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.

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.

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

Tsurune
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

The ancient magus bride
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.”

 

Halloween
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!

The New Trailer for Violet Evergarden Appears to be a Good Sign of What’s to Come

Kyoto Animation’s YouTube channel recently released a new trailer for their upcoming title Violet Evergarden and saying that this show looks good is a bit of an understatement.

A lot about the show’s plot has already been revealed. After a war between the north and south halves of the continent of Telesis, Violet Evergarden retires and starts work at the CH Postal Service. This is because she is facinated by the work of Auto Memory Dolls, people who can turn thoughts into words, and works to send those words to many different people.

We have seen in other trailers that Violet Evergarden hasn’t exactly had the easiest time after the war. We see her presumably returning to life before the war as she begins her new job and the many people she is going to meet while on that job. We also see the many painful reminders she gets of her husband being lost during the war, and that she is still very much affected by that loss.

The show oozes Kyoto animation’s extremely high production value, along with a beautiful color palette that emphasizes the fantasy elements of the show. The shows musical score also seems to be pulling no punches when it comes to emphasizing what seems to be the shows best elements. If this trailer is anything to go off of, then we might have already have a candidate for best anime of 2018.

March Comes in like a Lion Season 2 Episode 2: Chaos, Indeed.

Already the show is diving back into the elements that made its first season such an enthralling watch. If the first episode was showing the ways in which Rei’s life has changed then this episode is its stark contrast.

The second episode featured the title match between Souya and Kurokuma, in the final game between the two. It was expected to be an intense match, but Souya managed to clean house in just seventeen moves, further displaying his dominance as a shogi player after having mad some strange moves in other games. When Rei played out the match from his last move, he realized that there was no way Kurokuma could have won, and Rei realized that the gap between him and a title match player was much bigger than he could imagine.

Episode two further also explored Rei’s stagnant relationship with his sister, who he cares for deeply, but who is also in love with one of his shogi rivals Gotou. Rei is viscerally angry at Gotou for continuing to date his sister not only because of his lack of commitment to her but also because that lack of commitment stems from him being married. Rei sees Gouto as a serious harm to his sister Kyouko, but he knows that he doesn’t have the same kind of relationship with her.

In the second half of the episode, we see the distance that Gotou puts between him and Kyouko in their relationship when the two go shopping. After having Kyouko do some his errands for him, he refuses to let her stay the night at his apartment. However, She tricks him into letting her into his apartment. When the two lay down on his bead, Gotou ties her to the bed frame and then goes to sleep. While he sleeps, Kyouko notices the bags under his eyes and realizes that he hasn’t gotten much sleep, to which she replies:

This episode is one that understands the internal struggles of its characters. We find out at the end of the episode that Gotou has been visiting his wife in the hospital, who appears to not have a lot of time left. This tiny touch at the end really makes the show, because it puts a lot of the tension between Gotou and everyone else into perspective. He has been dealing with what could end up being the death of his wife, which would be hard for anyone. Without that detail, we as an audience would go on thinking that Rei’s hatred of him is 100 percent justified, when in fact it might only be 70-80 percent justified.

Rei, of course, is feeling a lot of pain as well. At the end of the first part of the episode, one of the men who was sitting with him and watching Souya’s match says this:

This line is preceded in the episode by Rei’s monologue about his sister, which connects it with Rei’s thoughts even though we know he is talking about Souya.

March Comes in Like a Lion has a lot to offer in the way of nuanced and interesting storytelling, and this episode highlights that perfectly. It creates a perfect dichotomy around Rei and Gotou who are both suffering from similar problems and portrays them in a complex and, might I say, human way. Chaos may have been this episodes theme, but that chaos is tightly controlled and beautiful.


 

I Drink and Watch Anime’s Blogwarming party

Hello everyone,

So Irina from I drink and Watch Anime has decided to spread loveliness and to something awesome: helping out anime bloggers. 

Admittedly, I haven’t talked to as many people from the community as I should, so I guess this is also kind of a selfish post as well.

Anyway, Irina is going to spotlighting the posts she gets submitted and have them featured on her page, and all you have to is submit. Her current qualifications are that you be a newer blog, i.e. 2 months or less, and small, i.e 50 followers or less. 

The reason I mentioned this was a somewhat selfish post is because I would really like to meet new people and see great stuff. I know my writing isn’t exactly consistent or anywhere close to quality, and I’m curious about the talent that I have yet to see!

Here is the link to Irina’s post if you guys are interested, and be sure to spread the news.

No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 3 Review: Just Getting Better

If you have read my previous reviews before, then you will know that No Game No Life is not only one of the most well-produced anime, but also that its original source material is of high quality. In fact, it’s fair to say that the No Game No life anime is a near perfect translation of the first three light novels, with the last four episodes being a particularly entertaining spectacle.

Not an Idiot

All of this is to say that the third volume of No Game No Life was a well-written conclusion to the tension that was slowly building between Elkia and the Eastern-Union. In this volume, Sora and Shiro have the herculean task of taking on the “kingdom of cute-animal girls” with only the knowledge they acquired from the writings of the previous king, Stephanie’s grandfather. During the last volume, the crew found out that all of the king’s games that to Sora, at first, seemed like hopeless attempts to win back land and that he was foolish for even trying. However, after looking at the specific areas that the king bet, and finding his information on the Eastern-Union’s game, Sora realized that the king’s hopeless endeavors were actually strategic planning for the next ruler of Elkia.

Armed with the previous king’s knowledge and Sora and Shiro’s ironclad confidence, the unbeatable duo blank challenge and defeat Izuna, the Eastern-Union’s representative in Elkia, in a four-on-one match with the fate of Immanity on the line for Blank, for all of the Eastern-Union’s continental territory and whatever lay upon it. This bet under the covenant just also happened to anything that lay on top of said continental territory, including Eastern Union citizens.

 

Izuna
Izuna, Ambassador of the Easter-Union to Elkia

 

While No Game No Life’s story is one of its better elements, it would be nothing without its hilariously overpowered and loveable main duo. Sora and Shiro remain the show’s main attraction, and while they are not always the most relatable of characters, still exude the quality of good characters. Sora remains the eccentric pervert whose love of his little sister exceeds even his concern for himself, and Shiro is as always the calm and cool eleven-year-old who brings his brother’s deluded fantasies down to earth. The two always work well together as characters, and this volume was no exception.

During the battle with Eastern-Union, it became unclear as to whether or not Sora and Shiro, along with Jibril and Steph, could actually beat Izuna, with her heightened senses and superior physical ability. But, just as Sora had done with Shiro in his battle against Chlammy, Shiro put all of her faith in her brother to trust her in order to grab a come from behind win from Izuna.

Sora and Shiro 2

I did find it unfortunate, though, that we didn’t learn any more of Shiro and Sora’s past, only things that had already been implied like that the two could barely stand to be outside back in Japan. It feels like a real missed opportunity from a writing perspective to leave out more details about their past, especially considering its importance to who they are as characters.

Either way, Volume three continued and improved on the No Game No Life series. It’s a wonderful addition to the story and only makes me look forward to the next volume. Considering the next volume has story that was not in the anime, I am even more eager to start it. If you haven’t read No Game No Life, do it, because it is absolutely worth your time.

 

BIG ANNOUCEMENT: The Name of the Site is Changing

Hello, dear readers,

Sorry about the lack of posts in the last week. I have been busy dealing with the life-draining machine that is high school and haven’t had any time to write this week.

Aside from that, In this week of absence, I have come to an important decision: I want to change the name of my blog. I thought about it for a couple of days and I came to a couple of conclusions.

  1. A Guy Who Writes sounds a bit boring and generic, and I would prefer the name of my site be something a bit more unique.
  2. If I decided to do this later, it would just mean there would be more people to confuse and I certainly don’t want that.

The new name of the site will be The Aniwriter. Since this has mainly become a blog about anime, I wanted that to be more reflected in the blog’s title. The name will be changed about two days after this post goes out. Again, I’m giving this time frame so that people don’t unfollow a blog that hasn’t changed at all content-wise. My social media will, of course, be changed to reflect this as well.

So, I will see you all again soon as The Aniwriter. Bye for now.

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 1 Reaction: It’s Back!

If the title makes it sound like I’m excited, it’s because I am. March Comes in Like a Lion is arguably one of the best shows to come out in the last few years, for a multitude of reasons – good characters, fun episodic storylines that still culminate in a powerful overarching story – and now its second season is finally out.

I’ll admit, the first episode isn’t what I thought it was going to be, but looking back at the first season it makes a lot of sense. The first episode picks off where the first season ended, with Rei now being a member of the newly formed Shogi Science club and teaching the former science club members how to play.

Throughout the episode, Rei comes to terms with his current situation and looks back on the progress he’s made towards coming out of his shell as a person. While in the lab at school the former science club members and Rei watch an important Shogi match between Souya and another famous player. During Souya’s match, Rei realizes that his newfound clubmates and his teacher Takashi are not only having a good time with Shogi but are also interested in his well being.

In the second half of the episode, Rei finds himself making Ramune in the science Lab after they see Souya and his opponent eating snacks during their match. Rei, being a recluse who doesn’t know how to do much for himself, needs help from Noguchi in making the snack. The episode ends with a much appreciated happy note for Rei: that he has friends.


So much of the story of the first season was Rei battling with his tendency towards loneliness and not relying on others for help, but now it seems that has changed for the better. Rei has found a lot of people who he loves and considers family. His days of being lonely are, for the most part, over.

Even though I’m going to say it here, it goes without saying that this was a strong start. The first episode was everything fans of the show expect for a show of its quality.

The animation from Shaft and Akiyuki Shinbo were exceptionally expressive, and on the same level of quality as the first season. The colorful art style combined with Shaft’s unique storytelling style is present for this first episode and will likely continue to be here.

The opening and ending theme were both phenomenal, as was the case with the first season, being performed by YUKI and Brian the Sun respectively.

 

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