Man vs Nature – Crying Won’t Save You

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash - Haruhiro fight

Today I want to look at Man vs Nature. If you missed the post I had a quick look at Man vs Man conflict so please be sure to check out the post.

Right from the start I know I’m probably going to get some corrections to this post because when I talk about Man vs Nature conflicts I include all natural disasters, monstrous creatures and unstoppable supernatural forces.

I don’t however include supernatural creatures that have high levels of human characteristics such as vampires. While some of the vampires from the past may have met my idea of ‘nature’ most modern vampire stories just have slightly strong and occasionally sparkly protagonists and really they interact with the plot in the same way a man vs man conflict should.

I also know that some people classify man vs supernatural as its own category of conflict but again, due to the way it works in stories, I kind of lump them both together.

With that said, let’s jump into Man vs Nature.

hunter x hunter - man vs nature

I think the main element of this story is that the source of the conflict is an unavoidable and unreasonable force. The characters can’t negotiate with hurricanes or asteroids or giant man-eating lizards or whatever other natural phenomenon is coming their way. That doesn’t mean that the characters don’t make the situation worse or don’t stir up trouble (you know by destroying the habitat of that sleeping horde of whatever and setting them loose).

However, Man vs Nature is distinctly different from Man vs Man because there is no will or motive on the opposing forces side. It just is. Deal with it.



Man vs Nature takes negotiation off the table.

But this conflict works so incredibly well (particularly in major Hollywood movies that have increasingly used them in a flimsy attempt to portray the togetherness of the human race). Why does it work?

01. Most people understand the fear, anxiety, concern of natural disasters even if they’ve never directly been in one. Whether it is flood, fire, storm, earthquake, volcano, natural disasters are pretty much a fact of life and as kids we learn disaster drills and lessons about prepping for storm season.

We watch the news and see the tragedy and the helplessness. And even if it isn’t a large scale thing, we all know that sometimes animals act unpredictably. Sometimes stuff just happens and we have to deal with. This type of conflict strikes a real chord with pretty much everyone.

02. This type of conflict can easily be scaled up or down. It can be a wolf terrorising a single farmer or it can be a world ending sun explosion. The basic story remains identical as does the effectiveness of the conflict allowing a diverse range of scenarios. Of course, that leaves this open to some incredibly poor writing when the characters, which are the only part of the story that can really allow the audience to connect, are not well crafted. In that farmer and wolf story, that farmer better be one compelling individual or your audience will check out quick no matter how many chickens the wolf slaughters.

03. Awesome visuals. Whether it is a monster, animal, or natural disaster, you can do some very cool things visually with this type of conflict. It lends itself to spectacle and when done well can certainly deliver.

How does this work in anime?

Interestingly enough, while there are some anime that have natural disasters in them, they aren’t as prolific as you think. Kaze no Stigma has a short arc focused on an eruption because the family that were supposed to perform the ritual to prevent it were unable to. And of course there’s Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. However, despite the lack of world ending storms in anime, there are some excellent monster and other unstoppable forces of nature stories to choose from.

Case 1: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

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Grimgar is an odd anime when you think about the conflict of the story (mostly because for large parts of the story the characters are simply dealing with survival). While there are moments where we see Man vs Self issues arise, the real killer in Grimgar is the world these characters have found themselves in. They don’t know how they got there and they don’t start out with the skills they need to survive but they need to learn them fast.

What makes Grimgar particularly effective is that almost all the conflicts take place in the woods, in ruined cities or in a network of underground tunnels. The civilised locations, the town where they have their ‘home’, is relatively safe and other than the occasional inner-party squabble they don’t really face any danger there.

Grimgar plays on fear of the unknown. Of venturing further out of your comfort zone and confronting enemies that you may or may not be ready to take on. It’s the excitement of exploration mixed with the fear of death lurking around every turn. In short, it plays with this core conflict and really uses it to keep the audience on edge whenever the characters aren’t in the town. It makes you aware of all the dangers you would face if taken out of the comfort of the modern world.

Case 2: Another 

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In terms of supernatural forces that are untouchable and certainly unreasonable, the curse from Another is probably the clearest cut force of nature that can be found. Like a storm it has a mappable path and you can see the trail of destruction it has left, but you can’t do much about it other than take shelter and hope you are one of the lucky ones once it has passed.

It works well because even before the audience is let in on the particulars of the curse, there is a tangible weight on all of the members of the class. You can see that something is effecting them but you don’t know what or why. Even once our main character learns more about the curse, there’s still nothing he can do about it as his classmates and the occasional family member die one after another, month after month.

Unlike Grimgar, Another has a clear end point, at least for the characters we are following. In Grimgar we never know when, if ever, the characters will escape the world or whether they are just stuck there for life. In Another they just have to survive the year. Just one year. And then it turns out there is another way to stop the curse as well which is ultimately the path taken (admittedly the price was pretty high by the time everything was done).

Conclusion

I’m going to be honest, I love disaster movies. Yeah, they are formulaic and mostly filled with one-dimensional characters and trite writing, but occasionally you’ll get one where the cast really just manages to have some real chemistry and they sell the situation they are in. Besides, regardless of bad acting and dialogue, most bad disaster movies are still entertaining as you play count the cliché or laugh at poor special effects. In anime, I find that this type of conflict tends to be treated a bit more seriously. Less flippant one liners and throwing beer bottles at storm clouds and more introspection about what it means to be a human and alive.

Your turn: I’d love to hear what your favourite Man vs Nature conflict in an anime is and why.


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Karandi James


Top 5 Anime Beach Episodes That Didn’t Feel Like A Colossal Waste Of Time

Anime Beach Episode - Top 5 List

I’ve never really hidden the fact that I’m not a big fan of the beach. Whether it is the gritty sand, the salty/fishy smell, or just the sun and heat, there’s not a lot of appeal for me.

Likewise, I find beach episodes in anime largely pretty pointless so it is always pleasant to come across an episode set on the beach that doesn’t feel like complete filler. Here are my top 5 anime beach episodes that don’t feel like a colossal waste of time.

Anime Beach Episode No. 5 – Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran High School Host Club - Anime Beach Episode with some bite.

When the members of the Ouran High School Host Club goes to the beach, Haruhi mistakenly thinks she’s going to get a bit of a break. Sadly, it ends up being a working holiday with the hosts entertaining their guests on the beach.

However, when some petty thugs start harassing a couple of the female students, rather than seeking help, Haruhi steps in and ends up getting tossed from a rock before being rescued by Tamaki.

This is one of the few times Tamaki actually gets made at Haruhi for real and the episode ends up being a pretty solid episode in terms of character growth as well as in establishing various boundaries and relationships between cast members.

Sure there’s some questionable messaging about gender roles and victim blaming in this episode if you are really wanting to dissect it, but at its core Haruhi got in over her head, scared Tamaki half-to-death, and then gave them both a chance to air their grievances before finding a mutual understanding. The method, like most things in Ouran, probably shouldn’t be tried in real life.

From what could have been just a filler episode of pretty boys doing standard beach things to impress the mass of girls that hang around the host club we actually ended up getting an anime beach episode that felt essential for the ongoing plot.



Anime Beach Episode No. 4 – Kamisama Kiss

Nanami from Kamisama Kiss - In Karandi's top 5 anime beach episode's.

In Kamisama Kiss, Nanami decides she wants to go to the beach with friends but Tomoe pretty much tells her she can’t go. Being a stubborn and young goddess, Nanami decides she’s going anyway.

Turns out, Tomoe had a fairly good reason to say no. Given his job is to protect Nanami and for reasons that become fairly clear as the episode progresses, he shouldn’t go in the water, Nanami in the ocean is pretty much his worst nightmare.

However, like most episodes of Kamisama Kiss, while this anime beach episode did have some usual filler moments we associate with anime characters at the beach, we actually got some pretty important backstory on one of the main characters who was usually pretty closed off to the audience. it also leads to a pretty dramatic follow-up episode where Nanami and the others try to save Tomoe.

All things considered, this one ends up being a solid character moment and sets up an interesting plot while still being a pretty laid back anime beach episode including high schoolers wearing swim suits on the beach.

Anime Beach Episode No. 3 – My Love Story

Takeo and Yamato enjoying the beach - Anime Beach Episodes worth watching.

I’d be lying if I said that My Love Story did anything particularly revolutionary with the beach episode. In fact, ‘My Ocean’, episode 11 of My Love Story, seems to double down on most of the going to the bleach cliches with a beach volleyball game that goes for a monumentally exhausting length of time, playing in the water, swim suits, cold drinks, sand castles, and a sun-set that lasts an eternity.

However, as far as anime beach episodes go, My Love Story managed to keep theirs firmly integrated with the plot of the story (such as it was). Yamato wants Takeo to move faster with her and is trying her hardest to look adorable in her swim suit while Takeo is trying hard not to ogle the girl he likes in order to not make her feel uncomfortable.

It should also be noted we get some incredibly funny moments in this episode as Takeo, our tower of insecurities, wins the attention and interest of most of women at the beach, entertains various children in the water, and generally has a great time with his friends, and yet still freezes at the mere sight of his girlfriend in a swimsuit.

If an anime is going to do a beach episode, then they should at the very least be as entertaining as this one was.

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Anime Beach Episode No. 2 – Another

Characters from Another think they are getting some down time in this anime beach episode. Poor them.

For me, horror and the beach are actually kind of a perfect mix. Movies like Jaws have already proven that the vast ocean and the dangers that lurk as soon as you step off the beach can be wonderfully put together. When I throw in my own issues with the ocean and drowning, as soon as the characters from Another went to the beach I had fairly solid expectations that we’d get more than just another anime beach episode.

What followed in episode 8 was a strange kind of viewing experience as the characters did go through most of the usual filler beach tropes and yet the whole episode had a strained and subdued feeling. The whole way through you were waiting for something to happen and when it finally did it was almost a relief even though it was kind of horrific.

Now you might ask why school kids being picked off by a curse would even think to go and play at the beach, except that the story had already established that the curse didn’t work outside of the region. Once they got far enough away from the town they all breathed a sigh of relief (though it seems a bit prematurely).

When the curse does catch up with them, they do provide some solid reasoning as to why and how that happened and it also reinforces the sense that these characters are indeed trapped and are not going to get a happily ever after.

Anime Beach Episode No. 1 – Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom knows how to integrate its anime beach episode fan-service and plot into one fun bundle.

Assassination Classroom certainly knew how to have fun even with its somewhat morbid premise of a group of students having to ultimately assassinate their super-powered teacher. However after studying ridiculously hard and beating the top class at their own game in test scores, the class get to travel to Okinawa for some much deserved down time. Only they don’t.

They’ve also made a deal with their teacher and due to their top scores, he’s going to give them a one off chance to damage him which may just make an assassination possible. Include the fact that they are at a beach and they already know that water is a weakness for him and what we have is a festive holiday for a class that is all merely cover for a masterfully put together assassination attempt.

What makes this anime beach episode work is we get to see all the characters playing at various leisure activities as well as seeing the cooperation, teamwork and determination they’ve gained in the classroom all coming together.

The actual assassination attempt is a truly brilliant and well choreographed attempt that in a fair world would have succeeded and ended the series, but instead at the very least show-cases how far these kids have come.

It is a fantastic episode and really does show us how an anime beach episode can have its fun and still drive forward a compelling plot and character arc.

Anime Beach Episode - Top 5 List

And there you have my Top 5 anime beach episodes that don’t feel like a colossal waste of time. As always, I’d love to hear from my readers. What are some of your favourite anime beach episodes?


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Karandi James


Another Anime Series Review – The Horror, The Blood, The Shock, That Ending?

Another Series Review
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Creepy School, Creepy Dolls, Creepy Everything

As has probably become apparent to those who follow my blog, I have a definite fondness for horror anime, even not particularly good ones. So imagine how happy I am when we get one that is vaguely competent at actually creating a sense of atmostphere and gives us at least some characters that feel like they are contributing more than just a number to the body count? While the Another anime may not be a perfect anime by any means, it gets a gold star for being one of the better horror anime out there or at the very lest is more in sync with the kind of horror I like.

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Now given my love the Another anime I was absolutely certain I’d reviewed it already but it turns out I was just mistaking the thousand other posts I’ve referenced this anime in for having reviewed it. It made the list of top 5 anime with blood and gore (understandably enough – avoid umbrellas), also made an appearance on my list for best use of dream sequences, and even showed up as a case in my posts on man vs nature. Turns out I’ve added Another to a lot more top 5 lists and used it as an example copious times and yet never actually written a review. Well today I correct that oversight.



Another is a very good anime for a particular niche audience. That audience is one that likes their horror to be more about the slow build-up and the use of heavy atmosphere then rampaging blood and guts from the word go.

Because despite the deaths starting very early on in the anime, and they are bloody and violent, each episode feels almost languid in its pacing as we sit through stilted conversations and everyday interactions while all the while the visuals and music keep foreshadowing something about to happen that almost never does, and then suddenly it does happen and whether it is being impaled on an umbrella, suicide, near misses with glass sheets, or even head injuries, Another is going to keep you wondering just what will kill these kids next.

The Another anime does not hold back on gore.

Our main character, Kouichi, has arrived in town to stay with family as his father has travelled overseas for work. Unfortunately he was hospitalised right before school started and so meets his classmates from class 3-3 while lying in his hospital bed. It is an awkward situation to say the least and only gets worse once he joins the class and realises there’s one girl no one ever talks to or acknowledges. Naturally, he decides to go and talk to her.

another

What follows then is Kouichi trying to unravel the mystery of class 3-3 and once he has the full story rather than half-hints and vague mutterings, he turns his attention to finding a way out of the situation for all of the students who are still alive at that point. It’s during the middle phases when Kouichi and the other classmates start digging into the past and looking for answers where the story really opens up beyond just being creepy for the sake of it and you start to realise the full hopelessness of their situation.

The story then transitions into the third act which is probably the roughest part of the series. The opening act is that slow and rich atmosphere and half hints, the middle phase is the discovery section, and then we move to the climax where the teachers decide to take the remaining students to pray at a shrine on a mountain. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea in a horror story.

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Sound advice.

Needless to say they get isolate by poor weather and then suspicions and distrust boil over. Soon it is classmate against classmate in an incredibly gory and over the top finale. On the bright side, you do get an actual answer to the mystery and the story is resolved, but that ending feels very much like the anime was worried it hadn’t made some kind of prescribed body count and was making up for lost time in those final episodes.

another

Despite what I feel is an over the top ending, I still really appreciate the care that has gone in to Another’s production. Visually it hits the mark perfectly finding that wonderful balance between being dark and gloomy but still making it easy enough to watch through clever use of lighting and colour.

The cast of classmates are interesting to get to know and while they definitely throw a few of the characters away cheaply at the end, prior to that most of the characters act in ways that are understandable enough given the situation. Basically it is a horror I enjoy watching and continue to feel is one of the best examples of anime horror (not that it has a whole lot of competition).

If you haven’t had the chance to watch Another and you are into horror at all it is worth trying. Maybe you’ll find the opening act too slow for you but if you get into it you might just find a new favourite horror anime.


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Karandi James


Images from: Another. Dir. T Mizushima. P.A Works. 2012

A Decade of Anime 2012

Anime of the Decade

Alright, 2012 was one of those years that I spent a fair bit of time short listing titles before finally deciding on my top from each season. Winter and Spring were relatively easy but wow Summer and Fall made it hard. The anime that didn’t make the cut: Sword Art Online, Humanity has Declined, Kamisama Hajimemashita, and Psycho Pass. Seriously, I love every one of those titles but I just couldn’t say they were the anime from that season that I would absolutely have to watch. That said, they are all brilliant and if you haven’t watched them, be sure to check them out… after you check out the list for 2012.

The Rules:

No. 1: No sequels of any kind.

No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year.

No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.

Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.

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Another

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For those who have followed my blog for sometime, my predilection toward horror is pretty well known. That said, most horror anime are trash and few of them are even the good kind of trash. Here we have the second and final horror anime to make the cut for the decade that was and it is Another (which I’ll definitely be writing a review for soon). Another plays on a lot of cliches of the genre and also throws around buckets of blood. Think a really slowed down version of Final Destination crossed with the Grudge and you kind of have the idea. Honestly, the overall plot is a little dicey though does make sense but the atmosphere constructed through visuals, music and pacing are phenomenal.

Anyway, while not a perfect anime by any means, for those with a bit of patience and a love of horror, there’s plenty to enjoy in this story of a cursed class. Definitely do not watch if you are squeamish or if suicide is a trigger for you.

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Jormungand

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One of these days I’ll even learn to spell the title to this one correctly. However, Jormungand gives us the story of the arms dealer, Koko Hekmatyar, and her body guards as they travel about the world making deals for weapons and getting caught up in various regional conflicts and hostile business dealings. The series kicks off when Jonah, a child soldier, joins Koko’s crew and we see a lot of the story from his perspective as the outsider learning about the group. There’s clearly some touchy subject matter here and while the story does respect that it also knows not to depress its audience and provides plenty of lighter moments. The cast of characters are what will make you watch this more than once as they grow on you as you get to know them and with each watching it feels like you learn a little more about them.

With some great action, good music, and a solid cast of characters there’s little to complain about with Jormungand other than the occasional pacing issue. Well worth a watch and be sure to watch the second season to see the conclusion to Koko’s plan.

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Kokoro Connect

Kokoro

You have no idea how hard this decision was. My initial reaction declared that of course it had to be Sword Art Online but as much fun as that anime is (and the first cour is great fun to watch), Kokoro Connect left a powerful impact on me when I watched it. Five students who through various reasons have ended up in the same club end up being used as experimental subjects in some weird intelligence’s experiments. They’ll be mind reading, body swapping, acting on impulse and so on and still trying to deal with their own identity issues and budding relationships. While this story could have gone further it certainly does enough and there’s some really powerful moments here.

This is an anime that you will have mixed reactions to and will probably connect or not with different cast members. For me, I found this anime delightful and while I didn’t necessarily relate with any of the cast members, I ended up emphasising with them as they went through an awful lot in this story.

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Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shita

Chuunibyou

Where do you even begin with something like Chuunibyou? This is a series with a lot of heart that tackles serious issues of grief, growing up, identity and mental health but does it in a way that has you smiling every single episode. Rikka became one of the most identifiable protagonists of the decade with her eye patch and ridiculous poses and the rest of the cast are equally colourful and entertaining to watch as they stumble about their school live and adolescence.

This anime is a must watch regardless of the decade and while it has its silly moments, at its heart it seriously knew what it wanted to explore and it does an excellent job of it. The characters each carry their weight as they each explore the issues in their own way and draw their own conclusions but ultimately it is up to you, the viewer, to think about everything that is presented and to draw your own conclusion. If you want something fun that has a big impact, Love, Chuunibyo and Other Delusions is definitely an anime to check out if you haven’t already seen it.

Anime of the Decade

2012 is completed and I can’t wait to see what you would have put in your top picks from the year. Tomorrow we’ll move on to 2013.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James


Check out my favourite anime from each year over the last decade:

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episodes 14 + 15

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Vampires and Karma

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Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episodes 14 + 15

I didn’t suspect that we’d get more of Midnight Occult Civil Servants so soon and to be honest, a couple of episodes here and there of this would always be welcome. While it hasn’t upped its game visually and they are definitely making the assumption you’ve watched the series prior and know basically who the main characters are, this two episode story about a vampire and petty revenge is a nice stand-alone viewing experience.

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This story primarily focuses on Theo, which was nice as we didn’t really learn a lot about him during the series. We learn about his past as a researcher and the jealousy another researcher felt toward him. We also learn about his long-time fascination with Japanese Vampires of which there is apparently only one left with the species having been more or less hunted to extinction.

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However, there’s been a series of mysterious deaths in Shinjuku and it is fairly quickly determined that a vampire must be involved. Once again we see the tricky legalities these civil servants face as the case is most definitely one for the police, but Theo’s knowledge and personal involvement means they stay relevant to the plot.

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If anyone gets short changed in these two episodes it would be Arata as other than acting as a translator during what should be a fairly emotional scene, he is largely peripheral to everything going on. Again, not really a problem given Theo is interesting enough and the vampire story is actually pretty interesting, even if the villain’s motives aren’t.

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Basically, this is more of Midnight Occult Civil Servants. It hasn’t noticeably improved on the weaknesses of the series but if you enjoyed it (which I did) and you enjoy supernatural investigation stories in general, there’s enough entertainment to be found here and the isolated nature of this case makes it perfectly fine to just watch the two episodes without having to revisit the whole series.


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Karandi James


Midnight Occult Civil Servants Anime Review

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Let’s Talk It Out

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin only has a score of 6.82 on MAL and that’s no real surprise. A visually dull anime with a slow story about a character who can talk to supernatural creatures isn’t exactly ticking everyone’s box of a must watch. Arata has no other power. No magic banishing spells or supernatural mojo to back anything up. He literally can just speak with these Anothers and so we spend a lot of the series either sitting around the office or walking around the city having conversations. It isn’t exactly designed to be riveting entertainment.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin - You Can Talk To Them?

Despite that, this ended up being an anime I loved coming back to each week. The slightly darker and more mature tone was appealing and the absence of explosive fight sequences was kind of a nice relaxing view after the powerhouses of the season, Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer and One Punch Man were done. While there is certainly more this narrative could have done to play to its strengths, there was definitely enjoyment to be had in watching Arata slowly growing into his job and figuring out what he could do with his gift and what his limitations were.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants - Arata

The story is decidedly episodic with only one or two episodes carrying over to the following week. The general set up is something weird happens and Arata and his co-workers go investigate or Arata just happens to stumble upon something weird and gets involved. Over the episode we see the various characters talk about how inscrutable Anothers really are while Arata has his doubts and ends up trying to speak with the Another and then one way or another, the situation resolves itself.

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Great suggestion.

Where Midnight Occult Civil Servants fell a bit flat was despite  the incredibly dangerous scenarios set up at times with humans being kidnapped or falling into comas they pretty much without fail saved everyone and restored them to how they were. It kind of deflated a lot of the tension that could have naturally existed in this story because the Anothers were using a very different set of values to govern their actions and by default they didn’t see their actions as evil. There was a lot that could have been explored here and yet it really wasn’t.

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The other area, outside of the visuals, where I found this anime lacking from the experience it could have been was in Arata himself. As a character he’s a little bit of a space cadet early on and while that makes sense given he’s been thrown in the deep end, it doesn’t really give him a chance to establish his values. As the story progresses, we see him become more determined and assertive of his views, but he still doesn’t have all that much of a personality.

Arata - Midnight Occult Civil Servants

And for a story based around a character who can talk to supernatural creatures, he doesn’t say a lot that is all that profound or interesting. In one case he’s negotiating with an Another that is transporting humans to her realm and then stealing their emotions in a bid to recover something she is searching for. Arata’s argument that it is wrong makes sense but when she disagrees he doesn’t back it up or propose any kind of alternative. He merely reiterates the point and then acts shocked that she doesn’t get it.

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For the rest of the department the characters get some development but by and large remain fairly one note. While we do have a case involving the sister of one of Arata’s collegues, outside of this we just have them standing in the background a lot of the time or cautioning Arata. They also endlessly reiterate that you can’t negotiate with Anothers and that Anothers are dangerous but despite being tasked with dealing with Anothers they seem to know practically nothing about them.

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As the story progresses we see more and more often human antagonists that seem to exist simply to oppose Arata’s views on the Anothers and while these characters could have been nuanced and interesting, they end up being one note characters who hate Anothers because ‘insert tragic back story’.

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Tragic back story always comes with a scar – Anime Logic.

Basically we have all the ingredients for a more subdued dark urban fantasy but the anime itself doesn’t really deliver. The warning signs are there from the OP with a really great song and absolutely boring visuals that do not do the music justice at all. The idea is solid but the execution is shaky.

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When we throw in the visuals which are poorly contrasted and routinely dull or ugly to look at and we end up with an anime that is difficult to recommend, yet I’ll do it anyway. As a break from stories about the power of friendship, high school girls being cute, shouty protagonists proving their values with their fists, or protagonists finding themselves in fantasy lands and suddenly super powerful, Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin is actually quite refreshing in its own way. While it never reaches its potential its an easy watch and one I enjoyed week to week.


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Karandi James


Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episode 12

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A Sleepy But Satisfying Conclusion

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Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 12

This one ended as it began with Midnight Occult Civil Servants slipping away without fanfare or anything overly noteworthy; just a sense of a story going quietly about its business without putting on airs or drawing attention to itself. Whether or not you like it will entirely depend on your particular fondness for the slow and steady tone of the story or quiet interactions with the supernatural that seldom have world ending consequences.

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In this quiet little episode, Arata is taken to a field by some fairies where he meets an Another that seems to have amnesia. So begins a long and tiring journey as Arata seeks a new home for the Another the old fashioned way; he literally walks and looks around Tokyo for a place for the god to go.

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While there are certainly some surprises and upsets along the way, and the god learning that he was draining the life force from Arata quite unintentionally certainly gave a bit of time pressure to the resolution, mostly this was Arata going about his job. Yes, his very mundane job as a civil servant even if the service he provided had supernatural connections.

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There’s nothing in this final episode that will push the undecided into watching this series but it feels like a nice way to bookend the story as Arata’s wanderings bring many of the minor characters that we didn’t see last week come back into play even if only for a few moments. We also see that Arata now deals with the Another’s in a calm manner and he deals with unexpected problems in a sedate fashion.

All and all, it was a satisfying watch even is a fairly unspectacular one.


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Karandi James


Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime With Blood and Gore

Tuesday's Top 5

Yes, we have more Halloween list fun this week as I count down my five favourite anime that have a lot of blood and/or gore. Now I had to think long and hard about my pre-requisite for something ending up on this list because just most amount of gross out moments didn’t seem like a great criteria. So instead I decided to go with anime that use blood and gore the best as part of the narrative rather than for the shock factor. That said, it is my list so I’d love to know what you would include on yours.

So what are my top 5 anime with blood and gore?

Please note, there will be spoilers below. And while it should go without saying given the list title, a lot of the images will be disturbing if you do not like blood and gore. 

Honourable mentions: Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan, both provide blood and gore aplenty but it always feels more sensationalist than necessary.

Number 5: Higurashi

Higurashi

Cute kids who turn into psychos and kill their friends, in sometimes truly horrifying ways. This anime really does push the boundaries with a young cast that are subjected to torture, dismemberment, and generally just misery and death. Despite the young age of the cast it doesn’t really hold back on showing the deaths seemingly relishing in each and every failed attempt to break free from the time loop. This one definitely earns a spot on the list even if it isn’t quite as graphic as some of the others.

Number 4: Elfen Lied

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I almost just made this an honourable mention given a lot of the blood and flying body parts could definitely be seen as just an attempt to shock the audience. Still, the story does rely heavily on human fear of the unknown and of fear of the monster, and Lucy delivers both as she walks her way through a mass of armed guards leaving nothing but blood in her wake. After the opening the blood keeps coming but it is certainly diminished after the anime has set its scene.

Number 3: Another

Another

While more about atmosphere and creepiness than blood, there’s something even more shocking about the moments of pure gore this anime delivers because of the slow build to them. Very few people forget the umbrella on the stair case incident and the teacher suicide in the classroom is a truly unsettling and disturbing visual that isn’t leaving me any time soon. As these deaths are the result of the curse the class is under the violence and shocking nature of these events are actually kind of necessary because otherwise the kids wouldn’t be half so desperate to undo the curse.



Number 2: Devilman Crybaby

Devilman

Want a break from simply dripping and splashing blood around the screen? Devilman Crybaby delivers true body horror with some truly violent and gory sequences that will leave you feeling fairly unsettled. As much as I didn’t really get into the story or characters of Devilman Crybaby, I have to admit that if you are after a genuine round of body horror with a lot of gore thrown in, this anime is going to deliver provided you don’t also mind a lot of sexualised content mixed in with that.

Number 1: Pupa

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This one wins again (as it previously in 2016 on anime I recommended for Halloween). This is one graphic and disturbing short anime that will definitely get under your skin as a younger sister, infected with a virus, will feed by eating the flesh of her still living older brother (also infected but fast healing). This is blood, gore and a whole lot of shudder inducing imagery and definitely not for the faint hearted. Also, not for anyone who wants a conclusion because you’ll be left wanting.

And there we have it, my top 5 list of anime that use blood and/or gore. As always, feel free to share your list in the comments below.


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


5 Anime Uniforms That I Adore

Tuesday's Top 5

Anime uniforms always looks so super cute and always leave me wondering why were none of my school uniforms ever that adorable.

I’m thinking most of you have never had the misfortune of going to a school in Queensland and wearing what are arguably some of the worst school uniforms in existence. Mostly because most schools go for cheap and affordable with easy substitutions and rather than actually looking in any way respectable, most uniforms end up looking like everyone just decided to throw the same black or maroon shorts on and a polo shirt and off they went (yes there are some schools, particularly private ones, that do in fact have decent uniforms, but they are not the majority).

Which probably explains why I became fascinated by anime uniforms because they always look totally adorable and like something I would have loved to wear day in day out (maybe if I’d actually been asked to I’d feel differently). Not to mention, if the anime standard skirt length is in any way reflective of reality we’d have an issue.

So the end of this long preamble is that here is my list of top 5 anime uniforms that I would personally have wanted to wear. With that said, I’d love to know which uniforms have caught your eye in anime.

So what are my favourite anime uniforms?

Number 5: Sword Art Online

SAO - Uniforms.jpg

Seriously, look at how cute those uniforms are. Firstly there’s the colour scheme with the fairly dark and plain colour with white accents and gold buttons and emblem. It is fantastic. Not too flashy, but quite flattering to most people. I also love the blue cross pattern on the collar giving it just that little bit extra and the red ties/bows just finish off the look. I know you can’t see it in the image, but Asuna pairs hers with white stockings and black shoes and to be honest looks fabulous. I would have loved this kind of uniform at school.

Number 4: My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia - Uniforms.jpg

Once again I like the reasonably plain grey colour with the green trims and gold buttons. It has the look of a uniform without being too plain and the colour is reasonably suitable for most people. The red tie again makes a nice contrast and I like that Uraraka gets to wear a tie as well and not a bow or ribbon as many female uniforms do. My Hero Academia looks pretty classy with this uniform, but we tend to spend more time watching the kids in their sports uniforms rather than this one.



Number 3: Code Geass

Code Geass - Uniforms.jpg

Okay, if I’m practical and brutally honest, I probably wouldn’t wear this uniform given the short skirt length for the girls, but still, look at how adorable that is. The yellow and green contrast really nicely, the belt gives it some great shaping, and all and all it just looks really adorable. The male uniform is definitely the nicer of the two, though that’s probably just my preference for both the colour and the fact that they are wearing long pants.

Number 2: Vampire Knight – Day Class

Vampire Knight - Uniforms.jpg

Super, super, super cute. While I didn’t love Vampire Knight as a show (certainly enjoyed it and enjoy making fun of it), the uniforms at Cross Academy are to die for (or at least the day class is). The super cute black blazer with white accents, the red bow, the knee socks, everything about this uniform is adorable and there are so many little details to it. A friend of mine cosplayed as Yuki at one point and ordered a costume and the sheer amount of detail on that uniform is just crazy. Absolutely love it and would love it to be a real uniform.

Number 1: Inu X Boku SS

Inu x Boku - Uniform.jpg

While I know for an absolute fact I could never wear this uniform, both because of the short skirt and because I just lack the shape to really pull it off, I totally fell in love with this look when watching the anime. I really relate to Ririchiyo’s character and this uniform is kind of superb. It’s like if there was a fantasy version of me going to a fantasy school, this would be the uniform I’d want that version of me to get to wear. The colour scheme, those shoes, the style, it is absolutely divine and I love it.

Okay, now that I’ve admitted I have no actual taste, what anime uniforms out there have you fallen in love with?


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


Tuesday’s Top 5: Uses of Dream Sequences in Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Previously I looked at the best uses of phones in anime and this week I’ve decided to turn my attention to dream sequences. My criteria wasn’t that these were the best dreams but the best use of a dream sequence to serve either the character development or the plot. This is strictly my opinion so as always, I’d love to know what would be on your list.

Please Note – There are spoilers below.

Honourable mentions to Ouran High School Host Club and Card Captor Sakura.

Number 5: Madoka Magica

Madoka.jpg

Madoka Magica uses dreams in a similar fashion to a lot of magical girl stories. Our main protagonist starts by having a dream of fantastical and terrible events before waking in the mundane real world where she is decidely ordinary. However, what sets this particular story apart is the nature of the dream itself. Madoka is seeing alternate realities where she has lived through the events to their conclusion before Homura has rewound time start over to try to change the outcome. This makes the events of the dream fairly significant to understanding the eventual outcome of the story and gives it a bit more weight on rewatching than just a cool battle sequence to start events off.

Number 4: Another

Mei3

This one is as straight forward as it comes and yet very affective. Kouichi has started to get to know Mei and as a result has been ostracised by his friends (okay is being deliberately and entirely ignored). It makes sense that he is starting to have fantasies and dreams about the one person who is talking to him still. However, other than showing that the two are forging a bond, this dream sequence also gives the audience a space to take a breath. Another is continuously hitting its audience with a dark and gloomy atmosphere with each scene dripping in over the top seriousness, so this brief moment of respite, even though it is a dream, is welcome and also the calm before the horror that follows. All and all, it works well within the narrative.

Number 3: One Punch Man

OnePunch.gif

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of One Punch Man but I did appreciate what they did in the dream sequence where we see Saitama energised and enthused in a way we rarely see him reality. What does a man who can defeat everything in One Punch actually want? Clearly, he wants a decent fight. Seeing his character quite literally come to life in the dream made the contrast with his everyday incredibly flat emotional state so incredibly clear and just made him a much better character because you could see he wasn’t bored and disinterested by choice. He genuinely wanted to feel alive. There just wasn’t anything left to challenge him.

Number 2: Sailor Moon

Moon Kingdom.jpg

Like Madoka, Sailor Moon also begins with a dream sequence where Serena dreams of the destruction of the Moon Kingdom as well as the guy she thinks she’s going to fall in love with. However, revealing their past lives isn’t the only thing dreams are used for throughout Sailor Moon. Villains attack characters through their dreams, the dead communicate with the living, future selves send dire warnings, and prophecies for the future all come through dreams. Then again, the entire show is about protecting the dreams of people so it makes sense that the idea of dreams is returned to again and again. Overall, remove the dreams from Sailor Moon and you wouldn’t have much of a show left.

Number 1: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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The climax of season 1 (broadcast order) sees Kyon and Haruhi stuck in a closed space she created where the two characters get to spend some quality time together and may or may not reveal some fairly interesting points about their developing relationship. However, what I like about the sequence is that after it is over Kyon wakes up from a dream but the next day at school Haruhi has her hair up in a pony tail (a direct reference to something Kyon had said in the ‘dream’). They never actually confirm whether this is a dream or an actual alternate reality that was created and nothing more actually needs to be said. Whether it was a dream or a reality, the impact on the characters has been clearly established without further explanations. Also, when you place this story in the appropriate place from a chronological point of view it makes Kyon’s actions and acceptance of some of Haruhi’s worse moments a bit more believable even if the guy is still a little bit of a doormat who really needs to tell her to stop a lot sooner.

So that is my list of top 5 uses of dream sequences. I’d love to know your favourite anime dream sequences so be sure to leave me a comment below.


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Karandi James.

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