Well hi there! I hope everyone is enjoying the anime that they have been watching and finding cool things to think and talk about with all your friends and family. You know.. to show everyone how great anime can be. I recently finally started watching Monster, it's really nice (be sure to check out Tom's articles if you're interested in that series). Otherwise I have been watching more of the same (One Piece, Kids on the Slope, Mysterious Girlfriend X among other things). Also I started getting back into wiki editing, working on episode pages mostly. If you are interested, keep an eye out in the weekly Community Spotlight for some of my more recent work. >.>
A brief plot synopsis for those unfamiliar with Space Brothers: Mutta and Hibito are brothers with a few years age difference, Mutta being the older brother. One of Mutta's most important principles that he lives by is that "the older brother should always be leading the younger brother." As a result of this principle, Mutta, both as a child and an adult, has always tried to out-do, excel further than younger brother Hibito in order to be a model older brother who can lead and protect his younger brother.
As children, Mutta and Hibito while out exploring a nearby forest, witness what they think to be a UFO. After that moment Hibito swears that he will become an astronaut and go to the Moon. Mutta, wanting to be the leading older brother, promises that he too will become an astronaut, but he will go to Mars! Fast forward a dozen or so years and Hibito has become an astronaut who is currently training with NASA to go on a mission to the Moon. Meanwhile Mutta is a automobile engineer over in Japan, who just lost his job.
The series follows Mutta as he tries to become an astronaut. As he does so, he realizes that almost everywhere he goes, he is recognized as "Hibito's older brother," not as Nanba Mutta. So Mutta is determined to make a name for himself. However, at the same time Mutta's decisions and actions are largely influenced by his younger brother Hibito. In episode 9, Yamato, a character who did not pass the second round of recruitment to become an astronaut, comments that Mutta only passed because he is Hibito's older brother. Also if it weren't for Hibito saying, "I want to become an astronaut," and Mutta's desire to be a model older brother, Mutta might not have promised to become an astronaut.
So the problem is, is becoming an astronaut really Mutta's dream? It seems like his real dream is to always be one step ahead of his younger brother. However, if that is his real dream, then he will always be considered, even by himself, as "Hibito's older brother," because that's ultimately what he's going to be if all he does is try to compete with his brother. This problem is brought up explicitly, but briefly, in episode 7. Mutta is visiting Hibito in America, and Mutta almost gives up on becoming an astronaut. Then Hibito says angrily to Mutta, "if you can give up [on becoming an astronaut]... then becoming an astronaut was never really your dream." But was it wasn't really his dream to begin with?
Mutta is in a similar situation to Chihaya in Chihayafuru. Chihaya's initial dream is for her older sister to become a popular idol. Then after playing Karuta with Arata, she changes her dream to becoming the Queen of Karuta. But it is not exactly clear whether she chose this dream because of Arata, or because she really wants it for herself.
With only a few more episodes to go, I wouldn't be surprised if Mutta ultimately does not become an astronaut. It would be a bit of a downer, but given this series' more mature tone, it would certainly drive home a few good life lessons, if you believe in that sort of thing. Whatever happens, I'm excited to see how it decides to conclude.
-----------------Watch Space Brothers for free at Crunchyroll.com
Holly cow I talked about Space Brothers way longer than I thought I would. Errrr, I'll try (haha) to keep this one short. If you want a brief introduction to the series plot please check out my previous blog post.
This series has some excellent music. No really, just follow this link and listen to the attached clip. Since I play piano myself, I understand how hard it can be to improvise on piano and make it sound really good and authentic. Then I began to wonder how the songs for the anime were recorded. You can tell just by the above clip, a lot of it is (almost certainly) improvised. That's just how jazz works, there are some rules and guidelines for chords, scales, and ways to improve your technique and practice, but a lot of jazz comes down to feeling it on the spot.
Then I began to wonder how hard it must have been to match the animation to the audio recording. I mean... FUCKK. The animators must've worked really closely with the musicians/audio guys to get the movements of Kaoru and Sentaro down just right. I remember when I first watched that clip in episode 7, I believed that it was Kaoru and Sentaro playing, not just two characters who are animated to match a pre-recorded audio recording. And to make it so that something like jazz which is so heavily improvised, actually feel improvised and authentic, when it is actually pre-recorded and animated, is a HUGE accomplishment.
Kids on the Slope is my top anime pick for this season, possibly for this year. It's that amazing.
-----------------Watch Kids on the Slope for free at Crunchyroll.com
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments or thoughts below.
Why hello there! I just finished watching Deadman Wonderland. It was alright, I would give it a 7/10. Typical summer action movie/drama stuff. But, since this is not a review, I don't really want to talk about what made this series good or bad.
Some personal background: I am an anime fan, not a manga fan. I have never really liked sitting down reading comics, japanese, american or otherwise. On the other hand I like watching a good anime come together (sound, animation, voice acting etc.) I also never really liked it when people brought up the issue that an anime was unlike the manga. I used to advocate that the anime should be judged on its own, separate from the manga, since after all it is a different medium of art.
However, watching Deadman Wonderland has made me realized a few things about the transition between manga and anime. I am currently reading through the manga (from where the anime left off), and have changed some of the ways I view manga and anime.
The first thing that really irked me as I watched this series was censorship. Since I support legal streaming, I began watching Deadman Wonderland at FUNimation.com. After a few episodes I began to notice that the screen was turning black or extremely dark at some points, sometimes for almost a minute at a time. At first I thought, "what the heck, I can't see anything? Is it supposed to be this dark?" Soon enough I smartened up and realized it was censorship. Looking back, I honestly can't believe it took me that long to figure out it was being censored. I mean, they even added bleeps in to replace swearing.
So, I made a decision to *holds breath* watch a fan sub of Deadman Wonderland. Yes, I did it... so sue me. But it was almost unbearable. As I mentioned earlier, a part of why I enjoy anime is because I like seeing all the parts of it come together. That includes animation. And watching it censored means I'm not watching what the creators of the anime intended me to watch. And that is a big no no for me. =\
FoxxFireArt, had recently started watching Deadman Wonderland as well. He mentioned in his Weight to Watch blog, that the series has a non-canon anime finale. So, I kept this in the back of my mind as I watched the series. And now that I have finished watching the series I think I finally understand why people care so much about differences between anime and manga.
Unfortunately, due to money and time, many manga never get made into anime, and even then some anime are forced to end early and are unable to tell the whole story as it was in the manga. I used to not really be bothered by this, and kept telling myself to evaluate anime on its own terms. But this anime changes things! Honestly how could they end the series on that note? The anime wasn't good, but it wasn't bad either. It was interesting enough to make me want to find out how the story ends in the manga, dare I say, how it is "supposed" to end.
I'm still an anime fan, and I really still don't think it's a good idea to compare manga and anime. At least not in terms of which is "better or worse". Anime offers many things that manga doesn't and vice versa. I just never grew up to read comics and such. But I might start reading manga more now.
I was never one to watch an anime and read the manga it is based on at the same time (as I know some people do). To me it's like experiencing the same story twice, which is another thing I don't like doing. There is already so much anime and manga out there, I barely have time to watch/read a series once!
Until next time, feel free to leave comments or thoughts below.
So, summer break started for me about a week and a half ago. I've managed to avoid needing to take summer courses again. But I have not managed to get a summer job yet. =\ Trust me, I'm trying. >.> I have finished watching some anime series and also started watching some new ones. Overall though, I'm watching fewer anime series at once than previous summers (I'm watching 8 series right now). I'm really enjoying them, but ehh what can I say. Having a break from school is great and all, but it also gives me time to think about myself.
The impending thought of post-undergraduate life is always in the back of my mind, along with all the other life challenges that await. Grad school? Law school? Writing? Teaching? Getting a car? A house? Getting a wife? Raising children? Fulfilling my dreams and potentials (whatever those might be)? Lately though, I have thought a bit about my hobbies, and how much time I spend with them. Right now I have about 3 clear hobbies: anime, piano and video games. How would I maintain these hobbies if I really tried to get into grad school and became a professor? or if I started working full time? Or if I had a wife and kids? There's also the worry that I should be spending my time doing something more "productive" than spending time on my hobbies.
So now that the depressing part of this blog is out of the way, let's move on to some ANIME! *YEAH*
I just finished watching episode 130 of One Piece (okay maybe about half an hour ago now) and DAMMMN. Alabasta, Vivi, you will be missed. I almost wanted to cry... almost. Not that making-someone-want-to-cry was ever a measure of how good anything was, but again I am impressed by the writing and story of One Piece.
About a year ago I wrote a blog about watching One Piece from duty of being an anime fan and watching one of the "Big 3". You can read my full blog here. I had just started watching One Piece and was on episode 22. So, I did some quick calculations, and that means I have watched roughly 108 episodes of One Piece in a year. Which evens out to roughly 2 episodes a week. Which means, if I keep at this rate of 108 episodes a year, then in 4 years I will be on episode 562 (One Piece is currently at episode 546). But at that point, One Piece will be airing episode 754! (assuming 1 episode is released a week). *dizzy face*
Sometimes I look at screenshots of recently aired One Piece episodes and I think, "what the heck is that?" No seriously, why is Chopper wearing that goofy hat? Who's the dude with Popeye arms? What the heck's with these giant female snakes? If you're following One Piece, please don't answer those questions. I'm sure the series will let me know about it when it becomes relevant, and I'm sure it'll do a damn good job making me feel that it's relevant.
Right now I'm more interested in Nico Robin and where the Straw Hats are going to go now that they have left Alabasta.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors (GET HYPE): Also for those that don't know One Piece: Pirate Warriors for the PS3 has been released in Japan and it is quote "selling like hotcakes over there," (Crunchyroll). I can hardly believe that I am excited about a game based off of an anime. Games-based-off-anime usually fall into the same category of "games-based-off-movies", which are usually terrible. But I'm genuinely excited to see the Luffy and the gang in 3D! I hope it really delivers the same story punch as the anime.
Legal Streaming: One Piece is available to watch for free at Funimation.com. If you're thinking about checking out One Piece, don't be intimidated by the episode numbers. One Piece has a great sense of adventure and knows how to build up and tell it's story. Watch at your own pace and enjoy the world of One Piece.
"Sometimes jazz music takes an unexpected turn." Was a quote from this episode. And that's what makes playing jazz so much fun. You can screw up and still make the best of it (you still have to know what you're doing though). Since I play piano, this series story which already has amazing characters and soundtrack, has hit me in a big way. Only recently have I discovered how fun it is to improvise on the piano.
Kids on the Slope starts off with Kaoru, a male, a glasses-wearing, classical-piano-playing, high school transfer student from a rich family. He has trouble making friends, and it doesn't help that some of his classmates tease him for being rich. However he soon grows a crush for the female class rep, Ritsuko. Upon learning that Kaoru plays piano, Ritsuko introduces him to Sentaro. Sentaro has a reputation for getting into fights, but Ritsuko, who is Sentaro's childhood friend, assures Kaoru that Sentaro is okay. Soon enough his feelings for Ritsuko, and some other jazz-like incidences with him and Sentaro, lead Kaoru to start playing jazz piano. Yes.. I know that sounded very vague, but the anime speaks for itself, and I'd rather everyone watch it first hand.
There is some great plot development in this series, and it all feels very authentic. Maybe it's the jazz style of improv that makes it feel the way it does. At this point we have a variety of possible ways that various relationships could turn out. And I wouldn't be surprised if Kaoru never gets to go out with Ritsuko, but I guess that's jazz.
Legal Streaming: If you have not checked out Kids on the Slope yet, I highly recommend it to everyone to go check it out. You can watch full episodes with great quality and subs for free at crunchyroll.com. Here, just watch the trailer and tell me you're not sold! I DARE YOU, no just kidding, but seriously this anime is a real treat.
Yes I've been watching more anime than just these two, but I decided to just blog on the two above... FOR NOW *dramatic pose*. But, along with Kids on the Slope, I'm also watching and can recommend Space Brothers. It is also available on Crunchyroll. ;P
Thanks for reading, be sure to post any comments below. Anyone else excited for One Piece: Pirate Warriors, One Piece or Kids on the Slope? Finding it hard to manage your anime-watching habits? Maybe sometimes we just have to treat life like jazz, or an adventure, and give it our all.
All the best.
Yuki Sanada, our red-haired high school boy protagonist, transfers schools a lot. So he doesn't have a lot of friends. The place he is transferring to now is Enishioma (spelling?) a place right by the beautiful ocean. Yuki is terrible with introducing himself or talking in front of the class. He soon becomes reluctant friends with Haru, an alien, and Natsuki, a fishing prince. Natuski is the cold, straight man. Haru is the bumbling eccentric spontaneous one. The episode ends with Yuki speaking in past tense saying how little did he know, they would work together to save the world.
The episode also opens with a myth story about Enishioma, how there was a five-headed dragon who was persuaded to stop its destruction because of the sheer beauty of a goddess who smiled at him. This seems to be an obvious parallel to Yuki and a female classmate that he saw on the train on the way to school. Probably a love interest.
I'm pretty impressed with the visuals. Very summery. Also water imagery was used when Yuki would get nervous. So it's like he is drowning in water and can't say anything. It makes his face all contorted as if he is suffocating, which makes others laugh at him, which leads to his confidence going down again. The show really seems to want to do something with the whole water/drowning/getting your head above water thing. In a way by having friends, he is being "saved" from just being a loner again and not making friends.
The whole fishing thing is sort of interesting too, when you think of it in terms of people instead of fish. If I recall, fishing metaphors are also sometimes used to describe romantic relationships, like "oh there's more fish in the ocean", or "this person is a good catch". It also works with friends to a certain extent. There are a few scenes in this first episode that suggest that Haru actually purposefully wants to be friends with Yuki.
Did I mention that Haru decides to stay in the same house as Yuki? It seems that Haru and Yuki's grandmother made some sort of deal, that Haru becomes friends with Yuki and so Haru can stay at their place. But it is not explicitly shown, just implied. OMG ILLEGAL ALIENS< FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.
Anyways, I found Haru incredibly annoying. It does not help that he is voiced by the same person that voiced Chizuru from Kimi to Boku (which I have watched). He's that guy that always wants to do stuff, and is always in everyone's face, and they're just like no, but he keeps repeating himself like an idiot....
Which brings me to my last point. Is this just going to be another slice of life? There was enough of a hint at the end, and some very brief scenes of a guy (around the same age), wearing a turban and has a pet goose, spying on Haru, that suggests there is some underlying grand plot that is going to be developed. I suspect that there will be some "bad guy" introduced at some point or some big problem they all have to solve together, but it's too early for that.
This show has reminded me both of Star Driver and Kimi to Boku. It has a similar art style as Star Driver (also both red-hair protagonists), and also has some sort of underlying plot that seems to be covered by day-to-day high school activity with friends. It's also like Kimi to Boku because you have a bunch of guys, that do stuff together. In this episode they go fishing, and most of the episode was just set-up and hints anyways, but if this show just becomes these guys going around doing random stuff, I doubt I'll enjoy it that much.
I'm also not really sure about the pacing so far. It sort of feels like this anime is trying to do too much. You have your possible romantic interest, an alien, weird friends, a beautiful ocean, something about a goddess, a potential spy character, and also hints at a 'save the world' plot. According to animenewsnetwork, this is only going to have 11 episodes. I know it's really early, but I have my doubts about how well this series is going to come together.
To be honest I'm not really feeling this one. It looks nice and all, but I said the same thing about Star Driver. And Haru's voice actor can make the most annoying boy voices ever. Ex. imagine me saying "But guuuyyysssss, let's doooo somethinggggg. Yuuuukkkiiii, coomee on." in a whiny, up and down inflected voice, over and over again. That's most of what Haru's character is. Besides being an eccentric alien.
I expect that we'll get a fuller explanation of how Haru is an alien, but for now we just see that 1. he has the ability to control fish (sort of, from one scene in an aquarium), 2. sometimes he has a triangular halo appear above his head and 3. he seems to have the ability to talk to his pet fish. These all go by in very very short cuts, maybe 5-10 seconds each?
Anyone else check this one out? Thoughts?
Waiting in the Summer or Ano Natsu de Matteru is available online for free at crunchyroll.com
Note: I am writing this as of watching episode 10. This is meant to be a half-serious, semi-joking, semi-self-consciouss investigation of a possible way of interpreting certain themes of AnoNatsu.
Ichika Takatsuki is an alien, that looks like a busty teenage girl. She wants to get away from her home planet for a while, and takes off in her space ship. She has a picture of a place she wants to visit in her mind. Her travels take her to Japan, Earth. She poses as a foreign exchange student, and starts going to school in Japan. Shortly after that, she meets Kaito Kirishima, a kind, slightly below average height boy. After learning that Ichika has no place to stay, Kaito offers for her to stay at his place. This of course goes off without a hitch because (of other family circumstances) he has the whole house to himself.
After a while Kaito and Ichika become closer emotionally. There is the usual beating around the bush and "oh my god I'm not sure what I'm feeling", but eventually they start going out officially. However, another girl, Kanna Tanigawa, has been childhood friends with Kaito and has had a crush on Kaito since they first met. Needless to say, Kanna is initially very very sad by this. And I was too. Kanna is being left in the dust for some alien bimbo who, on a whim, decided to come to Earth for some R&R. And now all of a sudden she wants to stay just because she found someone she fell in love with? This should sound familiar, because many families send one of their children to live over in another country, then have them get married there, then bring over the rest of their family to live there as well.
Since the start of this series I have been rooting for Tanigawa, and never particularly liked Ichika. It was only until the previous 3 or 4 episodes when I finally realized why I don't like Ichika at all. Most of the reasons can be taken as biases, but each of them has some intuitive pull to them. None of them are necessarily right or wrong, but they do offer something to think about.
Firstly there is the intuitive feeling that Ichika, as a visitor, should mind her business and be respectful of the people around her in the place that she is visiting as a stranger. In real life, there are lots of regulations that vary from country to country about immigrants and foreign visitors. Some countries are very protective about keeping jobs for people who were born there and not hiring foreign immigrants. The feeling is that, "hey, you foreigners come here and get jobs, those job could have gone to someone who lived and grew up here. Don't the people that lived and grew up here get more respect and priority than people who just come in only for a job and money?"
This is the sort of feeling that I had when Ichika started getting intimate with Kaito. Personally I will almost always favour the childhood friend over all others. Recently I found it interesting that they decided to draw Ichika's character as slightly taller and bigger than Kaito. I don't usually like to take into account physical differences in relationships, but having Ichika as bigger than Kaito helps give off the impression of Ichika as the one in control. And more often than not, this is the case. I'm not even going to consider the amount of control that Remon has on what happens in the series, or even the meta-question of the story being controlled by the script writer and director...
Kaito, most of the time is your typical poor boy swept up in something greater than himself. The relationship between Ichika and Kaito ends up feeling empty for me. I honestly do not see how I am supposed to be happy for Ichika and Kaito.
In this past episode, Kaito narrates, "I know things don't last forever." Which can lead to the positive idea that you have to take what opportunities are available to you and make the best of it. In this case, the best is going out with an alien girl. Interestingly, despite Kanna's heart being broken after realizing Kaito and Ichika have started going out, episode 10 ends on a positive note. Kanna finally confesses her feelings to Kaito, and she actually seems happy for Kaito and Ichika.
It seems that everyone in the cast is coming to the understanding that life is one huge opportunity, that doesn't last forever, therefore we should all try our best and not be sad about it. Pretty optimistic right? The episode ends by signalling to the audience (probably just me), "Hey, don't be mad that Kaito isn't going out with Kanna and is instead going out with some alien girl. Be happy for them, and take the opportunities in your life as they come."
This is interesting for me because if I am still mad at this ending, really I'm just mad at myself for not being able to take advantage of the various opportunities in my own life. This is the same feeling of the person that is against giving jobs to foreign immigrants. Instead of saying, "I deserve this job more than this foreigner," he should be saying, "I'm happy for that other person who was able to take advantage of the opportunity to get a job and capitalize on it, I'll continue to look for and take advantage of opportunities in my own life."
This Zen approach gets rid of the worry about competition. Instead competition becomes part of life. The motto is still survival of the fittest, but also respect for the larger picture of the temporal nature of life.
So, maybe this whole criticism is really just based on my own incompetence at forming intimate relations with other people, which is really just a subset of my inability to take full advantage of various opportunities around me. Like a lover who is too afraid to confess their feelings for fear of rejection, or the unemployed who does not look for a job for fear of rejection or competition with others. Maybe I'm just insecure about the conclusions of opportunism. This leads to the question of, 'is anyone really secure about their own life?' The Zen thinkers seem to think so, and they think everyone can approach life in this positive way too.
I'm not so sure.
Aliens, opportunism, zen, love, life, commitment. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air and wave them around because I just don't care. But clearly I do care. C'est la vie?