Top 5: Anime by Studio J.C.Staff (updated)

Tuesday's Top 5

Another studio list. So far I’ve done fun titles by Bones and favourite works by P.A Works but today I turn my attention to Studio J.C.Staff mostly because while they aren’t my favourite studio and I find their work a bit hit and miss, they’ve produced a fair number of solid titles in my anime collection at this point. That said, other than sequels I haven’t found a lot of shows I love from them in recent years (though watched a number of them).

I’ll even forgive them for season 2 of One Punch Man.

I’m ranking these titles purely on the number of times I’ve rewatched them.

What are your favourite anime from studio J.C.Staff?

Please Note: There may be some spoilers for the anime below.

Honourable mentions this week go to Kaichou wa Maid Sama and Golden Time. I love both of these stories but they just haven’t had the same amount of rewatches as some of the other anime on the list.

Number 5: Bakuman


The story of the two guys who think they are going to become famous mangaka and have an anime is actually really compelling. There are some issues that come up with how females are represented and the like, but mostly this is just a really interesting look at the industry as we follow the two main characters through a fairly gruelling journey.

On paper this story shouldn’t work given how long we spend watching the characters brain storm and work in their studio. It should be boring, and yet it is fascinating and they give the entire thing a very shonen feel without going too far into the crazy and unbelievable. However, more than just being a story of trying to become the best, this is a story about the characters and they really sell the work as you become deeply fixated on whether they succeed or fail and their relationships with the other characters.

Number 4: A Certain Scientific Railgun


The whole franchise with A Certain Magical Index seasons 1 and 2 and Railgun 1 and 2, really should hold this place together. I like these stories but they are riddled with problems so I tend to start a season and then get distracted and that stretches the watch time out.

However, once I’m done I always remember the series fondly which is why I’ll rewatch it again in a few months time because I seem to forget about the pacing and character issues. That said, A Certain Scientific Railgun season 1 is my favourite so far and a lot of that comes down to the four main girls who manage to really charm without being overly cute and annoying.

Number 3: Heaven’s Memo Pad


Apparently I’m yet to review this anime so I’ll definitely have to fix that. I love Heaven’s Memo Pad. That isn’t actually saying it is a good anime, but it just hits a certain spot when I’m in the right mood for it. Pretty much you know the feeling you used to get as a teenager where you want to just shut yourself away and right bad poetry for a day or two, that’s the mood you need to be in to truly appreciate Heaven’s Memo Pad.

It is heavy dark melodrama that takes itself very seriously but it manages to bring about some really great character moments and force the audience to confront some fairly heavy issues. It is trying really hard to hit you with feels and when you aren’t in the right mood it just kind of comes off as trying too hard, but when you are in the right frame of mind it is kind of perfect. Be prepared for issues involving suicide, social isolation, betrayal, drug use, gang violence, and so on and so forth as well as an overly cutely designed detective at the centre of the story.


Number 2: Ghost Hunt


I love Ghost Hunt but I will admit the reason it does get rewatched so often is the episodic nature of the story. Each case only covers a handful of episodes so you can just pick a case to watch without watching the entire anime.

Plus, the English dub works really well for most characters (John the apparent Australian priest is another story) so this is an anime I can watch when I’m really tired and don’t want to deal with subs or trying to pick up the Japanese.

Its your basic introduce a mystery, send in the team and investigate, figure out the cause and solve kind of thing but the cases are quite diverse and they usually manage some genuinely tense moments along the way. I also really like the characters in the story, or at least I like watching them given I think most of them would be really annoying in real life.

Number 1: Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

Anime by Studio J.C.Staff - Is It Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon.

This is definitely a newer title for my collection but it is one I very quickly became addicted to Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. As in I watched it through, told my friend they had to watch it, and immediately binged the entire thing again over two or three days. It is a regular title for me to select when I need a pick me up. It is fun, energetic, has some awesome fight sequences, and it is really hard to feel bad about things when watching Bell run about so determined to reach his dreams.

I absolutely love this silly little adventure story and will happily watch it over and over again, and with season two and three out now there’s even more to love. I’m also not even going to touch why the spin-off was an incredible waste of time.

Anyway, that’s my list this week. Feel free to tell me your favourite titles from Studio J.C.Staff in the comments below.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

A Certain Scientific Railgun Series Review


A Certain Scientific Railgun Overview:

A spin-off from A Certain Magical Index, Railgun follows Mikoto Misaka as she takes on delinquents, helps her friends out, and deals with the fallout from the various experiments and projects going on in academy city.

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A Certain Scientific Railgun Review:

Railgun was always going to be the better show when compared to A Certain Magical Index. Why? Because they took the best character and storyline from Index, shook off a lot of the unnecessary debris, gave the show a clear tone and focus, and delivered some really great stories. This is kind of what a spin-off should do.

A Certain Scientific Railgun

The thing is, Academy City is a reasonably good location for a story. The sheer number of super-powered teenagers and the intrigue of the scientists behind the scenes gives you nearly limitless opportunities for things to go awry (whether by accident of design). The problem is, Index wasn’t satisfied with that setting and also tried to bring in the church and magicians and ended up being messy.

Also, as pointed out by someone who commented on my review of Index, the title character is totally unnecessary to the story after the first arc and kind of becomes either comic relief or the occasional victim of the week.


What are the distinct changes from Railgun to Index?

The female main character surrounded by her room-mate (who we will talk about later) and two other female friends gives Railgun a much more cute girls doing cute things feel even while some of those cute girls regularly take out entire gangs, bank robbers and anyone else who crosses their path.

Also, Mikoto isn’t Touma who is overly powerful because of some ill-defined power. She’s traditional Esper and has worked hard to gain her power and to become one of the best in academy city. It makes her a much more intriguing character and means it always looks like she is working so much harder for victory than Touma who just kind of blunders his way through situations.

Additionally, we see more of the actual school setting of Academy City. Not that we really see all that many lessons, but we do get to see the students having their powers tested, hear them complain about their lessons, and even see some of them attend remedial classes. Judgement (which appeared as an organisation in Index) finally gets some sort of explanation and has a real presence in the plot, as do the teachers and security of Academy City. All of this makes the world seem that bit more real.

The retelling of the sister’s arc is fantastic. Honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to see a story I’d already seen in Index retold and thought this was kind of cheating a bit, but watching it you realise that this was a story that needed to be told from Mikoto’s viewpoint and it is definitely the superior version of the story. Touma is of course still present but this time we very much see Mikoto’s thoughts and feelings and it has far more impact.

Finally, the support cast are great. Index had a large support cast but they mostly came and went and to be honest all of Touma’s friends were either jerks or apparently secret agents. Mikoto feels more real because she is surrounded by real people and the dynamic of the core group in this anime is fantasic.


My complaints?

Kuroko Shirai (Mikoto’s room-mate and serial attacker). Seriously, Shirai crying sissy and grabbing at her and groping her usually right before Mikoto electrocuted her is probably the most annoying this about this series. it’s an overused joke that wasn’t funny in the first instance and is at times down-right creepy.

It also makes it hard to take Shirai seriously in any other capacity as a character and the thing is, if you remove this one annoying aspect, she’s a pretty amazing character in her own right. Teleportation, great combat skills, and drive. She works for judgement and generally does her job well (though she does have some ways to go with teamwork). But you can’t appreciate how amazing she is because just when you think she’s not so bad there she is rolling around on Mikoto’s bed or sniffing her clothes or something.


Swimsuit episodes are kind of expected when watching an anime about high school girls but in this case they didn’t even go to the bother of actually going to the beach. Instead we have the girls taking part in a modelling thing and to be honest it serves no purpose other than to put the main characters and some other classmates that show up occasionally into swim-wear.


Last complaint, the need to try to get us to sympathise with every character and villain. Why can’t they occasionally just have a confrontation with someone who is a jerk? Simple and straight forward. Oh no, every single antagonist must have a complex back story and a whole raft of reasons why they were driven into a corner… Once or twice this works but by the time you get to about the fifth villain that the show tries to make you feel sorry for you are kind of over it.

If you haven’t watched either A Certain Magical Index or A Certain Scientific Railgun you would be better served with Railgun. And while knowing the events in Index help with some of the very minor plot points (and the occasional cameo from characters the show implies you should know) it isn’t necessary to the enjoyment of Railgun.

This is a fairly solid story set in an interesting world with a good cast of characters with the four girls complementing each other nicely in the centre of the story. Also, some really great fight sequences in amongst the cute girls running around a city built for Espers.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

A Certain Magical Index Series Review

A Certain Magical Index Overview:

In A Certain Magical Index, Kamijo is a student in Academy City, a city that is almost entirely populated by students who are using science to develop supernatural powers. Only, Kamijo doesn’t have any. He’s a level 0. Which would be fine except he has terrible luck and keeps getting into situations well over his head and then he doesn’t run away, he tries to fight. Turns out he has a secret. His right hand essentially nullifies any power that comes in contact with him.

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A Certain Magical Index Review:

I’m going to be honest, if you haven’t watched either A Certain Magical Index or A Certain Scientific Railgun, watch Railgun. It’s the spin-off and is the more compelling viewing of the two series. It’s also the more traditional in terms of following group of girls with powers as they try to live normal lives but keep getting mixed up in things. In terms of concepts, Magical Index is more interesting, but makes for less compelling viewing.


A lot of the problems with Index come from the Protagonist Kamijo. He’s boring to look at at boring to follow. He’s the typical ‘I have no power but I won’t just keep my head down’ protagonist. Oh look, there’s another highly powerful girl in trouble, I best go help her even though I’m mostly going to fail. And then his power nullifies other powers. That’s all well and good, and extremely frustrating for those attacking him, but why doesn’t anyone just shoot him with a gun?

Alright, to put some order into this review I need to discuss the plot a bit more. Index is the name of a person (the young girl dressed in church robes that are held together by safety pins after Kamijo’s hand conveniently destroys the magic holding the outfit together early in the series) and she contains a whole bunch of magic books. Essentially she’s a walking library. The church (one of many church’s – there’s a lot of religious terms thrown around in overly long explanations) doesn’t want anyone to have access to these books so they wipe Index’s memories every year. Why that would be effective at containing anything has yet to be adequately explained.


So Index is on the run because her memories of people who are protecting her are gone and she quite rightly suspects the church of trying to kill her. She ends up at Academy City and somehow falls onto Kamijo’s balcony. But rather than let her go about her business, Kamijo decided to try and save her from the evil magicians that are now chasing her. In the process he learns that Index’s memory is about to reset again and he has to stop that from happening (we’re still in the first few episodes here).

Long story short, Index gets injured and they go to one of Kamijo’s teachers for help because he can’t use magic and neither can anyone trained as an Esper but a magic spell might heal her. They do that and Kamijo undoes some magic whosit and now Index is going to be fine and not have her memories erased but Kamijo gets hit on the head by a magic feather and loses his memories.


Wake up in hospital, pretend not to have lost memories. And then… Like, we’re only a handful of episodes in. The series is called A Certain Magical Index but the story isn’t following her, although she never leaves after this, even when she serves no purpose.

Yep, the rest of the series sees Kamijo meet a girl in distress, stick his nose into her business, try to save her, usually succeed but get severely injured in the process. While some of these individual encounters are interesting, the overall narrative kind of collapses. They try to keep an ongoing theme of rivalry between the magicians and the scientists but to be frank there isn’t enough of this for it to hold the story together.


So, the main character is bland, other characters come and go, or come and hang around like a bad smell, the plot is not particularly coherent… Why are we talking about this?

Well, because there are some moments of sheer brilliance in this. Certain exchanges, battles, sub-characters and even the occasional arc just shine. This anime builds a rich world full of lore and history (though they could find a better way to explain some of it) and really it’s a lot of fun with the occasional hint of drama.

As I said at the start, if you haven’t tried this series, A Certain Scientific Railgun is a much better bet than this, but if you like things that feel both generic and different at the same time and you don’t mind the odd info dump to get you through an awkward bit of storyline, there’s certainly some enjoyment to be found in watching A Certain Magical Index.

If you have seen it, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Friday’s Feature: Problem Solver

kirito klein

When I wrote this piece originally it had been on my mind for awhile. The idea that  fiction is a fairly distorted way of experiencing reality. Not saying that’s a bad thing, by distorting certain aspects of what is real other points can be more easily framed and foregrounded. Complex emotional ideas that usually get swept under the rug in reality can take centre stage or we can just enjoy the fact that our heroes are all but indestructible due to plot armour.

However one way that fiction consistently distorts is that regardless of the medium  stories have this tendency to lead the audience into thinking the problem (whatever it is) has a solution. It isn’t that every fictional problem is always solved neatly or easily, but there is almost always a forward motion in stories and usually this is built around characters advancing towards that final solution whether they ultimately achieve it or not.

And while certainly a non-defeatist attitude or a desire to be proactive might be admirable personality traits, hopeless optimism that everything could be solved is probably not. When we think about some of the situations anime protagonists are faced with and yet mostly they still say cheesy lines like:

I mean, they are wonderfully inspiring quotes that make you feel you can get out there and accomplish anything you put your mind to. But they don’t really deal with the reality most people face everyday. Changing things is sometimes not a matter of having courage but one of opportunity and those are few and far between.


And sometimes you could try as hard as you like but without others being on board you may not succeed. Also, sometimes you don’t have endless chances to try once more. Sometimes you’ve tried and failed and that ship has sailed off into the sunset when you were not on board (I do mean a metaphoric ocean going vessel here and not a relationship).

That isn’t to say that there aren’t characters out there expressing a more down to earth view of things.


However, that is why Kunikida is not the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs. He can’t be a main character with that kind of attitude. He exists to be a voice of logic or reason that others (those who will be the main character of their story) fight to overcome. In truth, he is directly positioned to be seen as unhelpful and negative at times and as the person who has a defeatist attitude. Comparing him to Atsushi (who is actually the main character of Bungo Stray Dogs for some reason), Kunikida is smarter, more focussed, and infinitely more talented. And yet it is Atsushi’s never say die and charge into the den of your enemy approach that ultimately saves the day in the final fights though there is a lot of giving up at smaller challenges earlier in the season (what exactly did Kunikida do for the entirety of season 2?).

Then we have Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. From a casual observation he flies in the face of every other protagonist out there. He is the star of his show and carries with him a negative and self-destructive mantle that he absolutely refuses to change.

He doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t see his personality as a problem, and has more or less given up on expecting anything from the world. Yet then we look at the plot structure of this story. Almost every episode (or arc as some go over multiple episodes) deal with Hachiman having to address a problem and solve it. He may whinge, drag his feet, and act indifferent but even though his solution is unconventional and usually leaves him burned, the fact remains that he continues to act on behalf of others to bring problems to a solution.

The one problem that he refused to address is the problem everyone else in the series is forced to address and that is his own anti-social attitude which as he points out probably isn’t that big of an issue given he’s hardly the first teenager to go through high-school without friends. It becomes an issue though when it becomes apparent that a lot of what he says is an outer facade rather than his true feelings.


And then of course we have Kirito from SAO who faced a problem so extreme that even with a never say die attitude and you never know until you try still couldn’t win so broke the game. While there might be a touching message about the power of emotions and desire the reality of that situation wasn’t just distorted it was completely thrown out the window for narrative convenience. Of course, any other ending wouldn’t have really worked at that point so we’ll just go along with it.

Fiction is a mirror for the world but it isn’t a true reflection and this is seen clearly in this idea of solving problems. Some things once broken can’t be fixed. Others require a work around, acceptance, or sometimes a tactical withdrawal (otherwise known as running away with purpose). And while all these ideas appear in stories, the overwhelming majority of fiction has a protagonist confronting a problem (regardless of what that problem might be) and in some way dealing with that problem (even if the protagonist ultimately does not succeed).

What do you think about fiction and how it constructs reality? What are some of your favourite quotes from anime protagonists as they go to confront overwhelming danger? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Top 5: Anime Powers With Practical Application

Tuesday's Top 5

I know that these powers aren’t going to be the flashiest, but I’m listing anime powers that would be immediately convenient and practical in the everyday life of someone. So not a power to save the world or fight the bad guy. Powers that just make everyday life that little bit simpler and easy to deal with.

You know, the kind of power you might not immediately wish for if offered an ability but one that if you were given would make your life so much better.

What anime power would you have added to the list? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions this week go to computer hacking (Captain Earth – and I know it’s not really a power but she does claim to be a magical girl) and a shout out to Orihime in Bleach because her power is pretty handy even if they keep changing their minds about what her power actually is.

Practical Anime Power Number 5:  Silencer (Hitsugi no Chaika)

Chaika Silence - this is one anime power all of us would have wanted as teenagers.

I’m going to be honest. This power isn’t so much one with a practical application as one that would just make life easier to deal with. No more noise because we are going to silence it. In the anime they use this power to cover the sound of smashing through jail bars, but just think how useful it would be during meetings and boring lunch dates.

That, and as a teenager, think how helpful it would have been to silence the noise if you were trying to sneak out, sneak someone in, or just have a private phone conversation without people listening in.

There are endless practical uses for this anime power.

Practical Anime Power Number 4: Luna Pen Transformation (Sailor Moon)

Something unexpected came up? No problem. Whip out your luna pen and transform into whatever you need to be to deal with the current situation.

I always felt Serena under-utilised the abilities of this pen given how useful it could have been in certain situations. She does use it to sneak into invite only parties and to give herself a boost of courage when infiltrating a school or a bus, but really. There are so many more moments when a quick transformation would have helped.

But even those moments when you just wore the wrong shoes could be overcome in an instant if you had this amazing anime power. Not to mention, never suffer a bad haircut again.

Practical Anime Power Number 3: Speed Reading (Fairy Tail)

Maybe this one is just a personal preference. But I read a lot in my job (and for pleasure) and I read very quickly, and even then I still feel that if I could just read faster and take information in quicker I could enjoy more stories and I could get more work done. Levy (and Lucy) use special glasses to help them read faster and I just felt so incredibly envious of them.

Just think about the everyday jobs that could be done quicker if you could read the assembly instructions in a near instant and understand them all or if you could read the manual on how to program your microwave and have the information more or less immediately at your disposal.

Yes it might seem like a dull choice but this anime power could be very handy.

Practical Anime Power Number 2: All Seeing (Inu X Boku)

Not sure if this is practical or creepy - anime powers.

Okay, this one could probably end up being used for creepy purposes but I thought it was kind of cool. Zange claims to be able to see everything about everyone, but it seems like his power is a little more limited than that. Still, his insight into others and his seeming ability to figure out where and when things will happen and to manipulate events to make things happen is pretty impressive and would be highly useful in everyday life.

Although, if everyone had this ability I assume that each person’s vision would cancel out the others so we’d probably end up no further along than we are now.

Still, think how insightful people at work will think you are if you had this anime power.


Practical Anime Power Number 1: Teleportation (A Certain Scientific Railgun)

This was the obvious choice. As annoying as Shirai is as a character, her anime power is incredibly amazing and has so many practical applications.

She teleports herself and objects through space (though she is limited by weight and distance). Still, how amazing would that be and how many ways could you use that in a single day. Although, if we are concerned about the growing obesity epidemic than maybe it isn’t the greatest idea to give us a means to completely avoid moving within short distances.

I still think it would one of the coolest powers and one that I could see a use for every day.

What do you think of the list? And what power would you have added? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James