The series I started the most on a whim this season was Youjo Senki (or The Saga of Tanya the Evil for those who like clumsy official names). The chatter I was hearing about this show early on was that it was about a guy who became a fascist magician who upheld the ideals of the Nazis in an alternate universe. I was understandably a bit hesitant to subject myself to something that I would consider so socially abhorrent, but boredom and curiosity have a way of combining to make these things happen. Continue reading Youjo Senki and Free Will
Since this post will be coming on the last Sunday of one of the worst years I have never known, I think this final post of this year’s 12 Days series will look ahead to the year 2017 in anime. Believe it or not, there are actual shows I am looking forward to, if I ever have the time to get to watching them. Of course there are others that I think are probably not so good and most of them I have no opinion on. The shows below are just those I could find had announcements for production in 2017. Continue reading 12 Days of Something VI: Looking Ahead to 2017
Last week, I spent a bunch of time basically lying in bed for entire days because strep throat and sinus infection. So to kill some time I would occasionally load up a streaming video app on my current gen console and watch some anime. Rewatching Witch Craft Works or heaven help me Outbreak Company were ways to kill time. I did however watch one of the shorts that aired this year because 42 minutes when one has all day to suffer. Being someone with as eccentric taste as I am (how else to describe someone who has dropped Eccentric Family and Super Lovers with 1 episode remaining?), that show happened to be *cough*The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi. *cough*
The short series is about a regular high school student Sakaguchi Ryou, who happens to be a fudanshi. Basically he’s into BL fiction just like a fujoshi would be. The thing that I actually liked about this series is just how normal of a hobby that is to his classmates at school. I think it’s quite nice to imagine a world where that’s really the case. I think my favorite part of the series is when he becomes a friend of Nishihara Rumi. She’s a fujoshi and he needs her help to buy BL without horrifying other customers or the dreaded opinionated bookstore clerk.
This show isn’t too deep overall; most shorts other than Teekyuu are completely incapable of doing so, but it generally does what it says on the tin. This is a look at the daily life of a fudanshi and he is able to make friends with those who also know that about him. That is something that should be praised as a concept. Now all that we need is a show about fujoshi that makes them look like normal people in society too while everyone knows they are fujoshi. If that show already exists, please let me know.
Picking up from last year, Aeroblip and I have continued our quest to drink through every good ecchi and/or harem anime that has ever been made. Highlights from this year have included Highschool of the Dead, Prison School and of course Needless. This was just a random show I thought of, but I had to turn to one particular expert on the series to verify how much drinking would be involved.
Challenge accepted. I trust Avvesione’s judgement. I met the guy in Seattle for Sakuracon and he was cool, though we could never decide which school was the real UW.
Needless as an anime is definitely an experience. The ending is kind of anime-original bullshit, but what comes before it is definitely fun. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have exiled people with powers; called Needless; into ghettos. This particular world is run by Simeon Pharmaceuticals. The story is primarily about a boy called Cruz Schild and the several Needless he runs into along his journey to take the fight to Simeon. The first two are Adam Blade and Eve Neuschwanstein (this is intentional) and they only get weirder from there.
As a drinking experience, there are definitely segments where there is lots and lots of drinking. Mainly when the trio of Setsuna, Mio and Kuchinashi are engaged in any sort of fighting.
The structure of the series relies heavily on these three as they are the primary opponents Cruz and the gang fight along the way. They pop in and out once the series goes all God-like with the powers though they are never too far out of sight. The series basically ends on a 15 episode battle arc, which is 60% of the series length, just to give you an idea of how oddly-paced Needless is.
That’s not to say there are no enjoyable parts to Needless when not intoxicated. Solva was definitely my favorite character as far as the transition from innocent girl to full blown sadist who was angry all the time. Just remember, it’s the same voice actress as Chihaya from Idolm@ster. Even Eve making up names for everyone except Adam Blade was enjoyable.
As for a recommendation, if you are planning on drinking to fanservice, you probably won’t remember half the series and you will probably be detoxing if you go stupid with the amount of alcohol. If you aren’t, it’s still fun, but after 19 episodes read the manga instead because the anime ending is dumb.
My Wife is the Student Council President! (or Okusama ga Seitokaichou! for those who prefer those sorts of titles) is rarely anything but the most classy anime series this season. The adaptation of Nakata Yumi’s ecchi manga centered on a world where girls wearing ill fitting clothing only when they are in the protagonist’s face has proven to be one of this writer’s favorite things to see in recent months because it simply does it’s own thing. The 5th episode of the second season proved to be among the most classy things that aired this year in any format. I can only provide annotations to show you proof below.
Again, that seems like something nice to do.
I’m using the occasion of 12 Days to finally get to the 3rd edition of Revisiting Dropped Anime. This effort goes back to a show that aired back in a time when we wondered how much the world had changed because a new president had been elected, to now watching it in a world where we wondered if they world had really changed because a new president was elected. So let’s get to it, the entire 2nd half of Toradora!
Airing back in January was one of those fabled Isekai shows I talked about earlier in Konosuba. This was a very enjoyable series from start to finish with enjoyable characters like Megumin and Wiz who are completely ineffective at most things bar making things explode in the former’s case. However great those two are, this post is about something entirely different.
It’s really about how the characters are so quick to lose interest in what their situation is that they go on completely pointless tangents within an episode. Nothing sums this up better than the first episode.
The two main characters, former NEET Satou Kazuma and the goddess Aqua, were transported together to the new world on Kazuma’s desire to upset Aqua for making fun of how he died. The only way that she can get back to her old position of essentially pissing off dead people is to defeat the Devil King. So they go through joining a guild, getting their ranks and finding jobs so they can get equipment to fight. Then, let’s just say they forget what they were supposed to do.
They basically find jobs as builders for the town and spend their days together working and their nights drinking as much as possible before going to sleep in a stable. Only after several nights does Kazuma realize that things aren’t right.
This is the kind of character building that Konosuba does very well. It allows the characters to be idiots by their actions collectively which leads to a stupidity that is greater than the sum of their individual levels of stupid, and it’s why I’m looking forward to the second season.
One of the new series I completed for the year was ReLIFE, simply because all of the episodes were made available at the same time. ReLIFE is an adaptation of a web manga and is the story of a 27-year-old unemployed no-hoper named Kaizaki Arata being given an improbable chance to relive high school for a year. It was very enjoyable as a binge-watching experience.
The nature of this series is that it relies on its characters to drive much of the action. Arata as the protagonist is fun when the action doesn’t get deadly serious. There are portions where he still believes he’s 17 despite his body being 10 years older so he injures himself just trying to do physical activities for gym class. He also seems to really get the point of the experiment, which is to really live a new life.
He’s got a couple of allies from the ReLife Laboratory, the folks behind this grand experiment, in Yoake Ryou and Onoya An. The former is the one who drags Arata in, but he is largely an observer even as a student at school. An is more involved with things and comes off as an irresponsible adult once her reveal happens a few episodes in, but that’s fun too.
So these three are working together on the ReLife experiment, but the other students at the school are compelling as well. The main girl that Arata gets involved with is Hishiro Chizuru, an aloof girl incapable of smiling like a normal person unless it happens to be in Arata’s presence. She starts to get better with making friends throughout the series, as we learn more about her own past.
The other thing that is charming about this particular series is that it’s very easy to ship characters in this show. An and Ryou are clearly a couple. Ooga Kazuomi and Kariu Rena are a fun ship as well. There’s even a couple of teachers in Amatsu Kokoro and Inukai Sumire that are fun to imagine finding love in their own ways.
The characters even get into silly conflicts with each other and internally as well. The arc where Rena and volleyball club captain Tamarai Honoka clash over their differing talents; the former has good grades but has to try very hard to be an okay volleyball player while Honoka is a natural volleyball talent with bad grades, was very well done. Rena was a sort of wall between Honoka and the rest of the volleyball club that was intimidated by her talent. Once Rena got injured, things began to fall apart. It’s all very stupid in the end, but it feels very realistic.
In fact, I think the only downside I had with ReLIFE has to do with the ending. The series is very loyal to the manga, but the ending is nothing but a “go read the manga if you want more” kind of ending. I can’t see this type of show getting another season, so I’m just going to be stuck having to catch up on it that way.
2016 was a rather interesting year when it came to being able to stream anime and view translated manga online. Thanks to a deal between Funimation (booo) and Crunchyroll (*crickets*) it is now possible to view both of their libraries instead of having to pay for 2 subscriptions or pay for 1 and pirate the other, not that I’m ever going to advocate for that. There are still a few exceptions like the inferior versions of Asobi ni Iku yo! being unavailable on Crunchyroll, but that’s to be expected to be honest. A lot of this is being driven by larger companies coming in and seeing that there was a chunk of money to be made on this particular fandom. Amazon’s deal with Fuji TV to make the noitaminA block exclusive to Prime subscribers is just one example of things heading this way. The money flying around from foreign companies meant that more series could be made than ever before. Yet, I get the sense that no one really knows how to make actual money from this stuff.
In the meantime, in recent months I have been revisiting the a lot of shows that I have dropped in the past along with those I never would have tried. This was done through the random feature on Crunchyroll’s site (why isn’t this available on their apps?). What it means is that it’s extremely unlikely that I will actually finish a show this way because the available list of shows is so massive now because I don’t stick with a show beyond the next episode.
I may never be caught up with a show ever again if I keep this method up, but that feels strangely okay. It feels better to me than simply being caught in the same loop of shows over and over again with each season. It’s probably a totally different way of experiencing the fandom from most anyone else.
As far as manga goes, it’s in a bit of a different place. To me it feels like I’m more aware of what has been licensed for legitimate distribution yet shocked when something I never would have thought would be licensed is. That was the case with the two manga/light novels I mentioned before in the first post of this year’s 12 Days series. There is also the conflict on those licensed series between legitimate publishers and scanlations/pirates.
I’m always one to say that piracy is a sign of a market failure, yet on this issue I’m not so sure. Publishers can’t really compete against people offering their services for free or in ad revenue/donations. Even contracting out translations has its own costs that the other group doesn’t have to worry about. There are no salaries, publishing costs and marketing budgets to worry about on the illegal side.
I’d like to think that there is more that can be done to solve this problem, but I’m not sure what can be done. I think the legal side is at least slightly dependent on the illegal side, but the latter has too much power at the moment. I think publishers could do a better job of at least making people aware of what they have released or licensed. Too often it just feels like they are catering to the hardcore fan who knows all about manga released in the West. On the other side, there needs to be more done to reduce revenue streams for the pirates. I have faith that a proper balance will be found eventually.
Each year there seems to be an ever growing number of series that are fantastically action-filled and fun to watch as long as one does not care about such matters as plot or character development. I may not have watched much in the 2nd half of the year, but the winner of this category in 2016 was established before summer began. I’m decreeing that the award for Brainless Entertainment in the medium of anime is awarded to Big Order.
Previous winners of this award that I just made up for this post include Triage X, To Aru Majutsu no Index II: The Punchening, Sekirei, and Needless. Hell, I didn’t even watch that last one until I was getting utterly blitzed by endless panty shots, but I digress. The things these shows have in common are tons of fanservice shots, plenty of action, and the complete ability to have no idea what the plot was having watched all of it.
So here’s what one needs to know about Big Order*:
- Eiji is fucking clueless as a leader, but he knows he’s a mere puppet
- In the manner of Star Trek, Eiji’s crew sends him out because why the hell not, he’s the main character.
- Eiji is also into his younger sister…yeah in that way.
- Rin in funny for dying repeatedly in one episode, but because she’s immortal she keeps coming back for more punishment.
- Iyo is best girl
- Big Order also shows the most comical understanding of how humans reproduce in anime
- Half the 10 episodes are devoted to something like NTR bullshit, yet I still finished
If none of that has turned you off from watching the best brainless anime of the year, then go ahead and enjoy Big Order. I’m not being paid to say that either since who the hell would take my opinion on this blog seriously to begin with.
*statements may not be entirely accurate
I made a terrible mistake this year. I purchased The idolm@ster Platinum Stars for the PS4, and I’ve had to take out several payday loans to purchase DLC and I will be unable to continue this blog. Okay, I made up most of that last sentence, but I did indeed buy the game and import it for about the price of a new game these days in the States. If only the DLC was ever not ridiculously priced by Scamco.
Unlike the last game in the series I could remember on console, Platinum Stars dispenses with any sort of time limitations. So if you want to spend hundreds of years in game trying to get your favorite im@s girl up to S-rank, knock yourself out. Everything about this game is designed for grinding from the unrealistic amount of fans that one gets from each live towards a 10 million fan target to get the top rank. The individual songs level up on their own, but it takes 200 plays to get each of those maxed out too.
On that note, it’s not surprising that I’ve had this game for 4 months and I’m still not anywhere close to 100% completing this game. With that in mind, let me give you this piece of advice if you are going to blow actual hard currency on this giant money pit. Just pick one of the girls that isn’t Haruka, max them out and then just say you’ve beaten the game. No one would have a problem with this.
If you were wondering why my post volume suffered a precipitous decline, blame this game.
I was in a really dark place at the beginning of the year. The darkest depression I’ve ever known with little hope or prospect of a future. My job was terrible and I thought that I was never going to get out of it. Yet, there was just one little thing that kept me going the whole time.
I’m not even a supporter of Leicester City, but the run last season to ultimately win the league made me feel that there was still hope in the world. Even the 3-1 victory at Manchester City which was the source of the tweet and my feeling was unexpected, but still joyful. Some of that may have dissipated in the last 6 months, but for a brief moment, all was well in the world.
That’s the thing about being a sports fan. Upsets are supposed to happen on one-off occasions. Going though a long season and ending up with an unfancied team at the top just doesn’t happen. It will never last as they would say.
Since I have to pull this back to being at least somewhat relevant to anime and manga, the story is very much like if Giant Killing had a 2nd season. Not in the sense of continuing the same season, but an actual new season in their league. Actually, let’s not go there because at least the characters in that series seem like nice people that don’t live in a highly paid bubble.
For all the plaudits about how miraculous things were there were plenty of negatives. First, their was an incident in Thailand where a group of players made a racist sex tape. This led to 3 reserve players being sacked including then manager Nigel Pearson’s son. Next was an incident in a casino involving star striker Jamie Vardy where he used racist language toward an Asian man. Of course, since he was useful they didn’t sack him, and he would be the club’s top scorer in their title campaign. Then there was this incident a couple years back involving defender Robert Huth. Never meet your heroes.
Since I don’t want to end this on such a negative note, my life is a lot better now. Talking to people helps and not being so focused on objectives makes life a little easier. I’m watching less anime these days, but that is a topic for another day.
I’ve had an idea going around my head for a while. Let’s just say that by the title of this post that I’ve read something like 40 different manga this year that had Isekai in the title or were clearly that type of story.
For those who don’t know, the genre is basically about transporting a protagonist to a different world from the one they began with. It’s usually just a form of vicarious escapism for the viewer, reader, listener, player or whatever form of interaction the holder of the medium is having.
Since my view on things has been constrained to basically Twitter recently (okay not so recently), my take is that the most popular story of the genre this year was Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. The anime aired this year and it’s about a NEET named Natsuki Subaru who is transported to another world filled with magic, cute girls and all sorts of things and people that want to kill him. The darkness of the series makes it much different from most in the genre as he has to experience death constantly to try to get what he wants.
On the other end of the spectrum is the light novel then accompanying manga Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu. In that story, a hopeless NEET dies in a traffic accident and finds himself reborn as Rudeus Greywolf, a young infant in a world filled with magic and uses the knowledge he retained to basically have a non-threatening series of adventures with friends he makes along the way. Or to make the worst of the story, a 34-year-old in a young boy’s body leering over the young girls he meets. Wish fulfillment people.
The point of using these two stories is really to illustrate that there is a large audience for these types of stories. Simply getting trapped in a game like .hack//Sign, Sword Art Online, or Log Horizon is simple compared to these stories. There isn’t a way back to the beginning, or if there is it isn’t pleasant. What is it about these stories that interests people?
These stories feel different from simple fantasy or action stores where an audience can escape for a brief instant before resuming their lives. In fact, it’s almost like there is a certain nihilism in enjoying them. “I want to live in that world,” or “I want to have the opportunity to start over like them,” and “If I could start over knowing everything I know now…” have to be common thoughts among the fans. Maybe there’s a simple desire to have more opportunities to do things in life. Rebirth means having another opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills that one never had the opportunity to learn, or even fall in love for the first time all over again.
I think opportunity is the key to understanding all of this. The modern world can feel like there are too many lost opportunities happening on a daily basis. It can feel like there are too many choices so it’s easier just to shut down and choose to do none of them. I certainly know that feeling and it’s really about being afraid to fail. That’s the great weakness of this genre. The protagonist cannot fail in the end because they are given every opportunity to avoid doing so.
Before I leave this particular post, there is one more story that I think really gets to the heart of this genre. Gun-ota ga Mahou Sekai ni Tensei Shitara, Gendai Heiki de Guntai Harem o Tsukucchaimashita!? is if you couldn’t tell by the inclusion of the word in the title a harem story. Hotta Youta is killed going home one day and is reincarnated in a magic world, but he can’t use magic. Fortunately, he knows a ton about guns and that’s all the story is, guns and girls
Welcome back for the 2nd edition of the feature where I revisit shows that I dropped and see if my opinion of them changed. This time I go back to a season of a show I actually blogged episodically at one point (does anyone even do that anymore?) and hit up the Hitagi End arc of Monogatari Second Season.
In this edition of 30 Things, I discuss an aspect of my 26th favorite anime, Akira. This film has been well known to Western fandom for over a quarter century now. I even remember seeing the ads that were something to the effect of “Violent Animation from Japan that is Definitely Not for Kids” with some other late 80s anime that was likely trash. Then seeing it at Blockbuster in VHS form along with the other kids cartoons. That last part might not have happened.
Akira was the theatrical adaptation of director Otomo Katsuhiro’s manga of the same name. Originally released in July 1988, the film has gone through several releases and re-releases over nearly 28 years. The film is set in the year 2019 in Neo-Tokyo, which was created after a psychic explosion caused World War III in 1988. Normalcy has returned to the point where Neo-Tokyo is preparing to host the 2020 Olympics (just like real life), except that underneath all of the promise of a rebuilt Tokyo remains a deeply broken society. Two friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo get involved in a government project related to the incident 31 years earlier, and it has tragic consequences for everyone in Neo-Tokyo.
It’s time for a new feature on this blog, and I have decided that I will go back periodically and revisit anime that I have dropped. I have no idea if there’s any interest in all of this, but I figure what the hell, I need to write something, correct? The inaugural entry for this feature is Shirobako.
From time to time, I like to use my blog to highlight some unconventional titles that I like watching. The back of your mind is now screaming “That’s all the time you fool!”, but for me it’s occasionally. In this case I want to talk about Super Lovers, a series that is halfway through its brief 10 episode run and why I am liking this show as opposed to my usual harem trash.
(If you are seeing this post, then I am celebrating Leicester City winning the Premier League. That dumb superstition is why there haven’t been any posts lately. Sorry.)
In this edition of 30 Things, I discuss an aspect of my 27th favorite series, High School DxD. This is a well-known harem anime produced by TNK, a studio that have done very little other than harem anime. The first season aired in the Winter of 2012. This was followed up by the 2nd season High School DxD New in the Summer of 2013 and a 3rd season High School DxD BorN in the Spring of 2015.
Back in late-August/early-September (the International Date Line messes with things), I finally did the journey to Japan that a lot of people would like to do. I committed to do this a year from the day this post goes up after I got some encouragement from my mother who is no longer with us. Even several months later my feelings on the trip overall are mixed basically because of one fact, the longest conversation I had with any single individual while I was there lasted 45 seconds. (The 2nd longest was probably the guy at customs welcoming me into Japan at 25 seconds.)
The late-90s were an interesting time for anime. This wasn’t an era when everything that was airing and all that came before it were bad. This was near the end of a period in Japan that would be called The Lost Decade due to economic stagnation. The animation industry, which by its own standards doesn’t have a lot of money, had even less money flowing around than normal.
By the summer of 1999, the selection of anime currently airing was in a strange state. Generally there were three different types of shows; the types of child-friendly series that celebrated cultural traditions, a 2nd type that was the exact opposite in celebrating sex and debauchery (eroge adaptations were now a thing) and finally a third group that was really about adapting to what the world had become. The Legend of Black Heaven definitely fits in to the latter category.
Like Peeping Life that would air late in the year, Tesagure! Bukatsumono had a third season that was the first to be broadcast to a larger audience. The show itself is part of a trend of series that are really little more than voice actresses engaging in normal conversation only they do so in character. What makes shows like this work is the ability to allow the audience in to their inside jokes and references and use them at a later time. Also, referring to another voice actresses in the context that they are voice actresses works well too.
It’s rather cliche at this point to watch an anime after reading the manga and come out disappointed with the former. Last year it was Trinity Seven which I was slightly hyped up for and the adaptation was so bad that I sort of gave up on the manga too. This year’s play on that theme is Jitsu wa Watashi wa… a manga about a bunch of supernatural idiots that are in a romantic harem comedy.
Originally a Youtube sketch comedy short series, Peeping Life made its first full-length TV series appearance this past season. Using CG rendered characters and characters from various Tatsunoko Pro series of the past, along with some originals, this series was something different from pretty much anything else this year. If anything, it at least had the best opening animation of the year.
Last week it was a certain mangaka’s birthday. Okayado is best known for being the creator of Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, a series that has a surprising level of popularity outside of Japan compared to inside. At least to the point where foreigners on Twitter were expressing their birthday messages before anyone in Japan.
The following is a list of series that I have not finished (mostly not started) this year. Any inconsistencies in titles are completely intentional because that’s not really the point.
- Absolute Duo
- Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
- Ame-iro Cocoa
- Arslan Senki
- Assassination Classroom
- Chaos Dragon
- Concrete Revolutio
- Dance with Devils
- Death Parade
- Denpa Kyoushi
- The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
- Doamaiger D
- Ghost in the Shell: Arise
- Heavy Object
- Hidan no Aria AA
- Joukamachi no Dandelion
- Kekkai Sensen
- Maria the Virgin Witch
- Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
- Noragami Aragoto
- Owari no Seraph
- Prison School
- Ranpo Kitan
- Rolling Girls
- Sengoku Musou
- Shomin Sample
- Show by Rock
- Sky Wizards Academy
- Sore ga Seiyuu
- Venus Project
- Yuri Kuma Arashi
This can all be summed up with the following FUCK RICK SANTORUM.
Take it away Akari Daisuki image bot: