Anime like B: The Beginning

B: The Beginning was released on Netflix last week. It’s a fun watch, with some great action backed up by the ever reliable Production I.G. Sword fights should be visceral, fleshy affairs, decided in a split second after a flash of aggressive, fluid movement. B: The Beginning’s main character has wings, so it perhaps isn’t that realistic, but you get the idea. There’s a lot of strong, definitive action.

Continue reading

The balloon scene in Made in Abyss

A balloon is a fragile thing. When Riko releases her balloon into the sky at the end of Made in Abyss, we see it lift it’s tiny payload.

It’s crazy.

How can something so fragile and small make it all the way to the top, past all the dangerous creatures and sharp rocks?

A message in a bottle cast into a bottomless ocean.

Continue reading

Rediscovering Shonen Jump anime

Watching anime, I go through peaks and troughs.

The start of the year was a peak, but throughout February, I’ve been in a bit of a trough trying to find something new to watch and fall in love with.

At some point, I remembered that there’s a whole bunch of Shonen Jump anime that I should get back in to. I mean, I never finished Naruto Shippūden. Naruto is the reason I became an anime fan in the first place, my gateway drug. Apparently I’ve seen 573 episodes of One Piece too. I used to love One Piece and somehow it’s still going, with my last count showing 826 episodes and rising. Bloody hell, that’s a lot.

Continue reading

A bright shining future

I can’t speak for Japan, but right now in England, young adults are having a hard time. Money seems harder to come by than ever for many who are working all hours to afford their month’s rent, let alone buying a home without a mortgage that’s loaded with high interest rates. It’s a scary, often bewildering time, struggling to keep your head above water in the town or city that you grew up in and trust deeply, a place that’s now indifferent to your pain.

That alienation and desperation is captured by the street rappers’ in Devilman Crybaby. They may be my favourite part of the series.

Don’t give up!

Continue reading

For good anime

Through preference as much as necessity, the way I’m consuming anime today is different to how I used to, say, 10 years ago. Back then, I relied on downloading fansubs and watching anime as it aired in Japan, one episode per week. I was in deep. Today, I hardly rely on fansubs at all, because it’s easier to stream something from Crunchyroll, or Netflix, or where-ever, than to get a torrent file. Of course, I’m paying for subscriptions at those sites too, which alludes to a big difference from back then: I have a full-time job, the upside of which is that I can afford nice things, the downside is that I have (much) less time to enjoy them.

Continue reading

Pure Anime

Hey guys. I know, I know. It’s been nearly 2 years. Putting pen to paper hasn’t been easy. I’ve been a bit jaded and distracted, but still, I think about writing. Every time I walk away, something brings me back. It’s because I love writing. I honestly miss it. This year I put down some resolutions, and one of those was to write again for this blog. I’m rusty, though. I’ve been thinking about where to start, but every time I think I’ve got something, the inspiration drifts. There are so many voices, so many opinions, so much noise, it’s hard not to feel small, or like a drop in an ocean. The more I think, the less confident I feel, but I still remember, I like myself when I write. I will keep going.

Continue reading

Perhaps there is a part of me that wants to see more

After a long absence, it is time for me to officially step away from writing here (just me, not the site’s other writers). As a parting post, I would like to share my thoughts on anime that stand the test of time. Even older titles that were created with a Japanese audience in mind can still be relevant today. I was reminded of this recently when the real world seemed to imitate one of my favorite movies, Mamoru Oshii’s Patlabor 2.

Noa in Patlabor Continue reading

The older I get the more I realise the less I know

Well, this is weird. This is the first time I’ve sat down to write something for a really long time, too long for a blog that inexplicably still has some readers. For that, I thank you. Whenever I hear from one of you, it truly boosts my spirits.

Over the years of writing for this place, I’ve tried to make sure that the writing is future proof. Even still, whenever someone links an old post, especially one that’s been collecting dust over the years, I’ll flinch in embarrassment. I mean, god, there are posts from 2006! That young me and my opinions! Because I’m so much wiser now, right?!

Continue reading

The first rule of Bento Fight Club is: You do not talk about Bento Fight Club

(Bateszi reviewed this back in November of 2011, I’m revisiting it in light of Funimation’s upcoming February release of the show)

A strong signal that a series is great is that you can easily summarize the concept and get someone to watch it based on that short description. Ben-To is just that kind of show. All you need to know is that it’s about fights for discount bento boxes. If you don’t get excited about fights for discount bento, I don’t want to be friends with you.

Continue reading

As long as we stay here in this world all that’s awaiting us is death

On the blu-ray packaging, Funimation trumpets the Eureka Seven television series as “The Greatest Love Story Ever Animated.” Where that series is centered around love, the movie re-imagination, Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers, is all about death. In particular, it is about the fear of death. Even the crew of the Gekko, an alternate universe version of the TV show crew, spends much of the film running from death using any means possible. Renton and Eureka are the only characters who aren’t defined by their fear of death and instead, focus on love.

Continue reading

The Paranoid Reader and the Nonsexual in No. 6

(In my attempt to procrastinate a Haikyuu!! post I’ve been meaning to write for months, I present to you an excerpt from a final paper I wrote for one of my literary theory classes last year. Yeah, I’m that girl who always finds a way to connect her assignments to anime. No shame.)

In the anime and manga world, there have been countless debates on whether, No.6, a series by Atsuko Asano, is considered to be BL. BL, or boys love, is a genre of stories that depict romantic and sexual relationships between men. But although No.6’s main characters are both male, and they engage in acts that may be considered homosexual, Asano adamantly refuses the BL label. In her attempt to pull the series away from the charged label BL, Asano opens up the possibility of seeing it as queer. No.6 is a queer text because of its rejection of paranoid reading and exploration of nonsexual romance between men.

Continue reading

Ghost in the Shell: The College Years

Ghost in the Shell: Arise marks Production IG’s attempt to reboot the classic franchise.  With multiple successful superhero and anime reboots out in the wild, it’s only a matter of time before others (certainly Dragonball) get remade. Movie and television producers reboot well loved shows to appeal to modern audiences. The story, the characters, and the special effects all get updated to how the show would have looked if it was made for the first time today. With Ghost in the Shell, a show already set in the future and one that has aged well visually, this standard formula wasn’t really necessary.

Continue reading

Band Spotlight: White Ash

I was first introduced to this wonderful band through “Crowds”, the OP of Gatchaman Crowds (which I still haven’t finished) and instantly fell in love with the edgy, deep voice of the female vocalist. But after looking for the song on YouTube, I discovered that the vocalist is actually a male, a very geeky looking one, at that.

Continue reading

Durarara!! Isn’t an Escape

“The kind of scene you see every day. But sometimes, for no reason at all, you can see the hint of another reality…a crack, suddenly appearing in your peaceful, everyday life, throws you off guard, making you rethink things.”

My desire for the next season of Durarara!! has pushed me to revisit the first season quite a few times. And every time I do, my brain picks at a new detail that further enriches the series. Durarara!! (geez, that name gets old quickly) is a bit confusing at times but that is just a side effect of the multitude of layers Ryohgo Narita is playing with. One particular concept that caught my attention from the get-go is that of reality. I, for one, am an escapist, so the concept of reality and pondering whether an anime series is “looking out into the word” isn’t something that I often concern myself with. But Durarara!!, an anime brimming with folklore and myth, ironically brought my own reality into the foreground of my thoughts. Wow, who would have known; anime can actually teach relevant lessons.

Continue reading

I Can’t Think of a Cool Nickname

“Hey, hey! Shizu-chan’s definitely in love with Izaya. Two guys… Like BL!”

Wow, writing an introductory post is extremely difficult. I’m quite the talkative person but things like this make me a bit shy.

Hello! My name is Kiara. I am a junior in college and am double majoring in Japanese and English. You could say I am the baby in this wonderful group of bloggers. I have been an anime/manga fan since 7th grade and I am currently on a long journey to becoming a manga editor. Although I have a wide range of interests (J-rock, step dance, jazz, fashion, etc.), anime/manga occupy 70% of my free time.

Continue reading

Anime blogging 2015

Over the last four or five months, I’ve written half a dozen new articles for this blog that haven’t made it through to being published. I don’t know why I’m now dithering so much, but as its now been two months since I last published anything new, I just wanted to say that I’m still here and won’t be giving up any time soon. Just to emphasise that fact, in December I renewed this website’s address for another two years, so you’ll be stuck with us until late 2015, at the very least!

When I started anime blogging in 2006 (ignoring some obscure attempts in 2005) it was such a new and shiny mode of communication and felt like being on the crest of a wave of something special. And it was, just look at Anime News Network today in comparison to 2005. Blogging has completely changed the world of publishing, for better and for worse, but if 2006 was the Spring of anime blogging, what we’re in now is the Autumn.

Continue reading

Kickstartering the future of anime

This article is my third attempt at writing a piece about crowd funding and anime, each time I’ve tried to do so another development forced me to re-write it, illustrating just how quickly crowdsourcing is reshaping the anime industry. Kick-Heart, the anime kickstarter by Production IG, was the first big crowd funding success. It proved the crowdfunding concept, where anyone can pledge from $1 to thousands of dollars to a project, generally in exchange for some type of reward, was workable for an anime project. Not only was it an effective means of funding anime, but it was something traditionally conservative Japanese companies could embrace under the right circumstances. Kick-Heart was followed by Pied Piper’s Time of Eve and Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia 2 projects, both of which met and exceeded their goals. Even Animesols, a crowdfunding site mostly for older anime, has found success, first with a campaign to make a DVD set of the magical girl show Creamy Mami and now hopefully (if enough of you  pledge in the next day or so) with a campaign to release a DVD of the first season of Black Jack TV.  Does that mean that the revolution has succeeded and the age of crowdfunding is nigh? Hardly. But with the success of the Kick-Heart, Time of Eve and Little Witch projects, it’s looking like crowdfunding is one of the best and most rewarding ways to get anime today.

Continue reading

Death to the fantasy

Of all the new anime that I’ve seen this season, it’s probably WataMote that has left me with the strongest impression, to the point where I went ahead and started reading the manga straight after watching it. With its English title of No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular! you can guess what it’s about, but to summarise, it’s the story of the unpopular high-school girl Tomoko and her titanic struggle to be not so.

That may sound like the beginning of any given high-school anime (which is, let’s face it, almost every anime,) but the twist to WataMote is that there’s no external salvation for her. No-one notices her, she doesn’t join the light music club, she’s not infatuated with her brother, she’s a dedicated fujoshi, but for all of her hundreds of hours of “training” through dating sims, in the end no real boy so much as looks her way. As the title alludes, her problem isn’t that she’s unpopular, but that she’s blaming everyone else for it, and therein lies the harsh truth that under pins this series. Tomoko’s so clearly denying reality. No one has bullied her to make her this way, she’s just an introverted, really shy girl, and her unpopularity is of her own making.

Continue reading

Japanese punk

Lately, I’ve felt a little empty. Waiting for something to spark a little inspiration in me. So, as I often do, I ended-up on YouTube, listening to music, when The Blue Hearts appeared with their song, Linda Linda. It’s a Japanese punk-rock song that you’ll have heard before if you’ve seen the film Linda Linda Linda (which I reviewed years ago.) Anyway, I’ve always liked punk music, aesthetics and all, and it’s interesting to see such a Japanese take on it. Ripped jeans, snarling faces and funny dancing.

Continue reading

Read or Die: One Last Hurrah

I’ve already reviewed Read or Die (aka R.O.D.), but wanted to provide an update now that Rightstuf is close to selling out of the Blu-Ray version. In my last review review I balked at the price of that edition, but this past December I broke down and bought it. For those on the fence I’ve included some DVD vs Blu-Ray comparison screenshots below. And for the R.O.D. obsessed, there’s a brief description of UDON’s new art book as well.

From Blu-Ray

Blu-Ray

Continue reading

Say I love you or they won’t want you; sexual capital in Sukitte Ii Na Yo

 

I read quite a bit of shoujo manga. As such, I was quite pleased to see that Sukitte Ii Na Yo  received an anime adaption this fall.  It’s an interesting one, because, while stubbornly about teenagers’ romantic involvements, it really isn’t. If you’re watching Sukitte Ii Na Yo, or if you’ve written it off as ‘just another shoujo show’, you’re missing the point. Sukitte Ii Na Yo is an examination of sexual capital, disguised as a shoujo series.

Continue reading

Life imitates art: the TED Prize

In a somewhat odd series of events, the TED prize (associated with the eponymous talk-producing website, naturally) – normally $100,000 USD has increased to a total sum of $1,000,000. Moreover, the process by which the prize is awarded has changed slightly. To quote the organization’s blog post:

“But, while historically the prize has been awarded to individuals who then made a wish, this year articulating the big wish is done up front, with the idea getting heavy weight in the selection process.”

Remind you of anything? It’s is eerily close to the premise of Eden of the East.

Continue reading

Wanderlust girls: The manga of Tsuruta Kenji

Have you ever travelled, my friends? Have you ever packed your bags, left home, returning months later? Or not at all? With a nervousness that travels from the soles of your feet to the soles of your feet to the whites of your eyes, borded a plane, feeling as if every atom in your body was quivering? I have. Tsuruta Kenji’s protagonists – wandering girls – have as well.

Continue reading

Virtual/Reality: Sword Art Online

“There is no doubt that this is a virtual world, that everything we see and touch is an imitation created from data. But to us, our hearts do exist within this reality. If that’s true, then everything we’re experiencing here should also be true.” Asuna, Sword Art Online

I’ve never played an MMO, but I’ve always enjoyed listening to the stories of friends who have. Particularly in the case of games like World of Warcraft, where users have invested months of their lives into their characters. There’s drama amongst teams, scandals, heroes and villains. People can become renowned for their talents, make friends and hang-out all week-long. As such, can we really say that these experiences are so trivial as to be “just games?”

Continue reading

Cons thrive while the industry stagnates

I attended Anime Expo for the first time, earlier this year. What struck me most at the convention was the number of fans and their high level of enthusiasm. Fans crowded in to see industry panels, but they also embraced fan-run presentations like the Old School Anime panel. Based on the enthusiasm I saw, I’m not surprised that anime conventions are thriving right now. For example, Japan Expo is starting a new convention in California next year. Meanwhile, the industry is stagnating. Bandai folded last year. Media Blasters has canceled releases. Sentai and Funimation are battling in Federal Court. Why the disconnect between the health of the conventions and the industry as a whole? A cynic might say that you can pirate a DVD, but not a convention ticket. The real answer is that anime conventions give fans what they want, at the right price. It’s time for anime companies to learn to do the same.

Continue reading

Lost in Transition: Gunbuster the Movie

I had low expectations when I bought the Gunbuster movie on blu-ray. The visuals looked underwhelming, as did the plot summary. Still, I felt that as an anime fan I had an obligation to watch a Gainax classic, and I’m happy I did. Gainax could have created a forgettable story about girls battling aliens with giant robots. Throw in some fan service, and the show would have practically written itself. Instead, Gunbuster is a story that doesn’t pull any punches and explores deep, emotional issues. The only downside of watching Gunbuster on blu-ray was that the movie version left out a number of scenes that were included in the OVA. I enjoyed the movie, but I’m left wondering if the original version would have provided a better experience.

Continue reading

To you, our loyal visitors: some questions

One thing I’ve always been curious about is how many of you guys read this blog without knowing that there’s been a new post? Perhaps you visit us through a bookmark? I’ve made it so that this post won’t be included in our RSS feed, therefore it can only be read by those of you that visit in this way.

These days, I almost exclusively read websites through Google Reader and that tends to influence my approach to this blog, too. It’s all geared towards emphasising the newest posts rather than generating a more complete “website experience,” (God, that sounds awfully business-speak,) but I’d really love to hear from you, our loyal visitors!

How long have you been reading our blog? Is there anything you’d like us to do differently? Would you like us to update more frequently? Focus on new or old anime? More live-action reviews?

I’m sure that there’s so much more I could do to make this a better website, so please don’t be afraid to be critical. Just hearing from you, even if it’s only to say “Hi!,” would be great.

And as ever, thanks for reading!

I’m scared of you, let’s have sex: Time of Eve

Time of Eve is about a Japanese society assisted by intelligent, human-form androids. It draws heavily from the robots of Isaac Asimov’s books. Asimov’s and Time of Eve‘s robots are bound by a set of three laws that prevent them from harming humans or allowing humans to come to harm. Both Asimov’s and Time of Eve’s stories illustrate how humans react when faced with superior machines: namely they react with alarm. Time of Eve explores this interaction from a Japanese perspective; ie the reaction is one part alarm, one part sexual attraction.

I’m scared of you, let’s have sex…

Continue reading

Out of print: First world problems

Last night I started learning French. Why? Because I want to read manga.

This all started earlier in the year, when I noticed how a lot of English-translated anime and manga were going out of print. And when stuff goes out of print, it either gets expensive (often ridiculously so) or just totally disappears.

I was always aware of this happening, but it never seemed to effect me. I just assumed my favourites would always be there, ready for dispatch when I decided to come calling. We live in the modern world, after all.

Earlier this year, then, I decided to make good on my intention to own Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! manga. It’s a 10-volume science fiction opus about a guy trapped inside an ever-expanding sky-scraper. I’ve loved it for years and re-read it often enough for it to be worth my shelf-space. Decision-made.

It’d slipped my mind that Tokyopop imploded in 2011.

Continue reading