Hello, welcome to my blog. I'm a university student trying to breeze his way through a computer science major while spending most of his time in lecture browsing the internet for updates of my favorite subcultural fascinations.
I have been permanently influenced by the animanga subculture for the longest time now. I liveblog anime series that I watch, posting screencaps and GIFs that I make. My dream is to have my GIF making technique noticed in lecture one day and hear someone say, “By the beard of Gol D. Roger, look at this latent young boy’s talent. Such impeccable artistry. Someone buy this genius a Strawberries n’ Crème frappucino stat!”
Ask me anything.
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Source Material: Manga series by Tsutomu Nihei (弐瓶 勉)
Studio(s): Polygon Pictures
Director(s): Kobun Shizuno (静野 孔文)
Writer(s): Sadayuki Murai (村井 さだゆき)
Knights of Sidonia is a manga series by Tsutomu Nihei, published in Kondansha’s Monthly Afternoon seinen manga magazine since April 2009. In North America, the English localization is published by the Japanese novel and manga company, Vertical, headquartered in New York, United States.
One thousand years after the invasion of the Gauna, a mysterious alien race with no method of communication that destroyed the solar system, the remains of humanity live on enormous “seed ships” drifting through space. On one of these seed ships, Sidonia, Nagate Tanikaze was raised deep within the confines, never seeing what he simply knows as “the surface.” When his grandfather, the last family member he was living with, dies, a starving Nagate attempts to steal rice from a production facility. After an extended struggle, Nagate is ultimately caught by authorities and adopted by a mysterious woman under the condition that he enrolls into institution and trains to become a Gardes pilot, knights of advanced space-crafts meant to explore new spatial territories for humanity and more importantly to lead future conflicts against the Gauna. Nagate’s new mother is aware of some unrevealed potential within him and as an authority of Sidonia, sends him out to sortie on his first day of enrollment. Additionally, he is granted usage of Tsugumori, one of the twenty-eight special spears meant to combat the Gauna. The mission is meant to be a rather simple expedition but the crew is suddenly ambushed by Gauna , sparking Nagate’s involvement in humanity’s war against the fearsome species.
If you’re anything like me, then you believe that there can be art in anything. Fortunately, by nature that includes computer-generated imagery, something that, at this point, has essentially become a stigma in global media, whether that be live-action Hollywood movies or traditionally hand-drawn animation. But with series like Knights of Sidonia, a show that just screams high-reaching ambition from the moment it’s green-lit, there may be a chance for the Japanese staple of animation to eventually match the works of the Western powerhouse studios like Pixar Animation and DreamWorks. In no way am I saying Sidonia will be the decisive call to engage in the frontier of the third dimension (plenty of Japanese works, such as Oblivion Island, Advent Children, and Appleseed, have after all made the news-waves in that manner already), but there’s a lot to be admired about its production method in flipping the ratio of 2D to 3D, when the industry standard is, for the most part, settling for 3D when the animation budget falls flat. (I’d also like to note that together, Stardust Crusaders and Sidonia’s 3D openings are giving the rest of this season’s series a pretty good run for their money, literally.) I have no doubt that a lot of viewers imagined how much better the show would’ve looked had it been done in the traditional hand-drawn anime style, and I don’t blame them at all, really. It’s something I admittedly thought about constantly for the first five minutes or so, until eventually a realization occurred to me. Whether intentional or not, the immediate uncanny valley reaction actually seems like the perfect fit for the unearthly, dystopian world portrayed in the story, a perdurable imagery that the eerie soundtrack, despondent color palette, and mask-wearing, gender-absent, identical characters additionally accentuate to shuddersome degrees. It really does feel like a filmic production, Sidonia, each shot seemingly thoroughly planned from the beginning, an impression I mostly associate with the intricate camera angles that overlay this incessant feeling of desolation through the emptiness of vast, spacious areas only inhibited by one character. For a science-fiction genre story situated on an inter-racial war, Sidonia rehashes some pretty familiar tropes. The destined protagonist who starkly contrasts the new age of genetically-engineered humans and who is, without warning, enrolled into a prestigious academy that trains elite fighter-pilots just to prove he can become the ace student (and pilot) within weeks, or even days. The rival who should be a convivial student and comrade but ultimately succumbs to extreme jealousy at the capacity of the protagonist and the special treatment he receives from the top brass of the military in charge of the training academy. The girl, or girls in this case, who are first to befriend the protagonist, when it’s essentially him against the world, and enable him the confidence to display resounding leadership and win over the rest of his comrades. And then the authoritative figure who forces the protagonist into the hero role with tough love that will always teeter more on the side of coldhearted-ness but will nonetheless always retain the ambiguity of true affection. Oh, and I guess of course there’s also the snarling alien race portrayed as a relentless and imminent threat to humanity. That’s kind of a given, so I’m not sure to what degree that could be considered a generic, but I do think the Gauna are worth noting particularly because of the official series summary that describes them as an alien species with “no known method of communication.” More often than not, the protagonist isn’t declared special only in his mental or physical capacity, but also his emotional connectivity, so super-powered that he is the only hope in communicating and bringing peace with the alien force initially painted as monstrous, inhumane, and wholly incompatible. Noticing Sidonia’s depth in establishing how different a kind this future humankind is, my mind is open to all the directions this show could possibly head. For the time being, it has done more than enough to make the case that it’s quite the introspective feature. Right now, the most of my worries is its planned twelve episode runtime (which is more understandable considering Polygon Pictures being a wholly new animation studio); but as I’ve said before, when something like that is the most of your worries, you’re pretty well off already.
Source Material: 4-koma manga series by Koi
Studio(s): White Fox
Director(s): Hiroyuki Hashimoto (橋本 裕之)
Writer(s): Kazuyuki Fudeyasu (筆安 一幸)
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka? is a 4-koma comedy manga series by Koi, serialized in Houbunsha’s seinen manga magazine Manga Time Kirara Max from March 2011 and onwards. As of March 2014, the series has been collected into three tankoubon volumes.
Hoto Kokoa has just moved into a new town to attend school. Upon arrival, she gets lost and comes across the Rabbit House, a café by day, a bar by night and a residence all throughout. Without knowing the Rabbit House is actually her new home, Kokoa enters to see the rabbits. She is initially disappointed when she finds Chino Kafuu, granddaughter of Rabbit House’s owner, instead of actual rabbits but rejoices when she finds out Chino is also her new housemate. Kokoa prompts Chino to call her “big sister” and also orders three cups of coffee so that she can cuddle with the suppositious rabbit on Chino’s head, that is actually a rabbit, that is actually Chino’s grandfather in the form of a rabbit, unbeknownst to Kokoa. Kokoa starts working at the Rabbit House to compensate her tenancy and meets Lize Tedeza, a part-timer at the café with a powerful physique and a handy-dandy fire-arm kept for “self-defense” purposes. Together, the three girls spend a day holding down the café fort, checking inventory, cleaning, handling customers, making latte art, and becoming closers co-workers. In the evening, together Kokoa and Chino eat stew for dinner, take a bath, and prepare for sleep. Kokoa reflects that this new town to her is a wonderful place, a remark met by Chino’s content. Meanwhile, downstairs in the bar, Chino’s father and grandfather agree that Kokoa will have an endearing influence on Chino.
That was a really wonderful example of scenic illustrations exquisitely building upon the overall atmosphere of the show. I’m really impressed with Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka?’s approach in this first episode; there’s no urgency whatsoever to instantly lure viewers in with a thrilling backstory for the lead character or any other such exposition-establishing material. Instead it’s just great art and heart-warming character interactions from the start, truly a genuine presentation that gives you the rightful response of, “this is pretty darn cute,” or surely something in that manner. I’ve recently noticed that I’m a lot more inclined to gravitate towards shows with an all-female cast when the set-up and their relationships aren’t just the run-of-the-mill schoolmate exchanges. I do say that with a grain of salt though, seeing as how the next week’s preview has our lead character, Kokoa, starting school in her new hometown and probably engaging in just those kinds of activities. If that be the case, we’ll always have the first episode, I suppose. But generally speaking, from the past with series like So Ra No Wo To to now with Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka? , because they’re set in a more suitably-fictional world outside the school classroom, there seems to be a lot more chance to break out of the tiresome female archetypes, in character and in plot. That’s not to say that Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka? doesn’t have its overt character tropes though; in fact, I think this episode spells out a double-tsundere complex with Chino and Lize both denying Kokoa’s lovely amiability. Nevertheless, something about the scenario in general, whether it be the Rabbit House café as a locale or the caffeinated coffee motif, that demands this overdone interplay be seen through a fresh, energized lens. In commending Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka?, I think there’s a necessary amount of praise to be directed to the production studio at work here, White Fox. Given the scale and structure of 4-koma manga series, I can’t image that original series creator, Koi, is illustrating these spectacular views in the background of the panels (though all power to him or her if he or she actually is). I can’t stress enough (with a cup of coffee in hand) how much the illustrated backdrops are doing it for me. This is quite actually the kind of atmosphere I would want to indulge in when going to a legitimate café to absorb and transition its aesthetic atmosphere into creative fuel. And here, White Fox has done the altruistic thing and compiled these sentiments into a twenty minute video file, what is there not to be thankful for? At this point, while Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka? hasn’t really addressed a clear plotline to follow, I think the closing scene with Chino’s father and grandfather sum up what the series is to be quite finely. For series like these, the characters always are at center-stage, demonstrating what the true essence of the show is. So far, Kokoa has had an adorable effect on both Chino and Lize, and I’m so sold already that I would be perfectly content if the main cast didn’t extend one bit more. All in all, it’s a superb performing going on so far and I don’t think it’s prone to letting down as it continues down the road.
Source Material: Original series
Studio(s): J.C Staff, ACGT
Director(s): Takeshi Watanabe (渡部 高志)
Writer(s): Dai Satou (佐藤 大)
Fuuun Ishin Dai Shougun is an original series by studios J.C. Staff and ACGT, headed by director Watanabe Takashi and series composer Dai Satou.
Tokugawa Keiichirou is a descendent to the ruling Tokugawa shogunate, but since birth he has been raised by the elderly Otomi, owner of one of the best bathhouses in Nagasaki. A natural brute, Keiichirou has spent his young adult life getting into fights and inadvertently uniting Nagasaki under one leader, himself. When he finally has no one left who opposes him, he gets mixed up in the mysterious case of the sex-house murderer, the culprit a woman dressed in a red kimono who seduces and stabs seventeen-year old males to death. After being false accused himself, confronting a fearsome female ninja, and discovering the murder of one of his own underlings, Keeichirou is finally attacked himself by the culprit, a female assailant who was hunting him the whole time. By news of the aforementioned female ninja, Kiriko Hattori, and his grandmother, Keiichirou discovers that the Tokugawa shogunate is being overthrown and that he is a rightful inheritor of the Tokugawa bloodline. He is taken to the inner chambers of the bathhouse to witness the rise of a giant robot called Onigami, an ancient machine that can only be piloted by a true virgin of the Tokugawa bloodline, a condition that points all fingers at none other than Keiichirou.
I swear, I haven’t seen that many lens flares since my last viewing of Star Trek Into Darkness. Oddly enough, as with J.J. Abrams’s take on the rebooted series, they gave Fuuun Ishin Dai Shougun a certain visual touch that made it shine on-screen a bit more, figuratively and literally. It’s been a while since my last historical adaptation, Oda Nobuna no Yabou back in 2012, if I remember correctly. And while I’ve taken some courses in Japanese history and culture within that time-frame, I don’t think I’m in any position still to gauge this, or any other, show’s historical accuracy. But for the most part, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to be a necessity because this series is a bastardization of Japanese history in the whole sense of the word. Anachronistic technology, gender-bending, over-stylized personalities, and… all those lens flares… I just can’t help but to reiterate their presence. The story takes place in an alternate Japan in which the Meiji Restoration of 1868 never happened. Instead, with the use of giant robots to drive away foreign ships, Japan remained isolated from the rest of the world, and remained in the relatively primitive Edo period, where people don’t even have baths in their own homes, . But what they do have is giant robots. Imagine that. So it’s obviously nonsensical, everything here so far, but there’s something about the way Fuuun Ishin Dai Shougunpresents itself that gives the impression that it has fully accepted itself as a ridiculous story, so much so, that’s it’s almost admirable how much fun it’s making out of itself. It’s kind of amazing, actually, considering the role of Dai Satou, a man with whollyaccomplished works under his belt (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain, Samurai Champloo, Eureka Seven, Ergo Proxy, Toward the Terra, Eden of the East, Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, etc), the man who has been quoted saying he only works on series with “meaningful stories”, as series composer. A premiere episode of gratuitous boobage, homoerotic jokes, and ninja grannies is a far cry from those of the aforementioned series, to say the least. But it’s not all for naught. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about Fuuun Ishin Dai Shougun gives it a certain oomph that prevents me from writing it off as a hapless train-wreck as I did with last season’s Nobunaga the Fool, or any other resembling predecessors. What’s even more inexplicable is that, in comparing to Nobunaga the Fool, the main cast of both series essentially share the exact same archetypes, the zealous, easy-going protagonist fated to be a ruler, the pervert of a best friend, and the well-rounded heroine come to guide the hero to his fate. Yet one completely triumphs over the other in delivery and has me much more attached to the characters. How? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the lens flares… In any case, I think I’ll allot the achievement to the series composer, as I imagine script-writing to be one of the core components of a show that often gets overlooked when it actually does provide for a lot of direct and indirect impressions. And in giving Dai Satou the benefit of the doubt, since I’ve never really disliked anything to come from his creative mind, I’m also going to place my bets on what’s to come. Seeing as how Fuuun Ishin Dai Shougun is perfectly enjoyable right now, it developing into a grander story is just what it needs to bring it up to the next level of entertainment. And if that doesn’t happen, I’m more than willing to give it a few more episodes at this point just to find out why I’m so lenient towards it.
Source Material: Manga series by Atsushi Ōkubo (大久保 篤)
Director(s): Masakazu Hashimoto (橋本 昌和)
Writer(s): Masakazu Hashimoto(橋本 昌和)
Soul Eater NOT! is a spin-off of the popular Soul Eater shōnen series written and illustrated by the same creator, focusing on a new set of characters with the occasional appearance of the main cast of the original series. It is set one year before the original story. The Soul Eater NOT! manga began serialization in Monthly Shōnen Gangan on January 2011 and is currently ongoing.
One day Tsugumi Harudori discovers that she has the ability to transform into a weapon and suddenly her normal school-life is completely transformed, starting with her enrollment into Death Weapon Meister Academy, a prestigious institution where she can learn to control her powers. Her first day at the academy, she has a chance encounter with upperclassmen Maka Albarn but the lasting impression isn’t enough to assuage all her doubts about her new school life. Maka appears again during a commencement briefing and again inspires Tsugumi when she demonstrates her compatibility with Soul Eater Evans as a meister and weapon respectively. Afterwards, Tatane Meme, a classmate Tsugumi had met, is being harassed by two students, and Tsugumi comes to her aid after asking herself, “What would Maka do?” Another classmate, Anya Hepburn, joins them and performs a successful pairing with Tsugumi. After the three defeat the bullies, Tsugumi finally starts to feel welcome at the academy.
Let’s give a warm re-welcome to our lovable characters Tsubaki, Black☆Star, Patty, Liz, Death, Maka and Soul Eater! Not. Instead of taking advantage of Soul Eater’s recent conclusion and pulling another beloved Brotherhood move, Studio Bones has decided to instead adapt the ongoing spin-off series, Soul Eater Not! (the last volume is currently being worked upon by Ōkubo, so in due time both series will be fresh for the picking). Now it’s definitely a strange decision on their behalf and while I can understand a lot of frustrated sentiments from fans; for the most part, we’re lucky enough just to have the animated continuation of this series in any way, shape or form.In my opinion, the Soul Eater manga had one of the most unique story-structures amongst all long-running shōnen series; and to be more honest, I felt the story had so much more to expand upon when it did conclude. If anything, as a narrative, it had the right to go on much longer much more so than a handsome amount of currently ongoing series, just beating around the bush with their stories and beating their second dead horse at this point. But a story is ultimately in the hand of its writer so I’ve learned to accept Ōkubo-sensei’s decision. Now that he wants to continue his series through this spin-off, I can only welcome it with open arms. Who knows, maybe this adaptation discreetly serves as Bones’s ultimatum, pinning the fate of Soul Eater Brotherhood on its success. A shōnen can dream at least at the very least. And it’s certainly one hell of an extension, I’ll give it that. Watching the likes of Black☆Star parading his God-like-complex around campus, the holy sword Excalibur in the form of a penguin waltzing around campus, comic-relief characters like Eruka Frog making the occasional intrusions on campus, and the more, certainly do not make for the outward appearance of a prestigious academy meant to maintain peace and save the world, as Death Weapon Meister Academy is painted in this series. But then again, even us real life, non-anime inhabitants should be no strangers to misleading academic reputations, I suppose. It seems to be a much more light-hearted series, Soul Eater NOT!; wherein the original Soul Eater series started in media res, having our characters making entrances of the bad-ass kind in the first episode, NOT! covers protagonist Tsugumi’s story before she even has the recognized potential to attend Death Weapon Meister Academy. She is just like any other normal schoolgirl, listening to music and scribbling on a notepad at the family dinner table one evening when one little stumble sees her leg transforming, and before you know, off she goes to Death City. And of course, even then, Tsugumi and friends’ story is not one of battles of justice and ensuring global peace, theirs is the story of “NOT.” As opposed to the “EAT” class that the characters we’re more familiar with attend to train themselves to become powerful wielders and transformers, the “NOT” class is for those who seek to control their powers so they aren’t a threat to those around them, essentially a means for them to go back to their normal lives. It’s a more toned-down, comedic, slice-of-life segment in Death Weapon Meister Academy’s history; (okay, maybe not more comedic than the original if its void of Excalibur and Black☆Star’s hilarity) but interestingly enough, it not only has its own rigid story to tell right off the bat but also gives us more extensive background information on elements of the original series. And if either of those aren’t the purpose of a spin-off series, then NOT! is exceeding the very limitations of the sub-genre. This spin-off is set a year before the actual events of the main series and I think this the first time we get such an extensive look inside the actual Meister Academy and the daily life of its students, seeing them during class intermissions walking to and fro, receiving publicity for sponsored Meister-dom, and the like. To a certain extent, it’s almost hard to believe, just because of the usual intensity of the original narrative that forces the image of the protagonists as purely heroes of justice and not people with normal lives. After all, sending people unable to control their powers to the academy that specializes in developing those powers makes sense and all, but imagine the legal repercussions had Medusa launched her attack on the academy one year earlier, in the timeframe of this series. Though witnessing it from Tsugmi’s perspective would be quite the treat, now that I think about it. In that case, it’s completely commendable, what Ōkubo is doing here, continually stretching the confines of the shōnen genre, whether revolutionarily or whimsically so. You can write it off as a much more cheerful experience, but as it stands, forget the stigma of spin-offs, Soul Eater NOT! actually still has the standing to be a credible shōnen series. It’s got solid character designs, a familiar lore, engaging battles, wide area for character development and interaction, and just general aptness, lest we forget the quality of work for any Bones series. Thankful, I definitely am.