Category Archives: Anime

Pointlessly rambling about anime watchalongs

A majority of the time I watch anime alone, but on the off chance that I don’t have led to some, um, interesting experiences. Most of these happened on a Discord server that I use to visit frequently. Nowadays I make the occasional drop in, but not as frequently as I use too. I might expand on this down the line with something more coherent, but for now I shall ramble on about something related to anime.

I can’t remember exactly how the four of us came into this agreement, but me the lord of evil Lucifer, Gintoki the New Yorker, Josuke the Australian, and I’ll refer to the last person as Chill. Our obligatory female character who wouldn’t talk agreed to watch Rainbow by Madhouse together. Before the discovery of a site called Rabbit where it’s basically a site where you can watch things in group on a single screen. Me, and the other three folks had to find the episodes of Rainbow on our own, and then all start it at the same time. I saw it on my laptop so for me to check the Discord chat I would have to quickly go into another window to read what Chill said in the text chat said, and then quickly go back to the video player to make sure I read the subtitles quickly enough. Eventually I found an easier to do both.

So during our viewing of Rainbow I, and Josuke were in the indifferent party, and we had Gintoki, and Chill who enjoyed the first episode of Rainbow. So as we continued viewing Rainbow, we became more relaxed with each other, and openly mocked some things in the series. Like in episode 2 making fun of the fact of how easy it was for the prisoners to escape from prison. Me, and Josuke also gave silly reaction when seeing this one elderly character at an orphanage. She had the face that would turn a broken mirror into dust. Gintoki then told us a bit about his background, and how he could relate to the character living in a orphanage. Something like that, can’t remember to be honest. While he’s opening up to the entire group, in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Where did this come from! I thought we were just watching anime”.

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There she is, the woman who Gintoki nightmares!

What got me, Josuke, and Gintoki the most was in a later episode of Rainbow reading the line “I’ll rape the fuck out of her”, and the three of us burst out laughing! We still quote that line whenever we bring up terrible writing in anime. Despite all this negativity surrounding her, Chill acted like the fan girl, and loved every minute of Rainbow. Yes, even the “I’ll rape the fuck out of her”  line made her hate the character Ishihara (who says that line) that much more. Also during that episode, we had Naruto (his nickname) pop in one day to see what we were watching even though he had no idea what was going on. He liked the episode enough to check out the series, and it become one of his favorites. Something I still poke fun of, alongside everyone constantly bringing up a certain anime I hate.

For the first half of the anime it would basically be 50/50 in terms of what we thought. It wouldn’t be until the second half where I warmed up a little bit to it. We started not making fun of Rainbow as much for a little bit. It was strange going from poking fun of it, to taking it seriously, and then all of us, except Chill, being bored with it. Another thing we sometime did after each episode is talk about what we saw, and than babble on about random stuff. It didn’t matter how serious the anime was since the group was pretty casual with each other.

When we finally finished Rainbow, two of us didn’t like it (one of them being me), the other one thought it was alright, and finally Chill thought it was amazing. 11/10, better than water material we’re talking about here. Something this group watch provided for me is the discussion part of it. Instead of waiting for someone to eventually talk about an anime I watched either searching on a forum post, or a comment section. It was instantly there in the watchalong group, and the conversations typically ended up being more enjoyable than watching the anime themselves at times.

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Can’t forget this classic moment either.

The watchalongs, as they were called, eventually got bigger on the Discord server, and suddenly many others wanted to join. It got messy so instead of their being one massive watchalong group there’s a couple smaller ones. I would occasionally join on some of them before everyone got busy with their personal lives. Gintoki is still busy doing New York stuff, and Josuke is finding his inner artist learning the finest painting technique to paint a mural of Australia greatest person, Crocodile Dundee. As for Chill, she’s getting some kind of degree. It would be like a few months I think before I joined in on another watchalong group because my job didn’t want to give me a day off. They love working me 8 days a week.

The next series I saw with a group was Serial Experiment Lain. In the first episode of Serial Experiment Lain, in a Rabbit group watch there was a viewer, who I’ll refer to as Naruto (he likes it a lot). Naruto had to close his eyes, and stare away from the scream because he didn’t want to see a fictional character jumping off a roof. Needless to say it trigger hims seeing that. I would have asked Naruto if he was sure if he wanted to watch the anime, but the group just continued on with it. The experience was different since everyone was talking during the damn English dub! Making it impossible to catch important details when constantly hearing “This is boring” in a chat room.

The Serial Experiment Lain watchalong wasn’t quite as fun as Rainbow, but there were a few highlights. I decided to get the series on blu-ray, and watch it at home with my bro so I knew what was going to happen before anyone else. I took joy in seeing the group’s reaction to a number of things that transpire in the series. Especially Chill shocked reaction when hearing one of the characters played with herself.

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Artistic reaction of Chill’s reaction

Another highlight in that watchalong would be someone who I’ll refer to as Diamond Guy who makes the comment that Lain Iwakura was ugly out of nowhere. So I blurted, or typed out the first thing that came to mind that he was checking out a little girl. I, along with some other, picked on him for that as long as we kept watching Serial Experiment Lain. The reaction, as you would expect with a group who just talked over the English dub of an anime, is that they didn’t like it, or understood it. There was a also a discussion, and the rating we would give the series afterwards. There was this one elitist wannabe who just tried too hard to trash it by having little to back himself with. Granted, I did prefer the discussion I had with my brother after watching Lain since we went pretty deep into it themes, but the discussion was fun regardless.

Another thing I saw with this same group was King of Thorn. It’s an anime movie from 2009 by studio Sunrise, and it’s about something. The story was told in a confusing manner, and what better way to experience a sloppily told story than having people talk over it. Once again, we had that one guy trying to be an elitist, and saying things aren’t making sense when he talked over dialogue explaining things he was complaining about. Like barely realizing around 20 something minutes into the movie the main character has a sister.

This viewing stands out to me all because Naruto made a brief serious remark when I said I liked a character name Katherine because she was crazy, and slapped a kid. It started with him saying “Dude, that ain’t cool”. The only response I had to that was the kid was being annoying, and that woman made him silent through that slap. It brought me great joy. However, later on in the movie when Katherine started to become more crazy I referred to her as Psycho Bitch. I jokingly kept calling her Psycho Bitch, and saying she was my favorite character in the movie for being crazy. Long story short, Naruto says “Dude, making fun of people with mental disorder ain’t cool” in a serious tone. All I could think of is “You’re taking my comment way too seriously”.

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Must, keep, watching!

Luckily that didn’t kill the mood, and everything went back to normal. Especially me referring to Katherine as Psycho Bitch. When the movie ended everyone came to the agreement that it was a pretty mad movie, especially the clusterfuck of the climax that threw a bunch of nonsense at you. Like before, the group talked about the anime, and than simply had fun on talking about whatever came to mind. These watchalongs helped me make closer connection to these online friends I wouldn’t have otherwise. Of course it did cost me plenty of hours I could have spent sleeping, but then again I’m good enough at my job that even on a sick day I still perform better than a majority of my co-workers.

I would continue watching anime in different groups, and eventually learning more about the people who joined in. Finally receiving character development beyond one trait I recognize them for. So, where am I going with all this rambling about watching anime with other people? I really can’t say I just babbled on about random things that happened. Things at a certain point just all became a blur for me after a whilw. Maybe thinking about it in hindsight it’s anime that brought me, and other people on that Discord server together, regardless were we stand on anime.

Where did it lead me now exactly? Well, whenever possible I still chat, and check in on several people on that Discord server from time to time. Being more like a group of friends who know each other pretty well besides the fact we all like anime. My interactions in the Discord servers also led me to get invited into like over 10 Discord servers, only two of which I actually bother keeping up with. It also led me to appear in an episode of a friend’s podcast (I’m the dude with the jacket) on the Channel Gyre Media. Speaking of which, go check out his channel. He’s a pretty cool guy, with a cooler beard. He loves his My Hero Academia body pillow.

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Not sure what to put here. Have another WataMote gif

Talking, and watching anime was the introduction to meeting several of these people on Discord, and it got to a point where we can talk about anything now with each other, sometimes not even bringing up anime. It also led me to having a voice chat that went on for about 8 hours with dozens of people coming in, and leaving because of how chaotic it got. Anime, like any other form of medium, can be more than just a piece of entertainment you consume. It could be a way to make some good friends online, and offline.

Well, I guess that’s all I have to say in this series of jumble thoughts. I discarded this post three previous times because no matter what I did it didn’t come on out right to me. Felt too impersonal in a way. This post has no organization to it, but it’s more to true to how I would about talk about this with someone. I should actually end this before I go even further. So, um, keep watching anime, and talking about it. Especially that bad line of dialogue in Rainbow. Always remember that!

Hijacking the Create-A-Story Tag!: So Much Rain Edition

I wanted to take part in this tag, so instead of waiting to get tag I decided to start work on my own story two weeks ago, and take it from there. Little did I know this was going to be a lot more difficult than I thought. That was until during my lunch break at work I was listening to the song “Photobooth” by Death Cab For Cutie, and for some reason hearing the last verse on that song it suddenly clicked for me. It got me thinking about mine, and a friend experience when it comes to love over the past decade. Obviously I can’t fit all that happen to us in less than 1000 words, but that word limit got me instead to pinpoint certain events, and go crazy with expressing the feelings in them.

So the rules. Here they are.


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The Rules:

  1. You pick your first word, your setting, and your story genre from the list below. As individuals, your brand of creativity is unique to yours, so we want to highlight that by letting you choose from a bunch of words and creating something beautiful out of it.

Create A Story Tag

  1. The short story will have a limit of 1000 words. You do not need to write a story with 1000 words exactly. It could be 300, or 500 as long as it doesn’t surpass a thousand.
  2. YOU HAVE TWO WEEKS TO ANSWER THE TAG.
  3. You must tag three people to participate.
  4. Don’t forget to link back to Keiko (use her latest post for now) so she can collect all the stories. You can’t just link back to her WordPress, since she won’t be alerted of the pingback. You need to link back to a post or a page, because WordPress works like this.
  5. Use the Create-A-Story picture in the post.
  6. Copy and paste the rules in your tag post as well, so others can be clued in to the Create-A-Story rules.

So I chose the words Rain + School + Romance. Well, technically the last word I just took liberty on, and went all over the place with it. Thankfully, the rules flexiable. So, enjoy!


I guess all I’m trying to say is….

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“You’ll be lucky to live to your 30s”. Those words will remain carved in me. In this messy, dark locked room with the window closed. I lay down on this dirty bed filled with empty bottles, and cigarettes pack failing to enrapture me. Staring at the ceiling fan, I begin losing myself in spiraling thoughts again.

Some like me take pills, but other take chances. Finding my inner peace with my limited time I took a chance. Three years ago, waiting on that school rooftop on that first raining day. Holding an umbrella, as the rain kept pouring on waiting for her to come. The sound of rain got me every time. On that very day, I screamed inside at being broken in unerasable memories penetrating my mind, and darkness flowing into my very own eyes.

Two years ago, in a hallway. It started with a kiss. That one little moment set this whole thing in motion. Confessing what I wanted to hear, but not to me. Chaos went in motion among my thoughts. Seconds away from being in love, but alone lingering on every moment I wasted. Guess that’s another bottle to empty, and the rain embracing me outside as usual.

A year ago, slow dancing our prom night away. Feeling less like two love birds in lock cages. I felt us being complete holding each other. At midnight, she told me all her flaws, and asked me who would ever love her. “I will love you” I said to her. “You can’t make my heart feel something it won’t” pierced my heart harder than my illness. The rain came in time to help me laugh off my true feelings. Great, another chapter to add in the biography of heartbreak.

A few months ago. She was packing her bags without telling me anything. Moving more than just a couple miles away. Gazing into her eyes one last time. “If you can’t see yourself with me what there’s left to say”. Leaving each other in uncertainty about our time together. All I remember afterwards is waking up drenched in a back alley in my remorseful past.

A few weeks ago. I felt it for a moment. My heart stopped only to take another beating. Only to wake up to bad news I couldn’t shake. The echoes of “She’s dead” eventually became a reality to my own distraught. Her plane fell 20,000 feet from the air, along with the never ending rain. “We’re on our own now” was the last thing I said to her before she got buried. Maybe I’m just meant to be alone.

Now, I’m locked up in my dark room. I embraced the solitude of my crumbling heart. Wasn’t that way a few days before. “You told me you wanted to be the kind of person who lived with emotions, and desires written in his heart. What happened to that person?”. Those words of empathy didn’t encourage me. “You see the place outside these walls! It just filled with dreams, and friends that all have died! I can’t take this ANYMORE!”. Those were my last words to her before falling back into my cycles of empty bottles, and cigarettes. I’m not giving it up until it’s no longer real.

If I had to listen you, I wouldn’t be lingering on in my mind like the pouring rain that won’t stop. What’s the point of searching for reconciliation when I have less time than did three years ago left in my life. I see the crescent of death I haven’t dispose of on the floor. Pointing the crosshair fate on the side of my head long ago. I try to follow script, but not I’m sure what I’m about. Constantly drowning myself inerasable memory. Living like a love sick fool before remembering real bullets won’t be fired in a fake. Time comes in. Rolls on out. You’re all I can think about. Why can’t I forget about all the time we spend together. Continuing to lose sleep in the mess I made.

“What you would do if you could see me right here from the start? I’ve watched you shape your life away. Always prepared to pass the blame. I’m gone, and missing you so much. Don’t lose all the years of love you spend with everyone. I’m sorry I can’t stay as long as you want me too”.

Feeling her cold touch I woke up crying all alone. Reminded of my friends who are far apart. Without the rain, I could see them above shining a light in my darkness. At least, that’s what I tell myself. I got up, open the closed curtain, finding the rain still pouring washing, and covering the path I didn’t lay. There’s nowhere to run from it. I’ll let it collect me instead of waiting for good things to come. Without any bills, I finally sleep without emptying a bottle, or a packet cigarettes in forever.

“Time, and life only goes one way! Everybody is going to die. So come on, don’t waste your time. It’s going to get better. Just don’t look back.” I remember her saying amending my broken spirits once.

And then I finally found the morning I’ve been searching for. No clear skies, but endless amount of rain as usual. I always felt the rain picking on me. Pouring to strain my body because I have no way to escape my fate. Being stuck in its cold for so long in my own darkness. I wonder if it knows to stop. If not, I’ll grab umbrella. I won’t lose myself in the rain. I guess all I’m trying to say is……. it’s time to move on. And face the warmth after the rain. Pouring down on me a new light.


 

That concludes my story. I guess the hardest part was doing a story that made sense out of random events. Offline I sometime helped a friend write music lyrics for his band, and it’s basically a lot of back, and forth. Mostly tossing away papers, and mutually agreeing we both just like wasting each time by not agreeing on anything. So I took that approach, while listening to one of my favorite bands I The Migthy, and if you’re a fan of them too you’ll notice plenty of references to their album Connector. Structurally I think it’s a bit a clunky, but if I spend more time on it I’ll go over the time limit.

I did have another story that I didn’t finish drafting out. Basically it would have been a singer, singing a message to the world to open their eyes, and fight back against their imperfect world they live in. Obviously, that’s daunting to get across in a limit of 1000 words so I went with something just as hard. What can I say, I guess I’m a bit too ambition when creating my own stories.

Oh right, which three am I going to pick on? I mean, gift them this wonderful tag…hmmmmm…….

Alex’s Anime Arena – Consider this your late welcome back present from me truly! Listen to Hands on Houses for hours if you have to for a spark of inspiration!

#moe404 – I saw you back on Twitter, so consider this a welcome back present as part of your comeback wordpress world tour! So, I went into another dimension, told the me of that dimension to specially tag Rodrovich properly. Good luck to you, and if you already got tagged. Well, double you’ve been double/triple/whatever tagged!

Sakura Galleria – I know your kinda new, so what better way to make you one of us than by picking on you. Here’s your tagging present.

If any of you already been tag no worries. We double/triple/quadruple/whatever team you on purpose.

Ain’t I just generous handing out these tags. I’m starting to feel like Satan Claus. I should take a break from being nice, and go back to my evil ways of eating endangered Pandas. If I run out of Panadas to eat, I can always mix a black bear with a polar bear to make a Panda. Yeah, I’m sure that’s how it works. If any of you got any spare Pandas, tell me so I shall eat them!

Hm, anything else? Oh yeah, be creative, share your thoughts, and lights out!

Some Thoughts On: Hinamatsuri (2018)

Here’s an anime I didn’t intend to watch, but I did read a blog post by Karandi who did poll on her blog. A post I forgot to like earlier since I was on my phone, and typically not logged in XD. Moving on, on that post she shared the results of a poll asking her readers to vote on the best anime in the Spring season. In that poll, Hinamatsuri won the vote for best Spring anime, and that brought it to my attention. Not being one to solely be persuaded by public opinion alone I went on Discord to check if anyone I knew has seen it. Luckily for me, someone by the username of Robtaku has seen it, and he enjoyed it. How credible was his input to me you might ask? Well to straw man my point, he likes Hand Shakers (2017), and I don’t so there’s that. I started Hinamatsuri around the time I finished Devils Line, and that anime just sucked the soul out of me. I was in need of a comedy, even a bad one to lift my mood after feeling drained by that. Much to my surprise I did not end up disliking this anime. A  pleasant surprise that I found something I agree with the general census on.

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This whole scene is comedy gold

Hinamatsuri starts in a odd place with the first episode providing a glimpse three years into the future. On one hand the opening minutes of episode 1 will get viewers attention with a nicely animated action sequence, and keep them watching. On the other hand, it’s also a misleading draw since the anime only dedicates half of an episode to that event, and it the rest of the series is nothing like that. Trying to give Hinamatsuri a synopsis would be pretty pointless, but I’m doing it either way. Initially you think it will be about a Yakuza by the name Yoshifumi taking care of a stoic blue hair girl with telekinetic powers named Hina, but eventually jumps around characters a lot becoming more of a slice of life comedy. In your average anime series I would likely complain about the lack of an overarching story, but here I’ll give it a free past. Unlike the common slice of life anime I see, Hinamatsuri actually knows how to handle drama.

This is strange for me to compliment since I’m used to complaining about how poorly handle comedy, and drama is handled in a anime series. Something like March Comes In Like A Lion I complained about how the tonal shifts are jarring being very serious one moment, and the next being overly silly. Hinamatsuri on the other hand has a simple fix to this through Anzu. A character who carries the most dramatic weight in the series. Struggling with living on her own being stuck in the past she sees how harsh living the homeless life can be at her young age in Japan. By dedicating an entire character to explore this drama it prevents the anime from creating constant tonal shifts. So whenever it wants comedy it’ll focus on Yoshifumi taking care of Hina, and if it wants drama it’ll shifts to Anzu. By doing this, the audience will know what to expect until that arc eventually gets finished. My only complain to how the drama is done is the anime wants you to be in tears, but given how well it’s done if someone actually cries during Anzu portion of the anime I won’t be scratching my head like I would with other animes doing the same thing.

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This happens all the time when I drink

On the comedy side Hinamatsuri offers a host of hilarious supporting characters. All of whom overreact, or underreact to a strange event. The character who best excels at this is Mishima, a middle schooler who gets pulled into being a bartender. This puts her in a number of odd situation where she constantly interacts with stupid adults. One of them being her teacher who denies believing Mishima is his student because of her abilities to make a good drink. It’s about as silly as it sound, but works better in context. I ain’t going to do a breakdown of the comedy since it offers a lot of good jokes, but I will add aside from being funny it uses comedy to touch on some serious issues quite nicely. I personally just see Hinamatsuri as just a good anime comedy, but there is a solid foundation for the average viewer to probably take more away from it than I did.

The production is apparently handled by Studio feel. which I find shocking because the only other anime I’ve seen from them is Dagashi Kashi season 1 which I disliked a lot. It felt so pointless, and none of the characters learned anything. So it’s further shocking for me to accept they made this because I laughed, thought the drama was well handle, and I felt satisfied with how it turned out. On the animation side it was good, even if there’s no flashy action. Everything is nicely detailed, and it’s very colorful as well. What the animation did greatly was capturing the character exaggerated expressions. Studio feel. spared  no expense on that front, and especially the lighting which allows some proper shading. Also, it’s pretty good doing visual analogy for a good laugh. In particular, I like the visual where the words of Hina word kept changing in episodes. Good on you studio feel.

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And good on them for giving us this horrific reaction XD

One minor thing I did appreciate is depending on what episode you were watching the opening, and ending credits will change. For instance, after episode 7, Utako (a bartender) doesn’t appear next to Yoshifumi in the end of the opening credits. It’s something I appreciated, even if it doesn’t affect anything at all. In terms of sound nothing about it stood out to me, especially the ending, and opening theme which I didn’t care for that much. I saw this with the English dub, and it was pretty good. All the voice actor had good chemistry with each other, and nice comedic timing.

If anyone in the English cast deserves my highest praise, performance wise that is, it would be Anzu voiced by Amanda Lee! What! When I discovered this my head exploded because I’ve been listening to her covers of anime music for years (side note: I also like her original stuff a lot), and not once did it register to me that it could possibly be her. So, yes, because of this she obviously deserves my highest praise. She nicely portrays Anzu in all her charm, and sorrow. Doing exceptionally well in the dramatic sequences, and her outstanding moment is easily episode delivering a very emotional performance. This anime full is packed with pleasant surprises. With that, I should I conclude this before I accidently spoil anything while gushing about it.

If I were to rate Hinamatsuri I would give it an 8 out 10 easily. It was a lots fun, and knew how to handle drama well. Go watch it if you haven’t, especially you finished Devils Line, and feel drained by it like I did.

The T.A.P. Tag – Unleashing the poet within me, and those I tag!

A long long time ago, in the distant past of yesterday. Doing my usual activities of plotting my next plan for world domination. Something suddenly came over me, but I ignored it training my subjects of evil penguins. Once I went home, I was unable to enter my domain. Locked under a spell, I was given a great challenge. Something I only heard about in myths. These things called tags, and I got tagged by none other than Jenn from Welcome to Hell Zone. I got no idea what voodoo, or pop idol magic she used on my house, but I’m going to break it! So Jenn, thanks for the tag, and I accept your challenge! (epic violin plays me out)

So firstly, the rules of the tag!

Rules of the tag:

  1. Headline your post with “The T.A.P. Tag!” and put “tanka” as one of your tags.
  2. Make sure to link back to the original post that started the tag (this post!).
  3. Make sure to mention the person who forced introduced the tag to you!
  4. Pick 1-3 of your favorite anime.
  5. Write your tanka about the anime you’ve chosen. It’s fine if you decide to do only one or two if the schedule is tight.
  6. Tag at least 3 or more bloggers you know, and get their creative muscles flowing.

So what are tankas? I don’t know. I never heard of them before, but lets pretend I do, and let’s also pretend I didn’t copy, and paste this explanation from The Luminous Mongoose blog post on this tag either.

Tanka (短歌 tan-kah) poems are short poems that originated in Japan in the 13th century. They are five lines long and often convey deep feelings about nature, love, or desire. They usually have a structure of syllables that starts similar to haiku (5-7-5), but ends with two more 7-syllable lines, making it 5-7-5-7-7, for a total of 31 syllables.

I followed this quick guide that explained the core concepts of it, but for a TL;DR, here’s the structure of a tanka.

  • Setting up the scene (two lines that describe a moment)
  • The “pivot” line (middle line that links the top and bottom lines together)
  • The payoff (last two lines that describe your feelings toward said moment)

I gotta reach deep inside myself…I ain’t got no soul right now. One moment, gotta find me a penguin’s soul. Okay, now I got me a soul. Reach deep inside myself, and get poetic. This should be easy I said to myself a day ago, and here I am just now posting this. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Didn’t help that Jenn’s, and The Luminous Mongoose tankas were so good. I chosen three of my favorite animes to do my tankas on, and hopefully they’re good enough to break the spell. I really need my coffee!


Death Note

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Shaping the world, taking names

A silver line crossed

Trying to find myself

Becoming further from myself

I am, the light outside


Fullmetal Alchemist

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The past I won’t forgive

Memories fading

Form a link between our hearts

Hold your hands out to me

We push on together


Cardcaptor Sakura

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On a desk, a bear sits

Alone, but filled with love

In the distance, another soul

Returning those precious words

“I love you”


What tripped me up on these tankas were the syllables of all things. I wanted to keep in spirit, and so I tirelessly edited them all until they were all within 31 syllables. The hardest to work around was Cardcaptor Sakura. It was too good to give up on, but in the end I found a way to make it work. Also, I wanted something sweet, and simple to end my series of tankas on.

Now time for my targets. I would have tagged another user, but according to him on Twitter. He’s currently on the path to reaching godhood building his harem. So these three will do nonetheless.

Nenha senpaiHere’s a guy who puts in serious work into his reviews. What I like most his blog is the variety of thing he covers, and all with the same amount of effort. Also, this will help you remove some of those spider webs you mentioned in your Akira review.

TPABHere’s a guy I haven’t seen in my feed for a while. I’m very jealous of what I’ve read of his body of work. The man knows to analyze, and critique anime. Just do what you typically do TPAB; takes the pants off, and get those creative juices flowing!

Yomu I recently started reading his stuff, and quite enjoy the posts I’ve read so far. Also, having read a bit of his collab commentary on Divine Gate (as of the moment of this writing) he’ll be bursting with inspiration from such a well written anime as that one.

Now that I have completed the tag, now time to back get into my house, and it’s still locked. Who did it this time? Huh, a note from Ai Enma? “I know who you were with!”. Oh well, until the next tag folks.

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Feed me tankas!

Some Thoughts On: Devils Line (2018)

I’ve been telling myself where I should begin with Devils Line because no matter where I start I reach the same conclusion. I cannot think of a single thing in Devils Line I could give some kind of praise towards. Just about everything in Devils Line is either not to my liking, or mediocre to the point of being forgettable. Making a collection of scattershot thoughts even harder to make into a coherent post.

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Would you believe me if I told you the girl on the right isn’t a vampire? Of course you wouldn’t.

I guess the first episode is a good place to start. It did itself no favors, and left me with a negative impression. The animation, the writing, the sound design, just about everything about it felt sub par, or worse. It also committed the grave sin of doing exactly what I expected of it. If something falls into my expectation in terms of writing I’ll accept it so long the execution is good, but that didn’t happen here either. So trying to figure out what exactly Devils Line is about simple, and dumbfounded at the same time. Being a romance story about the human Tsukasa, and the half human, half vampire, half edgelord Anzai trying to make their relationship work in the backdrop of Japan to tackle social issues with vampires potentially playing a larger role in society…I mean devils. 

Before I continue I have to stress it got on my nerve that within Devils Line that the terminology for vampires is changed to devils. Something I would accept if within the first two episodes they didn’t refer to devils as vampires. If there’s already an existing word to describe these vampires that gets straight to the point why not just stick to calling them vampires. I don’t know, maybe the mangaka was too lazy to write out vampire so he instead called them devils to save time. That’s something I want to know, but likely going to be left hanging like with everything else in this anime.

Continuing on, in the first episode Tsukasa gets the shocking revelation that a good friend of her, Shouta Akimura, turned to be a vampire who murdered three women. You want to know how Akimura got caught? It’s because his semen was left on each of the dead women bodies which apparently was a match with Akimura DNA. I would come up with a joke for that, but my creative juices are dry right now.

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♪Am I not edgy enough?♪ ♪Is my heart still beating?♪

Akimura is quickly forgotten about two episodes into the season. Tsukasa quickly gets over him so the first episode setting up Tsukasa, and Shouta Akimura being good friends felt pointless. One way the writing could have worked around this pointless character is mentioning Tsukasa incident with Akimura being the motivator for why Tsukasa wants to help Anzai to control his blood lust later on in the season. I would have found that more believable than what anime went with.

Another way I would have fixed this is simply have Tsukasa get attacked by a random vampire so the meeting with Anzai would still happen. Making the writing less eye rolling, and not drawing attention that Tsukasa was quick to forget someone close to her so easily. If the anime didn’t have the pretense that Akimura was important I wouldn’t even have batted an eye at this. I knew this was going to happen in the first episode when our woe is me edgelord Anzai kisses Tsukasa by the end of episode one. When the credits finally rolled up I notice the ending song had an effect on me. It was attempting to put me to sleep, and it almost worked once. Just the first episode of Devils Line is enough to convince your average viewer to drop the series. I ain’t one of those viewers as I’m here today sharing my thoughts on it.

My issues with the story can be easily generalize; awkwardly written romance, an attempt to tackle social issues get push to the background, a messy story structure that goes for too much too quickly, and throwing in some other evil organization to give the appearance the story is more complex than it actually is. Another issue is setting plot points, and subplots that aren’t resolved in this season. So you’re left with dozens of unanswered questions, and unresolved storylines. Studio Platinum Vision couldn’t conceive of a way to take the manga, and find a way to work 12 episodes worth of material to adapt in a self contain manner. Believing it would get around to eventually resolving all its loose ends with a second season. Dozen of animes adapting ongoing manga know have done this. Two example that come to mind are Noragami to even My Hero Academia which I hate a lot. Both anime first seasons told a self contain story within their first season where a continuation is possible, but if not guaranteed than made sure to leave as little loose ends as possible.

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Why breaking into the apartment of the woman you like, and sniffing her hair while she’s sleeping isn’t creepy at all!

Giving details about the world like the many times characters mention a bill/law being pass approving sex between devils, and human. Exploring something like that would be interesting, but unfortunately it means exploring the topic of sex has to be done with a horny college girl who immediately fell in love with the first guy who kissed who she knew nothing about, and a edgelord devil who fell love with that same woman when he also knew nothing about her. Tsukasa in particular dreams about having some steaming hot sex in blood with Anzai the first day after they meet. She obviously has some carnal desires she needs to get pounded out of her. Getting me to think about the first two episodes having Tsukasa almost being rape/killed by the only other human males she talks too. Implying to the viewer that Tsukasa think all men she know for possibly years are all bad, but an edgelord who’ll sneak into her apartment, sniff her hair while she’s sleeping is okay to consider starting a relationship with. This gives me a headache thinking about it.

The only aspect I felt could have worked are Anzai parents. I forgive the fact that I find it laughable that Anzai in his current age only now thinks about how shocking his existence is being a mixture of half devil, and human. Anzai parents were characters I wanted to learn more about. Seeing Anzai father cuffed up behind a glass wall got my attention. I wanted to know how both of Anzai parents got to the situation they did, how they met, and why they aren’t raising their son together. Questions that intrigued which sadly didn’t get answered. Just like in episode one how I expected Anzai, and Tsukasa to have an romance I also sadly expected for Anzai parents to not be explored.

Another interesting idea that doesn’t get explored is the existence of devils becoming know to the public. I can only speculate what the anime was going for because it was seriously messy in this regard. First thing that comes to is devils simply seeing the sight of blood on television is enough to make them blood lust. Something I can’t phantom because A.) Does it mean even the sight of fake blood gets them excited, B.) Do non liquid representation of blood like drawings, or pixelated blood also cause their blood lust, C.) Does reading the description of blood turns on their blood lust, D.) Is there a requirement to how realistic, or fake looking the blood has to appear to start this blood lust………Z.) If there’s a devil emo, when he cuts himself, and sees his own blood does that also trigger the blood lust?

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Only one of dozen times Anzai want to devour Tsukasa.

Usually how it works with vampires is if they see blood, or smell it directly in front, or around them than it could trigger a carnal blood desire. However, in this story devil’s simply seeing blood regardless of how close, fuzzy the image is, or the lack of smell can also trigger them. Given the terminology was needlessly change to refer to these vampires as devils I ain’t doubting more about them were needlessly change by the mangaka.

Back on topic, seeing the how the society would react to devils, and see if they would try to integrate together in a public sense could have made up for everything else. However, you get the point. It’s hardly focus on. As soon as devil’s existence become public knowledge the story shifts focus to Anzai attempting to control his blood lust, and uncovering the members of a organization attempting to eradicate all devils. Both plotlines are left unresolved making me feel like it was a complete waste of time to even allude to any social issues since it just swept them under the rug. Maybe it wanted to be metaphorical, and proclaim the acceptance of different people, but everyone simply jumped to conclusion immediately disliking the devils. There is a good argument in favor of their existence since the public is shocked Devils existed at all, though if the anime isn’t going bother making a good argument for Devils I won’t either.

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Oh no, this scene!

Let’s get to easily the worst scene of the series for me. In episode 8, after Anzai, and Tsukasa try some blood lust control training. Basically meaning Anzai, and Tsukasa get as close as possible to performing sex. Seeing this scene was cringe worthy because the couple don’t have much chemistry with each other. Making the almost sex scene very awkward to watch, and painful to view because it comes off as a badly written sexual fantasy of whoever wrote this series. When the exercise is over Anzai goes outside the exercise room, and thinks about how he was turned on. He tells the audience how he got excited almost banging Tsukasa. How getting her wet made him very excited. Spelling it out to the viewer he wanted to move in her all the while he masturbates. Thankfully it is not explicit, but this is the easily one of the worst moment in any anime I’ve seen.

I will give the English dub of Devils Line one credit though, it’s only the second anime I’ve watched an anime that made me laugh at the mention of rape. It was during episode 4 when Nanako Tenjo, whose English voice is provided by Kira Vincent-Davis, yells about how a devil drank her dead mom blood. There’s brief pause before Kira Vincent-Davis continues shouting AS HE RAPED HER! Her delivery of that line had me laughing because Tenjo shouting about her mother being deceived, and see a devil suck her blood was already enough to get the point across on why she hates devils so much. So the inclusion of the “AS HE RAPED HER!” line felt so tacky. I don’t blame Kira Vincent-Davis shouting the line as seriously as she did, but the writing, and her delivery made me laugh unintentionally at rape. The things anime does to me sometimes.

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BLINK! JUST BLINK YOU FREAK OF NATURE!

I don’t know how, but I can’t believe I almost forgot to write about Miwako Toda. It wasn’t until I was drawing over a still of her that it slipped my mind to write about she would not blink. Firstly, what the fuck is wrong with her eyes! She looks like a crack addict who needs a dose right now. I thought her eyes were going to pop out at one point in the series. I have no clue how, she managed to look like the most terrifying thing in a about about vampires. Her face, and her eyes unwillingness to want to blink made me think the anime would reveal she’s a devil. That doesn’t happen as far the anime is concern. Her odd character design made fascinating to me. She looked other worldly. Oddly enough, she was the most sensible character in the anime. Questioning Tsukasa on her moving way to fast relationship. Out all of the characters, this freak of nature was one I didn’t mind. As you would guess, she’s not in the anime that much either! You know, Devils Line has a talent for making things disappear.

I wasn’t expecting much out of Devils Line after I finished the first episode, and when I got to the end it became a drag to watch. It had the occasional moments of doing something eye rolling that would make me laugh, but after a while the overly serious edgelord tone killed that fun. There was so much it wanted to do, and it all felt disconnected moving from one uninteresting plot point to the other. I didn’t even bother going into the animation especially the lighting in scenes either being too dark or too bright, and the poor sound design that made natural action like hearing footsteps be muffled. The last two episode just took whatever enthusiasm I had for watching anime, and crushed it. Unfortunately for it, I’m good anime at the moment so its effort went to vain. Almost forgot, the post credit sequence doesn’t fix anything at all because I don’t give a flying Van Damme about about Anzai, or Tsukasa as a couple.

Oh yeah the maybe rating thing I do at the end. If  I were to rate Devils Line I would give it a 1 out of 10. I can’t think anything of thing I liked in this anime, or felt was competently done. If you want a vampire anime, go watch Vampire Princess Miyu. It doesn’t matter if it’s the OVA, or anime series, both will provide you a much better experience than Devils Line.

 

Giving into “The Build A Harem Tag” peer pressure post

I’ve decided to do this on a whim. I hardly deviate from doing reviews, or giving general thoughts on series/OVA so this would be something quick, and fun for me to do. You gotta give in, and join in on the fun sometimes. I also found plenty of other bloggers post on building their harems. Have to admit, it was a good way to find to new bloggers to follow, and learn about what their harem choices. Alongside that, it’ll be a good short break from researching what book I should read next after I recently finished a novel called Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which I highly recommend if you enjoy a good family drama. So yeah, the rules I was too lazy to retype.

The ‘Build A Harem’ Tag Rules:

  1. Link back to the original post on Anime QandA so they can check out everyone’s picks!
  2. Use the ‘Build A Harem’ logo somewhere in the post.
  3. Make sure to mention the person who nominated you too!
  4. Pick 5 Anime Characters (any show & any gender) that would be in your ideal harem if you were the main character of a harem anime, explain a little bit as to why they are your picks (if you want).
  5. Make sure each character you pick falls into some of the following harem character types: Childhood friend, tom boy/girl, genki girl/boy, loli/shota, trap, tsundere, yandere, kuudere, dandere, etc. (If there’s a character you’ve picked that doesn’t specifically fall into one of these types or falls into multiple types that’s fine too!)
  6. Nominate 5 people to participate in this tag!

Okay, I can follow most of these rules. As for who nominated me, no one. He has good blog. I recommend it, especially his post on cross dimensional selfcest where he gets philosophical not only using the Bipolar Magnetic Reversal Theory, but the Theory of Relativity to explain its appeal. I also didn’t choose my harem picks by archetypes. I just simply chose who I wanted the most if I was the protagonist of a harem! The last rule I’m not sure I can oblige with. A lot of online friends that I know who do make content do it YouTube instead, and only one of them I know actually has a wordpress account. So I’ll just tag Miasama on here, and on Twitter whenever this goes up. So future me, don’t forget to tag on Twitter! I command thee!

My last pick is technically cheating since I skimmed through my completed anime list, and couldn’t think of another anime character I would like put in my Harem. I did consider Edward Aleric since I could simply seduce him to transmutate himself in my liking. It would work, temporarily XD

Last thing before I post this so the man himself Bobsamurai, and his Discord server could mock me in a secretive, cult like meeting. I put the picks in alphabetical order. It’s easier to organize them like that. As sang in a One Ok Rock song, lets do this Taka! (and I don’t know anyone name Taka)

Ai Enma – Hell Girl Seriestumblr_oip0vivswk1vzeppko1_500Starting off this list is Hell Girl herself. This one, I’m not sure honestly what I see in her. Could be the mysterious aura that surrounds, her stoici expression as she judges anyone who crosses path with her, or it could just simply be her red eyes she’ll stare right straight into your soul whenever speaking with her. I don’t know about you, but Ai Enma comes across as someone who I can have a deep discussion on humanity, and how evil it can be at times. Cause you know, I like casually deep philosophical discussion on the nature of man. No matter how terrible a date with her can end up, or how badly I mess up on anything I can rest assured knowing she has seen far worse in her than me. In her eyes, that’s a Hell of a lot better than Hell.

Artoria Pendragon (Saber) – Fate FranchisegiphyThe first animated character in anything that made me think “Hey, that’s a good looking animated character”. So aside from her beauty which honestly I considered unmatch any other anime character I’ve seen. Her strength, her courteousness (that’s a word right?), chivalrous, and a kind soul underneath her rough exterior. These traits is what always kept her in my mind, and made her unforgettable. Now out of the dozen, or so Fate series which one do I like the most? Obviously the Fate/Zero version wins it out for me. It what made me like Saber a lot more than I actually thought I would.

Ayaka Kisaragi – Phantom Quest Corp

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I guarantee you this is the last character whose name starts with the letter A in this harem. One aspect that makes Ayaka Kisaragi appealing to me is obviously her character design. She’s a nice looking lady all around, especially her long red hair. She’s the kind of person who knows how to have fun drinking sake, singing karaoke, and fighting against vampires with her lipstick lightsaber. Despite being in debt by the end of every episode there’s a lot of charm to her, especially off duty antics which makes her my kind person I would like to take to a bar, and drink the night away. Also like her, I hate getting out of bed early, and have like a dozen or alarms to wake me up. Even when she wakes up out of bed looking like a mess, I still think she looks good.

Miyu Yamano – Vampire Princess Miyu0a025edcb3Yep, another stoic, supernatural lady get thrown into this mix. This time it’s a vampire with fire power! However, unlike Ai Enma who simply answers the call of those seeking vengeance. Miyu Yamano actively goes out into the world, and kill demons causing harm to human. What draws me to her is something even I’m unsure about. Could be the fact that despite her hardly showing much in the way of emotion she deeply cares about her friends, and the victims who are unfortunate enough to get killed by demons. It’s that kind empathy that she can still muster up after who knows how many decades of killing demons that I like about her. Always caring to help other in need in her own ways. Well, minus a couple exceptions of course she should have intervene sooner. Back to positives! She never takes her duty lightly, and strong beliefs she sticks with, but she also takes time to have fun whenever possible. Whenever she actually does smile, she’s pretty cute. She’s like much more mature version Ayaka Kisaragi with the added bonus of if Miyu ever does eventually call off the relationship. She has the ability to put me under a spell, and put in a dream state making me think we’ll together forever as she sucks my blood…and presumably something else if you catch my drift 😉

Kanna Endo – 20Th Century Boys4dd4094ad710cc2ced917901654ee00a164744ec_hq

So what makes Kanna stands out among the rest here? To be honest she’s actually the most normal pick out of my harem. By normal, I of course mean she has advance ESP, and is capable of predicting the future to a small extent, she can bend spoons with her mind, and even once strangled a woman without touching her. They don’t call her the Ice Queen for nothing. What obviously draws me to her compare to the rest of my picks is she’s easily the most down earth with her personality. Family is very important to her, she loves rock n roll music (high five Kanna), she likes to eat ramen, and is one fearless woman. You know a badass character when you see her actively going up against a terrorist group, and stopping a war between two large gangs for the greater good. Most importantly though, I have the best chances with her than anyone else I chose.

 

Well those were my picks, and I actually surprised myself with who I ended up putting into my harem. As for nominations. Huh, I’m not sure, but I’ll try to think of something.

1. Miasama of Grye Media; cool dude with cooler beard. I nominated thee by the power of Bob!

2 Gaurav of Random BlogI know you just started your blog, but like the famous saying goes; Pikachu! I choose you!

3.  Z

4.  Archernar of Just The Howling of The Wind

5. I don’t know, but if you’re reading this Miasama, tell J-Chip Show (•_•) , (•_•)>⌐■-■,  (⌐■_■) He’s Tagged!

So that’s all folks. You got to the end. A plus. You winner. What else do people say? Ni hao, and see ya later.

Anime-Breakdown: In This Corner of the World (2017)

In This Corner of the World is a coming of age drama set in Hiroshima during World War II. Following Suzu Urano, an artistic, kind, supportive young woman who moves to Kure, a small town just outside Hiroshima as she struggles with the daily loss of life’s amenities she still has to maintain the will to live. What separates In This Corner of the World from other movies set within the same time frame like The Glass Rabbit (2005), and Struck By Black Rain (1984) is the depiction is broader in capturing the emotional state of its country, and its people. Unlike the two films I mentioned earlier, In This Corner of the World shows the happier times as well as the hardship of its characters eventually befalls. Detailing the lifestyle Japan once had before it permanently change through the course of world war 2. Providing an almost episodic structure for half of it run time to live through the wonderful times Suzu had early in her life. It’s during this portion of the movie the viewer will see Suzu adapting to new a home over the span of a couple of months, and eventually years. You get to witness the free spirit, and dreamer side of Suzu during her out of the blue marriage proposal.

With the realistic backdrop set during a turbulent time in Japan the film isn’t solely serious. Understanding in order to properly get across what eventually gets lost some fun is meant to be have. Injecting humor into the film before eventually cutting it off during a certain point in the story. Besides using the humor to loosen some tension. Humor is also used to characterize Suzu. Showing the audience how her mindset contrast against reality, and family members at certain points in the story. It’s also through humor that many of the character dynamics shine through displaying the strength this family has. The family interaction with each other feels natural, and certain family members develop makes them much more sympathetic, even a character who gives Suzu a hard time through a good chunk of the story. What this balance also avoids is the pitfall of tonal whiplash. It does so by ensuring the humor isn’t taking the spotlight away from the story, nor drawing too much attention to itself. Making the eventual absent feel subtle as a narrative device instead of a issue in balancing tone.

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Besides being a nice looking movie. There’s plenty of good bonding moments like this throughout

When the second half kicks in, you know the drill if you’re familiar with these type of movies. Instead of putting you in the middle of the chaotic nation during war time, the film takes it time to slowly establish the new normality of this new lifestyle. Empathizing the difficulty in obtaining simple rations, bombing drill being more common, learning about explosives, and everything surrounding the war finding it difficult to remain calm in hectic times. Just like in the first half, the film chooses to wisely not over dramatize this portion of the story. Keeping it subtle touches that help make the second half as great as it becomes. Getting across the essence of struggle, and lost in a way that feels true to life. It is through this second half where it attempts to get viewers in the heart strings; showing hardship, after hardship, after hardship, and its characters struggling to keep it together. Suzu being the focal point of the movie greatly shows the impact living during war times had on Suzu herself, and the strain it puts on her family.

What movies of this nature usually forget is no one wants to be see force a message about the horror of wars, or the fake enthusiasm about a brighter future that awaits beyond harsh times. In This Corner of the World knows it doesn’t have to tell any of this to the viewer. Sure, the film is positive about moving forward without sugarcoating the harsh realities the characters face. Hearing Suzu speak about how she would have preferred to die as a dreamer one point in the movie carries a more impact to itself when Suzu, along with several other characters, are so nicely fleshed out, and grounded in its depiction of its events. Without being created for the sole purpose to deliver a specific message it’s able to tackle many themes leaving a stronger impression.

While they are present, the shortcomings don’t take away from the overall narrative. From a writing perspective, Suzu isn’t shown interacting much with her own family. Suzu does form bonds with her husband family, and that is shown throughout the movie, but when it comes to her own family they don’t get the same luxury. It’s not bothersome at first, but overtime it becomes more noticeable when certain characters are not given enough screen time given the impact of they have. One of this includes an abrupt revelation of the death of a family member from Suzu side who wasn’t on screen for much time. It would be less noticeable if there weren’t a funeral scene, and another scene dedicated to that character. There’s also a few other non-family related characters who appear in the movie without much importance. Thankfully, the movie keeps those type of characters down to a minimum.

Director Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon, Princess Arete) helms the project, and the animation is handled by studio MAPPA (Terror In Resonance, Yuri!!! On Ice). In the hands of Sunao Katabuchi the story is told with minimal usage of music. A wise choice that served this movie well allowing the strength of the visual themselves convey the mood of a scene instead of the music. Katabuchi grounded approach to storytelling is what the movie needed; without resorting to over dramatizing anything the film plays out better. Same with his handling of characters which never feel to out of place within the story.  Another welcome departure is he doesn’t demonize the US during this time not because he doesn’t harbor any ill will, but because he’s more concern in the characters we see rather than the enemy you don’t.

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Despite being a drama, the film offers some unique visuals like these

The artstyle is reminiscences of water color drawing that Suzu is seen drawing many times in the movie. Studio MAPPA is able to capture Suzu’s personal art style, and apply it to the entire film. Perfectly getting across how she sees the world as it unfold. Backgrounds generally are colorful while being pleasant to the eyes. Character designs are surprisingly in the moe category. However, not to a point where the simplistic designs clashes with the tone of the story. If anything, in its own way, it continues the notion of Suzu being able to see beautiful things around her despite how ugly the world can be to her. Aesthetically, it’s one nice movie to look at, especially it’s extensive recreation of Hiroshima, and Kure. In movement, there’s nothing special about it since virtually everything is kept mundane, but given what type of movie it is the animation is fine the way it is.

When it come to voice acting you can’t go wrong with either. The Japanese cast are more expressive in a way when delivering their dialogue while the English dub cast is more subdue in their performances. Both approach work in favor of the movie. If you had to choose, probably go with the subs since you’ll get the Japanese songs translated, but that’s honestly the only factor. I would say the Japanese audio is more historically accurate. However, it’s fictional story based around some true events so the language you watch it in won’t matter. Performance wise, Japan gets that win for Rena Nounen who voices Suzu. Much like actor Koji Yakusho in The Boy, and the Beast, Rena Nounen primarily acts in live action films, and television series. Her experience in those field helped be able to carry the movie with ease. Delivering a powerful performance. Laura Post in the English dub voice Suzu, and he’s not as good. Her lack of experience in the leading role shows a bit in some of her inability to express Suzu emotion. Sometime coming off distill in her portrayal. Aside from that small complaint, Laura Post does a good job still.

In This Corner of the World is a captivating drama being both optimistic through it’s perseverance while never hiding from the harsher side of reality. It’s a coming of age drama whose subtlety in its storytelling leads to a dramatically rich experience. All without the any of the usual tricks films of this sort would rely on. The slow pacing, and uneventful structure of the movie will make it a tough watch for some viewers. Harsh as the world presented may be to the Suzu, and her family, you’ll come out of the movie with a positive experience.

Rating: 9/10

Anime-Breakdown: Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (2014)

Korean animation, much like India animation industry, are things I know almost nothing about. They usually get overshadowed either by Hollywood, Japan, and heck even the French in that area. While South Korea do have their success story like The King of Pigs which is a generally well received movie. Anime fans on the other hand know South Korea for their work on trashy knockoffs like Super Kid, Diatron 5, and Blue Seagull. All three which are infamous for their bad quality, and in the case of Diatron 5 a classic among the so bad it’s good anime. The general public on the other hand is unlikely to clearly name you a Korean animated movie, or TV series they like from the top of their head. Would you believe me that AKOM, a South Korean animation studio actually animated over 200 episodes of The Simpsons, and also worked on Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, Bob’s Burger, and several other series. Shocking I know South Korea animation industry contributes a lot more than what the average person probably think they do. Today’s movie likely won’t cause that huge wave of exposure Korean animation desires to match Hollywood, or Japan, but the strange, and charming movie might get you more interested in checking out their stuff.

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Wizard toilet paper, not the strangest thing you’ll see in the movie

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow tells the everyday story of KITSAT-1, a satellite, who wants to learn about human emotions, and crash lands on Earth. After crash landing on Earth, she is transforms into a girl, and tries to help Kyung-chun who has been transformed into a milk cow. As unusual as the premise sounds, don’t worry this is only the setup to a strange, but charming love story. Offering a strange cast of leading characters to follow; you have a satellite who falls in love with a musician after hearing one of his songs, you have a musician who turns into a milk because he’s broken hearted, and magical wizard named Merlin who got turned into toilet paper. Once you accept the strange story the character themselves are a lot fun to be around. KITSAT-1 is trying experiencing human emotion for the first time, and Kyung-chun is trying to sort out of his life, and his love life. The film does a good job exploring both of these characters conflicts. Giving both characters a fair amount of screen time tackling their issues together, and on their own to reflect what they’re looking for in life. Providing a full understanding where each is coming from, and taking the time to slowly show how they change.

A consequence of the film’s runtime is parts of the film are rushed, and in some cases lead to some head scratching moments. One of these happens late in the movie where a woman calls the police on Kyung-chun in his Milk Cow form suspecting him of attempting to abduct a child. During the scene, Kyung-chun acts out of character, and instead of sorting out the situation he goes to eat grass letting KITSAT-1 calm the angry citizens. Parts of the story aren’t properly explained like the organization the villain works. A minor complaint about the writing is aspects the world aren’t clearly explained. You’ll be left wondering where in the world did the Incinerator come from, and how widespread is the problem of broken hearted human being turned into animals is. Part of it remedied by keeping the conflict confined, and the villain’s motivation simple. Yes, it’s all about money. However, a lot of it charm seeps through the weaker aspects of its writing. Everything about the film feels sincere in its efforts to have fun while touching on the theme of love in its unique way. Not shying away from taking advantage from the strange world it created, even if the results is all over the place.

As individual characters both KITSAT-1, and Kyung-chun have satisfactory arcs, but in the romance department the bonding moments are rushed at times. One moment it’s all lovey dovey, and the next moment it’s the sorrowful we can’t be together. It still works since the story puts effort into ensuring they have plenty of bonding moments, but if allowed to play out more naturally it would have end up feeling more meaningful than it did.  Lastly, wizard toilet paper Merlin appears in frequently in the movie. For the first act he’s on screen, but after that his appearance is random. Given he has magical abilities some of the film conflicts could have been resolved easier if he was present his is made more noteworthy because of it. Although, Merlin is given some great, over the top dialogue which makes him a pleasant whenever to see on screen.

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Ah, the magic of toilet paper

The studio behind this is Now OR Never Studio, with animator/director Chang Hyung-yun handling of the project initially looking rough. When you do see 2D digital animation for the first time it is rough looking. Seeing a 2D cow running away from a mechanical Incinerator with jenky 3D movements, and obvious 3D background. The animation is consistent in quality. In particular when it comes to framing, and moving the camera in certain shots eliminating any semblance of perspective. The rotation of the camera in points inadvertently makes the 2D part look really bad.

Thankfully, a good chunk of the movie looks just fine. While it pales in comparison to 2D from other countries it works fine here. Generally the movie is colorful, and the backgrounds are decently detail in 2D. Always trying keep what’s on screen in motion. Offering some nice visual gags along the way, as well as some strange sights like Merlin the wizard toilet paper having arms, and legs. It’s strange to witness, but overall charming.

When it comes to voice acting both the Korean, and English tracks are pretty good. Thankfully, the English dub actually dubs the Korean songs in English. So you won’t get taken out of the moment when viewing the movie. I personally prefer the English dub because Kirk Thornton who voices Merlin is the highlight. He delivers such goofy sounding dialogue with plenty of charisma its infectious. I also like Daniel J Edwards (assuming he sang it) of the few songs that get played. However, there’s the consequence of the voice not matching the lip flaps of the characters on several occasions. It’s very distracting, though didn’t ruin the experience for me.

Satellite Girl, and Milk Cow is jenky in its animation, and wonky in its writing at times, but a lot of its charm seep through despite these issues. The production team is clearly trying to create a good film, and it shows through in the final product. It’ll a take a while to get over it shortcomings on all front, and you’re willing to a give it a chance despite that you might just find a good underneath the rough, and strange front to enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Anime-Breakdown: The Boy and the Beast (2015)

Out of all genres when it comes to storytelling fantasy is easily my least favorite. It’s for the sole reason almost anyone who writes a fantasy story in general lacks the creativity to depart from being a Lord of the Ring copycat, or don’t bother putting their own spin on tired formulas. Among these tired formula is the young child being transported into another world, and growing up after their journey is completed. A simple setup like this allows the writer to come up with anything fantastical they want. In this case, the writer is Mamoru Hosoda who also directed the movie, and it shows his incompetence as a lone storyteller. Quite the bold statement to make, until you realize screenwriter Satoko Okudera who shared screen writing credits on Hosoda previous films from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009), and Wolf Children (2012) is absent from screenwriting duty this time. You would think working with someone like Satoko Okudera (an experience screenwriter in TV, and films) during his career that Hosoda would learn how to craft a compelling story with fully realize themes on his own. Apparently not since The Boy, and the Beast comes off embarrassingly amateur on every front.

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You’re not the best, around! Everything’s gonna keep you down!

The Boy, and the Beast tries to be a coming of story following Ren, a pre-teen with a bad attitude who runs away from home after the death of his mother. This eventually leads Ren to discover a portal to Jutengai: The Beast Kingdom where anthropomorphic creatures roam free. Inadvertently, he become entangled in a feud between two powerful warriors vying for Lord of Jutengai. Detailing more about the little snippets of story this film has to offer would be spoiling it. Simultaneously accomplishing the impossible task of meandering, and being rushed in its writing. Meandering in the way it takes longer than necessary to establish, or get across simple plot points. Taking it sweet before introducing any sort of an overarching story thirty minutes into the movie. This late start dampens the experience since the introduction sequence tells you about the world of Jutengai, and the conflict between two powerful warriors vying to be the lord of Jutengai. So minutes when characters are explaining this to Ren it makes the introductory narration pointless.

The biggest issue this introduction brings up is the fact this is one pointless usage of a fantasy world. For starter, it hardly bothers to explain much about Jutsengai being more akin to duplicating the human world in how it function. There’s so little effort to make Jutengai its own distinct entity apart from the human world that if one removed the fantasy setting hardly anything in the story would change. There’s one scene where Ren, and his temperamental master Kumatetsu go traveling to learn what true strength is from eight different gods across the land of Jutengai. I presume it’s eight since eight letter of introduction is given to Kumatetsu, and it’s establish they’re just letter of introduction. Showing the audience only half of the lords in the land. This half explored idea rein true for the entire movie; concepts are half baked, and dropped as a moment instance despite the fact they could provide the much needed substance the movie needs.

The dramatic focus of the story is Ren tackling several inner turmoils that the movie poorly handles. For starter, in the second half of the movie Ren becomes confuse if he’s human, or beast. This simple idea of uncertainty where Ren belongs has the foundation to be a compelling character arc, but instead glosses over it since Hosoda doesn’t know how to show Ren conflicted being a part of two worlds. Another issue is Ren coming to terms with his father, and learning to forgive him for leaving him at a young age. Instead of showing the steps to that character arc it’s resolve in three exchange; the reintroduction, the fight, and the resolution. That’s all! Being it very bothersome because his father absent is one of the main motivation for Ren running away in the first place.

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This is about as imaginative this movie gets with it setting

Bringing me to my biggest problem of Ren writing which is he has no consequences for running away from his problems. Ren doesn’t learn from Kumatetsu to suck it up, smell the roses, and endure the worst temporary aspects of one’s life. No, Ren turns out well for himself. I’m left to presume this since the movie skips over a decade to him being an adult. During that time I’m left to presume that Ren never felt alone as the only human in Jutengai, out of place, or any kind of conflict during this time. It’s now when he’s an adult returning to the real world for the first he has any spontaneous issue living in Jutengai. If you think the movie would wisely show Ren attempting to adapt again into the human world you’re wrong. Anything regarding his education is brushed aside since he has a friend who helps him study, and presumably quickly since the passage of time isn’t properly established. Fixing up his relationship with his estranged father is done in a haphazard manner. Ren sees his father just whenever the story feels like it. Ren is a simply a tool that goes through the various motion without having much to take in, even on a surface level. On top of this, Ren even has a home to return to in the human world so even less conflict to overcome.

We then  come to the characters of Tatara, and Hyakushubo who only purpose in the movie is explaining to the audience the moral of the story, and the significance of scenes. Being very insulting to the audience intelligence since the film tells a very simplistic story. They explain the growth of Ren when in the hospital looking after Kumatetsu, explain what Ren is doing when imitating Kumatetsu movements, and sometimes other characters do the spoon feeding when Tatara, and Haykushubo are absent on screen. Like two important figures commenting both Kumatetsu, and Ren learning from each other, even though the visuals clearly got that across. There’s also the time Kaede explains to Ren that metaphor in the novel Moby Dick, which in turn is actually meant to tell the audience Kumatetsu is an extension of Ren. Something that is obvious to interpret from the simplistic writing. Instead of trusting its viewer to connect the dots it dedicated the creation of two characters to spoon feed you the events you’re seeing on screen.

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The movie lost me before the Whale appeared, but it certainly helped in lowering my interest.

This wouldn’t be needed in the first place if Hosoda actually fleshed out his themes, and characters. For the first half, the story attempts to have Ren, and his master Kumatetsu learn about finding strength, and learning to cooperate with each other to achieve their individual goal. When the time skip occurs the characters haven’t changed much. Being one dimensional prevents meaningful growth, especially when the movie has it characters telling the viewer things they could pick up on easily.

The climax is simply a clusterfuck. Introducing a villain that was poorly foreshadowed leading to a battle of ideology. It’s at this point the poor world building comes into effect. So, when the villain is causing havoc in the human world there suddenly some explosions in Jutengai. The world building is virtually absent that this only in this point in the movie is it even mentioned in throwaway dialogue that chaos in the human world also means chaos in Jutengai. No, I don’t know if the same applies in reverse since this is the first time anything of the sort is brought up. The only other mentioned of this is when Kumatetsu is warned that if a human is consumed by darkness it could affect more than him. A warning so vague it could translate to anything. By the time I saw the sight of a CG whale brought to life by the fact that Ren dropped a book called Moby Dick I knew I was already in too deep, and might as well finish it. Leading to a very cheesy resolution in the climax, and a callback makes it hilarious to consider that Hosoda idea of foreshadowing is just briefly mention something once, and have it be absent for a long time.

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Smooth animation!

Animation is handle by Studio Chizu, and it’s fine. The movement is smooth regardless of how many characters are on screen. Character expressions are very exaggerated same with body movement. Where the animation falls short is the visual design; it’s mundane. Studio Chizu applies as much real world function to Jutengai as possible making it barely look any different than the human world. When it comes to designs the background are very detailed, and vibrant. Unfortunately, the characters in them lack creative design. This is mostly due to the baffling decision to have all of its fantasy creatures where Japanese clothing retroactively homogenizing every beast visually. Hardly deviating from the anthropomorphic animals designs not creating anything unique of their own. The few action sequences are fluid, but not exciting to watch since there’s hardly any dynamic camera angles. The few usage of CG blends in well with 2D animation preventing things from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Voice acting is the only aspect of the movie I consider to be fine. If you ask me, I would say the Japanese audio is better simply for the fact Kumatetsu is voiced by Japanese award winning film actor Koji Yakusho. Providing a welcome change in the reluctant master role in his more relax portrayal. Typically, a voice actor would play temperamental characters by simply shouting, screaming, or yelling their lines into the mic. For example, Josh Swasey who voices Kumatetsu does exactly that for the entire film. Preventing there being any wiggle room for him to get across a softer side of Kumatetsu. Koji Yakusho on the other hand simply plays him like he would any other character. He puts himself into the mind of Kumatetsu, brings out his temperamental side without purely relying on shouting, and lay on some charm through a rough, charismatic voice. Unlike Josh Swasey portrayal of Kumatetsu, Koji Yakusho makes an unlikable character likable. As for the rest of the cast they’re fine in both languages. However, with one actor portraying Kumatetsu properly, and the other one doing it badly. The Japanese audio is the recommended choice if everything I wrote doesn’t dissuade you from watching it. Music is easily forgettable while I’m at it.

The Boy, and the Beast is terrible movie that made me feel every minute of its two hour runtime passed by. Checking multiple time when the movie would be over since it provided nothing of value, even on a surface level the animation isn’t enough to enjoy. It’s a simple story about finding one self, conquering the darkness, and growing up stretched to a at time unbearable length. If you removed 75% of the film content, you would have a stronger movie which is the saddest part of all. So clumsy in its exploration of ideas, and so little to grasp on in everything else ensures this is (currently) Mamoru Hosoda weakest movie. He needs to learn in order for his ideas to work they need to be properly fleshed out, clearly defined by how his characters face these ordeals, and most importantly don’t spoon feed the audience the meaning of your story simplistic story.

Rating: 2/10

Some Thoughts On: Wounded Man (1986) OVA

Sometime you look at a mirror, stare at your own reflection, with Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror” track playing in the background, and contemplate the meaning of existence itself. Very few anime will ever make you think on a deep, and philosophical level. Encouraging a change in your that you might have never expected. Wounded Man, is not that anime. It’s from the glorious era of the 80s which seems to be littered with endless amount of bonker OVAs. As usual, much like the coherency of Wounded Man, it’s all just a scattershot post of thoughts.

Before I continue, I should establish one of my two (the other is Ashita no Joe if you’re curious) favorite manga of all time is Lone Wolf & Cub by writer Kazuo Koike. The man who also wrote the Lady Snowblood manga, and wrote the film adaptation which inspired Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill series. With these two manga alone, Kazuo Koike could have simply retired, and be widely remembered as one of the great storytellers in manga. Obviously he continued given his success, especially from the world wide acclaim for Lone Wolf & Cub. Yet, somewhere in his career he found a fascination with American culture, and created some idiotic manga which eventually got made into OVAs. One of these is the schlocky, and very, very dumb Mad Bull 34 enjoyable for all the wrong reasons, and also today’s OVA is just as dumb. Just with the entertainment factor, and a giant guy flipping over a tank missing from its insane plot. Oh yeah, it’s manga also got licensed by Comicone, and yes, you can officially buy the manga in English. Baffling considering, from the images I quickly looked over online of the Japanese version, seems to be a faithful adaptation of the same terrible content. With less sex presumably because one of the random volume I clicked on had just panels, after panels of what I could only interpret as tragic sex. Sometimes the world doesn’t make any sense.

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The most realistic thing in Wounded Man

Wounded Man attempts to tell the classic tale of the Vanguard of Soccer (who actually plays football), Rio Baraki, seeking vengeance on a porno company that took the life of his girlfriend. If that sounds too ridiculous to take seriously, don’t worry because the anime will make sure you take it seriously in all the wrong the ways. For starter, the first appearance of our Vanguard of Soccer is during his random encounter with news reporter Yuko Kusaka who goes to Brazil for a news story about gold in a village. Now how would one go about introducing our lead character in the first episode? By obviously attacking the news reporter, raping her, and later claiming after he’s done raping her that he did it for her own good! To paraphrase, the rape he gave her is only a small fraction of the dangers she could experience in the amazon of Brazil. This happened in the first six minutes of episode 1, which might actually be the quickest an anime I’ve seen getting to a rape scene.

Once it introduces Rio Baraki in this manner it’s impossible to eliminate the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. This wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t the main character! Not only that, but the story clearly wants you to root for Rio Baraki as he conquers many challenges until the day he finally gets vengeance. Providing a sob story about how the woman he loved got killed after a series of stupid events. One of them including in episode 1, Rio swimming in Piranha infested water as a form of apology for raping the news reporter. He comes out unscathe, and the news reporter forgives him! Revenge is solid motivation for the story, except for the fact Rio Baraki rapes another woman in episode 4, and in the span of five episodes falls in love with three other women. So he’s unable to differentiate love, and lust much in the same way he’s incapable of keeping his dick in his pants. How am I supposed to sympathize with Rio when every time he fucks a woman he later falls in love with them. Everytime! I’m suppose to feel sorry for this guy? Yeah, that ain’t happening.

What story Wounded Man does offer is purely nonsensical going from point A, skipping a couple of steps, and finally end up at the ending credits. It’s simply one stupid event after another. One moment you’ll Rio self inserting himself into a young woman who he tied up to a wooden boat steering wheel in order to get her on his side (don’t ask), and next thing you know you have a hysterical woman laughing while the boat is on fire. My mere description of this moment does it no justice. It’s something else entirely to witness it, and just be in awe someone thought this was something that should have been animated.

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Fat guy here, great shot! Should have be the MC

Would you believe me in episode 5 there’s a random tangent about Helicopters leading in to a pointless fight between two war veteran because one of them shot down a Helicopter. Aside from being completely stupid, it’s also lacking in a sense of fun. It’s takes itself way too seriously despite the fact it’s filled to the brim with stupid writing. For example, in episode 2 Rio is able to pick up an entire tree with ease, and throw it as Indian tribe! Not convince it’s stupid enough? Well, the news reporter Rio raped in episode 1 falls in love with him despite her stating she hates his guts for what he did, and will be apart from him until she gets revenge before confessing her love for him! In episode 4, he thinks the way to get Misty, a young assassin, on his side is by tying her up on a boat wooden steering wheel, and yes, self insert himself into Misty. In case you’re wondering, yes Misty too also falls in love with Rio!

Now before the plot twist in episode 5 which makes the whole series feels utterly pointless in viewing because everything beforehand has to be taken at face value. Think about it, before the plot twist you’re meant to believe there’s a evil porno company going around kidnapping famous people, and forcing them to into porn for large amount of profits. Watching episode, after episode thinking about the fact we have former football player going up against evil porno company for killing his girlfriend. This is the kind of stuff you wouldn’t expect a sane person to come up with, except for the fact someone did, and nutcase at Comicone thought it was perfect to license, translate the manga, and officially sell it! Once there’s more revealed about the porno company it gets dumber since it eventually takes Rio to the good old US, and by the last episode has a quick word with the president of the US. After you get the plot twist, it doesn’t make any sense since it just opens a bigger can of worms.

The twist is worthless since there’s so little to Rio as a character, and wholly unlikable through his action that nothing felt gained in his journey. He’s a single minded character with no depth. If that was the point of Wounded Man that would be one thing, except for the fact it was not. This could have been remedied with interesting characters, except for the fact there aren’t much to the other characters besides the bizarre assortment of situations they get into.

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Where do I even begin.

With everything I’ve described you would also be misled into thinking this is an entertaining series to watch. When the bonker events aren’t happening there’s plenty of more dead air to fill the space. Most of it feels pointless. Talking about things I’ve already forgot about. Except for the odd insert of possibly moving away from revenge who you know could lead to some kind of development, but doesn’t since Rio is single minded, and there’s no insight provided into his mind. Well scratch that, he does love to fuck a lot, regardless if the woman wants it, or not. What a man!

One thing that would have improved the experience, though not by much, would have been watching this with better English subtitles. At the time I chose to watch Wounded Man I saw it terrible fansubs. Allegedly, the version I saw was from a Chinese knock off DVD, and simply use Google translate to for the subtitles. They are of poor quality. Not poor enough to prevent you from the gritty details of the story, but poor enough where it’ll feel like it’s different langue to you. On the rare occasion, the bad subtitles add some fun to the OVA for how confusing it is. My favorite example is Rio saying “There’s a Japanese saying. Shower, or woman. It doesn’t matter”. What is that suppose to mean! There’s also another moment where bullets clearly hit Rio multiple times, you’ll get shown the doctors removing the bullets from Rio body, and the doctor comes out to say “It’s okay. Bullets always miss the target”. No, I have idea what the people, person were smoking when translating this, because I’m pretty sure they weren’t smart enough to know how to smoke.

To further add insult to injury, after I finished the OVA I quickly discovered on YouTube someone provided better subtitles for Wounded Man. So naturally I went back to see what the Japanese saying in episode 1 was, and again, I still have no clue what the heck it means. This time, the saying is “Rain in buckets, or a woman. Neither one, or the other, doesn’t matter”. At this point, the only way to truly find out what Rio meant is either I learn Japanese, or buy the manga. Obviously, I would prefer the former because ain’t no way I’m obtaining the Wounded Man manga…at least this moment. It can easily be found on YouTube, and with a better comprehensible translation than the version I saw. However, I recommend going with the worse subtitles since you’ll get some unintentional laughs.

Now with everything I’ve said about Wounded Man, you’ll be wrong to assume I’ll tell you to skip this. No, quite the opposite because I suffered through this trash of an OVA, and I might as well encourage you to seek this out to share in my suffering. See everything it has to offer from cheap animation, overly dramatic music, and over the top voice acting. Experience it in Wounded Man!

If I were to give this a rating I would say a 1 out of 10, which still seems to high!