Saturday, March 29, 2014

One Week Ramblings: 3/29/14 Birthday in Kyoto Edition

Yes, it's my birthday today! And I'm posting in Kyoto, the ancient capital and location of many anime series and many anime school trips! I'll post more details about my trip later, as I don't get Wi-Fi access too easily around here.

Also, the title of the Weekly Ramblings series has changed to "One Week Ramblings", in anticipation of the upcoming Spring 2014 series "One Week Friends", which is easily the show I'm most looking forward to this coming season.

Anyway, this week's ramblings will be quick...

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Sentai Filmworks has recently posted their July slate of releases, and it is huge. In addition to their recent license Problem children are coming from another world, aren't they? (which will be dubbed), they also have almost every single Winter 2013 series (except Tamako Market) and every Spring 2013 series they licensed on that list, plus To-Love-Ru Darkness and even Gatchaman Crowds! But if you're a Blu-ray fan, you might be disappointed to see that a large number of titles are DVD-only: Devil Survivor 2, Photo Kano, Yuyushiki, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU all are being released without Blu-ray counterparts. (Note that Devil Survivor 2 will still be dubbed; the rest are subtitled-only.)

In response to concerns about this, Sentai has posted the following on their Facebook page:

Hey guys! We'd like to address something that our fans have been asking us quite a bit recently. Here is our official word on why some of our programs are being releases DVD only as of late:

"Occasionally our programs may be subject to release parameters that are determined by underlying rights holders and which are otherwise outside our direct control. For example, a program's inclusion on certain media formats such as Blu-ray disc may be subject to a holdback that expires following release of a Japanese domestic version in that format."

So, there you have it, guys. Comments are appreciated. Thanks!
And the following has been posted on their Twitter:

- So then we can expect the blurays later?

- In most cases, yes.
Of course, there are a lot of unknowns as to exactly when Blu-rays of shows being released DVD-only might pop up, or even if they will at all. That said, it's still good information to know.

If you want to check out titles on their July slate that will have Blu-rays, there's The Severing Crime Edge, The Flowers of Evil, and the first part of Majestic Prince, as well as the aforementioned Problem Children, To-Love-Ru Darkness, and Gatchaman Crowds. (Note that, of those, only Majestic Prince, Problem Children, and Gatchaman Crowds will be dubbed.)

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That's it for this week's ramblings. Next time I'll be posting from back in the States, and there'll be new anime and possibly new news to talk about.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 3/21/14 Off To Japan Edition!

That's right, I'm off to Japan on Sunday! This is a recreational two-week trip with my family in which I will be visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, as well as the onsen (hot springs) of Hakone (best known for being the setting of Neon Genesis Evangelion, albeit renamed to "Tokyo-3"; it's also the location of the first day of the InterHigh bicycle road race in the currently-airing Yowamushi Pedal). I will also be visiting the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, the Manga Museum in Kyoto, and the Pokémon Center in Osaka, among other places. And, of course, I will be hitting up Akihabara for some shopping (and apparently, a maid café).

I won't be blogging about the trip much on here, but I will be posting pictures and updates on my Tumblr and Twitter.

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A couple of new license announcements have come out. Sentai Filmworks has licensed Problem children are coming from another world, aren't they?, which aired in Winter 2013; it will likely be a part of their July 2013 releases. Meanwhile, Funimation Entertainment has announced that they will be releasing Ben-To, which they started streaming earlier on their site subtitled, on home video in the summer (probably July or later); an English dub has been scheduled to start streaming in May.

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This is somewhat old news by now, but by all means great news for fans of the show: Durarara!! will be getting a second TV season! No other news has come of this yet, but needless to say, fans are already getting hyped for it.

Another show that has been confirmed for a sequel of some sort is Kin-iro Mosaic. Whether this sequel will be a proper second season or just an OVA or movie has yet to be determined; nevertheless, I wholeheartedly welcome more of these cute British and Japanese girls. (Maybe they'll finally go to Britain this time?)

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Finally, something a bit more random: Japan is publishing a new edition of the classic novel Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (translated into Japanese, and known as Akage no Anne over there). The special thing about this new edition? It has illustrations by Minami Maki, best known for being the artist and mangaka of Special A. The result is a rather nice-looking version of the classic book, even if one has to get used to seeing Gilbert as a younger Kei Takishima. As a side note, the Anne of Green Gables series is one of my favorite book series; it is also one of the most popular Western works in Japan, with many anime series making references to it and even possibly influenced by it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Inari, Divine Being, Human Relations

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha is one of my favorite shows currently airing. Despite being only ten episodes long (nine of which have aired as of the time of this post), this show has explored so much in the way of various relationships: middle-school first loves, friendships, and relationships between humans and the divine kami of Shinto. While all of these are great, as someone who loves spiritual themes in anime (see Gingitsune), it's the last one that I love about the show the most.

Indeed, once again, despite being based around the Shinto religion, this show offers some great perspective for Christians, particularly with what our relationship with God is like. In this case, though, what the show provides is in some way more of a contrast to show how Christianity differs from the religion presented in the show.

As a disclaimer, the depiction of Shinto in this anime is the series's own interpretation of it and not necessarily representative of actual Shinto religion. And as one might expect, there will be mild spoilers after the jump.

Divine hugs are the best kind of hugs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 3/14/14 White Tiger Day Edition

In case you don't know what the post title refers to, in Japan, March 14th, one month after Valentine's Day, is White Day. Whereas on Valentine's Day, girls traditionally give chocolates to guys, on White Day, guys return the favor by giving the girls that gave them chocolates various gifts in return.

As for the Tiger part, that refers to the big news that will be the focus of today's weekly ramblings: NIS America will release Toradora! on Blu-ray with an English dub this July!

For a bit of history: Toradora! was NIS America's first anime release, being released on DVD with subtitles only in 2010, albeit with an extra-fancy Premium Edition that included a large artbox and an artbook with extensive artwork and info on the show. Due to the demand for the title exceeding expectations, the first half's Premium Edition sold out quickly; not too long afterwards, NIS America released standard editions for the show. Meanwhile, in Japan, a Blu-ray set for the show was released in late 2011.

Now, as to why this news is so huge:

First of all, it's Toradora!, which is an excellent straight-up romantic comedy that develops its cast of characters and their relationships well. It is a favorite among many anime fans (including other ani-bloggers) and it is definitely worth watching.

Second, for all of you who like their anime in high-definition whenever possible, this is the first time the show will be released on Blu-ray in North America.

Third, the Japanese Blu-ray release came with an additional OVA episode, which this release will include, so this release will contain new material if all you are familiar with are the 25 episodes from the original broadcast and DVD release.

The big news here is, of course, the fact that the show is being dubbed. Even if you are not a big fan of Toradora!, this news is huge because it is the first anime series from NIS America to be dubbed. This opens the door for future titles of theirs to be dubbed, which I am sure will please many anime fans who dislike how none of NIS America's releases have been dubbed up to now. Of course, there's still the matter of which shows could be profitable enough to make back the money from a dub; I would not, for example, expect Chronicles of the Going Home Club to even be considered for a dub. But shows like The Pilot's Love Song or Genshiken Nidaime? A dub for those is definitely not out of the question.

There is also, of course, the question of whether they will re-release any past titles of theirs with dubs, a question which I cannot give any real predictions on. Toradora! was somewhat expected for this simply because of the sheer popularity of the title, but as for whether any other show in their catalog could be given the same treatment, it is too hard to say at the moment. The possibility is definitely there, though.

Now to go over some pre-order and release information. The bilingual Blu-ray/DVD combo re-release of Toradora! will be available in the following ways: a Standard Edition Vol. 1 containing the first 13 episodes, a Standard Edition Vol. 2 containing the last 12 episodes plus the OVA, and a Premium Edition containing all 26 episodes, plus a chipboard artbox and a hardcover artbook. The Standard Editions retail for $60 MSRP each, while the Premium Edition retails for $130 MSRP; actual prices may vary depending on the retailer, but will typically be lower.

Online retailers selling this release are somewhat limited, with Amazon notably not selling the series. Rightstuf does sell it, though, as does Robert's Anime Corner Store. For an additional option, consider buying this release directly from the NISA store. The prices are slightly more expensive than elsewhere (though still 20% below MSRP), but if you pre-order either the Premium Edition or the Standard Edition Vol. 1 & 2 Bundle there, you can get a free, exclusive bonus item in the form of a poster.

It is also worth noting that, compared to NIS America's typical Premium Edition releases, which are large and relatively flat, the Premium Edition for Toradora! here is sized more like a typical limited-edition-style release, with a thicker DVD-sized box that holds both the disc case and the artbook. Here's a look at what the Premium Edition looks like:



And if you are curious about the dub cast, here's what's been announced:

Taiga Aisaka - Cassandra Lee Morris
Ryuji Takasu - Erik Scott Kimerer
Minori Kushieda - Christine Marie Cabanos
Yusaku Kitamura - Johnny Yong Bosch
Ami Kawashima - Erika Harlacher
Yasuko Takasu/Nanako Kashii - Karen Strassman
Yuri Koigakubo - Elizabeth Thomas
Koji Haruta - Brian Beacock
Hisamitsu Noto - Jason Baker
Maya Kihara - Mela Lee
Sumire Kano/Inko - Wendee Lee

Finally, have a sample of the dub in the dub trailer:


Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Best Anime of 2013: #20-#11

It's time to get into the top 20! And because we are starting to get into the really good shows, pictures will start appearing in this section, starting from #17 when the 9/10 shows start. There will also be a bonus section where I talk about my favorite short series of 2013, as well as the one movie of 2013 that I watched.

No reason to delay this any further. Let's get started.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Best Anime of 2013: #34-#21

As we move into the middle of my list, it's perhaps going to be a bit weird to see a lot of really big-name titles falling short of the top 20. And all of the shows in this section are ones I liked a lot; there were simply a lot that I liked better. Still, these are all great anime that were well worth the time.

Still no pictures, but I'll be giving some more in-depth descriptions of what I liked about each show.

I might not gush as much about these as she does about muscles… but I might not be too far off.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kin'youbi Mosaic: 3/7/14 Tumblr AniMarch Special

Over on Tumblr, Charles of Beneath the Tangles, along with Azure Alley, has been doing a thing called AniMarch. Over the course of the month, various people on Tumblr have been asked to give responses to one question per day, and the questions are some fun, more interactive ones. 

For this week's ramblings, I will post some of my entries for this event. If you're on Tumblr, why not join in? And even if you're not, feel free to go over and check out the #animarch tag to see various anime fans' answers to these questions.

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Akari~n!
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Akari Akaza of YuruYuri is a girl that likes hanging out with her friends, but sometimes feels that she doesn’t really have a presence among them, as the others have more personality and other people within the group they are closer to. Her lack of presence becomes something of a recurring joke within the show, but despite this, there are definitely moments when the other characters in the series show how much they like her.
When I hang out with friends, I too often feel like I don’t really have a presence within the group, as I tend to be quiet and not speak much while others chat away. (It doesn’t help that most of my real-life friends aren’t quite as much of anime fans as I am…) As such, I can definitely relate to Akari’s feelings of wondering if she really does belong with the wacky group of friends she’s a part of. And likewise, I do appreciate those times when my friends show that they are happy to have my presence.

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(Note: For day 3, I chose five various anime characters, wrote their names on slips of paper, and then mixed them up in a bag. The following days' posts involved characters drawn from those slips.)


(Warning: Spoilers for Last Exile incoming!)

Dear Dio Eraclea,



[How are you doing? I hear you’ve been with the Sky Pirates lately, and that you had quite some adventures lately with the Exiles and some princesses. I haven’t really been following the news, though, so I do not know all the details. I am still recovering from the injury I got in that one incident. That injury has kept me from flying, too, which is unfortunate, as I have really been missing flying my Vanship.

Instead,  I have been resting at home and taking it easy. Thankfully, Lavie is around to not only take care of me but also keep me company. I am so happy to have her at my side, even if we cannot fly together; I really do not know what I would do without her. (Just between you, Al, and me, I am thinking about proposing to her soon.)

How is Al doing? I hear she has been caught up in everything with you, but that she is okay. Thank you so much for taking good care of her. Lavie and I really hope we can see her again soon. I hear that the Second Grand Race will be held soon; maybe we will go out to see it, if the two of you plan to be there.

For that matter, I do look forward to seeing you again; you can be a bit annoying at times but I do consider you a friend and hope you are doing well. Maybe someday, the two of us can fly together again.]

Until then, best wishes,
- Claus Valca

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Noël Kannagi (Sora no Woto/Sound of the Sky)
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Rating: not my type | alright | cute | adorable | hot | sexy | OH MY GOODNESS
…where do I even start with this girl?
  • A skilled mechanic and spider-tank pilot
  • Prefers heavy-ammo machineguns
  • Incredibly intelligent
  • Will get absolutely memorized by a pillbug
  • Her dream is to become “a lovely wife”
…and that’s not even looking at her backstory and how she overcomes the demons of her past.
Definitely one of my favorite anime characters.

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Ryoko Hakubi (Tenchi Muyo!)

…yeah, I am not an artist. At least I think I got her hair down...
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For more of my responses to AniMarch, as well as various other things, check out my Tumblr!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Best Anime of 2013: #51-#35

I will kick off this "best anime of 2013" coverage with shows that are decidedly… not the best. That said, these shows aren't bad, either; they range from "decent" to "rather good". Descriptions for these shows will be very minimal, and there will be no pictures.

Let's get started, then.

As a side note, links will now go to Anime-Planet instead of MyAnimeList. The links not only include technical information and plot synopses, but some shows will also have Crunchyroll video embeds of the show's episodes in them.

Random Kirara for the pre-jump picture, just because.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Anime… Worst of 2013

Just as every year of anime has its big hits and personal favorites, every year of anime also has its stinkers. This post is dedicated to those shows--the bottom of the barrel works that failed to leave a lasting impression on me--or worse, left a bad impression.

That said, I should mention that because I only rate shows I complete (with exceptions for long-runners), and I drop any shows that I really dislike, none of these shows are particularly bad. (Well, okay, some are, but I still found some good things in them.) The four shows in this part are simply the four shows I finished this season that I rated less than a 6.0/10.0--and as it turns out, none of them rated less than a 5.0/10.0. In other words, these are all 5/10 shows on MAL and ANN (2.5/5 stars on Anime-Planet), and are aptly described by ANN's descriptor of "So-so, it didn't really grab my attention".

All in all, this post will pretty much be a post of mediocrity. But I plan to cover every series I finished this season; no point in excluding these. And I do have things to say about all of them, so I think this is a post worth posting. There will probably be some disagreement on these (most likely with the first one), but well, this is my opinion, and you're welcome to voice yours (respectfully) in the comments.

With that said, let's take a look at the shows that I felt were the worst of 2013.

At the very least, none of these were as bad as the Oreimo ending episodes.