blessed by a second season. 

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My very favorite anime of the season was Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. I cannot accurately describe the grace and beauty of this anime in words. Seriously, this production is in a league of its own. The music is authentic, but never annoying, and always perfectly timed to add emphasis to the storyline. The animation is not flashy or bold in presentation. Just like the anime, the animation is diverse, expansive, and captures the human soul and emotions. The dry premise about Rakugo artists growing old is nothing like you would imagine it to be. This series is full of life anf love, always throwing the audience a slight curveball. Something about their performance, Rakugo, leaves you hanging on every word, even when you don’t understand the language. The anime captures and perfectly conveys the emotions and characters in the rakugo stories themselves. The actual characters are worlds better than most all others. I feel like I went to school and grew up with these guys, even though they aren’t even real. This series allows you to understand the character and their emotions, to understand something about another’s portrayed humanity. If the point of making art is to learn about humans, and therefore learn about yourself, then this series has hit the nail on the head. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu will grace our screens yet again at an unknown date. 


Next up I have my favorite Comedies!

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First on tap is Konosuba, another quirky remix of the “trapped in a game” story.  Konosuba focuses on all of those unfortunate realities and ridiculous situations that you are bound to face in a game. With his wonky crew of misfit girls, the character interactions are always for the humorous. Although this anime has its very fair share of downfalls, the dark, condescending comedy is certainly not one of them. Konosuba will pick up again for a second season at an unnamed date, most likely in 2017. 

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Osomatsu-san is, by far, one of the best comedy animes I have seen. With no other purpose other than to entertain the viewers, you get such a fun vibe from this show. After the 12A special, I think Osomatsu-san really took off. The voice actors really took this production by the reigns and threw in all their charm to make this series incredibly relatable and hilarious. The sextuplets are some of my favorite characters ever, and I love how the VAs customized each archetype character to be unique. I’m going to pray to the comedy gods that Osomatsu-san gets a second season, or something more. 


As far as honorable mentions go…

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I just want to mention one: Erased. A lot of you will disagree, but this anime had so much potential, but was crushed with a handful of poor storyline choices. The characters were reasonable likable, the premise was well thought through, and the animation was great. Every couple of episodes would be a dud. Whether it be the disappointingly ungraceful (grown up) character interactions, or the immensely disappointing presentation of the big reveal, Erased just missed the mark in my book. With a little bit more organization and investment in subtlety, Erased could have shinned as one of the greats of the season. Instead, it will be remembered for what it did accomplish, which is still something pretty dang good. 


Well, I am not sure is this blog is well justified or made, but I hope you enjoyed it and remembered some goodies from last season! Leave my a comment, because I’m sure people are bound to disagree with what I have said, especially with Ajin and Erased. 

See you all next time and Happy anime hunting!