Sunday, January 31, 2016

Shimoneta


Before we start, please note that everything written in this post are my own thoughts and opinions. You neither have to agree nor approve. I normally don't do this, but due to the oddly political and societal nature of this anime, I felt adding this little addendum up top was important.

Shimoneta, known in English as A World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist, is an anime that will have parents up in arms. This anime, which is set in a dystopian Japan that has brainwashed the masses into believing that dirty jokes and sexual arousal is wrong, has managed to take a rather serious issue and turn it into a joke - a very funny joke that makes me shit bricks because I laughed so hard.

The story starts off with our main character, Okuma, journeying on a train and nearly being arrested by the purity police (patent pending) for stopping a woman who was trying to exploit someone for money by using the no-lewd acts policy. He is then rescued by Blue Tundra, who later in the series is called Blue Snow. Blue Tundra is a woman who hides her face behind a mask... which is actually just a pair of panties. Yes, this chick where's panties on her head. She also wears a cloak... and nothing else. We never see it, but she is apparently butt naked underneath that cloak. Through a series of highly unusual events that are filled with absurdly lewd dialogue and sexual references, Okuma becomes a terrorist alongside Blue Tundra to fight against the evil government who's banned everything dirty.

"What's the point of dirty jokes anyway if they aren't 'wrong'? They're appealing *because* they are wrong. They excite us *because* we have to be secretive. Because they're devilish, they shine. Because they're twisted, they entice us. That is why I vowed to become the 'devil' to crush this boring world where the concept of dirty jokes does not exist!" – Kajou Ayame.

This quote here defines the series. While this show is hilarious, stupid, dumber than the dumbest American slapstick ever conceived, it is also surprisingly witty. I'll be honest here, I think dirty jokes are hilarious. It's like how children always laugh at fart jokes. Are they wrong? Maybe. I'm not here to debate the morality of jokes and sexual innuendo, but I would like to state, for the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with dirty jokes. While they certainly aren't for everyone, people shouldn't feel ashamed of enjoying a good dirty joke either, which is really what this series is all about.

There's also a hidden message here, which is that you shouldn't be ashamed of your own sexual desires. I'm not one for talking about politics, religion, and morals. However, I do feel like this is a good message. Since this anime doesn't take itself seriously, like, at all, the message it tells is mired in humor, but I think it's one that people can learn from. I know so many teenagers and younger people who are ashamed of their own feelings because parents and other people tell them that being aroused is wrong. You go on facebook and read some of the stuff written, and it really is kind of appalling. While the message in here applies to Japan more than other countries - Japan is currently going through a recession and birthrates have hit an all time low because people in Japan are no longer interested in procreation - I think everyone can take a bit of a lesson in accepting the parts of others that people might find shameful.

Political and message machinations aside, this story isn't much more than that. In fact, I'm almost positive that the director was so caught up in delivering his message that he forgot to properly develop his characters and story. While the series is funny, the characters in it suck - and not in a sexual innuendo kind of way. They're just bad. Underdeveloped. If this anime was lacking in anyway, I think it would be the main characters, who often have a very flat feel to them. You could have replaced these two with anybody else, and it would have been very close to the same anime that it is now. Oddly enough, I feel like Anna, the sort of antagonist of this series, got way more development than either of the main characters - even if that development consisted of her going full yandere and becoming an insane nymphomaniac. And like the characters, the story is also lacking. Again, I feel like the director became caught in the relaying of his "people shouldn't feel ashamed of dirty jokes" message that he forgot to further his plot. This is supposed to be about a couple high school kids fighting against a massive government... so why have we not seen any of that in this anime? The government barely gets any time in this, and it feels more like this anime is about Okuma trying to halt Anna's yandere sexual advances.

So, to put this series into perspective, while I personally thought it was funny, I would not recommend this to everyone. If you are easily offended, then you should not watch this anime. However, if you do appreciate a good dirty joke and don't mind absurd amounts of lewdness, then I'd recommend watching this series.

Artwork: 7/10
Animation: 8/10
Sound: 9/10
Characters: 5/10
Story: 6/10
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Total: 7/10




Friday, January 29, 2016

My Plans for the 2016 Anime Expo


I just bought a premiere pass for Anime Expo 2016, which is located in Los Angeles, California. The Anime Expo starts on July 1st and goes on through the 4th. Since I bought a 4-day premiere pass, I plan on staying for the entire duration of the expo.

For those of us who have been to conventions, we all know how places like this are. Packed full of people. Cosplayers left and right. Exhibition halls filled with awesome artwork. Panels. Booths. Concerts. Events. The works. Anime Expo is like that and more. For a fan of anime, going here is like stepping into the halls of heaven - if heaven was filled with a bunch of chicks dressed in skimpy cosplay. While calling this place heaven might be misleading - there are no golden toilets here, after all - it doesn't change the fact that the Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in the USA. While I've been to Phoenix Comicon, this will be my first time traveling to a convention outside of Arizona, and it will be the largest convention that I've ever gone to. I'm excited and nervous at the same time.

However, while I fully intend on enjoying myself here, I'm not just going to Anime Expo for fun, games, and looking at sexy women in cosplay. I would have bought a simple 4-day pass for that instead of the premiere pass. No, my reason for want to go to the Anime Expo is much deeper. The panels. For those of you who've been to a comicon, you'll know that there are panels where famous people, artists, authors, animators, movie directors, etc. etc., talk about their plans and what they want to do. I want to get into one of these panels and speak directly with someone who works in the anime industry. The premiere pass grants me early access to panels, and I plan on abusing that ability to get into a panel early and hopefully speaking with people who work in the anime industry. The reason I want to do that is simple. I'm hoping to figure out what I need to do to turn the American Kitsune series into an animated series.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but many anime have been adapted from light novels. The Irregular at Magical High School, A Certain Magical Index, Absolute Duo, Toradora, Baka and Test, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, The Devil is a Part-Timer. Even as far back as the late 80s and early 90s, there have been numerous anime that were originally light novels. Some of you might know of the anime Slayers - a series about a powerful sorceress named Lina Inverse and the crazy shenanigans that she gets into. Yeah, that was a light novel before it became an anime. What about Vampire Hunter D? It's a tale that follows D, a dhampir who travels across a post-nuclear Earth. Technically speaking, it's a novel series and not a light novel series, but even so, it's a 26 volume book series that eventually got its own anime adaptation. While a lot of anime snobs complain about light novel adaptations, the fact is that adaptations based on light novels have been around for decades. While some of these anime haven't been very good (some people can debate that Infinite Stratos was a good anime, but I have never liked it or Maken-Ki), the same can be said for every anime, whether it was adapted from a light novel, a manga, or is an original animated series. Good and bad is not conducive to the source material, but to how well the anime was directed.

I'm sure some people will make fun of me for wanting to turn my book series into an animated series, but I think there's a lot of potential to make this a good anime. American Kitsune is like a parody of all the anime that you've ever seen. If I had to say what sort of anime this would be, I'd say it would be like taking Gintama and combining it with To Love Ru and Rosario+Vampire. Much like Gintama, this series parodies many other anime, but it still maintains it's own unique story. Like To Love Ru, it is filled with fanservice and slapstick humor - and boobs. Lots and Lots of boobs. And, just like the Rosario+Vampire manga, the story evolves, taking a stereotypical protagonist and slowly developing him into someone who isn't quite so stereotypical of the shonen harem series.






Also, for those of who you who are going to tell me that Tsukune Aono is a pansy, please read the manga. While anime Tsukune is, indeed, a pansy of epic proportions, manga Tsukune becomes a Badass with a capital B. The second season of the manga is so much more incredible than season 2 of the anime that I have honestly tried my best to erase the anime from my brain. I'm honestly disappointed in how the anime butchered their second season, turning what should have been an epic battle between Tsukune and his girls versus Fairy Tale into a boring comedy that re-used the same jokes from season 1. I might have enjoyed the first season, but that doesn't mean what worked in season 1 will work in season 2.








Anyway, there you have it. I'll be going to the Anime Expo this year. I don't know if I'll dress up yet, but since I'm gonna be there for four days, I'm thinking that I probably should cosplay at least once. If anyone is going to be heading there as well, drop me a line. Maybe we'll see each other!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

K Return of Kings

A part of me is beating myself up for not doing a review of K Missing Kings sooner. I loved the first season, K Project, and was super excited when we learned that there would be another season. However, I think the biggest reason that I wasn't as enamored with the idea of writing a review was because I didn't want to write anything bad, and, most unfortunately, I have mostly bad things to say about Missing Kings.

The first issue with the series is the distinct drop in animation quality. While still better than the vast majority of anime, anyone who's seen K Project will be able to tell that the animation in Missing Kings is nothing compared to the original. Where once there had been seamless animations that combined 2D and 3D artwork, now you can actually see the difference. Where before, the fight scenes showed flawlessly smooth animated transitions that allowed us to really see the flow of combat, now a good majority of the fights seem almost half-assed. The production quality of Missing Kings dropped considerably, and in an anime like this, where we expect beautifully made animations due to their previous history of excellence, seeing such a hefty decline is disappointing.

The second issue that I had are with its characters. K Project's first season focused heavily on developing the dynamic between its three main protagonists; Shiro, Neko, and Kuroh. While it still showed us enough of the other characters to give us a good sense of who they are, these three were the primary focus, which thereby made them the most likable and relatable characters of the season. Unfortunately, it looks like GoHands has decided to ignore all of the developing they did of these three in favor of introducing a whole new cast of characters and focusing on K Project's side characters. This was my biggest disappointment. I was expecting to see the awesome dynamic between these three come back into play, but they only had a few scenes in the entire season. Instead of the humorous and heartfelt moments with them, we were introduced to a whole slew of new characters that never got enough development for me to even care about them.

My last issue was shoving aside good character development for fanservice. Now, I like fanservice. I really do. There's a reason the harem genre is my guilty pleasure anime. However, I dislike it when an anime has fanservice for fanservice's sake, especially when it means that none of the characters are going to be properly developed because the director decided that making these boobs bounce and jiggle was more important. Season 1 had great fanservice. It wasn't absurd and it didn't detract from the story. The fanservice in season 2 is just obscene, and it does detract from the story. Sometimes I would be yanked out of a really serious and tense scene because said intense scene was suddenly derailed by a pair of boobs being shoved into my face, or because the blond chick suddenly leaned over and we're given a panty shot for no reason.

Now, despite my complaints, I did still enjoy season 2, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as season 1. I guess I raised my expectations to be too high. I was expecting an anime with the same or better quality than the first season, with an amazing plot and a return of my favorite trio. What I got was an okay anime with better than average animation and way too many side characters.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Characters: 3/10
Story: 5/10
Personal Enjoyment: 5/10
Total: 6.8/10

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Certain Magical Index Review, Volume 5

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 5A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 5 by Kazuma Kamachi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What is there to say about A Certain Magical Index, Volume 5? Well, I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as the other books of the series. I think that's because this particular series felt a little out of touch with the other stories. It didn't seem as linear. However, that doesn't mean that this wasn't an enjoyable tale.

This volume is split between two separate stories. One is about Accelerator, the strongest level five esper of Academy City. The other is about our resident Happless Hero, Toma Kamijou. These two stories don't intersect at all, and so it's almost like having two different stories combined into one volume. Of course, each story is really short, so even though this is two stories, they only last about two chapters each.



So, first things first, Accelerator is one of the most badass anti-heroes of all time. I've always liked anti-heroes, and this dude is quite possibly the physical embodiment of anti-heroism. In this volume, we learn a lot about his background, and while I don't think it condones what he did in the previous volume (no spoilers for those who haven't read it), I do think it allows us some insight into his psyche, which helps us understand why he did what he did.

We also get to see a softer side of Accelerator in this volume. In Volume 5, he meets a young girl called Last Order... yes, it's an odd name, but if you read the story, it'll make sense. Anyway, Last Order is the annoying little sister type of girl who jabbers on and on. In it, Accelerator seems really annoyed by her, but at the same time, I feel like he enjoys her company - after all, she's still alive.

Accelerator's side of this story seems to be about redemption beyond anything else. While I don't necessarily think Accelerator was redeemed by any means, I do think that the insight we're given, and the actions he takes in this volume, show off that he's not really a bad person - just batshit insane.



The second person this story follows is, of course, our resident hero, Touma Kamijou. I didn't like this side of the story as much. I think the reason for this is because Touma's story felt a lot like filler. There didn't seem to be any purpose to this story other than to have Touma in it because he's the main character. He was simply there to fill in the extra space, not because he was doing anything particularly important.

Overall, while I have to say that I did, indeed, like this volume, and there were many good aspects about it, I didn't enjoy it as much as previous volumes. However, I believe the next volume will be better, since we're getting back to the main story.

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sekirei Review, as of chapter 173

Sekirei Volume 1 (Sekirei, #1)Sekirei Volume 1 by Sakurako Gokurakuin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My thoughts as of chapter 173.

I was originally going to give this three stars, but I have since decided to give it four because I've begun to unexpectedly enjoy it. To be honest, when I read the first two volumes, I really didn't think much of this manga. It wasn't until, I want to say, volume 5 or so that I began to truly enjoy it. Now, as the story is coming ever closer to its conclusion, I can say that this is definitely one of the better harem manga currently being published. And the reasons are simple.

A super awesome cast of strong female characters:



Epic battles:



Touching moments:



A main protagonist who actually develops a backbone:



Sekirei has been a surprisingly entertaining manga.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

To Love Ru Review as of Chapter 63

To LOVEる―とらぶる― ダークネス 1To LOVEる―とらぶる― ダークネス 1 by Kentaro Yabuki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My thoughts as of chapter 63.

While this is still a fun manga, I'm not sure I like Darkness as much as the original. The plot seems to be moving a little faster, the story seems to be a little deeper, but, well, we all have our favorite characters, and there's just no way Momo can replace Lala in my mind. There's a reason she's been my favorite female heroine in anime and manga for the past several years. Just look at that smile.



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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Anti-Magic: The 35th Test Platoon


Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon is an anime adapted from a light novel. I'll be honest, when I first started watching this show, I wasn't expecting much. My expectations for this anime was, "harem magical high school," and nothing more. Now, while I did get a harem magical high school, this anime still managed to surprise me.

The first thing about this show is that this anime has some surprising depth. First off, the main character is quite a bit more assertive than the average harem hero, yet he still maintains enough harem protagonist tropes that he works well as a buffer for the girls in his harem - sorry, I meant, for the girls in his squad. The girls also have a bit more depth than the average harem female. Granted, each and every one of them has the cliche'd "dark past" trope, but considering the unforgivable world they live in, I can forgive that. While this anime is filled with what I would consider standard stereotypes, the characters have enough personality and backstory that I'm not as hard on this as I would be on other anime.

Like a lot of anime, this one mixes "dark" themes with humor and fanservice. While some anime fail at finding the proper balance between these three genres, Anti-Magic Academy does a decent enough job that I'm not put off when I see something funny or fanservice-y in an anime that also has people being violently killed. While there were no "laugh out loud" or "snort milk from your nose" moments, it was funny enough that I could appreciate the humor, and it was serious enough that I didn't grow bored with it. While I wouldn't rate this series very high on my list of "anime you need to watch," I do think this is series does well with the tropes it uses and presents an entertaining series for people who are into this genre.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Characters: 6/10
Story: 6/10
Personal Enjoyment: 6/10
Total: 7.6/10

Friday, January 1, 2016

Log Horizon, Volume 3

ログ・ホライズン3 ゲームの終わり(上)(Log Horizon, #3)ログ・ホライズン3 ゲームの終わり(上) by Mamare Touno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I meant to review this a while ago, but life got in the way and I haven't been able to do so... yeah, you're not believing me, are you? Okay, fine. I got a little lazy during the holidays. It happens to everybody.

Before I really begin, I would just like to say that Log Horizon is probably the most well-translated light novel I've read. A lot of other light novels will usually have awkwardly structured sentences that make me do a double take and re-read it to make sure I'm not seeing things, but not Log Horizon. I don't know if this is due to the original author, or if the translator is just better at fixing sentences that would be awkward in English, but I really enjoyed how well-written this novel was. The whole series thus far has been well-written.



Volume three of the light novels branches off into two separate storylines. The first story follows Shiro and the other members of the Round Table, as they visit the Eastal, League of Free Cities, for the conference of Eternal Ice. They were apparently invited there sometime before the start of volume 3, but after volume 2, by the People of the Earth. It seems that the creation of the Round Table has spurred the People of the Earth into taking action, and so Shiroe and his gang have been invited there so the People of the Earth can determine whether or not they're a threat. Naturally, Shiroe and his group have accepted the invitation for the same reason.

I think it's interesting how Mamare Touno has incorporated People of the Earth politics into his world building. This is the only "trapped in a game" light novel I've read that does this. Every other light novel ignores the NPCs, but in here, you actually see how the Adventurers presence affects the People of Earth, who, before they became trapped within Elder Tales, were nothing but NPCs with a series of predisposed responses. Now Shiroe and the Round Table members has to navigate their way through the political arena and learn more about the people who occupied this land before them. I really enjoyed the take on this.



The second group that this volume follows is Touya, Minori, Rundelhaus, and Izusu, as they begin their training in the way of the adventurer. I'll be honest, I wasn't as interested in what they were doing. Yes, watching them grind a dungeon did make me a little nostalgic. I remember when I used to play video games - and MMOs in particular - and we'd always form parties and tackle dungeons. At the same time, they're just not as interesting to me. I'm more invested in seeing Shiroe's side of the story than I am theirs.

At the same time, it is nice to see more world building done here. I enjoy how Mamare Touno has mixed MMO mechanics with a fantasy world. This world is different from the one they knew when Elder Tales was just a video game, and now that it's their world, a lot has changed. However, some things from the days when this was just a video game remain, and the level up system for Adventurers is one of them.



All in all, I'd have to say that this was a very fun volume. Now I need to get End Game part II, because apparently, Mamare decided to split this particular arc in half. Too bad it's not out yet.

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