Tag Archives: Anime

Anime Spotlight #22

So…here’s the first Anime series I ever watched:

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Yep!  Pokemon.

I remember it being massively popular when it came out in America in ’98/99; I was in grade-school at the time.  Nearly every kid and their dog was watching it to some degree, and collecting the cards (I managed to collect over 100 in all, but I also remember seeing some who successfully obtained hundreds more).

Originally, it was just Ash (with his trusty Pikachu), Misty, and Brock, with their team of Pokemon wandering about the land leveling up and honing their skills — sometimes learning valuable lessons along the way.  Their adversary was usually Team Rocket:  Jessie, James, and the only talking, bipedal Meowth in existence (aside:  who ever noticed that Jessie and James look to be taken from the outlaw Jesse James?).  The initial roster of Pokemon numbered only 150 + Mewtwo.

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Those of us old enough to have been around when the first few seasons came out likely remember how Pokemon card trading often reached a point where schools had to ban it altogether in the hopes of mitigating some of the consequences that had come from it; personally, I watched the first two-to-three seasons until more Pokemon were added to the roster as well as new lands and new characters and new aspects to the old collecting and training that kids were used to up until that point.  As great as Pokemon was, it did end up giving way to other shows coming out that the time like Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh!

And koodos to Pokemon Go! for showing those like myself that Pokemon is still going on strong today!  Who knew?!

 

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Anime Spotlight #21

Crazy to think I was around the same age as these protagonists when this Anime aired across the Pacific…:

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I recently re-watched Cardcaptor Sakura, the original Japanese (subbed) version, and holy crap were there a lot of changes made in the American dub I saw almost two decades ago now!

The original dub was titled Cardcaptors, and aside from Sakura and Shaoran nearly everyone else in the show had a name-change:  Toya became Tori, Tomoyo became Madison, Mizuki-sensei became Ms. Mackenzie, and Yukito became Julian — to name a few.  Even Sakura’s surname was changed from Kinomoto to Avalon; I’m sure what saved her first name is the fact that it appears in English all over the place, namely on her oddly-shaped pencil case and on all of Clow Reid’s Tarot-type cards she re-captures (the show’s namesake).  Shaoran’s name remains largely unchanged, I assume, because he’s a transfer student from Hong Kong, which wouldn’t affect the dub the way the other characters would.  Of course, Cardcaptors followed the same trend as Sailor Moon and Pokemon in cutting out anything that was deemed “controversial” when these Anime were released — things like homosexuality and under-aged love, both of which appear en-force in Cardcaptors.

While Japan has had a more open mindset on many things that were deemed controversial over in America for quite some time, I found that Cardcaptor Sakura made use of such things as same-sex and under-aged love affairs in a profound way:  They are explained as manifestations of interactions between people with strong innate magical power, and the strong feelings that do emerge ultimately foreshadow important elements that will appear in the future.  For example, both Sakura and Shaoran fall in love with Yukito, who just so happens to be a book-seal in disguise, named Yue (the other is Kerberos, the talking plush toy), who eventually passes judgement on them both to determine which of the two is fit to pick up where Clow Reid left off.  Toya becomes Mizuki’s boyfriend, back when he was not much older than Sakura currently is and Mizuki was his teacher, and as such Mizuki ends up meeting with Sakura herself many times while she’s re-capturing those cards she released by accident; Toya, on the other hand, has magical power of his own that allows him to see his mother’s ghost, to know Yukito’s true identity, and to know in advance where Sakura’s going to be any given day and take up a part-time job somewhere very near to that place she will be (in order to look out for her).

While this show is technically for kids, I’d say it’s still worth watching for anyone with an interest in magical girl-type Anime especially when there are some parts of the show that may go over a kid’s head.  As for those who watched the original dub, I suggest watching a subbed version so you can pick up the plot points that were cut out in the dub.  All-round, it’s a pretty neat show!

 

Anime Spotlight #20

Hands up if you’ve seen this Anime!  Anyone…?

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A woman becomes a shikabane right before giving birth.  However, the boy she sires is still very-much alive and human.  He is taken in by a monk with a hentai addiction and a shikabane-hime that serves him in secret.  The boy, because of his birth, has garnered a fascination with dead things, where even his pet cat is brought back to life within his own mind.  However, it’s the monk’s shikabane-hime that grabs his attention one night and from then on he starts meddling around where he shouldn’t and ultimately becomes fully involved in the secret world of the monk and his kin.  The shikabane-hime was eaten alive by seven shikabane during a raid of her house.  With a burning desire to exact revenge on those who did this to her, she became a shikabane herself.  A powerful bond with her childhood friend, now a monk, allowed her to become a shikabane-hime instead.

That’s the gist of the plot for Shikabane-hime.  The main characters involved are:  Makina, the shikabane-hime who kicks undead arse with two semi-auto pistols (and neglects to wear panties during the opening sequence).  Her “contracted monk” is Keisei, who works for an occult organization called the Kougon Sect.  Finally, there’s Ouri, the boy born of a zombie-mother who eventually becomes Makina’s contracted monk upon Keisei’s death.  The primary antagonists are the “Seven Stars,” comprising seven shikabane including a woman who, theoretically, was somehow able to become a shikabane despite harbouring no lingering regrets or desires.  Unlike most shikabane, these individuals have retained the full mental faculties of their prior human forms beyond their respective deaths decades ago — the woman, though, was shut-in her whole life, so her shikabane personality hasn’t changed much either.

Definitely not your average zombie show!  It’s not even your typical Anime zombie show…!  This show has two seasons, and at least the first season has been dubbed.

 

Anime Spotlight #19

Girls und Panzer — possibly the coolest Anime, ever.

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Is it Tankery?  Tankwondo?  Or Sensha-do?

School girls live on large, aircraft carrier-like ships, where they can learn to drive well-known WWI/II- and Cold War-era tanks and proceed to shoot each other with said tanks in special tournaments on land.  What could possibly go wrong here?!

Well…, physics apparently.  While some of the moves the girls pull of in their tanks are possible, others certainly are not (at least, not without a whole lot of skill or plain dumb luck).  The on-tank, roller-coaster traverse scene is one such example; in that particular case, it’s the getting-on the roller-coaster tracks that’d be the greatest challenge; once on, the tiny tank in question could straddle the rails as shown — friction could be a problem, though, and it’d be interesting to see if friction between the tank and rails is comparable to that of an actual coaster train.

It’s kinda like a World of Tanks game, derp-wise, but Anime-style….

And then there’s Mako Reizei….  She’s arguably my favourite Tankery girl on the show, namely because she’s surprisingly intelligent (and witty) and she doesn’t know what a “morning” is.

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I hear you, Mako….

‘Nuff said.

 

Anime Spotlight #18

Well, it’s about time I made a post on this show…:

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Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Syukufuku wo! means “God’s Gift upon this Wonderful World!” — in other words, we’re talking about the Anime show called KonoSuba.

KonoSuba is meant as a comedic twist on the plot concepts used in the show Sword Art Online that preceded it.  It’s set in an MMO-type world where a number of species and classes of people can interact and complete quests for rewards.

If Kazuma’s brief life on Earth was anything to go by, one would expect him to be the most useless member of his new band of misfits.  However, he certainly surprised me by quickly becoming quite a reliable member of his new team once he arrives upon that Wonderful World with Aqua in-tow.

Aqua, despite being a goddess, can only really be counted on to provide supporting magic for her crew; that said, the magic she can bring to effect is rather impressive and potent.  Megumin is only as reliable as the first explosive spell she can manage to cast, in which case one must hope she hits something with it.  Finally, Darkness can’t make her myriad of attacks hit their mark even if her life depended on it; as a result, she channels her inner masochist and becomes a human shield for her team (the only thing she can do effectively).  As a result, in order for the team to succeed, Kazuma needs abilities that can pick up the slack; though he fights well and good when he needs to, and is even quite cunning to boot, the abilities he learns often end up being wasted on “parlour tricks” such as relieving cute girls of their undergarments.

It’s a wonder those four can ever complete any of the quests they undertake!  Though they have their own respective incompetencies, the fact remains that they can still be relied upon to do what needs to be done.

There’s two full, entertaining seasons out so far.  Let’s see if there’s a season 3!

Anime Spotlight #17

“I, Robot” — Anime-style:

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aka, “Dimension W.”

Dimension W, this Anime’s title aspect, is a fourth spatial dimension independent of the three we experience daily as well as of the dimension taken by time.  But, Dimension W is linked to the other spatial and temporal dimensions and as such is able to store and release multitudes of energy.

In other Words, Dimension W is an invisible realm that, in this show, people are able to siphon limitless, free energy from to satisfy all of Earth’s power needs.  This energy is drawn out using devices called “coils” — and “Dimension W’s” ‘Dell Spooner’ counterpart absolutely despises these devices!

As with Dell of “I, Robot,” a major accident in Kyouma (of “Dimension W”)’s past is the source of this lingering loathing.  And, as with Dell, circumstances conspire to bring Kyouma to work with a robot who embodies that which he detests.  The ‘Sunny’ of “Dimension W” is a gynoid named Mira.

Of course, there’s also an over-arching mystery to solve.  Like with “I, Robot,” in “Dimension W” it starts with the suicide-death of an important inventor.  Starting to sense a pattern…?

Despite the myriad similarities, though, “Dimension W” is still wildly different from “I, Robot.”  The plot of “Dimension W” revolves around the coils, not robots.  Of course, the setting is in a futuristic Japan, instead of New York.  Also, the minor plot points in “Dimension W” are quite unique to the show.

This show has actually been dubbed, so that’s nice….

Anime Spotlight #16

So…who’s “Zestiria” anyway?

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It’s not any of these people, I know that much….

“The Tales of Zestiria (the X)” is primarily about Sorey and his friend Miklio going on adventures and trying to redress the imbalances caused by the influences of Dark Forces on Human souls in the world.  Along the way, Sorey has a King Arthur moment and becomes a near-messianic figure charged with cleansing bodies made impure by the evil spirits that have inhabited them.

And then there’s Alisha…the REAL reason I enjoyed this show!

While most other people we meet have a neutral or grim outlook on human beings in this show, Alisha becomes a kind of “light in the darkness.”  Her greatest contribution to this series is her libertarian nature — outstanding, considering she’s a princess.  While everyone else wants to start a war, she orders her army instead to stay defensive and only to fight if an enemy picks a fight with them first.  While the other nobles and politicians selfishly stay safe behind the walls of the palace, she’s out there on the front lines risking her life with the men and women who serve her.  She’s the kind of person voters keep hoping for when they vote on election days.

There definitely needs to be a second season of this series, since there are still loose ends in Season 1 that could use some conclusion to.  That’d be great!

 

Anime Spotlight #15

KanColle, on steroids:

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Robots, aliens, warships, and magical girls all meet in Arpeggio of Blue Steel!  Basically, if KanColle and Strike Witches had a baby Arpeggio would be the result.  The best aspects of robotic warcraft and magical girls from those two Anime are on display in Arpeggio; gynoids (“Mental Models”) control powerful alien vessels, known as the “Fleet of Fog,” that take the form of various 20th Century warships (mainly Japanese).

The main character here is a starfish-loving loli gynoid named Iona, who controls the overridden Fog submarine taking the form of the Japanese I-401.  Her “heel turn” isn’t revealed until the movie Cadenza, but upon making contact with Chihaya Gunzou — her only directive upon being slate-cleaned is to find and then unquestioningly obey this man — virtually every single Mental Model-driven Fog vessel who fights her either dies or does a heel turn themselves.

I’m glad to see that Iona and Gunzou both remind me a lot of similar protagonists from prior Spotlights:  Hibiki and Genjuuro from Symphogear, Akane from Vividred, and Miyafuji from Strike Witches.  They’d rather try to reach a mutual understanding with their foes, but will still take up arms and fight if they must.  It’s no wonder so many Fog turned Good after facing the “Blue Steel” team!  Also:  Happy endings!  Yay!

One can only hope a second season is in the works here….

Anime Spotlight #14

Get a load of this Anime!

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Ore, Twintail(s) ni Narimasu!

“Weird” doesn’t begin to describe this show, yet still I enjoyed it immensely (not sure why…maybe because it’s so weird it’s hilarious).

On the flip side, it certainly is unique:  What other Anime has a male character that transforms into a little girl in order to fight invading reptilian monsters that have serious fetish problems, all in one show?!  It’s still a Magical Girl Anime in the same vein as Sailor Moon and Strike Witches, but the similarities largely end there.

It ain’t just the foes who are tapping into their inner, deepest lust for the sake of power; in order to power their respective “Tail Gear,” even the protagonists need to get cozy with their “attribute power” (a deep desire/lust for something, basically like a fetish).  Not all attribute power is created equal, apparently, and the twintail hairstyle attribute, according to this show, is the most potent of them all — great news for Mitsuka Souji, the main protagonist!

Not much in this series really makes any sense, but then again I’m sure it wasn’t meant to.  You basically watch Ore Twintails for the same reason(s) you’d watch KonoSuba or Monster Musume….

 

Anime Spotlight #12

Tachibana Hibiki:  Fisting the Cabal and their plans one Noise at a time!

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That’s basically Senki Zesshou Symphogear (or, “Swan Songs of the Valkyries”) in a nutshell….

However, this Anime is actually a lot more than that — once you start to really watch it (even for a Magical Girl-type Anime).  First off, it’s an Anime version of a Musical; the protagonists must sing in order to make use of their empowered “outfits,” and at least one of them must continue singing in order to keep these outfits at full power.

But wait, there’s more!

“Symphogear” is one of the most pro-humanity kind of Anime I’ve seen yet, but even more interesting is that this show goes almost David Icke-levels of depth into the Occult.  You pretty-well gotta watch one of Icke’s 4-6 hr-long talks on YouTube to be able to fully appreciate all the Occult references made in the show’s three-going-on-four seasons so far.

Back to Hibiki:  This isn’t the first Anime I’ve seen where one main protagonist and their actions basically make the entire show.  Prior examples include Amane from “Ange Vierge” and Akane from “Vividred,” but Hibiki puts them both to shame!  She alone is responsible for all the foes that become friends over the course of the three-to-four seasons, and so far most of them have turned, and that is primarily because she refuses to fight other humans especially when humans can be reasoned with and thus understood.  When she does fight, it’s to protect friends and civilians alike by disabling human enemies — not by killing them!  In fact, not a single human death in all of “Symphogear” has ever occurred at the hands of a protagonist; not a single one (yet — suicides don’t count).  Hibiki and Genjuuro are mainly to thank for that; that said, there is now one instance of a protagonist willfully causing major bodily harm in the form of Yukine blowing off Sonia’s brother’s leg in Season 4 in order to prevent him from succumbing to an Alca-noise.

I’m a big fan of Happy Endings, and as such “Symphogear” is big on such Happy Endings.  I always enjoy shows where most, if not all, of the protagonists vanquish Evil and survive to live another day; even better are the shows where the protagonists don’t kill off the “bad guys,” because — like it or not — even bad people are still people.