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.
 
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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. 
 
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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.

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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. 

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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.
 
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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.

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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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Divine Childhood Friend (The Osananajimi Series, Part X1)


A while ago, I wrote a post about how childhood friend (osananajimi) relationships can mirror a “born into the faith” Christian’s relationship with God, and had intended that as part of a longer series. I haven’t forgotten about that series, but this entry is not a direct continuation of that series, but rather a “gaiden” series dedicated to a special case of this, in which there’s no actual romance involved and the “childhood friend” is actually pretty close to a deity himself.
 
The show in question is the newly-airing Gingitsune, which features shrine maiden Makoto Saeki who, when she was four years old and after her mother died, met Gintaro, a “messenger fox of the gods”. Makoto is the next “oracle” in line after her mother and is such the only person that can see and talk to Gintaro. As for Gintaro, he is a messenger from the Shinto “gods” and has the ability to reveal things about the future, which Makoto can then use to help out people. In addition to this religious connection, Makoto and Gintaro are also close companions, having been together for over ten years.
 
Despite the fact that this show is based around the Shinto religion, the religious-yet-personal nature of Makoto and Gintaro’s relationship does provide an interesting look at the Christian’s relationship with God, and right from the first episode, too. As usual, expect spoilers from that episode after the jump.

Sorry, bishounen lovers; Gintaro is much more beast than hot guy. Art by 

くりねこ.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 10/4/13 Beyond the Season Boundary Edition

This isn't just my normal weekly ramblings; it's also an overview of the Summer 2013 season! Plus a quick look at what's aired from Fall 2013 so far, and one other thing.

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Summer 2013 is almost over, and my goodness, was it an incredible season. Below is a list of all the shows I followed this past season, followed by a number that is my score for this show out of 11.0 (yes, my rating scale is rather Spinal Tap-influenced. You can get an equivalent score out of 10 by subtracting 1 from the scores and rounding down to the nearest whole number, with shows 10.7 and above being my "10/10" shows).

Tamayura ~more aggressive~: 10.8
Silver Spoon: 10.7
Kin-iro Mosaic: 10.6
Monogatari S2 (up to episode 13): 10.5
The Eccentric Family: 10.1
The World God Only Knows: Goddesses: 9.6
Free!: 9.6
Servant x Service: 9.4
Love Lab: 9.4
Sunday Without God: 9.3
Rozen Maiden (2013): 9.2
Genshiken Nidaime: 9.2
Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3: 9.1
Attack on Titan: 9.0
WataMote: 8.9
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: 8.8
Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS: 8.5
Chronicles of the Going Home Club (up to ep. 11): 8.0
Fantasista Doll: 7.3
Brothers Conflict: 6.6

I'm giving out so many scores 9.0 and above that I think I should talk a bit about what exactly 9.0/11.0 means on my rating scale. There are a couple of things worth noting about that score…

1. On ANN and MAL, shows scoring 9.0-9.9 would get a "modified" score of 8/10, which on ANN is categorized as "don't miss it". This, I think, accurately represents the biggest thing about those shows: they are shows I can wholeheartedly recommend. While not everyone might like every show that scores at least that high, I find these shows to be great on so many levels that I can easily write up reasons why the show is worth watching.

2. The reason my scale goes up to 11.0 instead of 10.0 is, personally, to allow me to score a show more closely to what I might view that same score as a grade in school--this is influenced in part by my generally going for A's and extra credit and just generally not being too satisfied with B's. Thus, 9.0 shows are "A" shows, and ones I regard highly. I don't dislike "B" shows (8.0-8.9), but they do sit a bit below my high expectations for really good anime.

3. 9.0/11.0 is also about the lowest score at which I would buy a barebones sub-only DVD of a show, purely to support the show. (Price and additional features can change that for any specific show, though.)

4. One little thing: 9.0 is the highest score I'd give to a show that I'd feel is about as good as a show can possibly be without my being personally invested in the show. This is notably the case with Attack on Titan; it's not a show I'm particularly attached to, which isn't the show's fault; it's just not my type of show at all. The atmosphere is just too dark and depressing for my taste. And yet, with the way everything plays out, I can still enjoy the show for what it is and recognize it as the high-quality show that I can completely understand why it is as popular and highly-regarded as it is.

5. Going off of #4, the major thing about the shows above 9.0 is that they are shows which I have some degree of personal attachment to, for various reasons. Whether it be for great characters, nice relationships, engaging storylines, particularly high-level comedy, or whatnot, these shows all have that something extra that gives them a special little space in my heart.

Genshiken Nidaime had a really good look at a character's gender identity issues as well as a great resolution to one of the original show's plotlines (as well as a less-annoying Kuchiki). Rozen Maiden had a great story develop around the college-age Jun. Sunday Without God had one of the best lead characters in anime I've ever seen. Love Lab had great characters and some of the best comedy this season. Servant x Service had a very well-developed main relationship alongside the good character-based comedy. Free! just had a really well-done character-based story all-around. The World God Only Knows: Goddesses has some really good development for its main character, and some great characters surrounding him all the while.

Even C3-bu, despite being overall worse than it started, remains above 9.0 thanks to doing some different things and being an interesting character exploration, at least for a while, and all while having an interesting setting in airsoft.

Of course, things get even better going into the 10's. The Eccentric Family is an incredible blend of fun characters, well-written relationships, and a nicely-done atmosphere courtesy of PA Works. Monogatari really knocked it out of the park with the recent "Mayoi Jiangshi" arc, which has some great development of my favorite character, Shinobu. Kin-iro Mosaic has everything typical of its type of show done incredibly well and adds in incredible opening and closing episodes. Silver Spoon is precisely the type of show that just drew me in and just made me feel like I was right there along with everyone, and has really good characters and storytelling to go with it, and Tamayura ~more aggressive~ is just pure iyashikei in all its goodness, and is just full of wonderful moments to go with its wonderful characters.

Now, as for shows below 9.0, it's worth noting that my scoring scale is more of a continuum, and as such, WataMote is pretty close to being a 9.0-level show. It's the type of show, though, that I can't get too attached to by its nature, though it does have some very interesting comedy that puts it a step above another show that I felt that way about (something about evil flowers). Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya was nothing too special but was a lot of fun anyways. Ro-Kyu-Bu SS is a show for which the loli-fanservice still kept me from really getting attached to it, but some great sports action and some development for our cute cast gives it a small boost over the first season. And Going Home Club has carved out enough of its special niche, and given enough nice moments in the process, to break into the "good" 8.0 range.

Fantasista Doll, on the other hand, represents perfectly what shows in the 7's are: just okay. And below that, Brothers Conflict was just a "blah" show, though one that I still managed to squeeze some perverse enjoyment from.


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Crossing the seasonal boundary, Fall 2013 is underway, and the first show beyond the boundary is, well, Beyond the Boundary (a.k.a. Kyoukai no Kanata). It's Kyoto Animation's latest work, and unlike most of their past works as of late, it's a dark fantasy, with a lot more action than normal (outside of some chuunibyou fantasies). It still takes place in high school, and there's still a very moe heroine (not that that's a bad thing, at least to me), but there's definitely some action and an interesting story in the works, and I think it's a show worth keeping tabs on.

If you want your high school girls in post-apocalyptic sci-fi, though, Coppelion may be your thing. On my end, I think I just enjoyed the whole post-apocalyptic aspect to it, which provided some interesting looks at how life in this rather dystopian atmosphere is like.

Or maybe you're just tired of high school shows entirely and want to graduate from there already, Golden Time may be up your alley. From the same author behind Toradora!, this show has fun moments and plenty of potential for some good character growth. Just don't expect the characters to automatically start acting much different from high-schoolers just yet; they only just graduated from there, after all.

You've also got to expect that the characters of Nagi no Asukara will grow over the course of that show. Right now, they are very much like the burgeoning teens that they are, full of hormones and confusion, and it might not be easy to like them just yet. And if they stay that way, this show could be quite rage-inducing. But there's definitely potential for growth, so here's hoping that's what happens here. One thing's for sure, though; this show looks really pretty. But that's to be expected from P.A. Works.

A lot of people were looking forward to Kill la Kill, the first TV anime project from Studio Trigger, who did Little Witch Academia, and from the same director behind Gurren Lagann. I wasn't particularly hyped about it, but it turned out quite well and I really enjoyed it. It's got a lot of style to it and plenty of insanity, and I love that in a show, especially in an action show.

And then there's Infinite Stratos 2, which follows in the tradition of the first series by being stupid fun. If you made your way past the first series and enjoyed it for whatever reason, the sequel is definitely worth watching. Of course, if you hated the first season, there's no reason to expect this sequel to be any different, so don't bother.

There are still several shows left to air. Will Non Non Biyori continue the streak set by Yuyushiki and Kin-iro Mosaic for top-notch cute-girls slice-of-life? Will Log Horizon not make me rage as much as Sword Art Online did? Will Outbreak Company be the *cough* breakout hit of the season? (It is by the same author as Scrapped Princess, which was a really good show...)

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Here's something new for this column: I'll talk about some anime that has recently become available for pre-order, as well as shows that have recently become available for streaming. Most of these new pre-orders are on Rightstuf, and will appear on Amazon and other retailers at some later time.

This week, Sentai Filmworks and Maiden Japan have their January 2014 releases available for pre-order. There's the fourth and final part of the Patlabor TV series on Blu-ray and DVD with dub, Medaka Box Abnormal on Blu-ray and DVD with dub, and Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love 1000% on Blu-ray and DVD, subs only. 

Yes, Sentai is continuing with their sub-only Blu-ray experiment, and UtaPri isn't the only show they have for January like this. If you are interested in some older anime, there's Casshan, an old 35-episode anime from 1973 (the more recent Casshern Sins is a remake of this show), available on a sub-only Blu-ray or DVD (and for a rather good price, too). There's also a sub-only Blu-ray available for Taisho Baseball Girls, which was previously released on a sub-only DVD; this means that we could see more shows re-released on Blu-ray like this, even if sub-only.

But you say you want your re-releases with a dub? Then how about Maria Holic (the first season), available on Blu-ray and DVD with a new dub? 

Meanwhile, Aniplex of America has put available for pre-order their limited edition Blu-ray set of the Blue Exorcist movie. At $70, it's a pretty steep price for just a movie, though it does come with various extras like a staff interview DVD, postcards, booklet, and artbox. But if you don't care about any of that extra stuff and just want the movie itself, you can get the DVD for $30.

And finally, if you just want to revisit your childhood, you can get the Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 3 DVD collection. Keep in mind, though, that only the dub is included.