Tag Archives: Anime

2014 Best of Anime Awards…Yet To Come

Usually at this time of the year I spend a few hours typing up a long review of the best anime of the year.  Unfortunately, this year has been taxing both on my time and on a personal level.  As such, I haven’t had the chance to watch nearly as many anime as I feel would warrant an end of the year review.

But don’t worry, I’m catching up!  I expect a wrap-up in mid to early January after I finish my shortlist.  I’m currently watching Your Lie in April – which is a fantastic series and highly recommended from me.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to watch as much anime as I usually would, I do want to end the year with something.  So instead of my usual, I’ve done a little research and put together what I believe to be the best anime openings this year.  Criteria is based on the song itself, the animation that goes along with it, and the cohesiveness of the opening.

Enjoy the songs! (some may be slightly off-key because Youtube)

15. Goya wa Machiawase – Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami OP)

I really, really like the way this opening is colored and how well the animation goes along with the song.  Just wish the show wasn’t as mediocre (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t get through the first episode).

14. Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai – Masayoshi Ooishi (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun OP)

This is an incredibly fun song – I love how they’ve done the manga illustrations.  When it picks up with the tanuki explosions…well it’s just great.

13. Enigmatic Feeling – Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass 2 OP)

I feel like this song really captures the cerebral nature of Psycho-Pass.  I’ve heard the second series is even darker than the first and it’s way up on my list for shows to watch since I enjoyed the first season.

12. Rashisa – SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon OP)

This is my first entry in the “beautiful” category (this will be a large category).  Once again, tying in the calligraphy here is great.  Another series that I definitely want to watch.

11. This Game – Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life OP)

So, yeah – this song is pretty much generic J-Pop.  I’m not denying that.  But its animation really goes well with it…also No Game, No Life’s animation is just great anyway.  Looking forward to the next season.

10. FLAT – livetune ft. Yuuki Ozaki (Hamatora OP)

Gawd, I love Galileo Galilei (Yuuki Ozaki is the singer in the band).  I’ve always really liked the crazy colors in this opening and would like to think that I -might- like Hamatora if I got around to watching it.

9. Unravel – TK from Ling Toshite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul OP)

I think this is the first song that really invokes some big feels.  I didn’t get around to watching this series, but this opening is…haunting.  Also, the part where it picks up is phenomenal.

8. Trigger – Yuuki Ozaki (Zankyou no Terror OP)

Ahhhh, more Yuuki Ozaki.  This opening really captures Zankyou no Terror’s feeling so well.  I watched 3 episodes but don’t have a Funimation subscription so I keep putting it down.  I WILL be finishing this series.

7. EXiSTENCE – SiM (Shingeki no Bahamut : Genesis OP)

Don’t know how I feel about the weird CG dragon thing, but otherwise this song rocks and makes me want to watch this series.  I like the controlled chaos of its animation and when the song gets cleaner it’s just great.

6. Shiver – Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou OP)

This kind of song is a great spiritual successor to Sore Feet Song.  The minimalism is perfect for Mushishi.

5. STAND PROUD – Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OP)

Not as good as Bloody Stream by Coda, but super anthemic.

4. ambiguous – GARDiNELiA (Kill la Kill OP 2)

If the blood-spray from Satsuki and Ryuko painting Kill la Kill doesn’t get you pumped, you’re wrong.

3. Let Me Hear – Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parasyte OP)

I’m a little biased because Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite bands, but this opening really is done well.  The clean vocal parts correspond well to the animation as do the screamed vocals.

2. Daze – Jin ft. MARiA aka GARDiNELiA (Mekakucity Actors OP)

This song is just great.  I will admit that until about halfway the animation is a bit lacking.  But it’s good where it’s good.  I really need to watch the Bluray version of the show where they’ve done all the changes.

1. Hikarunara – Goose House (Your Lie in April OP)

This song feels nostalgic, and it’s new, so you know you’re in instant classic territory. The show is great and this opening – the song, the animation, the way it is so cohesive – really just captures a tiny fragment of the greatness.

People are People; Clothes are Clothes!

After spending all last week marathoning Kill la Kill, I think it deserves a review.  And it will surely be an eyeful of one without any restraint.  Kill la Kill will probably be one of the most viewed shows of the year, so hopefully my points aren’t completely redundant.  Also, if you haven’t finished the series, you can avoid spoilers in…

3…

2…

1…

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Admittedly, Kill la Kill’s story is a little difficult to analyze.  On the one hand, the superficial concept the show presents has not been explored (at least I’m not aware of another show where clothing is trying to take over the universe).  However, on the opposite hand, maybe (definitely) the underlying themes in the show have been done before.  That is not to say that this is a bad thing – simply that we should know that we are watching a plethora of other shows wearing different clothes.

From the superficial perspective, Kill la Kill is pretty unique.  Initially, the series seems pretty shallow with its copious amounts of fanservice and a plot that seemingly ends with Ryuko defeating Satsuki.  By episode 3, however, we should already know that this is not the ultimate goal of the show (hint: if you see the main character fight an antagonist this early in a series, they’re either a lackey or eventually an ally).  What follows is a – sometimes convoluted – path toward defeating the entity that provides every character with their powers.

After her fight with Satsuki, the climb to the top resumes as Ryuko continues to fight her way toward a “final” battle with Satsuki.  And it really is enjoyable.  The fights are put together very well and we begin to understand the characters’ drives a little more as the series continues.  The pacing is fast, though not so much that you get whiplash from watching it like in other anime like Kyousougiga and Dead Leaves.

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Eventually we get to the climax that I know that I was expecting – Satsuki’s betrayal of her mother and the full reveal of the goals of Nudist Beach.  But just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean that it isn’t great in its own right.  The majority of the first part of the series is spent humanizing the Elite Four and their relationship with Satsuki, so anything less than the betrayal that occurs would have been squandering potential.  The betrayal and the episodes surrounding it, in my opinion, are the best part of the series.

Afterwards, there are 7 episodes left to defeat the monster that is Ragyou which is incredibly unfortunate because we don’t really get much time to view her as anything more than a monster to be destroyed.  She seems to have no ambitions other than an insane notion that the Life Fibers should be able to consume the Earth.

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So we wrap things up in a very Gunbuster 2 (I’m looking at you Nono) kind of way.  Once again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and definitely fitting in theme.  Also, I won’t ever forget the feeling I got from hearing “PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE!  CLOTHES ARE CLOTHES!” and then realizing how absolutely ridiculous and amazing what I just heard was.

The only thing Kill la Kill was missing  on its outer level was the “kill”ing.  As far as I know, nobody “dies when they are killed” in the show at all.  Ragyou commits suicide and Senketsu dies in flames while falling to the Earth.  Otherwise, no killing at all – who chose the name for the show?  Unless of course,  “キル” is really “cut”…yes…this makes a lot more sense.

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On the general theme level, Kill la Kill draws heavily from its predecessors.  Direct references, indirect references and borrowed themes abound.  Well, let’s get straight to the point.  Kill la Kill is basically a pseudo-magical girl rehashed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann which is a rehashed Gunbuster.  It’s okay since they’re stealing from themselves, but the similarities are huge.

I’ve already mentioned the fact that the finale was very much like  Gunbuster 2 (which both series also involved ridding oneself of clothing), but the similarities to Gurren Lagann can’t be ignored.  Satsuki is basically Lordgenome, the Elite Four are Lordgenome’s Four Supreme Generals featuring Viral, Ryuko is Simon and Senketsu is Kamina, the Life Fibers are the Anti-Spirals that are laying dormant on the planet, and Ragyou is the big bad Anti-Spiral final boss.   Kill la Kill may have different tropes and plot points in places, but the basic story behind the series is simply a remake of Gurren Lagann.

Even though this is the case, it doesn’t really detract from the series too much because, honestly, you were watching this series because it’s fast, enjoyable, fun and it Aims for the Top, just like its predecessors.

In light of that, and the fact that I couldn’t put the series down, I think that it deserves the rating I’ve given it.

RATING:  9/10

While lacking in 100% unique content, Kill la Kill is 100% enjoyment, 100% fanservice, 100% action-packed and 100% worth your time.  Have I ever recommended a show with 400% the amazing?  I don’t think so.

 

(EDIT: brought to my attention by a friend that Senketsu is Kamina – Ryuko isn’t both Kamina and Simon – man I’m dumb)

The Very Best: Like Nothing Ever Was

Today I made the conversion over to a new layout on this site to signify the beginning of a new year and also the broadening of the scope of this blog.

Reviewing my old posts, I realized I’ve never really made a post about what anime I’ve found to be the very best – my all-time favorites.  I imagine this makes it a bit difficult to understand my background and motivations.

It’s time – my top 10 anime and (now that I am expanding into games) video games.

Anime

#10 : Welcome to the NHK

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Welcome to the NHK is a brilliant show that criticizes the otaku and NEET culture of Japan.  In doing that, it explores a wide range of psychological issues, social disorders and tropes in the otaku culture.  What makes me love this show so much is that it sometimes still maintains a light-hearted nature, even when the subject matter gets tense.  The transformation of the characters is subtle and expertly done.

#9 : FLCL

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FLCL takes some time (and multiple watches) to savor.  At first glance it may seem too bizarre.  But after you’ve had the chance to figure out the characters, their motivations (or obsessions) and the actual plot to the series, FLCL is excellent.

As an overall experience, FLCL ranks very highly.  The music is phenomenal – probably one of my all-time favorite soundtracks.  Add to that a show that functions at mach speed, forcing you to constantly pay attention, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

#8 : Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Any mecha fan (which I am) should consider Evangelion to be one of their favorite anime.  While this is a bold statement, since Evangelion is a deconstruction of the mecha genre, it’s just so, so good that you are kidding yourself if you claim to not like it.

Who knew that a minute long single frame could be so absolutely powerful?

#7 : Gunbuster

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We’ve clearly hit the GAINAX block here.  Gunbuster is phenomenal.  I’ve said a lot about the show in the past, and how I feel like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann basically rehashed the show for the modern age, but I’ll say it again.  I love this show.

It was far, far ahead of its time and has the best ending I have ever experienced in an anime.

#6 : Mushishi

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Mushishi is an experience like no other.  It is a series abounding with simple beauty.

I once thought that I would never enjoy Mushishi, but after I started watching it, I accepted that it was much more than most anime could even aspire to be.

I’m also incredibly pumped that there is a new season (after 8 years off the air) coming out in April.

#5 : Steins;Gate

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Steins;Gate is a good example of a complex story done right.  It has very lovable characters and an interweaving plot that only shows about time travel dare attempt.

It’s not always consistent with itself, but that’s forgivable when you realize what the story achieves.  Kyouma/Kurisu are two of my favorite characters – way up on the list with Araragi and Senjougahara.

#4 : Code Geass (and R2)

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Code Geass…oh…Code Geass.  This show just has something for everyone.  I’ve talked a lot about it, and for good reason.  It just has an incredibly solid plot – with plenty of twists and turns.

All in all, the show is just masterfully done.  While it doesn’t necessarily meet my bizarreness quota at all times (there are moments), it is just so unequivocal in the way it pulls at your emotions at some points in the series.

#3 : Mawaru Penguindrum

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Get your ticket for the bizarre train.  Welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll night…I’m just a Rock ‘n’ Roll man.  This show is just…Fabulous Max.

Those two words describe the show all too well.  Mawaru Penguindrum is colorful, creative, vibrant and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.

If you’re looking for a show about warped love, this is it.  Even if you aren’t, this is still it and you should watch it anyway because this show is about much, much, much more than that.

#2 : Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

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Madoka has been widely praised and has more fans than most series could ever dream of obtaining.  But it’s all for good reason and the show is a lot better than most of the fans even realize.

The show stomps all over the magical girl genre in unrelenting vehemence.  After the heads roll, there just isn’t anything stopping the series from being one of the best dark, psychological and powerful shows anime (or any media for that matter) has to offer.

#1 : Bakemonogatari

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I don’t think I can thoroughly describe all of the reasons why Bakemonogatari is my favorite show.  It’s probably because I just love everything about it (I can’t say the same of its sequels…though they are still good).

The art is gorgeous.  The voice cast is brilliant.  The relationships are extreme.  The dialogue is quick and witty.  The presentation is inventive.  The comedy, when there is comedy, is hilarious (even though I’m not a fan of comedy).  The action, when there is action, is fluid and explosive.

Bakemonogatari is just, hands down, my definition of a perfect show.  I can’t get enough of it and never will be able to, either.

Video Games

Since reviewing video games is a new thing for me, I’ve chosen only 5 of my favorite games.  I very much enjoy RPGs, but that’s mostly just because they usually have the best stories.

#5 : World of Warcraft

World-Of-Warcraft-Burning-Crusade-Wallpaper-ArtsHold on a second!  I’m going to explain myself.  World of Warcraft took up waaaay too much of my time in high school and college (obviously to the point of obsession, but the amount of time spent on this game is part of the reason for it being on the list).  However, there was good reason for that.

World of Warcraft, especially in the Burning Crusade era for me, simply did a lot of things right where other MMOs have either failed or emulated.  Character customization with the talent tree – great.  Combat always felt fluid and unobtrusive.  The dungeons were FUN even when you got down to “farming” them.

WoW was an enjoyable experience for me – not one I ever really want to go back to, though.

#4 : Elder Scrolls Series

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Though I didn’t really get into the Elder Scrolls series until Oblivion, I really enjoy the lore in the game.  Sandbox games can be incredibly fun when the games are well-realized.

And I get to be a Knight/Paladin thing in the games simply by acting like one…which is always cool.

#3 : Final Fantasy Series

Dissidia_Final_Fantasy_-_CG_artwork_of_Warriors_of_CosmosWith only a few exceptions, I have thoroughly enjoyed every Final Fantasy game I have ever played.  The stories are generally well-crafted and have enough twists to keep you on your feet.

I also like how the series always wants to reinvent itself, trying something slightly newer each generation.

#2 : “Tales of” Series

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It’s probably because I like anime so much that the Tales games are just so appealing to me.  That and the action combat.  The stories are usually relatively run of the mill (with some very notable exceptions), but the games are just incredibly fun.

I’ve played many times through on Tales of Symphonia (and a few times through on Tales of the Abyss).  Both are phenomenal games and the series on the whole is great, as well.

#1 : Metal Gear Solid Series

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The Metal Gear Solid games are the only games on this list that are not RPGs.  What I discovered at some point was that it’s not so much how I get the story from games that matters – there are imperfections in nearly every kind of gaming genre – it’s that the story is actually good and well developed.

Some would argue that the Metal Gear Solid games spend way too much time in cinematics and not enough time in gameplay.  Well, the games do it right for me.  So many different things are addressed in the Metal Gear Solid games that never seem to get addressed in games, and it’s always a pleasure to visit a new part of the series or even revisit an old one.

Anime Exercise

For a while now, I’ve been keeping up fairly well with my goals in keeping up with Winter 2011 anime.  Now that I’ve weeded out the bad/mediocre ones for the season, all that’s really left is to watch them whole the way through.  In case you’re wondering, my tentative list (for just this season’s anime) is now down to just:

  • Fractale
  • Gosick
  • Yumekui Merry
  • Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
  • Dragon Crisis
  • Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?

I’ll probably be dropping the last two soon, but we’ll see.  They haven’t gotten particularly bad or particularly good.

Because of this, I really have nothing to blog about in-between.  For that reason, I’ve decided to create a new blog column called “Anime Exercise.”  Along with my new job, I’ve gotten a little out of exercise and a little more into being lazy around the house when I get home.  I haven’t gained much weight yet, but I did have to go up half of a pant size before starting work in early January.  This isn’t so much of me going on an “exercise kick” as it is me wanting to stay in shape so I can continue cosplaying characters that are moderately skinny (I’m not going to emaciate myself).  And hey, I’m starting to get a bit older, so I should probably keep a decent exercise regimen at this point anyway.

The basis of the new column will be my reviews of anime I’ve watched while running on a tentative schedule of Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.  Today I wasn’t able to set up my DVD player/streaming device before starting my workout.  In the future I will be sure to have one ready so I can provide the more interesting part of my column rather than just tell you guys “I worked out today, here are my statistics.”  That’s not really the point of this blog, and I don’t want it to be a focus, but rather maybe some encouragement that there are ways to get some exercise while doing the things you like to do.

I guess for a start for this column I’ll list my equipment, because it’s close to bare minimum for what I’m wanting to do:

  1. Treadmill:  Absolutely important if you want any-weather running and you want to be able to watch TV while doing so.
  2. TV + Anime:  This is the other integral part, but kind of obvious.  Anime can be in whatever form you can get it to the TV.
  3. Wii + Wii-Fit:  I choose to use Wii-Fit (Plus) because it helps chronicle progress and offers options like “10 minute free run” etc.  Probably, I will be doing  two 10 minute run sessions with a break in-between.  Also, on the Free Run, Wii-Fit suggests you change the channel, anyway.
  4. Weights:  These are optional, but I like to do a bit of strength training in-between running.

The column will be a summary/episode review of an anime that I’m watching along with a short progress report on Wii-Fit Plus and particular strength exercises I did.  I want to make it clear that I also have cardio workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays playing racquetball, so my results are going to vary from someone else trying the exact same regimen.  Today was about 15 minutes of running, 5 minutes of balance training, and 10 minutes of strength training.  It’s not much, but I’m looking to about double each of those fields.

Current Statistics (According to Wii-Fit):

Weight:  181

Wii-Fit Age:  20

Run Time:  ~15 Minutes

Balance Training:  ~5 Minutes

Strength Training/Weight Lifting:  ~10 Minutes

Goal :

Weight:  ~160

Run Time:  ~30 Minutes

Balance Training: ~10 Minutes

Strength Training/Weight Lifting:  ~20 Minutes

As you can see, my goal is to work out for roughly an hour daily (My off-day is Friday) and to lose around 20 pounds.  The weight is just a goal.  If I feel healthy before that weight, I’ll spend less time thinking about losing and more time thinking about staying in shape.

I should have a column tomorrow with less “exercise” jargon and more usual “Nix on Anime” jargon.  Don’t know what I’m watching tomorrow, but I’ll figure something out!