My Favorite Things – 10/15/17

Back in July of this year, YouTuber Super Eyepatch Wolf released a video talking about his favorite things of 2017. It was a well structure video where he talked about all of the things he was enjoying this year, and I thought it was a cool concept. As such, I decided I would do something similar, and list everything I’ve been enjoying as of late.

Anime

March Comes in Like a Lion:

March-Comes-in-Like-a-Lion-CoverI started March Comes in Like a Lion during the summer of this year, and I have been in love with the show ever since. Shaft’s vividly expressive art style combined with the depressingly somber tale of Rei Kiriyama’s journey to find happiness in his current situation makes for one of the best shows to come out in recent years. It takes everything I love about a good slice of life, mature themes, diverse and deep characters, and cranks it up to eleven.

As I somewhat ramblingly documented in another post, I can also very much relate to Rei’s sense of being unsure as to what he wants out of life. His journey is one that, while not many people are likely to go through themselves, many can find comfort in because of the similarities to situations that we all have. For Example, even though Rei has been playing shogi his whole life, he doesn’t really enjoy it the way many of the people he plays against do. The only reason Rei even plays shogi in the first place is because of his late father. Rei plays shogi because it reminds him of his father, not because he has fun with it.

With the start of the second season just recently, My interest has been thoroughly renewed. I’m eager to see if the show’s second iteration will do it as much justice as the first.

Log Horizon:

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While I haven’t actually watched the show in over a year, Log Horizon has continually held my interest because of the large cliffhanger that concluded the show’s second season. After ending the show in the middle of a vital point of the story, I got more than a bit mad. Of course, I later found out that there wasn’t any more material to adapt, as the light novel author had been thrown in jail for tax evasion, and proceeded to get even madder.

Regardless, Log Horizon is a show that is very much worthy of praise. Many have called it the smarter version of Sword Art Online, but I don’t think it should have to cast in the shadow of a show that came before it. Log Horizon takes the premise of being in an MMO and does it very accurately, from the leveling system to the cooldown on abilities and the combat, and in that way exceeds SAO, with maybe a few exceptions.

I hope that in the future Log Horizon will get the continuation it deserves. There is no reason of this high a quality should be left by the wayside to be forgotten.

Phi Brain:

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One of my favorite shows of all time and a show that will never not be one of my favorites, Phi Brain: Puzzle of God takes what is possibly one of the stupidest premises of all time and makes it entertaining as hell. Kaito, an orphan whose parents died while on a trip for work, has always loved puzzles. One day he discover’s that a group called P.O.G. wants to solve the puzzle of God, and obtain all of the immense power that comes with it.

The show immediately becomes a game show like battle series where the characters are fighting against in each other in a puzzle of the week format for a majority of the show, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

Most of the writing in the show is admittedly quite basic, and most of the characters, aside from Kaito and some of the villains, are a bit one-dimensional. Phi Brain is a show that really focuses on the things it does well and gets by doing the bare minimum with other elements. However, I still love it to death.

Video Games

Divinity:

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I am a man with many interests, and video games are very much one of those interests. In Fact, I like a lot of different genres, from shooters to MOBAs to, especially, RPGs. Divinity is a game that I discovered only recently after it was recommended to me by a good friend, and boy am I a fan.

Divinity is a turn-based RPG focused around your customizable characters known as “source hunters” who help fight evil in the world. Your first mission is investigating the murder of a council member in a small town, and in there, you discover your destiny.

Despite the somewhat cheesy story, the game is both challenging and innovative in the gameplay department. Unlike other RPG, the enemies in the game do not respawn, so you can’t level grind in any one area. This makes it much harder to level up and progress through the game, but not to the point where it becomes frustrating, as there is an abundant number of side quest made available to you as the player.

Divinity has been critically acclaimed as being one of the best games in recent years, and I can’t say I disagree. With fun and challenging gameplay, it is definitely one of my favorites.

Smite:

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Not exactly a niche game, but still worth mentioning as being one of my favorites. I remember the first time finding out about it and then realizing I had no experience with MOBA’s whatsoever. Even so, I dived in and gave it a try. I eventually got my immediate friend group into the game, and we spent hours upon hours practicing and having a great time.

Aside from personal enjoyment, Smite has a few elements that make it fairly distinct. The third person view, as opposed to an overhead view, is one that is very often cited, but Smite also has a much lower barrier to entry, as you can buy all of the characters, and any future characters, for just 30 bucks, and there are a ton of characters in free rotation at any given time, which makes it much more accessible to an average player.

What I enjoy most about the game is its lore. Smite is based on the ancient gods of different Mythos, which most recently has included gods from the Celtic Pantheon. Getting to read about the characters and realize that these were deities that people believed in at one point is kind of surreal.

Gwent:

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Based off a game within a game from the well-received Witcher 3, Gwent is a card game that plays somewhat like poker. Each player puts a card on the board each turn, trying to put more power on the board than your opponent. This happens in a two out of three style match, but aside from drawing a few cards after each round, you only play with whats in your hand.

Gwent is, for the most part, a well-designed card game that brings a lot of new ideas to the table. It combines the well-crafted card are of a game like Hearthstone with a completely different game structure to make something new and fun.

Not having played Witcher 3 before, almost all of the cards go over my head, but the lore of the game is still interesting, and even though I haven’t played as much recently, It’s a game I will likely continue to play for a while.

YouTubers

Spectrum Pulse:

Being someone who listens to just about everything when it comes to music, there a few places where I like to go to get recommendations for what to listen to. Spectrum Pulse, run by Mark Grondon, is a Music, Movie review channel that also reviews just about everything, be it pop, rock, jazz, country or whatever.

His reviews are well researched and often times he’ll bring up things that I didn’t even know about the artist and/or movie he’s reviewing. Mark also does a series called Billboard Breakdown where he looks at and talks about all of the activity of the weekly hot 100 list. This series is where I get a lot of my news about popular music and also some things to listen to as well.

LeeandLie:

In a somewhat similar vein, and also pertaining to anime, LeeandLie is a channel run by Amanda Lee who does fantastic covers of anime and video game songs. She does almost everything, from Angel Beats to the recently aired Re:Creators, all with a fantastic voice.

Conclusion

And that’s everything I’ve been enjoying recently. I might start doing a smaller version of this list on a more regular basis. If you guys enjoy anything here let me know in the comments. Until next time, see ya.

 

 

 

 

 

Kino’s Journey Episode 1 Reaction

Riding, across many lands, with no end in sight. Always looking to explore new lands and talk to new people. Not to mention, a talking motorcycle?

Kino’s Journey definitely has one of the strongest first episodes of this season, with Kino exploring a country in which murder isn’t prohibited. It displayed all of what Kino’s is going to be about.

Having not scene the original series, I was going in mostly blind, but even not knowing about it’s previous iteration I was wholly impressed. What Kino’s Journey is offering is something that’s definetly worth taking.

It’s story is interesting, to say the least. Kino and Hermes’ Journey into places yet discovered, and each of the places that they visit have something unique about them. Kino and Hermes are also pretty amusing together, as they compliment each other in a comedic way.

The animation gives the look of the original a much needed update. Kino’s character design looks great, with his mainly green outfit poping out in an eye-pleasing way. The 3D animation is also well implemented, with the motorcycle scenes being integrated with a lot of care. There isn’t much to say when it comes to the music, but it was complimentary in the right way.

A strong first episode overall, and definitely now something I will be keeping up with. If your not watching this yet, you should be.

Garo Vanishing Line Episode 1 Reaction

I actually wasn’t sure what to expect with this show. I didn’t think much of the plot description when I read it, so I sort of just dived in. Even during the first few minutes it seemed like this was going to be interesting, but wow I am excited for this show.

Sword, the main character

Vanishing line seems to be letting it’s animation and music speak much louder than its story, as so far it seems a bit generic. In this world their are Horrors, creatures born of humanities worst vices:


It is up to Sword, a Makai Knight, to stop these creatures before they hurt innocent people. We also get a hint at something, or someone, much more important, something called Eldorado. It seems as though this is going to be the main antagonist for the series. 

I can’t say this is going to be a bad story. In fact, depending on where it goes from here it could be very interesting, but I won’t keep my expectations to high.

The two high points so far are the music and the animation. The Action in this show is already phenomenal. Aside from a bit of excess camera shaking, they are well coreagraphed and the animation looks beautiful.

The music so far has been a mix of dark and very intense, which is what the show as a whole could be described as. Even in the opening scene I was pumped up and ready to watch Sword kick some butt. 


Overall, I approve. I definitely don’t see this being very deep, especially with Sword’s personality so far. But, it will be highly entertaining. If your looking for something fun, then this is your show.

Just Because Episode 1 Reaction

I’ll be honest, when I saw this was an original series I got really excited. Some original series, like Phi-Brain, have turned out to be my favorite. The plot description was just vague enough to pull me in:

Near the end of second semester at third year, when students have very little time in high school left, and are just waiting for graduation, the appearance of a new transfer student begins to change what remains of their high school lives just as they were about to graduate.

So far, though, it seems like I’ve just been tricked into watching something less than stellar. The focus of the show so far is on Eita, the afformentioned Transfer student, and how his sudden appearance seems to be triggering a long chain of events, mostly involving people he new from middle school. The first episode has mainly focused on his reuniting with Haruto, who appears to have been his best friend in middle school. However, based on the first episode, It doesn’t feel like this show is going to live up to much. Based on what’s been shown so far, it feels like the story is going to very loosely justify how they all know each other and how their stories are going to intertwine.

Haruto Souma. Source: ANN

I am somewhat intrigued by the possible themes that the show is going to explore. Just Because! is set right near the end of their high school year, where students are expected to be thinking of the future, but a lot of them aren’t, especially with the arrival of Eita. It seems like he is going to represent the past that everyone wants to leave behind.

Eita also seems like he would rather leave what has happened to him in the past alone, as when his father asks him if he’s going to reconnect with any middle school friends, he reluctantly says sure.

I do want this show to be good, but I’m also a bit wary of what it will be come. Admittedly, my suspicion of this show is not as substantiated as many of you might prefer, but it’s a feeling I just can’t shake. Hopefully, this will end up being something worth continuing.

Review- Classroom of the Elite: What Was This Supposed To Be?

Finishing up the reviews from last week, I wanted to talk about Classroom of the Elite, for a few reasons. One of the major ones is that I can’t understand what this 12 episode studio Lerche production was really trying to do. It seems to want to go in a lot of different directions without deciding on one, and it’s a worse show because of it.

The Story of Classroom of the Elite centers around Ayanokouji Kiyotaka having just joined Koudo Isukei High School, a state of the art facility where almost all of the students graduate and find a job. The school is divided into Classes A, B, C, and D from highest performing to lowest performing, and Ayanokouji happens to end up in Class D. The members of class D are initially given 100,000 points to spend at the school, where there is food and other amenities to spend points on. Everything seems to be going great for the students until they realize that those points were actually a test and that they won’t be getting any more until they do better.

 

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Kiyotaka Ayanokouji

 

Initially, I was excited about this series. It seemed like it could go a thousand different unique directions and tackle a lot of interesting subject matter, but it ended up going in all one-thousand of those directions and not really trying to stick to anything. For the first few episodes it stuck with its original premise, then it moved on to a crime drama in which AyanoKouji and his other classmates have to prove Sudo’s innocence, then it turned into a fanservice show, and finally, it became a wilderness survival show. Classroom of the Elite tried so many different directions that it never really got good at any of them.

Its lack of direction isn’t the only thing that hurts it because the show’s characters can be classified as either bland or unoriginal. Ayanokouji certainly comes off as the latter, and the show’s other main character Horikita falls under the former. The only other characters really worth mentioning are Sakura and Kushida who also fall under extremely bland.

The writing overall can be classified as uninspired.

The music of the show doesn’t really stand out either. There isn’t any standout track that makes me want to go back and listen to the whole thing to see if I missed something, and most of it just sort of blends together to the point of not even realizing it’s there.

The animation, I feel like I’m repeating myself, sits somewhere in between slightly above average and slightly below average. Nothing about the art style was overly interesting, but it also wasn’t horrifically bad. There weren’t any problems with the quality of the animation either, and the few action intensive scenes the show gives us look good.

 

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The Members of Class D

 

I already said it in another post, but most of the shows in the summer season were painfully average. There was nothing offensively bad about them, but nothing really stood out as overachieving, and that’s the best summary for this show as well. I would recommend you skip it and not waste your time.

 

Black Clover Episode 1 Reaction

After having watched the first episode of Black Clover, I can admit at least that I wasn’t entirely correct in dismissing the hype around the show. The criticism of Black Clover being similar in setup to Naruto is in some way merited, but I get the feeling this show will be able to escape that stigma around it.

As of right now; however, the show is very much caught up in those cliches. Asta and Yuno come off as Naruto and Sasuke clones but with magic, and even how they explain the main characters new found powers is the same. Naruto invoked the power of the nine tails, and Asta unlocks the five leave clover, and the fifth leaf represents a demon. Asta and Naruto are also both orphans that want to become the rulers of their respective kingdoms.

It is interesting to note that Black Clover seems a lot more concerned, at least as of the first episode, with the fact that Asta and Yuno both came out of poverty, and the idea that your beginnings don’t have to define who you are. If that is going to be a theme throughout the show, then it is wholly welcome. A show focusing on poverty and not held back by where you were born, in this case, a rural village, would be a great addition to shonen genre.

Of course, I couldn’t write this reaction without mentioning Asta’s voice actor. For whatever reason, the director of this show decided that Asta’s voice needed to be as annoying as possible, and he found Gakuto Kajiwara, who then internalized that request and gave us the ear scraping noise that is the main character’s voice. I can certainly understand why people would stop watching because of it. We’ll just have to wait and see if it improves, but as of right now, I think this comment on MyAnimeList perfectly summarizes my feelings.

Black Clover Comment

Overall, I’m still excited for this show. The animation looks comparable to other Pierrot productions, and the music that we did hear in this episode was, for lack of a better term, hype. I do hope that the show comes into its own more as time goes on because it would be a shame to see all this potential wasted.

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.

First Impressions: Sound! Euphonium: My Favorite Character is Tuba-Kun

If nothing else, a show like sound euphonium is good for the inclusion of classical music in the soundtrack. Of course, that’s not the only good thing about the first three episodes, but its musical basis is certainly the most prominent feature of the show.

Sound! Euphonium focuses on a first year in high school named Kumiko. Kumiko chooses to go to her new high school to start fresh and to escape her old life, including her having played in concert band. She quickly changes her mind; however, when her newfound friends Hazuki and Kawashima decide that they are going to play in Kitauji High’s Concert Band, and she goes along with them. Kumiko is also reminded of her past when Kousaka, a girl that went to her middle school and played with her in band, also join the high school band.

After finishing a couple episodes of this show, I immediately drew comparisons with Your Lie in April, which aired a few seasons before this show. Certainly, Your Lie in April overshadowed this show a lot, as there really wasn’t a whole lot of discussion around Sound! Euphonium after it finished airing, but that isn’t because this is a bad show. Far from it.

Whereas Your Lie in April focused much more heavily on romance, so far, aside from the hinting at a possible relationship between Kumiko and Kousaka, the show mostly seems to be focusing on the band and its newfound drive to win the national competition, something that the two were never able to achieve in middle school.

And it seems like the show definitely wants to keep the focus on music. Much of what we know about the main and supporting characters so far is directly tied to their affiliation with band. Hazuki said that she was doing tennis before and that she wanted to try something different, and Kawashima was playing the contrabass at an all-girls academy. Kumiko has been playing the Euphonium ever since the 4th grade because of her sister, who seems somewhat distant towards Kumiko based on the first few episodes. I suspect something will happen with that later on.

It is, of course, important for a show focusing on music to have a good soundtrack, and in that regard the show does ok. The opening and ending are both j-pop infused with brass instruments and are pretty catchy, and the soundtrack so far has a calm, but determined atmosphere, much like the show.

I don’t have to say much about the animation and art style because this Kyoto animation and anything they touch looks like it was blessed by the gods and given to mortal men as a reward for their admiration.

I am very excited to watch this show because there are already a lot of good places it could go. I honestly wouldn’t mind if Kumiko x Kousaka became a thing, and it would be very interesting to explore the relationship Kumiko has with her sister. I’m already excited that it got a season two.

Review- Tsuredure Children: Romantic Comedy Done Right

Of the two most popular romantic comedies this season, Tsuredure Children and GAMERS!, I would have to say that I enjoyed the former much more than the latter. Tsuredure children, while absolutely having flaws, was able to rise above those flaws and create something very unique and fun.

The summer 2017 anime was a tale of multiple high school couples who were in their first relationships, and as such focused on the awkwardness that comes with the character’s first love. Each episode features anywhere from 2-4 of the couples in the shows large cast either struggling to start a relationship or trying to maintain one.

Much like the slice of life comedy, AHO-Girl, Tsuredure Children is all about the characters. They are the show’s heart and soul, and without each of their unique relationship situations, the show would not have the same level of charm it does. The show thrives off the relatable awkwardness of each of the characters problems with their relationships. Masafumi and Ryoko, for example, were two of the funniest characters because their relationship was so one-sidedly awkward for Ryoko. All of her life Ryoko has been used to being alone and had accepted that she would probably just fail high school, but then came Masafumi, the student council president. He had no reason to approach her, but he did because she was smoking on campus. When Masafumi started to harass her, he also decided that he liked her, and because of this fast-paced evolution of their relationship, and Masafumi’s continual joking with her, Ryoko feels totally awkward.

Takeru and Ayaka are another great example of the show’s reliance on awkwardness for its comedy. The two enter into a relationship with each other towards the beginning of the show, but after that, they still aren’t really sure what to do, because they have never known what a relationship is, so they struggle even trying to hold hands, and as it turns out Ayaka has a bit of jealous streak.

Aside from those examples, most of the show’s relationships are genuinely funny and endearing in a way that almost anyone can appreciate. True to life, the characters struggle with trying to understand their feelings and convey them to other people.

When it comes to animation, the show seems content with being at about average quality, and the art style for the show is varied and colorful, typical of slice of life Rom-Coms. This, in my eyes, takes away from the show, as having the quality of the animation be a bit better for the 12-minute episode length would have been nice.

Music in the show isn’t a big focus, and you can tell that not much effort was put into it. For the type of show, the music is average and not really worth listening to on its own. It does do its job of setting the mood for the scenes, so sufficient is the best word.

Overall, a fantastic show. Tsuredure Children is what happens when you take a more creative route with telling a story as opposed to doing the same thing over and over. It is absolutely worth your time.

Review- AHO-Girl: Fast-Paced and Fun

AHO-Girl, man what a rush.

If there is one show I really enjoyed from the summer 2017 anime season, it’s this show. It uses a very fast-paced variety of humor to set up a great joke that doesn’t overstay its welcome. As I have mentioned before, AHO-girl is the best thing I’ve watched this season, and there are a couple of different reasons why.

The 12 episode series, produced by Diomedia, uses the same setup as a show like Nichijou or Azumanga Daioh and provides its own unique set of characters to play off of. Yoshiko, the resident Aho-girl herself, has a very one-track mind but often does not have much of an attention span. Her willingness to just about anything to get what she wants while ignoring any and all social cues is the show’s driving force of comedy, and it works well. Akutsu, aka A-kun, is Yoshiko’s childhood friend who, as we learn in the last episode, has a weird history with Yoshiko, to say the least. His unwillingness to let Yoshiko’s stupidity go unchecked manifests in him getting verbally or physically violent, to the misfortune of Yoshiko. There are times when he seems like a one-joke pony, but he does come off as hilarious in more ways in one, like when he is being harassed by the student council president, who just happens to fall in love with him. Sayaka, who becomes Yoshiko and A-kun’s friend, becomes an innocent bystander in their daily antics and suffers some of the consequences as well.

There are a few other side characters, like A-kun’s sister and Yoshiko’s mom, that are also fantastic and hilarious. A special shoutout goes to Yoshiko’s dog who is especially great and has some of the best moments in the show, like when he watches a movie with A-kun and the two immediately become friends

The animation, in the case of comedy anime, is less so dependent on overall quality than it is on being able to help in the delivery, and in that case, it does well. The animation keeps up well with the show’s variety of fast-paced and low-brow humor and is able to enhance the jokes in a way that brings them to life, as animation should. It’s overall above average.

The Music is nothing special but also isn’t bad. It is used to help with jokes like in any other comedy and does well to enhance the joke, but really doesn’t go beyond a typical comedy soundtrack. Considering how funny the rest of the show is, I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but sadly it was.

Overall, aside from a few aspects that are a bit lacking, AHO-girl is a great comedy. Its characters are its heart and soul, and on that front, it uses them well. The comedic situations that Yoshiko and the other are put in is enough to get anyone laughing. With just 12 minutes per episode, there’s no reason not to watch it.

 

 

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