The Ancient Magus Bride Episode 4 Reaction: Lots and Lots of Cats(and Sorcerers)

If you’re wondering why I’ve started with episode four when it comes to reactions to The Ancient Magus Bride, then I have two reasons. 1) I’ve been busy with school still, and 2) I have already detailed my thoughts on the shows initial episodes in an older post, which you can read here. With that Out of the way, here’s my reaction.

As someone who hasn’t read the manga in any capacity, I have gone into to this series completely blind, so I definitely was not expecting episode four. The show picks up from where episode three ended, with Chise having passed out after a ride with one of the elder dragons. She wakes up on Elias’ lap and sees that they’re on a train, where she meets a talking cat and discovers what their next mission is. Already I was both taken by surprised and extremely intrigued, and this was only the first three or four minutes of the episode.

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The group finds themselves in a village Ulthar, a small village which is known as the Cat Kingdom. This is because even though humans live there, a huge population of cats is concentrated in the area. Elias and Chise meet with the King of the Cat Kingdom, Molly, who asks for there help with a particular task: getting rid of an evil.

Molly tells Chise the story of a couple that lived in the village long before she had been alive. The husband of that couple was a maniac who would kill cats and go on a rampage. This is when the cats decided to come together and fight back. This addition to the lore of Ancient Magus Bride was an interesting but also fun one. The show opens with what a cute and funny set of new furry characters, but as we learn is much more serious. A lot of this seriousness comes from learning more about the differences between a sorcerer and a mage.

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The middle part of the episode shows Chise with the Molly and the other cats looking at the problem that the cats created when they decided to kill the cat murdering maniac named Matthew. Out of nowhere a mysterious woman comes and drops Chise in the water before leaving, attempting to drown her.

At the end of the episode, we get an even clearer picture of who the sorcerers are, when they appear while Chise is attempting to rid the village of Matthew and his wife. The sorcerers tell Chise that Elias is only using her as a toy and that she will die soon.

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Overall, this was a good episode. It is established that the two sorcerers we meet are people that Elias knows from somewhere before, and are likely to be the series’ main villains. It also seems as though the original doubts that Chise had about Elias are likely to resurface, and it doesn’t seem like Chise is the type of person now who would take her questions being brushed off. Next episode will likely be a revealing one.

This Week in Anime: 11-2-17

Welcome everyone to the second installment of This Week in Anime, where you can catch up on important stories from the last week. This week was dominated by a lot of important announcements about anime and anime-related projects that will be coming soon, and some not so soon.

Attack on Titan Will be Adapting the Uprising Arc

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Artwork from Season 2 and Season 3 of Attack on Titan. Source: Goboiano.

Season three of attack on titan was announced immediately after season two’s final episode aired, but now more details about the upcoming have been released. It is now confirmed that the show will air in Summer of 2018. The picture above shows (left half) promotional art from the third season, which will announce the “Uprising Arc” of the Manga. This arc details the true nature of the Titans as well as a coup d’etat. All of the production team will be returning for the project accept for Ayumi Yamada.

Hayao Miyazaki Announces Final Film Project

 

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Artwork from Hayao Miyazaki’s Next Film Project Kimi-Tachi wa Dou Ikiru ka. Source: Goboiano.

While at the opening of the Natsume Soseki Museum at Tokyo’s Wasada University, Hayao Miyazaki made time to talk about his next and presumed last, film. The film, titled Kimi-Tachi wa Dou Ikiru Ka(How do You Love?), is based on a book of the same name from author Genzaburo Yoshino in 1937. Miyazaki has previously praised the book as a masterpiece. The movie is going to take three to four years to complete, and the Studio Ghibli Producer Toshio Suzuki says the project is unlikely to be finished by the 2020 Olympics. As of right now, it is also true that the full-length feature film has not been officially greenlit by Studio Ghibli.

Funimation Now Officially Acquired by Sony

It was announced back in August of this year that Sony Entertainment would be purchasing a majority stake in Funimation, and now the deal has been mostly sealed. Sony valued Funimation at around 150 million U.S. Dollars and now has a majority stake in the company. Gen Fukunaga, the current CEO of Funimation, has been declared as having kept his position. The acquisition is part of Sony’s strategy to capitalize on their already strong representation in the anime market. Andy Kaplan, President of Worldwide Networks at Sony Pictures Television, said “The combined IP of ANIMAX, Kid’s Station, and Funimation will allow us to deliver the best anime to fans across all platforms.”  The deal still needs to approved by the necessary regulatory agencies, but it is unlikely they will be denied.

Live Action Erased Series to be Produced by Netflix

 

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Promotional Photo for a Live-Action Erased series on Netflix. Source: AnimeNewsNetwork.

After being announced earlier this year, Netflix has released a date for the live-action adaptation of the popular anime and manga series Boku Dake ga Inai Machi or Erased as its known in English. The live action drama will be released on Netflix on December 15, and the first visual (shown above) has been released. Yuya Furukawa will play the main character Satoru’s older self, and Reo Uchikawa will play Satoru’s younger self. Mio Yuuki will play Airi’s younger self.

 

 

Opening of the Week: My Hero by Man with a Mission (Inuyashiki)

For the second installment of this series, I thought It would be good to continue shouting out awesome openings from this season’s givings. This week, we’ll be looking at a band who has been one of my favorites after discovering them: Man with a Mission, and their song Hero, from the show Inuyashiki.

If you recognize this band from somewhere else, then your not just seeing things. They have had music in other anime openings like Log Horizon and The Seven Deadly Sins, as well as in a number of live-action movies, including the recent Mad Max.

My Hero isn’t exactly distinct from the band’s usual style, but their mix of Hard Rock and Rap done mostly in English is still infectious and gets me headbanging every time. The song with opens with an awesome drum solo and then slowly builds to an guitar drop as the rest of the band joins in.

Jean-ken Johnny has some good bars, and the lead vocalist Tokyo Tanaka has a voice that I can only describe as pleasing to the ear. The band as a whole is good, and they definitely bring their A game for this opening.

What do you guys think of this opening? let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 3 Reaction: The Calm and Then the Storm

This episode was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. It started off lighthearted in the first half, with Nikaido and Rei joking around, and then quickly did a 180 in tone in the second half.

The first half shows both Rei and Nikaido in the Newcomers Tournament, where Nikaido is so confident in his Shogi ability that he starts talking about not only winning the tournament, but then going on a tangent about getting on a famous TV show, and even narrates his own narration. Rei quickly calls out his BS, and then possibly one of the most savage dudes in the history of anime, who is sitting and eating lunch with them at the time, turns over to Nikaido and says:

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It was hilarious and provided a great punch line to the continuous joke that is Rei’s best friend.

After this goes down though, Nikaido starts talking about how Rei is always so quiet because he assumes he’s going to win and that he doesn’t have to take anything seriously. Rei initially refutes this point, calling it ridiculous, but after thinking about it for a bit, Rei realizes that a lot of people in his Shogi community view him like that. Rei, of course, responds by retreating from the room to throw out his lunch in embarrassment.

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The second half of the episode takes a complete tonal shift, focusing on Rei before his next match in Newcomers Tournament where he recalls part of his childhood after seeing a particular bush behind a bench he was sitting on. He thinks back to how most of his time in elementary school involved him getting bullied, which only made him want to be more of an introvert.

It also didn’t help that it seems as though even his stepmom started to become annoyed with him, and, as was established in the first season, his brother and sister resent him as well. Rei could only ever drown out his problems by playing Shogi, and even then he describes it as clinging to a Shogi board while leg kicking in the ocean.

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The most shocking part of the episode though comes at the very end, where we see Rei come over to dinner. As he, Momo and Akari are getting ready to eat, Hina comes home, and we discover that she is also getting bullied at her school.

I honestly cannot tell you how powerful of an ending that was. As soon as I saw that Hina was getting bullied I got emotionally sad and Physically angry. I wanted to punch a hole through my computer screen and help Rei beat up whoever it was. It just goes to show how well written this show is. This was by far and away one of the best episodes of the series.

I Rewatched Soul Eater this Weekend, and it was Great.

In a desperate attempt to avoid spending any time doing work, I spent the majority of last weekend sitting around watching Soul Eater. I figured, “why not sit back with something nostalgic and fitting for Halloween?” So I did. I went to the Funimation Streaming service, put on Soul Eater, and sat back and relaxed. All and All, it has probably been one of the best Weekends in recent memory.

Just in case you haven’t had the chance to watch one of the better shonen series of the last decade, Soul Eater is a 51 episode series directed by Takuya Igarashi, who also directed Ouran High School Host Club, and focuses on Maka Albarn, a weapon meister, and Soul Eater, her weapon partner. In this world, evil manifests itself in the form of Kishins, demons that seek to eat human souls, and it’s up to the weapon meisters of the DWMA to stop these Kishins.

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Watching this series for the third time now, and as someone who’s about to turn 18, as opposed to 13-year-old me, there was a bit that was different. The boob jokes weren’t as funny, and I only found Blackstar even more annoying than the last time, Especially with Brittany Karbowski portrayal, where her voice can get a little more high pitched than my ears can take anymore. It’s also a lot more apparent the third time around where they would try to save on the animation budget by stretching out jokes where the characters would stand still, with some of them getting close to 10 seconds. In a 20 minute episode, it looks incredibly cheap. Speaking of jokes, Death the Kid’s need for everything to be symmetrical is a lot less funny the third time around, especially in the middle of what are supposed to be series battles.

Despite all this, though, I genuinely enjoyed rewatching this piece of my middle school experience. Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays, and it feels good being able to watch an anime that is inspired by that imagery, with monsters and demons and, essentially, demon hunters, otherwise known as meisters.

There wasn’t really much to this post other than that. I just wanted to share all of my Halloween joy and share a good show with anyone who hasn’t seen it. Hope you all enjoy your Halloween as well. To anyone not celebrating Halloween, have a good 31st anyway.

Thanks for Reading!

Fullmetal Alchemist Movie: Whitewashing Works Both Ways

Whitewashing has been a contentious issue in film making for a while, especially recently. Adaptations of popular anime franchises like Ghost in the Shell have drawn heat for casting white actors for rolls that are set in Japan and who’s stories are specifically influenced by Japanese culture. It is true that it doesn’t make much sense for white actors to play what should be Japanese rolls, but that standard applies when you reverse the situation as well.


It was announced last year that a live action Fullmetal Alchemist Movie was being made, and we now have multiple trailers and a full cast list. Here’s the problem: the whole cast is Japanese. All of the actors, both main and supporting cast, do not match the race of their original characters.

Just as Ghost in the Shell took a uniquely Japanese story and replaced any cultural influence with white actors, The live action Fullmetal Alchemist looks as though it is going to take the unique commentary of the original series and replace it with Japanese actors. 

The reasons that this such a problem in the first place is because much of Fullmetal Alchemist’s story revolves around the conflict of the Amestrian government and the Ishvallan people. Amestris is a country that draws large parallels with Western Europe in the 1940’s, but more specifically it is meant to represent Germany, with Fuhrer Bradley being a direct reference to Adolf Hitler. Of course, the Ishvallans are a reference to the Jewish people in Germany and the Ishvallan War of Extermination is a reference to World War 2 and Concentration Camps.

Race, in this case, plays a large part of the show. Most of the characters being white represents the predominantly white Western Europe, and the ethnic discrimination of Ishvallan people from both the Amestrian government and the people of Amestris serves as huge arc in Scar’s character. 

Having both Edward and Scar be Japanese eliminates any theme of ethnic resentment from the original. It would be taking away heavily from the character of the story.

Even the director of the original show thought the all Japanese cast was a bad call. It’s not wrong for their to want to proper representation for different races in different stories. In Fact, I agree completely, but let’s make sure that standard is applied across the board.

You Know What Would Make Black Clover Better? Emphasizing Poverty

Studio Pierrot’s recent endeavor Black Clover was hyped up as the new Shonen show that everyone should be watching, even being advertised as the next Naruto. Unfortunately, what we got was a lot less impressive. The opening episodes have been uninspiring, and the main characters are a lot of the focus of this lack of enthusiasm.

Asta and Yuno have mostly been cookie-cutter shonen archetypes, with Asta filling the role of the young protagonist and Yuno being cast as his distant but driven rival. It certainly feels like Naruto in that sense, but not as well done.

For any shonen action series, it is important to carve out a unique identity that makes them stand out in the crowd. Hunter X Hunter did this by doing intricate world building and an interesting power system that didn’t rely on deus ex machina story turns whenever the writer put himself in a narrative corner.

So far, Black Clover is nothing but a borrowing of other shonen troupes and has done nothing new with its premise. This doesn’t mean that they can’t do something new and interesting. In fact, Black Clover has already hinted at something that would make them distinct in shonen stories: focusing on the character’s economic situation.

Black Clover’s setting is a rural village far from the kingdom’s capital or any urban area, with the people in the village just barely getting by. So far, it has been shown Yuno and Asta’s adopted father has to frequently ask for extra food or people will go hungry. There isn’t much infrastructure other than the church, and magic is the only way people are able to support themselves.

These parts of the setting and plot are emphasized heavily, and yet it seems as though the only time the show talks about it is when Asta brings up he’s an orphan. Beyond that, the show remains a typical shonen anime where the main character tries to take on the world and become the strongest. If Black Clover decided to use it’s set up to the full effect, the show could tell a compelling, underdog tale about Asta, the poor, underprivileged kid who rises out of poverty to achieve his goals.

Unfortunately, I have little reason to believe that the show will ever tap into that uniqueness. Black Clover is more than happy with bathing in cliche’s and coasting off the hype of the manga, and that’s a real shame, because this much potential shouldn’t be thrown out so easily.

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.

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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.

This Week in Anime: 10-26-17

Welcome, all to another new series I’m starting on this blog: This Week in Anime. Here I’ll be keeping you up to date on important, interesting or crazy Anime related news. Since I am in my high school newspaper, I thought I would put my journalistic disposition to use and help keep you all updated on whats happening, just in case there was anything you missed.

Kyoto Animation Announces Their Next Series

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A picture of the main cast for Tsurune. Source: Goboiano.com

Just as quickly as they have been promoting their new show Violet Evergarden, fan favorite anime studio Kyoto Animation has already released the title of their next series. Tsurune will focus on a high school freshman named Minato who, after having given it up in middle school, decides to once again pick up archery after an incident at one of the club’s practice. The novel that the book was based on was written by Kotoko Ano and was illustrated by Kyoto Animation key animator Chinatsu Morimoto. There is currently no set release date for the TV anime.

The Anime Industry Just Set a New Record

Passers-by are reflected on an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo
Source: Reuters.com

The anime industry has seen a large amount of growth over the past years, mainly do the opening and expanding markets in both North America and China because of access to streaming services like Crunchyroll and Billi Billi. That market expansion led the industry to a new milestone of being worth over 2 trillion Yen, roughly 17.5 billion U.S. dollars. That information came from The Association of Japanese Animators yearly 2017 report, which showed the industry grew nine percent last year from 1.83 trillion in 2016. The gaming industry, by comparison, is expected to reach  100 billion dollars by the end of this year due in large party to expansions in PC and mobile games.

Funimation Announces the Cast for The Ancient Magus Bride

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Source: MyAnimeList.net

On Tuesday, Funimation announced the cast of the highly anticipated The Ancient Magus Bride. For the main cast, Dani Chambers will be playing Chise and Brian Mathis will be cast as Elias Ainsworth. Chambers has relatively few credits as a voice actor, aside from a few video game jobs. Mathis, on the other, has had a quite a few anime-related roles, including Bacchus in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis(2016) and Macao in Fairytail(2011). They will be joined by Garret Storms playing Seth Noel, Rachel Glass voicing Silver lady and Tia Ballard as Jade.

Yasuhiro Irie starts Kickstarter Campaign for “Halloween Pajama in Seattle.”

 

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Art for Halloween Pajama in Seattle: A Dream Catcher. Source: Kickstarter.com

 

Director Yasuhiro Irie of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood fame recently launched an ambitious project on Kickstarter: to turn his own manga into an anime. Irie talks on his Kickstarter page about the passion he had for drawing manga, saying ” To me, as an artist who normally works with animation, drawing manga was a fun and exciting experience.” This project would include turning a chapter from his own manga, Halloween Pajama, into a 20 minute special with an opening and ending. This wouldn’t be any anime special, as he further describes on his page, “..the most significant change will be that the anime will be a musical!” The project has already gathered around 30,000 of its 175,000 dollar goal, with over a month still left in the campaign. If all goes well for Irie, this could be something unique and enjoyable.

 

 

Opening of The Week: Here by Junna (The Ancient Magus Bride)

In trying to establish at least some level of consistency on this blog, I have decided to start posting an opening of the week. Each week, I will share an opening that I think is awesome and that you guys should listen to.

The inaugural episode is being dedicated to not only one of my favorite shows, but not my favorite openings: The first OP from The Ancient Magus Bride, Here by Junna.

I remember the first time I heard this opening a few weeks ago, and within the first 10 seconds, I could feel an intensity in the music. It wrung with an incredible amount of power, and the singer Junna’s voice was impressive, to say the least.

Cut to a few days ago when I read that Junna is only 16 years old, and that her first album came out this year! Talk about talented. Her powerful voice, combined with the Celtic influence behind the musical production, and you get an opening perfectly fit for a show like The Ancient Magus Bride.

I don’t know about you, but this OP has got me jamming out every time I listen to it. In Fact, you might be able to argue the music is too intense for a show like this. Highly recommend!

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