Anime Vice News

Amateur vs. Expert: PERSONA 4 #9

Rise has arrived, bringing with her some hilariously poor animation!

Welcome to Amateur vs. Expert, a new column wherein noted anime layperson Nick Robinson (Babylonian) squares off against anime savant Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt). The goal? To take our two columns, Anime Amateur and Anime Examiner, and combine them for your reading pleasure. Let's get started!

Nick Robinson:

Rise has landed in Inaba, and so far, I'm really pleased with how they're handling her character. The opening stuff gave us some good insight into her situation and why she wants out of it - no one acknowledges or talks to her for that whole first scene, and it really helps to sell her complaint that they treat her like a doll instead of a person. It actually communicated it better than Persona 4 did, I think. Her budding relationship with Yu is totally adorable and nicely set-up (if a little accelerated - she sure did start with that Narukami-kun / Narukami-sempai stuff awful quick, didn't she?). That opening "OH MAN IT'S A STALKER" stuff was a bit silly, but they characterize Rise as being intrigued by Yu seemingly having no idea that she's famous, which is a great way to kick things off with them. So, yeah! Good stuff!

Unfortunately, this episode was wildly uneven visually. A lot of the time it looked fine and a couple of times it looked incredible (the super-intense alternate opening comes to mind), but just as often, it looked pretty bad. This week was loaded with those completely still, three-frame-animation "this is a character talking and we're not gonna move anything but their mouth for 45 seconds so settle in!" moments, and for me, it's hard not to be distracted by that. They weren't particularly ugly shots, either - they were just incredibly static. I guess the silver lining is that if you're the type of person who spends a lot of time staring directly at the subtitles, it's possible you won't even notice, but I imagine that once the show gets dubbed, it's gonna be pretty tough not to notice that P4A occasionally moves like a shoddily-produced Flash animation.

Still, all that stuff is ultimately superficial, and I did enjoy this episode quite a bit. As I begin to get into the rhythm of this series, I'm finding that the characters are growing on me (the ones not named Yosuke, at least). I know I said it last week, but Yu especially seems to get more entertaining every episode. His dry sense of humor is the funniest part of this show, and as time goes on, it looks like we can verify those predictions that the show will characterize him more and more as his stat screen begin fills up. What's your take on this episode, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

I do agree that the first minute of the episode really sells just how horrible it can be to live as a pop idol, but I still have a hard time feeling too much sympathy. To be idols, you pretty much have to pursue it. It's not similar to Yukiko, where she was born into the family inn. Still, she's a teenage girl, and did you hear when filming that commercial was set for? 8 to 4 AM! I take it the child labor laws are pretty liberal. I can't blame her for wanting to get away from that. I didn't find Rise's use of honorifics all that odd. It's polite speech to use them. Not using them can be very rude. It would mean more is she was using his given name.

As far as the opening, it's interesting that the song "True Story" is actually credited to Rise Kujikawa. Though it also notes that the actual singer is Rise's voice actress, Rie Kugimiya. It's cool that she's both the VA and the singer, but even Yukiko's VA, Ami Koshimizu, has performed songs for series. If you ever get the chance check out "Platinum Soul" or "One More Chance".

Uneven is a very diplomatic way of describing the animation this episode, I would say lazy. Far too often the scenes were just still images with mouths moving. The eyes weren't even blinking, and whole parts of dialog were happening off camera. The background extras were better animated in scenes than the main cast. That opening scene with Rise was really well animated, but I wonder if they spent their whole budget for this episode on the small chunk. You had a good description of comparing it to a Flash animation in many scenes, like when they caught the stalker. These sorts of things happen in anime for two reasons. It's either poor episode direction, as in the infamous Gurren Lagann Ep. 4; or budgetary issues, as with the later season of Neon Genesis Evangelion. We're only nine episodes into a twenty-five episode series. Since the DVD/BD are already being sold in Japan. I'm really hoping that they invest in fixing this episode before it's market release. There is some precedent for that. Code Geass R2 had some rather significant changes made to the animation after it aired on TV, but that was still well animated to begin with. I'm crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

Getting all that off my chest. The episode had a lot of good story beats. That's just what made the animation quality so annoying to me. I don't feel Kanji stood out so well in the game as he does here. Both he and Yu work well together as characters. One of my favorite lines was Kanji telling Yosuke to calm down while he stared at Rise's chest. Then there was Yu complimenting Chie's legs. You may have noticed that there was no Arcana card acquired in this episode. Yet, that scene with the manager, Inoue, was part of Rise's S. Linking in the game. That whole scene felt awkward as they put such an emphasis on Kanami replacing Rise in the movie. "Oh no, not Kanami Mashita".........だれ? (Who?)

Nick Robinson:

I have to imagine this is the result of budgetary issues, right? Like, it's hard to imagine that this is their ideal look for the show. I've definitely used the word "lazy" before to describe this show's occasional less-than-stellar animation, but at a certain point, you have to think that if it were up to the creators, P4A would look a whole hell of a lot better than it does in most of this episode. What a bummer this must be for them!

As far as them fixing the show for the Blu-ray: that would be nice, wouldn't it? Bakemonogatari, the only other show I've written about for Anime Vice, had a similar situation where there were straight-up entire scenes missing from the TV airings, but they went back in and fixed it for the BD release. Hopefully that happens here, because, man, that "assessing the situation scene" in the first half of this episode was SUPER rough. Those 30-second-long, completely still shots where it's just three characters who aren't moving any part of their bodies except for their mouths have got to go.

I'm definitely no expert in Japanese honorifics, but my understanding has been that when "-kun" is used by a girl towards a guy, it's usually because they're emotionally attached to him. She's known Yu for, what, a day? I was surprised to hear her bust out the "-kun" business, but it's also possible I don't know what I'm talking about. School me!

I wish I had more to say about this episode, but besides the animation hitches, it was mostly just a pleasant episode of character introduction. I think I might like Rise more here than I did in the game, which is the first time that's happened since P4A started. Next week looks to be suitably nuts, too. What are your closing thoughts, Kris?

Kristoffer Remmell:

I know that others have criticized the animation before this, but I've never had a problem with it until now. My understanding is that the PS Vita version of Persona 4 is scheduled for release just around the same time this series is staring to close. That's been promising more animation and voice work than the original, and I'm starting to suspect they'll be just lifting assets from this anime for the game. Personally, I'd be happier to learn it was coming to PSN, because I wont be buying a Vita. The way you seem to feel toward Rise in the anime. I feel the same way about Kanji. They just stand out more.

The honorific "-kun" is said when referring to guys by any gender if they are either equals or under your station by age or rank. It can also be used when talking to women in the workplace. It's not at all surprising that Rise calls him either "-kun" or "-san". Either are basic courtesy, and don't imply emotional attachment. Everyone on the team already says "Kanji-kun". If you would like further education on honorifics. Just check out the page I created on Anime Vice for them. Did you notice this episode how Rise seemed surprised Yosuke and Kanji didn't use an honorific title? That's very rude to do with someone you don't know well. Yosuke and Yu do it, because they have a partner-like relationship. Though, they use family names. Chie and Yukiko are childhood friends and use their given names. A great series to follow in learning about honorifics would be Detective Conan, but only the Japanese version. The localization of the manga and anime ripped all of that out for the U.S.

In closing, I'm really saddened that the seriously spotty animation work has distracted our attentions from a lot of good story beats that were in this episode. It just couldn't be ignored. An anime series should be "animated" better than your average web comic. If I want long still images. I'll read a manga. If this is the only episode that has this issue, It can be forgiven, but I'll be ecstatic to learn they will reanimate several of these scenes. It's just disconcerting that this is happening so early into the series. I'm still looking forward to episode ten, as well. Now, to toss it to the readers. What are your thoughts?

Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ animevice / @ FoxxFireArt

Nick Robinson (Babylonian) is a Whiskey Media intern and a journalism student. Won't you follow him on Twitter at @Babylonian? He'd be ever so appreciative!

Crowwingon Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:25 p.m.

Yeah, some parts of this were quite bad. The Junes scene really stands out and brings the whole episode down with it. If you just cut out that scene, the episode would have been at least 60% better for me. Although, I did like the 'nope' joke in there.

Me and my roommate have a running joke where we try and pick out where the "good animation team" and the "bad animation team" take over. It is really clear in this episode. The Junes scene was the start of the "bad animation team" and right around the "keeping Rise safe part" you can see that the "good animation team" took over. There are a few parts in there that seem to be a mix of good and bad animation.

I did like Rise in this episode. It seemed like they really wanted to do those Rise scenes and not to much the Investigation Team scenes. But they had to put them in to show that the Team was making some progress with the case.

Overall, not horrible save for that one scene, but not the best episode ever.

fluxwavezon Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:51 p.m.

First time I'm reading something from Kristoffer Remmell and I can't say I like his writing too much. It's oddly disjointed.

I enjoyed this episode. Like Robinson put it, it was simply pleasant although I don't think there were that many significant moments apart from the alternative opening (that was disappointingly, mostly composed of still images). The Shadow episodes have been my favorites, so I'm looking forward to today's episode and how they'll handle what happens.

Hailinelon Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.

The animation was simple in some parts, but I chalk that up to the budget for the episode mostly being spent on the opening. And I really didn't care how simple the animation was because it was so well-written and entertaining. The way Rise is handled is very well done, and I enjoyed the bits with the other characters.

I just hope that more of these columns don't focus so much on the animation and spend more time talking about the events, characters and themes.

finaldasaon Dec. 8, 2011 at 12:44 a.m.

It seemed like some of the action, specifically speaking about the scene where the team is gathered around their usual table at Junes, was taking place off screen. Yosuke says something dumb and Chie reacts, but all we see is a slight exclamation point. Why animate that subtle joke but nothing else in those scenes?

FoxxFireArt moderator on Dec. 8, 2011 at 4:21 a.m.

@fluxwavez:

Sorry about that. That's probably because I was both keeping my sections under three to four paragraphs while giving my thoughts, and responding to Nick's inquires. The honorific issues is kind of hard to explain in text. It's easier to tell someone. I like critiques. They help me improve.

@finaldasa:

That was part of my problem. Far too much dialog was happening off screen while the camera was focused on background that had nothing to do with the plot. As I said, there were background characters better animated than the main cast. It was so lazy that they couldn't even animate the eyes to at least give us a sense they were alive.

@Hailinel:

I don't want these to focus on the animation either, but things were so bad there it couldn't just be given a passing mention.

Hailinelon Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:45 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt: It wasn't that bad. The most glaring was a single scene; otherwise I hardly noticed any issues. You both blew things out of proportion.

mutha3on Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:51 a.m.

I'm finding that the characters are growing on me (the ones not named Yosuke, at least)nor did

Aw, come on, just because he probably should have some sort of sexual harassment strike on his record, doesn't mean the dude isn't a total bro!

But, yeah, this is my favorite episode so far. I think they even improved on the game in delivering Rise's introduction. They definitely surpassed the game in building a believable relationship between Yu and Rise at least! This....

The opening stuff gave us some good insight into her situation and why she wants out of it - no one acknowledges or talks to her for that whole first scene, and it really helps to sell her complaint that they treat her like a doll instead of a person.

Made me rub my eyes and wonder if I was still watching the same show or suffering from some fever dream. That was uncharacteristically subtle! Even for the source material! This is from the same guys who brought us an episode with a monster bird in a birdcage that throws birdcages, birthed from a girl in/with a birdcage.

I kinda want to talk about the animation and art direction for a bit-- I don't think its a superficial complaint at all. Superficial would be if the show had the occasional derp-face but saved itself with stylish and creative use of its artstyle(see:Madoka). P4A doesn't manage to look better than the crappy 3d models from a PS2 game. P4 is a markedly superior experience if we judge these things by their aesthetics-- shouldn't a big appeal from P4A be seeing the game's art style come to life? Hardly superficial if they fuck that up so bad.

Say what you want about Trinity Soul, but despite its dull character designs, It sure did look better and more faithful to Soejima's artstyle than P4A did. It lacked the gradients P4A has...but that works in its advantage because they're misused very often in P4A.

Also, calling it incredible at times is giving it a little too much credit at this point, I think. Some of the Persona scenes look really good, sure, but its not on the level of an anime movie or anything, and it sure doesn't justify that this show looks this mediocre-to-bad most of the time.

Hailinelon Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:59 a.m.

@mutha3: You've been ragging on this show almost constantly since episode 1. It's like you aren't letting yourself even try to enjoy it at all.

mutha3on Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:06 a.m.

@Hailinel said:

@mutha3: You've been ragging on this show almost constantly since episode 1. It's like you aren't letting yourself even try to enjoy it at all.

I wasn't raging at all(edit: derp my faulty english strikes again), I liked this episode the best since, like, 3. But yo, Hailinel, The animation was really bad this episod--

@Hailinel said:

@FoxxFireArt: It wasn't that bad.

Dude. If it really takes a full minute where only 15 frames of animation are used for you to notice things, then maybe you don't appreciate anime for its visual aspects.

Hailinelon Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:36 a.m.

@mutha3 said:

@Hailinel said:

@mutha3: You've been ragging on this show almost constantly since episode 1. It's like you aren't letting yourself even try to enjoy it at all.

I wasn't raging at all(edit: derp my faulty english strikes again), I liked this episode the best since, like, 3. But yo, Hailinel, The animation was really bad this episod--

@Hailinel said:

@FoxxFireArt: It wasn't that bad.

Dude. If it really takes a full minute where only 15 frames of animation are used for you to notice things, then maybe you don't appreciate anime for its visual aspects.

And that full minute did nothing to hamper my enjoyment of the episode. Seriously. You want bad animation? Watch even half the episodes of Violinist of Hamelin, and then come back and tell me that the animation in Persona 4 is poor with a straight face. Because seriously, if a minute-long conversation scene with minimal animation is what it takes for the writers of this feature to lose their shit, I don't know if it's worth continuing to read these because their priorities are screwed up.

And I didn't say raging. I said ragging. You ragged on the animation in episode 1. You ragged on Yukiko's Shadow. You ragged on Kanji's Shadow. If I'm not mistaken, you were also one of the ones that ragged on the Ai/Kou S. Link episode, as well. Every time you have something to say about the show to any detail, it seems like it is almost always something negative. This is a TV show based on a video game; we should be so lucky that it's of the quality it is when we could have gotten another piece of tripe like Trinity Soul. I'm not saying that the series is above criticism, but give it its due, for crying out loud.

mutha3on Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:53 a.m.

@Hailinel said:

And that full minute did nothing to hamper my enjoyment of the episode. Seriously. You want bad animation? Watch even half the episodes of Violinist of Hamelin, and then come back and tell me that the animation in Persona 4 is poor with a straight face. Because seriously, if a minute-long conversation scene with minimal animation is what it takes for the writers of this feature to lose their shit, I don't know if it's worth continuing to read these because their priorities are screwed up.

These are some very low bars you're setting here, though. I think its rather silly to compare a huge license like Persona 4 with low-quality anime that sells the same amount of units as its budget.

I tend to stay clear from mediocre anime, especially these days where I don't enjoy most of it. My tolerance for bad animation isn't what it used to be(and it was never really that good). A big part of why I enjoy some of my favorite anime is because strong visuals are a part of the package. This show, takes a game, with a great aesthetic(and a popular license) and......kinda messes up on bringing me something that even matches its source material.

Just because there is crappier anime doesn't mean P4A's visuals suddenly aren't mediocre to bad. 1/10's exist, but they don't make 5/10's into 8/10's!

@Hailinel said:

And I didn't say raging. I said ragging. You ragged on the animation in episode 1. You ragged on Yukiko's Shadow. You ragged on Kanji's Shadow. If I'm not mistaken, you were also one of the ones that ragged on the Ai/Kou S. Link episode, as well. Every time you have something to say about the show to any detail, it seems like it is almost always something negative. This is a TV show based on a video game; we should be so lucky that it's of the quality it is when we could have gotten another piece of tripe like Trinity Soul. I'm not saying that the series is above criticism, but give it its due, for crying out loud.

I totally do give the show its dues where its appropriate! Hell, look at the very last post I made about this show, I "ragged" on Yukiko's shadow, but I also said it handled her character fairly well. And the Kou/Ai stuff? Pretty sure my post was "I thought this episode was hilarious, but it didn't really handle the S-link well" and then you asked me to elaborate.

Look, I see your point with the bolded, but I don't think that exonerates P4A from....well, anything. I judge things by their own merits and just because P4A's competitors are even worse doesn't do much to sway my opinion on it.

(Also-- Sengoku Basara was REALLY GOOD and way better than the games!)

buhssuhton Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.

You want see bad animation?! This is worst

http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/07/31/anime-quality-as-legendary-as-ever/ (NSFW website, not the content)

mutha3on Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:57 a.m.

@Hailinel: Hey let me put it this way-- I love the shit out of Deadly Premonition, but boy do I not blame other people for calling that game hideous. They're totally right and its a totally valid thing to say about the game.

@buhssuht said:

You want see bad animation?! This is worst

http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/07/31/anime-quality-as-legendary-as-ever/ (NSFW website, not the content)

A lot of that honestly looks about the same or better as the derp moments in P4A, though.Check out the last screenshot in today's post and look at Yosuke's face.

Crowwingon Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:09 a.m.

I feel as though they could have easily made the Junes scene a little better, I guess that's what bugs me the most about it. A few more cuts here and there, some blinking, slight head or arm movement. Take a look at the rooftop scene from the episode. Their arms moved, they blinked, and there were a lot of cuts to keep it more visually interesting. Cuts do wonders to keep the viewers interested.

zaldaron Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:12 p.m.

@Hailinel said:

@FoxxFireArt: It wasn't that bad. The most glaring was a single scene; otherwise I hardly noticed any issues. You both blew things out of proportion.

I have to disagree...I have defended the animation quality when others have talked about it before and I am very much a story person as opposed to an animation person but, especially in that scene in the Junes....MY GOD was the animation terrible in this episode as I mentioned in my podcast (www.banzaibeat.com) you know it is bad if I am missing it.

I also go over there a couple other issues I had with this episode that I am surprised I hadn't seen mentioned here...from the game I didn't get the feeling rise was a pop idol...but more a video idol (if you don't know what that is I'm not going to tell you) now this was more from the way her Dungeon went than anything else..but I can't see a Britney Spears character really having her kind of issues. I can understand wanting to tone down that part of Japanese culture but it really does mess up her character, and it seemed like they were going to tone down her dungeon to from the previews I saw (I hope I am wrong) if they do that watch this space for my rant.

The other and more serious thing I am having issues with, by this time in the game (and the endurance run) I was incredibly attached to Nanoko and Dojima and wrapped up in their story. As someone who knows what is coming...the fact that we are not yet is going to be an issue. At least I don't feel an attachment to those characters yet and that is MUCH more important for later story than rise really.

Babylonian staff on Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:27 p.m.

@Hailinel said:

I'm not saying that the series is above criticism,

Are you sure? Because it kind of feels like you are.

Like, I don't think Kris and I aren't 'giving the series its due' or whatever. Overall, we're both enjoying the show quite a bit, and I've gone as far as to say that the visual issues (which, like it or not, totally do exist) are mostly superficial, which I think is pretty generous considering that, for a minute there, they apparently forgot to animate their animation.

I think we've both been mostly positive in our reaction to this series. Try not to let a paragraph or two about how it occasionally looks like shit (which it does) get under your skin, dude!

If a minute of non-animation in an animated anime "does nothing to hamper" your enjoyment of the show, that's totally fine! We just disagree. Kris and I both found it distracting, so we wrote that we found it distracting. It would be silly not to!

Hailinelon Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.

@Babylonian said:

@Hailinel said:

I'm not saying that the series is above criticism,

Are you sure? Because it kind of feels like you are.

Like, I don't think Kris and I aren't 'giving the series its due' or whatever. Overall, we're both enjoying the show quite a bit, and I've gone as far as to say that the visual issues (which, like it or not, totally do exist) are mostly superficial, which I think is pretty generous considering that, for a minute there, they apparently forgot to animate their animation.

I think we've both been mostly positive in our reaction to this series. Try not to let a paragraph or two about how it occasionally looks like shit (which it does) get under your skin, dude!

If a minute of non-animation in an animated anime "does nothing to hamper" your enjoyment of the show, that's totally fine! We just disagree. Kris and I both found it distracting, so we wrote that we found it distracting. It would be silly not to!

You guys spend a total of about five paragraphs talking about the animation quality that seriously isn't that bad. It just makes me want to rush through and skim what you have to say more than anything else. Make your point, don't belabor it. And you can complain about it all you like, but it's still not bad; spotty at points? Yes. But a slideshow? No. In fact, you two spend more time talking about the animation and the system of Japanese honorifics than you do the content of the episode.

Draxyleon Dec. 8, 2011 at 9:54 p.m.

I do very much agree with the animation thing. I'm normally not a stickler for little animation gaffs, and I didn't even notice half of the complaints about it before, but that Junes scene wasn't even disguised with any reasonable attempt. It felt extremely robotic. Plus a whole bunch of those cuts to an empty background for no good reason really stood out. I guarantee that it was the intro that held the budget severely back.

It's truly a shame, because I liked everything else about the episode too. The Rise and Yu interactions were perfect, if not for those animation troubles it would have been my favorite episode. I love what they've done with Yu's character overall, his deadpan works brilliantly in every episode. I just really hope they don't have to take shortcuts like that again, because they might as well not do it at all if budgets are that tight.

Babylonian staff on Dec. 8, 2011 at 10:08 p.m.

@Hailinel said:

You guys spend a total of about five paragraphs talking about the animation quality that seriously isn't that bad. It just makes me want to rush through and skim what you have to say more than anything else. Make your point, don't belabor it. And you can complain about it all you like, but it's still not bad; spotty at points? Yes. But a slideshow? No. In fact, you two spend more time talking about the animation and the system of Japanese honorifics than you do the content of the episode.

If you want a moment-to-moment rundown of the events that happened in the episode you just watched: bad news! You're not gonna get that from us! This is an opinion column.

That Junes scene was barely not a slideshow. Calling it "not bad" is kind of insane! Moving on!

@Draxyle said:

I do very much agree with the animation thing. I'm normally not a stickler for little animation gaffs, and I didn't even notice half of the complaints about it before, but that Junes scene wasn't even disguised with any reasonable attempt.

But what about the part where it's been the same shot of Yu and Yukiko for a full minute and the camera starts gently panning across the shot? That was a totally effective way of hiding the crappy animation!

@Draxyle said:

It's truly a shame, because I liked everything else about the episode too. The Rise and Yu interactions were perfect, if not for those animation troubles it would have been my favorite episode. I love what they've done with Yu's character overall, his deadpan works brilliantly in every episode. I just really hope they don't have to take shortcuts like that again, because they might as well not do it at all if budgets are that tight.

I feel exactly the same way. I went into this show disliking Yu and disliking the idea of the main relationship being with anyone other than Chie, but if they decide to see this Rise thing out, I'm totally fine with me on it. The creators of P4A have managed to sell me on both characters, and that is a totally impressive feat. Animation hitches aside, this was one of the best episodes of the show so far.

Hailinelon Dec. 8, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.

@Babylonian said:

@Hailinel said:

You guys spend a total of about five paragraphs talking about the animation quality that seriously isn't that bad. It just makes me want to rush through and skim what you have to say more than anything else. Make your point, don't belabor it. And you can complain about it all you like, but it's still not bad; spotty at points? Yes. But a slideshow? No. In fact, you two spend more time talking about the animation and the system of Japanese honorifics than you do the content of the episode.

If you want a moment-to-moment rundown of the events that happened in the episode you just watched: bad news! You're not gonna get that from us! This is an opinion column.

That Junes scene was barely not a slideshow. Calling it "not bad" is kind of insane! Moving on!

Like hell it was. There was at least some animation. I've seen shows that were 95% still image per episode, if not more. Compared to that, the animation issues in Persona 4 are nothing.

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Mandatory Network

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