Category Archives: Opinion

My Thoughts on Netflix and the Anime Industry

It seems like just yesterday that anime was this niche thing that the nerds would gather around and discuss everyday, but more so everyday anime is becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon, to the point that multiple live-action adaptations have come out just this year, with more coming in the future.

This effect is being felt greatest by online streaming companies like Netflix and Crunchyroll, where their model has been more than lucrative. Netflix especially has become the poster child of investment in anime, as they announced 12 new series a few months ago, and it was released that much of their 8 billion dollar budget for next year would be going to anime project. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos even admitted that “We’ve more than 30 original anime projects in various states of production.”‘

Certainly, as an anime fan, I’m happy. More original content, in general, is going to make a Netflix subscription even more worth having than it already is, but the fact that Netflix is making a serious investment in anime specifically, as opposed to live-action, is a sign that anime is becoming a popular and influential medium.

Many of the shows that they are getting I’m excited about. Whether it be last season’s Kakegurui, this season’s Children of the Whales or the next season of Seven Deadly Sins, the content that Netflix is bringing to their library is good.

the-seven-deadly-sins-season-2

Of course, none of this really gets at what a lot of people find objectionable about the anime industry, to begin with: how cheap it is. It has been a widely reported that many anime studios, including ones that have worked with Netflix in the past, have severely underpaid animators. Most starting animators in Japan now only make about 10,000 USD a year, with many having to live in big cities close to the studio where costs of living are much higher.

This lifestyle is largely unsustainable, with low pay and high workload, many can’t do it. According to a report that came out this year, 80 percent of animators leave the industry within just 3 years. What’s worse, the wages that animators get paid is below Japan’s minimum wage in most places, and even though the practices of animation studios is well-known, little has been down by the Japanese government to help the situation.

Netflix has been seen by many in the industry as a solution to the razor-thin profit margins that exist at many studios, with it being widely reported that the budgets for Netflix shows are significantly higher than a typical TV series.

This, however, that the industry’s long-standing problem of underpaying animators is solved. There is currently nothing that says that animators are getting paid more from these projects, and working conditions and workload have remained serious burdens on animators. If there is one thing that Netflix could do for the Anime Industry, it would be to foster an environment in which studios care about compensating their workers fairly, and that animators do not have to get paid slave wages just to do what they love.

How do you guys feel? What concerns do you have about the industry? Leave a comment and let me know.

Your Name Live Action: Can It Be Good?

The production of a live-action version of your name was recently announced, and it came as a surprise to many. While Your name has become one of the most commercially successful anime films of all time, alongside spirited away, It is still largely gone under the radar of your average moviegoer.

One person who did notice it was director J.J. Abrams, who will be producing the movie at his studio Bad Robot alongside the original creators of the film, Toho. Abrams is responsible for directing the highly successful Star Wars: Episode 7 and has the endorsement of the producer of Your Name, Genki Kawamura.

2014 NBCUniversal TCA Winter Press Tour Portraits
Writer, Director, and Producer J.J. Abrams

If there’s one thing that I think most fans can agree on its those live-action adaptations of anime and manga have been really, really bad. From Dragonball Evolution all the way to this year’s Ghost in the Shell and Death Note, Hollywood has been struggling to get it right, but honestly, it shouldn’t be that hard.

Imaginative stories like Death Note basically write themselves, but, as I‘ve noted before in a previous post, they still get it wrong. Whether it be adapting films accurately or just writing a new version of the story, it seems like anime has never really gotten the mainstream representation it deserves. Now the question arises as to whether or not Abrams can do arguably one of the best-animated films of all time any justice.

Honestly, though, I’m not confident, for a few reasons. The first of which is the very medium that Your Name exists: anime. Anime has many things that make it great, be it character design, music, and the vast pop culture references, but one thing that makes anime so great is the art. Art is an essential part of an anime’s identity and trying to recreate that in a live action film is going to leave a lot to be desired.

A live action version would also have another problem: Culture. Your name is a Japanese story, through and through. Everything about the story of your name, from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to the uniquely Japanese tradition of a Shinto shrine and the mythos behind the Red String of Fate would go over the heads of an American audience. It definitely went over my head when I watched it the first time. Without the uniquely Japanese part of Your Name, it would just be a sci-fi film about switching bodies.

Although, I can’t be too filled with dread because there is a reason to have hope. J.J. Abrams at the helm of this project might mean that we might finally get an adaptation that does the original film justice. Abrams has been at the forefront of Sci-fi films for a while, and his 2011 film Super 8 is one of my favorite movies of all time. Even Makoto Shinkai, Your Name’s director, seemed excited about the joint production, saying:

“‘your name.’ is a film that was put together with the local creativity and domestic techniques of those of us living in Japan. With such a movie now intersecting with Hollywood, there’s the potential for the staff to show us new possibilities, which is something I’m looking forward to in the finished film.”

In light of recent tragedies, it is completely justified to stay skeptical of this project. Even with the team behind it, there is no guarantee that this won’t end up a complete trainwreck. It would be nice to believe that there is even a glimmer of hope with the name attached to it, but that is most likely wishful thinking.

Rei Kiriyama: The Perfect Example of Why Being Lost is Okay

I don’t think there are many times that I have come across a character I can relate to as much as Rei Kiriyama in March Comes in Like a Lion. Granted, I haven’t lost my family in a horrible accident, nor have I grown up with a strict stepfather, but I am 17 years old. Most importantly, though, I also feel a bit lost, to say the least.

It might also be that Rei’s sense of not knowing where he wants to go came from a much darker place in his life. After all, he grew up learning a game he didn’t even necessarily want to play, from a stepfather whose respect he never quite seemed to have, and has a sister who can only barely tolerate him. Rei chose Shogi because it was the only thing that connected him to his late father. His passion was never for Shogi, it might not have even been for just the game he played with his father. In fact, it’s fair to say that Rei might not have had passion for anything throughout his life.

I think what Rei has learned so far on his journey to becoming a master Shogi player is that being lost is ok. Rei spent almost all of his childhood on Shogi only to find out that he never really felt anything for Shogi other than a connection to his father. Rei eventually finds a newborn passion for the game when he realizes that he has friends that are there for him, but that’s only after the fact.

Rei’s journey, the quest to search for his place in the world, is the most realistic part of his character. While he may consciously admit he is on this journey, Rei realizes throughout March Comes in Like a Lion that getting outside of his comfort zone and dealing with the problems in his life is the only way to move forward.

For Me, I find a great deal of wisdom in Rei’s journey. His need to find what drives him and his determination to see that mission through to the end is inspiring. It has also made me realize that being lost is ok.

In this case, Rei Kiriyama being lost is very much the same as being vulnerable. Without people to both support him when he feels like giving up, but also criticise him when he does something wrong, I find it unlikely he would have been able to accomplish the things he did throughout the series.

Rei Kiriyama is a reflection of what it means to be a person: sometimes lost, and a lot of the time vulnerable, but he is also a prime example of why that’s ok. When Rei realizes that he isn’t going to be able to live a normal life without his friends and family, he doesn’t just retreat inward. Ok, well maybe he does for a little bit, but after a while, he figures out that trusting in others for help is acceptable, and the people that we value in our lives will always be there when we need them.

 

Note: I read Mechanical Anime Review’s OWL Post immediately after writing this. Not copying, I promise.

What Do Classroom of the Elite And GAMERS! Have In Common? Disappointment.(SPOILERS)

After watching episode five of both Classroom of the Elite and GAMERS!, I’ve noticed that both of the shows seem to be going downhill. I’m honestly not sure whether this is because of the source material, or because of the lack of directorial and writing skill, but either way its really not looking good for either of these shows.

Of the two, GAMERS! was the one who’s decline I was expecting. It had a strong episode one, and an interesting plot twist, but as I’ve pointed out on this blog before that twist really didn’t amount to much. Looking back, the show honestly might have been better if it had stuck to the plot it was setting up. At least, in that case, it would have been campy and fun.

Now, However, GAMERS! is nothing more than a mediocre Rom-Com. Its main appeal has become the intertwining relationships between Amano and the others. The problem with this is that in only five episodes, I haven’t had enough time to care. None of these characters have been on screen for long enough or been interesting enough for me to want to know who is going to end up with who.

I’m a bit more sad about Classroom of the Elite. It had an interesting premise about being locked in a school in which everyone thinks that they’re being treated like royalty when in fact they just being tested. When everyone realized that they had just made themselves poor by spending all their points, that’s when the show good have gone a thousand different routes. But, of course, the show has chosen to take the least interesting route.

So far, the show has tried to do everything while accomplishing nothing. It has meandered around, following a character story about Sudo that is not that interesting. The reason why they’re doing it makes sense within the context of the show, but it still isn’t as interesting as the writers would like to think it is.

It really is a shame that both of these shows look like they’re going to end up among the boring drivel of the rest of the season. They started out very well, but I can’t see a good ending with the directions they’ve decided to take. I hope I’m proven wrong within the coming weeks, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.

 

 

Opinion: Does Eureka Seven have a Feminist Streak?

Thinking back a few months to when I watched Eureka Seven, a pattern started to emerge. Often times people complain about the lack of strong female characters in entertainment, and anime is no exception. While many of those criticisms are valid, the idea that anime is lacking in strong female characters is one that I take with a grain of salt, and Eureka Seven is one of the reasons why.

From the outside looking in, it might seem like a show dominated by its male leads, but often times this is not the case at all. Even though Renton is the main character most of the time, the majority of the focus of the show is on Eureka and the struggle she faces as a member of the Gekkostate. Renton most of the time is portrayed as young, dumb fourteen-year-old who more often than not both admires and looks up to Eureka for guidance about the Nirvash and his role on the Gekkostate. Tolho is another strong female character who helps support Holland in much the same way. She is there for Holland when he needs her, but is also a pilot of the Gekko. Both of these relationships in the show are treated as equal partnerships rather than the males constantly supporting the females.

Another place where Eureka Seven’s feminist streak shines through is in the dynamics of its romantic relationships. In the beginning, when Renton joins Gekkostate and falls in love with Eureka, he treats her more so like an object to be desired rather than valuing her as a person. As time goes on, he realizes that this way of loving Eureka only serves to dehumanize her. Not to mention that this way of thinking often gets him in trouble with both Eureka and the other members of the gekkostate, who are protective of her.

Renton eventually realizes that in order to really love eureka in a meaningful way that he has to get to know her as a person. Throughout their journey on the Gekkostate and as the pilots of the Nirvash, Renton and Eureka come to love and respect each other. Their relationship is not one built on a desire for one another, but rather, as the show beautifully puts it, as a family. They do not operate independently of each other. They rely on each other caring and understanding in order to succeed.

For these reasons, if you are looking for entertainment for strong female characters and respect for women, then Eureka Seven is a show not to be missed.

Shin Sekai Yori(From the New World): My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

As long as I have been watching anime, about five years now that is, I can honestly say that shows like Shin Sekai Yori do not come along often. It is a show that not only presents a fascinating world, but also one with some very interesting ideas.

One of the things that stands out the most to me is the plot point that everyone in the society that Saki and the others lived in is made up entirely of Psycho-kinetics. Being able to control things with your mind isn’t an especially new idea, but when given to an entire population there can be serious repercussions, and the show presents that well. It portrays an extremely authoritarian society that gives the kids very little freedom when it comes to using there powers.

Speaking of that authoritarian society, the way they show it is both subtle but effective. In the first episode or so, The kids in the class are asked to read two different stories: one of an ogre, and one of a karmic demon. Saki and the others later find out on trip to into the woods that both of these stories come from illnesses that affect Psychokinesis users, but the only reason they find out this information is because of a wandering library that they weren’t supposed to find out about. We can assume based off of these scenes that this is a very restricted environment.

One of the other curious things that kept coming up in the first episode was the idea that now that the kids are the Unified school that they are now considered adults, even though they are 12 years old when the story starts out.

There is also the not very well addressed(so far, anyway)disappearance of two different students after not using their powers correctly. It seems to me that much like My Hero Academia, the powers that be are much more concerned with preserving peace and order than they are helping any individual, even to the point of making them disappear if they threaten that order.

If this seems a little incoherent, then no its not you. The show looks like it has so many things that it wants to do and say, and it hasn’t gotten the chance to do and say them yet. My recommendation, based on six episodes, is to give it a chance if you’ve been skeptical. There’s so much going on, but not in the sense that the show has no direction. Certainly, Shin Sekai Yori is a great work of art so far.

I Just Saw The Ancient Magus Bride, and I’m Excited

Yesterday, I went to the Crunchyroll Anime Movie Night and saw The Ancient Magus Bride, and It was probably one of the best viewing experiences of an anime I’ve had. Rarely do I get to view anime in theater, and, in fact, this was only my second time seeing anything anime on the big screen. The first time was going to see the amazing Your Name.

Before they showed Magus Bride, Crunchyroll gave a sneak preview of its upcoming original film Children of Ether. Now, based on the clip they showed, I’d have to say that I’m a bit skeptical. The story seems like its going to be enjoyable, but the directorial debut of Lesean Thomas overall is not promising. The animation was a bit wonky in a lot of places, especially in the fight scenes. It was just a ten minute clip, though, so hopefully the whole movie will be better.

The main event; however, did not disappoint. The first three episodes were an absolute masterpiece, to say the least. Of course, I can’t speak for the quality of the show beyond episode three, but based on the show so far a drop off in quality is not likely. The animation was on par with most other Studio Wit productions, and the colorful art pallet fit perfectly for a show about magic.

The characters have also been a delight. Chise, while not having done much so far, seems to be genuinely growing from her experiences with Elias, and because of that it looks like she will be able to adequately deal with her past. Elias is a bit more shrouded in mystery. His motives on the surface seem ok, but I get the feeling there is a lot more going on in the mage world then what the story, and more specifically he, is showing us.

The Music is by far my favorite part of the show so far. The soundtrack has what I would describe as a more regal feel to it, which makes sense considering the show is set in England. A lot of the tracks have large horn sections which I like a lot, and I hope to see that trend continue.

If there was a line to buy tickets for the hype train, then I would be first in it. I’m genuinely hoping that the show doesn’t disappoint, because what we got in these first three episodes was amazing.

 

Nagi no Asukara: My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

Honestly, I’m a bit ashamed of myself at not having seen this show sooner. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something about this show that really draws me in and just makes me want to sit on the couch and keep watching. Even after only watching just 7 episodes, I’m convinced that this is going to be one of my highest rated show of 2017, up there with Eureka Seven.

The show has set up its story very well, with its rivalry between people of the land and people of the sea and that rivalry’s affect on the main characters being a focal point. It does this by showing the simple, more traditional lifestyle of the people of the sea and contrasting that with the busy, modern day Japan and how the differences in how their cultures have developed over a long period of time.

Another thing I find interesting about the show is the idea of the Ena, the mystical veil granted to them by the god of the sea that allows them to live underwater. The way its used to show just how different the two peoples are is fantastic, and it also feeds into the tribal mentality that both groups have.

The characters, while not extremely developed, are already showing signs of maturing as they find out more about the rivalry between the sea and the land. Hikari started the show being very immature and hot headed, but not even half way through the show he realizes the truth behind why people from the sea never come back, that they are banished from the clan, and realizes that this rule is only hurting the people he loves. This includes his crush Manaka, who he finds out possibly has feelings for a boy from the surface, and Hikari decides that he wants to change things through the Ofunehiki, a festival meant appease the sea god, which he tries to make happen with help from friends on the land. This maturing in just seven episodes from a 26 episode series gives me a lot of confidence about it going forward.

The aesthetic of the animation is also something I find myself a fan of. Everything in the show is tinted in a light blue, symbolic of the story revolving around the ocean and its people. The light blue coloring also highlights the emotional gravitas of the show, as the relationships between the main characters already seem strained, and seem like they will be getting more so in the future.

This is one show that as I continue watching continues to excite me, depress me, and go up and down like an emotional roller coaster. The idea of a relationship possibly being ruined by hatred between to groups is certainly not an original one, but I do think that this show will do it much better.

 

 

 

Boruto: My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

After Having caught up with Boruto just recently, I do feel at ease knowing the show is trying to differentiate itself from its predecessor. Boruto, for the most part, feels as though it’s coming in to its own, however that does not free the show from criticism, so I thought I would share a few of my thoughts and concerns.

Firstly, Even though I was very skeptical before I started watching it, the first few episodes convinced me quickly that Boruto can, and for the most part will, be its own show. Boruto himself is in many ways different from Naruto, especially in personality. Boruto seems to be much cooler headed, and doesn’t always resort to fighting as the first option. It seems he got some of Hinata’s calm and collected genes, as he thinks about the situation he’s in much more carefully, although not always. This change is very much welcome, as Naruto’s endless naivety could get very annoying at points. The show also goes a great distance to show that Boruto wants nothing to do with his father’s legacy, and that he would much rather make it on his own and have Naruto be a normal dad than to have the status that comes with being the Hokage’s son. In that way he seems to have a lot in common with Itachi, without of course feeling the immense pain he did.

I will also sing its praises, albeit a bit more tepidly, for the mystery elements that it has incorporated into this first arc. It was a very fun experience watching Boruto use this power, which seemingly is hinted will be his only hope in a later arc, to first solve a mystery about an attacker that came seemingly out of no where, and who turns out to be the class rep. Not to mention that the mystery elements are done fairly well overall. The show builds up the main villain by leaving clues at every turn, and has Boruto try and piece that all together.

Of course, there are a few things that I have a problem with. For one, although it seems Boruto is very much his own person, it’s hard to say the same for his classmates. Both in character designs and in personality, they seem to be, in one way or another, just copies of their parents. This could be the lack of episodes in the show so far, but I’d be willing to bet that a lot of Boruto’s classmates just wont get any time to show themselves as characters.

Its also worth pointing out that while the content of the show so far is very different from Naruto, the structure seems to be already setting itself up in the same way. The first arc, like in Naruto, had them fighting an enemy over a smaller number of episodes, and just like in Naruto it seems Boruto is setting itself up for a much larger arc to come. Admittedly this criticism is largely based on speculation, but It still concerns me nonetheless.

Overall, I think it’s a good show so far. It has a lot of promise and the first arc with the ghost was entertaining. Any other criticisms I have of the show, at this point at least, are a bit nit-picky, so I’ll just finish by saying that I hope the show stays original, otherwise It might get boring very quickly.