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Bateszi Anime Blog

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All ends with beginnings; Naruto’s swansong

Naruto is making me cry with each chapter it releases. The rebloggables are suddenly through the charts on my tumblr dashboard. Open Facebook or Twitter on a Jump release date, and there are people there to commiserate with. It’s the ending we always dreamed of, quietly gripping our rubber prop kunai, gleefully purchased as preteens at our first anime conventions.

General spoilers for the manga; but very little in the way of specifics.  

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Rin’s labyrinth

“If you were stronger, I don’t know how this would have ended. But I know one thing. That woman would be dead. Those who gain power must pay a price, something in exchange. If you seek to be stronger than others you may have to lose what you value above all else. Remember this well.” –Giichi, Blade of the Immortal

In Blade of the Immortal, being strong means everything. When Rin loses her parents, looking on as they are humiliated and butchered right in front of her, she vows to avenge them, but talk is cheap. When your enemy’s strong, you’ll need to be that much stronger, but what does it mean to be strong, anyway? If it weren’t for what happened to Rin’s parents, she’d have just been another normal kid. Timid, likes sweets, curious about boys. Instead, she’s now walking this dangerous road with Manji.

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And Punpun is just fine, today.

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I spent two days reading up to the latest releases of Oyasumi Punpun. I spent two days kicking myself for not reading Inio Asano’s longest-running work sooner; assuming it would be inferior to the tight, refined narratives of his one shots. I spent two days crying over the fact that no-one picked up the English-language publishing licenses when Tokyopop folded (goddamnit, just take my money, I’m begging you!)

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The shrinking of Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Back in 2011, I wrote two posts about the manga series Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) and since then, it’s only grown in popularity, and in addition to a live-action movie, now has an anime series starting in April, too. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, but in the meantime, I figured I’d catch up with the latest chapters, and, man, is it still good or what? But there’s something else I have to note too, in that by beginning to explain many of its mysteries, Attack on Titan is shrinking.

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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.

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The Flowers of Evil

First, imagine an alternate version of FLCL, where Naoto hooks up with the loose-canon Mamimi and revels in her pyromania, falling ever deeper into her psychosis, burning away their boring world together. This is The Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana,) a manga series (and soon to be anime) that begins like any of the other thousands of stories written about teenagers. Bored, disillusioned and harbouring a secret crush, our main character is the whimpering Kasuga, the archetypal, spineless harem lead without a shred of pride. When he steals his crush’s gym clothes, a vortex opens through which the trouble-making Nakamura steps. She spied him stealing the clothes and blackmails him into becoming her slave.

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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.

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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.

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Taiyo Matsumoto’s new manga, Sunny: melancholy and wonderful

I’ve long been a fan of Taiyo Matsumoto, a guy who for years has ranked amongst my favourite mangaka. Hopefully you’ll know him as the author of Tekkonkinkreet (Black & White,) or GoGo Monster, or perhaps even Ping Pong? If not, you really should, because he’s a genius.

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Liking Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse? See also…

One of the biggest surprises of the summer season has been Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. A name as bad as that is enough to scare away most, but that this is both a mecha anime and a bloody brutal one at that is stranger still. Whether it can live up to the intensity of these first two episodes is another question entirely, but right now, it’s just nice to reflect on a job well massacred! The root cause of it all? Aliens, of course! Earth’s invaded, humanity’s out-matched and Japan’s moe legions are our first line of defence. Would you feel confident?

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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.

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Don’t forget the side characters

In alot of ways, what keeps a longer manga engaging isn’t its main characters, but the side characters. Though our initial emotional investments as readers are in the main characters, the supporting cast and their links with those main characters are what keeps the story fresh.

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We offer up our heart’s blood: Courage and spirit in Shingeki no Kyojin

Since writing my first post on the manga series Shingeki no Kyojin (the official English title is apparently Attack on Titan,) it’s been licensed for an English-language release by Kodansha USA, whilst a Japanese live-action movie has also been announced for 2013. With the inevitably small film-budget it’ll receive, I’m not convinced it’ll look good enough , but then again, it still sounds better than the forthcoming Akira film!

Last night I finally caught up to volume 5 of the series and, man, I just want to keep going. For those that haven’t read my first post on it, Shingeki no Kyojin is a large-scale survival-horror manga about a future-Earth dominated by man-eating giants (known in the series as Titans.) With humanity on the brink and walled up in one last city, the series begins as the Titans break through the city’s first line of defence.

Imagine any zombie film you’ve ever seen, and then replace the zombies with giants. Mankind’s fucked, right? It’s lucky then that the main character, Eren, can transform into a Titan, too!

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The wonderous parts of the world

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally had a moment to sit down with the Mushishi manga. I say a long time coming because I was the most ardent of fans during the anime’s original airing. The 2006 anime holds a special place in my heart. Between it and Eureka SeveN, my faith in quality anime was restored. I could’ve been the typical anime fan, who gives up when they hit some form of adulthood (I graduated high school in 2006,) but because of Mushishi I persisted, and am now the ultra-nerdy woman you see.

And it’s with that sentiment that I let myself sink into the green world of Mushishi once more.

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Eaten by giants!!

Apparently, Shingeki no Kyojin can be translated to ‘Advancing Giants’. It’s a new-ish, still on-going manga (began serialisation in 2009) that I started reading at the weekend. In it, humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction by an unstoppable wave of man-eating giants. Where did they come from? Nobody knows! And why do they eat only humans? Again, nobody knows! The giants don’t feed on us for sustinance, they do it because they can!

Mankind somehow survives by sealing itself within a city, surrounded by 50 metre-high walls to keep everything else out. 100 years later, it’s an era of relative peace, but suddenly, this guy appears… More than double the size of any giant ever seen before, he (literally) kicks a hole in the city’s previously impregnable defences and unleashes the horrors outside waiting to get in.

And so, the real story of (the award-winning) Shingeki no Kyojin begins.

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Yankee-kun to Megane-chan and the world of shounen manga apprentices

I’ve always found the idea of an apprentice palatable. The idea of learning directly from a ‘master’ on real-world projects is, to me, a better way of doing things. Over my years in university I can’t count how many lazy students (including the lazy student in the mirror) I’ve met who slack off simply because they can’t feel the real world gravity of  what they’re working on.

Just about every shounen mangaka has spent time as an apprentice: Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) began as Watsuki Noburhiro’s (Rurouni Kenshin, most notably) assistant, alongside Hiroyuki Takei (Shaman King).  In turn, Nobuhiro (among others) were mentored by Takeshi Obata, of Death Note and Hikaru no Go fame. Naruto‘s Masahi Kishimoto claims to have been struck with an inescapable motivation to become a mangaka after seeing an Akira poster (penned by Katsuhiro Otomo), and all of these, including Hiro Mashima of Fairy Tail fame, are spiritual successors to Osamu Tezuka and Akira Toriyama.

And where, you ask, is this lengthy preamble taking us? Towards Yankee-kun to Megane-chan!

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Feel like being scared?

I’ve been going through a lull in blogging lately. Although I’ve been trying hard (and succeeding, surprisingly!) to keep up with a certain trio of currently airing series, I’ve also been feeling quite passive, too. Even still, the desire to trudge on with this whole writing thing has never left me, so, thank you if you’ve been persevering with me for a few years now. I honestly wish I could be a more consistent blogger for you, but let’s forget all that for now, for I have finally found something ‘new’ to write about!

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I need a job so I wanna be a mangaka writer

Dragon Ball Z, Slam Dunk, Bleach, Hajime no Ippo.  Most shonen series are based on physical activities like sports or fighting.  Surprisingly, the general shonen formula can also work well with a non-physical activity.  In Bakuman,  J.C. Staff and NHK successfully tell a shonen-style story about two aspiring manga creators.  The result is an interesting show that I anticipate watching each week.

The two male leads act like an old married couple with relationship issues