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Review- From the New World(Shin Sekai Yori): One of the Greats(SPOILERS)

When I first started this blog for sharing my watching experience I wrote a review of Eureka Seven and said that it was one of the best shows I’ve seen to date. Two months later and I’ve watched another near perfect show. From the New World is not only one of the best anime I’ve ever seen, It’s also a piece of art that should be recognized for its wonderful dystopian story and masterful presentation.

To say that the writing is good is to sell this show short. Its brilliance begins with its premise: a story of a world torn apart by a war against a group of people who, in the course of human evolution, developed the ability to manipulate reality with his or her mind. In a new society set a millennium after the war tore apart the world, a town made up of humans with reality manipulating powers lives in relative peace.

What makes From the New World’s writing so interesting has a lot to do with the town itself. Most of the struggles in our main character Saki’s life come as a direct or indirect result of the leaders of the town, who generally comprise either the Ethics Committee and the Education Committee. Under the authority of these groups, the town has become what can only be described as a hyper-authoritarian state. The ability to move outside of the spiritual barrier that has been setup around the town is highly restricted. It is also found out later that the ethics committee has hypnotized all the groups of children accept Saki and her friends in order to make sure that they do not go against the committee’s wishes. This setup serves to show just how seriously the powers that they hold are taken. Someone with their Psychokinetic powers could easily kill thousands of those without it. As such, the Ethics Committee felt as though they had to protect their peace.

The show does make sure to call into question the morality of their policies of the Committees often. After all, they send out Trickster Cats to eliminate those who they feel are a problem, and they are openly hostile to those who question their authority. These actions are always shown in much darker and unforgiving light.

Saki and her friends ultimately carry the show. It is through their eyes that we see the corruption of the town’s leadership throughout all stages of their lives. Saki, the shows main character, is portrayed as someone who is constantly the learning. As she grows up she learns more and more about their town Kamisu 66 and what really goes on behind the scenes. It is through her that we find out about the trickster cats, the leader of the ethics committee Tomiko, and the treatment of the Monster Rats. She is both our main perspective of the world and also herself a bystander to its tragedy. It is also through her that we see a loss of innocence, both in herself and her friends, as they learn about the horrors of their history and about the society they live in.

Wataru is also an important character and one that complements Saki well. When she is in a moment of hesitation and she feels like she can’t move on it’s Wataru that snaps her out of it. We also see the world through his eyes, to a lesser extent, but as he grows up with her Wataru becomes a bit more cynical of the world than Saki. He is constantly making Saki evaluate the decisions she is going to make while also being there to protect her.

The Music in the show isn’t what I would call the greatest, but it is by no means bad. It does well to complement the tones of the scenes they are used in, whether those tones are romantic or horrific. I do have to mention one song, in particular, Kage no Denshouka Daisanbu, which while being one of the most prominent songs in the show is also the best song and is definitely worth listening to on its own.

It’s very hard to find fault in a show like From the New World given how perfectly executed it is, but then we get to the animation. Admittedly it gets better as the show goes on, but it the beginning it is really jarring inconsistent some of the characters look, especially during scenes when the characters are the focus. Although, I can definitely see an argument of this being intentional. As the show goes on the animation of Saki and her friends becomes more rigid and structured, mirroring her conformity to the society of the town.

I’ve had a lot more to say about this show because I feel like it deserves a good explanation of why it’s so great, and I hope this review has done it the justice it deserves. From the New World is a show that will stand the test of time because of its quality storytelling and ability to portray tragedy in all the complexity and nuance that a story like it requires. It is definitely a must-watch.

Review- No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 1: The Start of a Fantastic Adventure

Despite a lackluster ending, the anime adaptation of No Game No Life has ended up as one of my favorite of all time. Maybe not my top ten, but definitely top twenty. It brought to life two of the most interesting main characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. When I started reading the light novels I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought, “Seems like it’ll be boring just reading what I’ve already watched.” However, I’m happy to say that the light novel proved me wrong in so many ways.

If you have seen the anime, then you already know the basic plot. Brother and sister Sora and Shiro, bored with the shitty game known as reality, one day receive an email from someone who claims to be able to be able to bring them to the world they will enjoy much more than their own. Upon responding to that email, Sora and Shiro find themselves falling out of the sky into a world that looks much different than the one they know. They find as they’re falling through the sky from the god of this new world Tet that their perfect world is right in front of them, known as Disboard. With a brief nap after literally falling into Disboard, the two awake and begin their journey.

One of the things that makes the light novel much more interesting than the anime, as I’ve talked about before in a previous post, is the amount of detail we get about both Sora and Shiro and the world of Disboard. Some of the appeal of No Game No life is lost in the lack of detail that the show presents, leaving out important descriptions about details about Sora and Shiro’s past. As screen time isn’t an issue in a light novel, the book gives a much more vivid description of the world and the reasons that Sora and Shiro are so perfect for Disboard.

Another thing that the book did well was portraying Sora and Shiro amazement of the world. A lot of the appeal of the show comes from the fact that we as the audience know that brother and sister Combo Blank are doing what they are for fun. If they weren’t bored of the world they were in, then they wouldn’t have half-jokingly agreed to come to Disboard. This can be seen in the descriptions of their reactions, with the middle of the first chapter describing a scene in which Sora reads over the rules of the world and then smirks after he reads the tenth rule, which is “Let’s all have fun together.” While Sora and Shiro are competitive, they play games for the reason everyone plays games. The smirk shows that Shiro is enjoying himself.

The only real problem I have with the story is the comedy. The show has a much better sense of comedic timing than the light novel, but I think that has more to do with the fact that reading the joke means that the comedic timing is going to be different for everyone because everyone reads at a different pace. I also don’t blame the light novel for this as much because my sense of grammar and syntax isn’t exactly the best.

The writing overall is fantastic. It’s descriptive, and Yuu Kamiya knows how to write characters that are both eccentric and loveable. If you’ve watched the series but haven’t read the light novel yet, then you should. It will make you fall in love with the world of No Game No Life all over again, and the light novels actually go past the series so the story will finish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Impressions: No Game No Life Light Novel: Beauty in the Details(SPOILERS)

My Experience with the No Game No Life anime, aside from the ending, was a very positive one. It was an Isekai show that questions the status quo of its own genre, and it made that questioning really fun, as brother and sister team blank explore the new world that they have discovered. If I had to give one other negative criticism of the show its that The first episode, compared to the first chapter of the lite novel, didn’t give a lot in detail.

What I mean by that is that while the anime did its best to portray the life of Sora and Shiro through visual ques, the light novel does a much better job at explaining outright why it is Sora and Shiro are who they are. Its not that the anime did a bad job setting up the story of Blank, its just that I found a lot more to like in the descriptions of the novel.

For Example, while the show iterates the fact that the two are brilliant at games, it never gets around to connecting there brilliance at these games to there social isolation. The light novel, on the other hand, explains “The brother who had been born no good and so was too good at reading people’s words and motives. The sister who had been born too smart and, because of that and her pure white hair and red eyes had no one ho understood her.” This key detail makes it a lot easier to relate to Sora and Shiro early because we realize that nobody has taken the time to understand them.

Another example comes in the lack of description about there parents. In the anime, we get a quick scene that shows Sora walking along side his parents while they seem to ignore him, and they approach Shiro sitting at a table. Of course, this on the surface would convey the idea that there parents weren’t ever really around really well, but compared to the description in the lite novel, it feels a bit weak. The Light novel states “The siblings who had been abandoned, even by their parents, then left alone in this world, and who finally closed their hearts.” This clearly explains how they both feel about the outside world and why they only play games. They play because they both feel numb, and that no one will ever come for them. They find solace in games the way people find relief in each other. The novel also explains further that they had a past that “not even the most generous of interpretation could recall as happy.” This added detail delivers the idea that Sora and Shiro are lonely much more potently then in the anime

A large swath of detail that got left out of the anime is the idea of conspiracy theories and urban legends are actually just wishes. It further explains that people desire the universe to be filled with order rather than chaos, and that the people who wish for these things can’t except the fact the universe is mostly chaos. This idea fits in with Sora and Shiro’s description of life just being a shitty game because a game has order. The real world is chaos and has no sense of fairness or equality.

Details like these help tie the story together much better at the beginning and allow the story to convey its ideas much quicker then the anime. Again, I am not saying that the anime does a bad job at all, but if you were to ask me who gets more points for presentation, then I would give it to the light novel every time.

First Impressions: GAMERS! A Show That Knows How to Subvert Expectations.

I decided to watch GAMERS! on a complete whim. That’s it. There was absolutely nothing else about the show that was remotely interesting other than the fact that it was described as a show about gaming. Even when I started the first episode, I was convinced that the show was going to be a somewhat camp, slice of life about a nobody loser joining a gaming club and becoming a video game god, but boy was that not the case.

While GAMERS! may set itself up like the adventures of generic anime protagonist #3012, The show, within the first episode, becomes a ROM-COM where the most popular girl in school invites the main character Amano to join the schools gaming club, but gets rejected by Amano because he doesn’t like how the club plays games, telling said most popular girl Tendou that he doesn’t like playing games competitively. Tendou, who starts to develop a slight crush on Amano, feels utterly rejected. A lot of the comedy from that point on stems from watching the most popular girl in school start awkwardly stalking Amano as he starts to make friends outside of the club.

It was indeed surprising watching what I thought was going to be pretty standard anime garbage into something a little less conventional. From the moment of Tendou’s rejection I couldn’t stop watching, and it has so far been thoroughly entertaining.

The way it so far has played with the expectations that it has set up is fascinating. For example, when Chiaki was introduced, the expectation is that she would be the main rival to Tendou in getting with Amano, since Chiaki and Amano both love so many of the same games and often times share a very similar philosophy when it comes to how they both enjoy games. This, however, ends up not being the case at all, as much of the philosophy that the two share involves being passionate about games to the point of insulting each other over there disagreements.

Another one of the ways it flips expectations is with Amano’s first real friend Uehara. When Uehara is first introduced, he is made to look like he is part of the popular crowd, the group of people that wouldn’t dare associate themselves with someone like Amano. However, its been revealed throughout the first few episodes that Uehara has a past very similar to that of Amano’s current situation: an introvert who only wants to play games, and because of that Uehara decides to start hanging out with Amano.

Of course, none of this actually makes the show good, or bad for that matter. While the show does subvert expectations, and that does add to its presentation, it doesn’t feel yet like a show that really is going to stick with me for very long. One could even argue that the show subverts expectations for the sole purpose of getting attention, and while it has certainly caught mine, its not a tactic that creates quality art. If the show wants to come off as anything more than gimmicky than its going to have to make its characters a lot more interesting than they currently are.

 

 

 

Nagi no Asukara: My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Review- Hellsing: Ultimate: About as Fun as an Anime Can Be

I find myself more and more looking at anime, and entertainment, through a more analytical lens. This is mostly due to having read How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster. After reading the book I couldn’t help but just look for the details of what was going on. Even though it was mainly meant for western literature, I still find myself applying its core ideas to anime. Hellsing: Ultimate, however, was a show that I could very easily turn my brain off and just watch the blood splatter everywhere.

Following the leader of the Hellsing, Sir Integra, and her powerful vampire servant Alucard, Hellsing Ultimate is a remake of the original 2001 adaptation of Hellsing. It follows the bloody, spine-tingling adventures of Hellsing’s work, and how it leads up to a war against a group of Nazi soldiers that escaped World War 2. The group now known as Mellenium seeks to start a war against England, and the leader of Millennium seeks revenge against Alucard.

Oh, and did I mention that there are Vampire Nazis in this show too? Cause that really is a selling point of this show. Anituber Glass Reflections often speaks about how a certain percentage of shows generally operate on the “Rule of Cool.” This essentially means that even when a show is lacking in factors like Music or characters, it is still able to be enjoyable due to the sheer amount of awesome on screen, and Ultimate knows how to use this rule to its full effect.

Ultimate takes an idea like vampires, which has had many different, often repeated, interpretations in popular media, and manages to make it fun again. Alucard’s demonic powers are beautifully animated, along with the rest of the show. Whenever he fought, my eyes were always glued to the screen, so much so that I would forget that I was hungry.

Aside from riding the “Rule of Cool,” Ultimate has a lot to offer in other categories. It’s soundtrack, while not being as good as the original 2001 adaptation, still manages to set the tone no matter what the scene, especially near the end of the show after the Major’s ship crash lands in London.

As I mentioned before, the show is breathtakingly animated, especially when it comes to the fight scenes. Each movement feels smooth and in place, aside from a few wonky slow moments. The color palette for the show almost always feels perfect for the setting at hand. Alucard specifically always looks fantastic in his signature black and red outfit.

The show is by no means dumb. In fact, there are many ideas that are worthy of there own analytical pieces, like the ideas of being a monster vs being human, but if your looking for the epitome of fun, then Hellsing: Ultimate is definitely worth your time.

First Impressions: Aho-Girl, Super Smart Comedy? No, but Still Hilarious

Aho-girl is by no means an anime great, even when compared to just other comedy anime. Its premise is a little basic, and leaves a lot to be desired, but for whatever reason I just can’t stop laughing when I watch it.

Aho-girl centers around Yoshiko, most likely one of the stupidest people to ever live. The title seems to fit, considering how much of an idiot she is, failing all of her tests and being obsessed with bananas. She’s constantly irritating both her friend A-kun and her mom with her sheer lack of common sense. She goes to school with A-kun and everyday there is something new she is hung up on.

I’ll start up front by saying that if you like your comedy to be thoughtful and sophisticated with well thought out jokes that go a couple levels deep then this show is not for you. Aho-girl relies on mostly low brow humor and fast paced, often violent jokes to get you to laugh. Now, if you are like me and can appreciate many different types of humor, including boob grabbing and dick jokes, then you will probably love this show, as I have so far.

The show seems to know comedic timing very well, as many of the jokes land, and there are quite a few good one liners already. As of right now at least, it looks like the show understands its comedic formula well enough to not only perfect it,  but to experiment in future episodes.

Of course, the show would be nothing without its characters. All of them are very well voice acted and are very emotive, enhancing the comedy even more. I would like to give a special shout out to Yoshiko’s voice actor Aoi Yuuki who does an amazing job portraying her character’s stupidity. Admittedly, I’m not to familiar with to many Japanese voice actors, but you can now officially call me a fan.

I don’t think its very likely that the show will end up going downhill, as the consistent level of quality leads me to believe the show is being handled well. As of right now though, I definitely recommend you watch it. The short twelve minute episodes are bound to brighten up your day.

Boruto: My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review- Eureka Seven: Still One of the Best Anime to Date

It really only took a few episodes before I realized, but Eureka Seven is by far and away one of the best anime to date. The 2006 Bones production enjoys some of the stellar storytelling along with a cast of characters that feel much more relatable than a lot of other shows.
Eureka Seven is set in a future in which the discovery of ancient creatures has lead to the to the creation Human shaped robotic fighting suits known as LFOs. These suits have largely been taken over by the military, which has used them to expand throughout the entire world. Enter the Gekkostate, a rouge group of anti-military resistance made up of former special forces units who also happen to have their own magazine publication. It is through this publication that our protagonist Renton Thurston, son of the man considered humanity’s hero Adrock Thurston, comes to admire the group and dreams about one day joining them. It is through a fateful encounter with Gekkostate’s best pilot Eureka Renton is able to join the group, leaving behind his grandfather with the promise to return and become a mechanic.
After the first few introduction episodes it begins to show the life of the Gekkostate, and the wild and captivating personalities on board. All of these characters, in one way or another, feel compelling, from Tolho’s transformation over the course of the show from a rowdy, confused 20 something to a mature, loving motherly figure, and Holland’s evolving feelings about Eureka, to Renton’s maturing as an individual, which leads to the main attraction of the show, the love story of Eureka and Renton.
As Renton is very much a young teenager, the show is set up as a coming of age story, in which he not only learns more about his past and has to come to terms with both his sister and dad being gone as more and more of the ghosts of their pasts show up, he also falls deeper and deeper in love with Eureka, and it is here where the show shines. At first, having not had a women in his life other than his sister before she past away when he was young, Renton did not have a way to properly express his feelings, often coming off as overly aggressive even when trying to show compassion and kindness. However, over the course of the show’s 50 episodes, he learns more and more about Eureka, including the fact that she is a highly intelligent being known as a Karalian, Renton can only find more things to love about her. Intially, Eureka is confused about her feelings, even to the point of being scared of Renton, because she does not know how to process mutual feelings for him. But even while fighting a war to save the planet from the destructive tendencies of Duey, Renton and Eureka’s Romance still shines through as one of the most endearing in anime.
Apart from having great characters, Eureka Seven also knows how to world build. As prominent Anime YouTuber Digibro said in a recent video, “the show is steeped in…anything that is counter culture.” From the surfing of Trapar waves to the releasing of the Gekkostate’s own magazine, “Rayout”,  the show not only portrays the Gekkostate as being resistant to power, but it also paints the entire world from that point of view. It shows you life of Gekkostate and how it may not be glamorous, but it can be fun. Among this exploration of counter culture the show also explores many themes about environmentalism, diversity and acceptance that also serve to build on both the world and the romance between Renton and Eureka.
Eureka Seven is a show that, while only having discovered it recently, will likely remain with me for a long time. To say that its narrative is compelling is to undermine the show’s unique perspective and simply not give it the credit it deserves. It goes without saying that if you have not watched it, then you should.