Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Anime Best of 2013, Part 1: An Introduction

2013 is nearly over, and 2014 is about to start. And throughout January 2014, I will be looking back at this past year of anime and all its highlights (and lowlights).

2013 was a very packed year of anime for me. This year, I finished a total of 57 shows that aired within the year (according to the criteria I list below), meaning I was essentially watching more than one entire 12-13-episode series a week--and that's not counting all the other anime I watched that aired before this year! That is definitely a lot of anime.

For my "Best of 2013" series, I will be specifically looking at shows that fulfill the following criteria:


  • Only TV shows with at least two hours of total airing length (~5 full-length episodes, or 10 half-length episodes) count. No OVAs or movies are eligible.
  • All shows that began airing in 2013 that I have watched a complete season in its entirety are eligible.
    • This includes shows that I did not start watching until after they finished airing but did finish before the end of the year.
    • "Complete season" is determined by whether that season has its own entry on Anime News Network's encyclopedia.
      • Shows such as AKB0048 next stage, for which a previous season aired before 2013, or Silver Spoon, for which a later season is scheduled for 2014 or later, still count.
    • Only shows that aired on TV during 2013 count. Student Council's Discretion Lv. 2 will count as it aired on TV in Winter 2013, despite getting a special NicoNico distribution in Fall 2012.
  • Also eligible are any shows which started airing before 2013 but finished this year and at least one cour (~11-14 episodes) has aired in 2013. This includes the following Fall 2012 shows: Magi ~ The Labyrinth of Magic (season 1 only), The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and Robotics;Notes.
    • The entirety of the first season of Little Busters! and Little Busters! Refrain will be counted as one show.
    • Not counted under this rule are some shows which finished this year through some select "special" episodes but did not air at least one full cour of episodes this year, such as Girls und Panzer and Saki Achiga-hen: Episode of Side A.
  • Not eligible are the following Fall 2013 shows that will continue into 2014: Golden Time, Kill la Kill, Log Horizon, and Yowamushi Pedal. They will be eligible for the "Best of 2014" entry next year.
In addition to looking at all the anime I watched this year and how much I liked them, I will also be looking at various individual aspects such as animation/art, openings and endings, characters, and other things that interest me about this year. Note that certain individual "best of" lists may have their own eligibility rules, which I will note in those particular lists.

Also, keep in mind that this entire series is my opinion only, and given the kind of crazy person I am, your opinion will differ. And I think that's great! Comment and let me know what your opinions are, because I'm definitely interested to see what others think of this year's anime. Just be respectful of others' opinions, because getting into fights over anime is kind of stupid. (Unless you're Kirino and Kuroneko or something.)

Now, at this point, I might normally say that this is all for now, and to look forward to when I post my first list… but why wait to start the fun? Since this post is an introduction, let's look at anime's best introductions with my Top 10 Opening Episodes of 2013!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Weekly Ramblings 12/27/13 Special Edition: Introduction to Mahjong

In anticipation of next season's Saki - The Nationals series, which Crunchyroll has recently announced that they'll be streaming, I made my way through both the original Saki series and the spinoff/sequel Saki: Episode of Side-A. It's an incredibly addicting series, as exciting as any good sports anime, even if you might not think it would be for a game like mahjong. If you've seen any of the show already, you probably already know whether or not you'll be watching the Nationals arc.

But if you're curious about the show and want to check it out (and both the original series and Side-A are available for streaming on Crunchyroll already), but are hesitant because you don't know anything about Japanese mahjong, this post will be a basic introduction to the game. (And if you're not interested at all in the show itself, but are interested in the game… well, this post is for you, too.)

Japanese Mahjong can get quite confusing, so this post will focus only on some basic aspects of the game, enough to understand what's going on if you decide to go on and watch Saki afterwards.

---

Basic setup

Mahjong consists of several tiles, including three suits--circles, bamboo, and characters--with numbers 1-9 in each suit, as well as other tiles that are grouped in non-numeric ways. Of any given tile, there are four of that tile total in the entire mahjong set.

A mahjong game is officially played by four players (although two- and three-player variations exist). Games can vary in length by the number of rounds, typically indicated by a direction (usually East or South, with East always being the first round); each round consists of at least four hands, such that each player gets a chance to be the dealer once (or more) per round. One will typically see short games consisting of a single East round, slightly longer games with an East and South round (which is called one hanchan), and "full" games of two sets of East and South rounds (two hanchan).

Basic gameplay

During any given hand, each player starts with a hand of 13 tiles. Then, starting from the dealer and going counter-clockwise, each player draws one tile and discards one tile (unless someone decides to steal a tile someone else has discarded; more on that later). The goal is to complete a hand, including the tile drawn (or stolen), that consists of 4 sets of 3 (or 4) and one extra pair of matching tiles. Sets can either consist of three (or four) of the same tile, or a run of three consecutive numbers in the same suit. In addition, the hand must fulfill a certain condition, called yaku, in order to be a winning hand. There are a large variety of yaku, many based on the nature of the hand (such as having only numbers 2-8 or having certain non-suited tiles).

It's important to know that while it is possible to make a set of four identical tiles, called a kan (or kong), the fourth tile is actually not a part of your hand; if you make a kan, you must declare it and then draw another tile, albeit from a part of the wall that is specifically reserved for such draws (called the dead wall), among other things, and is not drawn from normally.

Stealing tiles

To help build a winning hand, players can choose to steal the most recently discarded tile instead of drawing one. There are four times a tile can be stolen, with some rules on each.

A pon (or pung) consists of stealing a tile in order to complete a set of three matching tiles. A pon can be called even if it is not your turn; in fact, if this call is made, the game will continue from the player that made the call.

A player can also steal to create a kan, with the same rule of having to draw an additional tile from the dead wall afterwards.

A chi (or chow) consists of stealing a tile in order to complete a run of three consecutive numbers in the same suit. Unlike pon and kan, a chi call can only be made if it would normally be your turn to draw, stealing only from the player on your left; furthermore, pon and kan take priority over chi.

When making any of the above steals, the set that is completed with the stolen tile must be shown face-up and placed to the side. Furthermore, this turns your hand from a "closed" or "concealed" hand to an "open" hand, which is important as this can potentially drop the point value of your hand or even make your hand no longer fulfill yaku conditions.

Finally, if a tile someone discards allows you to make a complete, winning hand (regardless of if it completes a set of same tiles, a sequence, or finishes the extra pair), you can steal it and end the hand, regardless of whose turn it is. This is called ron. It takes priority over any other kind of steal. More on this later.

Winning points with a winning hand

Mahjong is ultimately a game of points--specifically, of taking points from other players. A winning hand is worth a certain number of points, which are then taken from other players. It's worth noting that the dealer will win more points from the same hand than a non-dealer would, but will lose more points from an opponent's winning hand than non-dealers would.

Furthermore, if a dealer wins a hand, the game moves on to a bonus hand with the players in the same position, and with additional points at stake; if the dealer continues winning, the game continues into further bonus hands, with more bonus points at stake, until someone else wins.

The point value of a winning hand is determined by the base points of the hand (determined by various factors), as well as the han value of the player's hand. Each yaku has its own han value, and if multiple yaku can apply to a hand, those han will stack. Han can massively increase a hand's value; lower-value hands have their point values doubled by one additional han, while hands with multiple han are worth large number of points depending on how many han there are. (Terms such as mangan or baiman refer to a set number of points awarded for a certain number of han.)

(There are some hands that are so rare that they are automatically worth the maximum of 13 han and the maximum total point value of 32,000 (48,000 if you are the dealer); these killer hands are called yakuman.)

Dora are tiles that add one han each, although they cannot count as yaku. At the beginning of each hand, a tile from the dead wall is flipped over as a dora indicator; it's not the tile shown itself that is the dora tile, but the next one in sequence in that tile's suit or grouping. Games can optionally include special red "5" tiles that are also automatically one dora. Furthermore, if a kan is called, an additional dora indicator tile is flipped over for more possible dora. And if a player wins by riichi (more on this later), the tiles under the dora indicator also become dora indicators.

How to win (or lose) a hand

There are two ways to win a hand. The first way is by tsumo, or winning from a tile drawn normally. If you choose to win by tsumo (you can choose to not declare a win yet to try to build a better hand), you take points from all the other players, with the dealer paying about twice as much as the non-dealers pay (if the dealer wins this way, everyone pays the dealer equally).

The other way to win is by the aforementioned ron, or by stealing another player's discard. If you choose to win this way, the player you steal from must pay the entire point value of your hand. (Naturally, while this is a cool way to win a hand, it is also the worst way to lose a hand to someone else, hence why playing defensively to avoid discarding a tile that someone else can use to complete a hand is an important part of mahjong strategy.)

Tenpai and riichi

Tenpai is the state of your hand being one tile away from being a winning hand. Expect to hear a lot about players being in tenpai or some number of tiles away from tenpai. Once in tenpai, the tiles needed to complete the winning hand are called waits.

If a player is in tenpai, and has a "closed" hand (i.e. no steals have been made), she can declare riichi. Riichi is a type of yaku, so it can be declared with any combination of 4 sets of three plus an extra pair, even if it does not otherwise have any yaku. Riichi is declared by placing a 1,000-point stick on the table, which goes to the next person to win a hand (and yes, that means you lose 1,000 points if someone else wins the hand) and discarding a tile sideways.

Once a player has declared riichi, she cannot change her hand; any tile that is drawn that does not complete her hand must be discarded. (The exception is if that tile can make a kan from an existing triple in her hand, with the caveat that doing so cannot change the tiles needed to win.) The player must wait until someone else discards a tile she needs, or she draws that tile herself.

Riichi can be dangerous since you no longer have control over your discards and it becomes easier for someone to call ron over a tile you discard. On the other hand, riichi adds one han to your hand's point value (and can add an additional han if you do so on your very first discarded tile, or if you complete your hand within one go-round), and turns any tiles underneath dora indicators into additional dora indicators, which can potentially increase the han value of a hand even more.

Some final notes

During mahjong games, you will frequently see dice being rolled. These dice determine who starts as dealer, as well as where in the wall of tiles players start drawing from, and where the dead wall is.

There are some additional way to get yaku/han, such as completing your hand with the extra tile drawn after making a kan, or by winning off the very last tile drawn in a hand (before reaching the dead wall).

In addition, there are some winning hands that are not of the "4 sets of three + one pair" variety, such as a hand of seven pairs, and a hand consisting of "thirteen orphans" (one each of every "1" and "9" tile, plus one of each non-suited tile, and one more tile of any of these; this hand is one of the yakuman hands).

If all tiles outside of the dead wall have been drawn and no one has completed a winning hand, it is considered an "exhaustive draw". If this happens, players who are at tenpai collectively take 3,000 points from players that are not at tenpai.

Sequences do not loop around, so 8-9-1 and 9-1-2 are not valid sequences. As such, the "1" and "9" tiles, referred to as "terminals", can potentially give you higher-value hands. (Note, though, that if the dora indicator is a "9", the dora is the "1" tile of the same suit.)

If you're curious as to what the non-numbered tiles are: There are four types of tiles with the kanji for "east", "south", "west", and "north". Note that if the dora indicator reveals one of these tiles, the next one in the above sequence (looping back to "east") is the dora tile. However, the tiles themselves cannot make a sequence, and any set including them must be of three or four of the same tile. These tiles can be worth han and count as yaku, if the direction shown matches your position or the current round type (East or South).

Likewise, you will also see tiles that are completely blank, tiles with a green-colored kanji, and tiles with a red-colored kanji. These tiles also form a group for dora indicator purposes, but cannot form a sequence. You must make a set of them out of three of the same tile, but doing so does count as a yaku and adds a han.

Collectively, the non-numbered tiles are referred to as "honors".

Finally, a note on overall scoring. In individual matches, everyone starts off at 25,000 points, with 30,000 points considered the "break even" point. At the end of a game, the score of players in second, third, and fourth, is equal to how many thousands of points they are above 30,000 (with a negative score if their score is below 30,000), rounded to the nearest thousand. The first place player's score, then, is the sum of the other three players' scores (which will be negative), except positive. (If at the end of a game, no one is above 30,000 points, the game moves on to another round.)

---

And it is with that note that I conclude this crash course on mahjong, and invite those of you who are interested to check out Saki (streaming on Crunchyroll), the story of a girl who has always played mahjong to end up with a score of +/- 0…

(For more information, this page has a list of all the different yaku and their hand values, while this page goes into mahjong scoring in more detail. And this page goes even further into the rules of mahjong.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 12/20/13 Weekly Ramblings

Some quick licensing news. First, Sentai Filmworks has officially licensed the first season of The Familiar of Zero, which aired way back in 2006. It was originally licensed by Geneon Entertainment and released just before they pulled out of the US anime market; it was also released by FUNimation Entertainment when they received the series along with a bunch of other Geneon titles, but have since let the license expire without renewing it due to low sales. Sentai's license rescue will include the dub on the original Geneon release, and they will also release the series on Blu-ray.

The announcement is also notable in that way back in winter of 2012, they licensed the fourth season of this series that aired at that time, but have yet to release it on DVD, likely because they wanted to license and release the first three seasons first. That said, it's worth noting that their press release for their fourth season license said they would release the series as a sub-only DVD, and while current trends make it likely that they will at least release a Blu-ray, it's likely that, unless this first season release does particularly well, seasons 2 through 4 might not get dubbed.

Other licensing news: FUNimation has the home video license for A Certain Magical Index II and the movie for the franchise. Aniplex of America has licensed two Winter 2014 titles: Nisekoi and World Conquest - Zvezda Plot. They will stream the series as they air (possibly on Crunchyroll), and will release the series on home video later.

You can check out all these news in more detail in my new "news" block on the side of the blog.

---

Want to know about the latest pre-orders available? First of all, check out the "FUNimation New Title Solicitations (Mar '14)" link on the side under News, which includes, among other things, a pre-order for a special Premium Edition of Psycho-Pass.

Meanwhile, while it is not available for pre-order yet, get ready for a special re-release of the first season of anime classic Ranma 1/2 on Blu-ray and DVD. The release is slated for March 25th, 2014, and the Blu-ray release will be a special Limited Edition with an artbox and art book.

---

I'm at a loss for other things to ramble about. So instead, have a video of the ED of Unbreakable Machine-doll in Dance Dance Revolution:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Ramblings: 12/14/13 Special Christmas Episodes Edition

Welcome to this week's special edition of Kin'youbi Mosaic weekly ramblings! You may notice that I've been adding some things here and there to this blog, so check them out if you're interested.

News has been pretty sparse this week, so instead, I'm going to do as other blogs like to do around this time and talk about some Christmas episodes in anime. Instead of doing a "favorite Christmas episodes" thing, which will likely just re-iterate many classic Christmas episodes that others have mentioned, I'm just going to mention four Christmas episodes that I have seen and are particularly memorable.

Spoilers will follow, so read with caution.

---

Sister Princess, Episode 20

In this episode, the sisters plan a special gift for their brother Wataru. To keep their brother in the dark about it, Sakuya gets Wataru to accompany her and hang out in town up until Christmas evening. What makes this episode memorable is what the present ends up being: the sisters have been practicing a song, which they all sing to their brother. Afterwards, Wataru says that it is the best Christmas gift he has ever received.

Sure, it's a bit cheesy (the song itself is good, though), but it's still cute and memorable. And here's something to consider: if Wataru is so happy about having his sisters sing to him for Christmas, how much more so is God when His children sing to Him for Christmas? (Or any other day, for that matter.)

---

The iDOLM@STER, Episode 24

There's a lot going on in this episode taking place around Christmastime. The girls of 765 Pro have been drifting apart due to their increasing workloads, which has been depressing Haruka, otherwise the cheerful one that always lifts up the moods of the other girls. Things have gotten particularly bad right before this episode, as during a rehearsal for a musical she's in, she nearly falls into a pit, and the producer, in saving her, ends up falling in himself and ends up hospitalized. All this, combined with her fellow idol Miki calling her out for being selfish in wanting everyone to rehearse together, causes her to break down as she loses sight of why she became an idol, and quits the job.

Thankfully, through a series of events, she decides to go back to being an idol--and at the same time, her best friend, Chihaya, has assembled the other girls of 765 Pro to all give a public message to Haruka about how much they miss her and how they are sorry for not realizing what she was trying to do--and at the same time, they announce the New Year's concert which they will all be participating in.

Again, it's pretty cheesy stuff (all of the entries in this post are, kind of; I guess I just like that stuff), but still a nice moment, especially as it comes at a very pivotal moment in the series.

---

Chocotto Sister, Episode 1

On the other hand, Chocotto Sister, an unlicensed little gem, has Christmas as the starting point of the series. In the first episode, Haruma Kawagoe, a single college student living alone, gets a surprise visit on Christmas morning from Santa Claus, portrayed in this show as a biker chick riding an airbike (definitely one of the more… unique portrayals of Santa in anime). And the Christmas present? A little sister!

Sure, Haruma asked for a little sister for Christmas… about twelve years ago. And sure enough, the little sister he received is about 12 years old… Santa explains that it takes some time to prepare a little sister, as it's not like preparing a toy robot or something…

The rest of the episode has Haruma slowly growing to care for his new sister (in a familial way, mind you), whom he names Choco. It's all rather cute, if a bit cheesy (again). What is particularly memorable here is the flashback scene where the young Haruma asks for a little sister for Christmas; as it turns out, his mother was due to give birth to a sister, and Haruma was anticipating that and says how he will care for her. However, his mother ends up having a miscarriage, and ends up unable to make any more children. Disappointed, Haruma actually goes and prays to God, asking Him to provide the little sister his mother cannot. Who knew that God would hear his request and fulfill it, even if it takes several years for it to happen? And thankfully, despite Kawagoe's initial protests that his current situation is not conducive to taking care of a little sister, he still willingly takes up the responsibility.

The whole thing is also reminiscent of God answering prayer… on His own time. Has God ever answered a prayer that you had prayed a long time ago? Or perhaps He answered it in a way that was not quite what you were hoping for, but has resulted in your growth?

---

Pokémon, Episode 39/66*: Holiday Hi-Jynx

Yes, I'm going there. This episode of the Pokémon anime is the first Christmas-based episode in this series, at a time before Delibird became the designated Present-deliverer. In this episode, Jynx is the one that delivers presents, and when Team Rocket try to steal Santa's presents, Ash and company stop them. In other words, a pretty typical Pokémon anime episode… except for a number of things.

First of all, while this episode was initially supposed to be episode 39, the previous episode was the ill-fated Porygon episode that got banned for supposedly inducing seizures in children; as such, the show was re-scheduled in America to be episode 66, leading to some inconsistencies (this episode still has Ash's Charmander, despite it having evolved into a Charizard in episode 65.

Second, the show was pulled off the air for a long time after some critics called out the Pokémon Jynx for being a racist portrayal of the old "blackface" stereotype. While the episode has returned back to the rerun rotation, this criticism has ultimately led to Jynx's design being changed to have a purple face instead.

Third, the episode features a Lapras that can speak the human language through telepathy, which is pretty rare in the anime (and notably, the Lapras that Ash has during the Orange Islands arc does not have this ability).

Finally, this episode has an interesting case in which the dub script arguably is better than the original Japanese script. In both scripts, Jesse (Musashi in Japanese) is out for revenge against Santa, as his Jynx actually took a doll from her. As it turns out, the Jynx was just going to fix the doll. The change is that, in the Japanese script, Musashi had simply moved away, so Jynx could not find her (kind of a silly thing for a Santa that supposedly knows about children all over the world); the dub changes it so that Santa could not visit Jessie the next year because she stopped believing in him, which arguably is better reasoning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hall of Fame Induction: Hidamari Sketch

In my Anime Hall of Fame series, I highlight shows that I enjoyed a lot and think are worth trying out. Click the "stardf29's Anime Hall of Fame" tab at the top of the page to see a list of all the inducted anime series so far. More anime series will be inducted over time, and this post will be updated with any new information for this series.

---


Hidamari Sketch




Don't worry; these girls' souls are perfectly safe in this show. (Official art for season 4.)



Friday, December 6, 2013

Kin’youbi Mosaic Returns! 12/6/13 Weekly Ramblings

NaNoWriMo is over and was a success! I have 50,000 words of story written (with much editing needed, mind you), and you can head over to my “normal” blog, Frank Sun of Hawaii, to read some early chapters as well as learn how to read more.

Unfortunately, NaNoWriMo has come with the side effect of horribly falling behind on this season’s anime. I’ve been able to follow five shows as they are airing (GingitsuneOutbreak CompanyNon Non BiyoriLittle Busters! Refrain, and Yowamushi Pedal), I’ve seen some episodes here and there of the others… and I’ve still got about 3-5 episodes of each of the other shows to watch. Yep. Good thing my holiday schedule is coming up, which gives me time to take care of various things…

---

If there is one short series (that is, a show with 2-5 minute episodes) that I highly recommend watching, it is Yama no Susume, available on Crunchyroll by its official English name Encouragement of Climb. It tells the story of a girl who has become afraid of heights, and who meets up again with her childhood friend, a girl who loves hiking and mountain climbing, and how the two of them get back into climbing. It’s a cute, charming little series that is also a bit educational if you want to learn more about mountain climbing. It’s only 12 episodes (13 if you want to look for the OVA) at three and a half minutes each, so if you have some time, why not check it out?

The reason I bring up this series is that a second season has been green-lit… and it will consist of a half-year (about 25 episodes) of 15-minute episodes; that is effectively a full series! I can’t wait for this, and it is easily one of my most anticipated shows of next year.

And if you like cute girls shows, you'd be a fool to miss this. (Official key visual for 2nd season.)


---

A new anime project has appeared on Kickstarter, looking for your support. Kenji Itoso, who has worked under folks like Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon, is looking to produce a 30-minute film called Santa Company. The film imagines “Santa Claus” as a large corporate company with three departments—a home security department, a reindeer-raising and navigation department, and an e-commerce department—that on Christmas work together to deliver presents to children. The story itself seems to focus on Noel, a 12-year-old girl who stumbles into this company and her adventures with the folks that work there.




It looks to be a cute, family friendly Christmas special, and Itoso plans to have it finished by Christmas 2014 to show to children in the Fukushima area who were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Kickstarter itself would produce the film in Japanese with English subtitles, which would be available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as with digital downloads. Stretch goals include Finnish and French subtitles, a Deluxe Blu-ray/DVD version, and an English dub.

It’s hard to say how good this will end up being, but a child-friendly Christmas anime would be nice, and the art is good, so I’ll be supporting this.

---

Finally, if you’re looking for some anime to gift to your friends—or yourself—check out RightStuf’s Holiday Sale. They have lots of titles at incredible discounts, and every day they will add more titles to that list. Some things to note:

-          Orders of $49 or more qualify for free shipping. Keep in mind, though, that free shipping does take longer (3-10 business days) and depending on when you order, you might not get the item until after Christmas. Also, orders can take about 2 business days to be shipped.
-          The process is the smoothest for delivering to the same address as your billing address. If the shipping and billing addresses are different, you will probably have to deal with some extra steps that can delay things.
-          Sale items cannot be further discounted through coupons or the site’s Got Anime? membership discount.
-          Some sale items come in limited quantities, and will go fast once they are put up for sale.
Of course, there are sales elsewhere and you can always check out other sites like Amazon, which is perhaps better for faster gifting. Still, RightStuf is another option, and a solid one with their low prices and good customer service. And even if you do not plan on buying anime for anyone else, it might not be a bad time to buy some anime for yourself…

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Parable of the Hikikomori Son

NaNoWriMo is almost at its end, and while I am still not quite finished with it, I really felt like writing this post, so… A Series of Miracles is back!

A lot of the post below is inspired by--and paraphrased from--the book "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Check it out if you want to learn more.

---

Hikikomori refers to people who shut themselves in their house or even in their room for an extended period of time. Coming from the Japanese language, it reflects a certain, somewhat unsavory aspect of Japanese culture where the pressure to perform causes some young people to crumble under stress, thus causing them to shut themselves in, while the shame associated with having to seek out a therapist prevents that person's family from getting him/her help. As such, it comes up a fair amount in anime. However, anime portrayals of hikikomori are quite wide-ranging, and many of them simply have such characters be treated as comic relief or even as some kind of remote superhero that fights crime from within her room.

Every now and then, though, anime provides a look at the seriousness of the problem of being a hikikomori, and what it is like to be one. A recent example of this is Outbreak Company episode 8, in which the empress, Petralka, overburdened with all the duties of being the empress of Eldant, decides to lock herself in her room, seeking out what it means to live the hikikomori lifestyle. When Shinichi arrives to help her, at first things start out humorous as he, a former hikikomori himself, instructs her on all the proper ways of being a proper shut-in, letting Petralka indulge in all the enjoyable aspects of such a life. However, things later turn serious as he talks about how being a hikikomori is not all fun and games, and how it is actually a rather painful way to live.

Of course, hikikomori are not solely a Japanese phenomenon, and shut-ins of various sorts can be found in all kinds of media. In fact, the Bible has its own example of a hikikomori, even if he did not shut himself in the house, so to speak; at the very least, it would not be hard to imagine this guy as a hikikomori.

Be warned that there are some spoilers for episodes 7 and 8 of Outbreak Company after the jump.

Those tiny shoulders bear the weight of an entire nation. Art by ユイザキ.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hiatus and a Tumblr Halloween Cosplay Special

So as I mentioned last Friday, National Novel Writing Month is upon us, and as such, I am taking a one month hiatus from this blog in order to focus on my novel.

Beyond that, I have a Tumblr! It's relatively bare, but as a Halloween special (and at the request of Charles from Beneath the Tangles), I've added several pictures I've found of anime characters dressed up as other characters.

Fun note: At first, the picture of Free!'s Nagisa dressed as Mirai from Beyond the Boundary was by far the most popular, gaining over 300 notes while other pictures barely broke double digits at best--the infamous Free! fandom on Tumblr at work, clearly. However, recently the Idolm@ster picture set (which actually had a lot more to it, but I chose the ones that were on the, er, cleaner side) has become popular, reaching 270+ notes. Interestingly enough, the increased popularity seems to have started when it got reblogged by cutegirlsdoingcutethings, whom I've been following for a while for all the cute pictures. Kind of funny how that's come full circle...

Well, that's that. See you all in December!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 10/25/13 I'm A Working Space Dandy Edition


One of the bigger news to come out recently regards the upcoming Winter 2014 anime Space Dandy anime, the latest from Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe. Funimation has already licensed this show, no doubt banking on name recognition (especially with their having rescued Cowboy Bebop) for what will likely be a very popular show, but what they and Japan are planning to do is downright unprecedented.
 
The show will debut on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, in January, dubbed in English, before it airs in Japan, and will be simulcast as such throughout the show’s airtime.
 
Now, a dubbed simulcast is technically not new, having first been done by Bandai Entertainment with Kurokami some years before the company folded. However, this is definitely the first time such a simulcast would appear on US network television. This is definitely a very intriguing development, to say the least.
 
As a bonus, the show will air at 11:30 PM, a half-hour before the block normally starts airing, extending the length of the Toonami block itself to 6.5 hours.
 
And if you are a sub fan, Funimation will also stream the show online in Japanese with English subtitles as it airs.
 
---
 
NIS America released the first season of Working!! (renamed to Wagnaria!! for copyright reasons) on DVD back in 2011, which was also when the second season of the show aired in Japan. However, no word on a home video release for the second season was heard for a long while… until now.
 
NIS America will release the Premium Edition Blu-ray of season 2 of Working!! (titled Wagnaria!! 2) on February 4th, 2014. As usual, the release will come with only the original Japanese track with English subtitles, but will include a large artbox and artbook. The release is available for pre-order on RightStuf, or you can wait for the announcement of the NISA Store’s exclusive bonus item.
 
That's not all that NISA has licensed for a home video release! The Eccentric Family, one of Summer 2013’s stronger shows (and there were a lot of strong shows that season), has also been licensed by NIS America. Yep. Don’t expect a release from them anytime soon (maybe in a year at the earliest), but this is also definitely very welcome news. 
 
---
 
As a warning, NaNoWriMo starts November 1st, and as a participant, I will likely be going on a blog hiatus for that month. If you plan on participating in NaNoWriMo as well, give a shout-out in the comments with your username on the NaNoWriMo site, and I’ll add you as a writing buddy there! My username there is “stardf29”. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hall of Fame Induction: My Bride is a Mermaid (Seto no Hanayome)

In my Anime Hall of Fame series, I highlight shows that I enjoyed a lot and think are worth trying out. Click the "stardf29's Anime Hall of Fame" tab at the top of the page to see a list of all the inducted anime series so far. More anime series will be inducted over time, and this post will be updated with any new information for this series.

---

My Bride is a Mermaid


And from an underwater mafia, no less!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outbreak Company: Moe Missionaries


Outbreak Company sounds like it should be the worst show ever. Take a full-blown moe otaku and send him to the fantasy world of Eldant with a cute elf-maid to serve him and a cute loli empress to watch over, and make his task to outright promote his otaku culture. Sounds like the perfect otaku-pandering show. And in the process, make him run headlong into issues of racism, class discrepancies, and terrorists attempting to overthrow the empress… wait, what?

This show manages to take its premise and execute it in a way that is actually rather interesting. Shinichi’s job of promoting otaku culture is no simple task, and he is forced to not only confront the social issues that stand in his way, but also accept that those issues are a part of Eldant culture, and that the values of equality found in the manga and anime of Japan are nothing short of a full-on invasion of their culture. Meanwhile, viewing things from the perspective of the people of Eldant, it’s interesting to note that the empress Petralka considers Shinichi an evangelist and missionary—one that preaches the “gospel” of moe and otaku culture, but a missionary nonetheless.

And there are lessons that Christian evangelists and missionaries can learn from all of this, too.

We probably won't get half-elf maids to attend to us, though. Art by

十把一絡げ


Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall 2013: What I'm Watching (Part 2)


The second half of my Fall 2013 first impressions is coming up. 

---
 
Galilei Donna

The girls that make the earth go 'round (the sun).

Hazuki, Kazuki, and Hozuki Ferrari are three sisters living in Italy, though they do not live together as Hazuki is a law school student and the other sisters live separately due to their parents’ separation. They are descendents of Galileo Galilei, though that only factors into how often their mother berates them for not acting like the descendents of one of history’s most famous scientific minds. However, their ancestry brings them a trouble of an entirely different sort when a giant flying mecha piloted by sky pirates target them, looking for “Galileo’s inheritance”, followed by police who apprehend the family looking for the same thing. The only thing that saves them is a giant goldfish-shaped mecha built by middle-schooler Hozuki based off old blueprints she found in their house’s attic. As they escape from various forces that are after them, the three Ferrari sisters must also uncover the secret of this “inheritance”, the Galileo Tesagoro, a finding by Galileo that could shake the world even more than his defense of the Earth revolving around the sun.
 
So take an action/intrigue plotline rather akin to The Da Vinci Code (though so far without the anti-church sentiments), throw in some mecha and also add some cute girls, and you have Galilei Donna, one of two original (not based on an existing manga/novel/game) offerings this season from Fuji TV’s noitaminA block. It’s a rather wide-appeal show; whether you like mecha action or historical-based action-intrigue or just want more cute girls in your season, this show probably has it for you. With a lot of flashy action and some rather out-of-this-world elements (the goldfish mecha is even more ridiculous once you see how the actual goldfish is incorporated), it’s definitely an interesting show and one that has caught my attention. Whether the show can take all that and bring out a good story out of all of it remains to be seen, but for now, this show is looking good.
 
Galilei Donna is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic

You shouldn't need 1,001 nights to watch this show.
 
Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, so watch that first.
 
I have some rather mixed feelings about the first season of Magi. On one hand, the show has some great moments, especially when looking into what it means to be a leader and what it means to have freedom. On the other hand, the characters, particularly Alibaba, are prone to doing stupid things and regressing where they should have made some development. That said, I do like the show enough to be watching the second season, and once again, it’s a case of “if you liked the first season, you’ll like the second”, at least for now.
 
Both seasons of Magi are available for streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki.
 
Nagi no Asukara

Four little merpeople.

A group of four childhood friends, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname, are among a group of “sea people” who can live and breathe underwater. They are forced to attend a school above water when their middle school closes, though. After going above the surface, Manaka meets her classmate Tsumugu and a connection seems to form between them, which gets on Hikari’s nerves as the girl he had been watching over for much of his life seems to be slipping away from him. That turns out to only be the start of his worries, though, as relations between the sea and surface people seem to be strained, worsened by the discovery of Hikari’s older sister, Akari, in a relationship with a male from the surface.
 
This original work from P.A. Works looks absolutely incredible. P.A. Works has long been known for their visually impressive shows, and this show is really no exception. If you want to just enjoy really good visuals, Nagi no Asukara is perfect. The story itself, though, is still warming up. On the surface, what we have here is a classic love polygon with a group of established friends and one outsider that threatens the romantic prospects of one of those friends, which is fairly common; what makes all this harder to stomach is how immature Hikari is about dealing with it, as he frequently yells at Manaka and is just overall a brat in how he handles things. Manaka is overly submissive and doesn’t try standing up to Hikari, and there are no points for guessing where Chisaki and Kaname factor into this love polygon (though at least Chisaki is an interesting enough character from the start). That said, these characters are at that sensitive early puberty age, and immaturity isn’t out of place for Hikari or Manaka or the others. What’s important for an interpersonal drama like this show is that the characters grow, and Hikari does show some signs of growth in the third episode as he faces what his sister is going through. This show might not be one of my more anticipated shows, and it could very well just make me rage at bad relational writing in the end, but the potential for a really good show is here, which does make all the pretty visuals more worthwhile.
 
Nagi no Asukara is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Non Non Biyori

Cute girls looking for something cute to do in the countryside.

Hotaru Ichijou is a mature-looking 5th-grade girl who moves to the countryside because of her father’s work. She attends a school with a total of four other students of different grades, all in one class: first-grader Renge, seventh-grader Natsume, and eighth-grader (and Natsume’s sister) Komari (and also their brother, but he’s not important). The four of them spend relaxing, amusing days in the peaceful countryside.
 
So you’ve seen Yuyushiki in Spring and Kin-iro Mosaic (and maybe Tamayura) in the summer, and you’re thinking, “Man, those shows were great and just what I need to unwind each week. Where’s my cute-girls-doing-cute-things show for this season?” Well, here it is. Non Non Biyori is yet another show cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned shows, although it has its own distinct features as well. That the girls span a decent age range and overall skew towards younger is one distinct aspect of the show. The other is how it takes place in the countryside and how there is a very relaxing feel to the show, easily classifying it as iyashikei. It’s cute, it’s relaxing, and it’s also quite funny at times, meaning this should be yet another winner in the “cute girls’ slice of life” category of anime, which understandably not everyone is a fan of, but if you are a fan of such shows, you’d be a fool not to be watching this.
 
Non Non Biyori is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Samurai Flamenco

Ordinary heroes?
Goto, a cop, discovers Hazama, a model by day who at night dresses as a superhero, calls himself Samurai Flamenco, and goes around town fighting evil. And by evil, I mean drunk businessmen, loitering teenagers, and people who put out their trash too early. As his antics cause more of a disturbance among the people of the city, Goto manages to strike up a friendship with him, while at the same time tries to put out all the fires he causes.
 
I don’t really have much to say about this show. It’s about a guy who has an overblown sense of justice and causes trouble because of it, and the more serious cop that tries to keep him from doing something really stupid. It’s a fun show, and one that may eventually develop into something good that looks at what it really means to be a hero. Other than that… well, it’s the other original noitaminA show. And it definitely has a bromance going on between the male leads, if you’re into that. And isn’t “Samurai Flamenco” just a really fun name for a show?
 
Samurai Flamenco is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
White Album 2

Happy girls in snow? We'll see how long that lasts.

Sequel Alert? Nope, not this time. While it does reference things that happen in the first White Album game/anime, this is a completely standalone story that you can jump right into without ever touching the first series (which may be a good thing, as I haven’t heard the best things about the first series, which I haven’t watched).
 
Haruki Kitahara is the last member of a light music club in which most of the members quit, with the school festival coming up. He practices alone in the music room, though sometimes the piano player in the next room over starts harmonizing to him. After diffusing a situation in which Setsuna Ogiso, a popular girl in the school and the reigning “Miss Houjou”, refuses to participate in the contest again, he befriends her, and later has her join the light music club when he hears her singing along to his guitar playing. As for the piano player, he discovers that it is none other than Kazusa, the girl that sits next to him in class, who frequently skips class or sleeps through it and always looks mad about something.
 
This show is based off the visual novel of the same name, which, as I mentioned above, is a standalone story with only a few references to the first game in the “series”. Without knowing anything about the first series (including any of its supposed problems), I can say that White Album 2 looks to be yet another enjoyable visual novel adaptation. The first two episodes focus mainly on Haruki and Setsuna, so I can’t say anything about Kazusa yet, but both Haruki and Setsuna are likable characters; Haruki is much more proactive of a character (even if it gives him a flaw such as being prone to lecturing others), while Setsuna is a classic “nice girl” that seems to have some hidden depths. The way the story plays out, as well as the nice atmosphere the show provides (in part due to a nice use of the soundtrack, which is good for a story based around music), all help contribute to a show that has exceeded my expectations and has me looking forward to more. A lot will depend on how good the writing is when the drama, especially with what looks to be an impending love triangle, kicks into full gear, but this show has every sign so far that it can pull it off (whether it will is a different story).
 
White Album 2 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
Yowamushi Pedal

This show has passed all doping tests.

Note:  Also known by its shorthand name, Yowapeda, on Crunchyroll.
 
Onoda Sakamichi is a hardcore otaku who frequently bikes across steep hills to Akihabara and uses the train fare he saves to buy more stuff. He had hoped to join the anime club upon entering high school, only to find that it had disbanded due to a lack of members. He then goes to try to recruit more people to join the club… and instead catches the interest of competitive cycler Imaizumi when he sees Onoda bike up the steep rear school hill on his “mommy bike” (a heavier bike with a basket intended for grocery runs and the like), as well as the interest of Miki, the cycling club’s manager. Onoda might have intended for a high school life indulging in otaku interests with other otaku, but when Imaizumi challenges him to a race, all signs point to him joining the world of competitive cycling instead.
 
Here’s my sports show for the season. Cycling isn’t a very frequently covered sport in fiction, so it’s nice to see an anime about it. Adding to my interest in this show is how fun the characters are; there’s a lot of funny interplay between Onoda and the comically-serious Imaizumi, as well as Miki, who seems like the classic “nice girl” until you find out that she has an obsession with bicycles and the people that ride them that reach stalker levels. Some good ol’ sports action, as well as some otaku comedy, should all help make this a fun sports anime. (Not to mention it’s educational; did you know that you get more pedaling power by raising your bike seat so that you have to fully stretch your leg to pedal?)
 
Yowapeda is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
 
---
 
In addition to these shows, I will also be continuing the Monogatari series that is still currently airing. There is also one other new show I may end up following, though it’s not set in stone yet so I haven’t covered it. (It’s very likely not any show you’d expect, though.) There are also a lot of shows that I’ve had to pass on, unfortunately. (Or fortunately.)
 
As a new feature, I will be adding a page to this blog that lists all the currently airing shows I’m following, as well as a ranking and a score for that show if at least 3 episodes have aired. You can also check out my MAL profile, as before.

So what are you watching this season?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall 2013: What I'm Watching (Part 1)


The Fall season is officially underway, and there are a lot of new anime out there. This First Impressions guide will cover the fifteen shows that I have decided to watch. A number of shows I have had to just pass on for various reasons, but 15 is still a large number, so once again, this will be split into two parts. Shows will be covered largely in alphabetical order, with a couple of switch-arounds made so that I can watch two episodes of every show covered before writing about it, and also so no shows have aired episodes that I’ve yet to watch.

---

Beyond the Boundary

A much cuter deadman wonderland.

Akihito is a half-human, half-youmu high school boy whose supernatural youmu side practically makes him immortal (of the super-healing variety). Mirai is a “Spirit World Warrior” who hunts youmu for money, except that her ability to manipulate blood has made her an outcast among their kind. The two cross paths one day, and from there, various supernatural events start happening.

This is the latest work from Kyoto Animation, best known for everything from Key adaptations like Kanon and Clannad to the Haruhi Suzumiya series to K-ON! to Nichijou to Free!Beyond the Boundary is, in one way, like none of those shows. Based on a fairly unknown light novel series, the show is a dark fantasy with a more well-defined action component. Of course, Kyoto Animation is also well-known for their incredible animation, and the show looks fantastic, with very fluid animation throughout, especially in the action scenes. There’s also plenty of their usual cuteness and comedy to go around, if you like that about their shows. There’s really not too much to say about this show; it’s definitely worth checking out, as the action and fantasy components as well as the characterizations are all compelling enough to get one interested, and besides, this is the first time KyoAni has done a true action series since… their 2009 Munto reboot with a ridiculously long name?

Beyond the Boundary is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Gingitsune


Animated by Diomedea, not White Fox.
Makoto Saeki is the shrine maiden at her family shrine, and as the 15th oracle in her family line, she is able to see Gintaro, a messenger fox of their shrine’s deity. Gintaro is able to see into the future, and he and Makoto go about life helping the people around them.

I have already talked about this show, so if you’ve read my previous post, you know that this is currently my favorite show of the season. It’s definitely an iyashikei show, designed to be relaxing and based more on the pleasantries of everyday life. There is some mild drama involved in these episodes, but they get resolved within the episode for overall pleasant viewing. The best part of the show, though, is the relationship between Makoto and Gintaro, which I’ve already written an entire post about. Their relationship continues to be the high point in episode 2. My favorite moment is when Gintaro asks Makoto if she would rather have been born into a family that did not have successor duties and allowed her to do what she wants, and her response is that she doesn’t need anything more because she can see Gintaro. That should certainly be a sentiment that resonates well with Christians and our relationship with God. Make no mistake, this may be a Shinto-based anime, but there is plenty of spiritual value in this show for Christians. (And if you’re not a Christian, it’s still an excellent show.)

Gingitsune is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Golden Time


Did Taiga just grow up all of a sudden?

Banri Tada meets up with a number of new people his first day of law school. First of note is Mitsuo, a guy that he quickly befriends when both of them get lost trying to get to the law building. Second is Kouko Kaga, a girl so intent on marrying Mitsuo that she followed him all the way to the law school, despite his enrolling there specifically to get away from her. From there, they and others around them discover the various surprises that college life has in store for them.

This show is based on a light novel from the same author as Toradora!, so if you’re a fan of that show, this one is worth looking into. The opening episodes are fairly introductory, though the second episode does start going more into what the characters, particularly Kouko, are thinking. There’s also some good ol’ college hijinks to go with it all. It might not seem like a very exciting first impression, but Toradora! was a bit of a slow starter, too, and the best stuff is very likely yet to come. Still, there’s definitely the potential for greatness to come, so keep an eye on this one, especially if you’re tired of all that high school stuff and want to graduate to the next level up.

Golden Time is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Infinite Stratos 2


Not included in this picture: a school-sized harem.

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to Infinite Stratos. Do not watch if you haven’t watched the first season.

That statement isn’t just a statement of the continuity of this sequel. How much you can tolerate and/or enjoy the first season will determine how much you like this sequel. For those who haven’t seen the first season, it’s about a bunch of exoskeleton-mecha, the IS, which can normally only be piloted by girls, and centers around the one guy that can pilot one, Ichika. He gets transferred to a school specializing in teaching IS combat, and gets numerous girls to fall in love with him. It’s a harem combined with sci-fi action, and there’s plenty of harem antics, including plenty of denseness and stupidity from the male lead, to accompany the flashy IS fights. It’s one of those shows where personal preferences will largely determine whether you find the harem antics funny, stupid, or stupidly funny, and whether the action scenes are worth whatever you might think of the harem antics. If you could last through the first season and think, “I could go for more of this,” then this second season should be right up your alley. But if the first season made you go to internet forums to rant about how shows like this are “killing” anime, then it’s probably best to stay far, far away.

Infinite Stratos 2 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll. The first season is available for streaming on Hulu.

Kill la Kill

Lately it seems that everyone's been using scissors.
Ryuuko Matoi attends Honnouji Academy for one purpose only: to find the person who killed her father. Of most interest to her is the Student Council President Satsuki Kiryuun, who rules over the entire school with an iron fist and holds the other half of the scissor-blade that Ryuuko found after her father was killed. That Satsuki’s various lackeys in ability-powering Goku uniforms keep going after Ryuuko to kill her is definitely a complication, but maybe a secret uniform she finds below her house can help her…

This is supposedly the show that will “save” anime, which presumes that anime needs saving in the first place (I sure don’t think it does). Still, this is a fun action show with a whole lot of style and flair to it that gives it a very different sort of feel. Studio Trigger is currently best known for producing a handful of shorts, such as Inferno Cop and Little Witch Academia, the latter of which I’ve talked about as having an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. Director Hiroyuki Imaishi is best known for his work at Studio Gainax on Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, and the artistic flair in this show is definitely reminiscent of that in his past works. There’s a fair amount of insanity to the show, too, which is always good in my book. Just be warned that there’s also a fair amount of fanservice, though not nearly enough to call it an ecchi show.

Kill la Kill is available for streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki.

Little Busters! Refrain

I hope your tear ducts are ready for this.

Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Little Busters!, so make sure to watch that first.

Based on the visual novel from Key (the company that made the original AIR, Kanon, and Clannad games), this is the continuation of the story of Riki Naoe and his group of friends, the titular Little Busters. These first episodes seem to be part of an arc centered around Yui Kurugaya, and right away is bringing out not only the classic Key drama but also the supernatural elements their shows tend to have. Saying any more would be a spoiler, so if you’ve seen the first season and want more, check it out. For those that haven’t seen the first season, know that while the show might not seem quite at the level of Key’s previous adaptations, the best stuff is supposedly to come in this current season, and the first season still has some good moments, especially once the later arcs start, and beyond all that is just a good feeling one gets from how close-knit this group of friends is, so why not give it a shot?

Both seasons of Little Busters! are available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Log Horizon

MMORPGs really do have a way of sucking you right in, don't they?

In an event known as The Apocalypse, thirty thousand people across Japan and several hundred thousand people over the world find themselves trapped in a world rather reminiscent of the MMORPG “Elder Tale”. Among those trapped are Shiroe, a mage and strategist, Naotsugu, a warrior and tank, and Akatsuki, an assassin and ninja. The three of them band together to defeat opponents and try to figure out what is going on.

While this sounds like a blatant attempt to cash-in on the success of Sword Art Online, there are already a number of notable differences in this show. Most notable is how this show has an overall more lighthearted tone to it, while still allowing for some drama in the characters’ situation. I had always felt that SAO’s death game aspect was really underdeveloped, to the point where when that plot was resolved, the result felt too cheap for what should have been a really grave situation. The greater mystery and overall more lighthearted approach to Log Horizon has for the moment definitely made it the more enjoyable MMO-based show. (Also, the main character is a mage, and I like mages.) It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you weren’t a big fan of that sword art show.

Log Horizon is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

Outbreak Company

An otaku's fantasies come true... but what about the people on the other side of them?
Shinichi is the son of a visual novelist and a galge character designer and is a hardcore otaku who loves all things moe. Having been a shut-in since soon after entering high school after a girl rejected him for being an otaku, he decides to seek employment—and lo and behold, he finds a job offer for someone with vast otaku knowledge. He applies, gets accepted, goes to meet his employer… and then gets drugged and wakes up in a completely foreign world. Turns out a portal to a fantasy world had been discovered in Japan, and the leadership of Japan needed ambassadors to not only help forge a relationship between these two worlds, but also to help promote aspects of Japanese culture in that fantasy world as part of a cultural exchange. And by aspects of Japanese culture, the government has chosen otaku culture in particular, for some reason.

This show sounds like it should be a horrible show, but as the show plays out, it turns out to be actually really good. Perhaps that should have been expected, as the original light novels were written by the same author of Scrapped Princess, which is a really good fantasy series. While this one definitely has an otaku flavor to it (try not to lose yourself catching all the references in the show!), as a fantasy story about a guy who ends up in a different world, it’s executed very well. Shinichi is a very likable character who is not shy about his interests, and the various characters he meets, including the maid Myucel and the young princess and ruler Petralka, are all good characters in their ways. Furthermore, the show is not afraid to go into some of the deeper implications of the situation, as Shinichi encounters numerous cultural differences and social issues, such as a rigid caste system, which complicate the job he was given. The end result is a show that is at times lots of fun and at times incredibly thoughtful and provoking, which may be the last thing you’d expect from reading a synopsis of the show. This is definitely a show worth trying out, and not just because the fact that Shinichi is called a “moe evangelist” could also potentially provide for some of the most off-the-wall Christian parallels this side of AKB0048.

Outbreak Company is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.