Tag Archives: Anime

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:

Screenshot 2017-10-30 22.14.39

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.

Screenshot 2017-10-30 22.16.53

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.

Screenshot 2017-10-30 22.29.57

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.

maka_albarn_vector_by_mike_rmb-d5h9o8s

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

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.