Friday, August 22, 2014

Hanayamata, Eps. 5-6: Live Like A Main Character

With Tami now part of the Yosakoi club, all Hana and Naru need to do to make the club official is to get Yaya to join the club (even if only in name), and then get Sally-sensei to be their advisor. Of course, that is exactly what happens, and before they know it, the Yosakoi club is officially a thing, and suddenly everyone is seriously practicing and thinking of logos and going to public yosakoi performances for inspiration.

Also, confusing their fathers with their sudden cheerfulness.
First of all, I should mention that I love it when others blog about the shows I love, such as this show, especially when other Christian anibloggers talk about the Christian themes in these shows. After all, I do not intend these posts to be comprehensive looks at every Christian theme in these shows, and there are certainly themes that I've missed. Alternatively, they save me some of the work of writing these posts if they cover an episode I haven't covered already, which is a good thing, right? Anyway, if you haven't already, do check out Japesland's post on Hanayamata (specifically episode 5) over at Beneath the Tangles.

Before I talk more about these episodes myself, I guess I'll use this part where I make my normal spiel about being careful of spoilers after the jump, and mention that now I will be noting just how spoilerrific the post will be. Spoiler Warning: The very end of this post will have a fairly major spoiler, so stop at the second picture if you don't want to see it. Otherwise, just the usual minor spoilers are after the jump.


Monday, August 18, 2014

One Week Ramblings: The Actual Church of Barakamon

I've been very enthusiastic blogging about Barakamon, one of the best shows this season and definitely the one I would most readily recommend to anyone. One of the reasons why I love this show so much is how it presents Christian values in every episode--it's what I'm blogging about it, after all--which I had thought at first to be incidental rather than intentional, like most cases of Christian values I find in anime. However, these Christian values might not be as incidental as I thought.

While it was probably mentioned before, episode 7 of Barakamon confirms that the show takes place on the Gotou Islands off of Nagasaki. And if you read the Wikipedia entry I just linked to, particularly the Demographics section, you'll find out, as I did, that the people of the islands are descended from a Christian sect that escaped there during the persecution of Christians in the 1600s, and that there are many Catholics and Catholic churches on the islands, making it one of the most notable Christian communities in Japan. This is especially notable given that Japan has a very small Christian population, at supposedly less than 1% of the entire population--in anime, this means that very few anime are actually about Christians and Christian values; as I mentioned before, most cases of Christian values in anime are completely incidental.

Now, I cannot say for sure that the author of Barakamon is intentionally drawing on Christian values, or that the characters living on the island are Christians; nothing directly related to Christianity is shown, outside a picture of a cathedral as one of the tourist spots one of Seishuu's off-island friends wants to visit. Nevertheless, it is very clear that the people of the island live according to Christian values, in their sense of hospitality, grace, and overall friendliness, and knowing the Christian background of the islands, it now makes much more sense that their culture is steeped in those values, regardless of their actual beliefs.

All this is to say that Barakamon is probably the closest thing to an actual Christian anime airing on TV in a long time. Christian anime fans like myself who are long used to having to find redeeming values in a definitively non-Christian field of media should be glad to know that there is at least one major series for which the Christian faith is, if not a core part of the show, at least a significant factor in it. It certainly has given me a new appreciation for what was already one of my favorite shows of the season.

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News Briefs:

Lots of anime movies have their Blu-ray and DVD listings solicited.

Two Studio Ghibli favorites are appearing on Blu-ray for the first time: Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. In addition, Hayao Miyazaki's most recent (and probably last) work, The Wind Rises, is now available for pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD.

In addition, Patema Inverted and Welcome to the Space Show are also available for pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Barakamon, Eps. 5-6: Past Victory

As I continue my biweekly coverage of this show, I am glad to see other bloggers covering this excellent show. If you have not yet already, do check out D.M. Dutcher's post on how the people of the island can represent what the Christian Church should be like. I would also highly recommend checking out Takaii's continuing coverage of the show at Random Curiosity.

Special thanks to Random Curiosity for the Barakamon screencaps. Have a delicious oyster shell as thanks!
Of course, I am still covering this show as part of my YamaHanaBara series. In these episodes, our exiled calligrapher Seishuu Handa has had plenty of time to get accustomed to the ways of the island. Can he show some of his old friends and calligraphy acquaintances how he has grown when they visit? I probably don't need to say it at this point anymore, but expect minor spoilers after the jump.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sakura Trick: Yuri for Christians, Revisited

Some time ago, I wrote a post asking the question of whether or not yuri shows like Sakura Trick were good for Christians to watch. In this post, I will look back at that specific show and what, if any, are its good points for potential Christian viewers, as well as what pitfalls it might have.

Posting a picture of manga art because I actually like it over the anime art in this case.
As a reminder, this post addresses things from the perspective of Christians who consider homosexuality a sin, but who, in the name of love, do not judge others who are in same-gender relationships. Others with differing views are welcome to comment on this post, of course. For all commenters, please be respectful of others regardless of differing views.

Also, there are some small spoilers after the jump, as usual.


Monday, August 11, 2014

One Week Ramblings: Raw Scores and Personal Scores

As a reminder, the Weekly Ramblings series now features my talking about something anime/manga-related, with various news at the end.

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Recently, I have implemented a new scoring system to complement my existing scoring system for anime. This new system, the Raw Score, follows a straight 1-10 scale (technically 0-11, but only one show will get an 11 and I'll never give out a 0) with no decimals, and scores are determined more by the shows own strengths and weaknesses than on my personal preferences and biases. For more information on raw scores, click here.

I have also updated my MAL page, such that raw scores are used for Score, while personal scores are under the Tags. As you can see, by and large my Personal Scores are higher than my Raw Scores, sometimes by quite a lot, and are pretty much never below the Raw Scores (assuming that a 10/10 raw score corresponds to a personal score of 9.7/10.0).

There are some interesting things on my end regarding how much higher Personal Scores are than Raw Scores. There are two shows, for instance, which have a Raw Score of 6/10 (a barely above average B-) but a Personal Score of over 9.0: Sister Princess and Dog Days (both seasons). I wrote a blog post on the former and have inducted the latter into the Hall of Fame under special conditions, but in both cases, I am well aware that, while I greatly enjoyed both shows, it was for reasons that go well beyond how good the shows themselves are (you can read about those reasons in the links given). In a sense, I consider them my "guilty pleasure" shows, though I believe both shows are at least good enough that they can be recommended to fans of similar shows.

On the other hand, while I will probably never hand out a Personal Score lower than a Raw Score (by and large, my personal preferences make me like a show more rather than less), I do have some shows where the Personal Score is exactly the same as the Raw Score. Probably the most notable example is Attack on Titan, which is a 8/10 (B+) show that I scored an 8.0/10.0. (Actually, all of my current examples of Personal Score = Raw Score are 8's.) I have mentioned in the past that Attack on Titan is really not my type of show, so the enjoyment I get out of it is pretty much entirely my appreciation for how well-done the show itself is; this is reflected in how my score for the show is entirely made up of its Raw Score. (The same can be said for Gunslinger Girl, another show scoring 8.0 on both scales. As for the third, Crest of the Stars, that has more to do with my withholding full judgment on the show as I have yet to see the sequels.)

Overall, I place more weight on Personal Scores than Raw Scores, though Raw Scores are good for what I choose to recommend to others--and will be a major part of an update to the Hall of Fame section of this blog.

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News Briefs:

- Cardcaptor Sakura will start streaming on Crunchyroll on Tuesday, though only the first 6 episodes will be available for free. All 70 episodes will be available for subscribers, and all episodes will be available both subbed and with the Animax dub.
- Funimation had plenty to announce during Otakon. They have officially scheduled Cowboy Bebop's Blu-ray release for December, and will have two unique Premium Editions, exclusive to Amazon and Funimation's site, respectively, each with different premium items and packaging. They have also license-rescued The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (both seasons, plus the shorts, but not the Disappearance movie) as well as Lucky Star, as well as the movies for Strike Witches and Steins;Gate.
- An impromptu Q&A session on Sentai Filmworks' Twitter (amusingly tagged #Notakon due to Sentai not being at Otakon but the session essentially being their "panel") has a couple of noteworthy notes. Most notably, No Game No Life has been confirmed to be getting a dub, and the Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Premium Edition box set is scheduled for December release.
- Finally, it's been a long time coming, but Season 3 of Working!! (known in the U.S. as Wagnaria!!) has been greenlit! The original manga will come to a close soon, but it remains to be seen whether the anime will be able to cover the rest. Nevertheless, I for one am glad to see one of my favorite comedies get another season, and I know some others will be too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hanayamata, Episodes 3 & 4: No Regrets for Those Chosen

Hanayamata continues to impress me with how well it is working in character development into what would normally be just another cute-girls-doing-cute-things show. Though it is also plenty cute, for anyone who likes that (like me).

Cute even when in boy's clothes.
This post will be focused more on episode 4 than 3, since episode 4 has more of the connections with Christianity than episode 3 does. Episode 3 was still a great episode, though, as it continues to look into Yaya's jealousy as this time, she gets to interact more with Hana and understand things from her end. Meanwhile, episode 4 explores the relationship Naru has with Tami, a childhood friend of hers whom she looks up to as a big sister and someone like a princess (given Tami's high-class upbringing). I probably don't need to say this anymore at this point, but expect some spoilers after the jump.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

One Week Ramblings: Sporting Behavior Edition

I will be doing something new with the Weekly Ramblings, where I will be talking about a random subject related to anime and related media. Various news will be included at the end of these posts.

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Last season introduced two new sports anime series, both of which have continued into this season. Both are very good shows that I am enjoying quite a lot, and are easily recommended for sports anime fans as well as anime fans interested in trying a sports show. What is interesting, though, is how these two shows excel in two very different ways due to the nature of the sports involved.

These two shows are Haikyuu!! and Baby Steps.

Haikyuu!! is about volleyball, and chronicles one team's journey into the tournaments. Volleyball is very much a team sport, something the show makes very clear as it highlights each different player's role. As such, one of the show's greatest strength is in the development of the relationships between the players, as they learn to work with each other to defeat their opponents.

On the other hand, Baby Steps is about tennis--singles tennis, specifically--which means matches are one-on-one. Correspondingly, instead of teamwork, the show focuses on one player as he grows in his tennis skill. This show, then, excels in the individual development of that one player through each match.

A team sport about teamwork, or an individual sport about individual growth? Both are great at what they do, and really, a lot of it comes down to simply whether you like team interactions or individual development better (or, more simply, whether you like team sports or individual sports better). I personally like team sports more, so Haikyuu is the one I'm liking more at the moment, though I'm really enjoying both shows, so I'm quite happy either way.

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News Briefs

Here's a show I was not expecting to get a sequel, but am quite glad it is getting one: Kamisama Hajimemashita, known as Kamisama Kiss in the US. It's a show that I enjoyed quite a bit and I am definitely looking forward to more of it.

In more unfortunate news, Studio Ghibli have announced that they are considering dismantling their production branch, meaning we might not see much of any new works from the studio.